Update (After Week 13): Back before the season started, as we do every year, Doogan and I played our little “preview” game, where we took turns picking teams and whether or not we thought they’d be better or worse than they were last year. Well, not it’s time to give a midseason update on our preview.
Below are our original picks and our justification back in August, and below that, in italics, I’ll add a little rundown of each team’s season through 12 games, where they stand going forward, and how Doogan and I did in our predictions. There may even be a random mention of the ancient Germanic tribes somewhere hidden in these italics.
AND…BELOW THE FIRST ITALICS IS THE FINAL STANDINGS AND THE SCORES FOR THIS YEAR’S NFL PREVIEW.
And, we are on the doorstep of yet another NFL season. And, you all know what that means: everyone’s favorite game…THE BSB NFL PREVIEW! Doogan won our first NFL preview 17-15, in 2008, but Bry responded with a come-from-behind 17-15 win in the 2009 version. So, the 2010 preview is for the eternal bragging rights…for now. Doogan had the first pick in 2009, so Bry will go first here in 2010.
BRY 1 – St. Louis Rams – OVER 1 win: Doogan, let me warn you right now: judging by the first pick, this is going to be really hard this year. The last two first picks were easy with the Patriots coming off 16-0 and the Lions coming off 0-16. Nothing was easy, and I don’t think it’s just the first pick that’ll be hard. I had to start with the Rams. I still think that this might be the worst team in football, but 1 win is a ridiculous number, and the OVER is a gimme, right? Right?!? The Rams and the OVER was my first pick last year (OVER 2 wins), and they finished 1-15 to screw me, but unabashed, I’m going for it again.
Through Week 13: 6-6
Quarterback is the most important position in sports, and it looks like the Rams found themselves a good one in Bradford. Also, the second year under a good coach, Steve Spaguolo, may be reaping the benefits now. Granted they play in probably the worst division in the history of the NFL, but the Rams may well be heading towards a home playoff game.
FINAL: 7-9, POINT BRY, 1-0
The emergence of Sam Bradford gets Bry off to a good start.
DOOGAN 2 – Washington Redskins – OVER 4 wins: It takes a ton of talent, not only on the field but also on the sideline and upstairs in the offices, to make a successful NFL team. But, if there are two men that are the most important in determining that success, it is the head coach and the quarterback. The Skins made big upgrades at both of those spots this year, with Mike Shanahan and Donny Mac. And they have enough talent at other spots to win half their games, even in a brutal division.
Through Week 13: 5-7
They are better than last year with a new coach and new QB, but how much better? Obviously, they have already gone over their win total, but, if you can believe it, there may be even more dissaray this year in Washington than last year’s 4-12 team. The QB is old and looks it. The coach is not getting along with his team. And, their best defensive player has just been suspended for the rest of the season for refusing to go into the game when his number was called. Trouble in the Beltway.
FINAL: 6-10. POINT DOOGAN, 1-1
Maybe not the safe pick Doogan expected here at #2, but he does get the point and that’s all that matters. In actuality, I’m sure Doogan is really happy with this result, as the Skins were terrible and aren’t looking any better, and he still got this point with the over.
DOOGAN 3 – Detroit Lions – OVER 2 wins: Working under a lot of the same logic as the above pick, I’ll take the Lions on the over. Head coach Jim Schwartz and quarterback Matthew Stafford were both new to their roles last year, but there’s reason to think that both will end up being capable at their jobs. Schwartz was a successful defensive coordinator, and he now has Ndamukong Suh, who could make an immediate impact on the D-Line. Stafford has an elite receiver in Calvin Johnson, and with a little progress on both sides of the ball, the Lions can win 4-5 games.
Through Week 13: 2-10
I’m about to drop one of the most overused sports phrases, but I don’t care. Are the Lions the best 2-10 team in history? They are a couple plays away from 6-6 and have given some of the NFL’s best teams legitimate scares. This team is on the road to being pretty good with some big-time players to build around on both sides of the ball. I think Jim Schwartz is doing a great job and the wins will come.
FINAL: 6-10. POINT DOOGAN, 2-1
Did anyone else not realize that the Lions won 4 in a row to end the season? Well, they did, and with it gave Doogan an easy point here at #3 and the overall lead.
BRY 4 – San Diego Chargers – UNDER 13 wins: I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard to use my second pick on the UNDER for a team that is head and shoulders above anyone else in their division, but I’m going to, and I feel okay about it. The Chargers will win the NFC West, but I do not think they will win 13 games. They are not starting the season all that positively, with problems with two of their most important offensive players (Marcus McNeil and Vincent Jackson) to go along with lingering questions about their defense and perpetual questions about their head coach. They’ll probably win 10, but not 13.
Through Week 13: 6-6
I put $20 on the Chargers to win the Super Bowl at 30-1 odds when they were 2-5. While I would still make that same bet today, I would have felt MUCH better about it had they not crapped the bed against Oakland this week. They now sit two games behind KC in the West, and the AFC wild card is not exactly out there for the taking. This team probably needs to win out for a shot at the playoffs, otherwise, the AFC teams can breathe easier knowing that one of the best teams in the league may not be playing come January.
FINAL: 9-7. POINT BRY, 2-2
A pretty easy pick here for Bry at #4, as the BSB’ers remain perfect through 4.
DOOGAN 5 – Indianapolis Colts – UNDER 14 wins: It’s a big number and it’s a tough schedule. Their division isn’t quite as strong as it was a couple years ago, but all three of the other teams are capable of beating the Colts if they have home-field advantage. Plus, Indy plays at New England and Philly and gets Dallas and San Diego at home. And even if they do manage to get towards the tail-end of the season with 12 or 13 wins, they’ll probably be able to rest their starters and take a loss or two.
Through Week 13: 6-6
After 500 years of hegemony, the Roman Empire, as the world knew it, fell in 476 AD thanks to a successful revolt by the tribes of Germanic peoples, united and led by Odoacer. However, though the world viewed this as its devastation, the Roman Empire actually built itself back up and spent the next 1,000 years with wealth and power nearly as equal to that which they enjoyed prior to their “demise” in 476. Well, 2010 in Indianapolis feels, to me, like 476 AD in Ancient Rome. Everyone is throwing dirt on the grave of Peyton Manning, and they will probably miss the playoffs this year, but would anyone be surprised if they were 14-2 again next year? I won’t and neither will anyone reading this because you will all remember how I weaved the Fall of the Roman Empire into the Race for the AFC South.
FINAL: 10-6. POINT DOOGAN, 3-2
There are two streaks that I have seen in my lifetime that I find absolutely astonishing that do not seem to get much press at all. Most amazing BY FAR is Roger Federer’s streak of TWENTY-THREE consecutive Grand Slam semifinal appearances. Absolutely astonishing. But, second to that is the streak that ended this year – the Indianapolis Colts, in a sport of arbitrary injury and widespread parity, went 7 consecutive years without losing more than 4 games. That is incredible. 12-4 or better for 7 straight years! Wow. They did, in 2010, finish their 9th straight year with double-digit wins, winning their final 4 games to get to 10-6.
BRY 6 – San Francisco 49ers – OVER 8 wins: I like the Indy pick, Doogan, and was debating between that and SD with #4. Now, at #6, I might be going out on a limb here, taking this team this early, but I honestly think that there is no way the Niners don’t find 9 wins this year. Their defense is just too good; Singletary is too good of a coach; and that division is just so, SO bad. Again, probably a “reach pick” at #6, but give me the Niners and the OVER.
Through Week 13: 4-8
With all the talk of the disappoinment in Dallas, Minnesota, Cincinnati, and Arizona, I kind of think that the fans of the San Francisco 49ers have to be in the discussion for most letdown fanbase. This team was poised to enter the upper echelon of NFC teams. They were led by a fiery and seemingly talented up-and-coming coach. But, what happened? They are 4-8; their coach is on the hot seat; and, they can’t even win the worst division in the history of the NFL. They are probably going to watch the St. Louis Rams host a playoff game that absolutely should have been theirs. Then again, these fans are probably fans of that World Series winning baseball team, too, so it’s hard to muster up too much sympathy.
FINAL: 6-10. POINT DOOGAN, 4-2
And another streak ends, as the first missed pick comes at #6 here as Bry has too much faith in the 49ers. Doogan takes the lead.
DOOGAN 7 – Baltimore Ravens – OVER 9 wins: For once I’m going to step in and take the over on a Baltimore team. It’s usually all you, Bry. With the rare turmoil going on in Pittsburgh, this squad looks like the clear-cut favorites in the AFC North. Maybe they’ve lost a little bit defensively, mostly because of age, but time has been good to them on the other side of the ball, where their young talent is coming into its prime. Ray Rice is a star, the O-Line really gets the job done, Derrick Mason hasn’t shown much sign of slowing down at 36-years-old, and now they have Anquan Boldin thrown in the mix. They have the makings of a 12-win team.
Through Week 13: 8-4
After a brutal, brutal loss on Sunday night to their arch-rivals, the Ravens are all of a sudden full of question marks. They are a full game behind the Steelers in the AFC North, but the good news is that they are 2 games clear of the closest contender for the wild card. They should be okay, playoff-wise, but are now staring at a wild card. By the way, how great are the Steelers-Ravens games? They are my favorite non-Eagles games to watch every year.
FINAL: 12-4. POINT DOOGAN, 5-2
Doogan consolidates the break (in tennis parlance) with a nice pick here on a truly great franchise. I hate their fans, I despise their owner, and I’m jealous of their Super Bowl, but this team flat-out wins.
BRY 8 – Minnesota Vikings – UNDER 12 wins: This is getting kind of tough already, but I’m okay with this pick at #8. Despite their immense talent on both sides of the ball, there is just too much working against the Vikes right now. Percy Harvin is a major question mark with, apparently, very serious migraines (doesn’t sound like fun); Sidney Rice hasn’t been on the field all offseason; Chester Taylor is gone; and, oh by the way, their quarterback is FORTY. I think they’ll still be good and still be a contender for the NFC title, but I don’t think this the best team in their own division, and when has a second-place team ever won 12 games? Give me the UNDER.
Through Week 13: 5-7
Obviously, these guys are one of the most disappointing stories of the 2010 season. So much has been said, on so many levels about the mess in Minnesota, that I don’t need to belabor it. All I can say is this: they are a MUCH better team when the offense goes through Adrian Peterson, not the quarterback. We’ll see if they understand that or, more importantly, have the ball to tell the old man that.
FINAL: 6-10. POINT BRY, 3-5
Bry redeems himself a little from the SF blunder by nailing this pick, as the Vikes only win half as many as they did a year ago. This franchise is in complete disarray. I guess that’s what you get when you sell your soul to the Favre.
DOOGAN 9 – Arizona Cardinals – UNDER 10 wins: With the departure of Kurt Warner, the Cards have decided to remake their offense. Anquan Boldin is also gone, and Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca has been added to the O-Line. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to put more focus on the running game, considering that Matt Leinart is no Warner, but that certainly doesn’t mean the offense will be better, either. Also, Karlos Dansby, a really underrated linebacker, is gone to Miami and Antrel Rolle, a playmaking safety, is a Giant. It seems like they went into the offseason with a plan, but it’s hard to make up for a big downgrade at the QB position. They’re heading for a losing season.
Through Week 13: 3-9
With all due respect to the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills, this is BY FAR the worst team in football. Now, I really dislike Kurt Warner, but the dropoff at the QB position is staggering. I also think that the loss of Anquan Boldin (as mentioned above by Doogan before the season) has really had an affect on this whole offense more than people realize because it’s hidden by the awful QB play. This team is just abysmal. I’m not really sure how they won 3 games.
FINAL: 5-11. POINT DOOGAN, 6-3
A great pick here for Doogan, as it’s hard to imagine how this pick lasted until #9 looking back on it. But, that’s why these previews are interesting to look at – I guess it wasn’t completely obvious that this team was this bad…though, it should have been.
BRY 10 – Oakland Raiders – OVER 5 wins: Okay, this is stupid. I admit it. I’m dumb. We have now done this preview three times, and all three times, I have taken the Raiders and the OVER. I even said, in last year’s wrapup of my incorrect pick of the Raiders and the OVER, that someone (probably me) would be stupid enough to take the Raiders and the OVER again in 2010. Well, I was right. But, let me try one more time to explain why I think that the Raiders will win more than 5 games for the first time since their trip to the Super Bowl. Jason Campbell is a gigantic upgrade at quarterback over JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski. Also, last year, their defense was pretty good, and it’s very young, so you’d have to expect that it at least remains as good, if not improves. Throw in a really weak division, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for…dare I say it…8-8? Maybe. But, I don’t see them going 5-11 AGAIN.
Through Week 13: 6-6
The Raiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-ders. For the first time since Rich Gannon led them to the Super Bowl in 2002, the Raiders will finish with fewer than 11 losses. That’s an unbelievable streak in the era of parody in the NFL, but it’s finally over. Oakland is still 2 games back of true playoff contention, but who knows? They have gone old-school and figured out that pounding the ball down people throats on the ground and playing solid defense actually might win in this league. Go figure!
FINAL: 8-8. POINT BRY, 4-6
The Raiders finally come through for Bry, finishing at .500. Weird stat of the day: The Raiders were the only team in football to sweep their division…and, they are the only team in NFL history to sweep their division and NOT make the playoffs. Only the Raiders.
DOOGAN 11 – Kansas City Chiefs – OVER 4 wins: It’s rare for me to feel this good about a pick once we’re through the top ten. As far as the roster goes, there isn’t a huge difference here, but they did make some upgrades on the O-line, and Thomas Jones was brought aboard to share the load with up-and-comer Jamaal Charles in the backfield. Maybe more importantly, they added Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel as coordinators. They may not be the masters they looked like a few years ago, but do both have multiple championship rings in their current role. Finally, the schedule is a cake-walk. Not only do they play in an underwhelming division, but they play the NFC West out of conference, and they also get the Browns and Bills. I’ll call them for 7 wins.
Through Week 13: 8-4
Doogan nailed the Chiefs in his preview, but actually went too conservative in his calling for 7 wins. I mentioned above how the Raiders are winning with the tried and true mentality of running the ball and stopping the run…well, the Chiefs are better at both things, which is why they’re now 2 games clear of anyone else in this division. And, with a somewhat light schedule (after this week’s game in San Diego), they are looking good to earn themselves a playoff game at Arrowhead.
FINAL: 10-6. POINT DOOGAN, 7-4
Doogan nails another one, as he continues to be red-hot in this year’s preview. A nice season for KC, despite bowing out pretty noiselessly in the playoffs.
BRY 12 – Denver Broncos – UNDER 8 wins: This is tough because I’m not as bullish on KC as Doogan is, so I think that the AFC West is a bad division. But, part of it being a bad division is because it includes the Denver Broncos. This team looked really bad in the last 10 games of the season last year, and they lost their only two true stars on either side of the ball in Brandon Marshall (to a trade) and Elvis Doumerville (to injury). The defense is old and not very good, while the offense has very few weapons surrounding a trio of bad quarterbacks. Whether it’s Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn, or Tim Tebow, this is nowhere near a .500 team.
Through Week 13: 3-9
Josh McDaniels has been fired. Some of the Bronco fans are calling for Tim Tebow to replace one of the most prolific passers in the NFL. The defense is old and slow. This team is a total mess, and unless you believe in Tebow (I do not), then there isn’t much help on the horizon for one of the more proud franchises in this league.
FINAL: 4-12. POINT BRY, 5-7
Bry continues to keep pace with a red-hot Doogan, as the BSB predictors are now 11-for-12 on the year. How did we all enjoy the McDaniels Era?
DOOGAN 13 – Carolina Panthers – UNDER 8 wins: This team is similar to the Cardinals in that they’ve made a concious move to let some veterans walk and get younger. Maybe not a bad idea for the future of the team, but it looks like their plan is to take one step back before trying to take two forward. Julius Peppers and Muhsin Muhammad are gone (as well as Jake Delhomme, but that’s probably a good thing right away). Coach John Fox is a lame-duck, in the last year of his contract and no negotiations in sight. The rebuilding has begun in Carolina.
Through Week 13: 1-11
As Doogan said, “the rebuilding has begun in Carolina,” and it looks like it might start in earnest this offseason, as they weight their options with the #1 overall draft pick. This team is really bad. Does anyone remember them having the Giants on the ropes in Week One? I do.
FINAL: 2-14. POINT DOOGAN, 8-5
Doogan stays perfect without sweat here, as the Panthers are the worst team in football in 2010.
BRY 14 – New Orleans Saints – UNDER 13 wins: Yes, the defending champs are still incredibly talented, but I’m willing to take my chances on the fact that they will not repeat their 13-3 regular season. The schedule is a bit harder, and they are scrambling to find any semblence of a running game. Plus, their defense was off-the-charts fortunate last year with takeaways (many for touchdowns). I LOVE them at 13:1 to win the Super Bowl (the Vegas odds), but I do not like them to win 13+ games again, especially with an up-and-coming Atlanta team.
Through Week 13: 9-3
How can the defending Super Bowl champions start 9-3 and be completely under the radar? I’m not sure, but it’s happening right now. This team is clicking and is going to be a really tough out in the NFC playoffs yet again. In fact, they are a 29-yard missed field goal away from having the best record in football. Incidentally, I wonder if people know just how close this team is to being 12-0. We mentioned the 29-yard missed field goal in OT against Atlanta that cost them a game, but their other two losses were both of the head-scratching variety – at Arizona, where they gave up four TDs that were neither rushing or passing, and a strange home loss to Cleveland. If they were to take care of those two bottom-feeders, there would be a much different public perception of the Saints right now. Either way, I’m terrified of them in the NFC playoffs.
FINAL: 11-5. POINT BRY, 6-8
Bry has still only missed the Niners pick, as he hits another one here with the Saints taking a small step backwards. Then again, if you compare the playoff runs of last year’s team to this year’s, you might think it was a HUGE step backwards.
DOOGAN 15 – Cincinnati Bengals – UNDER 10 wins: Ah, you stole my next pick there, Bry. This Bengals team will be an interesting one to follow this year. They shocked people (including me) in the first-half of last season, beating the Steelers and Ravens twice each and winning in Green Bay. But they weren’t the same team in the second-half, culminating with a home playoff loss to the Jets. Their biggest weakness last year, ironically based on what they were a few years ago, was the passing game. They’ve added T.O., Antonio Bryant, and rookie Jordan Shipley to team with Ochocinco in the receiving corps, which should help, as long as T.O. and Ocho can keep some semblance of sanity. BUT, can Cedric Benson duplicate his great season? Is this defense really as good as it played for much of ’09? I kind of doubt it. And the schedule will do them NO favors: road games vs. the Colts, Pats, Ravens, Jets, Steelers, and Falcons, as well as visits to Cincy by the Saints and Chargers. Really brutal. Too many obstacles to overcome here, too many question marks, they’re heading for 7-8 wins.
Through Week 13: 2-10
How is this possible? How did this happen? The Bengals – a pretty common sleeper pick by many to have a fantastic season – have now lost 9 in a row and sit at 2-10. It’s uncanny how bad they’ve been since taking care of Baltimore in Week Three. I don’t know what else to say about this team, other than, “wow, yet again, I’m thankful that I’m not a Bengals fan.”
FINAL: 4-12. POINT DOOGAN, 9-6
Red-hot Doogan is not even breaking a sweat with this picks, as he nails the Bengals pick by 6 games at the #15 spot.
BRY 16 – Miami Dolphins – OVER 7 wins: I know this division is tough with the Jets and Pats, but I really like this Dolphins team. Parcells’ ability to evaluate talent cannot be overstated, and he has now had three years to rework this roster. Plus, I believe in Tony Sparano, and I actually really believe in Chad Henne, for some strange reason. They also probably made one of the best offseason acquisitions in Brandon Marshall. I like this team for somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 wins.
Through Week 13: 6-6
If the Dolphins had taken care of Cleveland at home last week, they would have been right in the thick of this AFC playoff race, despite no one saying word one about their postseason chances. They’ve played a brutal schedule, but they get a break in Weeks 15 & 16, so if they were able to get 7 wins up to that point, they’d have a shot. But, now it’s unlikely, especially with the questionable handling of the quarterback position. I like Sparano, but I’m not sure what he’s doing with Chad Henne. Anyway, they are still alive at 6-6, with two really tough games and two very winnable games left.
FINAL: 7-9. POINT DOOGAN, 10-6
The ‘Phins lose their final 3 games to crush Bry here and give a big point to Doogan. Judging on how he’s been picking, this could be a tough one to overcome. As for Miami – is anyone else absolutely baffled by the awfulness of Chad Henne? I thought he was going to be a solid NFL quarterback, but it turns out he absolutely stinks.
DOOGAN 17 – Cleveland Browns – UNDER 5 wins: Alright, this just got real hard. This could be one of those statments that comes back to haunt me, but I doubt it: this team stinks! Kudos to Eric Mangini for getting his team to play hard at the end of a lost season in ’09 (they won their last 4 after a 1-11 start), but I just don’t think that finish was a harbinger of things to come. Yes, they may have found a nice running back in Jerome Harrison, but Jake Delhomme probably won’t be much of an upgrade at QB. The defense is a mess, and it doesn’t help that arguably their most talented player on that side of the ball last year, LB Kamerion Wimbley, is gone to Oakland. 2 wins is very possible. At least the Cleveland fans can look forward to basketball season, oh wait….
Through Week 13: 5-7
Well, Doogan, I’m not sure it’s coming back to haunt you, but this team doesn’t stink. In fact, they are playing a tough brand of football that should scare the teams left on their schedule, and, call me absolutely crazy, but they are not entirely out of the playoff race. Obviously, they would have to win out to even have a chance and they are left with Baltimore and Pittsburgh on their schedule, but the other two games are winnable (@Buf, @Cin) and they get both of the big boys at home. Just sayin’…
FINAL: 5-11. POINT BRY, 7-10
It takes two head-scratching wins (over New Orleans and New England in back-to-back weeks) to just barely end this impressive streak for Doogan. Bry takes the point here, as the Browns hit their number.
BRY 18 – Atlanta Falcons – OVER 9 wins: Ooh, Doogan, you throw that jab at Cleveland right after I picked Miami and the OVER? Rough. Anyway, you’re right in that this has gotten real tough. I’m going to take the Falcons because I think that the Bucs stink, the Panthers are mediocre at best, and the Saints will not be 13-3. Plus, the Falcons have a somewhat easier schedule than a year ago, and their young quarterback is a year older. I’m not usually big on the “sleeper” that everyone has, but I do think that this team is going back to the playoffs this year, which probably means at least 10 wins.
Through Week 13: 10-2
On paper, I don’t see the best team in the NFC residing in Georgia, but, to use another awful, overused sports cliche, “they don’t play these games on paper.” One of the most amazing stats I’ve heard this year is that the Falcons have 6 wins this year in which they have trailed in the fourth quarter – with 5 of them coming after trailing with less than five minutes to play. That is amazing and tells me two things: (1) they really know how to win, and (2) they probably aren’t quite as good as their record makes them appear. I’m not sure whether that makes them scary or overrated come playoff-time (or maybe both), but it is an incredible statistic.
FINAL: 13-3. POINT BRY, 8-10
Bry has a nice pick here at #18, as he cruises to the point with the Falcons.
DOOGAN 19 – Tennessee Titans – UNDER 8 wins: I’ve always been a Jeff Fisher fan, and of course I’m a Chris Johnson fan, but everybody knows that this league is all about the passing game right now. Vince Young continues to show potential, but I don’t trust him to ever put it together, and especially not with his current corps of receivers. Making matters worse, the defense ranked second-to-last against the pass last year, and didn’t make any major changes to improve. If you can’t throw the ball effectively and you can’t stop the pass, you don’t win half your games in the NFL in 2010.
Through Week 13: 5-7
Here is what I have learned from watching the Titans this year: to win in the NFL, you need (1) a good quarterback, and (2) a mentally stable quarterback. I believe that the jury is still out as to whether or not Vince Young is good, but I think we can officially rule him highly combustible from the mental side of it. If Jeff Fisher can’t make it work, I pity the fool who tries to do it again next year. And, I pray that Mr. Fisher does not end up in the NFC East.
FINAL: 6-10. POINT DOOGAN, 11-8
Doogan gets right back on the horse by nailing a good pick with Tennessee here at #19. What happened to the Titans? They should not be a 10-loss team with that kind of talent. Well, maybe they should, considering their nightmare at the QB position.
BRY 20 – Chicago Bears – OVER 7 wins: Jay Cutler had a really bad year last year, but I’m not convinced that he’s a really bad quarterback. We will find out this year, though, because he’s operating under the Mike Martz system, so it’s boom or boost for the Chicago passing attack (why a team with an outside stadium in the “Windy City” hires a guy like Mike Martz is beyond me, but hey, at least half of their division plays in a dome, right?). Plus, the Bears defense should be greatly improved, considering their two best defenders are brand new from last year’s defense. Brian Urlacher is back from missing the entire 2009 season with an injury, and say what you will about whether he’s worth the money, there is little doubt that Julius Peppers is still a stalwart defensive lineman. The only reason it took me this long to make this pick is because their division is really good, but I still think the Bears are at least a .500 team this year.
Through Week 13: 9-3
I rarely show outward pride about a preseason prognostication (mostly because they never really bring about anything about which to be proud), but this one I’m going to. I feel like I was the only one outside of Illinois that actually believed in this Bears team this year. Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have them in the hunt for a first-round bye, but I saw them as a 9- or 10-win team. And, they are doing just that with a great defense and employing a quarterback that somehow just stopped turning the ball over. Now, they still may come crashing back to earth because of their remaining schedule, but until they do, we have to consider this team a true contender.
FINAL: 11-5. POINT BRY, 9-11
Bry gets an easy one here at #20. This is the one I am most proud of, as I was one of the few people who thought the Bears could really compete this year. In retrospect, I wish they weren’t competitive because they stole the coveted #2 seed from the Birds.
DOOGAN 21 – Jacksonville Jaguars – UNDER 7 wins: Somewhat similar to the Titans. They have a star back in Maurice Jones-Drew (though he’s no Chris Johnson), but the passing game is underwhelming, with a very average QB in David Garrard and not many weapons to use. And, this team was really built on solid defense for a lot of years, but that is no longer the case; the Jags ranked 27th in opponent passing yardage in ’09. The nail in the coffin for their quest to get 7 wins is probably the fact that they have to matchup with the NFC East out of conference.
Through Week 13: 7-5
So, if you told me, at the beginning of the season, that half of the NFL divisions would be led by the Bears, Chiefs, Rams, and Jaguars, I probably would have laughed in your face and somewhat politely asked you to leave the sports talk to those who know what they’re talking about. But, that is what is going on right now. The Jags still have some work to do if they are going to pull out a surprising AFC South title, as they travel to Indy in Week 15 and to Houston in Week 17. But, so far, they are winning games the old-fashioned way – by pounding the ball down the defenses’ throats with one, single, workhorse back. It’s a tried and true recipe that may or may not be obsolete.
FINAL: 8-8. POINT BRY, 10-11
Bry has hung in their long enough and weathered the storm and now they are back on serve, as Doogan barely misses with the Jags. I am still unsure as to how this team was in the playoff picture for so long, but they always seem to hang around, and they did it again this year.
BRY 22 – Buffalo Bills – UNDER 6 wins: I’ve been staring at this pick for about 10 rounds now, and I’m finally ready to pull the trigger. To quote Doogan quoting me “this team stinks.” No, seriously, they are really bad. I have to imagine that they’ll go no better than 1-5 in AFC East games, which means that to beat me, they would have to play .500 ball against the rest of their schedule. I’m not sure if this team even goes .500 in an SEC schedule, let alone an NFL schedule. The more I think about it, the more I like this pick for being this late in the game here.
Through Week 13: 2-10
In the past, we have seen Bradshaw to Swann, Montana to Rice, Manning to Harrison, and Brady to Moss. But, it’s time for them all to take a back seat to Fitzpatrick to Johnson. Okay, well not exactly the same thing, but how good have these two been, coming from complete obscurity. Ryan Fitzpatrick is from the football factory named Harvard, and Stevie Johnson is so out of nowhere that even Waters, the owner of The Dix (a fantasy football team with 30 roster spots made up entirely of guys named “Johnson”), had never heard of him – and didn’t have him on the roster – until he started scoring multiple TDs every week. All I hope (and, I actually hope for good things for the Bills franchise) is that this isn’t fool’s gold. I hope that either Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid quarterback around which they can build OR that they realize it now that he is not and address that void with self-honesty.
FINAL: 4-12. POINT BRY, 11-11
And, it’s a brand-new ballgame, folks. Bry hits on the Bills here (kind of surprising they lasted until #22) and ties up the score with 10 points left to be awarded.
DOOGAN 23 – Dallas Cowboys – UNDER 11 wins: The usual disclaimer here: it’s very hard for me to be unbiased about this team. But, this organization hasn’t responded well to high expectations of late. After 12 wins in ’07, they dropped to 9 in ’08. They came on strong at the end of last year to win the division, and now I’m sure the Dallas fans are expecting nothing less than a title. I don’t think Wade Phillips is up to the job. I’m not sure that Miles Austin can repeat what he did last year, and I don’t know where they make up for that production in the passing game if he can’t. And they have to handle a tough schedule. Besides the 6 divisional games, they also have road games at the Colts, Packers, and Vikings, and the Saints play in Dallas.
Through Week 13: 4-8
In all the years with all the sports that we do these previews, I’m not sure that we’ve had such a prophetic paragraph on a team’s season before it ever got started. Doogan talked about the Cowboys not responding well to success, Wade Phillips not being up to the job, and Miles Austin not repeating what he did last year. He nailed all three, as the ‘Boys have stumbled and bumbled their way to 4-8 this year. And, it is glorious! Honestly, how great is it that this is the year that the Cowboys are terrible – with all the talk about “hosting the Super Bowl?” Just fantastic! Thank you, football gods.
FINAL: 6-10. POINT DOOGAN, 12-11
Doogan takes the lead back with authority, as he absolutely nails this 23rd pick. Picks this late should not be this easy…or this awesome!
BRY 24 – New York Giants – UNDER 8 wins: Well, Doogan, since you took the bait on your team with “an unbiased hatred,” I guess I have to take mine, as well. Same disclaimer here for me and the G-Men. I have said a hundred times now, “If the Giants were playing a game against North Korea, I’d be rooting for Kim Jong-Il and the boys.” That being said, there are serious question marks about this team. I know that a lot of “experts” actually like them to bounce back and have a good season, but I don’t see it. Let’s break it down a little here and tell me where I’m wrong. Eli is not as bad as I make him out to be, but he’s NOWHERE NEAR a star in this league. The O-line has gotten very old very fast. Brandon Jacobs is just about completely washed up because of the punishment he’s taken over the years. And, I don’t see why everyone loves this receiving corps. They’re “okay,” I guess, but nothing special. Now, on the other side. This defense was one of the worst in the entire league last year. Yes, Bill Sheridan was a joke as a D-coordinator and Perry Fewell is a pretty big upgrade, but do we really think that the D-coordinator is gonna be the difference? Really? The linebacking corps was downright abysmal last year and the only change is that they LOST their only reliable linebacker, Antonio Pierce. The D-line once led them to a shocking Super Bowl title, but Osi is unhappy and unproductive, Justin Tuck was much better when he wasn’t double-teamed, and this Pierre-Paul guy is a total project. They did add Antrelle Rolle to the secondary, which is a good addition (albeit an overpaid one), but he’s not exactly Bob Sanders or Darrelle Revis, and the rest of the group is barely average. A brutal division and a tough out-of-division schedule equates to no more than 6 or 7 wins for the most overrated team in football year in and year out. Now, THAT was unbiased analysis…
Through Week 13: 8-4
It’s pretty strange to me to see the Giants keep winning ugly and have the experts all over them like they are legit Super Bowl contenders. They have been decent, and they have won the games they’ve supposed to have won, but when your best wins are home games against Chicago and Jacksonville, it’s hard to really talk Super Bowl, right? Or, am I just biasd? I do have to say, though, that this defense is WAY better than I thought it was going to be, and Antrelle Rolle has been utterly dynamic in the secondary. I didn’t think the D-coordinator could make THAT much of a difference, as they have gone from one of the worst D’s in the league to one of the best, seemingly overnight. Looks like the blind hatred for Big Blue has bit Bry in the backside once again…
FINAL: 10-6. POINT DOOGAN, 13-11
Bry’s blind hatred of all things New York Giants-related bites him again, as Doogan regains the lead.
DOOGAN 25 – New York Jets – OVER 9 wins: OK, I guess this is the hyped team this year that neither of us wanted to “take the bait” on, but here I go. Obviously, the Darelle Revis holdout is a factor in waiting so long to make this pick. The fear of the overhyped team also plays in, of course. They feel like they could very well be this year’s version of the Bears last year. BUT, I think they’re going to win 10 games, so I’m barely going OVER. Revis would be a huge loss, but this was the best defense in the game last year, so they’ll still be very good there, even without him. On offense, Shonn Greene should have a big year running behind a really good O-Line, and Mark Sanchez has some new weapons, mainly Santonio Holmes. Laveranues Coles, a good teammate and wily veteran, also returns for his third stint with the Jets. They also catch some breaks with the schedule, as their only tough road game out of the division is at Pittsburgh.
Through Week 13: 9-3
Is it me or is this team a bit of a mirage? Even before Monday night’s complete thrashing by the Pats, this team looked like a complete smoke-and-mirrors 9-2. Let’s run it down quickly here. They lost a close game to a good Baltimore team in Week One and then rattled off two solid wins over New England at home and Miami on the road and then dismantled a bad Buffalo team in Week Four, beat Minnesota at home in Week Five, and edged Denver in Denver in Week Six. They it seems like they went on the bye and started tasting themselves. They came out of the bye and played a miserable game, getting shutout by Green Bay. Then they needed overtime in back-to-back weeks to beat Detroit and Cleveland. After that, they pulled out a miracle win at home against a mediocre Houston team, and then beat Cincy at home on Thanksgiving night, before the absolute thrashing they took from New England on Monday. I don’t think they’re very good…there I said it. And, they better take a hard look at themselves because they could be staring at 9-6 going into Week 17, as they have some tough games coming up.
FINAL: 11-5. POINT DOOGAN, 14-11
In a pick that probably should have gone earlier, Doogan picks up a nice late point.
BRY 26 – Pittsburgh Steelers – OVER 9 wins: Actually, Doogan, Revis wasn’t the reason I passed on the Jets so many times, it was Sanchez. I’m not a believer yet. But, still, if I was forced to make a pick, I would have taken the OVER as well, so it’s not a bad pick, especially this late. Anyway, I’m going to take the Steelers and the OVER here, for a couple of reasons, most notably, it’s getting really hard to find any picks I’m confident in with the teams left. But, more so, I look at this team–two years removed from Super Bowl champs, with pretty much the same team. Yes, I know that Big Ben is probably going to be out for the first four games, and I think they’ll go 1-3 in those 4, with their only win coming against Tampa Bay. However, I think that when Ben gets back, this will be one of the best teams in the league, so I can totally see them going 9-3 with a full team. Plus, they were 9-7 last year (including bad losses to Cleveland and Oakland). The losses? Santonio Holmes and 1/4 of Big Ben. The additions? Troy Polamalu. The best safety, maybe in NFL history, is a full win better than a #2 wideout and 4 games without a QB.
Through Week 13: 9-3
In the race to annoint the Falcons, Patriots, Jets, Ravens, and even the Eagles, as the best teams in football, people seem to forget about the Pittsburgh Steelers in this talk, and I’m not sure why. What do Baltimore, New Orleans, and New England have in common? One, they are great teams, and two, they are the only teams to beat the Steelers this year – and the Ravens did it against a Ben-less offense. If you put everyone at even money and said I had to bet on a Super Bowl champ right now, I would take the Pittsburgh Steelers, even with their offensive line in shambles. This team is for real and is not going to be an easy out for anyone come January.
FINAL: 12-4. POINT BRY, 12-14
In another pick that seems like it should have gone a lot earlier, Bry picks up an easy point here late.
DOOGAN 27 – Philadelphia Eagles – UNDER 11 wins: Well, if the Birds have sat there until this late in the draft, that probably means that neither of us could talk ourselves into taking the OVER, which probably means that this is the right way to go. I do have confidence in Kevin Kolb. And saying that has more to do with my confidence in the QB evaluation of Andy Reid, as well as the talent of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek. I do have some concerns about LeSean McCoy and the running game, in general. Also, the defense imploded in those two losses to Dallas to end the season. I’m hopeful that Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims can stabilize the linebacking corps, but I’m still skeptical. And the lost starter that I feel like we might not have the right replacement for isn’t Donovan McNabb, but Sheldon Brown. Can Ellis Hobbs get the job done? Will Nate Allen be ready to be a reliable safety from Day 1 in the league? I like the team, but all those variables combined with playing in such a tough division means I have to go UNDER. If the four teams beat each other up enough, 10 wins could mean the top of the division, and hopefully that will be where the Eagles end up.
Through Week 13: 8-4
There is enough about the Birds on this site so that I don’t really need to go into that much about them here, but all I can say is that I am downright TERRIFIED of this team going 11-5 and missing the playoffs. And, this one would sting…bad…because I think they are one of the most difficult matchups in football right now and wouldn’t be shocked at all to see them put a historical run together. That being said, it also wouldn’t surprise me to see them lose at home in the first round because the wild card teams are going to be rather formidable in the NFC this year (New Orleans/Green Bay/N.Y. Giants).
FINAL: 10-6. POINT DOOGAN, 15-12
The Kevin Kolb-led Eagles falling to the Cowboys 14-13 in a meaningless Week 17 game gave Doogan a very important point here, as he continues to keep Bry at arm’s length leaves Doogan’s magic number at 2.
BRY 28 – New England Patriots – OVER 10 wins: Ya, Doogan, I think you picked the right side on the Birds, but I also agree that 10 wins is certainly a possibility and that could win the division, but I definitely don’t see 12. As for this next pick, I’m just going to go with my gut here, and my gut always tells me that quarterbacking, coaching, and line play is what wins in the modern-day NFL, and the Patriots most certainly have the first two in spades, and the line play is still really good. I actually think that this offense might be poised for a huge breakout season because Brady is now two years removed from the ACL injury (usually a two-year full recovery) and Welker is back and looking relatively good. The defense is not really anywhere near where it was when this team was dynastic, and the running game gives me pause, but I still think this team is heading for 11+ wins and another AFC East title.
Through Week 13: 10-2
How good are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? The answer: really, really f’ing good. This offense is off-the-charts good and so hard to defend, and Belichick is up to his old tricks of scheming up defenses to work with whatever personnel he’s got to work with. If not for their shoddy secondary, I’d say that this is clearly the best team in the NFL, and they might be even so. If they get homefield advantage in the AFC, we might be staring at #4 for Brady and Belichick.
FINAL: 14-2. POINT BRY, 13-15
Ho-hum, another 14-2 season for the Pats. Easy point for Bry, especially this late in the game.
DOOGAN 29 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OVER 3 wins: Obviously, this is a bad team. An organization revered for its talent in the front seven on defense has VERY little to speak of there anymore. Their starting wide outs this year are Reggie Brown and a rookie 4th-round pick, and Josh Freeman will be the one attempting to get them the ball. So, why go OVER? Mainly, of course, because 3 is a low number. But, also, some positives: Cadillac Williams running the ball. Kellen Winslow finally living up to his potential at tight end. Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib at the corners. And also, the schedule. They actually played a real tough schedule last year, and two of their wins were over the Packers and the Saints (in New Orleans). This year, they have home games against the Browns, Lions, Rams, and Seahawks. They should be able to take two or three of those, then they just have to steal one or two from their other 12 games.
Through Week 13: 7-5
One of the most pleasant surprises this year has been the Bucs, and they’re still kicking in this playoff picture. Yes, we’ve heard time and time again how they have yet to beat a team with a winning record, but they played Baltimore really tough in Charm City and gave Atlanta a game twice, including last week, where they had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, blowing that lead (and losing Aqib Talib for the season) might seal their fate here in the regular season, as they are clearly the third-place team in the South, so they’d have to hope for all the other wild card contenders fall down. But, either way, the future is bright in Tampa (which is shocking to me), as Josh Freeman and LaGarrette Blount look like the real deals.
FINAL: 10-6. POINT DOOGAN, 16-13
Doogan clinches at least a tie with absolute ease here, as he has a 7-game cushion on this pick. But, think about this – the line on them was THREE. And, we passed on them TWENTY-EIGHT times before Doogan finally took the over. And, they come in with a 10-win season. That should tell you about the job the Raheem Morris did with this Bucs team.
BRY 30 – Seattle Seahawks – OVER 5 wins: I struggled with this one, but eventually went with the Seahawks and the OVER here. I don’t think this team is very good, but this division is really bad, and 6 wins is not a lot in this league. Pete Carroll is here and, despite his “ethics,” he is a good coach and there is a little bit of talent on this team.
Through Week 13: 6-6
I really don’t enjoy talking about the NFC West, so I’m glad that this is the last team from that joke of a division. The Seahawks have looked okay at times and downright putrid at times this year, which in the NFC West, is good enough for first place. The only problem here is that they could be staring at a division championship at 8-8 (or even 7-9), which you would just think, “well, whatever, they’ll just be an annoyance for the #1 wild card in the first round.” But, not necessarily, because they will host that game, and the one thing the Seahawks can do is play well at home. I’m rooting for the Rams just because I don’t want to see the Seahawks host a game during one of the best sports weekend of the year – the NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend.
FINAL: 7-9. POINT BRY, 14-16
Bry keeps his hope for a draw alive with this one – and, yes, they won the division with SEVEN wins.
DOOGAN 31 – Green Bay Packers – UNDER 11 wins: Like the team. Aaron Rodgers should have another huge year. I’m just gonna go UNDER because that’s easier with the 11 number, also their road schedule is pretty brutal. 7 of their 8 road games could be pretty tough. And, there are some concerns with the defense. They were good last year and they have a lot of talent, but they were also inconsistent for some reason, giving up 51 points to the Cardinals in their playoff loss, and 500 yards passing to Ben Roethlisberger a few weeks before that.
Through Week 13: 8-4
Did you know that all four of the Packers losses this year have been by exactly 3 points? And, two of them were overtime losses. They haven’t lost to a team worse than 5-7, and they have beaten an 8-4 team on the road and a 9-3 team on the road. If they don’t make the playoffs (and they are in the thick of it with a tough finishing schedule), it will be a brutally tough pill to swallow for this team. This team is one of the best in football, but the NFC is going to have one very good team left out (to leave room for an NFC West team) this year, and it very well could be the Packers.
FINAL: 10-6. POINT DOOGAN, 17-14
You can’t make this stuff up – Doogan clinches the 2010 NFL Preview title by picking AGAINST the eventual Super Bowl champions.
BRY 32 – Houston Texans – UNDER 9 wins: So, I guess the Texans are the hardest to predict a change in, huh? It makes sense, they look very much like a 9-7 team. But, judging by history, I think it’s more likely that they’ll be 8-8 than 10-6 (you know, because they’ve never been 10-6 and they were 8-8 for back-to-back years before last year). They do have weapons with the best receiver in the league and maybe the most underrated quarterback. But, they are losing Brian Cushing for four games off the defense, and I just don’t think they have 10-win talent. Plus, I don’t think Kubiak is a very good coach.
Through Week 13: 5-7
Enough already, people. Fire Gary Kubiak…seriously. It’s hard to imagine that they still want this guy running their team when he leads them to yet another substandard season. This team has talent…at least on offense. They have been absolutely dreadful on defense – particularly, in the secondary, which has been a problem for almost the entire life of the franchise. But, there is no way that, in a down AFC South, that the Texans, with all their weapons, should be needing to run the table for a winning record. Unacceptable.
FINAL: 6-10. POINT BRY, 15-17
Bry ends with a meaningless win here to save some face, but Doogan wins the title and will go into next year as the defending champ.