Any writer can take stats, matchups, and history, roll it into one tight "I want to be just like Clark Judge" ball, and throw it at the public. But that's not my style.
Well, it could be, but not today.
With two undefeated teams marching into Week 10, Peyton Manning chasing Dan Marino's single-season yardage record, and Brett Favre clinging to the hope of one last shot at a Super Bowl, there is an endless list of story-lines for any writer to be busy for weeks.
Let's shorten that workload. Let's cut the time-line in half. Here's my 10 bold predictions, starting in Week 10 and leading all the way up to the Super Bowl, listed in no particular order:
1. The New Orleans Saints Will Go 16-0
It's hard not to think about it. After all, it's only been two season since the New England Patriots almost stopped the 1972 Dolphins' from cracking open more bottles of champagne.
The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are both 8-0, and the way they've been playing, it's at least arguable that they both could finish the season undefeated, especially considering they don't face each other in the regular season.
However, NFL Soup is already calling an upset with the New England Patriots ending the Colts' streak this week, and even if they do get past Tom Brady and Co., the pile-up of injuries and a tough schedule doesn't leave a ton of optimism for Indianapolis.
New Orleans, however, has a bunch of cakewalk games with two stellar opponents, the aforementioned Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, sandwiched in between.
Both of those teams will give them a run for their money, but in the end, the Saints will do what no one thought they would: remain perfect.
An absolutely ridiculous average of 37.9 offensive points and 427 yards per game suggest that it's a very real possibility.
2. Chris Chambers Will Make the Chiefs Watchable
Not all by himself, of course. In fact, I'd even go as far as saying new slot receiver Lance Long will make a name for himself, as well. Call it "jumping the gun" or whatever you want, but even in their loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, that Chiefs' passing attack did some pretty exciting things.
If Chambers can score two touchdowns and rack up 70 yards in a debut with a team he was with for less than a week, imagine what Todd Haley can help him do for the rest of the season. And you all thought he was washed up...
3. Peyton Manning Will Make Dan Marino Cry
Marino will officially say good-bye to his last important NFL record by the time the 2009 regular season wraps up, I'm predicting.
Peyton Manning has passed for over 300 yards in seven of eight appearances this season, and only needs to maintain a few yards under his torrid average to eclipse Marino's single-season record for passing yards. With a poor rush offense, Manning will undoubtedly be relied upon to produce in every game from here on out.
4. There Will Not Be a Late-Season Fade for Brett Favre
You can cross your fingers and shake the crystal ball all you want, Favre-haters, but it's not going to happen. He may be 40 years old and playing with a partially torn rotator cuff, but nothing of what we have seen suggests Favre will slow down.
Besides, we haven't even begun to see Adrian Peterson take over for this offense, and once that finally happens, it could be full coast-mode for the Vikings, quite possibly all the way to the Super Bowl. But that's another prediction all in itself.
5. The Denver Broncos Will Miss the Playoffs
Their shaken, losing confidence, and if they somehow fall to Washington, they'll be just about crushed. Kyle Orton can't play "Captain Comeback," well, ever, so if this offense doesn't get and sustain leads down the road, they're going to have some serious issues.
That amazing defense all you Broncos fans were ranting and raving about just got severely exposed in two straight games. The real question is, which part of this season is the trend, and which is the aberration? My guess is the most recent streak is closer to the truth.
6. The Tennessee Titans Will Finish 8-8 or Better
Yeah, sounds crazy, doesn't it? But knowing Vince Young and how his confidence has got to be booming after two straight wins, it's a real possibility.
That formerly horrid pass defense has looked sharp the past two weeks, and Albert Haynesworth or no Albert Haynesworth, Jeff Fisher still has this team playing great against the run.
With Indianapolis, San Diego, and Arizona as the only three bona fide contenders remaining on Tennessee's schedule, it's not too unrealistic to think this team can turn the corner and gain some momentum back for next season.
7. Alex Smith Will Lead the San Francisco 49ers into the Playoffs
How, you might ask? Oh, with a colossal meltdown by the now 5-3 Arizona Cardinals, and a return appearance by a 49ers defense that looked dominant in a 10-6 victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
Sure, the Bears aren't an elite offense by any means, but that's a big win, both for Smith and the franchise, and it's going to be the turning point they needed.
At 4-5, the 49ers could easily pull right back into the division talk with a win over Arizona the next time the two teams square off. Having Philadelphia as the only other tough opponent on the rest of their schedule could put the 49ers at 10-6 and in the driver's seat for the division if they play their Cards' right. (Pun intended.)
8. Chris Johnson Will Top 2,000 Yards Rushing
After all, if the Titans are going to make a furious run back to respectability, they have to score and move the ball somehow, right?
Johnson is on an amazing tear and has a nice enough schedule that one could easily see him breaking the NFL single-season yardage record. Well, maybe not easily, but he can still get it done.
9. The Green Bay Packers Will Start Over
And by "start over," I mean they'll be lucky to win two more games and match last season's pathetic 6-10 record. That, and Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have breathed their last frozen breath in Wisconsin.
At least, they will have done so when the season ends. They simply have not put together the right pieces over a four-year tenure together, and outside of Aaron Rodgers, make it very difficult to find anything "right" they've done with this roster.
10. Brett Favre Will Complete His Comeback
He'll stay in top form the whole way, proving all his doubters wrong, officially making Ted Thompson and the Packers look like even bigger fools than they already have made themselves, and he will leave the game on top. Maybe.
He'll win the Super Bowl, that much I'm certain of. But I'm not about to commit to him retiring. Or not retiring. Or whatever. Oh, and he'll add Comeback Player of the Year to his award case.
Who ever saw that coming?