Unless you have been locked in a closet, or trapped in a hole with a long-haired freak-o telling you to put lotion on your skin, you know that an earthquake hit the east coast earlier today. If you have Facebook, you heard about this 1,568 different times because apparently people think they get extra Farmville points for being the first to mention "earthquake" in their status. Well, since the world is clearly coming to an end soon, I thought I'd put my 2011 NFL Predictions in print before "East United States" becomes it's own country floating in the Atlantic ocean.
As much as I would LOVE to predict the Eagles to go 6-10 and miss the playoffs, with Michael Vick getting eaten by Walsh's dog Reggie in week 2 and Vince Young completing 48.2% of his passes with 27 INTs the rest of the season, I have to pick Da Birds to win the East. The Giants are too banged up (and they have Eli - the "special" Manning brother - as their QB), the Cowboys are too hot and cold and the Redskins are just flat out awful. They might not win 3 games.
Final Standings: Eagles 12-4, Giants 9-7, Cowboys 8-8, Redskins 3-13.
The Packers are still the clear favorites here. I do think the NFC North might be the most loaded division in the NFC...if not the entire NFL. But no one is ready to unseat the Pack at the top. The Vikings brought in McNabb which should help the passing game and open up more holes for Peterson in the run game. But McNabb is old...and the only half-decent wide receiver on the team is Percy "Migraines" Harvin. The Bears still have Jay Cutler, who has a "laser-rocket arm" but has no one to throw it to other than opposing defensive backs. And the Lions are definitely up-and-coming, but not quite ready to take "the leap" just yet. Though, to make sure I add some homerism to this post, I'm picking them as a wild card team. (FYI - "homerism" will net you approximately 47 points in Words With Friends)
Final Standings: Packers 13-3, Lions 10-6, Vikings 8-8, Bears 7-9
Another loaded division, with three teams that could all make the playoffs - the Saints, Falcons and Bucs. I think the Falcons win the division and the Bucs surprise by beating out the Saints for a wild card. Nothing too exciting here, except for the weekly debate over whether Cam Newton will develop into a solid NFL QB, or just another awesome athlete. I'll go out on a limb and say he develops into a top 10-15 QB a few years down the road. Plus, that will make it more fun when the NCAA takes his Heisman Trophy in 2 years after finding out that Newton spent his entire senior year living on a remote island with 4 supermodels and being choppered in and out of Jordan Hare Stadium on game day.
Final Standings: Falcons 12-4, Bucs 11-5, Saints 9-7, Panthers 2-14
I know this is cliche by now, but I'm skipping the NFC West and just jumping straight to final standings. The division has maybe 2 exciting players and no exciting teams. Apologies to Colin. Follow him on twitter @c_donlevy.
Final Standings: Rams 9-7, Seahawks 7-9, 49ers 6-10, Cardinals 5-11
Lions @ Falcons and Bucs @ Rams. The Lions fairytale ends here, but the Bucs march on.
Bucs @ Packers and Falcons @ Eagles. The home teams dominate to setup a rematch of last year's wildcard upset.
Eagles @ Packers. KUUUUUUUUUUHN.
The Patriots still rule this division. Sorry Jets fans, but you aren't beating Tom Brady again as long as Mark Sanchez is still your QB. Yeah, I know you beat them in the playoffs last year. This isn't last year. As for the Dolphins and the Bills....blech. Nothing to see here.
Final Standings: Patriots 14-2, Jets 11-5, Dolphins 5-11, Bills 3-13
This division boasts the best inter-division rivalry (Steelers/Ravens) and maybe the worst/least exciting teams in the NFL (Browns/Bengals). As much as it pains me to say, I think the Steelers still have the upper hand. Mostly because Roethlisberger is significantly better than Joe Flacco. I hope I'm wrong.
Final Standings: Steelers 11-5, Ravens 10-6, Browns 6-10, Bengals 1-15
Another boring division here. It seems every year is "the year" the Colts fall...but Peyton Manning won't let that happen. And oh yeah, for those of you in fantasy football leagues that have not drafted yet, Peyton Manning is going WAY too late. He will play week 1, and will finish as a top 4 QB. He was the 9th QB taken in my draft last Sunday, after guys like Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Matt Schaub. Unacceptable. As for the rest of the division, I like the Texans for fantasy purposes; just not in real life. And the Titans and Jags are who we thought they were - mediocre.
Final Standings: Colts 12-4, Texans 9-7, Titans 7-9, Jags 7-9
Raiders - Terrell Pryor - Match Made in Heaven! Pryor isn't going to play, and the Raiders aren't going to win. The Chargers on the other hand, I think this might be the year they finally win a playoff game. Phillip Rivers is turning into a top 5 QB in the league and he has a lot of weapons - led by Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates. The Chiefs were a nice story last year, but I just don't see them improving much. And the Broncos will likely sabotage their season by letting Tim Tebow take over as QB1 after a few shaky Kyle Orton weeks. Big mistake.
Final Standings: Chargers 11-5, Chiefs 8-8, Raiders 6-10, Broncos 4-12
Ravens @ Chargers and Jets @ Steelers. Rivers is too much for Ray Lewis and Co. And the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets pull off an upset and knock the Steelers out early with Bart Scott stomping on terrible towels.
Jets @ Patriots and Chargers @ Colts. The Hoodie isn't losing to Foot-Fetish again. And this might be the week Manning passes the torch to Rivers (you know, 2nd best QB in the AFC torch).
Chargers @ Patriots. Bring on a matchup of the NFL's two best QBs!
Packers @ Patriots. Rarely do teams repeat in the Super Bowl. I think the Packers definitely have the skills and mental makeup to return to the game and possibly win it again. But, I think Brady will have his boys focused in the playoffs this year. Patriots 31 Packers 21. Hanging low like a boss, Howitzer.
P.S. I did not look at a single schedule when making these predictions. Chances are I will get .00034% of them right.