The Falcons and the Dolphins made the playoffs last season after going a combined 4-28 the year before.
The Cardinals and Kurt Warner emerged as one of the scariest offenses in the league.
Tennessee, lead by Kerry Collins, had the best record in the NFL.
The NFL is so great because the parody in the league provides for shocking outcomes by season’s end.
Well, I’m here to say that I (think/hope) know what will happen this season that seems nearly unbelievable. Save this, bookmark it, whatever, I stand by these picks.
It shouldn’t be a huge shocker that I believe that this Vikings team is good enough to make the playoffs.
However, I’m taking this one step further: The top two seeds in the playoffs get a first-round bye, and I believe the Vikings will be one of those bye week teams.
That means they will beat out the Packers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Falcons, Saints, and the Giants for that slot. This defense is Super Bowl-worthy, the running game is tops in the league, and Favre can manage the games just enough to give this team 11, 12, 13 wins this year.
Another common “bold” pick, but there’s a good reason behind it.
To win in the NFL, which you’ll see is a common theme in most of my team record predictions, you NEED three things, no questions:
You need a quarterback who doesn’t lose games, an offensive line who can win against four rushers, and a defensive line that can beat five lineman with four rushers.
If Matt Schab stays healthy, Duane Brown matures at left tackle, and Mario Williams stays as one of the top rushers in the league, they have all the pieces around the steady base to go 10-6 or 11-5.
The fourth worst team record-wise last season doesn’t appear to be just that this season.
Matt Hasselback is still a Top 15 quarterback in this league, they have a steady stream of receivers, and their linebacking corps is one of the best in the league.
They need their offensive line to step up and for the secondary to not get burned deep, but they only have to beat out the defensively inconsistent Cardinals to reach the playoffs once again.
As seen in my fantasy rankings on NFLHouse.com, I think Tom Brady and the Patriots could be in store for another record-breaking season.
They are way ahead of the three teams in their division, so 5-1, 6-0 against them should be easy. I think they will finish with 13 or 14 wins by season’s end.
However, I project the Rams (2-14), Bucs (2-14), Broncos (3-13), and Chiefs (5-11) will all have worse records than the Patriots.
The Rams have no receivers or defense, the Bucs have a roster similar to the 0-16 2009 Lions, the Broncos are a mess on defense and at quarterback, and the Chiefs have quarterback and defensive scheme issues.
Directly after the Matt Cassel trade to Kansas City, when Cutler was still on the Broncos, the Raiders looked destined to struggle to win a division game.
However, with the Chiefs not looking like a great offense and Cassel down, and the Broncos dealt Cutler, maybe Marshall now, and the defense is a mess.
Oakland’s offensive line is improving, they have some pieces on defense, and playmakers on offense. Although they might end up 6-10, 7-9, that still could be good enough to not be in last place, a definite plus for the Raiders.
As stated in prediction eight, the Seahawks will beat out the Cardinals for the NFC West automatic bid.
Usually, however, offenses as potent as the Cardinals tend to sneak in the playoffs as they get hot towards the end of the season. However, with the NFC East getting at least one wild card bid (all four have a solid chance) and North and South each have 2-3 playoff competitors, I wouldn’t rest my chances on Kurt Warner’s 40-year-old plus arm.
The NFL is the best professional league for a few reasons. One that always stood out in my mind and may be the most important is that feeling of an even playing field.
While on paper the Patriots should destroy the Raiders or whoever, football is such a team sport and this league boasts so much talent, any fan of any team could believe in the fact that their team could win.
However, the 2007 Dolphins finished 1-15, the 2008 Lions finished 0-16, and the Bucs this season look like they could be doomed for a similar fate. They have 2-3 pieces on offense to get excited about (Kellen Winslow and Josh Freeman), but everyone else may be expendable.
They lost Derrick Brooks in the offseason, and the defense is a state of transition from the old veterans to young guys getting their feet wet.
They may not win a division game, and they won’t be favorite in any game all season. It should be a rough go for the Bucs, and as much as fans and sportstalk people love to bash teams while they're down, no one should wish a 2-14 or worse record on anyone.
It sounds like a bogus projection, right? I mean, the Ravens found a franchise quarterback in Flacco, they have 3-4 good running backs, and arguably the best defense in the league 10 years running.
However, the Ravens have offensive line concerns, in my opinion, and with Derrick Mason their only legitimate threat on the outside, that offense could be due for a down season.
Their defense will still get them to 8-8, 9-7, but that may not be good enough to hold off the Browns.
As stated before, if a team has a consistent offensive line, an impactful front three or four, and your quarterback won’t lose you games, you have a shot. They have Joe Thomas, Eric Stienbach, and Alex Mack on that offensive line, three eventual Pro Bowlers, Corey Williams, and Shaun Rodgers on the defensive side, and guys like Braylor Edwards, Josh Cribbs, D’Qwell Jackson, Eric Wright, Kamerion Wimbley, and Abram Elam, all due for a breakout season.
If Brady Quinn can manage the game and make the occasional great play for this team, they could go 9-7, 10-6 and reach the playoffs.
The addition of Terrell Owens means more to this team than people realize.
As people around the game always say, it’s about matchups in the NFL: A great corner against a solid receiver, the corner wins. A Pro Bowl left tackle against a mediocre pass rusher, left tackle wins.
Before TO arrived, the Bills were looking at Lee Evans as their only receiver, who is a definite No. 1 receiver and a playmaker, so they were set there.
Then, they had Josh Reed or Roscoe Parrish as their No. 2 receiver. Both guys are very sub-par No. 2 guys because of the fact that they can rarely go out and run a route, break away from a defender, or make a play in order to get open for the quarterback.
That’s a huge mismatch for the Bills, which would have caused Edwards to get sacked more, Evans to get double covered, and more players in the box.
However, insert TO, who can get open, and now you have a mismatch in your favor. Evans and TO get take on any cornerback tandem in the league, so more help is needed by the secondary.
And, with Reed or Parrish in the slot, where they can use their hands and speed to their benefit easier, they can get down the field and be more effective, causing even more pressure on the secondary.
Edwards has more receivers open, the linebackers have to help in coverage, and the offense runs that much smoother. With that offense picking up drastically, the Jets having little offense, and the Dolphins having questions at receiver and enough firepower to compete regularly, the Bills could finish 8-8 or 9-7 and battle for a wild card spot ahead of those two teams.
For this, I will first say that the following argument I am proposing will be put into its own article very shortly.
The Lions' team right now is very comparable to the 2008 re-emerging Falcons team. That team was in shambles after Petrino left, they had no quarterback, and aging offense, few playmakers on defense, and looked deep into a hole that would take years to get out…sound familiar?
The Lions took a quarterback in the draft, just like the Falcons. They have a stud receiver who has been in the league for a few years that is ready to explode, just like the Falcons. They have a young right tackle, and an experienced offensive line, just like the Falcons, and they have a defense that is focused on the linebacking corps to be their mainstay and could emerge as one of the best in the NFC, just like the Falcons.
Oh yeah, they also hired a little known defensive coordinator from a defense that was dominate for many years who has a no-nonsense yet players coach ideology, just like the Falcons.
This is no recipe for success in the NFL, persay, but they are definitely following the Atlanta Falcon guidelines for an immediate turnaround.