General NFL predictions:
(1) Michael Strahan’s sack record is going down… and very soon. It might be this year. It might be next year. But it’s happening. The NFL is so pass happy, and offensive lines around the league are generally so terrible, and so many pass rushers in the league are so good that 22.5 sacks doesn’t stand a chance. DeMarcus Ware is as good a candidate as anyone, maybe Jason Pierre-Paul, maybe Jason Babin… but there are about 10 guys out there that wouldn’t surprise me to see annihilate that record.
(2) With so many teams targeting personnel on D to defend against the pass, the Panthers’ rushing attack is going to pose major match-up problems for a lot of the teams they face. DeAngelo Willimas, Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton, and they added a player I love, FB Mike Tolbert, to the mix. They squeak into the playoffs this year just ahead of the Falcons, who are perhaps the most overrated team in the league, in my opinion.
(3 and 4) The Bears suddenly have a really intriguing mix of skill position players with the additions of Brandon Marshall and a player that is a perfect mudder for their shitbag field, Michael Bush. Combine those players with an interesting mix of guys with different skill sets in Devin Hester, Alshon Jeffrey, Earl Bennett, and the do-everything awesomeness of Matt Forte, and they may really have something there. Conversely, their 4 best defensive players are aging.
- Julius Peppers is 32.
- Brian Urlacher is 34, and recently had knee surgery… in Germany.
- Lance Briggs will turn 32 in November.
- Peanut Tillman is 31.
Last year, the Bears were 24th in yards on O, 17th in yards on D. This year their O will be in the top 12, and their D in the bottom 12.
(5) Through 3 preseason games, the Jets have had 36 drives. 0 TDs. I like their defense, but not so much that they can compensate for the disaster that is going to be their 2012 offensive “attack.” They’ll be picking in the Top 10 of the 2013 NFL draft. Bonus prediction: 2 starting QB changes this season, minimum.
(6) With the 1st pick of the 2013 draft, the Cleveland Browns select…
(7) I really, really like the Cardinals’ defense. Calais Campbell is an incredible player, and they have some nice supporting pieces like Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Sam Acho, and Adrian Wilson. It’s a very talented, under the radar defense. But holy hell that offensive line is bad. I spend inordinate amounts of time mentioning how bad the offensive lines for Giants, Cowboys and Redskins are, but they don’t hold a candle to the awfulness of that Cardinals group. It doesn’t really matter who the QB is. That team is doomed, despite so many other intriguing players up and down the roster. Oh wait… I need an actual prediction. Um… Cardinals finish last in the division? No, they’re still better than the Rams. How about… The Cardinals will… Gah, I got nothing. How about just… Best of luck, Kolb and Skelton, whoever has to play behind that shitstorm.
(8) This is kind of a do-or-die season for the Ravens. The left side of their OL:
- Bryant McKinney: Turns 33 in September.
- Bobbie Williams: Turns 36 in September.
- Matt Birk: Turned 36 in July.
Yikes. I still think they’ll be good on the strength of their defense. However, a lot of people are saying that Joe Flacco is primed for a “breakout season.” I’ve completely bought in that Flacco is a legitimately good NFL QB, but his “breakout season” is totally dependent on his OL not going into some sort of decline, which is inevitable at some point. I’m banking on the Ravens’ OL playing poorly this season, despite the big names.
(9) I was tempted to put the Bills in the playoffs. Love their OL, love their RB, love their DL, love their safeties. Don’t love their QB. Sorry, Ryan. After starting the season 5-2 last year, they finished 1-8. They’ll be more consistent this year. Thinking 8-8. This team would make serious noise if they had a QB. Prime candidate for a serious trade-up in the 2013 draft.
(10) Quick: Name me the NFL QB that will miss at least 4 games this season. Let me guess who you picked… Michael Vick? That’s fair. However, I think there’s a candidate out there that is just as likely, if not more. That would be Matthew Stafford, for the following reasons circled below:
Also, the Lions no have running game (the trend of having to pass a lot will continue) and they have the 2nd oldest offensive line in the NFL, behind only the aforementioned Ravens. The difference is that the Lions’ OL isn’t as talented and aside from 1st round pick Riley Reiff, has nothing in the way of depth. Stafford has one healthy season in 2011 and people completely forget that he has missed 19 games in his 3 year career. Some people think that predicting injuries is dumb. I agree, but I’m going to do it anyway. My 5 most likely QBs to miss at least 4 games (of the QBs that matter) in the NFL:
- 5. Matt Schaub
- 4. Tony Romo
- 3. Robert Griffin III
- 2. Michael Vick
- 1. Matthew Stafford
(11-24) Individual awards
- MVP: Drew Brees
- Offensive Player of the Year: Dumb award if the MVP is a player on O. I’m not even picking one out of protest.
- Defensive Player of the Year: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
- Offensive Rookie of the Year: Andrew Luck, Colts
- Defensive Rookie of the Year: Quinton Coples, Jets
- NFC seeds: (1) Packers (2) Saints (3) Eagles (4) Niners (5) Giants (6) Panthers
- Wildcard round: Eagles over Panthers, Giants over Niners
- Divisional round: Saints over Eagles, Giants over Packers (again)
- NFC Championship: Saints over Giants
- AFC seeds: (1) Texans (2) Pats (3) Ravens (4) Chiefs (5) Steelers (6) Chargers
- Wildcard round: Chargers over Ravens, Chiefs over Steelers
- Divisional round: Texans over Chargers, Pats over Chiefs
- AFC Championship: Texans over Pats
- Super Bowl: Saints over Texans
(25) Robert Griffin III is going to have his great moments. However, if he starts all 16 games, he’ll be sacked 40+ times.
(26) Anthony Spencer will lead the league in edge-setting.
(27) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is going to have a monster season, statistically. 6+ picks.
(28) DeMarco Murray will get at least double the carries that Felix Jones will get, and for good reason. Really good player.
(29) The Eagles’ DL backups (everyone not including Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Derek Landri, and Cullen Jenkins) will have more sacks than at least one entire team.
(30) The Giants are going to beat the Cowboys by at least 2 TDs in the opener.
(31) Someday David Wilson is going to be awesome, but he’s going to run for less than 650 yards in 2012.
(32) Five Redskins are going to rush for at least 200 yards.
(33) Jason Babin led the Eagles’ defensive linemen in snaps last year. He won’t be in the top 3 in 2012.
(34) I think King Dunlap has played well enough in the preseason and when he has gotten his sporadic opportunities to play in the regular season the last few years, but I think he’s in for a rough season this year as the starter.
(35) Tyron Smith’s switch to LT won’t be as smooth as most people seem to think it will.
(36) In the Giants’ last 8 games, they fumbled 7 times. Didn’t lose any of them. That kind of luck is unsustainable.
(37) Mike Jenkins is going to walk in free agency next year, and the Cowboys aren’t going to get squadoosh for him. Even if he qualifies for a compensatory pick (and that’ll only happen if the Cowboys sign fewer players than they lose), who’s going to pay him bigtime money? I don’t have the slightest clue how much Jenkins will even play this season.
(38) If Prince Amukamara can’t play Week 1, the great Michael Coe will start for the Giants. Fortunately for him, he may not have to face Miles Austin, another Cowboy with some nagging injury issues. It may be the long awaited match-up of Michael Coe vs. Kevin Ogletree. Actually, if you look at the Giants’ schedule, they don’t have to worry about facing a team with two good WRs until they play Philly in Week 4. They should be OK for the early part of the season if Amukamara can’t return right away.
(39) When you think of pass rushers around the NFC East, you think of the dominant DLs of the Eagles and Giants, and it’s hard not to think of DeMarcus Ware. However, the Redskins are going to get to the QB quite a bit this year as well. The Skins will be in the Top 10 in the NFL in sacks.
(40) Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent can be very good players… if Rob Ryan lets them play. Lissemore will be starting by the end of the season at DE.
(41) The Redskins’ front 7 on D is going to be very good. Their back end is going to be very bad.
(42) The Eagles are going to have at least 4 different starting LB combinations.
(43) I thought Perry Riley played well at the end of last season, but I was very unimpressed with him this preseason. I’m not seeing a long-term answer there.
(44) Demetress Bell will not be an Eagle in 2013, and LT will be the position that every draftnik will have as their #1 need heading into 2013 free agency / draft.
(45) The Giants averaged 3.5 yards per carry in 2011, which was last in the league. That’ll improve, but not by much. They’ll still be sub-4.0. That OL gets absolutely no push in the run game.
(46) This probably should have happened years ago, but I think that after this season, Cowboys fans really start to get on Jerry Jones to hire a real GM.
(47-60) Individual/team accomplishments (not that a number of these even exist)
- NFC East MVP: Eli Manning, QB, Giants
- NFC East MVP (defense): Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
- NFC East OROY: Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins
- NFC East DROY: Mychal Kendricks, LB, Eagles
- NFC East Offensive “Where the hell did that guy come from?” award (not a starter last year, but a significant positive contributor in 2012): Niles Paul, TE/utility player, Redskins
- NFC East Defensive “Where the hell did that guy come from?” award: Derek Landri, DT, Eagles
- NFC East Offensive “What the hell happened to that guy?” award (for a the player experiencing a decline): I hate myself for typing this name, but… Evan Mathis, OG, Eagles
- NFC East Defensive “What the hell happened to that guy?” award: I hate myself for typing this name, but… London Fletcher, ILB, Redskins
- Giants Pro Bowlers: Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, JPP, Corey Webster, Kenny Phillips
- Eagles Pro Bowlers: LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jason Kelce, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trent Cole
- Cowboys Pro Bowlers: DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Carr, Sean Lee
- Redskins Pro Bowlers: Trent Williams, Fred Davis, Brian Orakpo
- NFC East standings: Eagles (11-5), Giants (10-6), Redskins (7-9), Cowboys (7-9)
- Head coach firings: None