Patrick Wall’s 25 Bold (and Occasionally Baseless) Predictions for the 2011 NFL Season
The NFL offseason is great for arguing stats and making ridiculous, over-the-top predictions about your favorite (and least favorite) team. And while the labor talks killed most of the offseason for the football obsessed, the frantic free agency period has mostly made up for it. Now that I’ve had some time to digest everything that’s transpired in the last two weeks, here are my bold and occasionally baseless predictions for the upcoming season:
1. The Lions and Bucs will be watching the playoffs from home. SorryDetroit andTampa, I just don’t see it. The Bucs surprised all of us last season, but they’re still the third-best team in their division. Ditto for the Lions.
2. John Beck won’t be as bad as everyone thinks he will, but he’ll still be pretty bad. Yep. I’ve got two down and I’m already softballin’ em in. Beck’s thrown one touchdown (and three INTs) in his career. He was drafted in the second round by the woeful Dolphins and still couldn’t hold onto a roster spot. That tells me everything I need to know.
3. Two neck surgeries in one offseason will spell the beginning of the end for Peyton Manning. We might not see a dramatic drop in his production, but we will see him begin sliding. Which will be a shame. I hope I’m wrong.
4. The Super Bowl champs will be the best team in the NFC. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll repeat as champs, I think the Pack will finish with the number one seed in the playoffs.
5. Speaking of the best, it’s hard to argue against the Patriots in the AFC. The Jets will giveNew England a run for its money, but I like what the Patriots did in the offseason. The iron-clad Patriot locker room should help turn a guy like Albert Haynesworth around. Meanwhile, Chad Ochocinco has wanted to play for Belichick for years. It all spells good things for the Pats.
6. Cam Newton will have a disappointing rookie season. Yeah, you’re right, I’m not a big believer inNewton. And yeah, I’d love for him to prove me wrong. But I thinkCam’s going to keep his Panthers in the NFC South cellar for at least another season.
7. The winner of the NFC West will limp into the playoffs with a terrible record. Again. Four games against the NFC East. Four games against the AFC North. Any questions?
8. Eagles’ offensive line coached-turned-defensive coordinator will have a noticeable (and positive) impact. Reports from Eagles camp say the defense is flying around and playing nasty, somethingPhiladelphia fans haven’t seen in awhile.
9. Bengals owner Mike Brown will still be an idiot. Sorry, but I’m still not over this. Why not just trade Carson Palmer? I get that Brown doesn’t want to reward him by trading him. Because I’m a nice guy, I’ve come up with a compromise: ship him toBuffalo.
10. Wade Philips will get back to doing what he does best – making good defenses. Granted, my dog could get better production out of the historically atrocious 2010 Texans defense (she’s got a lot of energy and is mostly housebroken, too.) But Philips specializes in producing really good 3-4 defenses. And with Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and now Jonathan Joseph the future looks bright.
11. Tim Tebow will finish the season as the starter in Denver. This will be doubly true if the Broncos start slow. Orton has reached his ceiling, but Tebow is the great unknown. It’ll be fun to watch.
12. The new free agent QBs won’t find much success. Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, Tavaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb—any of those names excite you? Me neither. While Kolb and McNabb could potentially see the playoffs with their new teams, I fear that Jackson and Hasselbeck will put up pedestrian numbers as stop-gaps for their respective clubs.
13. Chris Collingsworth will still be an annoying, know-it-all jerkface. Come on, I don’t really have to explain this one, do I?
14. Peyton Hillis will not fall victim to the Madden Curse. Here’s an interesting tidbit: since McNabb’s sports hernia shut him down for the 2005 season, the only Madden cover athlete to get injured the next year was Troy Polamalu in 2009. The curse is overblown and Hillis, as my esteemed colleague has noted, is a battering ram of a man.
15. The Cowboys will return to prominence. Although new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has talked his team into a corner, saying the Cowboys would kick the collective ass of the “all hype” Eagles,Dallas should be able to back up their coach. With Tony Romo back, the offense has the makings of a dangerous unit. And the defense figures to have that same style Ryan family brand of nasty that is so beloved inNew York,Chicago and Philly.
16. Rookies of the Year? Give me Bowers and Jones. If he can stay healthy (and that’s a big “if,”) Tampa Bay DE Da’Quan Bowers could quickly ascend the ranks and become a top-flight pass rusher. Many draftnicks had Bowers going as high as first overall before a knee injury knocked him into the second round. On the other side of the ball, Julio Jones ofAtlanta will be given every chance to succeed with Matt Ryan.
17. No one in next year’s Hall of Fame class will have a bust as hideous as Deion Sanders’. Seriously, just look at it.
18. Aaron Rodgers will be the MVP unless he has a terrible year. The league’s in love with this guy right now. And for those of us tired of hearing just how great Tom Brady is, it’s a welcome reprise. But I fully expect the league to wear out his welcome and crown him the new face of the NFL. So unless he gets hurt or throws for under 3,000 yards, he’ll be MVP.
19. You will want to watch every Steelers/Ravens and Giants/Eagles game. These are the best rivalries in football, and with all four teams eyeing the Lombardi Trophy this year (and with players from all the teams talking smack in the offseason,) these rivalries will be better than ever.
20. If Michael Vick stays healthy, the Eagles will make it to the Super Bowl. And they might win it. Call me a homer, but I’m drinking the Eagles’ green Kool-Aid in a big way. The offense solidified its two weakest positions on the offensive line and added a slew of new talent, especially on defense. This team’s gonna be scary.
21. Surprise playoff team? Not this year. As I said earlier, I don’t think the Buccaneers or Lions will make the playoffs. And aside from whatever dreck comes out of the NFC West, I think all eight teams in the postseason will be familiar faces from the past two years.
22. Mark Sanchez will stay average. Rex Ryan is apparently going to start passing more this season than he has any year in his tenure. He thinks Sanchez can handle it, but I’m not so sure. The one thing he does have going for him, however, is that he gets to keep his favorite target in Santonio Holmes.
23. Buffalo will win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. I’m not saying they’ll get the first overall pick, but I think they’ll finish low enough to be able to nab him with their top selection in next year’s draft.
24. Oakland will draft Tyrelle Prior in the Supplemental Draft. And they’ll give up way too much for him.
25. I’ll be wrong on at least half of these. After all, isn’t that why we love sports so much?
Posted on August 9, 2011, in Lists and tagged 2011 nfl season, albert haynesworth, cowboys, eagles, giants, madden, michael vick, nfl, nfl playoffs, nfl predictions, nnamdi asomugha, ochocinco, ravens, steelers, tom brady. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.