Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Sep 2005

MMQB: Preseason Awards and Predictions

In this week's MMQB, Peter King has some thoughts on Hurricane Katrina, the Giants getting an extra home game, and he even gets around to his preseason awards and predictions. The good news? King's not picking Jake Plummer for NFL MVP for the first time in two years, but he does think that Mike Tice could be coach of the year. He also breaks down some X's and O's, thinks the Eagles could keep T.O. for 2006, and talks about how Jerry Rice should be a good fit in Denver because he no longer needs to be the go-to guy.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 05 Sep 2005

46 comments, Last at 08 Sep 2005, 12:00pm by Pat


by Zac (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 4:09pm

I don't want to sound callous. Really I don't. But I'm kind of tired of having every sports article the past two weeks starting out with "not that this is at all important compared to what happened in New Orleans, but ..."
News flash: You're a sports writer. Your job is write about sports. It's not "sinful" to do that. It's what you're supposed to be doing. I don't watch CNN to see how the Brewers are doing, and I don't read articles in SI and ESPN to find out what they think about what's happening in Iraq or New Orleans.
If you feel that your column is so unimportant, that's fine. Don't write one then. But don't subject me to some off topic writing because you feel guilty about your job.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 4:18pm

I agree with you, Zac. I'm deeply concerned about the people who have lost their lives or livelihoods because of Katrina. But that doesn't mean I can't also enjoy football. I like Peter King, but I think it's silly for him to criticize the people who care about the Giants getting an extra home game. Those people are the reason Peter King can afford a nice house in the suburbs and tuition for his daughters' educations. If Peter thinks football is getting too much exposure and taking attention off Katrina, he's free to quit his job at SI and apply for work at a publication that will send him to New Orleans.

by a-dam (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 4:19pm

with a track record like peter king's maybe he shouldn't be predicting exact yardage totals for running backs...

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 4:19pm

I agree, Zac. Unless there is a set number of casualties or property damage required for sports "not to matter," then every day is a day that has horrible events that are more important than 'fun and games.'

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 4:59pm

If we took the attitude that Sports should only be watched / written / thought about etc when there are no weightier matters to consider we would never ever do it. Sport is a great escape - ultimately it means nothing but it provides enormous pleasure and enables many people to earn a good living.

As an Eagles fan i'm not happy with the NFL giving the Giants an advantage and I fail to see why the Saints should be punished for what has happened. I know there are logisitical difficulties but there are lots of places that could have put the game on I'm sure.

by MET (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 5:27pm

How come Deon Sanders gets all the press for asking all players to donate $1000 when Warrick Dunn gets little press for asking for $5000 from each player? I would have thought on their salaries $5000 would hardly be missed and would raise considerably more funds for those in need.

by jack (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 6:30pm

MDS, I heartily agree with you, the hurricane is tragic, horrible, etc, but there are other people in America who have no choice but to keep on living their lives. Anyone who suggests that New Orleans is absolutely the only thing that should matter to anyone in America is either a holier than thou asshole or a simple minded asshole. It's quite possible to be concerned and supportive of the relief efforts while also thinking about football, jobs, books, girls, whatever.

by marc (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 6:42pm

"I would have thought on their salaries $5000 would hardly be missed" Not everyone in the NFL is filthy rich, and those that can generally are already quite active in charitable pursuits. There has already been a general outpouring of support and fundraising from the league, teams and players. Brett Favre used his money/connections to personally send a planeload of goods. The Mannings are doing a ton. I applaud everyone that's donating but I wouldn't ever demand that some 3rd string tight end that might get cut in week 3 if he drops a pass give up any more than what he feels comfortable with personally. Once you're on the street, earning no more money for you and your family that 5 grand seems a lot more important.

by MET (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 6:51pm

My point was as much about Deon getting all the press and Warrick Dunn none as as it was about the money, I agree that demanding money from players on league minimun (or any player, lets give them their free will) would be harsh.

by Vince (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 7:40pm

How come Deon Sanders gets all the press for asking all players to donate $1000 when Warrick Dunn gets little press for asking for $5000 from each player?

Because Deion Sanders is a Hall of Famer and Warrick Dunn is merely an occasional Pro Bowler. Even Deion specifically pointed out that he was inspired by Dunn. Dunn called out NFL players; Sanders called out all pro athletes.

by Vince (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 7:45pm

Re: Hurricane stuff in sports stories: I do a half-hour audio show a couple of times a week for a pro wrestling website. Last Thursday, the host and I realized we had almost nothing of substance to say about wrestling and only wanted to talk about the hurricane. And when we were done, I don't want to say I felt better, but at least I got to vent my feelings for a half-hour instead of keeping them bottled up inside. And the next day, we did get a few complaints similar to the ones that have been raised here.

So slipping hurricane stuff into sports stories may make for worse reading, but I can see how it would be cathartic for the writer.

by Perrin (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 8:41pm

I'm going to back Peter King up on his hurricane section.

"Thousands lay dying and someone would think about the advantage of playing nine home games instead of eight in a freakin' football league?"

1. He's absolutely right.

2. Going wildly off-topic is part of every MMQB King writes (coffee notes, his daughter's softball team, etc.). This time, his mostly-non-football material was about the destruction of a large American city, and what some NFL people are doing about fundraising, instead of stories about what his daughter's friends nicknamed her on a cruise ship.

3. Professional sports can absolutely serve as a useful distraction during times of stress and crisis. Sometimes, something so horrible happens that it temporarily overshadows even the trivial distractions we enjoy. I'm not saying all news coverage should only be about the hurricane, the thousands dead, the hundreds of thousands without homes or cities to return to... but something that huge will come up once in a while in stories that are usually about another subject. So it goes.

"God give me the strength to have some perspective over the next six months. Please. And so I guess the best thing to do is to do what I do -- make bad predictions and comment on the state of affairs in the NFL."


by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 9:47pm

I don't want to sound to cynical, but I suspect that Tom Benson realized that he could turn the biggest gate in New Jersey on such short notice, assuming Baton Rouge is not available, or even if it were. Now, if he donates the gate to hurricane relief, that would be great.

I've mentioned it before, but I'll do it again; I think an industry which has received several billion dollars in direct taxpayer subsidies over the past 10-15 years could really do the right thing by donating to hurricane relief the equivalent of, say, just one taxpayer-built stadium.

by RCH (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 9:57pm

It should be embarrassing for any mature, educated adult to be too focused on the toy department of life when catastrophe hits. Give King some slack for getting this off of his chest. (In fact - if you are still reading his column after years of wading through the highschool field hockey junk then how can you get fired up over this?)

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 10:15pm

Vince, how come you've never told us about your pro wrestling audio show? How can we listen?

by David (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 10:49pm

I think I understand some of the concerns raised about Peter King's introduction to this column. I share some of them.

I whole-heartedly agree that Mr. King is dead wrong at feeling that covering how a multi-billion dollar industry is affected by a natural disaster is somehow an inappropriate or an inadequate response to the events in New Orleans. The entertainment/copyright industry is America's largest industry and its most export-dependent. There's absolutely nothing wrong with covering the implications of this disaster on this industry. (And despite the Forbes rating of the Redskins as the most valuable franchise in the NFL, on-field success does play a role in profitability in the sports entertainment industry. Ask anyone in the marketing department of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays today or, on the flip side, the Packers after the 1980s.) If there's a profound business impact on the New Orleans Saints organization as a result of this disaster, it's certainly valid to talk about how that aftermath might affect the citizens employed by that business, many of whom also lost a great deal to the storm itself. If the business loses money or doesn't need the stadium food vendors this season, people want to know about that fact.

Second, I believe that part of the negative reaction to this kind of column is a reaction to the quality of work that results when a professional shifts his responsibilities like King did. His questions are quintessential Larry King softballs: how grateful does this make you feel? Such questions solicit only one kind of answer.

As a sports journalist, there are dozens of questions that he could be asking the powers that be in the NFL. Many people have raised them on this site: why has the NFL contributed so little here when they have received so much? Wouldn't having your games in Baton Rouge help the devastated economy of Louisiana through increased revenue of sales taxes and increased service industry jobs? Has the industry reached out to help former and current NFL employees in New Orleans and elsewhere? Could public funding that went to the NFL have gone instead to shoring up the levees after the federal government dropped the ball? Alternatively, he could use his professional sports connections to get stories that his colleagues couldn't, such as getting stories about how this disaster affects high school football programs which often offer a hand up for kids from at risk backgrounds. What will they do in the weeks to come? Which of those teams will exist in the upcoming season? How many of them will be like the Saints and be on the road? How do these kids use sports to deal with trauma in their life, whether it be the result of economic inequity or the weather?

Heck, he could have directed his readers to donate a percentage of whatever gambling winnings they've gotten by being guided by his pre-season picks to disaster relief charities. Many writers and organizations have found ways to use some of the profits off their daily work to help out. This site, for example, has found a way to channel people's good intent into tangible aid.

The point is that there's perfectly valid angles he could take with his introduction. Making yourself feel better through writing is a wonderful tool to aid in reflection and emotional processing. But the place to do it is in your diary or possibly a blog. He has a position in our culture that ensures that his voice is heard. Use it to make a tangible difference.

Football isn't meaningless, at any time. Football teaches lessons about how individuals can be authentic and yet still work within a community, about how to react to authority, and about what grace under pressure means. Football is an important part of the Louisana economy. Football is a multi-billion dollar industry industry in its own right, as well as being an important part of the sports betting industry. Football layers itself into many aspects of American life, from Sunday rituals of bonding between fathers and sons to talk over the water cooler at work on Monday to a feeling of solidarity with your fellow long-suffering fan. Peter King doesn't have to apologize for what he does. Covering sports is both a fun escape and a serious business.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 10:51pm

The sad thing about the hurricane is that in the end people will forget about the many lives lost and the lasting legacy of the tragedy will be the fate of the Saints. I know it is pessimistic, but I believe Benson will use this tragedy as leverage to gain approval to move the team, most likely to Los Angeles. Even if they could refurbish the Superdome by opening day i doubt there will be enough of a fanbase present that could/would spend the necessary cash to support an NFL franchise. It will take the better part of a decade for the economic conditions in New Orleans to recover.

by Boesy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 11:14pm

I preface my comments by saying that I enjoy reading MMQ - the reason to read it has more to do with PK's style, tone, storytelling, etc. than with the actual 'reporting' as he is perhaps the least expert 'expert' of professional football that I have ever read. I do wonder, however, that even in the face of the dramatic and heart wrenching events that have taken place in New Orleans and area, PK would be emotionally disgusted by concern of the location of the Saints first game. Do people care less about the fate of the people stricken by Katrina because they are also concerned about fairness in the 'unreal world' of football? These things are not mutually exclusive. The point people are making is accurate - the Giants are receiving an extra home game. Period. Does the plight of the people of New Orleans and area diminish because this game is rescheduled in New York vs. San Antionio vs. Los Angeles vs. wherever? Come on Peter, respect the people who love sports enough to know they can be passionate about the game, but know it is still, just a game...

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 11:15pm

Daniel #17:

Such a pessimist! Where is your American can-do spirit?

New Orleans will be dry by October and will mostly be back within a year, thanks to the force of circumstances and money that will require the reopening of its port and heavy industry. A lot of the city is actually undamaged by flooding (the wealthy neighborhoods of the entire area along the river from the French Quarter out through Jefferson Parish, and the whole west bank of the city). The government cannot keep people away from undamaged homes for long.

The people who will be royally screwed will be the low rung workers, welfare cases and drug dealers of the flooded 9th ward and similar poor areas, since there is no monetary incentive to force them to go back, unlike productive professional and manfucaturing workers and their families, whose companies want to reopen facilities and offices, and get in on the largesse of rebuilding contracts.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Saints play at least 1 home game in the Superdome late in the season. There will be a big push for this to happen if it appears at all possible, which I think it will. There is no reason for the Saints not to be able to play at home by 12/24.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2005 - 11:35pm

The Vikings? Over the Eagles?

I think Culpepper looks as good as he does because he has been throwing to Randy Moss. I think he won't look as good without him. And I think Fred Smoot will disappoint. Champ Bailey didn't take a much sounder Denver team anywhere last year. Why is Smoot going to do it for a much more unsound Vikings club?

1 of 10 things he thinks is already wrong.

by Ruben (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 12:31am

His Red Sox vs. Patriots column-inch comparison is pretty absurd; the Red Sox are in the middle of a playoff race with both their star pitchers in the tank, and it's the FREAKING PRESEASON for the Pats.

LP and Clayton over at ESPN notwithstanding, I've never given "sports writers" much respect; this article didn't do much to improve their image...

by Russell (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 12:43am

Andrew, I appreciate your optimism, but I think it's far more likely that the Superdome will be imploded before the Saints player there again. From what I've read, the storm damage wasn't that bad, but the damage that occurred during the week was extensive. Plus, if what's alleged to have occurred there is accurate, it will be awful tough to ever use it as a place of recreation again.

I cannot believe how little play the story is getting that Tom Benson may refuse to refund season ticket money. Check out profootballtalk.com for details. And I know a lot of people don't think too highly of that site, but this comes from an on-the-record coversation with a Saints staffer. Sounds like Benson may be trying to play the opportunistic card to get out of his Superdome lease without paying the huge escape clause next year.

by Biggie (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 12:55am

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it reported that the Saints would not be refunding ticket money for this season?

by Rufus O. Pifflelummox (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 1:10am

"And despite the Forbes rating of the Redskins as the most valuable franchise in the NFL, on-field success does play a role in profitability in the sports entertainment industry. Ask anyone in the marketing department of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays today or, on the flip side, the Packers after the 1980s.)"

Actually, there's very little truth to any of that. Because revenues are mostly shared in the NFL, a franchise can have streams that are far superior to even the best-managed, winningnest MLB or NBA club.

The Bengals, despite a generation of mediocrity, are still more valuable than 90 percent of all the World Series champs, simply because they play in the NFL and a football franchise retains equity (because of popularity amongst wealthy owners and a lack of turnover).

If winning actually mattered as far as making a dime in the NFL, you wouldn't seen an annual crop of also-rans that strongly resemble the previous year's crop of also-rans.

by Theo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 7:36am

"...in Super Bowl Extra Large (XL, get it?)"

No, I have a sub zero I.Q... Please explain.

by OMO (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 8:53am

There the ole' Peter King I know and love.

Worst. MMQB article. Ever.

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 10:41am


I didn't mean to imply that it was the only factor in the worth of a franchise. Far from it, given the importance I lent to the owner's ability to soak the taxpayer. Obviously, the stadium lease and seating is very important too. And, lord knows, some of the cheapskate owners of the baseball teams take advantage of the financial incentives provided to spend less, lose, and make more money. (As baseball prospectus has made clear, baseball revenues have out-paced salaries over the last decade. Labor costs are not out of wack with revenues, as they are with hockey.) Still, I do think that the viability of the product on the field influences the value of the brand off the field. I would imagine that the Arizona Cardinals' quixotic pursuit of mediocrity has directly led to their inability to sell out their stadium, and thus decreased ticket, concession, parking, and stadium advertising revenues. Plus, I can't imagine the naming rights to the stadium of a losing team are worth as much as those of a consistently winning team, such as the one currently playing at Gillette stadium in Foxboro. It's an important part of the business, but certainly not the only important part. I did not mean to make it seem like it was.

But still, I may be over-weighing on field success. Can you give me some information on how other factors play into the financial side of a franchise?

by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 11:25am

Although his breakdown of Sox V. Pats column inches in the Globe would primarily be of interest to NE fans-- and even then just marginally so since we already know that the Globe exists in a Sox-centric world--he does make one observation that could have impact throughout the NFL. That is, that Belichick minimizes coverage of his team as much as possible. PK says this is probably a factor in the limited coverage the team gets in the local media. I'd take it one step further and say it is also a factor in the Pats' success. It's a lot easier for players to focus on their team if they're not busy promoting themselves in the media. If it is indeed a copycat league as we hear all the time, I'd expect more and more teams to limit access to their players to league mandated minimums.

By the way, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but did PK actually see W. walking through water in the French Quarter or, like a lot of people, did he have him confused with the original Jesus?

by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 12:46pm

Actually, I found his coach of the year candidates Mike Tice and Jack Del Rio to be far more distubing than any New Orleans commenary.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 1:09pm

Andrew, I don't have any idea of how good the Vikings defense will be, but Culpepper has become an extremely good quarterback, so much better than Jake Plummer that there is no comparison. IF the vikings become a top 15 defense, or, as pigs take flight, a top ten defense, then they will have a reasonably good chance of getting to the Super Bowl. However, I see no evidence that they will have enough of an outside pass rush for that to happen.

by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 3:20pm

Mike Tice as Coach of the Year. MIKE TICE AS COACH OF THE YEAR. Mike Tice as Coach of the Year?
That is it. I could ignore the boring coffee stories, the insipid field hockey stories and the irrelevant travelling stories. But this? From a man who claims to be an NFL writer. Oh, hell to the no. No. No. No. No. No.

by Gee whiz! (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 4:01pm

Hurricane? What hurricane?

And did you say New Orleans had a football team? Professional ?

Who knew?

I think if they were going to give the country an enema, they would have inserted the hose into Baton Rouge.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 4:02pm

Maybe he has a point, when the Vikes win the NFC North & #2 seed despite losing thier "star" player Moss, suddenly Tice will get a bunch of attention for Coach of the Year. Of course this is undeserving, as Moss leaving is a clear case of Ewing Theory.

by jds (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 6:10pm

I never thought I would see a journalist write a sentence with the words "Mike Tice" and "Coach of the Year". My prediction is this will only occur once his Jake Plummer MVP prediction comes true.

by Vince (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 8:43pm

Vince, how come you’ve never told us about your pro wrestling audio show? How can we listen?
::MDS — 9/5/2005 @ 9:15 pm

Well, you never asked. And it seemed totally inappropriate to bring it up here. Also, I've only been doing for a couple of months.

But since you asked (and he did ask, but if this gets taken down, I understand)...

Hey everyone! Go to www.f4wonline.com and subscribe to Figure Four Weekly! You'll get the world's funniest weekly pro wrestling newsletter (which I also write for), plus access to the forums, as well as daily audio segments occasionally featuring ME, all for the low introductory rate of 99 cents for your first month. Samples of the newsletter and audio updates are available!

(Did... Did I just spam this board? I think I did. I feel dirty and ashamed.)

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 9:08pm

Did I just spam this board?
Technically, spam email/postings are unsolicited. Since MDS asked, your response was solicited. Therefore, you didn't spam.

by Jared Wesley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 10:14pm

To Merrill Hoge:

What exactly is it that you have against the Eagles? Last year they were `overrated`, yet they went 13-3 and made it to the SB, and barely lost to the `Unbeatable` Pats by 3pts. You know, I dont recall seeing Pittsburgh in the SB, but maybe my memory is bad or maybe they were just overrated! Or maybe I was just so happy the Eagles barely `snuck` into the playoffs. ;) Every year you say they are overrated, and every year you look like an idiot when you say it...Have you even checked who has the best record in the NFL over the past 5 seasons? Hmm...Could it be the Eagles? They must be overrated! Must be luck. Did you really play in the NFL? Come on, be honest...Maybe you were just another case of getting `pushed` through the system in college, you know, one of those honorary degrees, or basket weaving majors, cause you obviously have no idea what you are talking about. But at least Philly fans get a chuckle every year listening to your silly predictions!

Lastly, umm, yeah, the Cowboys are gonna win the division in 2005...ok Merrill...Your circle of stupidity is now complete, you should quit the braodcasting gig! In fact, the person who hired you should be fired! At least you picked the Eagles to make the WC! Are you sure? The Eagles, making the playoffs...that would be a first! HAHA!! Face it Merrill, you are ALWAYS wrong when it comes to the Eagles. So put up or shut up!

by RCH (not verified) :: Tue, 09/06/2005 - 10:38pm

But he does have that cool hair...

by Carter, Las Vegas (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2005 - 6:12am

My Playoff predictions:


Now I dare anybody to challenge this playoff rankings if you honestly do then you must be a fool.
Colts will play the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Colts will win the Super Bowl giving Manning a Super Bowl ring and a MVP trophy and one special note. I am not a "Colts fan". I love my Seahawks and Patriots so just to let you know no one is being one sided here.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2005 - 11:25am


So in effect, you are predicting exactly the same playoff teams from last year with the exception of one team in each conference. When was the last time that happened?

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2005 - 12:11pm

re #40: good observation. Seems like there's always a team that goes from last place/losing record to the playoffs. This list has Carolina, but who else might be this year's 2004 Chargers? Cards? Bucs? Cowboys? I think I'll go with the Chiefs.
Also, there's usually at least one playoff team that misses the next season. I pick Pittsburgh to miss, because of a letdown after last year, a tough schedule (at SD, at Indy, vs NEng etc), and improvement from other teams in the division (which the Bengals will win!) Ah, gotta love preseason predictions.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2005 - 3:40pm

The easy targets for downgrade from last year:

St. Louis Rams. No way they'll get as lucky as they did last year. At some point you have to learn to tackle.

Atlanta Falcons. Far too much of their offense is predicated on one person not getting injured. Very risky, when that one person is constantly slamming into people at high speed and leaping 5 feet into the air.

Pittsburgh Steelers. They got lucky with RB injuries last year. Looks like things aren't so good to start off this year already.

I'd easily say the Chiefs and Panthers fill two of those spots. The NFC wild card is a toss up between a bunch of teams. I'd be glad if the Cardinals could take it, but I'll just be happy if the Rams don't. It was sheer embarrassment for them to make the playoffs. Even worse for them to win.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2005 - 10:15pm

Re: #41: I think if you look the Steelers have a pretty easy schedule. They only play 5 playoff teams from last year and get New England at home. Unless you see dramatic improvement from every team on their schedule and no dropoff for the Colts, Pats, Chargers and Packers I cannot see how they cannot contend for a playoff spot. New England plays a much tougher schedule (Oakland, Carolina, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Atlanta, and Denver before their bye and Buffalo, Indy, K.C., Tampa, and the Jets after).

by Carter (not verified) :: Thu, 09/08/2005 - 5:06am

Re# 41
The Chiefs bad choice until the defense steps up they will always be one of those teams. That look good on paper yes scoring 42 points is nice but how is it that you still lose? The Bengals have a better chance. Oh like I said it looks like no one can come up with a good solid reason on why I my predictions could be false.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/08/2005 - 11:26am

Colts can't get the #1 seed untill they beat the Patriots at home.
Ravens: All the Derrik Masons in the world won't turn Boller into a legitimate NFL QB, and switching to 46 won't turn Ray Lewis into the old Ray Lewis.
Chargers are going to take a step back this year, we'll drop them to wildcard.
Steelers: The Bus and Staley arn't going to make it through the season uninjured, and Rothlesberger is really going to miss his favorite target.
Vikings: Is Tice still the head coach? I just can't pick them to win the division, although anybody could win the NFC North, and they are the best team in that division on paper. Too bad the games are played on grass/turf.
Falcons/Rams: Two teams that wern't as good as thier records last year suggest, and they didn't do enough to improve. Of course, any team in the NFC could win the wildcard, so these picks are as good as any others.
Your other picks are okay, though. Good luck with them.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/08/2005 - 12:00pm


5 playoff contenders is not a weak schedule. It's average.

For a division leader:

You'll play 1 when you play the AFC division. You'll play 3 because you won the division, so you'll play the other 3 top ranking teams in your conference. That's 4 minimum.

Maximum is 8, if you play a division that had 2 wild cards both in the AFC and in the NFC. But 5 is average, because on average, half the divisions have a wild card, and you play 2 full divisions (1 AFC, 1 NFC) so you're likely to get 1 with a wildcard.

If you're not a division leader, you'll play 2 against the leader. If you're in 2nd, you'll likely play either 1 or 2 against a wild card (depends if you are one yourself), and likely 1 from the two divisions. Again, about 5 or less.

Philadelphia and Indianapolis have 5 playoff teams on their schedule as well. It doesn't make the schedule easy because a team that makes the playoffs in the NFC via a wildcard is not necessarily as strong as a team that makes the playoffs in the AFC.