Look, I'm not gonna act like I actually know what I'm talking about here. I'm not even gonna pretend that I've studied the subject at any length. I even winged it for my fantasy draft this year. But remember last year I predicted the Stillers were gonna make it to the Super Bowl in November. That makes me better than half the prognosticators who actually get paid to do this crap. Besides, I just thought this little exercise would be fun.
The 2Gs are all about the AFC (who has won seven of the last 10 Super Bowls). The last few years, you could just assume that the winner of the AFC title would win the Lombardi (though I prayed and prayed the Giants were gonna beat the Pats--THANK YOU, JESUS!!!). I still think the AFC has the edge this year; but the NFC is getting tougher, and I don't think you can assume they'll be taking home the trophy.
1. Philadelphia Eages
OK, McNabb broke a rib on Sunday, but isn't this the same guy who threw for, like, 5,000 yards one game on a friggin' broken ankle? The NFL has some good-ass drugs, and McNabb knows how to use 'em. You gotta figure he'll be back soon enough.
Aside from that, you gotta think that the Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC. Their defense is always hard-ass, and McNabb always figures out how to win even though he's only had one season with someone to throw to. If Westbrook stays healthy and the Eagles use Vick in a Kordell Stewart-"Slash" style, I can't see who can stop these fools in the NFC.
2. New York Giants
Well, the Giants could. Talk about a monster D.
If Plexiglas hadn't shot himself, the G-Men probably would've repeated last year. But, without Plex, Eli Manning looked more like Eli DeBerg. They need someone to stretch the field, or you can forget about a passing game (yeah, yeah, they did well against the Skins--but it was the Skins). And you can definitely forget about another SB run.
3. Dallas Cowboys
I thought the Cowpokeds were finally going to suck their way back into football obscurity this season--giant TV monitors, and all--and I'd finally get a few seasons' reprieve from the undeserved, overrated hype we all suffer come football season. Then the Romo acted quite Retero in Tampa Bay. The Bucs got problems of their own, but they've allowed the Cowgirl hype to continue a week longer than it should've. But, in all honesty, they're good enough to make games interesting and to stay outta the basement.
4. Washington Redskins
Danielle Snyder's Foreskins always win the Super Bowl in April, and the Washington media's so delusional, you could've sworn they won it all back in February. Then folks wake up to almost realize DC's darlings sucked yet again. This year, Danielle opened the purse strings to overpay for Albert Haynesworth. The midge never learns--Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Cornelius Griffin, Shawn Springs, David Patten, Brandon Lloyd, Antwan Randle El, Andre Carter, London Fletcher, Jason Taylor, DeAngelo Hall. But how can I feel any sympathy for such a horrible prick and a team with such a horrible name?
I don't know about the toughest division, but I'm thinking the NFC South could be the funnest. There's a whole lotta offense here. Steve Smith, Drew Brees, Cadillac Williams, Tony Gonzalez, DeAngelo Williams, Reggie bush, Marques Colston, Kellen Winslow, Jr. Get ready for some shoot-outs.
1. Carolina Panthers
I know Jake stunk up the joint against the Eagles on Sunday and nobody ever seems to believe in him. But the man's got spunk, and that's what this league--and porn--is made out of. Besides, all he has to do is throw the ball in the air, and Steve Smith will come down with it. Their defense sucks (obviously!), but whose doesn't in this division?
2. Atlanta Falcons
Teams that surprise one season usually disappoint the next. I'm thinking the same thing will happen to the Dirty Birds this year. Besides, they're so used to disappointing I can't see their shedding that yoke any time soon. I just can't figure out how Tony Gonzalez, who insisted on being traded to a team with a chance to win, decided the ATL was the place to be.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I think they're gonna be one of this year's surprise teams. They've got so many guys who were supposed to be studs--Leftwich, Winslow, Cadillac, Antonio Bryant--I'm thinking something might just click. The defense is young and inexperienced and got lit up by Dallas--but they hung tough for most of the game. That's much better than what New Orleans has got, and that's what will keep them out of the basement.
4. New Orleans Saints
Apparently, Drew Brees still has a chip on his shoulder for getting dissed by San Diego. The Saints' O is absolutely brilliant, but their D is an absolute zero. Don't expect to see them post that number on any scoreboard this year.
If it weren't for the Lyin's, I'd say this was a pretty tough division.
1. Chicago Bears
Ironic, ain't it? All those years, the Bears have had some pretty decent receivers just praying that Terriblasaurus Rex could manage to get the ball to them. Now, they have Jay Cutler and no one to throw it to.
Though they won't do it this week against the Stillers, you gotta think the Bears will rebound from their disappointing loss to Green Bay. Even without Urlacher, they've got the defense to do the job. Matt Forte looks like a true stud. The problem is who the hell is Cutler going to throw to? Devin Hester can certainly burn 'em, but he still needs to learn how to catch the ball. Otherwise, look for Desmond Clark or Gregg Olsen to become Pro Bowl tight ends.
2. Minnesota Vikings
I know that a lot of folks are riding the Purple jock this year. They're saying they haven't been this talented in years. Yes, Adrian Peterson is God--and apparently the object of many homoerotic sports desires in his "NFL Fantasy" ad. It's just that Brett Favre was a huge mistake. The problem is Brett Favre thinks he's still Brett Favre. He ain't. He's old. Even if all he does is hand it off to Peterson 4 out of 5 times. That fifth time, he'll gunsling and shoot himself in the foot. Then he'll wear down and drag his team and their hopes down with him. But he won't do that until the playoffs.
3. Green Bay Packers
With Dom Capers heading up the defense, I think the Pack's gonna be pretty tough this year. And the longer Favre sticks around, the more I root for Aaron Rodgers. But you gotta think they're years away.
4. Detroit Lions
Insert your own joke here. All I got to say is Matt Millen.
Has an uglier division ever been created in all of professional sports? Seriously, I'd rather watch the Senior Circuit Shuffle Board Championships than watching this atrocious ship of fools go down yet again.
Well, every year it's like flipping a coin to see who will go 8-8 and win this one. So, here's what my quarter says.
1. Seattle Seahawks
Sure. Why not? Hasselback is supposedly finally healthy, and he's got T.J. Houshmandzadeh to throw to. I'm not a Julius Jones believer, but he's good enough. After all, we're only looking for 8-8 here.
2. San Francisco 49ers
I think Mike Singletary has lit a fire under their asses. No, nobody's gonna confuse Hill-to-Bruce for Montana-to-Rice, but I think they're on their way to surprising more than a few haters.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Ahh ... I remember, back in the day, when my granddaddy used to sit me on his knee and regale me with tales of the legendary shoot outs between Slingin' Sammy Baugh and Kurt Warner ...
I think this is the year that Arizona finally decides if Matt Leinart is the future of the organization or not.
4. St. Louis Rams
Marc Bulger has always struck me as the Steve Gutenberg of the NFL: I just can't figure out how a guy who looks like he's supposed to be cleaning my teeth ended up being a multimillion-dollar star. Well, it looks like Bulger and the Rams have entered the Police Academy V phase of their careers.
I think their dominance may finally be on the decline, but the AFC still owns the best football in town.
This may actually be the toughest division this year. If not, they'll still win for the most boring uniforms in the league.
1. New England Patriots
There are two things Tom Brady does best: father illegitimate children and win football games. So, close your legs and open your eyes! 'Cause the Brady Bunch is back!
You saw it Monday night. Whether it's talent, luck, or hoodoo, Brady knows how end the day with a W. New England's gonna continue to piss me off this year. The defense is a shambles, though. Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, and Richard Seymour are all gone. Their games are all gonna be shoot outs, and Brady will win more than he loses. The problem with shoot outs, though, is that always end up mortally wounded. That will happen to the Pats in the playoffs.
2. Miami Dolphins
Running and defense. That's what wins football games, right? And the Dolphins have those in spades. Sure, Chad Pennington ain't Dan Marino. But Danny Boy never had a running back. Chad's got, like, 30 of 'em. But he really needs a receiver.
3. Buffalo Bills
Trent Edwards has got two of 'em. Lee Evans and T.O. I know T.O. didn't do much Monday night, but his very presence is gonna open the field up for Edwards to have a field day every Sunday. If Marshawn Lynch is healthy, don't be surprised if the Bills surpass the Dolphins and squeak into the playoffs this year. They'll at least be fun to watch.
4. New York Jets
I'm thinking Rex Ryan's defense will be fun to watch, too. And Mark Sanchez didn't do too badly in his NFL debut. But the Jets are one of those teams that never seem to go anywhere. This year should be no different. I don't know how their fans do it. I guess they TiVo Giants games on the sly.
For a minute there, a couple years back, I thought this was going to be the dominant division in football for years to come. I guess that's why I don't get paid to do this mess.
1. Tennessee Titans
They definitely missed Haynesworth on Thursday as they allowed Big Ben to pluck them like a Thanksgiving turkey. But what can you do when Danielle wants to open the vault to buy your player?
The defense still looks pretty hard-ass, though. The running game still plays smash-mouth. Last year, the Titans lacked anyone to actually catch the ball. Gage and Britt look much improved, but they're still unimpressive. And, with the Alcoholic Racist still at QB, the Titans are doomed to fall short again this year.
2. Indianapolis Colts
The '90s had the Atlanta Braves. The 2Gs have the Colts. All that talent, all that potential, and only one Super Bowl ring to show for it all. Yes, it's exponentially more rings than the '90s Bills got, but still, what a wasted opportunity.
Well, that era's now over. They'll still be pretty decent this year, and Peyton will still make pretty cute commercials; but you gotta think the Reign of the Colts pulled up fairly lame.
3. Houston Texans
Beckett should've named it Waiting for the Texans. At the end of every year, they look like they're gonna do something next year. But guess what, Vladimir and Estragon? Yep. Next year never comes. With Schaub, Slaton, Andre Johnson, and Mario Williams, one wants to be optimistic about the Texans' chances this year, but history should tell you different.
Estragon: I can't go on like this.
Vladimir: That's what you think.
Estragon: If we parted? It might be better for us.
Vladimir: We'll hang ourselves tomorrow. Unless Matt Schaub throws for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Estragon: And if he throws for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns?
Vladimir: We'll be saved.
4. Jacksonville Jaquars
It seems like the NFL is overrun with halfway decent receivers. It makes me wonder how the Jags haven't been able to snag at least one of 'em. It's a shame because, at one point, it seemed like they could've been a contender. I think that window's closed on the Jags, though. Maurice Jones-Drew's arms are just too short to box with the NFL. I can't see him carrying the Jaguars to the Promised Land.
Being a born-and-bred Stillers fan, I'd like to think the AFC North is the toughest division in the league. But I'm still on my meds. So, I can't. We just have the two toughest teams in the NFL--and two of the lamest.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Everything points to our repeating. We had the toughest schedule last year and wound up 12-4 with our sixth Lombardi Trophy. We had the #1 defense. And something like 20 of last year's 22 starters returned for a sequel. But that O-line makes Swiss cheese look solid. If they don't improve, Parker doesn't get his bounce back, and/or Mendenhall's not for real, Big Ben's gonna have some great numbers (cool, since he's my FF QB) and a reeaaallllyyyyy long season.
I keep saying this, but the offensive line can't get any worse. So, they have to improve. Either Mendenhall, Parker, or Mewelde Moore will step up. The defense will survive Troy's 3-6-week absence, being "merely" impressive instead of utterly dominating.
You've still gotta like the Stillers' chances.
2. Baltimore Ravens
I would absolutely love the Baltimore Ravens if it weren't for two things: 1) Ray Lewis is a murderer and should be in jail; and 2) they're in our friggin' division! The D will suffocate as always and provide a weekly bloodbath. And safety Ed Reed will score more touchdowns than any of the Bal'mer receivers.
And that's the Ravens' problem. They still don't have the deep threat. Derrick Mason, though still impressive, is 10 years past his prime. Todd Heap will definitely have a better season. But you've gotta be able to pass for more than six yards at a time.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
I was seriously rooting for Marvin Lewis to get a head-coaching gig for years. Needless to say, I've been disappointed with his tenture in Cincy. It seems like the Bungholes are more apt to collect felonies than wins during any football season.
Carson Palmer simply isn't the same QB he was before his knee injury. Ochocino should change his name to Muchoculo. And Laverneus Coles can't spell Houshmandzadeh (but who can?). These fools should count themselves lucky that the Browns are in the division.
4. Cleveland Browns
They should count themselves lucky that the Lions are in the league. What a disaster.
Thanks to the Chargers, the AFC West is not quite their NFC counterpart. But damn, the West sucks.
1. San Diego Chargers
I think of the Chargers as the "Colts Lite." On paper, there is absolutely no reason why these guys don't have at least one SB ring on their hands. They are just too talented. Yet, every year they find a way to lose. LT punks out. Shawn Merriman loses his mind. Antonio Gates disappears. And Philip Rivers has to be wheeled off the field. I guess that's what happens when you have either Marty Schottenheimer or Norv Turner calling the shots.
Well, you gotta think if they don't do it this year, they never will. Merriman can barely control his roid rage any longer, and the team's about to break apart. How else can you explain their making LT's back-up, Darren Sproles, their franchise player?
The Chargers will win the division 'cause someone's got to, then be out in the second round--with LaDanian injured and sobbing on the sidelines. Who knew "punk" was spelled with an "L" and a "T"?
2. Oakland Raiders
I'm entitled to one Cra-Z Crackhead pick. This is it. With McFadden, Bush, and Huggie Bear, Jr., the Raiders are gonna literally run all over everybody. That's pretty much all they can do. I'm thinking JaMarcus Russell couldn't possibly be as bad as he was last year. He'll definitely complete a pass or two to complement the run game.
The one X-Factor in Oaktown is Al Davis (the Kim Jong-Il of football, as my boy, Jet, puts it). How will he nuke his team this year?
3. Denver Broncos
Either new coach Josh McDaniels has the biggest balls in football for trading Jay Cutler or he's the biggest docuhebag in the history of professional sports. Either way, he'll be fired by the end of next season. You simply don't trade away a franchise quarterback. And you definitely do not trade him for Kyle Orton!
4. Kansas City Chiefs
I hear former Chiefs head coach, Herm Edwards, a consummate moron, was a huge fan of Napoleon and could constantly be heard misquoting the emperor, saying, "Après moi, la merde."
Well, now that Herm is gone, his prophesy will be found to be true, and the Kansas City Chiefs will wallow in shit for years to come. Just ask the Jets.
Sure, why not?
Wild Card Weekend
New York Giants over Seattle Seahawks
Minnesota Vikings over Carolina Panthers
New England Patriots over Indianapolis Colts
San Diego Chargers over Baltimore Ravens
Philadelphia Eagles over Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears over New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers over New England Patriots (finally!)
Tennessee Titans over San Diego Chargers
Philadelphia Eagles over Chicago Bears
Pittsburgh Steelers over Tennessee Titans
You know, a large part of me wants to pick the Eagles for this one. Donovan McNabb deserves it. He's a gamer, a Hall of Fame quarterback, and, as I said, he knows how to win. And he deserves it for all the flak he's taken over the years and for all those crappy years when it was only him and a stifling D that got the Eagles as far as they've gotten. And, with Michael Vick and a healthy Brian Westbrook (which he won't be) by his side, you've gotta think the Lombardy trophy is theirs for the taking.
However, while McNabb knows how to win, the Eagles, as an organization, always figure out a way to lose.
And fuck it. I'm a homer.