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Friday, August 17, 2012

Projecting The 2012 NFL Season

As always, I have to clarify that I believe all projections are worthless because not only is there a lot of groupthink involved which heavily sways opinion but almost all the time, if not every single time, projections are just flat out wrong. Projections asks ordinary human beings to predict the future and it is just not something we mere mortals of capable of doing. Yet. Despite that, projections are still fun to do and something that people love to read about and I love to write about.

1) Green Bay Packers
2) Chicago Bears*
3) Detroit Lions*
4) Minnesota Vikings

Overall Thoughts:
In my opinion this is the toughest division in football right now. I'm sure you can make the argument that the AFC North is better and you're probably right, but this division went from one of the weakest to one of the toughest in the past few years... The Green Bay Packers are by far and away the best overall team in football led by Aaron Rodgers and a defense that's better than you think. It's hard to prove you are a good defense when your offense is putting up 35 points a game... Last year I put the Chicago Bears second in the division over the then trendy Detroit Lions and if Jay Cutler did not get injured (even despite the Matt Forte injury) the Bears would have had a better record than the Lions. The Lions still have not proven themselves better than the Bears and until they take second place away from Chicago (as opposed to Chicago giving it away) I will always put the Bears on top. The addition of Michael Bush and Brandon Marshall will give the Bears a potent offensive attack to go along with their staunch defense (although the Brian Urlacher injury could be a playoff killer)... I have always been weary of the Madden curse and with Calvin Johnson on the cover this year, I'm scared for both Megatron and the Lions offense. As good of numbers as Stafford put up last year, a lot of his throws came just by throwing a jump ball and having Megatron be better than everyone else and winning the "500 game". An injured or non-productive Johnson equals a mediocre offense... The Vikings were terrible last year and did nothing to drastically improve their team and while I believe AD will play and be his old self again, it's hard seeing them getting more than 5 wins.

1) Philadelphia Eagles
2) New York Giants
3) Washington Redskins
4) Dallas Cowboys

Overall Thoughts
I'm sick of everyone clamoring this to be a top tiered division. This is mainly because we all overrate the teams, mainly the Cowboys and until last year the Giants (of course you can also make the argument that the Eagles hype went too far) so in honor of the backlash, I'm saying no one from the division will earn a wild card birth, like last year... The Eagles were anointed one of, if the not the best teams in football last year and deservingly so and if the Philly franchise wasn't run by retards and a)Have their offensive line coach become their defensive coordinator and b)Run a 9-2 defensive scheme with 3 out of the top 15 (maybe even top 10) cornerbacks in the league they they would have won this division. A new D-coordinator equals a playoff contender... Despite the Giants winning the Superbowl last team, the team overall under head coach Tom Coughlin has been an inconsistent and mediocre regular season team. I expect that trend to continue... The Redskins have had a pretty good defense over the past few years and can you image what the Carolina Panthers would have been last year if Cam Newton wasn't playing with an atrocious defense?... Tony Romo is an injury risk, DeMarco Murray is an injury risk, Miles Austin is an injury risk, Jason Witten has a broken spleen, and Dez Bryant is an injury risk as well as a suspension risk. Plus, one of the worst offensive lines in the game. No matter how good of a team you are (and Dallas was not all that good to begin with) injuries always equals a losing season in the NFL.

1) Atlanta Falcons
2) Carolina Panthers Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3) New Orleans Saints
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Carolina Panthers

Overall Thoughts
Atlanta seems like the tallest midget to me. Despite the talent on offense and despite the moniker "Matty Ice", Matt Ryan has yet to prove to me he's a quarterback capable of even whiffing guys like Tom Brady or even Phillip Rivers's a**hole. (NOTE: I would have said the same thing about Eli Manning last year at this time and he proved me wrong during the 2011 season). Even two years ago when Atlanta had the best record in the NFC, nothing about them scared me and I was proven right when they didn't win a single playoff game that year (in fact Ryan has never won a playoff game) and the Falcons would have not made the playoffs last year if Jay Cutler had been healthy all 16 games... Don't really like Cam Newton or Steve Smith all that much this year but I really hate the Saints this season and the Panthers do have an elite talent level quarterback... Last year, when head coach Sean Peyton missed a game the Saints lost to the St. Louis Rams, a team that was fighting all year long to win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Sean Peyton's injury scares me a lot and he means a lot more to this team that I think people realize... As much as I like Josh Freeman and I think he will revert to his 2010 self, I'm too much of a pu$$y to put them ahead of the other teams and even if I'm "right" and the Bucs do have a bad season this season, their team is still super, super young and a future force to be reckoned with

1) San Fransico 49ers
2) Seattle Seahawks
3) Arizona Cardinals
4) St. Louis Rams

Overall Thoughts
Even if the 49ers are not as good or dominant as they were last year, their rise to the NFL elite status was not a fluke and in probably the worst division in football, they will remain perched atop the NFC West. As much as I dislike the man, Jim Harbaugh is a fantastic coach... While I do not trust either T.O. or Sidney Rice and even with many games missed by Beast Mode (Marshawn Lynch) the Seahawks have one of the best offensive lines in football which will make Matt Flynn and Robert Turbin look pretty darn good... Kevin Kolb is horrible but John Skelton is an average to above-average QB. Larry Fitzgerald fantasy owners might have to wait a few weeks though before getting elite level production from him... I still believe in the power and talent of Sam Bradford and while the Rams did add super coach (although he has always been overrated to me) Jeff Fischer what else really did they add to make them not be a bottom dwelling team?

1) Baltimore Ravens
2) Cincinnati Bengals*
3) Pittsburgh Steelers
4) Cleveland Browns

Overall Thoughts
As much as I do not like Joe Flacco or the way the Ravens O-coordinator has handled many offensive games in 2011 (i.e. by allowing Joe Flacco to "take over games"), this team has one of the best offensive weapons in the game in Ray Rice and an always killer defense which means 12-13 wins for them is almost inevitable... Really like the BenJarvis Green-Ellis signing (hell, Marvin Lewis made Cedric Benson look good. Imagine what he can do with a talented running back) to add to the trifecta of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Plus, the Bungals have a nice little defense there... The Steelers will duke it out with the Cowboys for the worst offensive line in football which I believe will cause a stuttering offense and with Bill Cowher's team getting older and moving towards ineffectiveness and with Mike Tomlin's team coming into fruition (I never liked Mike Tomlin in terms of drafting and running a team and have always touted to deaf ears that he inherited one of the best jobs in football by getting Cowher's amazing team and Dick LeBeau's amazing defensive schemes) I think Tomlin's "true colors" will show. And those colors are "bad". Maybe it's "puke green"?... Brown have by far and away the worst receiving corps in the NFL, one of the worst offenses in the NFL and I can't name you a single defensive player they have. Does Josh Cribbs play defense as well?

1) New England Patriots
2) Buffalo Bills*
3) New York Jets
4) Miami Dolphins

Overall Thoughts:
Despite all the struggles the Pats had on defense in 2011 they still have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in 2012 to end up being the top dog in a pretty terrible division... Whether or not I believe Ryan Fitzpatrick's ineffectiveness in 2011 was due to a rib injury or just Ryan Fitzpatrick being Ryan Fitzpatrick, they still have an awesome running game with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller and the addition of Mario Williams gives the Bills a damn good front seven... A terrible Jets team was made worse by a)Adding Tim Tebow b)Continuing to play Mark Sanchez at QB c)Losing L.T. and Plaxico Burress without adding anyone to replace them and d)An old team becoming one year older... God are the Miami Dolphins bad and they made themselves worse by trading away Brandon Marshall and starting (in 2012) Ryan Tannenhill (Matt Moore was surprisingly better than you think).

1) Houston Texans
2) Tennessee Titans
3) Indianapolis Colts
4) Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall Thoughts:
I still don't like Gary Kubiak has a head coach but the defensive talent he still has along with Arian Foster and Ban Tate will be enough to win games over the rest of the terrible teams in this division... I had a really tough time determining which bad team was worse the Titans over the Colts. I choose the Titans because they won't have a rookie at the helm. Just a fantasy note, I hate Chris Johnson this year and I'm not giving him a mulligan for last year. CJ2K's game was all predicated on burst and if he's lost it, which I believe he has, he's just a run-of-the-mill runningback.. I know it is a lazy comparison but I do believe Andrew Luck is the next Peyton Manning. That being said, even Manning went 1-15 his rookie year. The reason a team picks first overall is because they have and continue to have a horrific team... Despite the nice little receiving corps the Jags have, they still have Blaine Gabbert running the ship. That being said, I could see Jacksonville having the best defense in this division and that combined with MJD could mean a first place finish in this bad division. But again, they still have Blaine Gabbert.

1) San Diego Chargers
2) Denver Broncos
3) Oakland Raiders
4) Kansas City Chiefs

Overall Thoughts:
My raging boner for Phillip Rivers knows no bounds. The only reason he didn't end up on my fantasy team was because the beautiful Tom Brady was severely undervalued and I couldn't pass up the price (and thank goodness I did). Last year I projected the Chargers to win the Superbowl but now as I clear the egg off of my face I like the addition of Robert Meachum and the subtraction of Vincent Jackson. Obviously not from a talent perspective but from a chemistry perspective. In 2010, when Rivers was literally throwing to people off of the street he had his best season. I think the same will happen again this year... Even if a 36 year old Peyton Manning manages to stay healthy for all 16 games and even if for some reason Demaryius Thomas also plays 16 games and is the next Marvin Harrison and even if Eric Decker puts up Reggie Wayne-esque numbers, Manning still will play 15 out of his 16 games outdoors and will not get the benefit of cooshy, indoors Lucas Oil Stadium. Plus, even if Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are the sack machines they were last year, the rest of their defense is so terrible that having an amazing pass rush will not make up for the rest of the holes. Point is, this was an incredibly lucky team last year and will not repeat... Carson Palmer will rebound having had not only an offseason with the team but also the ability to play all 16 games with the Raiders... As much as I like the rushing attack of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis for the Chiefs, very little can make up for the fact that Kansas City has Romeo Crennel as their head coach.

** Denotes Wild Card Birth

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