Here at Joboo we’ll be wrapping up our predictions for the upcoming NFL season in anticipation of the regular season getting underway Thursday night. We’ve already took the time to go through the AFC and NFC in previous posts so if you’re a first time visitor go ahead a take a look back at those. This post is dedicated primarily to picking the champions of each conference and the eventual Super Bowl winner. If we had the time or desire to figure out the actual playoff structure and predict the number of wins for each team we could lay out the actual playoff brackets, but hey you’re reading this for free so really that would probably be asking too much considering I’m sitting here writing this post in Business Enterprises. . .anyway on to the picks
A quick couple notes on predictions before I open myself up to mass amounts of ridicule. First of all, it is impossible at this point to accurately predict what is going to happen in the NFL this far down the road. The way that injuries, suspensions or even just a bad loss or upset can fundamentally change a season for a team there are too many variables to make these things dependent on anything more than luck. The other thing is I try and base these predictions on the most information I have at hand at the time and rationally connecting that information to results on the field. I’m sure I miss some stuff and I probably don’t even think of other things but hopefully you enjoy and don’t ask yourself “What the fuck was that jack-ass thinking?”
It pains me to say it, but I think Indianapolis is going to wrap up one of the first round byes. Despite losing Edge they will probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 11 or 12 wins. The second bye is a much tougher call. I like Cincinnati in the AFC North but their schedule is probably going to shape up to be one of the tougher in the league. I think that opens up the way for Denver to slide into that second bye. The Broncos do have an easier schedule and certainly an easier division out West so I guess we’ll pencil them in there.
I have a feeling the Colts probably make it through to the AFC Championship game, but as history has proven Peyton has yet to get it done in a big game all the way back to college. Who ever survives between Baltimore and Cincinnati has a real shot at knocking off the Colts who will in all likelihood be playing that game at home. So because I have to pick one team, and refuse to go with the Colts we are going to pencil in the Baltimore Ravens as the AFC Champions, albeit that I’m not really sure how I came to that conclusion.
I think that the NFC may have the two weakest divisions in all of football. The NFC West should produce enough wins almost by itself for Seattle to lock up a first round bye. The second first round bye is a much closer call. I think Carolina is the second best team in the NFC, but based on strength of schedule and how I understand the tie breaking system I have to give the second first round bye to the Chicago Bears. On top of playing in the crappy NFC North, the Bears also get to play the teams from the NFC West which is also on balance not filled with good football teams. Despite the bye week, the NFC championship will come down to Seattle hosting Carolina, and once again I think Seahawks will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
So, and once again I’m not really sure how, the Super Bowl match-up has come down to Baltimore vs. Seattle. So on the off chance that this is the match-up I’m going to break it down a little bit for you.
Offense: The addition of Steve McNair gives the Ravens the best quarterback in their brief history, but it also adds questions. McNair has recently been plagued by injuries so it is a huge question whether or not he will be on top of his game come February. Hassleback hasn’t been injury prone, and has consistently improved the last couple years and shows no sign of slowing down now. Advantage: Seahawks. At running back the Ravens offer up the tandem of Jamal Lewis and Mike Anderson. Lewis has to prove that he’s over what ever it was that slowed him down last year, be it injury or readjusting from prison life. Anderson also has to show that he wasn’t merely a product of Mike Shanahan’s offensive scheme, a task that only Clinton Portis has been able to pull off. On the Seahawks side they offer Shaun Alexander who is a scoring machine that eats up yards and can kill a clock if the Seahawks grab a lead. Advantage: Seahawks As far as the receiving corps of each team go, they’ll likely be better than last year but I don’t see either Coach saying they are the keys to victory. Advantage: Push.
Defense: Seattle offers up a defense that finished in the middle of most categories last year, and with no big name acquisitions or high draft choices its unlikely that they’ll make a big jump but they probably won’t fall too much either. Baltimore on the other hand is a team that prides itself on defense, and finished last year in the top five of most major defensive categories. The Baltimore defense also features a number of big play-makers that can change a game with a single play, most notably Ed Reed. Advantage: Baltimore.
Special Teams: I really don’t know, although its more than likely that the Super Bowl will end up being decided by a kicker or some return man. This would be impossible to predict so I’m not going to try, but its almost a certainty that a big special teams play will alter the course of the game as much as any defensive or offensive play.
In the end, the Ravens’ defense will certainly test the Seahawks, but the Seahawks will jump out to an early lead and the Ravens will be unable to catch up. The game will probably finish closer than it will be in reality, so will go with the final being 24-17.