Thursday, September 10, 2009

2009 NFL Season Preview

32 Teams, 32 Questions (more or less [well, a lot more, I guess - 32 sets of questions is probably a more accurate way of putting it]), some of which are more light-hearted than others.

AFC East

New England - Will Tom Brady play 16 games? Has the youth movement and re-tooling improved the defense or just made it younger? If the defense is good, is 16-0 a possibility again? Barring a catastrophic injury, is there any way that they don't win this division?
Prediction: 14-2, first place AFC East, Super Bowl Champion

Miami - How much of a fluke was the 2008 season? How much of the huge jump in wins was a result of a weak schedule? How well will the "wildcat" work now that people have had a chance to look at it?
Prediction: 8-8, 2nd place in AFC East

NY Jets - Is Rex Ryan too much about Rex Ryan to be a successful NFL head coach? Is Mark Sanchez ready to play successfully at the NFL level? Is the defense going to be aggressive and attacking or just fundamentally unsound?
Prediction: 7-9, tied for 3rd in AFC East

Buffalo - Is this Dick Jauron's last season on the Bills sidelines? (Prediction: Yes) Do they make it through a full game before Terrell Owens flips out on the sideline, screaming at his QB and/or offensive coordinator? (Prediction: No)
Prediction: 7-9, tied for 3rd in AFC East

AFC North

Baltimore - Does the Baltimore defense miss Rex Ryan? (Prediction: Not as much as Rex Ryan misses the Baltimore defenders.) Is there a sophomore slump in the offing for Flacco? Is this the year that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed start to wear down?
Prediction: 11-5, 1st place AFC North

Pittsburgh - Do they face a Super Bowl hangover? Does any of the off-field stuff swirling about Ben Roethlisberger affect the on-field stuff?
Prediction: 11-5, 2nd place AFC North, AFC Wild Card

Cincinnati - I know that he's had his name legally changed, but am I legally forbidden from referring to Chad Johnson? How does Marvin Lewis still have a job? I haven't followed all of the preseason publicity closely, so are these going to be the same old (bad) Bengals or the what a disappointment Bengals?
Prediction: 5-11, 3rd place in AFC North

Cleveland - Is Brady Quinn ready to be an NFL quarterback? Is he capable of being a top-flight NFL quarterback? Is there any support on that team from either offense or defense to help him out? In a couple of years when Mangini goes, is Dean Pees the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns?
Prediction: 4-12, 4th place in AFC North

AFC South

Indianapolis - Was Tony Dungy the reason for the success or just a cog in the Peyton Manning machine? Was Tom Moore the reason for hte success or just a cog in the Peyton Manning machine? Is Peyton Manning the reason for the success or just a cog in the Tony Dungy machine? Will this season give us enough evidence to answer those questions definitively?
Prediction: 11-5, 1st place in AFC South

Tennessee - Does the loss of Albert Haynesworth destroy a 13-3 team from a year ago? How did they win 13 games a year ago anyway? Is Kerry Collins a has been? Is Vince Young a never-will-be? Do guys in the Titans' lockerroom NFL see, in the Steve McNair story, reasons for monogamy, or just more care in vetting the mistress?
Prediction: 10-6, 2nd place in AFC South

Houston - Are the Texans ready to make the leap from perennial sub-.500 team to perennial about .500 but not quite good enough anyway team?
Prediction: 9-7, 3rd place in AFC South

Jacksonville - Are the Jaguars still a big, tough, physical, smart, well-coached team that just can't win any games?
Prediction: 6-10, 4th place in AFC South

AFC West

San Diego - Is there any other team in football with this little competition in its division? Is there any realistic way that the Chargers fail to win the West? How long until some network starts a Sean Merriman reality show?
Prediction: 12-4, 1st place in AFC West

Kansas City - Does Matt Cassell still look like a $60 million player now that he's out of New England? Did Scott Pioli do a good job with his first head-coaching pick? Were the Chiefs bad in 2008 because they were young, inexperienced and Hermly coached, or is there a real talent deficit?
Prediction: 5-11, 2nd place in AFC West

Denver - Is Kyle Orton a real, live NFL quarterback? Has Josh McDaniel already lost his team before the season even starts?
Prediction: 4-12, tie for 3rd place in AFC West

Oakland - Is there anything that the NFL can do to transform the Oakland Raiders from a parody back into an NFL football team? Is Jamarcus Russell the next Ryan Leaf, the next Jeff George, or is he a real quarterback? Will Richard Seymour play a single down in Oakland, or did they trade a (probably pretty good) first round pick for nothing?
Prediction: 4-12, tie for 3rd place in AFC West

NFC East

NY Giants - Did David Tyree take any of the magic away when he got cut? How much are they going to miss incarcerated WR Plaxico Burress? Who is Eli going to throw to?
Prediction: 11-5, 1st place in NFC East

Dallas - Does the meltdown start before or after Christmas? When they get bounced in the first round of the playoffs, is that the end of the Wade Phillips era? How many plays are going to be called back because punted balls hit the video board?
Prediction: 10-6, 2nd place in NFC East

Philadelphia - How long before the Eagles "fans" are calling for Michael Vick to replace Donovan McNabb? Has Andy Reid done his team more harm than good with the Vick addition? And has Vick got anything left as an NFL QB?
Prediction: 8-8, 3rd place in NFC East

Washington - As they're too expensive, inefficient, cumbersome and confusing, are the Redskins the perfect team for Washington, D.C.? Even if that's not an accurate description of them, would I stoop to using it in order to find something to write about them? [Ed. note: Yes] Is Jason Campbell ready to be a consistently good NFL quarterback, or just a coach-killer who occasionally looks so good that you can't replace him, but plays just well enough to lose?
Prediction: 7-9, 4th place in NFC East

NFC North

Chicago - Is Jay Cutler as good as he thinks he is? Is he only as good as the media thinks he is? Or is he only as good as I think he is?
Prediction: 11-5, 1st place in NFC North

Minnesota - Does the absence of John Madden from the broadcast booth actually make Brett Favre's interceptions less "fun" or is it just an illusion? How many hits does it take before Favre decides that he was right the first three times he retired? If the QB struggles just a little bit, does the rest of the team give up on Childress?
Prediction: 8-8, 2nd place in NFC North

Green Bay - Are the pundits who say that Green Bay has looked like the best team in football during the preseason right? If they are right, does it actually mean anything? If the Vikings come into Lambeau with Favre still running the show, will the boos outnumber the cheers? And how unbearable will the media coverage be leading into that game? And if the Packers lose, does anyone in the administration survive?
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place in NFC North

Detroit - Does Matthew Stafford play all the way and take his lumps? Is the first win followed by a ticker-tape parade? Are they still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, however unrealistic, when they take the field on Thanksgiving?
Prediction: 4-12, 4th place in NFC North

NFC South

New Orleans - Can Drew Brees break Tom Brady's longstanding (2 years) record for TD passes in a season? Does the Saints defense play well enough to let their offense win games? Do they win this division in a runaway?
Prediction: 11-5, NFC South Champions, NFC Champions

Atlanta - Can Matt Ryan avoid a sophomore slump? What happens when people take the Falcons seriously from the start of the season?
Prediction: 9-7, 2nd place in NFC South

Carolina - Is Jake Delhomme still playing? Is Jon Fox still coaching? Are they still a trending pick for NFC powerhouse? Other than the one fluke Super Bowl season, have they done anything to warrant the kind of acclaim they seem to always get in the pre-season?
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place in NFC South

Tampa Bay - Who is coaching the Buccaneers? Who is playing quarterback for the Buccaneers? Is the answer to either of those questions relevant to anything that's going to happen as the NFL season winds down?
Prediction: 5-11, 4th place in NFC South

NFC West

Arizona - History has not been kind to Super Bowl losers, nor has the followup season - is it any different for the Cardinals? Does Kurt Warner play 16 or does Matt Leinart get some reps? How much of a fluke was their playoff run?
Prediction: 10-6, 1st place NFC West

Seattle - Is Matt Hasselbeck healthy? Did Jim Mora learn anything during his tenure in Atlanta? Does anyone in Seattle consider the Deion Branch contract as money well spent?
Prediction: 9-7, 2nd place in NFC West

San Francisco - How long before Mike Singletary banishes one of his players - literally - to Siberia? Does the coach's intensity wear off on his team, or does it just wear on them? Do the 49ers have an NFL quarterback on their roster?
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place in NFC West

St. Louis - Is it possible to go backwards after a season as bad as 2008 or does regression to the mean overwhelm any bad luck? And what is the mean for a team with this talent level? Could Vince Lombardi, with Bill Walsh coordinating the offense and Bill Belichick the defense, win with this team?
Prediction: 4-12, 4th place in NFC West

So, here, gathered into one handy-dandy spot for future reference, are my predictions for the records of all 32 NFL teams during the 2009 season.

NFL - Predicted 2009 Records
AFC East

New England1420.875



NY Jets790.4375

AFC North





AFC South





AFC West

San Diego1240.75

Kansas City5110.3125



NFC East

NY Giants1150.6875




NFC North



Green Bay790.4375


NFC South

New Orleans1150.6875



Tampa Bay5110.3125

NFC West



San Francisco790.4375

St. Louis4120.25

And, finally, the playoffs.

NFL - Predicted Playoffs
AFC Playoff Teams

Winner - EastNew England1420.875

Winner - WestSan Diego1240.75

Winner - NorthBaltimore1150.6875

Wild CardPittsburgh1150.6875

Winner - SouthIndianapolis1150.6875

Wild CardTennessee1060.625

NFC Playoff Teams

Winer - EastNY Giants1150.6875

Winner - SouthNew Orleans1150.6875

Winner - NorthChicago1150.6875

Wild CardDallas1060.625

Winner - WestArizona1060.625

Wild CardAtlanta970.5625

Wild Card Playoffs

Indianapolis over Pittsburgh

Baltimore over Tennessee

Chicago over Atlanta

Arizona over Dallas

Divisonal Round

New England over Indianapolis

San Diego over Baltimore

New Orleans over Chicago

Arizona over NY Giants

Conference Championships

New England over San Diego

New Orleans over Arizona

Super Bowl XLIII

New England over New Orleans

Be prepared - if any of this turns out to be eerily prescient, or stunningly accurate, you'll hear about it frequently and forever. Far more likely that you've read this today and will never see or hear of it again...

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