Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Your 2008 NFL Preview

Let me start by saying I hope I don’t duplicate last year’s stellar predictions. Where I only hit on 50% of the playoff teams. Where I predicted the Rams to go 10-6. Where I predicted that the Ravens and Saints would square off in Super Bowl XLII... Turd Bowl XLII would have been more appropriate. And where I had this to say about the Giants:

The Giants could implode at any moment. Coughlin, Manning, Strahan, Shockey, and Burress? Lot of egos, there.

Well, I can tell you I feel no more confident about this batch of predictions. So take them with a grain of salt. Numbers in parenthesis indicate playoff seeding.

AFC EAST

Patriots 13-3 (1)
Bills 9-7
Jets 8-8
Dolphins 4-12

Even though I think they’ll take a step back, New England shouldn't have much trouble winning the division. I expect the Bills to contend for a playoff spot. They’ve added significant pieces to their defense. Many are pegging the Jets for the postseason… but there’s something “off” with them. I can’t really explain it. I think it stems from the fact that I don’t find teams that spend lavishly in the offseason appealing. To often these teams fail and look back on these signings as a desperation attempt to win at all costs with no regard for the future. The Dolphins can’t really be any worse this season (okay, they could go 0-16). With Parcells’ fingerprints all over the team, that should be worth a few wins alone.


AFC NORTH

Steelers 10-6 (4)
Bengals 8-8
Browns 7-9
Ravens 6-10

Even with a tough schedule we have enough talent to get to 10 wins. I like the Bengals more than the Browns, which runs contrary to most mainstream thinking. Cleveland’s secondary is one of the worst in the league, and I think they’ll fall under the weight of high expectations. Make fun of the Bengals all you want for re-signing Chris Henry, but I cringed when it happened. He’s a Steeler-killer and he makes that offense extremely potent. They’ll make some strides on defense and finish second. The Ravens have an aging defense and no real quarterback to speak of, so I expect close to the same win total as last season for them.


AFC SOUTH

Jaguars 11-5 (3)
Colts 11-5 (5)
Texans 9-7 (6)
Titans 6-10

This is going to be neck and neck between the Jaguars and Colts. It’s been close the past few years, but this season I expect Jacksonville to finally make the leap. They’ll edge the Colts out via tiebreakers. The Texans are my surprise team this season. They have a fierce pass rush, a solid O-line, and a huge gamebreaker in Andre Johnson. I think they’ll steal the final playoff spot. Unless Vince Young makes some strides throwing the ball, the Titans will struggle.


AFC WEST

Chargers 12-4 (2)
Broncos 7-9
Raiders 5-11
Chiefs 2-14

This race could be over by midseason. Neither the Raiders nor Chiefs will be real threats and will finish in the basement of the league. The Broncos’ window for contending closed after the 2005 AFC Championship game. It’s time to blow that thing up and re-build. San Diego dominates this division, whether or not Shawne Merriman's knee turns into Cream of Ligament.


NFC EAST

Eagles 11-5 (2)
Cowboys 11-5 (5)
Redskins 8-8
Giants 7-9

I really like the Eagles this year. They know how to build a team, which is from the inside out. It seems like they draft lineman with their first pick every year. Their secondary is extremely solid as well, and all reports are that Donovan McNabb is back to being the McNabb of old. Throw in Brian Westbrook and you have a division winner. The Cowboys, who may have the most talent in the league, will hang with them all season long. I expect a mediocre season from the Redskins as they adjust to a new head coach, and for the Giants to have a Super Bowl hangover now that they lost both of their starting bookends on the defensive line.


NFC NORTH

Vikings 10-6 (4)
Packers 9-7
Lions 7-9
Bears 4-12

Count me among those who think Tarvaris Jackson may surprise some this season. He’ll do enough to let Adrian Peterson and a fantastic defense win them the division. It will be interesting to see how Aaron Rodgers responds. He might be the player under the single-most pressure in the NFL. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Packers finished 11-5 or 7-9. I’m not on the Detroit bandwagon anymore (so they’ll probably make the playoffs). However, I’ve been telling anyone and everyone that Calvin Johnson is going to have a monster season this year. And the Bears continually befuddle me (and everyone else) by their inability to recognize that neither Kyle Orton nor Rex Grossman is an NFL caliber starting quarterback. They may have the worst offense in the league.


NFC SOUTH

Saints 12-4 (1)
Panthers 9-7 (6)
Buccaneers 7-9
Falcons 3-13

New Orleans is going to come out hungry this season. Adding Jonathan Vilma and Sedrick Ellis to their defense will prove huge, and they still have a top-notch offense. Throw in a relatively weak division and I think they get the number one seed in the NFC. The Panthers should be better with a renewed ground attack. John Fox needs to win now, and in the NFC they should contend for a playoff spot. I originally had Tampa Bay going 16-0, but their acquisition of Sean Mahan automatically causes their win total to drop by nine games. Actually, my original prediction for them was the 7-9 record you see above, which means their real record will be –2-18. Atlanta is in the tough position of having to start a rookie QB, and I have a feeling it won’t work out as well as it did for our local team here in Pittsburgh. But I do like Matt Ryan and feel like he will eventually become a pretty good quarterback.


NFC WEST

Seahawks 10-6 (3)
Cardinals 8-8
49ers 6-10
Rams 6-10

The Seahawks have won this division the last three years. This year seems like it won’t be any different. They have no real competition. Once again, pundits are saying the Cardinals are their sleeper team. I swear, this is like the 20th straight season the Cardinals have been everyone’s “sleeper” team. So I hope you understand if I wait until they actually deliver before I take them seriously. I know the 49ers were my sleeper team and their predicted 6-10 record runs contrary to that. I’m sorry, I can’t get behind them. The Rams are blessed with one of the worst coaches in the NFL, Scott Linehan. If Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson go down with injuries again, things could get ugly in St. Louis.

PLAYOFFS:

Wild Card Round:

AFC: Chargers over Texans, Steelers over Colts
NFC: Seahawks over Panthers, Cowboys over Vikings

Divisional Round:

AFC: Steelers over Patriots, Chargers over Jaguars
NFC: Saints over Cowboys, Eagles over Seahawks

Championship Games:

AFC: Steelers over Chargers
NFC: Saints over Eagles

Super Bowl XLIII:

Steelers over Saints (Yeah, yeah, call me a homer. Or a yinzer. I don’t care.)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

wooooooo! NFL time baby!

Pat said...

you just made me realize the obvious: that to win the Super Bowl, the Steelers might, in all likelihood, have to play the Chargers, Colts and Patriots TWICE. yeesh.

Dave Wannstache said...

Hey, it's a longshot... I know. But maybe the schedule they face during the season will harden them for the playoff run.

I just couldn't pick the Patriots, and there's still the Norv factor in San Diego. And if I don't like Indy to win their division, I don't like them to win the Super Bowl. I wasn't picking Jacksonville, so that only left the homer pick to make.

Johnny said...

As a redskins fan, I know that norv turner wlil not lead the chargers to a super bowl. as my friend put it, how many successful people named norv do you know?

Pat said...

Forget successful. I have never even heard of anyone else being called Norv.

Havent heard from sambo in a while. Think he's been hiding out in the PSU Pot Emporium* that just got busted?

*emporium, in this case, meaning less than an ounce apparently

Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree with ur eagles over cowboys prediction. The eagles won't win that division until they get mcnabb a halfway decent WR.

Dave Wannstache said...

Absolutely, the Eagles could use a top-flight receiver. But let's not forget that they went to three straight NFC Championship games between '01-'03 without any marquee receivers. Then Owens came to town and pushed them over the top, getting them to the Super Bowl in the '04 season.

Point is, they can still be extremely successful without a top-flight receiver. Their offense is built via a short-passing game, and McNabb makes that offense go. Look for Desean Jackson to have a decent rookie season.

Sam said...

Nice preview, 'stache. Its more impossible than ever to predict the AFC rep in the super bowl, the Steelers are as good a pick as any. I also like how you covered both sides of the 49ers, saying in one article they are your sleeper, and in another they will go 6-10. I'm going to make that move look ballsy with my sleeper article.

Quarless should've planted some pot on Morrelli last year, saved us a lot of grief.

Dave Wannstache said...

I also like how you covered both sides of the 49ers, saying in one article they are your sleeper, and in another they will go 6-10.

I'd say this preview is a more accurate representation of how I feel about the 49ers.

I don't really like any of the eligible sleeper teams. The best record I gave to one of them was 8-8 (Jets) and I didn't want to choose them. The rest of the records ranged anywhere from 2-14 to 6-10.

Anonymous said...

Sure the eagles didn't have a top flight reciever when they went to all those AFC championships, but neither did the Cowboys. Owens is the difference maker in this division. He gives the cowboys two head to head wins over the eagles