What a year it has been in the NFL. It was one of the strangest in recent memory. A losing team made the playoffs, the Chiefs and Raiders are relevant again, Jacksonville's epic collapse, Detroit looks decent, the Cowboys and Vikings looked awful, I could go on and on. There is potential for this coming offseason to be just as crazy as the season itself. Now bear in mind, that some of these may seem ridiculous, but are possible. So, lets take a quick look at the playoff forecast and get to these crazy predictions.
Ok, so the Pats win the Super Bowl, not too crazy a prediction, but against the Bears? It's not as crazy as it sounds. Chicago will play every one of their playoff games (except the NFC Championship in this scenario) at Soldier Field. Soldier Field is a rough place to play in January, and I see the Packers succumbing to Vick and the Eagles this weekend. That pits Vick against the Bears, and Vick doesn't do so well in the frigid temperatures he will likely experience in Chicago. So the Bears would then have to travel to Atlanta, and before you scream at me "Matt Ryan is 20-2 at home" I would just like to remind you that Jay Cutler was responsible for one of those home losses when he was with the Broncos in 2008.
UPDATE: just saw the breaking news from ESPN. This is official.
Stephen Ross reportedly was willing to offer a contract to Jim Harbaugh worth upwards of $8 million a year. That sends a loud and clear message that he is going to spare no expense in trying to get the Dolphins back to their winning ways.
New Broncos VP John Elway also said that his franchise would undergo some major changes. Look for Denver to target and spare no expense when trying to acquire coveted free agents this year.
This will prompt the owners to say enough is enough and a strict Rookie Salary cap will be discussed during the CBA.
This may just be wishful thinking on my part, but I can't really imagine that there could be no NFL in 2011. Under the new CBA, I am expecting that the season will be expanded to 18 games, salary caps and rosters will increase, teams will have two byes during the regular season, and plans for two new franchises will be unveiled for the 2014 season.
Rule Changes would include:
OT for the regular season will adopt the OT rules of the playoffs
The Neutral Zone will be expanded
This may be the most unrealistic slide of all (although Colts fans will beg to differ when they see #1) but do you really think there could be no 2011 season?
Peyton Manning is going on 35 this year. His sunset is creeping closer and closer. He is playing behind an aging line on a team that struggles to run the ball, and struggles to stop the run. For much of his career, Peyton has carried is team, but he may not be able to do it by himself anymore.
What's the point of all this? Peyton Manning could become a free agent as soon as this Sunday. If the Colts lose to the Jets in their own building, Jim Caldwell could be in trouble. The Colts would have to rebuild, from the ground up. Manning is smart enough to realize that he can not afford to wait for the Colts to return to dominance. All he has to do is look at his arch nemesis Tom Brady to see what an elite QB can do with a complete team around him.
I know Manning said Indy was his home, and that contract talks stalled because he wanted to focus on the season, but what do you expect him to say? I am not saying this is a lock by any means, but Manning could find a situation like Minnesota, with all their potential on defense and their incredible running game, very attractive. If the rumors about Josh McDaniels going to be the Vikings O-Coordinator are true, imagine Manning in a system that made Matt Cassel look like a star.
Again, I am not saying this is a lock, but I for one would not be surprised if Manning decided to test the waters of free agency.
What are your crazy (or not so crazy) predictions for the upcoming offseason?