NFL Predictions: 10 Bold Predictions for the Remainder of the NFL Season
The Houston Texans are in trouble, Buffalo and Detroit are fading, the Green Bay Packers seem poised to go undefeated and Indianapolis may not win a game.
We are about to witness a team with a great record fall apart while an inconsistent team is about to go on a major winning streak.
Dan Marino's single-season passing record and Michael Strahan's sack record are in jeopardy of falling.
It doesn't matter if you support a struggling team like the Eagles, a rebuilding team like the Vikings or one of the best teams in the NFL like the Steelers—everyone wants to know what strange turn the NFL will take.
And those are only a couple of the interesting stories...
No. 10: Dallas Wins the NFC East
The Cowboys are in the midst of an incredibly easy schedule while the Giants are going through one of the most brutal stretches in the NFL this year.
Dallas (5-4) sits one game behind New York (6-3). But after a trip to Washington, a visit from Miami on Thanksgiving and a road date with Arizona, the Cowboys can easily climb to 8-4.
The Giants, on the other hand, have a home game against Philadelphia, an away game against New Orleans and host Green Bay.
After those three-game stretches New York travels to Dallas for one of the biggest games on Sunday Night Football this year. The winner will likely take the division lead, but they are not a lock to win the division.
The loser will get a chance for redemption three weeks later at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Who do you trust less?
I'll take Manning. Following a brutal stretch of games he will have every reason to lose confidence and fold when he goes down to Dallas.
Is it that far out of the question? Not exactly. But that's why it's only No. 10 on the list.
No. 9: Indianapolis Wins One Game and the Luck Sweepstakes
The Colts have fielded some atrocious quarterbacks and fielded some putrid teams since they moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
The 2011 combination of Curtis Painter and the rest of the stiffs on this team is on par with some of the epically bad teams.
In 1991 Jeff George was slinging around laser beams, Eric Dickerson was running his career into the ground and the Colts finished 1-15.
Their stankiness landed Indianapolis the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 1992 NFL Draft—and with them they took Steve Emtman and Quentin Coryatt.
Yep, the Colts continued to suck through most of the 1990s.
This time around, Indianapolis will finish 1-15 and pray that Andrew Luck, the projected No. 1 pick, will not turn into a bust. If he is and Peyton Manning doesn't fully recover from his neck injury the Colts may suck for the next decade.
Where is the lone win going to come from, you may ask.
Next week against the Carolina Panthers.
Indy is fresh off a bye, and they get a Carolina team that can't stop the run. The advantage of taking the ball out of Painter's hands may be best game Jim Caldwell puts together this year.
If it doesn't work the Colts are going 0-16.
No. 8: Bills and Lions Miss the Playoffs
Teams like Buffalo and Detroit are good stories for a reason.
We know they are going to buckle and eventually fade away, but we offset the inevitable failures with a feel-good story about how well they played over the first half of the season and conveniently forget about the second half.
Detroit currently sits at 6-3 and will likely go to 7-3 after a home game against Carolina this weekend.
But after that they have three home and road games against formidable opponents. The Lions host Green Bay, Minnesota and San Diego, and travel to New Orleans, Oakland and Green Bay.
Pencil the Lions in for nine wins and on the outside of the NFC playoff picture.
Over in Buffalo (5-4) things aren't going to get any better.
The Bills have road games against Miami, New York (Jets), San Diego and New England. They'll be lucky to get one win out of those games.
At home they get Tennessee, Miami and Denver. All three of those games are winnable, but the way Buffalo is playing, they are just as easily losable.
Get used to hearing Lions and Bills fans saying, "Well, it was fun while it lasted."
No. 7: San Francisco Falls Apart
It's tough to talk about a feel-good story without mentioning the San Francisco 49ers. Jim Harbaugh has somehow found a way to guide the 49ers to the second-best record in the NFL through 10 games.
I'm not buying it.
I don't trust Alex Smith's ability to continuously win. I don't trust Frank Gore's health. And I don't trust the 49ers coming up with miracle wins and catching opponents in bad situations.
So far they've clawed back for two fourth-quarter wins against the Eagles and Lions. Those wins looked impressive at the time. But now we see neither team is going to the playoffs, and if the 49ers think they can win games like that over the long haul, they're lying to themselves.
They were fortunate enough to catch a Tampa Bay team coming off a short week and forced to travel across the county. They had Cleveland, Washington and Seattle on their schedule, and now they get Arizona at home this week.
I can hear 49ers fans crying, "You can only beat the teams that are on your schedule and that's what they've done."
Interesting. None of them want to point out how the schedule sets up right now. I'm willing to bet they change their attitude in two weeks when San Fran travels to the East Coast to play Baltimore on a Thursday night.
There is no way San Francisco even hangs around with the Ravens in this game. After that they'll get their stuff packed in by Pittsburgh, and they'll come up with a dud in Seattle.
The once-hot 49ers are about to cool off in a major way heading into the playoffs.
No. 6: No One Breaks Michael Strahan's Sack Record
Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware are on pace to finish with 24 sacks, which would give them 1.5 more sacks than Michael Strahan's 22.5 sack record set in 2001.
It's not going to happen.
How often do we have someone go through a stretch of picking up four or five sacks in a two-week span only to disappear over the next month? Teams pick up on someone killing the quarterback, and they figure out a way to stop him.
These two have been on an incredible pace over a nine-game span. With a handful of pivotal games against teams vying for a playoff berth it only makes sense that teams will game-plan and successfully shut down Allen and Ware.
It may free up other players along the defensive line, but teams won't let either of these players do the damage on their own.
No. 5: Three QBs Break Dan Marino's Single-Season Passing Record
Each plays on a team built to win games with the pass. Brady isn't going to hand the ball off against anyone, Rodgers is playing the position better than anyone and Brees actually came out and said he wants to break the record.
They also find themselves playing in an era when the NFL is built for passing teams to succeed. Pass interference penalties seem commonplace, and holding penalties occur at the slightest tug of a jersey.
Teams recognize the way the game is officiated, and they are building offenses based on five wide receivers, and short passes are considered an extension of the running game.
You give Brady, Rodgers and Brees the green light to pass and give them the benefit of officials' calls, it's a guarantee Marino goes from record-holder to fourth on the single-season passing list.
No. 4: Tim Tebow Wins a Game Without Completing a Pass
It's funny 'cause it's true.
At some point Tim Tebow, Willis McGahee and Lance Ball are going to run wild while Tebow goes 0-fer and the Broncos win the game.
This sounds completely over the top, but is it really that far out of the question? It was only last week when Denver beat Kansas City 17-10—and Tebow completed just two passes.
It could happen in Buffalo, Minnesota or at home against Kansas City.
Remember, this prediction calls for Tebow to put up a doughnut in the completion category and win, not lose.
No. 3: The Giants Beat the Packers Dec. 4
Yes, I called for the Giants to lose the NFC East. But that doesn't mean I think the Giants are a bad team; it's actually the opposite.
The Giants are a damn good team capable of making a run in the playoffs. Given their rough schedule they will eventually fall apart, though.
If there is one game for them to shock everyone, this is it—and if there is one game for the Packers to lose, this is it.
I'm not sold on Green Bay's pass-defense even a little bit. The Giants have the receivers, and yes, Eli Manning to exploit the weakness.
You can doubt me all you want. All I have to do is point to the Patriots game. New England went into the game with a shoddy secondary, and it cost them the game. The same thing can and will happen here.
This is the game where people begin to wonder if Green Bay is as good as we think and if the Giants can hold on to the NFC East.
Yes, the Packers are still good and no, the Giants can't win the NFC East.
No. 2: The Baltimore Ravens Run the Table
Baltimore looks like a Super Bowl contender when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers, and then a complete fraud against Tennessee and Seattle.
Those terrible losses came on the heels of their season series against their biggest rival.
When you put that much emotion into one game and you value that one game more than any other it is inevitable you will come out flat the next week.
The weeks of coming out flat are now behind Baltimore, and they will win the rest of the games on their schedule.
They kick things off this week with a homestand against Cincy and San Fran. Two easy wins.
Then they go on the road to Cleveland and get Indy at home. Two more layups.
Things will get tough when they fly out west to take on San Diego. Right now it looks like the Chargers are dying to self-destruct, and Norv Turner is trying to figure out creative ways to lose. If that doesn't change quickly Baltimore will light them up.
Then they wrap things up with a home game against Cleveland and a trip to Cincy. Sounds like two more wins.
No. 1: The Texans Collapse, and the Titans Win AFC South
I love hearing people talk about Matt Leinart and the Houston Texans playing in the postseason.
If there were ever a combination of choking, buckling, folding and gagging, this would be the one.
Leinart has done nothing with his NFL career. He looked like a sure-fire Pro Bowler at USC, and he's turned out to be nothing more than a glorified Tim Couch.
The Houston Texans routinely put together a team capable of surprising everyone, only to finish the year on the outside of the playoff picture.
So why in the name of everything that makes sense about football do people think Leinart and the Texans will make the playoffs?
Who cares if the Texans are 7-3 and the Titans are only 5-4?
When the Texans collapse it will make the collapse that much more laughable.
When it happens, Houston will have to finish 3-3 against an incredible easy schedule, while Tennessee rallies for a 5-2 finish against a relatively difficult schedule.