Some of you diehards might recall a little post we did before the season, when this proud band of Around the League scribes jotted down our fearless predictions for 2012.
A few of those forecasts remain promising (how about Rosenthal calling for a white-hot season in Indianapolis?). Our crystal ball wasn't flawless, but let's not focus on the negative. We're back at it for a second swipe at some juicy forecasts for the stretch run.
Let's dig in:
Roethlisberger will win MVP awardI thought about doubling down on my preseason Colts prediction by saying Andrew Luck would get MVP votes, but I can't see writers giving him the respect he will deserve. Instead, let's predict Ben Roethlisberger will win the MVP award. The Pittsburgh Steelers are ready to roll through the second half of the season, and Big Ben is quietly playing at an All-Pro level.
Chip Kelly to Browns; Andy Reid to ChargersThere will be plenty of coaching changes after the season (my preseason prediction said Rex Ryan will be among them), but I see two major-league hires going down before the Super Bowl. In Cleveland, new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III wants an energized, big-name coach to take his young team to the next level. Chip Kelly has Oregon operating at warp speed. Kelly helped Bill Belichick reimagine the New England Patriots' offense, and he'll do the same for the long-suffering Browns. In San Diego, Norv Turner has the realtor on speed-dial. He's a goner. Chargers owner Dean Spanos digs veteran coaches. He'll get another one in Andy Reid. Will it do the trick? We'll save that question for next time.
Three coaches axed before New Year'sEach week on the ATL Warming Seat, we rank five coaches in order of falling job security. Coaching turnover is a part of NFL life, but it's hard to remember the last time this many headsets were in danger of being disconnected. I predict not one, not two, but three coaches will be canned before New Year's Day. (Smash cut to Romeo Crennel in his office, briefly pondering whether this is good news or bad before returning to his game of Words With Friends.) Crennel, Ron Rivera and Mike Munchak aren't going to make it.
The Saints will make the playoffsDrew Brees and the offense give the New Orleans Saints a chance in every game they play. There isn't a single team they can't score with. Joe Vitt is back from suspension and is an upgrade at coach. The Saints also face several of the teams they'll compete against for a wild-card spot -- Giants, Buccaneers, Cowboys and the Eagles last week. So there's the chance to pull down those in similar predicaments. Don't underestimate what a home win over the Atlanta Falcons this week would do for the psyche. The Saints' biggest hurdle for a wild-card berth? The Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have the easier schedule down the stretch, and the Saints don't have the benefit of a head-to-head meeting.