As a football fan, this time of the year is particularly entertaining for me.
Camp is underway, speculation about where a team will be, and how they will do, is at an all time high, and fans everywhere try to envision where everyone will wind up at season’s end.
I am no different.
I decided, as I do every year, to take a hard look and predict the season and how it will unfold. Of course, this type of thing usually garners heavy debate, but what’s football without some hard nose debates.
Some of you may agree with some of these predictions while others may call for my head.
But that’s OK.
So without further ado here are my 2009 NFL predictions.
1. Carolina Panthers:
The Panthers were a hard team to choose for me since I have an itch that the Vikings are gonna run away with the conference, still, the Panthers have such a balanced team and they return virtually unchanged from last year making them a dangerous competitor. I see them capturing the No. 1 seed with home field advantage.
2. Minnesota Vikings:
Even if Favre does in fact join this team, I still would’ve picked them second overall and first in the division. The Vikings have probably the best defense in the NFL hands down, and one of the best running backs in the league. The wide receivers are a bit underrated and they will have to step things up, but overall the Vikes will secure the No. 2 spot and a home game with a bye.
3. Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals should have no trouble returning to the post season and proving to folks that last year wasn’t a fluke. The defense will be better as will the ground game which should take them deep into the playoffs.
4. New York Giants:
The Giants missed Plax in the playoffs last year and decided to go big with Nicks in the draft, which should boad well for them as time goes on. Still, this team is good enough to win the division and secure the No. 4 spot, but a first round elimination is about as far as they will go.
5. New Orleans Saints:
Thanks to the Panthers, the Saints could be looking at a wildcard spot instead of a division crown, but to be honest, the whole NFC South is up for grabs minus the Bucs. The Saints will have to vastly improve upon last year’s defense if they want to go deep in the playoffs.
6. Green Bay Packers:
The Packers will undoubtedly be better than last year and that could mean a sleeper pick for a deep run in the playoffs; that is of course if they can get past Arizona in the wildcard game. The successful transition to a 3-4 defense and the ground game will be the key.
7. Atlanta Falcons:
I know, I know. This team has Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and now Tony Gonzalez. How could I leave them out of a playoff berth? But after analyzing the season and individual schedules, I think the Falcons will be a victim of a tie breaker rule and NOT lack of play. But that’s why the good lord made erasers right?
8. Philadelphia Eagles:
I admit the Eagles could get to the playoffs but there is so much uncertainty in the receivers, defense and whether or not Westbrook and McNabb can do it one more time—I feel they can’t. The will finish 9-7 and tied with the Cowboys and will hope for another year.
9. Dallas Cowboys:
One thing I have learned about the Cowboys is that when they don’t talk up the upcoming season things are usually not good. This team’s success will depend on how well Phillips and Garrett maintain a winning way and control. They have the talent but they are not as good as some of the other teams this year.
10. Seattle Seahawks:
Quite possibly the best team that will finish 9-7 this year and definitely the most improved. The Seahawks will need another year though to return to postseason status.
11. Chicago Bears:
Adding Cutler isn’t going to solve the myriad of problems the Bears have to deal with such as, but not limited to: Who to throw the ball to consistently, and whether the defense will step up let alone stay healthy. Give them another two years and things will be much different.
12. Washington Redskins:
Jason Campbell doesn’t seem to have the kind of support from his coaches a quarterback should have and that’s terrible because this kid has talent. The Redskins have a lot of issues with depth and consistent play week-to-week, and unless things change drastically and rapidly they will be no better than 6-10.
13. St. Louis Rams:
The Rams have Spagnuolo at the helm and he will inevitably bring an intensity that was MIA last year. But the Rams will need a better O-Line, better play out of their defense, and they will surely need Bulger to justify his contract extension. They are a couple of years away from challenging for the division.
14. San Francisco 49ers:
Once this team acquires a legit quarterback they can count on and stop surrounding the team around Gore they will reach a record that yields more than four wins. A couple of receivers would help too.
15. Detroit Lions:
No, there will be no win-less team this year and the Lions, even with Stafford, are years away from a winning season. The offensive line will have to dramatically improve for more than one year and they have to get someone in there to compliment Calvin Johnson in order to compete, but things are on the rise in the Motor City.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Bucs have little to no play makers, a new defensive system, and a collection of running backs that are the brightest spot. This team is in an obvious rebuilding mode and 4-12 is about all they will accomplish in a very, very difficult division.
Carolina and Minnesota with a first round bye.
Packers over Cardinals 24-21 and Saints over the Giants 27-17 in Wildcard Games.
Panthers edge Packers 17-16 while the Vikings stop the march of the Saints, 24-17.
Minnesota flexes its ability to stop the run, get to Delhomme three times, and win a tight game in Carolina 16-9.