Hey Sandlot readers, don't forget to join our "Pigskin Pick-em" league at espn.com. Click on the link listed under "Recent Posts" for details on how to join. So without further delay, here's the rest of the NFC team predictions...
1. Minnesota Vikings—Of course I'm going to pick the Vikings to win the division; I ALWAYS pick the Vikings to win the division. What's different this year? Well, they'll actually win it. With an improved defense and no more Randy Moss distractions, look for Daunte Culpepper to have a career year. If they can secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs, we'll probably have a rematch of the 1998 NFC Championship and one more chance at redemption (God, please!).
2. Green Bay Packers—but only because Favre's the Man. The rest of the team stinks on ice. Fortunately for Green Bay, so also does the rest of the division.
3. Chicago Bears—So how many years has it been since the Bears had a legitimate quarterback? Twenty? Lovie should have signed Kurt Warner when he had the chance.
4. Detroit Lions—Hosting the Superbowl is the only involvement this franchise will ever have with the championship game. Steve Mariucchi deserves better than this. He should be coaching Favre in Green Bay and Mike Sherman should be stuck with this atrocious bunch.
1. St. Louis Rams—I think they'll have enough offense to win nine or ten games, which should be enough in the West. Steven Jackson will be an All-Pro running back, Marshall Faulk will make some huge plays as an all-purpose back (I think he'll catch more passes than he'll have run touches), and the O-line just HAS to be better than last year (there's nowhere to go down from "worst"). The defense and special teams, once again, will determine whether they can advance in the playoffs.
2. Seattle Seahawks—The so-called experts like Seattle to win the division again this year. My question is why? They should have the helmet logo in the dictionary under "inconsistent."
3. Arizona Cardinals—I was all excited about Kurt Warner playing for Dennis Green with a cadre of young receivers and a revamped defense...and then I saw their schedule. Unless Warner has a year like he did in 1999, I don't see any way this team can finish better than .500, and no one's more disappointed about it than I am. If I'm wrong about one pick, I hope it's this one.
4. San Francisco 49ers—New coach, bad QB, rookie QB on the bench, tragedy during training camp...there's not much else that can go wrong with this once-proud franchise. Good riddance, says me—I always despised the 49ers in their heyday. Sip that with yer chardonnay, suckers!
Tomorrow: AFC Preview, part one