Got lucky in last year’s predictions – nailed all six NFC playoff teams, and four of six in the AFC. Considering how random last year was – the Football Outsiders struggled with predictions – we’ll consider it a rare victory. We’re finding the 2010 predictions (NFC today, AFC tomorrow) much more difficult for three reasons: 1) We have no read on the Eagles and Kevin Kolb, 2) Our hunch/gut feeling/sneaking suspicion is that the Bears will have a good season, but if you put them in the playoffs, who misses out? 3) Was Michael Turner’s brilliant 2008 season just a fluke, or will he and Matt Ryan return to the playoffs?
NFC East: Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia, NY Giants
NFC North: Green Bay, *Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit
NFC South: New Orleans, *Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay
NFC West: San Francisco, Seattle, Arizona, St. Louis
Teams with a * are the wild card teams, obviously
* First, we’ll say there’s no way we go 6-for-6 with these picks. Brett Favre and the Vikings missing the playoffs is a massive gamble (not one we’d put money on, either). We’re down on the Vikings for the following reasons: 1) They really need to go 2-1 before visiting the Jets – that starts a brutal stretch of games (without Sidney Rice, its top receiver last year): vs. Dallas, at Green Bay, at New England. 2) Are they really going to start Lito Sheppard in the secondary? He was a mess last year for the Jets, and his skills have rapidly declined. 3) Yes, we’re buying into the Favre vs. Childress beef, and think it ruins the chemistry and Favre ends his career with a down season. We’ll guess 7-9.
* Yes, we prattled on throughout the offseason about the Redskins and the playoffs. We still think they’ll have a good season – 9-7? – because of the coaching change and because we like McNabb. Don’t like the receivers or love the defense, though.
* We’re going all in on Chicago because Mike Martz + Jay Cutler = offensive firepower, in the same way that White Shirt + Tan Face = Confidence. Plus, we like a defense that adds a healthy Urlacher and Peppers. The Bears could be 6-2 (Dallas, Green Bay) after the first week in November. The early schedule is favorable; the second half, less so.
* We’ll project the Cowboys and Packers in the NFC title game, and reluctantly, we’re taking Dallas, only because everyone else is on the Packers. The Green Bay bandwagon is overflowing right now. (We’ll silently be rooting for Jermichael Finley, who we grabbed in Fantasy.)