The NFL season has arrived! Is there anything more traditional than Thursday night football to put you in the mood for a fall full of pigskin action? Like all good bloggers, I am required to offer my picks for the coming season. To measure my track record from last year, I’ve linked to my 2003 predictions below.

AFC East: New England. After Bill Belichick and Tom Brady walk on water before tonight’s game, the rest of the league forfeits all 16 regular season games just to piss off those old bastards from the 1972 Dolphins. And because they’re deeply afraid of anyone that can walk on water.

AFC South: Indianapolis. Peyton will have the best year for any quarterback ever. Regular season, that is.

AFC North: Baltimore. Can you imagine putting B-more’s defense with the offense of the Colts or Chiefs? The possibility makes me want to go buy a PS2 and Madden so I can make it happen. Maybe they should try playing Ray Lewis at quarterback and run the option. Can you imagine him and Jamal Lewis coming around the corner together?

AFC West: Kansas City. Having Gunther Cunningham back in town almost makes me want to listen to KC talk radio again. The first time the defense gives up 500 yards in a game should provide for a full week of interesting. Can we have the Colts and Chiefs play 12 times a year just to see how many points they can score in a single game?

Wild Cards: Denver, Tennessee.
Just Missing: NY Jets, Cincinnati

Denver upsets the Chiefs. Cunningham and Dick Vermeil agree to swap roles next season to finally get the team over the top. Cunningham promptly disappears without a trace.
Baltimore wins another classic over Tennessee when the defense scores three times.
New England over Denver. Tom Brady stares at the Broncos defense intensely, reminds them of the whole walking on water thing, and they refuse to touch him for the remainder of the game.
Indy over Baltimore 6-3 in triple overtime
In a surprise to no one, it snows in Foxboro for the AFC championship game. Tom Brady just smiles knowingly when asked about the change in weather (It had been sunny and in the 50s the week leading up to the game). The Pats win another sloppy game 21-17. Afterwards, the Colts complain that the Patriots had the nerve to rush Peyton Manning, and demand the rules committee force defenses to count to “three Mississippi” before crossing the line of scrimmage.

NFC East: Philly. No one else in the division is nearly as good as people think. TO is going to be brilliant in Philadelphia. I mean, he’s going to be an ok player, but the interaction between him, the fans, and the press is going to be legendary.

NFC South: Carolina. It’s tradition that I pick the most obvious team to win this division.

NFC North: Minnesota. Have you noticed how much I enjoy high-octane offenses in football?

NFC West: St. Louis. Everyone and their mother are picking Seattle. For that reason alone I think the Rams have one more great regular season in the tank. I also want to see how many of St. Louis’ “great football fans” care about the Rams anymore after the Cardinals win the World Series (Coming of course after Pedro Martinez throws eight innings of no-hit ball, takes a line drive off his skull on the first pitch of the ninth, and the Cards score nine runs off the Red Sox bullpen to erase an 8-0 deficit in game seven.)

Wild Cards: Atlanta, Seattle
Just Missing: Green Bay, New Orleans

The Falcons crush the Rams by 24 in the opening round. Bill Self is seen on the Falcons sideline, leading several Rams fans to say, “That fucker just can not lose in the state of Missouri.”
Matt Hasselbeck throws 16 interceptions as Carolina beats the Seahawks.
Terrell Owens drops a pass that would have given the Eagles a first down and the opportunity to kill the clock in the fourth quarter. Michael Vick scores the game-winning touchdown on a 60-yard run. The entire city of Philadelphia spontaneously combusts after the loss.
Randy Moss runs by the Carolina defensive backs all night and the Vikings squeak by the Panthers 45-44.
The NFC championship game turns into basketball on turf. Randy Moss scores six touchdowns; four on receptions, one on a reverse, and the last on a punt return late in the fourth quarter. Michael Vick accounts for six touchdowns as well, holds on field goals and PATs, drives the bus to the game, and tapes the team’s ankles before the game. Atlanta wins 56-52.

Super Bowl:
After a terrorist threat forces the game to be played in Lawrence, KS a week later than scheduled (Paul Tagliabue, “We knew no one would attend a football game there. It seemed like the safest place to go.”), America refuses to watch the game since it aired at the same time as the season premieres of both American Idol and Survivor. “The Game That Nobody Watched” becomes an instant classic, and the 5200 fans in attendance are rewarded as Michael Vick kicks a NFL record 65-yard field goal as time expires to give Atlanta a 9-7 win.

(Please note these predictions are for entertainment purposes only. My playoff teams are all accurate, but my playoff scenarios are pure folly. Were I a betting man, I’d wager on a final four of New England, Indy, Philly, and Minnesota, with Patriots winning their third title in four years.)

What Was I Thinking?