Nothing’s better about writing a sports blog than the ability to put yourself out there months ahead of time by making predictions about an upcoming season. Why? Because by the time your prognosticating has been proven totally and utterly incorrect, you’ve already written 100 posts — nobody remembers how wrong you were.
So with that said, here’s how the NFL season will shake down. Feel free to take this info with you to Vegas. Or not.
No. 6: Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
No. 5: Carolina Panthers (11-5)
No. 4: San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
No. 3: Chicago Bears (10-6)
No. 2: Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
No. 1: Atlanta Falcons (12-4)
Outcome: Philly over Chicago, Niners over Carolina, Atlanta over Niners, Philly over Dallas, Atlanta over Philly.
No. 6: Houston Texans (9-7)
No. 5: Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
No. 4: San Diego Chargers (9-7)
No. 3: Tennessee Titans (10-6)
No. 2: New England Patriots (11-5)
No. 1: Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
Outcome: Tennessee over Houston, Pittsburgh over San Diego, Baltimore over Pittsburgh, New England over Tennessee, Baltimore over New England.
Super Bowl: Atlanta over Baltimore
MVP: Michael Turner
Offensive Player of the Year: Turner
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis
Coach of the Year: Mike Singletary
So there you have it. I’m still on the Atlanta bandwagon, and Baltimore’s defense is the best unit on either side in the AFC. So if you’d like, you’re more than welcome to file this post away and bring it up at the end of the season when I’m wrong about every division champion. Otherwise, the next time you hear about these predictions will be if they turn out mostly right and I bring them up in a few months to say “I told you so.” Aren’t predictions great? How ’bout some more while we’re at it…
— Indianapolis won’t enjoy their first year without Tony Dungy or Marvin Harrison — except for the fact that they won’t have to deal with Harrison’s inevitable legal troubles. Who knew that in truth, the “quiet, classy” Harrison was pretty much the NFL’s Avon Barksdale?
— Richard Seymour will sign a ridiculously large contract extension with the Raiders, and set his sights on getting injured as often as possible throughout his stay in Oakland.
— The Raiders will trade Nnamdi Asomugha to the Patriots for a conditional 4th round pick and the rights to the retired Tedy Bruschi.
— So many people will call Fitz and Brooks suggesting that the 49ers start Nate Davis at QB that an infuriated Rod Brooks’ voice will hit an octave higher than anything heard on KNBR since Ralph Barbieri watched the verdict of the first O.J. trial.
— Brad Childress will be the first head coach to get fired after the season.
— Jack Del Rio will be the second.
— Marvin Lewis will be the third, if for nothing else than his completely uninspired performance during HBO’s Hard Knocks. For a guy who should have been fired after last season (if not before), wouldn’t you think Lewis would try to sound more inspirational than the 2008/09 version of Don Nelson? Lewis pretty much sleepwalked through the last episode, especially when telling the fringe players that the last preseason game was a big opportunity. No shit. The roster’s going from 75 to 53 within a couple days, and all the guys in the film room were hoping to prolong their NFL careers by barely making one of the league’s worst teams. Thanks coach, the players and viewers needed this bit of info from the Bengals’ nearly comatose coach, a guy who’s been living off the Ravens winning Super Bowl XXXV for nearly a decade. Now at least we all know how Lewis has lost control of the Bengals as often and as spectacularly as he has.
— Michael Crabtree will never sign with the 49ers. I knew it was too good to be true. Oh well, more catches from Josh Morgan (yes, he’s one of my fantasy sleepers).
— Darrius Heyward-Bey will contribute about as much to the Raiders as Crabtree helps the Niners in 2009.
— I will abstain from listening to sports talk radio for at least a few days after the chilling realization that I can tell the difference between Lincoln Kennedy and Derrick Deese.
— I will write at least two Al Davis fake-dialogue posts during this season, if only because my buddy Francis (the morning host at KRAB Radio in Bakersfield and noted Raiders fan) demands I do it.
— The Seattle Seahawks will finish under .500 again, even though everyone under the sun somehow thinks they’ll be the comeback team of the league this season (along with the similarly overrated Green Bay Packers). Adding T.J. Houshmandzadeh (a fading possession receiver), Ken Lucas and Jim Mora, Jr. to a healthy Matt Hasselbeck is somehow supposed to make them the favorite in the NFC West. Um, why? Don’t people remember that Shaun Alexander was the main reason the Seahawks were so good before? Now, Mora and Greg Knapp are counting on Julius Jones and Edgerrin James. That was a good idea about four years ago, but of course the Seahawks have been falling head over heels in love with stale RB’s for a while now. Remember, they had to release T.J. Duckett’s corpse to make room for Edge. I can’t wait until they bring in Lamont Jordan and Joseph Addai next year.
— Matthew Stafford will be better than Mark Sanchez.
— The Raiders, hampered by another year of overmatched coaches and chubby quarterbacking, will finish 7-9.
— 2009 will be Alex Smith’s last year with the 49ers.
— After a good start, the hype machine will descend on Santa Clara and fully envelope Singletary. Countless ESPN profiles and an embarrassing level of verbal fellatio from Fox’s color analysts will follow. While the 49ers won’t succeed in their quest for a sixth Super Bowl championship, Singletary’s charisma will lead to the 49ers getting the Hard Knocks gig next spring, with Singletary starring as “the opposite of Marvin Lewis.”