Heyo! It’s NFL kickoff weekend, which means it’s time for some half-assed, barely-informed predictions! It should be noted I pay almost no attention to what happens in the NFL offseason. I know Teddy Bridgewater got hurt a week ago, and the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford to replace him. The Colts drafted a bunch of shitty guys who will never contribute. I think someone the Cowboys drafted got into trouble with the police. But beyond that, I’m at a loss.
Before the predictions proper, a few thoughts about the Colts. A year ago, they were a sexy pick to get to the Super Bowl. They were coming off an postseason where they whacked the Bengals in the Wild Card game, dominated the Fighting Peytons in Denver, and then got run out of Foxborough in the Deflategate game. They were a young, hungry team led by the next NFL superstar in Andrew Luck. The blueprint was in place; it was up to them to follow it.
And then they fell on their faces last year and the blueprint was revealed to be a sham. The Colts refusal to build a solid offensive line in front of Luck finally caught up with him, as he was battered into two serious injuries, one of which cost him the second half of the season. When he was on the field, the lack of protection and an effective running game sapped his strengths, and he was often running for his life, taking brutal hits, and forcing throws that became interceptions. The coach and GM should have been fired, but for some reason owner Jim Irsay decided to keep both Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson, and give them another shot at fixing the mess.
The easy prediction is that a healthy Luck with a bolstered offensive line automatically puts the Colts back into the playoffs since they have the benefit of playing in the AFC South. The only problem is the South is not filled with complete pushovers the way it has been for the last decade. Every team has its own issues, but each team also has the chance to win 8–10 games if everything goes right. It’s going to take more than just showing up to win the AFC South.
I expect the Colts offense to be much better this year; IF they can keep Luck healthy and he plays smartly. The offensive line is already suffering from injuries, though. As is the defense, which has seen its backfield get ravaged by injuries in the preseason. If the Colts get back in the 10-win range, it’s going to be because Luck stays healthy for 17 weeks and leads the offense to a very productive season. I see a lot of 35–31 games in their future.
And now on to the picks!
From now until the end of time. Or until Brady and Belichick are gone, I guess.
Don’t get too excited, Bengals fans (see below).
Figure a healthy Luck makes them the best of a pretty middling collection of teams.
The defense is good enough where the offense won’t have to score many points to win. And the offense just might be ok.
AFC Wild Cards
Houston, Kansas City
Both of these teams are capable of winning their divisions. Can Houston find offense? Can Kansas City stay healthy on offense?
I really have no idea here. Maybe they’ll keep their roll from late last year going. Maybe not.
Will be the best team in the NFL until January. Then something will fail late in the fourth quarter, whether it’s a defensive breakdown, a running game that suddenly won’t work, or a bizarre play.
Lots of people think the Panthers are going to fall back to the pack this year. I see some regression, but they still win the division. Provided Cam wasn’t seriously injured in their opener Thursday.
Figure this division goes into the last coupe weeks, but Seattle will be hungrier.
NFC Wild Cards
Both teams will score enough points to be in every game.
Indianapolis over Kansas City. I pick this every year. Why stop now?
Houston over Cincinnati. Poor Bengals fans.
New England over Houston. Yeah, like Houston is going to Foxborough and winning in January.
Denver over Indianapolis. Colts shitty defense lets them down.
New England over Denver. Offense will matter, as will home field, which the Patriots will have.
Arizona over Washington. Blowout city, baby.
Carolina over Atlanta. Another Matty Ice playoff failure.
Arizona over Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is becoming Dan Marino with a ring.
Seattle over Carolina. The Seahawks are on a mission.
Seattle over Arizona. A battle of styles and teams that split their regular season meetings. Seattle’s defense holds just enough to get the win.
This time Pete Carroll doesn’t fuck it up. Seattle 31, New England 27
Now go see your bookies!
- I’ve typed the word kickball so many times in the past two months that muscle memory just took over and I typed that instead of kickoff. ↩