The NFL season is here and I have to admit, it is somewhat bittersweet. Sure football is back, but it is another year that football is not in Los Angeles. Then again, we are another year removed from the Dieter Brock era of the Los Angeles Rams, so maybe that is a good thing.
But it is time to go on record with some bold predictions, and there is not much time to spare, so let's start.
And without further ado …
6. Patriots lose in playoffs again
Peyton Manning is taken to task for his playoff failings (especially in this space), but Tom Brady continues to get a free pass. Consider his recent results: Average against the Jets last year, miserable vs. the Ravens in 2009, and look at his games against the Chargers and Giants in the 2007 postseason. Those whispers will continue when the Patriots fail again in 2011.
5. Dolphins are better than the Jets
We get it, everybody loves the Lions this year. But if you want to look for a true surprise team, it will be the Dolphins. Miami has a favorable schedule, good defense and will get just enough from Chad Henne to reach the AFC playoffs as a wild card.
5. (con't) And Mark Sanchez regrets this photo
Was I mistaken, it wasn't Sanchez who won Super Bowl III, right? That was Joe Namath. You see Mark, doing these photo spreads (this is your second for GQ, how is that possible?) are great when your team wins it all. But maybe to the long-suffering Jets fans, just reaching the AFC title game is enough.
4. The Chiefs implode and become reminiscent of Fight Club
What exactly is going on in Kansas City? Coach Todd Haley is yelling at opposing coaches for running up the score in the preseason. (Remember fans, even though you pay full price for these games, they are not supposed to matter.) And then Jonathan Baldwin hurts his wrist in a locker room fight? Hard to believe that all of this can happen under the watch of the most tightly wound coach in the NFL. Oh wait, no it's not.
3. The Texans miss the playoffs ... again
Gary Kubiak looks like a politician, so I guess it's fitting that he continues to get voted in as an incumbent to the Texans' coaching job. Five years, one winning season (9-7 in 2009) and we are supposed to believe that this is the year Houston breaks through? Even Georgia coach Mark Richt believes that Kubiak has been given too many chances. But believing in Kubiak as a winner is akin to those movie executives who believe that this Nicolas Cage picture is going to be the one to get him back on track. Enough already. The Titans win the AFC South.
2. The Bears fail to repeat as NFC North champions
Bears coach Lovie Smith has put back-to-back winning seasons together only once in his coaching career (2005-06), and there is no reason to believe that the Bears can do it again this season. Teammates are quick to defend quarterback Jay Cutler, but presidential debates have more sincerity. Look for teams to punish Cutler and the Bears, who fall to no better than third place in the division.
1. Brees and Rives together again ... in the Super Bowl
Your AFC division winners: Patriots, Ravens, Titans and Chargers. Your AFC wild-card teams: Steelers, Dolphins. Your AFC champ: Chargers
Your NFC division winners: Eagles, Packers, Saints and Cardinals. Your NFC wild-card teams: Falcons, Lions. Your NFC champ: Saints
Your Super Bowl champion: Saints