Now that I have your attention, here are nine bold predictions for the upcoming season:
1) Carson Palmer won't finish the season as the Raiders' quarterback.
When Palmer was in Cincinnati, I called him the "human Jugs machine" for his incredible accuracy. Now, the former sharp shooter is reduced to having a water gun for an arm. Palmer was terrible last season for the Raiders. He's been awful this preseason. Frankly, he was wretched at the end in Cincy. This is Hue Jackson's parting gift. Matt Leinart knows Greg Knapp's offense, as they spent the last two years together in Houston. Terrelle Pryor gives Oakland sizzle. Those two will prove to be better options, and Oakland will bring in a new quarterback for 2013. Bag it, Carson.
2) Jerry Jones will clean house after the season.
I picked the Cowboys to go 7-9. If that happens, Jones' skin will crawl and he will fire Jason Garrett, who has had issues with game management and play selection in his short tenure coaching in Dallas. Jones wrongly believes he has a Super Bowl team. I like Tony Romo, but he gets blamed for everything in Dallas. If the Cowboys miss the playoffs again, Jerry wrongly will jettison the quarterback.
3) Tim Tebow will lead the Jets to the playoffs. Sort of.
Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano wants to run the ball. He will do it with Tim Tebow, who will rush for eight or more touchdowns and finish second to Shonn Greene in rushing yards. On my SiriusXM show, Jets legend Joe Namath questioned the logic behind the Tebow trade, while simultaneously picking the Jets to win nine or 10 games. I totally get it. A dominant defense will carry the Jets. And despite the preseason struggles, Mark Sanchez cuts down his turnovers and wins games like he has in the past.
4) Maurice Jones-Drew will not eclipse 1,000 yards rushing.
He might get 700. He's my guy, but MJD is handling this all wrong. He should be in Jacksonville. Look at the recent precedent of stars holding out. Over the past few years, Darrelle Revis and Chris Johnson waited until the last minute to show up and had the worst seasons of their careers. I'm concerned about poor productivity and injury. I believe Mike Mularkey when he says Rashad Jennings is starting. Mularkey, a first-year coach, has no loyalty to Jones-Drew.
5) Ray Horton's Arizona defense will be better than Dick LeBeau's Pittsburgh defense.
I know that's a sacrilegious statement in some quarters. But I love what Horton's defense did at the end of last year. Sam Acho stuns people and sacks the quarterback 10 times. I voted linebacker Daryl Washington first-team All-Pro. This year, he becomes a household name. I love the Cardinals' defensive line with Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett. Dan Williams is doing a great job this summer. Patrick Peterson will develop at corner. Adrian Wilson is as savvy as they come. LeBeau is the dean of defense. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are stars. But give me Arizona's talent over Pittsburgh's. Horton learned from LeBeau. The rest of the NFL will see it this season.
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6) Andrew Luck will throw for more touchdowns and yards than Peyton Manning.
I like Luck's weapons more than Manning's targets, including Manning's old friend Reggie Wayne. I think Donald Brown will catch the ball out of the backfield and provide balance running it. Coby Fleener was Luck's go-to guy at Stanford and will have a monster year. I liked what I saw from Manning in Week 3 of the preseason, but I'm still concerned about him staying healthy all season.
7) The Falcons will win a game (or two) in January.
Stop the presses! The wait is over! I know a lot of folks are down on this group, but I totally believe in Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and Matt Ryan. I think the run game (with Jacquizz Rodgers adding some sizzle) and passing game (with the development of Julio Jones) will be the best it has been since the Dimitroff-Smith-Ryan trio started. And new coordinator Mike Nolan will make the defense respectable.
8) The Bills will have the best defensive line in football.
Sorry, fans of the Giants, Lions and Eagles. I love what Buffalo has up front after signing mega-star Mario Williams. Mark Anderson was a nice cherry on top. I think Marcell Dareus becomes a stud in his second season. Kyle Williams is one of the most underrated defenders in the NFL. When he was injured last year, it sucked the life out of the Bills. He's healthy and this line will dominate in the pass rush and stopping the run. Buffalo, because of the defensive line, is going 10-6.
9) Jim Harbaugh will blow his top.
I'm high on the 49ers this year. I have them in the NFC Championship Game (again). I'm a huge fan of Harbaugh and love talking to him. He's been nothing but gracious to me with his time. But Harbaugh has a nasty habit of treating the local reporters with a lack of respect and disdain. When something goes wrong -- maybe Randy Moss doesn't run hard, maybe he gets too cute with play selection -- Harbaugh will get criticized and flip out. Jim, if I could offer you some advice, I would stop being a jerk. When the bloom comes off the rose, those with microphones and pens don't forget boorish behavior when wins turn into losses. Ask Eric Mangini.