2009 NFL Preview: BSB-Style (Final)

FINAL:  Well, the 2009 NFL season has ended and it was another phenomenal season for the league.  And, the NFL offseason is like no other sport, but before we get into that, we still have the most exciting part of the end of the season–the recap of the BSB Season Preview.  At the midway point in the season, it was pretty up in the air.  We counted 13 solid picks for Bry and 12 solid for Doogan, with 7 very much in play.  But, even though Bry held the slimmest of leads in solid points, Doogan was looking good on 5 of the 7 points in play, so the halfway mark saw Doogan as the favorite to win for the second straight year.  We’ll see how it played out…

(NOTE:  Final points and recaps are below in underline.)

UPDATE:  Well, we are now 10 games into the NFL season, so we are getting a sense of where everyone is.  Honestly, this season has been really lacking in the normal excitement of an NFL season, so far, but this league never lets us down, so I expect the excitement and drama to pick up real quickly.  But, 10 games in is a good time to update the BSB Season Preview Challenge between Doogan and Bry, so we’ll do that.  Look below for the updates to each pick (ALL UPDATES IN ITALICS).  We’ll track the picks we think are solid, those that are shaky, and those that are pretty much lost already.  So, check the picks below for the updates.   

Well, friends, it is almost football season.  Every year, for some reason, I kind of put the NFL aside from like March through July.  I don’t miss it.  I don’t really think about it.  I immerse myself in college basketball and baseball, with the tennis and golf majors in there, as well.  Plus, the weather is beautiful and softball and tennis “playing” seasons are in full swing.  So, then when the NFL season sneaks up in August and we start talking about football, I start to get really, really excited about the season.  And, every year I think to myself, “am I always this excited about the start of the football season.”  This year, I even said it out loud, to my wife last night, to which she said “Yes, yes you are.”  So, I guess it’s time for some serious football talk, starting with the BSB-style preview.  Doogan, who won the whole thing last year, will get the first pick (I took the Patriots and the under on 16 wins last year with the first pick.)  So, without further ado…

DOOGAN 1. Detroit Lions OVER 0 wins:  I’ll make the obvious first pick this year and predict that the lowly Lions will, in fact, win a game this year.  I probably don’t need to make an argument for why, but with Jim Schwartz taking over as head coach, you have to think there will at least be some solid improvement on the defensive side of the ball and the Lions should be able to win a couple games.

Doogan has already clinched his easy #1 pick, as the Lions already have twice as many wins as they needed to get Doogan this point.  A bit off-topic, how crazy was that Lions-Browns game on Sunday?  What a performance by the rookie QB!

An easy win for Doogan here with pick #1, as the Lions finished 2-14–enough to win the OVER. 

Doogan 1 – Bry 0

BRY 2. St. Louis Rams – OVER 2 wins:  I’m not as high on the Rams as a lot of people are, but they have to be at least 3-13, right?  They subtracted Scott Linehan (a bad head coach) and added Steve Spagnuolo (a great defensive coordinator), so they will probably improve at head coach and almost definitely on defense.  I just don’t think they 2-14 bad again.

Amazingly, Bry had 31 teams from which to choose, and it looks like he might lose his #1 pick.  The Rams are currently 1-9, and looking at the remaining schedule (Sea, @Chi, @Ten, Hou, @Ari, SF), it’s pretty hard to find two more wins, even though they’ve been playing better lately.  If I had to make a prediction right now, I would say that they get to two wins, but not to three, which gives Doogan the point.

We haven’t done the research, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone has ever gotten their first pick wrong…until now.  Bry took the Rams with the #2 overall pick and actually got it wrong, so they were WORSE than their 2-14 record in 2008.

Doogan 2 – Bry 0

BRY 3. Tennessee Titans – UNDER 13 wins:  Doogan, I have a feeling that our preview game this year might be really tough, as it’s kind of hard already.  But, the loss of Haynesworth and the questions at QB are troubling.  Plus, this division is just too tough to see another 13-3 team come out of it.  I love the Titans, but they are not repeating their 13-win season from a year ago.

Well, Bry’s #2 pick is much better than his #1 pick, as the Titans got the requisite 5 losses in, well, their first 5 games.  They are starting to play a lot better, with 4 straight wins, including a nice win over the Texans last night, but even if they follow through on the crazy 10-straight win prediction of VY, this point still goes to Bry.

An easy point for Bry with his second pick, as even though they won 8 of their last 10 games, they still finished at 8-8

Bry 1 – Doogan 2

DOOGAN 4. Miami Dolphins – UNDER 11 wins:  It will be tough, and you took the Titans, who I was considering next.  I feel good going against the Dolphins here though.  They were a classic over-acheiver last year and they haven’t made any significant improvements.  I think they’ll win 6 or 7 games.

The Dolphins got a nice win on Thursday over Carolina to even their record at 5-5.  Doogan is probably going to win this one because the ‘Phins need to run off 6 straight to beat him, but he did dodge a couple bullets early in the season.  This Miami team could easily be 7-3 right now.  It’s been another solid year for one of the best coaching staffs in football.

A nice pick for Doogan, as he sails to this point.  The Dolphins finished 7-9 in year two of the Sparano Era.

Doogan 3 – Bry 1

BRY 5. Kansas City Chiefs – OVER 2 wins:  I liked the Dolphins pick, too.  I will go with the Chiefs.  Again, it takes a really bad team to go 2-14, and I think they have to win at least one out of 4 with the Broncos and Raiders, and they have to at least split with the Browns and Bengals, right?  That means that they only need to win one of the other nine games?  With that homefield advantage and a new quarterback and coach, they should be able to do that.

Would you believe me if I told you that the Chiefs have won two straight?  Unbelievably, that is a true statement after their overtime shocker over Pittsburgh yesterday (yet another example of why you never take a road team in a suicide pool).  The Chiefs, at 3-7, have now clinched this point for Bry’s over pick.

Bry nails this one with a game to spare, as the Chiefs finished at 4-12.

Bry 2 – Doogan 3

DOOGAN 6. San Diego Chargers – OVER 8 wins:  Norv Turner screwed me over last year, so it’s definitely scary picking the over on his team this early in the draft, but this team is LOADED.  Also, their whole division is in rebuilding mode, or whatever you call what Oakland is doing.  This should be a 12-win team.  Don’t let me down, Norv!

Early on, it looked like good ole Norv was gonna do it to Doogan again, as the Chargers lost three of their first five games.  But, the Super-Chargers have righted the ship and now look like they are going to make Doogan look brilliant, as they are heading right for that 12-win prediction.

Despite Doogan’s “fear” with this pick, this one was smooth sailing.  He only needed 9 wins, and he got 13.  Remember, Norv only hurts you in the playoffs.

Doogan 4 – Bry 2

BRY 7. Green Bay Packers – OVER 6 wins:  Damn, Doogan, that was my next pick.  So, instead, I’ll just go with a team in which I have a ton of faith, for little to no reason.  I see the Packers as a playoff team with anywhere from 9 to 12 wins this year.  Aaron Rodgers is the real deal, and I think that last year has to be thrown out because of all the distractions that came from that other guy.  I’m not completely sold on the Bears or the Vikings, and you can probably give the Pack two wins right off the bat against Detroit, so I think 7 should be pretty easily attainable.

After Doogan’s solid San Diego pick, Bry answers with a solid pick of his own in the Pack.  They have serious O-line issues, but the talent is there, and with a win over San Fran on Sunday, they are sitting pretty (for the over, at least) at 6-4.  Unless they fall apart and lose six straight, Bry will get this one.  Still that Rams pick is the only separation in the scoring so far.

Bry nailed this one, predicting between 9-12 wins and a playoff berth for the Pack.  They went 11-5 and did indeed go to the playoffs.

Bry 3 – Doogan 4

DOOGAN 8. Seattle Seahawks – OVER 4 wins:  For the second straight pick, I’m betting on a head coach that I do not trust.  I am not a fan of Jim Mora Jr., but winning football games ultimately comes down to the talent on the field, and that’s why I’m betting on the Chargers and the Seahawks.  The Chargers easily have superior talent to this team, but the hurdle the Seahawks have to clear is half as high.  Even Mora should be able to guide this team to 8 or 9 wins in a mediocre division.

At first glance, you might think that Doogan has this one in the bag because the Seahawks have improved this year.  But, a quick look at the standings shows the ‘Hawks at only 3-7, and in a bit of a free fall after shellacking the Jags a couple weeks ago.  After taking another drubbing this week in Minnesota, they are not showing any signs of being anywhere near a playoff football team.  However, for this pick, Doogan only needs them to be a 5-11 team.  They barely look like that.  But, we will give this point, tenatively, to Doogan because they only need two more wins and they have two very winnable games left (@Stl and TB).  If they slip up in one of those games, they will need to find a win in one of the other four remaining games (SF, @Hou, @GB, Ten).

Four losses to close the season made this pick look a lot closer, but Doogan did get to the mark of 5-11 for the Seahawks, as this contest continues to hinge on the only incorrect pick (Bry’s #2 overall pick of St. Louis).

Doogan 5 – Bry 3

BRY 9. Cleveland Browns – OVER 4 wins:  Okay, the Browns are probably not going to be very good (even though I did put money on them to win the division at 14:1 odds), but I really think that they are going to be better than 4-12.  They have two adequate quarterbacks, and I actually think that Mangini, despite being completely mislabeled the Man-Genius, is an above average coach in the NFL.  They do have a distinct lack of any real “playmakers” on either side of the ball, but the two lines are pretty good and they have a navigable schedule.

The stunning defeat on Sunday against the Lions probably destroyed any chance of the Browns hitting the over for Bry.  They look like the worst team in football (maybe the worst team in a decade of football), so there is absolutely no reason to think that they will finish the season 4-2.  In fact, this will probably be over in three weeks, as they go to Cincinnati this week and then host the Chargers and Steelers.  To cover this over, they need to win one of those three and then sweep their final three games (@KC, Oak, Jax).  Give Doogan a big point here, as he may be starting to pull away.

A shocking turnaround for the Browns not only probably saved the job of their head coach, but it also gave Bry the biggest miracle recovery in BSB Season Preview history.  For the “longshot-ness” of this point for Bry, just read the midseason review above, in italics.

Bry 4 – Doogan 5

DOOGAN 10. Atlanta Falcons – UNDER 11 wins:  I don’t think the Falcons were as much as a fluke as the Dolphins, but you have to think it will be hard for them to repeat what they did last season.  I love that the Falcons realized that they needed more weapons and picked up Tony Gonzalez, but that will probably only be enough to get them 8 or 9 wins.  Their division isn’t great, but there aren’t any gimmes, and they play the entire NFC East, so it will be a tough road for these guys.

Yet another solid pick by Doogan.  The Falcons took a tough OT loss on Sunday in the Meadowlands against the Giants, dropping them to 5-5.  They are still in the playoff hunt, but their chances are going 11-5 and costing Doogan this point are pretty much nil.  They would need to rattle off six straight to close out the season.  It is not completely out of the question because they have four very winnable games (TB, @NYJ, Buf, @TB), and two more against good teams, but both at home (Phi, NO).  But, six straight is a tall order, so this point is, again, going solidly in Doogan’s corner.

Doogan calls for 8 or 9 wins and absolutely nails it, as the Falcons finish at 9-7.  Impressive!

Doogan 6 – Bry 4

BRY 11. New York Jets – UNDER 9 wins:  I think this team stinks.  I really do, but I wasn’t sure enough about it to take this pick earlier.  But, honestly, I think this team might be looking at 4-12.  The defense was really not that good last year and now they have quarterback issues?  Sanchez isn’t ready (though I do think he’ll be solid) and Clemens isn’t good.  Plus, the division is tough and the schedule last year was a joke for AFC East teams, as they got both Western divisions.

Early on, this looked like one of the worst picks of the whole contest, but the Jets have come crashing down to Earth, as the clock struck midnight on The Sanchise.  Sitting at 4-6, they would need to go 5-1 in their remaining six games.  Even if they were still playing at the high level with which they started the year, that would be difficult, as they have a relatively tough finishing stretch of games (Car, @Buf, @TB, Atl, @Ind, Cin).  This point should go solidly to Bry.

The Season Preview gods giveth, and they taketh away, as Bry looked like he had this one in the bag with 6 games to go, but the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets recovered, including absolutely gift-wrapped games in Weeks 16 and 17, to finish 9-7, push the line and give Bry a loss here.  In all honesty, though, he deserves the loss by saying “this team stinks” about a team that went to the AFC Championship Game.  Good call, Bry

Doogan 7 – Bry 4

DOOGAN 12. New York Giants – UNDER 12 wins:  I’ll always admit that it’s hard for me to be completely objective with some teams, and this is one of them.  That being said, I just don’t think this offense, without Plaxico Burress or Derrick Ward, will be good enough to win 12 games again.  I don’t doubt their defense for a second.  With Umenyiora back, the front seven will be ferocious.  But with the offense not as dynamic as it once was, they’ll max out at 9-10 wins.

Yet again, we are reminded that even 16-game seasons are marathons, not sprints.  When the G-men started 5-0, this pick looked pretty bad, but with four straight losses to follow, this pick is just about clinched for Doogan.  For Doogan to lose this one, the struggling Giants defense would have to lead the team to 6-0 down the stretch against a rather brutal finishing schedule (@Den, Dal, Phi, @Was, Car, @Min).  This is solid for Doogan.

Doogan continues to roll, as the G-men finished 8-8 and nailed the UNDER with plenty of room to spare.  Doogan is now six for his first six picks and has a pretty commanding lead in the competition.

Doogan 8 – Bry 4

BRY 13. Philadelphia Eagles – OVER 9 wins:  Speaking of objectivity, I really like the Birds this year.  Yes, the division is brutal–yet again–but if the O-line is healthy and they can find a suitable replacement for Stewart Bradley, this is probably the best team in the NFC.  I think anything less than double-digit wins would be a disappointment.

It looks like a point that Bry really needs (on multiple levels) is going to go right down to the wire.  The Birds currently sit at 6-4, after eeking out an ugly win over the Bears on Sunday night.  To get the point for Bry (and probably get into the playoffs), they need to go 4-2 in their final six games.  It is going to be really rough, and it’s really, really tough to predict one way or another with this team and its remaining schedule.  But, I am going to give the pick very tenatively to Bry right now because I still have faith in this team.  I think they should be able to beat Washington, Denver, and San Fran (all at home), which means that they would only need one of the three remaining road games (@Atl, @NYG, @Dal).  I think that they should be able to do that…I think.

Bry gets paid off for his belief in the Birds, as they finish the season 11-5, easily hitting the OVER.  It wasn’t exactly a great finish, but it got Bry a much-needed point.

Bry 5 – Doogan 8

DOOGAN 14. Jacksonville Jaguars – OVER 5 wins:  Wow, what a disappointment this team was last season.  Their entire offensive line got hurt at the start of the year, and everything just fell apart from there.  With a healthy o-line (and the addition of Tra Thomas), and Torry Holt adding some skill to the receiving corps, David Garrard should get back to resembling the player he was in 2007.  Even in a tough division, this team should be able to go .500.

Great call by Doogan, as this pick is already clinched.  It’s hard to believe because they’ve been so under the radar so far, but the Jags are a solid playoff contender at 6-4.  MJD is absolutely carrying this team, and the defense is much improved.  They have a real shot at a wild card, which sounded proposterous at the beginning of the season.

Doogan continues to roll, as the Jags finished at 7-9, getting the OVER with a game to spare.

Doogan 9 – Bry 5

BRY 15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – UNDER 9 wins:  Derrick Brooks, Jeff Garcia, Jon Gruden, and most importantly, Monte Kiffin are all gone this year.  The defense is old and the offense is not very good.  I like the acquisition of Derrick Ward, but the quarterback play is probably going to be bad.  I think this team might be heading for a top-5 draft pick, but certainly not 9 wins.  Oh, and they play the NFC Beast, so that is four losses right there.

About as easy of a 15th pick as possible, as Bry clinched this one a couple weeks ago.  The Bucs are atrocious and don’t have 4-win talent, let alone 9-win talent.  They may also be heading for 1-15.

As we said in the midseason update, Bry gets about as comfortable a point as possible with #15, as the Bucs finish 3-13.

Bry 6 – Doogan 9

DOOGAN 16. Denver Broncos – UNDER 8 wins:  I think Josh McDaniels may end up being a good coach, but there’s too many things working against this team.  They’ve downgraded at quarterback, their best offensive player (Brandon Marshall) has been a serious distraction throughout the preseason, and the defense should be better, but still not very good.  On top of all that, despite getting to play the Chiefs and Raiders twice each, the schedule is no cake-walk.  I’ll give them 6 wins.

Doogan probably wrote this one off after the Broncos, somehow, flew out to a 6-0 start.  But, now, four games and four losses later, this pick actually has a chance, though still a bit of a longshot.  To win this point, Doogan needs five more losses.  He’ll probably get two with road games at Indy and at Philly, and may get a third with the T-giving game against the Giants.  But, it’s tough to imagine that they won’t get at least two wins in the other three, with a home-and-home with KC and a home game against the Raiders.  There’s a chance, but not a good one.  Amazingly, this is Doogan’s 8th selection, and first that he might lose.  His first seven picks are all either clinched or solidly in his corner.

Doogan finally gets a pick wrong–and he almost pulled this one out too.  The Broncos finished 2-8 in the final 10 games to even make this close.  But, Doogan needed a 7-9 season to hit this pick, and the Broncs came in at 8-8.  Doogan’s dreams of a perfect Preview are gone…barely.

Bry 7 – Doogan 9

BRY 17. New Orleans Saints – OVER 8 wins:  I am not a big fan of the Saints.  They play no defense and their special teams are questionable.  They just completely lack the “hit-em-in-the-mouth” mentality in every aspect and finesse can only take you so far in the NFL.  But, they do have a scarily potent offense, and I really think Sean Payton is one of the better motivators in the league.  They are tough at home, but just as “un-tough” on the road, so .500 seems like the way to go, but with the division down (I think both Tampa and Atlanta will take steps backwards), I think there’s a better chance of 9-10 wins than 7, so I’ll unconfidently take the over.

“Unconfidently” or not, Bry has already clinched this one.  The 10-0 Saints seem to be on an NFC Championship Game collision course with the Vikings, and it’s as much because of their defense as it is their vaunted offense.  With Bry already clinching two of the last three and being pretty solid in the other, this contest has really tightened up.  Doogan is still up 9-8 with an extra one of his picks left, but he has one more tenative point than Bry, so it’s anyone’s game.

“I am not a big fan of the Saints,” says Bry at the beginning of the season.  Well, the newly-crowned SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS were a little better than Bry expected.  Fortunately, for his waning credibility, he at least took the OVER on 8 wins.  The Saints nailed that, finishing 13-3.  A pretty easy #17 pick there, as bad as the preseason write-up may look now.

Bry 8 – Doogan 9

DOOGAN 18. Carolina Panthers – UNDER 12 wins:  OK, I’m going to call this the point where it’s gotten very difficult for me.  Bry, I know you’re always a believer in the Panthers, and I’m mostly there with you this season.  I think the backlash against Jake Delhomme has really gone overboard.  Yes, his playoff performance was atrocious, but his stats for last year were pretty much right on his career averages, which aren’t amazing, but they’re decent enough.  But, having said that, 12 wins is a lot.  This team’s defense is good, but it’s not great, and the offense is also good but not great.  With the solid coaching they have, 12 wins is possible again, but I think 10 is more likely.

Doogan nails this one, as the Panthers have been really, really disappointing this year.  At 4-6, Doogan has already clinched this pick.  Despite what anyone tells you, that Thursday night loss to Miami has essentially shut the door on a miraculous Carolina playoff run, as they finish with a really tough set of games (@NYJ, TB, @NE, Min, @NYG, NO).  They are staring directly at 5-11…ugh.  If you look around the league, though, this has been a bit of a strange year.  Yes, I know that both success and disappoinment are temporary in the NFL, but out of these first 18 teams that we have looked at, only 3 of them are anywhere near their records from last year.  (Obviously they were, in theory, selected as the most likely to differ from last year, but still only 3 out of 18?  Interesting.)

Doogan gets right back to the winning ways, as he absolutely nails his #18 pick.  The Panthers finished at 8-8 and gave Doogan the two point lead back.

Doogan 10 – Bry 8

BRY 19. Oakland Raiders – OVER 5 wins:  Yes, you are right, Doogan, I do always believe in the Panthers, and this year is no different, but you’re also right in that 12 wins is a lot.  You know what is not really a lot of wins?  6.  Yes, I know, the Raiders are completely dysfunctional.  In six seasons since their Super Bowl appearance, they have won 24 games…wow!  And, they have won at least 6 games exactly zero times in that span.  But, this is the year, Raider fans.  This is the year.  I bet on the Raiders (at 8-t0-1) to win the AFC West.  I don’t think that will pay off, but I do think that this team hovers around .500.  They get 4 games with the Chiefs and Broncos, where a 2-2 split is, I think, the worst result they will have.  They may win 3 of those.  They also get the Jets and Bengals, at home, plus the Browns on the road.  I know, it’s suicide to trust the Raiders right now, but call me crazy and put me down for 8 Raider victories this year–or at least 6.

Suicide.  Crazy.  Those are the words Bry used to describe himself even while pulling the trigger on a Raiders and the over.  It is not too harsh to say that in that entire paragraph, the words “suicide” and “crazy” are probably the only two words with any logic to them.  Now, all that being said, it is still not completely out of the question that the Raiders do pull off a miracle for Bry.  Though Doogan is going to get this point–a big one–it is not a done deal.  To realistically pull this off (going 3-3 in the final 6), they have to beat the Redskins at home and the Browns on the road.  That will put them at 5 wins.  Then, they need to find one win in the other four games (@Dal, @Pit, @Den, Bal), which is quite a tall order for anyone, let alone the dysfunctional Raiders.

Well, the Raiders broke another heart, as they certainly played well enough at points of the season to be better than 5-11, but in the end, that’s just what they are–5-11.  Wait until next year, when someone bites on the Raiders and the OVER yet again.  Either way, Doogan grabs a huge point here.

Doogan 11 – Bry 8

DOOGAN 20. Washington Redskins – UNDER 8 wins:  This is a bit of a “hunch” pick, and those didn’t work out too well for me in this contest last year, but I’ll try it again.  I would feel much more confident in this pick if it wasn’t for the addition of Albert Haynesworth, a high-priced acquisition that seems like it will actually pay off for the Skins.  But there are still more questions than answers.  Is Jason Campbell the man at QB?  Can Clinton Portis stay healthy?  Will the collapse after a hot start last season carry over into 2009?  This team may be decent, but their the worst team in their division, so I’ll predict they end up with a losing record.

It looks like Doogan is going to continue to roll along with his picks, as he probably nails another one all the way down here at #20.  The Skins offense is miserable.  They are currently 3-7 after a heartbreaking loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, so Doogan only needs to avoid a 5-1 Redskins finish to open up a big lead on Bry.  Oh, and have you checked the remaining games for the Skins?  Yeah, they’re brutal (@Phi, NO, @Oak, NYG, Dal, @SD).  The Deadskins are heading for a laughable 4-12.

Another good “hunch” and another great pick, as Doogan just continues to roll.  He is now 9-1 in his 10 picks.

Doogan 12 – Bry 8

BRY 21. Baltimore Ravens – UNDER 11 wins:  This is hard for me because I am starting to like the Ravens more (and their fans even less) since I moved to Baltimore.  And, I do still think this team is a borderline playoff team.  However, I think 10 wins is probably the limit with this tough schedule.  In addition to the Steelers twice (who beat them three times last year) in their division, they have the NFC North, which includes three tough games (Chicago, Green Bay, and Minnesota) and the AFC West, which is only one (San Diego).  But…they got royally screwed with the “second-place” schedule this year.  Because they finished second place, they are supposed to have a slightly easier schedule than the first-place Steelers.  But, it doesn’t work that way this year (or so it seems).  Since both teams play the entire AFC West and NFC North, the only differences in schedules are from the AFC East and AFC South.  The Steelers get last year’s division winners, Miami and Tennessee, while the Ravens get the “easier” second-place teams, New England and Indianapolis.  The schedule is tough, but so are the Ravens.  I just don’t think that they are tough enough to get 11 wins again.

This looks like a big win for Bry here to stop the bleeding, after 3 straight for Doogan gave him a 4-point lead.  The Ravens needs to win their final six games to cost Bry this point.  The Ravens have three games that they should win (Det, Chi, @Oak), and another that they could win (@GB), but they still have both games left with the arch-nemisis Pittsburgh.

A pretty decent season for the Ravens, all things considered this year, but it wasn’t decent enough to cost Bry the UNDER pick here.  The Ravens finished 9-7, and Bry is still breathing in this competition–barely.

Bry 9 – Doogan 12

DOOGAN 22. New England Patiots – OVER 11 wins:  When in doubt, bet on the best organization in the sport.  The Pats had an easy schedule last year and that was a big factor in their 11-5 record, but with Tom Brady back under center, it’s not hard to imagine this offense being unstoppable.  Let’s not forget that they threw 16 wins on the board two years ago, so 12-13 should be within their reach.

This one, much like Bry’s Eagles pick is going to go right down to the wire.  The Pats are currently 7-3, so they are pretty much on pace for another 11-5 season, which would cost Doogan this point.  However, they are playing really good football, so it’s certainly well within the realm of possibility that they get to 12, or maybe even 13, wins.  Plus, after this week’s Monday night game in New Orleans, their schedule is not that tough (@Mia, Car, @Buf, Jax, @Hou).  Again, this is going to be really close, and they are probably a 50-50 proposition, at this point.  Though you cannot assume a W in New Orleans this week, and it’s also hard to assume that they will then go 5-0 down the stretch, I still see this team putting it together and getting to 12 wins because that is what they will probably need to assure a first-round bye.  So, we will–VERY, VERY tenatively–give this point to Doogan because of the faith in the Belichick and Brady.  I see this team going 6-1 down the stretch, getting the #2 seed and winning the point for Doogan.

One of the picks that was most up in the air goes Bry’s way and makes this a game again.  The Pats finished 10-6 en route to another AFC East crown, but it wasn’t enough to give Doogan his OVER pick.

Bry 10 – Doogan 12

BRY 23. Cincinnati Bengals – OVER 4 wins:  Okay, it’s getting tough now.  The Pats is a nice pick at this stage.  I am going to go with the Bungles.  Now, I think they are really bad, actually, but there are a lot of people who seem to believe that they can surprise people this year.  I am not one of them, but the pickins are getting slim here at the end, and 4 wins is a really low number.  I don’t think they really have to be any good to get 5 wins.  I don’t like this pick because I expect more of the same from a bad franchise, but you can be really bad and still go 5-11, right?

This is one of those picks where Bry was exactly right, but for all the wrong reasons.  Bry called this team “really bad” and seemed to verbally cringe when calling for them to be 5-11.  Well, even after a loss to the lowly Raiders, the Bengals are 7-3 and have swept the Ravens and Steelers (WOW!).  This point is clearly clinched for Bry.

Bry nails this one–in the pick, albeit not the analysis.  The Bengals finished 10-6 to cruise to the OVER for Bry.

Bry 11 – Doogan 12

DOOGAN 24. Arizona Cardinals – UNDER 9 wins:  I’ve been wanting to make this pick for a while, and I’ve finally talked myself into it.  During the regular season last year, this team had exactly 3 wins over teams not in the NFC West.  I don’t see them running the table in the division again, and the out-of-division schedule is tough.  They also have two new coordinators running their offense and defense and an old, immobile quarterback that could go down at any time.  I think the odds are they don’t end with a winning record (or a conference championship) this season.

In what looked like a really good pick for Doogan this late in the game is probably going to cost him.  The Cards are 7-3, and, though they don’t look incredible, they look pretty solid.  The schedule is not that easy down the stretch, but to beat Doogan, they only need two wins.  They have StL at home and Det on the road, which should clinch the much-needed point for Bry, even if they lose the other four (@Ten, Min, @SF, GB).

And the collapse continues for Doogan, as the Cardinals did win the NFC West again, finishing 10-6, and evening this competition.

Bry 12 – Doogan 12

BRY 25. San Francisco 49ers – OVER 7 wins:  I’ve been debating the Cardinals for a while, as well, but could never pull the trigger.  And, partially because of my lack of faith in the Cardinals, I am going to next take the 49ers and the over.  I do not believe in Arizona; I do not believe in Seattle; and, I definitely don’t believe in all this “Rams resurgence” hype.  So, where does that leave us?  That leaves us with the 49ers.  I put money on them to win the NFC West, and I think, to do that, they will need more than 7 wins (though, if there ever was a division that could be won at 7-9–and make Bill Simmons head explode–it would be this year’s NFC West).  But, I like Singletary, and if Shaun Hill had been the quarterback from day one last year, this team probably would have won the West.  I see 8-8 or even 9-7 for San Fran this year, so give me the over.

This is yet another pick that looked clearly one way early on, but has completely shifted now in the dog days of the NFL season.  Bry looked great when the Niners beat division foes Arizona and Seattle to open the season and then played the Vikes down to the wire.  But, they have really struggled as of late, and have fallen to 4-6.  They need to go 4-2 down the stretch to get Bry this point.  It’s possible (Jax, @Sea, Ari, @Phi, Det, @Stl), but it’s much more likely that they split the remaining six and finish 7-9 again.  We will give this point to Doogan, tenatively.

Wow!  Five in a row for Bry and another one by the skin of his teeth.  The Niners won their last two games to finish 8-8 and hit the OVER for Bry.  He now takes his first lead in the competition.

Bry 13 – Doogan 12

DOOGAN 26. Dallas Cowboys – OVER 9 wins:  There’s still a lot of talent on both sides of the ball in Dallas, the big question is whether or not they can figure it out at all on defense.  I’m not sure if they can or not, but I think the schedule sets up nicely for them.  The only road games they have against teams that made the playoffs last year will be on their trips to Philly and New York, while they get San Diego, Carolina, and Atlanta at home.  They should score points and I think they’ll get 10 wins, unfortunately.

This one, on paper, looks pretty good for Doogan, especially if you give the Cowboys a W on Thanksgiving against the Raiders.  That would put them at 8-3 and only needing two of the last five to get Doogan the point.  However, they are coming off two bad games, in which they only scored 14 points, and were lucky not to have lost them both.  Plus, they are notoriously bad in December, and their December schedule is pretty tricky after Oakland (@NYG, SD, @NO, @Was, Phi).  Would it surprise you if they went 1-4 in the final five games?  It wouldn’t surprise me at all.  I’m not saying that it will happen, and Doogan should get this point, but it’s not as solid as you might first have thought.

Doogan stops the bleeding here and nails his 26th pick.  The Cowboys won the NFC East with an 11-5 record, easily covering the OVER for Doogan.  This match is dead even with 6 picks left.

Doogan 13 – Bry 13

BRY 27. Indianapolis Colts – UNDER 12 wins:  I have never seen a smarter player, in a sports sense (probably in any sport), than Peyton Manning.  For that reason, I am not that concerned with the departure of Tony Dungy.  I think Jim Caldwell will be competent in making game-related decisions, and the rest of the “coaching” (at least on the offensive side) can be done by Manning himself.  The concerns I do have are multi-faceted:  (1) the defense–this has been a concern for this team as long as I can remember and, though improved, is still a concern when you figure that the heart and soul of the defense (Bob Sanders) is probably only good for 10-12 games a year because of his fragility; (2) the running game–Addai was not nearly as good as people think he was last year, and I think they are banking a lot of the running game on late-first round pick Donald Brown, where if he falters, they may be in trouble; and (3) the loss of Marvin Harrison–yes, I know he wasn’t the old Marvin, but he was a leader and will he be replaced?  Who knows.  Plus, the division is tough and the schedule is tough, including a home game with New England and a trip to Baltimore.  12 wins is a lot.  I think they still have a good shot at the playoffs, but probably not 12-4.

This pick was just wrong.  The points made above seem sound and logical, but they were just wrong.  The Colts look like the best team in football and are 10-0.  Though the schedule is not a breeze (@Hou, Ten, Den, @Jax, NYJ, @Buf), they should be favored in every game that matters for them, so 12 wins (again) is just about given, at this point, barring an injury to Peyton.  Give this point solidly to Doogan, which, by this count, gives him 16 and puts his magic number at 1.

Bry falters at a bad time, as the Colts easily went right past the number and Bry’s UNDER pick was way off.  Indy finished an NFL-best 14-2, with the only two losses coming with backups in the game.  Doogan gets this gigantic point and takes the lead.

Doogan 14 – Bry 13

DOOGAN 28. Chicago Bears – OVER 9 wins:  Bry, we seem to be on the same page in a lot of our picks this year.  The Bears are getting all sorts of hype, with many experts picking them to win the NFC, but it took until pick #28 of this draft for one of us to finally bite on the Over.  I like Jay Cutler, and with Matt Forte in the backfield, there’s no doubt that this should be the best Bear offense since the 80’s.  But I think people are forgetting that the vaunted Bear defense was actually pretty average last year.  I think there’s reason to believe they will be better on both sides of the ball, so my gut all along has been to take the Over here.  But I kept looking over their schedule and, honestly, it’s pretty easy for me to imagine them only winning 8 or 9 games this year.  But 10 or 11 is also possible, and this pick is partly at admission that the “experts” probably know at least a couple things that I don’t.

Doogan went away from his “gut instinct” and it’s probably going to cost him.  The Bears are just 4-6, so they need to sweep the remaining schedule to get this point for Doogan.  And, the 6-game sweep is pretty much out of the question, with two left against the Vikings, one against Green Bay, and one in Baltimore.  This team looks like they are more likely heading for 10 losses than 10 wins.  Either way, Bry should get this point and stay alive.

And, we are tied again, as Doogan misses pick #28.  The Bears finished a very disappointing 7-9 in their first year under Jay Cutler.  This contest is now down to just 4 picks.

Bry 14 – Doogan 14

BRY 29. Minnesota Vikings – OVER 10 wins:  You are absolutely right, Doogan, we are thinking very similarly right now.  The Bears and a hesitant over was probably my next pick.  Instead, I’ll take the Vikes with one fewer win to play with.  Can I just copy your analysis of the Bears pick?  Because I feel the exact same way about the Vikings, except that I do not think that the defense is average; I think it is really good.  But, I am not sold at the quarterback position, and I am definitely not sold about the “heart” of this team.  But, on paper, they absolutely have 11, 12, even 13 win talent.  They have the best back in the league and a stellar run defense.  They don’t really have any outside weapons, unless rookie Percy Harvin can emerge (which I actually think is quite possible, despite my distrust of rookie WRs).  Put me down for 11-5 with Minnesota, but (as is obvious by waiting 28 picks to make this one) I am not completely confident with it.

This is about as secure as you can feel for a #29 pick, as the Vikings are already 9-1, so Bry only needs to avoid a 2008 Favre-like collapse to get this point.  The schedule is rather tough, though (Chi, @Ari, Cin, @Car, @Chi, NYG), so it’s a good thing that Bry only needs a 2-4 finish to get it.  We are going to call this one solid because it’s hard to imagine a 9-1 team all of a sudden going 1-5 down the stretch, but this one is not completely over.

Bry nails pick #29 to take another late lead here.  The Vikes were actually one game better than Bry predicted, finishing at 12-4, but still nailing a very important OVER pick.

Bry 15 – Doogan 14

DOOGAN 30. Houston Texans – UNDER 8 wins:  OK, I think we’ve reached the final tier of this draft: coin-flip time!  And the perfect place to start with the coin-flips has to be with a team that has gone 8-8 in each of the past two seasons.  Logic may suggest that, since this franchise has never had a winning season, those 8-8 finishes suggest an upward climb that should lead into 9 or 10 wins in ’09.  But the NFL doesn’t really work like that.  Andre Johnson is one of the best wideouts in the game and I think Steve Slaton could be a star.  But Matt Schaub has shown an inability to stay healthy, and the defense hasn’t gotten the job done.  In a tough division, let’s mark them down for a step back this season to 7-9.

Coin flip it was; coin flip it still is!  At 5-5, it looks very much like the Texans will hit 8-8 for the third straight season, which would cost Doogan the point.  But, let’s not count out Doogan AT ALL on this one because with their remaining schedule (Ind, @Jax, Sea, @Stl, @Mia, NE) including the two best AFC teams (at home, at least) and three other road games, this team is probably much more likely to finish 7-9 than 9-7.  But, Bry only needs 8-8 to win this point.  And, we are students of history, and history tells us two things–(1) Eagles fans will get sick of McNabb and Reid by Week 10 and (2) the Texans will finish 8-8.  I say they beat Seattle and St. Louis and get one other win somewhere.  We will give this point VERY tenatively to Bry, and the crazy comeback continues!

And, with this, Bry officially clinches at least a tie in this year’s Preview.  The Texans actually finished with their first winning season in team history, at 9-7.  Doogan picked the wrong side of the coin and missed it–now he needs the final two picks to tie.

Bry 16 – Doogan 14

BRY 31. Buffalo Bills – OVER 7 wins:  I love coin-flip time, don’t you?  Well, I am going to leave you with the defending champs.  I’ll take the Bills and the over here because, well, they look like a .500 team to me, I guess.  Just judging by the changes they have made in the offseason, I think they have to be a better team than they were last year.  Jason Peters, though a great player who is very welcome in the green and silver, did not want to be there last year and didn’t play hard, so losing him is a good thing, I think.  Terrell Owens, while probably not an elite receiver anymore, is still a guy that defenses have to be fully aware of, which may open it up for Lee Evans, who is an elite receiver.  And, frankly, I like Dick Jauron.  I have money on the Bills to win the AFC East at 8-to-1.  I probably won’t win that bet, but I like at least 8 wins from them this year.

And, the comeback likely ends here.  The Bills, at 3-7, can only afford one more loss all season to get this point for Bry.  And, considering they still have games left against New England and Indianapolis, it’s highly unlikely.  Don’t call it impossible because the Indy game may very well be against Jim Sorgi and the Pats game is at home.  But, it’s unlikely, and we feel pretty confident that Doogan will win this one.

Bry misses a chance here to clinch the title, as the Bills finished just 6-10.  Doogan now just needs to hit his final pick for the tie.

Doogan 15 – Bry 16

DOOGAN 32. Pittsburgh Steelers – OVER 12 wins:  This is a big number to go Over on, but oh well.  You have to question if they’ll have the hunger for a big regular season, coming off a championship, but I think there’s reason to believe they’ll win 13-14 games.  Their schedule last year was brutal, and they still won 12.  This year, they don’t have to play New England or Indianapolis, and the schedule as a whole is MUCH easier.  Also, Mike Tomlin is the type of coach that won’t really stand for complacency.  It’s another coin-flip, but I’ll go with the Steelers as the likely top-seed coming out of the AFC this season.

The last pick is the defending champs.  And, it is already clinched for Bry.  The Steelers, much to everyone’s surprise, already have the 4 losses that Doogan needed to avoid.  The end of the AFC North is going to be incredibly intriguing with Cincinnati on top and Pittsburgh and Baltimore chasing them (with a pair of games against each other left on the schedule).  So, we will see what happens.  But, what we do know is that the Steelers will not be 13-3, so Bry will get this point.

It’s all over!  It’s all over!  Bry wins the 2009 BSB NFL Preview, taking the title away from Doogan.  A great comeback win for Bry, as the Steelers finished a very disappointing 9-7.

Bry 17 – Doogan 15

So, if the picks stand as we have them here, Doogan will win 17-15.  However, by our projections, there are still 7 points in play and Doogan is in jeopardy of losing 5 of them.  To recap, here are the points still in play with six games remaining:

  • Bry #2 – St. Louis OVER 2 – point tenatively given to Doogan
  • Doogan #8 – Seattle OVER 4 – point tenatively given to Doogan
  • Bry #13 – Philadelphia OVER 9 – point tenatively given to Bry
  • Doogan #22 – New England OVER 11 – point tenatively given to Doogan
  • Bry #25 – San Francisco OVER 7 – point tenatively given to Doogan
  • Doogan #26 – Dallas OVER 9 – point tenatively given to Doogan
  • Doogan #30 – Houston UNDER 8 – point tenatively given to Bry
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5 Responses to 2009 NFL Preview: BSB-Style (Final)

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  5. Thanks in favor of sharing such a good opinion, paragraph is nice, thats why i
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