Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Film Room: Chris Harris

Is Harris one of the league's top cover corners, or a product of the system in which he plays? Cian Fahey says the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

07 Sep 2006

2006 Season Predictions

OK, let's start with this basic rule: picks are essentially silly. We know that every season in the NFL, there are going to be teams that improve and decline for reasons that nobody predicted. Even sillier than picking the divisions is picking conference champions or the Super Bowl winner. Let's say we think the Denver Broncos have the best chance of any team in the AFC to make it to the Super Bowl. Perhaps we think they have a 20% chance to make it, and we think that six other teams have a 10% chance to make it, and eight other teams have a 2.5% chance to make it, and they will also play some games in Buffalo this season. OK, so we pick Denver to win the AFC. Even based solely on this opinion, there is four in five chance the pick will be incorrect. So we are all going to be mostly wrong.

We're going to make picks anyway, because that's part of running a football site: you make picks.

You will find picks here from most of the members of the of the Football Outsiders staff. On each table you will also find picks based on the DVOA Projection System, which you can read about here, and a staff consensus. As many of you know, for two straight years, we've had the most accurate picks of any experts from any magazine, website, or television network, as tracked by King Kaufman of Salon.com. So we feel a little bit of pressure to make it three in a row. We've been known to do the impossible like Broadway Joe, so let's see if we can make it happen.

AFC

Name EAST NORTH SOUTH WEST WILD CARDS
Aaron Patriots Steelers Colts Chargers Broncos, Dolphins
Bill Barnwell Patriots Steelers Jaguars Chargers Colts, Dolphins
Bill Moore Dolphins Bengals Colts Broncos Patriots, Steelers
Doug Patriots Steelers Colts Broncos Dolphins, Bengals
Ian Patriots Ravens Colts Chargers Bengals, Dolphins
Mike Smith Patriots Steelers Colts Broncos Jaguars, Chargers
Mike Tanier Patriots Steelers Colts Broncos Chargers, Bengals
Ned Patriots Steelers Colts Chargers Broncos, Ravens
Russell Patriots Steelers Colts Broncos Dolphins, Bengals
Ryan Patriots Steelers Colts Broncos Dolphins, Bengals
Tim Patriots Bengals Colts Chargers Steelers, Broncos
DVOA Projections Patriots Bengals Colts Chargers Chiefs, Broncos
FO Consensus Patriots Steelers Colts Broncos Dolphins, Bengals

Aaron Schatz

With the easy schedule both teams get to face, those Dolphins-Patriots games will be very important. I think there's going to be some defensive regression in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, although I don't think it will be enough to cost the Colts a playoff spot. The projection system likes the Chiefs, but their passing game is a house of cards that's very close to falling apart due to age and all the retirements and injuries along the offensive line. Speaking of injuries, the Broncos were strong and balanced last year but people don't realize how few injuries they had. The only major ones were to Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams, and the odds of another season that injury-free are pretty small. I think the Chargers will sneak out the AFC West title, but there's no way they're going to make the Super Bowl with that secondary. At some point in the playoffs, Manning, Brady, or Roethlisberger will just destroy them. If Haloti Ngata and Dewan Landry play well right away, the Ravens could overcome the deterioration of their offensive line and make the playoffs. I don't think it will happen, but it's a reasonable possibility.

Bill Barnwell

I really think the AFC is going to be a conference of haves and have-nots this season. The Jets, Chiefs, Bills, Browns, Texans, and Raiders are all going to be ugly teams. None of them are going to go 0-16, but they're going to have about 40 wins to split between the six of them, and that may be generous. The Titans and Ravens are in the next group of teams who should be mediocre, but might not have enough to make a playoff run. The Bengals are the X-Factor here; they could win five games or twelve -- I'm leaning towards the latter. That leaves a pretty 2005-looking group of teams to contest the '06 playoffs. The Broncos, on the other hand, I've flip-flopped on since I said they'd win more than 10 games in Scramble. The record of teams with the hardest schedule in football, as good as they are, is just so poor that I have to say they'll go 9-7 and barely miss out. I am also guessing I might be the only member of the staff to pick the Jags to win the AFC South; I think the Colts are so good that they'll make the playoffs, but the absence of Edgerrin James as a pass-blocker is going to hurt them. They're going to have to modify their offense, and that's going to take a while for them to settle into.

Bill Moore

The AFC East is a tale of the haves and have-nots. I can tell you that the Bills and the Jets will not win the division, but can't tell you necessarily who will. I think there's a decent chance that the Dolphins and the Patriots could tie atop the division. My call is that Miami wins the tie-breaker and pushes New England to the wild card spot. As for the North, Carson is back, and will retain the division title for the Bengals despite the second-hardest schedule. The Steelers settle for the wild card again. Indy's easy pass schedule will more than make up for the change in running backs, and Jacksonville's tough early schedule is their undoing. Denver emerges from the West over the Chargers since I think a "rookie" QB will cause the Chargers to lose at least one game that they shouldn't. Such fact could be a re-do of last year, pushing the Chargers out of the playoffs altogether.

Doug Farrar

In the East, while I'm not ready to assign "Last Hurrah" status to Belichick's crew, he may have to pull off his best coaching job yet to leapfrog Miami and make serious noise in the playoffs. Laurence Maroney will help by having a monster season. The Dolphins will benefit from Daunte Culpepper's arrival and Ronnie Brown's ascendance, though marginal questions on the offensive line and in the secondary might be the things that set 2006 as their "almost" year. To be sure, Nick Saban is putting together quite a team, but they're also one Culpepper injury away from Harrington as their starter. Ouch. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, like the Pats and Fins, will beat each other's brains in while an otherwise underwhelming division looks on. Last year, the Bengals took the division, while the Steelers were the belles of the ball in the postseason. This year, I think Pittsburgh will be more consistently successful in the regular season. I like Steve McNair at the helm in Baltimore, but that O-line will test his scrambling skills often. The Colts don't have any real competition in the South - I've been drinking the Jacksonville Kool-Aid for the past couple of years, but I'm less convinced this time. Denver may very well wind up being the class of the AFC with an extremely well-balanced team. Their competitors for the division title have been waylaid by a formerly great O-line falling apart with alarming speed (Chiefs) and too-early reliance on a young quarterback with great potential (San Diego).

Ian Dembsky

The Chargers will finally get over the hump and win the AFC West. The Ravens will surprise and win the North, with Steve McNair and their big play defense leading the way. The Colts
will, of course, win the AFC South. And the New England Patriots will hold off Miami for the AFC East title, mainly (and unsurprisingly) due to Tom Brady. Cincinnati will start slow but close out strong to win a wild card spot, while Miami will hold off Denver for the other wild card when Ronnie Brown ends up among the league leaders in rushing.

Michael David Smith

I'm not exactly going out on a limb here. I'm picking five teams to make it back to the playoffs, with San Diego replacing Cincinnati as the only new team this year. I don't feel real good about taking the Chargers because I'm not sold on Philip Rivers, but I feel good enough about Rivers' supporting cast that I think they'll eke out a wild card spot.

Mike Tanier

I think the Colts are going to fall back to the pack this year, and at one point I was leaning toward picking the Jaguars in the AFC South, just for genius points. But they are weak at the skill positions, and I consider Mike Tice a negative influence on any team he's coaching at this point (if the Jaguars offense slips this year, Tice will make it clear that it's Carl Smith's fault). I wouldn't be surprised if the Steelers win the AFC North at 10-6, because all three of their division opponents will be strong this year. The Patriots may be the weakest of the four division winners, but they are the easiest pick.

Ned Macey

For all the talk of parity in the NFL, the AFC features four excellent franchises who should continue to play at a high level this season. New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Denver have combined for three losing seasons this decade. In the West, I'm taking the Chargers over the Broncos only because the Broncos have to play the Patriots and Colts, while the Chargers get the Bills and Titans. Of course, that means I think Rivers will be good. Denver gets one wild card spot, while the other one is up for grabs between Miami, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Jacksonville, and Kansas City. I'm going with Baltimore largely due to an irrational faith in Steve McNair. I justify it by looking at point differential. The Ravens scored 265 and gave up 299 a year ago. The Ravens two quarterbacks combined for 9.0 DPAR. Steve McNair had 51.3 with a weaker receiving corps. With no other changes, that looks like a 9-7 team to me. I'll assume one good break for 10-6 and the sixth seed.

Russell Levine

I'm very tempted to take Miami in the East, but I think New England has enough to hold off Nick Saban and Co. for one more season. I'm not crazy about some of New England's recent personnel moves, but they've certainly earned the benefit of the doubt. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati should be a dogfight all year, while Denver coasts in a weak AFC West with Plummer keeping Jay Cutler on the bench all season. There won't be a 16-0 run by the Colts, but they'll still roll to the South title and be better prepared for the postseason without the "will they or won't they" questions about going undefeated. They'll have home-field once again. Miami and the Bengals grab the wildcards ahead of Jacksonville, Baltimore, and San Diego.

Ryan Wilson

For the third consecutive year, I'm taking the Patriots in the East. I know the Dolphins are the sexy pick, but as long as Tom Brady's in New England, I'll continue to pick them to win the division. Despite the serious knee injury, Carson Palmer looks to be in 2005 mid-season form, but I still have questions about the Bengals' run defense. The Steelers will win the North, but just like a season ago, the top two teams in the division could have identical records. The Colts will continue their string of South Division titles, even with Edgerrin James now in Arizona. The Jeff George signing will put the Raiders over the top -- in the Ideas That Seemed Perfectly Logical After Dropping Acid category. They will still finish last in the West and the Broncos will somehow manage to repeat as division champs even with Ashley Lelie now in Atlanta. The Dolphins and the Bengals will grab the wild card spots, just beating out the Jaguars and the Chargers.

Tim Gerheim

Parity is dead. The same teams will make the playoffs this year as made the playoffs last year, except that San Diego edges Jacksonville because this year they don't have a schedule hard enough to crack a diamond. Carson Palmer is fine, and the Bengals take the division ahead of Pittsburgh, who doesn't lose too much production but a lot of chemistry without Jerome Bettis and Antwaan Randle El. The Colts and Patriots are default selections in divisions that still won't provide them much competition. Jacksonville is overrated, and Miami doesn't yet have all the pieces in place. San Diego wins the West over the Chiefs, who finally (like I thought they would last year) succumb to age on offense, and the Broncos, who simply face a tougher schedule.

NFC

Name EAST NORTH SOUTH WEST WILD CARDS
Aaron Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Falcons, Redskins
Bill Barnwell Eagles Packers Panthers Seahawks Bears, Cardinals
Bill Moore Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Cowboys, Cardinals
Doug Cowboys Bears Bucs Seahawks Panthers, Giants
Ian Giants Vikings Panthers Seahawks Cardinals, Bucs
Mike Smith Cowboys Bears Panthers Seahawks Redskins, Falcons
Mike Tanier Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Falcons, Cowboys
Ned Eagles Bears Falcons Seahawks Panthers, Cardinals
Russell Cowboys Bears Panthers Seahawks Eagles, Bucs
Ryan Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Falcons, Giants
Tim Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Cowboys, Cardinals
DVOA Projections Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Redskins, Falcons
FO Consensus Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Cowboys, Falcons

Aaron Schatz

I feel very confident in my division picks. The wild card picks, not so much. I think the Falcons will really step it up on defense, although Ed Hartwell's continued aches and pains worry me. My biggest struggle is with the second NFC wild card. Does Washington's dismal preseason really matter? I'll put my faith in "enough to make Philadelphia the division favorite, not enough to make a different team a better playoff pick."

Bill Barnwell

Let me first start by saying that I could easily see the Seahawks going 6-0 and the Cardinals 4-2 in the NFC West. God, the rest of that division is stinky. That's the basis for their selections, with the Cardinals squeaking in and Adrian Wilson getting some MVP noise thrown in his direction. Come on -- you can't see the FOX pre-game features with Jimmie Johnson heading to Arizona, showing off the brand-spanking-new stadium, and asking Denny Green how he does it again and again? You want to believe. I want to believe. Let's believe together. The Packers, on the other hand, is just simply because someone has to win that division, and the Bears' locker room appears to be really divided right now. I think they'll pull it together late enough in the season to win a wild card spot, but if you could see the FOX trip to Arizona, well, you can sure see a FOX feature on Brett Favre's final run coming up.

Bill Moore

I pity the third- and fourth-best teams in the NFC East. Those teams will beat each other up while someone else slips into the last wild card spot. Philly could emerge with a huge first half of the season, and to keep up, Dallas has to finish strong, including needing a big win in Atlanta. Philly takes the division and Dallas takes the card. Foster's slants, ISOs, sweeps and dives will lead Carolina in the South [OK you really don't need to print that]. Michael Vick's new season of just "being himself" doesn't do much to improve Atlanta's standings. Chicago has the easiest schedule in the NFL and no one else has a real chance. Similarly, Seattle's easy schedule and lack of competition locks it up for them. My biggest struggle was the last wild card spot. It could go to almost anyone. There's so much potential for a surprise winning record among so many teams. Just to shake things up, I'm going to close my eyes and say ... Arizona.

Doug Farrar

The NFC East? Flip a freakin' coin, get out the Ouija Board, and see where the darts fly. Virtually equal arguments could be made for and against each team winning this division, though I see parts of Dallas' defense -- and Terry Glenn's redux of 2005's fine season -- overcoming the season-long distraction of He Who Shall Not Be Named. The Giants will back into the playoffs behind their defensive front seven and Tiki Barber, while Eli Manning officially replaces Brett Favre as the player for whom the most announcer excuses are made (yes, there is a public ceremony). Chicago wins the North by default, behind the veteran presence/youthful fire of "Rex Griese, Midwest Superhero". Tampa Bay is my official "I Don't Know Why, But They Scare The Heck Out Of Me" team of 2006... a good core group, a young quarterback on the rise, a coach who's better than has recently been thought, and a division that won't as tough as some believe. This may be where the mojo lies, as the last remnants of the divorce between the McKay/Ruskell and Gruden/Allen camps finally dissolve. Tampa Bay's only real competition is Carolina, who I'm docking one point based on the fact that so many preseason prognosticators see them as the NFL's Sexy Beast. That always makes me pull back. The Seahawks could sleepwalk through the NFC West and win it -- for the second straight year, this will be the NFL's weakest division.

Ian Dembsky

Arizona will push the Seahawks, but there's no keeping Seattle from a division title. In the South, the Panthers will hold off the Bucs and Falcons due to solid play in every facet of the game. The North will be won by the Vikings thanks to a solid ground game and the only consistent quarterback play in the division. The East will be won by the Giants after Brunell falls apart, T.O. starts Bledsoe-bashing, and the Eagles lament their continual problems at wideout. The Cardinals will make it as a wild cards thanks to a powerful offense and a rejuvenated fan base. Tampa Bay will be the other wild card due to a maturing Chris Simms, the workhorse Cadillac, and that Monte Kiffin defense.

Michael David Smith

I'm one of the last people left who thinks the Terrell Owens-Bill Parcells marriage is going to work out just fine. The two guys might not like each other, but they don't have to be buddies, they just have to coexist. I like the Cowboys' chances to come out of a division where the four teams are pretty close to evenly matched. Losing Steve Hutchinson means the Seahawks won't have the best line in football anymore, but I think they're still a cut above the rest of the conference.

Mike Tanier

There are so many have-nots in the NFC that it's hard to make any surprise picks. In the NFC East, I am following my heart when selecting among the four .500 caliber choices. The Bears and Seahawks have such easy divisions that both could go 12-4 despite some clear weaknesses. The Falcons and Cowboys are the best second place teams in the NFC, but they may not have the best records come January. I just didn't want to go on record saying the Vikings or Cardinals were good enough for playoff berths.

Ned Macey

Seattle is as much of a lock to win their division as Philadelphia was a year ago. I'll bet on the Seahawks repeating despite the Super Bowl Loser and Madden curses. The Bears play an easier schedule than the Bill Snyder's old Kansas St. teams. I think the Eagles bounce back without the distractions. A losing season should be the wake-up call that Mike Vick needed, and the run defense has to be better. Vick was much better a year ago than in 2004 (12.9 DPAR compared with -18.5). I think he gets into the Pro Bowl because he actually belongs this year. One Wild Card goes to Carolina, who still will struggle to run the ball. The last spot goes to Arizona. They have a very easy schedule, and while Edgerrin James will average about 3.6 per carry, his overall presence is a massive improvement. I had Washington here but am worried about Portis.

Russell Levine

The NFC East should be fun to watch; all four clubs are potential playoff teams. But they'll also beat each other up. Dallas wins with the best balance of offense and defense with the Eagles grabbing a wildcard. The wheels appear to be coming off the Washington offense. They won't be as bad as they've looked in the preseason, but I still expect to see Jason Campbell starting at some point. The Giants are in for a drop-off as Tiki Barber hits the wall and Eli Manning looks more like the Eli of last season's second half. I just don't like his mechanics. Chicago wins the North by default, with Brian Griese at QB by about Week 6. Same thing for Seattle, which goes virtually unchallenged in the West. Carolina is the NFC's best team, but won't have home-field thanks to the South vs. West schedule comparison. Tampa Bay sneaks into the final playoff spot, with just enough offense from Chris Simms to complement a defense that is still very good, but not great.

Ryan Wilson

The Eagles are the favorite in the East because Terrell Owens is now in Dallas, and the Cowboys won't make the playoffs because, well, Terrell Owens is now in Dallas. If the Redskins can make it through the season without losing a single starter to injury, they'll make the postseason. Seeing that Clinton Portis and Shawn Springs are recovering from, ahem, injuries, things don't look good. The Bears will clinch the North by Thanksgiving, but to make it interesting, they could start Kyle Orton and have things wrapped up by Christmas. Steve Smith will recover fully from his hamstring injury and the Panthers will win a hotly contested South Division. The Seahawks should mop up in the West, and if any other team in the division wins seven games they should be given an automatic playoff berth. Atlanta, New York, Tampa Bay, and Washington will battle for the two wild card spots with the Falcons and Giants prevailing.

Tim Gerheim

The Eagles went through the perfect storm last season, and they came out the other side intact, the only casualty the 2005 season. They're right back where they were in all those years they made the playoffs but not quite the Super Bowl. And unlike those seasons, their receiving corps is so good that they didn't feel they needed to keep Todd Pinkston. Chicago and Seattle are obvious front-runners in bad divisions. Carolina might be the best team in the NFC, but they have uncertainty at linebacker, running back, and, the deification of Steve Smith notwithstanding, wide receiver. It's hard to call the wild cards in the NFC because the good teams are all in the East and South, and those divisions play each other. Dallas is probably the best of the rest there, mostly because the Cowboys have better depth than the Redskins or Giants. The Buccaneers' passing game may take a step back this year, and so may the Falcons' running game. Arizona is a playoff contender as a mediocre team with an easy schedule. The NFC West and North offer much low-hanging fruit.

AFC Champion

Aaron Schatz: New England. Once again this year, there are many more candidates for AFC Champion than there are for NFC Champion. I've been planning to pick Pittsburgh to repeat as Super Bowl champion, but I'll be honest, this Ben Roethlisberger appendicitis thing is just enough for me to change my mind. You can't plan on marching through the playoffs without a first-round bye for two straight years, and the Steelers schedule is a lot harder early than it is hard. They need to be healthy now. The Patriots aren't the best team in the conference, but the schedule should get them one of the top two seeds, and while Bill Belichick doesn't have any magic beans, he is the best game strategist in the league. (The Miami schedule is just as easy, and Nick Saban is also an excellent coach, so if the Dolphins can beat out the Pats for the AFC East title, don't be shocked to see them in the Super Bowl..)

Bill Barnwell: New England. If Deion Branch doesn't show up, I reserve the right to change my mind, but I have a lot of faith in that front four shutting teams down.

Bill Moore: Cincinnati. Tough call, but I say the Bengals get redemption.

Doug Farrar: Denver. I think this will be the year Jake Plummer puts any remaining doubts to rest by out-dueling Carson Palmer and the Bengals in the AFC Championship game. Peyton waits again. If Manning the Elder wins a Super Bowl, I think it will be much like Elway did -- same team, different coach, years later, and in a system to which he contributes but does not dominate.

Ian: Indianapolis.

Mike Smith: Pittsburgh. I see the Steelers' offense relying more on shorter passes, both to the wide receivers and to the running backs. Willie Parker and Verron Haynes both have talent as receivers, and Hines Ward is tough over the middle.

Mike Tanier: Denver. At some point, the Broncos are going to slip out of their 11-5 purgatory and have a good postseason hot streak. They are dead even with the Steelers and Patriots when it comes to talent and coaching. I am just going with the team that lost the least this off-season.

Ned: New England. Maybe I'm just trying a reverse jinx, but I think the Patriots will get one of the top two seeds. They won't lose in Foxboro, and given the history, you have to like their chances against Pittsburgh or Indianapolis in the AFC Championship game.

Russell: Indianapolis. They have an Eagles-in-2004 feel to them. People will tend to write them off after the crushing disappointment of last year, but the I think that loss ends up being the thing that gets them over the hump this year, perhaps in a rematch against Pittsburgh.

Ryan: Indianapolis. The Colts finally get over the hump. Well, they at least win the AFC Conference championship, anyway. Thanks to a little-known off-season rules change that requires every league game to be played in the RCA Dome and the PA announcer to pipe in crowd noise when the opposing offense is on the field, Indy makes quick work of the Patriots and Steelers. Finally.

Tim: Denver. The Broncos are the most complete team in the AFC. After they adjust early to the loss of Gary Kubiak et al, they will be the team to beat in the playoffs. Indianapolis and San Diego are their main challengers, but I don't trust either of them. Something about Marty Schottenheimer and Peyton Manning not being able to win in the playoffs...

DVOA Projections: Indianapolis.

FO Consensus: Indianapolis.

NFC Champion

Aaron Schatz: Carolina. I know how strongly the numbers point to Seattle, but after what happened last year with the Eagles, I just can't get myself to pull the trigger on picking them to get back to the Super Bowl. If the Carolina defense can somehow solve its third down problems, it will be the league's best. Jake Delhomme's not a great quarterback, but he gets it done. Keyshawn was the perfect free agent addition. The offensive line is very strong. Everybody knows how I feel about DeShaun Foster, but passing is more important than rushing.

Bill Barnwell: Seattle. If Deion Branch ends up here instead, this pick feels even stronger. The Seahawks are at the peak of their success cycle, and they have this shot and (maybe) another left before their time is up. They are going to be able to outscore opponents and remain competent enough on defense to advance.

Bill Moore: Seattle. Seahawks-Panthers redo. Same results.

Doug Farrar: Tampa Bay. I can see the Seahawks with the home field setup in the postseason again, due to wars of attrition in the East and South, and Chicago's offense. But the kinds of depth players who helped Seattle win the NFC last year are already starting to suffer injuries. I think the Bucs will surprise a lot of people and take the conference.

Ian: The New York Giants make a surprise Super Bowl run.

Mike Smith: Seattle. The Super Bowl Losers' Curse has five consecutive years behind it, but this is the year the Seahawks break it.

Mike Tanier: Carolina. I really like the Panthers' depth at most positions this season. I also love their approach on both sides of the ball, and I think they will surprise some opponents this season with a more daring offense.

Ned: Seattle. History says it won't happen, but this team should be as good as a year ago. The defense will be better as the young players improve. If Darrell Jackson isn't himself all season, that could be a major loss. Russell: Carolina. I love, love, love what the Panthers have done in the off-season. Keyshawn Johnson was a good solider in Dallas the last two years; he'll happily complement Steve Smith in Carolina for a shot at a second ring. DeAngelo Williams was a great draft pick who should see plenty of time after the inevitable DeShaun Foster injury. The defense is a terror, even more so if Kris Jenkins is healthy and has his head on straight.

Ryan: Carolina. The Panthers will again meet the Seahawks in the conference finals, but this time they'll have a backup game plan other than "Jake, throw the ball to Steve, no matter the coverage."

Tim: Chicago. The Bears are a pretty good team with a really easy schedule, so they have a great shot to be the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs. This year they'll know to put two guys on Steve Smith, so failing to reach the Championship Game would be a surprise. Rex Grossman and Brian Griese have the advantage of not being Kyle Orton, so Chicago has a real chance to be a competent offense.

DVOA Projections: Seattle.

FO Consensus: Seattle.

Super Bowl Champion

Aaron Schatz: Carolina. It would be revenge for Super Bowl XXXVIII. I have to admit that no team really stands out to me as the prohibitive Super Bowl favorite this year.

Bill Barnwell: New England. The Seahawks are going to be able to outscore opponents and remain competent enough on defense to advance. That is, until they run into the Patriots. You don't need Adam Vinatieri if you can win by more than a field goal, and the Patriots will be able to keep Matt Hasselbeck in check long enough for Chad Jackson to break the game open with a couple of big plays.

Bill Moore: Seattle. Second time's a charm.

Doug Farrar: Denver. Nine years after his first Lombardi Trophy, Mike Shanahan gets his third.

Ian: Indianapolis wins Manning Bowl II.

Mike Smith: Pittsburgh. They weren't the best team in the league last year. They will be this year.

Mike Tanier: Carolina. I swear, I'm not picking a Panthers-Broncos Super Bowl because I am dreaming of writing an NFL Rundown about The Two Jakes. I just see the Panthers as a team that has very few weaknesses to cover up and enough playmakers on both sides of the ball to scare any opponent.

Ned: Seattle. New England's Stephen Gostkowski misses a game-winning field goal, and the Seahawks win in overtime.

Russell: Carolina. I think this is the same Super Bowl matchup I picked last year. Carolina's defense will follow the Pittsburgh model from last year's playoffs to terrorize Manning into a difficult day, while Jake Delhomme finds Steve Smith running free for a couple of scores to give the Panthers the title.

Ryan: Carolina. John Fox will get his Super Bowl after the near miss in 2003. If John Kasay puts another kick-off out of bounds late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, Keyshawn Johnson is contractually obligated to kill him, so this shouldn't be an issue.

Tim: Denver. I would take any of the AFC playoff teams against any of the NFC playoff teams. That goes double for the Broncos.

DVOA Projections: Seattle.

FO Consensus: Carolina or Seattle, which is strange since we all agree the AFC is still the stronger conference.

The First Pick in the 2007 NFL Draft Belongs to...

Aaron Bill Barnwell Bill Moore Doug Ian Mike Smith Mike Tanier
Bills Vikings Raiders Packers Jets Bills Bills
Ned Russell Ryan Tim DVOA FO Consensus
Bills Texans 49ers Raiders Saints Bills

(Notes Mike Tanier: The Buffalo Bills select someone other than Brady Quinn because Wilson and Levy are sound asleep.)

2007 BCS "Don't Call It a Bowl" National Championship

Aaron Schatz: Ohio State over Auburn
Bill Barnwell: Miami over Ohio State. (Yes, he knows Miami already lost once.)
Doug: Ohio State over Notre Dame
Ian: Ohio State over Notre Dame
Mike Smith: Ohio State over West Virginia
Mike Tanier: Iowa over Auburn
Ned: Florida over Ohio State
Russell: USC over Auburn
Ryan: Ohio State over Notre Dame
Tim: Notre Dame over West Virginia
Vinny: Florida over Oregon
FO Consensus: Ohio State over Notre Dame

2006 Surprises

Aaron Schatz: Matt Leinart, second half fantasy stud. Michael Vick improves and becomes an average passer. Hot team at the end of the season: San Francisco. DeAngelo Williams is the starting running back for Carolina in Super Bowl XLI.

Bill Barnwell: Kris Jenkins stays healthy all year. The Bengals totally melt down and win six games. Matt Hasselbeck wins NFL MVP. Greg Lewis takes a huge leap forward and catches 80 passes. Osi Umenyiora gets three sacks. Michael Strahan plays five games, LaVar Arrington four. Jon Kitna makes it to the Pro Bowl (context is everything!), but the Lions still win seven games. Matt Millen gets fired.

Bill Moore: I hate trying to pick surprises because you have to pick something that by definition has a low probability of happening. Nevertheless: Philly goes into their bye week 8-0. The Giants and the Jaguars each start 1-5. Reggie Bush has a mediocre season. Curtis Martin plays in at least one game before retiring at the end of the season. Aaron Rogers starts a game for the Packers. Phillip Rivers makes San Diego fans forget Drew Brees (but as mentioned above, his inexperience will cost the team a game this year that consequently kills their chance to make the playoffs). Deion Branch will suit up as a Patriot -- even if not by the first game. T.J. Houshmandzadeh will catch more TD passes than Chad Johnson. Terry Glenn will score more TDs than Terrell Owens. Speaking of Owens, his "model citizen" status will be the new T.O. media blitz of the season, and he will never shrug openly that Bledsoe could get him the ball when he was open (that last part will never happen). Finally, all FO readers will fully comprehend our motives and objectives as it relates to their own team and will stop trolling the comment boards with posts like "why do you hate..."

OK, that will never happen either, but we can hope.

Doug Farrar: I've already mentioned Tampa Bay. Baltimore doesn't improve significantly even with McNair, and Brian Billick's future is openly questioned. Brett Favre will actually play out the season, which will be a surprise to me. Matt Leinart inadvertently leads the Cardinals in rushing yards, while Edgerrin James' profile finds its way onto many milk cartons in the Phoenix area. The 49ers ride a bit of a hot streak in the second half of the season, as Alex Smith takes Trent Dilfer's tutelage to heart and begins to get with the program. As a result, Dilfer is officially crowned this generation's Steve Deberg.

Michael David Smith: The Colts' offense doesn't miss Edgerrin James. Bill Cowher signs a contract extension during the season. Brett Favre voluntarily relinquishes his starting job in December. Vince Young and Matt Leinart both get playing time late in the season, but Young looks like the more polished passer.

Mike Tanier: The Chiefs will fade badly this season. Look for the Titans and Browns to play near-.500 ball much of the year. The Vikings are kidding themselves if they think they are contenders; they'll be about 3-9 when they put Tavaris Jackson in. Michael Vick will miss one game, and Matt Schaub will throw for 230 yards and 2  touchdowns in a close loss. In the off-season, the Redskins will trade their number one pick to Atlanta for Schaub. Somehow, the Broncos will get involved and get a fourth-round pick out of the deal. Schaub will be promoted over Jason Campbell on the depth chart, and he'll hold onto the starting job until October 2007, when Dan Snyder will lure Brett Favre out of retirement with a $22-million contract ... wait, I've revealed too much.

Ned Macey: The NFC starts to close the gap on the AFC. Philip Rivers has a higher DPAR than Drew Brees and Eli Manning. Jake Plummer plays well and keeps his job all year. The Raiders do not finish in last place, but the Cowboys do. The Rams offense is better with Mike Martz in Detroit. TO misses McNabb a lot more than McNabb misses TO. Edgerrin James is not in the Pro Bowl, but the Colts also have to play on Wild Card Weekend. As stated above, Mike Vick becomes one of the ten best quarterbacks in football.

Russell Levine: Chad Pennington will complete 300 passes ... for 2,000 yards. Michael Vick has his worst season. Philip Rivers has a better year than Drew Brees. The Lions are competitive every week and Rod Marinelli gets coach-of-the-year consideration. The steroids/HGH issue not only fails to go away, but starts to become a story nearly as big as baseball.

Ryan Wilson: The Steelers move away from a power running game and rely more on Ben Roethlisberger. Alex Smith will have a better season than J.P. Losman, and Charlie Frye will have a better season than both of them. Antwaan Randle El and Troy Brown will have a higher QB rating than Jeff George. The Raiders will sign Jason Whitlock to serve as Jack Haley to Jeff George's Dennis Rodman. Tony Kornheiser will do well on Monday Night Football and will actually make Joe Theismann's head explode before Week 12. Mike Williams will move to tight end before the end of the season. Willie Andrews will have more receptions than Deion Branch. Brett Favre will throw 30 interceptions -- and come back for one more year.

Tim Gerheim: The Ravens finish last in the AFC North. A good quarterback alone does not a playoff contender make. Brian Billick is the only coach fired in the 2007 off-season. Wali Lundy wins the Offensive Rookie of the Year award for a seven-win Texans team, while Reggie Bush wins no awards on a three-win Saints team that doesn't even have five offensive linemen available to dress for Week 17. Tony Kornheiser criticizes Brett Favre in the third quarter of Green Bay's Monday night game against Seattle after Thanksgiving, and he and Joe Theismann get into a knock-down-drag-out in the booth. No one notices, because the game is a blowout by halftime and nobody watches the second half.

Posted by: admin on 07 Sep 2006

117 comments, Last at 12 Feb 2007, 1:12am by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka Lord J Rocka

Comments

1
by the K (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:41am

Thanks for all the love for the Bills, guys. I like it when other pundits pick them to lose, because they're dumb. I don't like it when FO picks them to lose.

2
by Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:51am

I think I'm slowly realizing that there are no more dominant teams. There are some terrible teams, but I think they improve, and even the good teams have plenty of holes.

I like the Colts. Right now, I think Peyton Manning is the best player in the league, and by a large margin. You know how you can scan the entire field at once and flick the ball to any spot on the field in the pre-passing cone Madden games? That's how I think of Peyton. I believe Reggie Bush takes that honor whenever Manning declines. He's that much better at that thing offensive players do, running away from the defense.

3
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:16am

By far the most impressive articles on pre-season picks. Do me a favor, can you please re-visit this article and write a review after the end of the regular season.

BTW, i am not sure as to why i didn't find this amongst the surprises: "Brett Favre has a 65% completion, 28 TDs, 10 INTS, 4000 yds season and leads the packers to divisional championship and loses in NFC championship game. He continues to ponder retirment through April when Bush relinqushes the US President post for Brett" ... and my daydream continues ;)

4
by Jeff (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:33am

Why do you guys hate the Bills?

5
by vanya_6724 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:55am

So no-one has any love for Bill Simmon's sleeper pick, the St Louis Rams?

6
by Josh (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 2:56pm

I've got no love for Simmons sleeper pick but I do agree with his Super Bowl pick of Pats over Eagles (again)

7
by TBW (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 2:57pm

I have to question the methodology for choosing the FO consensus Wild Card teams. The Chargers and Bengals were named 8 times to make the playoffs, the Dolphins 7 times. Of those three teams the Chargers were picked by half of the consensus to win the division, while the Dolphins and Bengals got just 1 and 3 picks to win their divisions, yet the wild cards are Miami and Cincy ? Seems like when you decided the wild card teams you should weight picks for division champs a little more heavily.

8
by noah of the ark (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:06pm

Being a Dolphin fan, I hated the Bills when they played well, but I don't talk about them anymore, because you don't kick a guy when he's down.

My sympathies, Bills fans... we went through it in 2004.

9
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:13pm

#7 - I totally agree. The Chargers should have been the consensus.

10
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:22pm

Simmons is about the embodiment of everything wrong with football punditry. Blech.

11
by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:22pm

MDS- Is picking the Steelers to win it all your way of atoning for saying they had no hope in the playoffs last season? If so, I like it. :)

12
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:23pm

10: I thought Skip Bayless had that covered. No matter how much you distaste Simmons, you can't tell me he's as bad or worse than Bayless/Whitlock.

13
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:27pm

So high on the Eagles... we shall see... their strategy was to get a year older (again) and hope their young players come around. It seems you guys put a lot of faith in the Howard signing, but he's not mentioned in this article... we see... I expected the winner prediction to be more varied than a Philly landslide.

Not only will the NFC East teams be slugging each other... but the NFC East plays the NFC South... I think it will be hard for NFC South and East to sweep into the Wild Card spots... we shall see...

I doubt 5 of 6 of the AFC teams make it from last year... so I'll throw out some surprise teams... Kansas City, Baltimore, San Diego, Houston... allright it does look pretty non-competitive.

... another year where everyone is high on the Cardinals... can teams really make such leaps overnight? I'm skeptical because it IS the same every year.

14
by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:28pm

At least I'm not the only Bills fan feelin the 2006 pain already.

Good thing we open the season at freakin New England. Can we just forfeit that and not destroy JP's last shred of confidence?

15
by buddha (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:30pm

"Jon Kitna makes it to the Pro Bowl (context is everything!), but the Lions still win seven games. Matt Millen gets fired."

If this happens the Ford's will sign Millen to another extension.

SEVEN wins in one season? That's unheard of around Detroit lately. Who do you think Millen is, some sort of super-executive? :)

16
by Doug (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:35pm

I don't think the Bills will be as bad as people are making them out to be. They have a lot of talent on defense, especially in the secondary, and great special teams. The o-line is a huge question mark, if that, but at times last year (first half of the Miami game, most of the first Pats game), they looked really, really good, and they have playmakers on offense and one of the better running backs in the league. And no, I'm not a Bills fan.

17
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:36pm

Ridiculous predictions:
Kitna will be bench for McCown... no way is he a Pro Bowler... more INTs than TDs for Kitna.

I love Tanier's Redskin prediction... it's funny because its nearly true!

If Lundy wins offensive MVP the Texans are in the playoffs...

18
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:37pm

My surprises:

* I am on record that Miami will disappoint and even though they just got a tremendous break in this game, I still think their top win amount is 9. No playoffs for them.

* You guys have my Eagles pick taken. On just about every other site, you would think that they are on their 4th straight 6 win season as much as they are being ignored. Every year at least one team goes from missing the playoffs to division winner, and they are a pretty easy pick.

* The Patriots may be the weakest of the four division winners, but they are the easiest pick.

Lines like this one are the reason the NE will be a surprise team this year. I have gotten into a few arguments about this, but I still think that nearly every team in the league would have been 6-10 with the injuries that they suffered through last year, even in the AFC East. The FA losses are trivial compared to who they are getting back. NE will be just a dominant as they were in 2004, and win the SB once again.

* I think the Jets will surprise a few people by hanging around .500 much later into the season than expected.

* I think Jax will fall off the map. Indy won't even be challenged this year, although they will take a step back.

* The NFC East will prove to be not nearly as good as eveyone keeps saying it is.

I'm sure I'll think of a few more, but that's all for now.

19
by David (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:40pm

So high on the Eagles… we shall see… their strategy was to get a year older (again) and hope their young players come around.

They've replaced more than half of their roster in the last 18 months. That doesn't sound like "getting a year older" as a strategy.

can [the Cardinals] really make such leaps overnight? I’m skeptical because it IS the same every year.

Yeah, that seems to happen a lot. To be fair, some of this year's variety seems to be counting on them to beat up on the Rams, Niners and NFC North, winning more games than they "ought to" with that talent level.

20
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:41pm

I am curious about those predicting that the Vikings will not only have a losing season, but will contend for the worst record in the league, which seems to be Bill Barnwell and Mike Tanier: do you think the Vikings offensive line and defensive line will be worse, or no better, than they were last year? If not, when was the last time a team received improved play from it's offensive line and defensive line, was playing the 26th most difficult schedule (as projected at the beginning of the year), and fell from 9-7 to nearly the bottom, if not the bottom, in terms of wins and losses?

The biggest hole in statistical evaluation of football, it seems to me, remains the analysis of line play, yet it is line play from which everything else, including the performance of the most important position, flows. The stats which are available, particularly adjusted sack totals, simply are inadequate in isolating line play from other factors, and in any case, when a team like the Vikings starts a season with four different players at positions from the previous year, on the offensive line, last year's stats don't mean much at all.

The matchup on Monday, given the high expectations many have for the Redskins, and their pre-season performance (and all the questions regarding the signifigance of pre-season performance), grows more intriguing each day. I will say this; if the Vikings do not lose more than one offensive line or defensive line starter, (other than Mckinnie, who they really can't substitute for well) during the first eight weeks, and they win fewer than seven games, I'll never doubt the writer predictions or mean wins projections on this site again.

21
by Pats on the Potomac (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:42pm

I think Miami's for real, but not because of Culpepper. He was awful before he got hurt. Chambers may be able to bail him out like Moss used to, but I don't expect it. They'll challenge the Pats with a great running game, one more good year out of an aging defense, and a really easy schedule.
I don't see why the NFC East is so tough. The Giants are good, but flawed. The Cowboys are flawed, but good. The Eagles will be okay. Washington is awful. The NFC South is a much tougher division.

22
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:47pm

My bold prediction: the Bay Area teams will win a combined five games or less.

23
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:59pm

Wow, I'm surprised no one's posting their own predictions. That used to be tradition here on FO. So, since my own opinions are the ones I agree with the most (playoff spots in parentheses):

12-4 New England*(2)
9-7 Miami*(6)
6-10 New York Jets
4-12 Buffalo

12-4 Cincinnati*(1)
9-7 Pittsburgh
7-9 Baltimore
5-11 Cleveland

11-5 Indianapolis*(4)
9-7 Jacksonville
7-9 Houston
3-13 Tennessee

11-5 Denver*(3)
10-6 San Diego*(5)
7-9 Oakland
5-11 Kansas City

WC - San Diego over INDIANAPOLIS
WC - DENVER over Miami

DR - Denver over NEW ENGLAND
DR - CINCINNATI over San Diego

CH - CINCINNATI over Denver

11-5 Philadelphia*(3)
10-6 New York Giants*(5)
9-7 Dallas
6-10 Washington

9-7 Minnesota*(4)
9-7 Chicago*(6)
7-9 Green Bay
5-11 Detroit

11-5 Carolina*(1)
9-7 Tampa Bay
8-8 New Orleans
7-9 Atlanta

11-5 Seattle*(2)
7-9 St. Louis
6-10 Arizona
4-12 San Francisco

WC - New York Giants over MINNESOTA
WC - PHILADELPHIA over Chicago

DR - SEATTLE over Philadelphia
DR - CAROLINA over New York Giants

CH - Seattle over CAROLINA

SUPER BOWL XLI
Seattle over Cincinnati

24
by Harry (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:04pm

#10,

de gustibus, I suppose. I think Simmons is one of the few sports columnists who is consistently worth reading - he doesn't pretend to be an expert and he's usually entertaining. I'll take Simmons over PK or TMQ any day. When I want good factual analysis I come to FO, but Simmons is one of the best at connecting with the fun and excitement of being a football fan. Plus Simmons has finally realized that The Wire is one of the best shows on TV.

25
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:11pm

So high on the Eagles… we shall see… their strategy was to get a year older (again)

This has got to be the funniest comment I've heard in a while. Versus last season, they have a new starting: WR1, WR2, LG, C, FB, DE, DT, and WLB, not to mention the almost complete turnover of the backups.

and hope their young players come around.

Philly doesn't "hope" young players come around. They kept the ones that worked out last year, and cut the ones that didn't. Easy as that. The only young players they're counting on are ones who have already performed - Brown, Herremans, Patterson, and Jackson. The only exception to that is Matt McCoy, at weakside linebacker, which is probably the least important position in that defense.

I don't see how it's any different than Washington starting, say, Carlos Rogers and expecting him to play better this year. He played better than his competition on the team last year, and he's young. Why wouldn't he play better this year? Ditto for all the young Eagles.

26
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:17pm

Seems like when you decided the wild card teams you should weight picks for division champs a little more heavily.

I don't see why. Being in a close battle for division champ doesn't necessarily help you in the wild card race.

27
by Mike (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:35pm

I don't mind seeing the Bills picked to be bad/borderline worst team in the league - there's only a few reasons to be hopeful, and as a fan, I seize every one, but it's not reasonable to expect anyone else to. But the "Ralph Wilson and Marv Levy will be asleep" jokes are really tacky, I think, and this site is almost always above that. No interview or report on Marv has shown him to be anything other than entirely proficient. Whitner was a controversial pick, but the pundits don't have a great batting average on these kinds of things.

If you disagree with the strategy, fine, but cheap age jokes are lame.

28
by David (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:36pm

That only makes sense if the WC picks are made in a vacuum. Six people didn't pick the Chargers to win the wild card because they thought they were going to win the division, and it's a difficult trick to do both. Doesn't really make sense that because too many people predicted them to place first instead of second, the "consensus" is that they miss the playoffs entirely.

29
by Ralph (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:51pm

The Bills will finish second in the AFC East, over the golden boys of this website.

30
by Bill Simmons (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:53pm

The Bills are like the guy in Road House that gets clobbered by Dalton...no, they're like doubling down when the dealer's showing an ace...no, they're more like the pommel horse in Gymkata...wait, no they're like a WNBA player in high heels...no, they're like Brian Baldinger's pinky!

31
by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:58pm

Aaron: "I think the Chargers will sneak out the AFC West title, but there’s no way they’re going to make the Super Bowl with that secondary. At some point in the playoffs, Manning, Brady, or Roethlisberger will just destroy them."

And yet, even with their weak secondary, last year the Chargers managed to beat the Colts, destroy the Pats, and lose to the Steelers by two points. They've signed McCree to play free safety, and Cromartie should be an upgrade as the nickel back (even if he gambles too much). I can only hope that moderate improvement from Florence, Jammer, and Kiel, along with these two additions, means that the secondary will be able to play somewhat better this year.

On to my random-ass predictions:

*Miami, Baltimore, and Jax are thouroughly mediocre

*The Cardinal, Giants, and Bears will all fail to meet expectations. The Bears still win their division at 8-8 or 9-7.

*Arizona does not make the playoffs. St. Louis finishes second in the west with an 7-9/8-8 record.

*Injuries will prevent Carolina from reaching their full potential

*Green Bay and SF are horrendously bad, but won't pick first because of their weak divisions. Oakland, NYJ, or New Orleans will have the first pick in the draft.

AFC:
Chargers, Broncos(wc), KC, Oak
Indy, Jax, Hou, Tenn
Cincy, Pitt(wc), Balt, Clev
Pats, Miami, Bills, Jets

NFC:
Seattle, Rams, Ariz, SF
TB, Carolina(wc), Atl, NO
Chicago, Det, Minn, GB
Philly, Dallas(wc), Wash, NYG

Boy, does the NFC suck. AFC provides the Super Bowl Champion (either Indy, SD, or Denver).

32
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:59pm

#30: Must... resist... urge... to... kill....

33
by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:02pm

re: 30

I can't decide if that is a parody or if you are the real Bill Simmons ...

(good job)

34
by TomG (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:06pm

I have a feeling this is the season Vick is benched.

35
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:07pm

Ian Dembsky says what I've been waiting for SOMEBODY to say: "The North will be won by the Vikings thanks to a solid ground game and the only consistent quarterback play in the division." The Vikes short passing game will be head and shoulders the class of the division.

36
by TBW (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:08pm

#28 made my point very well, but re: #26, of course it helps. The team that has a chance to win their division can still get a wild card if they fail. The team with no chance to win their division, has no fall back if they can't win the wild card.

Division Champ probability of team A +
Wild Card Probability of Team A
must be greater than
Wild Card Probability of Team B

The only exception would be where the Wild Card Probability of Team A was essentially zero, and the Wild Card Prob of Team B was very high. But, how often do you have a contender for a division championship with no chance at a wild card AND a wild card team with no chance at a divsion title, at the beginning of the season.

The fact that SD is viewed as a more serious threat to win their division than either Miami or Cincy should mean that they have a higher overall chance of making the playoffs. Unless of course, the prediction is that the AFC West will be won by a team that goes 9-7 or 8-8 and therefore the 2nd place team has no shot at a wild card, but there is nothing to indicate that would be the case here.

37
by thoughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:20pm

Re:#29
The Patriots?
my predictions would be
AFC
Patriots,Steelers,Colts,Chargers
WC:Broncos,Bengals
NFC
Eagles,Bears,Panthers,Seahawks
WC:Redskins,Bucs
Colts over Eagles in super bowl

38
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:21pm

Well, I posted my complete team-records breakdown in the "MMQB Dallas over Indianapolis" thread, but it seems more logical to have it over here. I'll spare everyone of the double post of all 32 records and just put up my playoff seeding prediction.

After applying the tie-beakers, my playoff seeding looks like:

NFC
1 Seattle (12-4)
2 Carolina (11-5)
3 Philadelphia (11-5)
4 Chicago (11-5)
5 Dallas (10-6)
6 Tampa Bay (9-7) by tie-breaker over NYGiants and Minnesota

AFC
1 Miami (12-4)
1 Cincinnati (12-4)
1 Denver (12-4)
1 Indianapolis (12-4)
5 San Diego (12-4)
6 Jacksonville (11-5) by tie-breaker over New England

The tie-breakers go:

1. Division tie breaker.
2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
5. Strength of victory.

Since none of the AFC division winners are in the same division (duh), head-to-head sweep isn't applicable, I have them all going 9-3 in the conference, and they don't have a minimum of 4 common games, the ties goes to Strength of Victory and there's no way I'm guessing at that. If I could just assign the seeding I'd give Cincy (1), Miami (2), Denver (3), and Indy (4).

39
by james (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:34pm

well just to make myself feel important here is my two cents

div winners: minnesota, tampa bay, seattle, washington
wild card: eagles, chicago

div winners:pats, colts, broncos, cinci
wild card: jags, phins

40
by Sporran (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:45pm

I agree with the above comments that the "Consensus" WC winners in the AFC should be the Bengals and the Chargers.

41
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:47pm

2006 Surprises. I predict that a Detroit Lions coach will be charged with driving (his car) naked.

Top that!!

42
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:49pm

The fact that SD is viewed as a more serious threat to win their division than either Miami or Cincy should mean that they have a higher overall chance of making the playoffs.

No. The trouble is, the AFC West is a tougher divison.

Say San Diego and Denver are likiest to win the AFC West, and say New England and Miami are likelier to win the AFC East. The Chiefs and Raiders are likelier to hang a division loss on the AFC West runner-up, than are the Jets or Bills on the East runner-up.

Similarly, the AFC North is likelier to hang an additional loss on the West runner-up, than the South is on the East runner-up. Last year's playoffs indicated that Pittsburgh was probably a stronger wild card team than Jacksonville, and Batlimore and Cleveland seem to be more of a threat than Tennessee and Houston.

If even one of those potentials comes through, the East runner-up goes 11-5 (say, 5-1 division, 2-2 vs. AFC South, 3-1 vs. NFC North, 1-1 SoS), while the West runner-up goes 10-6 (4-2 division, 2-2 vs. AFC North, 3-1 vs. NFC West, 1-1 SoS).

43
by DD Ohio (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:50pm

Bengals fan, here. Wow- 4 of 11 FOers have the Bengals out of the playoffs altogether? Just, wow.

I was worried coming into the season about Carson's knee, but after seeing him play (yes, I know, it was pre-season) and reading about Trent Green's comeback in similar fashion from similar ligament damage, I think Carson's going to be all right.

I also don't think the Bengals' off-season off-field troubles are going to be as big a problem for them as many pundits think. They'll survive without Odell Thurman until week 5 and they're deep enough at WR to do well without Chris Henry if he winds up breaking rocks or crafting license plates for a living this season.

The offense as a unit has been together a long time, they’ve got O-line depth, and I think they’ve improved their defense from 2005.

I guess we’ll see, eh? In the meantime, queue up Steelers – Dolphins!!

44
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 5:57pm

The easiest way to avoid this whole wildcard selection confusion would be to simply have everyone pick the division winners, determine the consensus division winners, and then have everyone go back and pick thier wildcard from the remaining teams and take the consensus from that.

45
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:02pm

Wanker79 (#44 )--

Except that doesn't work. Last year, consensus would have put the Chargers ahead of the Jaguars.

46
by Willy (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:09pm

AFC EAST
1 New England PAtriots 13-3
2 New York Jets 8-8
3 Miami Dolphins 7-10
4 Cleveland Browns 0-16

AFC NORTH
1 Pittsburgh Steelers 14-2
2 Cincinati Bengals 13-3
3 Baltimore Raves 10-7
4 Buffalo Bills 1-15

AFC SOUTH
1 Indianapolis Colts 16-0
2 Houston Titans 8-8
3 Tennesee Texans 7-10
4 Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

AFC WEST
1 Oakland Raiders 15-1
2 Denevr Broncos 10-7
3 San diego Padres 8-8
4. Kansas City Chiefs 7-10

NFC EAST
1 Dallas Cowboys 16-0
2 new yourk Giants 3-13
3 Washington Redskins 2-14
4 philadelphia eagles 2-14

NFC NORTH
1 green bay Packers 10-7
2 Chicago bulls 7-10
3 St louis cardinals 6-11
4 detriot tigers 2-13

NFC SOUTH
1 carolina tarheels 10-7
2 atlanta falvcons 8-8
3 tampba d-rays 8-8
4 new orealns saints 0-16

NFC WEST
1 seattle seahawks 16-0
2 oakland a's 10-6
3 st louis 49ers 9-7
4 st louis cardnials 0-16

WILD CARD ROUND
pittsburgh over cincinatia
new england over denver
carolina over oakland
st. louis over oakland

DIVIONAL ROUND
INDY over new england
oaklnad over denver
st louis over seattle
dallas over carolina

CHAMPIONSHIP
Indy over oakland
dallas over st louis

SUPER BOWL

INDY 49 DALLAS 48

what a game to undeafetd teams
THAT WOULD BE SICK

DI

47
by Marko (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:18pm

Thanks, Willy, but we're due back on Planet Earth.

48
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:20pm

Re: 45

So?

Re: 46
Willy, please resume your medication. Moreso for the safety of the general public than anything concerning your wellbeing.

49
by TBW (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:23pm

Re 42:
If the AFC West is so tough how come 4 of the 6 who picked the Chargers to win the West also picked the Broncos to win the Wild Card.

Bottom line: Half of the votes were for Chargers to win the divsion, half Broncos. Half of the predictions had an AFC West team winning a Wild Card spot.

Clearly, it was not a common view that the West would be so tough as to preclude a team from the division from winning the wild card.

And clearly, it is ridiculous to say that the Chargers have as good a shot to win the division as the Broncos, 6 picks vs 6 picks, but won't make the playoffs.

And finally, it is really ridiculous that 8 of 12 picks have the Chargers in the playoffs, 7 of 12 have the Dolphins in the playoffs, but the Dolphins are a consensus playoff team and the Chargers aren't.

This obviously is some sort of carryover lack of respect dating back to Rodney Harrison's days in SD.

50
by BB (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:23pm

The Vikings passing game will be consistent all right. Consistently low in yardage and low on usefulness. Chester Taylor is a decent back, but that team isn't going anywhere. And there is no way in hell that Brad Johnson makes it through the season without missing several games.

51
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:27pm

Wanker79 (#48 )--
So?
Well, if lack of accuracy doesn't bother you, then go for it!

It's simply true that the runner-up in a division with only two strong teams, should end the season with a better record than the runner-up in a division with three. Especially, if their intraconference-division opponents are similarly skewed.

52
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:37pm

I want to make one prediction, and that's that the Eagles won't be as good as everyone says. That means they will at BEST be the 6th wild card spot.

Just call it a gut feeling, but everyone has given them a free pass for last year.... but I thought they were a .500 team (without Owens). Their defense wasn't that great last year, in fact it was the worst in the division... and average overall.

I know I'm drinking haterade, but I feel that the division is more up for grabs than it seems... and the Eagles aren't the Seahawks...

So maybe I'm wrong and they go 8-0 and sweep through everyone... I'm just not sold on them... and I'll be happy to eat crow pie in 5 months... that's why it's only predictions and I want to see...

53
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:52pm

#50, if "going anywhere" is defined as making the playoffs, I'm not strongly disagreeing with your take. If, however, I could find an over/under line which mirrored FO's projected wins of 6 (5.9) for the Vikings, I'd be happy to put some skin on the line on whether they are going north of six wins. If I could get some odds consistent with the Football Prospectus 2006 take that the Vikings only have a 16% chance of exceeding eight wins, while having a 30% chance of fewer than five, I'd be on that like David Carr on the ground.

I don't mean this as a harsh criticism of FO methods; I just think there is something being missed in regards to the statistical evaluation of this team, namely, how horrible the coaching was last year, and how the offensive line is completely revamped.

54
by David (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 6:54pm

Well, if lack of accuracy doesn’t bother you, then go for it!

We're talking about how accurately the "consensus" pick represents the aggregate of individual predictions. The only relationship it has to the accuracy of the pick itself is pure chance.

55
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:01pm

The Eagles started off very strong last year. They just then fell apart as every player on the team got hurt.

What I think more is happening is a majority of the media and fans have a short memory and are remembering the trainwreck team of last year and not the 4 time NFC Championship Game appearing team.

56
by TBW (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:08pm

Just to beat this dead horse one more time, in the NFC predictions, Dallas gets the nod as a Wild Card despite being picked just three times as a wild card, while the Cardinals were picked 5 times as a wild card and don't show up as the consensus. The only difference seems to be that some people picked the Cowboys to win the division. So, in the NFC winning being picked to win the division did help you become the wild card pick, but in the AFC it didn't. Huh ?

Can someone from FO explain the methodology behind creating the consensus picks !?!?!

57
by Willy (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:16pm

Hey guys whats up, this is my picks
(by the way are there prizes or just respect)

AFC EAST
1 New England PAtriots 13-3
2 New York Jets 8-8
3 Miami Dolphins 7-10
4 Cleveland Browns 0-16

AFC NORTH
1 Pittsburgh Steelers 14-2
2 Cincinati Bengals 13-3
3 Baltimore Raves 10-7
4 Buffalo Bills 1-15

AFC SOUTH
1 Indianapolis Colts 16-0
2 Houston Titans 8-8
3 Tennesee Texans 7-10
4 Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

AFC WEST
1 Oakland Raiders 15-1
2 Denevr Broncos 10-7
3 San diego Padres 8-8
4. Kansas City Chiefs 7-10

NFC EAST
1 Dallas Cowboys 16-0
2 new yourk Giants 3-13
3 Washington Redskins 2-14
4 philadelphia eagles 2-14

NFC NORTH
1 green bay Packers 10-7
2 Chicago bulls 7-10
3 St louis cardinals 6-11
4 detriot tigers 2-13

NFC SOUTH
1 carolina tarheels 10-7
2 atlanta falvcons 8-8
3 tampba d-rays 8-8
4 new orealns saints 0-16

NFC WEST
1 seattle seahawks 16-0
2 oakland a’s 10-6
3 st louis 49ers 9-7
4 st louis cardnials 0-16

WILD CARD ROUND
pittsburgh over cincinatia
new england over denver
carolina over oakland
st. louis over oakland

DIVIONAL ROUND
INDY over new england
oaklnad over denver
st louis over seattle
dallas over carolina

CHAMPIONSHIP
Indy over oakland
dallas over st louis

SUPER BOWL

INDY 49 DALLAS 48

what a game to undeafetd teams
THAT WOULD BE SICK

DI

58
by Mikey (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:19pm

AFC Champ Game: Pittsburgh over New England

NFC Champ Game: Carolina over Chicago

SB XLI: Pittsburgh over Carolina

BCS Champ: Texas over Notre Dame (at least six FO writers apparently like OSU to win in Austin! hmmm)

First Draft Pick: J! E! T! S! On! The! Clock!

Surprises:

DeAngelo Williams will be the most productive offensive rookie

Larry Johnson will not finish in the top 3 in yards from scrimmage

AFC South still up for grabs entering Week 16

Arizona tanks first half, finishes strong behind Leinart. 2007 buzz team!

NBC's "flexible" weeks earn lower ratings than regularly scheduled weeks.

59
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:20pm

We’re talking about how accurately the “consensus” pick represents the aggregate of individual predictions.

The Outsiders (and DVOA) pick "North runner-up" to take an AFC wild-card eight times, "East runner-up" and "West runner-up" seven times, and "South runner-up" three times.

I'm not sure how that means making Miami the consensus wild-card pick over San Diego is a huge error.

60
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:21pm

How does that explain the Eagles poor defensive performance down the stretch?

The Rams, Giants and Cardinals all moved the ball on them, and they had a similar line-up as this year defensively. The Rams even started Fitzpatrick. Yes, I am picking on the Eagles defense, and yes I know I got the attention of Pat... who I expect in 5-4-3-2... but...

I think the Eagles as a team who rode Terrell Owens on offense, and then fell apart when he left the lineup... and their defense wasn't spectacular...

That's why they will play the season. I'm convinced their WRs will be okay with McNabb, but Owens really opened up room for Westbrook to be successful... I'm not sure if he'll be as effective running the ball... and I hope McNabb moves around more than he has in the past 2 seasons as he's not throwing the ball to TO he might need to move around the pocket more.

61
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:27pm

Just call it a gut feeling, but everyone has given them a free pass for last year…. but I thought they were a .500 team (without Owens).

They played two games without Owens, with McNabb. They lost both of them on very close losses. Those two games also came with a legitimate pass rush, too, as Trent Cole was starting those games as well.

You really thought Philly looked like a .500 team playing Washington, keeping pace with them the entire game, and down 17-10, 7 yards away from scoring again?

I can definitely buy the argument that Philly is likely to win the division because of the two free wins via strength of schedule.

62
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 7:31pm

#50:

Look at the division. The Bears' QB? The Human Interception in Green Bay? Maybe Martz is a miracle worker, but I've been living in NFC North country watching the Lions struggle for too long to believe they'll have a competent passing game. People like to pretend that Johnson had nothing to do with winning a Super Bowl, or that he's not been a playoff starter for 3 different teams, or that his career winning % isn't over %60. He's a solid QB, even at 38. The passing game will be short--but is by far the most consistent in the division.

63
by David (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 8:46pm

How does that explain the Eagles poor defensive performance down the stretch?

Terrible field position due to an anemic offense, the loss of Lito Sheppard to injury in week 10, and no good relacement for Derrick Burgess' pass-rushing. I can't empasize the part about the offense enough, either. The Eagles ranked 14th in defensive DVOA last year, and 10th in the weighted (i.e. down the stretch). When your defense gives up a lot of points to mediocre teams and still records above-average DVOA, that points blame at the other units.

64
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 9:00pm

Terrible field position due to an anemic offense

Hell, sometimes the offense just gave points up directly. No need to involve the defense at all.

And actually, if you look at the playoff DVOA rankings, Philly finished 8th in weighted defensive DVOA. And not last in the division: Dallas was. But 8th in the league is decidedly above average.

65
by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 9:30pm

maybe i miscounted, but it looks like the concensus wild card picks make sense. the formula is just

[times picked as WC] + [times picked as division winner while another team from same division is picked as WC]
Dolphins = 6[MiaWC] + 1[MiaDiv&AFCEastWC] = 7
Bengals = 5[CinWC] + 2[CinDiv&AFCNorthWC] = 7
Chargers = 2[SDWC] + 4[SDDiv&AFCWestWC] = 6

Cowboys = 3[DalWC] + 3[DalDiv&NFCEastWC] = 6
Falcons = 5[AtlWC] + 1[AtlDiv&NFCSouthWC] = 6
Cardinals = 5[AriWC] + 0[AriDiv&NFCWestWC] = 5

66
by John Morgan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 9:31pm

Since we're doin' it.

NFC West Seattle
NFC North Chicago
NFC South Carolina
NFC East Philly

Wildcard Detriot, Arizona

AFC West San Diego
AFC North Steelers
AFC South Colts (9-7)
AFC East Miami

Wildcard New England, Oakland

MVP Alexander

Champs Carolina (17-2)

Surprises:
-Eli benched; Giants (5-11)
-Colts Mediocre; Defense, Running Game regresses; Manning 45 TDs
-St. Louis WTinF 1-15

67
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 9:37pm

Well guys, it's just something to watch. I'm not saying that Washington is going to be awesome either, I just think the division is too tight to call.

I know Owens at the very least won them the KC game, and maybe some others... and I don't think Brown will match that production.

68
by Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:09am

I predict that Pittsburgh will beat Miami!

69
by RIch Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:34am

I really, honestly, dont see miami winning more than 8 games. 9 at most.

They were an 8-8 team last year, and while they have some big positive changes (culpepper) that line is still awful, and the defense is getting older.

70
by Ralph (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 3:01am

Culpepper is obviously not a positive change.

Great call on the Dolphins to do well, BTW. Not even a great system like DVOA can account for the pure idiocy of Mike Mularkey calling offensive plays.

71
by Jerry (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 3:45am

NBC’s “flexible” weeks earn lower ratings than regularly scheduled weeks.

That does surprise me, unless viewership is generally down in that part of the year. Can you elaborate at all? (And I hope Thursday's pre-game was better on TV than it was at Heinz Field.)

72
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 10:11am

The pre-game was horrific. Why in the name of God would I give a flying crap about watching P. Diddy(which, btw, may be the worst nickname evar) lip-sync. The biggest surprise was how tolerable Michael Irvin was on NFL Network. He still wasn't very good, but I wasn't overcome with blinding rage. And for him that's a huge step up.

73
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 10:55am

DVOA? Meh. I'm more impressed by the Tribe Called Quest/LONS quote. I needed that.

74
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:13am

Furtek #67:

Well guys, it’s just something to watch.

Factors in poor observed Eagles D play last year: frequent bad field position thanks to INT's, fumbles, kick returns, and 20 yard punts; an inanimate carbon rod playing Defensive End (Mr. ND Kalu); a guy with one good leg playing D-Tackle (Mr. Darwin Walker); a guy with one good arm playing back-up D-Tackle (Mr. Sam Rayburn); a turnstile at the weakside linebacker (Mr. Keith Adams); a failure of certain personnel to correctly execute blitzes, such as, oh, actually blitzing when they were supposed to; Lito Sheppard playing hurt or on IR most of the year.

and I don’t think Brown will match that production.

He will against Washington! 12 catches for 171 yards and 3 TD's last year. That was something like 1/3 of his total production.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Pat #64:

Hell, sometimes the offense just gave points up directly. No need to involve the defense at all.

Ugh, the memories. The second Dallas game.

The game at the Giants where Reggie Hodges had a punt blocked at the 1 yard line, which became a Giants TD a few plays later.

McMahon tossing two picks to Seattle returned for touchdowns, another returned to the 2 yard line, and then Ryan Moats fumbling the ball away and letting it be returned for a touchdown.

McMahon fumbling the second Giants game away in overtime with the ball lost in field goal range.

McMahon tossing another interception at St. Louis while backed up to the endzone, with the ball returned to the 5 yard line, and the Rams getting a touchdown on the next play. Then McMahon fumbling the ball away close to Rams field goal range a few drives later.

Then the Arizona game, where McMahon tosses another interception touchdown while backed up to the endzone.

And lastly, the final Washington game, with McMahon tossing an interception in the backzone again, which turned into a touchdown one play later again. Then to cap off the season, Koy Detmer being brought in and fumbling the ball away for another touchdown to ice the game.

The score, for those keeping track:
McNabb - 1 INT returned for a TD
McMahon - 3 INT returned for TD's, 3 more INT's returned for an easy TD set up on the following series, 2 fumbles to set up field goals
Moats - 1 fumble returned for a TD
Detmer - 1 fumble returned for a TD
Hodges - 1 blocked punt to set up a TD
And many other turnovers which the Eagles barely escaped from having more points scored on them.

McMahon actually scored more points for the opposition than he did for the Eagles.

The results of the above are directly attributable losses to Cowboys (game 2), Giants (game 2), Cardinals, and Redskins (game 2), with another probably attributable losses to the Giants (game 1) and Seahawks, and a near loss to the Rams.

McNabb's bad throw, and McMahon's incredibly poor play the rest of the season, with key assists from Hodges, Detmer, and Moats, was the direct difference between a 6-10 season and a 10-6 season. The defense had little to do with it.

75
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:24am

Don't forget to include the 2005 Eagles Special Teams Comedy Tour. Let's see, we have a starting punter sidelined for the season with a sports hernia, the overall top-rated kicker (via FO) knocked out of multiple games with leg issues, a long snapper and linebacker periodically handling kicking duties, and Jose Freakin' Cortez and some dude named France involved in the gameplan. When your opponents are starting each and every drive past your 40-yard line, it's pretty hard for your defense to put up shutouts.

76
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:26am

My single hope for the 2006 season is to see the Packers defense improve. I am hopeful that Nick Collins takes a step forward, AJ Hawk lives up to half his press billings, Brady Poppinga surprises, Ryan Pickett eats up space, and Al Harris can hold off Father Time one more year.

I am concerned that the coaching staff hasn't cut ties with Ahmad Carroll. Having watched his entire career it is clear he can run fast. But he simply has no ball awareness and ends up grabbing the receiver. That HAS to be apparent in any game film. It happened all of training camp. What good is a player if he is going to cost you multiple penalties a game any time the opposition chooses to go in his direction?

If there was ever a time when Favre was going to get really hurt this is the unholy convergence of events that would make it happen. Completely untested interior offensive line facing an experienced, talented hard-hitting defense. I have this ugly image of Tommie Harris grabbing Favre around the knees while Briggs comes off the edge and takes Brett high. Kersplat.

But like an onlooker passing a traffic accident I will be drawn to watch the game on Sunday.

Sigh..............

77
by Rick (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:48am

Man, NO love for the Giants anywhere...

78
by TomC (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:54am

BadgerT1000 -

I wouldn't be quite so pessimistic about Sunday, for a couple of different reasons: 1) The Bears usually start pretty slow -- they haven't won an opener since 2002; 2) Al Harris, even at his advanced age, can stick on Muhsin Muhammed without much difficulty, so one of the Bears' 140-pound practice squad specials will have to catch some balls; 3) Members of the defense weren't all on the same page during preseason, resulting in lots of missed assignments, particularly on 3rd-and-long. I think they'll be fine by game 4 or so, but right now things look a bit out of sorts.

I'm not saying it's going to happen, but this week is probably your best chance to steal one. (And I'm a Bears fan, so it pains me to say that.)

79
by TomC (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 12:54pm

And while we're making our sure-to-be-wrong predictions, here's what I came up with going game-by-game through the season schedule, trying to be as objective as possible and not massage things to make records seem less ridiculous:

AFC East:

NE: 14-2
MIA: 11-5
BUF: 4-12
NYJ: 3-13

AFC North:

PIT: 11-5
CIN: 9-7
BAL: 8-8
CLE: 6-10

AFC South:

IND: 11-5
JAX: 10-6
HOU: 3-13
TEN: 3-13

AFC West:

DEN: 12-4
SD: 12-4
KC: 11-5
OAK: 4-12

NFC East:

PHI: 11-5
WAS: 11-5
NYG: 9-7
DAL: 9-7

NFC North:

CHI: 10-6
MIN: 9-7
GB: 8-8
DET: 5-11

NFC South:

ATL: 10-6
CAR: 9-7
TB: 9-7
NO: 2-14

NFC West:

SEA: 11-5
ARI: 6-10
SF: 3-13
STL: 3-13

AFCWC1: PIT over SD
AFCWC2: IND over KC
AFCDIV1: NE over PIT
AFCDIV2: IND over DEN
AFCC: NE over IND

NFCWC1: CHI over WAS
NFCWC2: ATL over MIN
NFCDIV1: PHI over CHI
NFCDIV2: SEA over ATL
NFCC: PHI over SEA

SB: NE over PHI

Comments no one will read:

1) Pats over Eagles again? Ho-hum.
2) Lots and lots of really bad teams.
3) God help those poor bastards in the NFC East.

80
by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:23pm

The Jets, Chiefs, Bills, Browns, Texans, and Raiders are all going to be ugly teams. None of them are going to go 0-16, but they’re going to have about 40 wins to split between the six of them, and that may be generous.

I hope your 40 wins are split up like so:
Jets 4-12
Texans 4-12
Bills 5-11
Browns 6-10
Raiders 6-10
Chiefs 15-1

(maybe go with 30 next time?)

81
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:28pm

TomC, the only think that really surprised me was your GB prediction. You really think GB can reach .500??

82
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:29pm

*"thing" not "think"*

83
by Grim Jim (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:50pm

Has anyone expecting the Vikings offensive line to improve ever seen Artis Hicks play? I like the left side of the line but the right side is abominable.

84
by Zac (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:51pm

Re #65 David H:
I know there's been far too much talk about this, but here's my take. NE, PIT, IND, and DEN were the consensus division winners. Of the rest of the teams, 8 of 12 people thought that SD and CIN would make the playoffs, while only 7 thought that MIA would make the playoffs.

The difference in our numbers comes from the DVOA projections taking the Bengals to win the North, and Bill B. and Ian taking the Chargers to win the West.

Personally, I can't really see a team winning its division that would have been out of the playoffs if they had been a wild-card team. As such, I feel it's appropriate to include those 3 division winners above.

85
by Tim L (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:02pm

I'm still undecided over who will win the NFC East. Doubtless the Eagles will be better, but it's a weak argument to say that because the went to three straight Championship Games without Owens, they will do so again. The key difference is the divisional landscape; whereas the Redskins and Cowboys were formerly automatic wins, and the Giants were up and down, now all four teams are competitive.

My opinion of the Redskins was higher before Portis was injured. Durability has always been my concern about him, and he's carried a heavy load the last two years. I'm also wondering how strong they'll be at quarterback. Still, I expect their defense to keep them in most of their games.

The obsession with the Dallas offensive line on these pages has reached hilarious proportions. No doubt it's shaky, but they were able to go 9-7 last season with a line depleted by injuries and inexperience. What's far more interesting to me is how quickly the team has acquired talent to run the 3-4, stocking depth at both linebacker and defensive end. This is a team that's still a year away from being a serious contender, but I think they and the Eagles have the strongest chance to win the division.

Tiki Barber's production is probably going to decline, and I'm very curious to see if Eli Manning's development can offset it. I'm equally curious if their secondary will be improved this season.

I can virtually guarantee we will not see four 9-7 teams. If I had to pick, I'd go with Dallas, Philadelphia, the Giants and the Redskins at 7-9 in that order.

I expect the two best teams in the NFC to be Seattle and Carolina.

In the AFC, I'll go with Pittsburgh, San Diego, Indianapolis and New England, with Miami and Denver as wild cards.

Still, my intuition tells me we are overlooking a dark horse team or two. Our picks are for the most part a mixture of conventional wisdom and personal biases, and come November, I suspect we'll be trying hard to forget what we predicted in early September.

86
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:34pm

#83:

If Artis Hicks sucks, he will still be better than anybody the Vikes had on the interior line last season. The only team that gave up more sacks than the Vikes was Houston. So having three good lineman, one bad one, and one unknown (I don't know how Johnson will do) is an upgrade over last year's line.

87
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:36pm

"Personally, I can’t really see a team winning its division that would have been out of the playoffs if they had been a wild-card team."
Why not? Every year at least one team makes the playoffs as a division champ when they wouldn't have made it as a wildcard team.

88
by Grouchy Bills Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:42pm

Mike @wayback, I didn't interpret the Marv Levy asleep comment as a snipe at his age, but as a snipe at his management prowess so far. I mean, Peerless? $10M? You'd have to be my brother to think that's a good move. Wait a sec, my brother's named Mike....

89
by Dr. Tobias Funke (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:43pm

Anyone else think Miami is vastly overrated. I think they're on the way up but honestly but these superbowl predictions are mind boggling. Specifically Duante and Ronnie Brown are getting way to much credit.

90
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 3:37pm

I went through all of the non-division games, then assigned 12 wins to each division- I figure division games are usually tougher to prognosticate, and on average tighter than any two teams' respective strength would indicate. Thus, I made Seattle the only team to sweep their division, and no team went winless, not even Buffalo or Oakland.

Nothing too far out of the ordinary here, except for perhaps a bit of boldness in the AFC West. Also, full disclosure, I'm a Giants homer. I like to think I'm being objective about them, but their WC win is frankly nothing but wishful thinking. (I do honestly think that they're probably talented enough to stagger into the final playoff spot, even with one of the toughest schedules known to man. I worry about them being this year's version of the 2005 Chargers, though.)

NFC East:

Philadelphia 11-5 (2)
Washington 10-6 (5)
NY Giants 9-7 (6)
Dallas 7-9

NFC South:

Carolina 11-5 (3)
Atlanta 8-8
Tampa Bay 8-8
New Orleans 3-13

NFC North:

Chicago 11-5 (4)
Detroit 8-8
Minnesota 5-11
Green Bay 3-13

NFC West:

Seattle 13-3 (1)
Arizona 7-9
San Francisco 5-11
St. Louis 3-13

AFC East:

Patriots 11-5 (4)
Miami 11-5 (6)
NY Jets 6-10
Buffalo 2-14

AFC North:

Pittsburgh 11-5 (3)
Cincinnati 10-6
Baltimore 7-9
Cleveland 5-11

AFC South:

Indianapolis 13-3 (2)
Jacksonville 7-9
Tennessee 6-10
Houston 6-10

AFC West:

Denver 14-2 (1)
San Diego 13-3 (5)
Kansas City 5-11
Oakland 4-12

Playoffs:

NYG (6) def. Carolina (3)
Washington (5) def. Chicago (4)

Seattle (1) def. NYG (6)
Philadelphia (2) def. Washington (5)

Seattle (1) def. Philadelphia (2)

Pittsburgh (3) def. Miami (6)
San Diego (5) def. New England (4)

Pittsburgh (3) def. Indianapolis (2)
Denver (1) def. San Diego (5)

Denver (1) def. Pittsburgh (3)

91
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 3:38pm

Oh, I forgot to mention. Denver over Seattle in the Super Bowl.

92
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 3:40pm

Gah, another misprint. Jacksonville's supposed to be 9-7.

Sorry for the triple post.

93
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 6:51pm

Here's my list:
AFC East- Pats
AFC North- Steelers
AFC South- Colts
AFC West- Chargers
AFC Wildcards- Broncos, Bengals

AFC Champion- Colts

NFC East- Cowboys
NFC North- Bears
NFC South- Panthers
NFC West- Seahawks
NFC Wildcards- Eagles, Cardinals

NFC Champion- Cowboys
Super Bowl Champion- Colts

Surprises:
- The NFC East is a blowout, with Dallas going 12-4, the Eagles squeaking into a wild card and the Giants and Redskins hovering around 8-8.
-The Jets are much better than people think, thanks to getting an entire season out of Chad Pennington (which is to say, they've upgraded the QB position more than Miami). 7-9/8-8-ish. Same as Miami.
-Someone in the NFC Central, probably Green Bay, pushes the Bears hard.
-Alex Smith finishes the year with a positive DVOA.

94
by thoughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 7:21pm

looking for surprises...does anyone else think that this year's browns will do what last year's dolphins team did and be the trendy pick in 07?

95
by Riceloft (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 10:31pm

Re: 94

I think that is entirely possible, although I'm a Browns fan, so I'm probably a little biased.

The Browns this season will rise or fall on the arm of Charlie Frye. If he plays like I expect, decent with rough patches, the Browns are 8-8 this year. If he plays below that, we're pretty much where FO ranks us, at 6ish wins. If he plays better than expected *crosses fingers*, we could be a 10-6 team.

I expect that we'll know which way things are going to go by the end of week 5 after we've played Cinci and Carolina - popular playoff picks.

96
by Zac (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:29pm

Re #87 (B):

Actually, since the NFL went to the 4 division system in 2002, only once has a division winning team had a worse record than the 6th seed: New England last year.

There have been several times where the division winner has had the same record as the 6th seed, and I'm not going to work the tie-breakers through to see if they would have made the playoffs or not.

But I think even a perfunctory glance like I have has shown that it's not nearly as common as you think.

Year-CON 4th Team 6th Team
2002-AFC 9-7 9-7
2002-NFC 10-6 9-7
2003-AFC 10-6 10-6
2003-NFC 10-6 10-6
2004-AFC 12-4 10-6
2004-NFC 9-7 8-8
2005-AFC 10-6 11-5
2005-NFC 11-5 10-6

The table above is supposed to be fixed width, but I don't know if it's going to work.

97
by Zac (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:29pm

guess not.

98
by Sean_C (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 2:55am

3 Surprises for 2006:

Aaron Brooks, Chad Penington, Alex Smith and Rex Grossman will all finish in the top 5 for MVP votes, losing to...Brett Favre, who will throw for 4500 yards and 33 TDs, with only 4 picks (all of which will occur in this week's opener vs. the Bears)

Billy Volek, Kerry Collins and Vince Young will each start 5 games for the Titans this year. Volek will play so dreadfully that he gets released and replaced by Jeff George, who starts the final game of the year and throws 4 TDs. George is named the starter in the offseaon, ahead of Collins and Young, who will be the #3 QB because his 5 game 2006 performance will be even worse than Volek's.

The 2006 rushing title will go to...JJ Arrington, who replaces an injured Edgerin James in the 3rd Qaurter of the Card's first game and miraculously manages to make the Arizona O-line look first rate for the rest of the year.

99
by Jim D (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 8:01am

It would be nice to see what the DVOA projections say at week 8 or so. So many off season changes in personnel and coaching brings the value of last years DVOA to the the start of this year way down

100
by JS (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:08am

Willy:
Um, I predict that the Bills finish in the AFC East and the Browns finish in the AFC North. Just a hunch.

101
by The Mulgrew (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:02am

I like the picks about the Eagles doing good, especially since this site made the best picks the last two years. Go Eags.

102
by DavidH (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 2:28pm

I hadn't taken a close look at Willy's predictions until #100 pointed out the Bills/Browns switch. They're hilarious. I love that he has the St. Louis Cardinals. Twice.

103
by B (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 4:05pm

I think the best part of Willy's predictions is he has 9 teams playing 17 games.

104
by Mitch Cumstein (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 7:04pm

Please tell me "Willy" is someone else trying to be funny. If so, much respect. And if you are real, Willy, even more respect.

Not only are there two St. Louis Cardinals, there are also the St. Louis 49ers, and they make the playoffs. St. Louis is apparently the new mecca of football, but I am wondering how the NFL schedules that, perhaps back to back doubleheaders every other Sunday?.

Other highlights of Willy's picks:

--The "New Yourk" Giants, Washington Redskins, and Philadelphia Eagles collectively go 1-29 in non-divisional games.

--But then again, the Saints play the NFC East, and go 0-16.

--The Bills switch divisions with the Browns, go 1-15, but that is not even close to good enough to secure the 1st overall pick. New Orleans gets the first overall pick on the "strength of schedule" tiebreaker over both Cleveland and St. Louis Cardinals (version NFC West), also 0-16

--Green Bay goes 10-7, which may seem both impossible and unlikely at first, but its not so far fetched when you realize that their divisional competition consists of 1 NBA franchise and 2 MLB franchises, so given that competition, I would go 10-7 also.

105
by TomC (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 1:40am

TomC, the only think that really surprised me was your GB prediction. You really think GB can reach .500??

Game by game, I don't think it's too crazy. The eight wins are CHI, NO, STL, ARI, @BUF, NYJ, @SF, DET. The only stretch there is this Sunday against the Bears, but I've already given my reasons why I think that's a trap game for Chicago.

106
by The Mulgrew (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 2:42am

Re: Mitch Cumstain

Your breakdown of Willy's stupid picks has me rolling on the floor in laughter!

107
by The Mulgrew (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 3:21am

The Cardinals did play in St. Louis back in old school days. So maybe Willy is just senile.

108
by Scotskin (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 6:29am

I can understand the problems the founders of this website have in getting their hard work and insightful thoughts on Football recognised in the wider arena.

So why do you all go against your DVOA projections that have the Skins in the Wildcard and as such cast yourself in the same light as hacks like Pete King who get caught up in the "player hating" crap?

The facts are the preseason doesn't mean jack, the Skins have a favourable start and a good home stretch. The defense got better over the off season and the offense got the best coordinator in the game.

Joe Gibbs is second to no one in terms of preparation and consistency, stick uour head in the sand all you want, Washington will be in the playoffs this year.

109
by The Mulgrew (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 10:35am

Scotskin,

The Redskins have a poopy quarterback. The Eags are better.

110
by Bosman (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 12:37pm

note to bill barnwell, millen getting fired would not be a surprise, but more a sigh of relief. everyone in michigan has been expecting it for several years, so let's hope the Ford family finally ends his reign.

111
by emcee fleshy (atl/sd) (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:30am

Tanier's 2006 Surprise: "Michael Vick will miss one game, and Matt Schaub will throw for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns in a close loss."

Surprising in a "sun rises in the east" sort of way, I s'pose.

112
by Marko (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 4:43am

TomC, the Bears-Packers game sure didn't turn out to be a trap game for the Bears. The way the Packers looked on Sunday, they probably won't win much more than 8 games between this year and next year combined. Brett Favre looks like he is a beaten man who is resigned to ending his career on the bottom.

113
by The Mulgrew (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:43am

Favre will get traded to a good team this year. That is my fearless forecast. Also, the Eags will go deep in the playoffs, but that prediction is not really a surprise.

114
by Brett Favre (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:48pm

PLAYOFFS?!

115
by The Mulgrew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 11:35pm

Brett,

Yes, the Eags will make the playoffs. Mark it down. Championship!

116
by Lou (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 8:37am

Using the King Kaufman scoring system:
DVOA Proj 14
Tim 14
Ned 13
Mike T. 13
Aaron 12
Ryan 12
FO Consensus 12
Ian 11
Bill M 11
Doug 11
Bill B 10
Mike S 10
Russell 10

Congrats to DVOA and Tim. 14 would've been good enough to win Kaufman's panel o experts.

117
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka Lord J Rocka (not verified) :: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 1:12am

I am bumping this thread. Can a mod sticky this?