I’ll have to pull this all off in one day, now, since the season starts tomorrow. It’s not too late to join The Sandlot’s Pigskin Pick’em league—check the earlier post for details on how to join.
1. New England Patriots—Best coach, best QB, defending champs...until someone beats these guys, I’m not gonna pick against them.
2. New York Jets—I think they’re ready to take the next step this year; unfortunately for them, the best they can hope for is a wild card berth because of the guys living in the penthouse suit above them.
3. Buffalo Bills—I’ve got a good feeling about their team, but I don’t really know what to expect from second-year QB J.P. Losman, so I can’t say “playoffs” yet with this bunch.
4. Miami Dolphins—Nick Saban’s gonna have this team back in the playoff hunt...in 2007. For now, they still stink, but I also think they’ll play spoiler late in the year.
1. Indianapolis Colts—Repeat after me: “We must secure home field advantage.” Nothing else matters for this team.
2. Houston Texans—This is who I think will be the “come out of nowhere” team in the NFL this year, similar to the Rams in 1999. They’ve got an exciting young quarterback, a solid coach in Dom Capers and a potentially great defense. If they turn out to be a big surprise this year, it won’t surprise me.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars—They surprised a lot of teams last year and looked they would make a run in January, but fell just short. Many expect they will take it to the next level. I expect that teams will start game planning for Byron Leftwich, and he’ll take a couple of steps backward.
4. Tennessee Titans—I like Steve McNair, and I love Jeff Fisher so much that I hope the Rams hire him to replace Mike Martz after this far-too-old team finishes last in their division. Time to rebuild!
1. Baltimore Ravens—I don’t like Kyle Boller, but you don’t have to be a great QB to succeed in Brian Billick’s system (see Superbowl winning QB Trent Dilfer for references); the Ravens’ vicious defense will be enough to win the North.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers—With both running backs hurt and Ben Roethisberger poised to experience a sophomore slump, I can’t expect the Steelers to repeat another title run. (And now, Tuck will attempt to light my hair on fire...)
3. Cincinnati Bengals—Put down the Kool-Aid, step away from the Marvin Lewis bandwagon, and look closely at the tiger stripes on the helmet. We okay now? Good.
4. Cleveland Browns—Don’t believe all the Carson Palmer hype. Romeo Crennel needs at least two years to remake this defense. Like Saban in Miami, he won’t be a factor until 2007.
1. San Diego Chargers—The best running back in the NFL, another surprisingly good campaign from Drew Brees, and the worst playoff coach in the history of league will still find a way to cough up the season. Do you think Bernie Kosar sends Schottenheimer a box of dead flowers every year before the AFC Championship?
2. Denver Broncos—Just because their home field advantage is good for six or seven games, plus two or three on the road, which should be good for second place.
3. Kansas City Chiefs—Defense? What’s a defense? We’re supposed to play defense? How does that work?
4. Oakland Raiders—Does anyone look more clueless on the sidelines than Norv Turner? He looks like my 10th grade civics teacher when you’d ask him a tough question—completely dumbfounded. And what’s all this talk about Randy Moss making such a big difference? Tell me, how many rings did he win in Minnesota? That’s what I thought.
New York Jets
You probably noticed I didn't pick playoff winners or Superbowl teams in either conference. That's because getting it right is like winning the lottery. I'll make those picks before the playoffs start, and we'll see if I picked the participants correctly. Hey, it's my blog, it's my rules!