For those of you unfamiliar with the preview, instead of the typical, been-done-again-and-again season previews, we like to make a game out of our previews, along with being informative. What we do is kind of a draft process, where we try and decide whether we think a team will get better or worse from last year’s record. Then, at the end of the year, we see who did a better job of predicting. It’s interesting to see just how different the seasons of some teams turn out, in retrospect. Check out our past previews to see what I’m talking about. Doogan took our first one in 2008, 17-15, but Bry responded with a come-from-behind 17-15 win in the 2009 version. In 2010, Doogan won by the familiar 17-15 score and followed that up in 2012, with a dominating 19-13 victory to become the first back-to-back winner of the NFL preview. Having not won since 2009, Bry came back with a vengeance, taking last year’s contest, 21-11. Doogan will try to rebound here in 2013, as he gets the first pick this year.
1) DOOGAN – Kansas City Chiefs – OVER 2 wins: Big Red lives! Everyone’s acting like Alex Smith is a Hall of Fame quarterback just because he’s replacing guys that were a disaster. I’m not sure he’ll be all that good but, despite what we saw in Philly a year ago, Andy knows how to coach an offense. And the defense is fairly loaded, led by one of my favorite non-Eagles in the league, Tamba Hali. Some are saying they could go from the bottom of the league to a playoff berth. Let’s just call it 6-10, though.
FINAL RECORD: 11-5
DOOGAN 1 – BRY 0
Doogan takes an easy point here, as the Coach Reid coaches ‘em up to 11 wins and a playoff berth. Doogan even undershot this first pick.
2). BRY – Philadelphia Eagles – OVER 4 wins: It is not interesting to most that I would take the home team here because I always seem overly bullish on the Eagles. But, it is interesting to me because I seem like a bit of a wet blanket when talking about the Birds this year. I think they are still a ways away from serious contention (though, this division is just bad enough to change our definition of “contention”). That being said, I think that this team had WAY more than 4-win talent last year, and I think they have WAY more than 4-win talent this year. They may even have a playoff-caliber offense. The defense is quite suspect, but the schedule is really soft. Put me down for 6 or 7 wins for the Birds with the needle firmly pointed upwards.
FINAL RECORD: 10-6
BRY 1 – DOOGAN 1
Bry also picks up an easy point with his first pick – undershooting this one, as well. The one and only Coach Kelly turned a 4-win team into a division champ. Fly, Eagles, Fly!
3). BRY – Detroit Lions – OVER 4 wins: I have said many times when doing these previews – “In the NFL, it’s a lot harder to stay bad than it is to stay good.” And, the Lions are only a year removed from going 10-6 and making the playoffs. Granted, I thought they were a fraudulent 10-win team in 2011, but they do still have one of the two best WRs on the planet (I still think Larry Fitzgerald is the best, but who knows with that joke of a QB situation) and a QB who has a 5,000-yard season under his belt. They also added Reggie Bush to the offense. The other side of the ball is a bit scary, but they still do get pressure on the quarterback, which can lead to good things. They are probably closer to the 4-win team of 2012 than the 10-win team of 2011, but I’m pretty confident they will be somewhere in the middle. Put me down for at least 6 wins from the boys from Motor City.
FINAL RECORD: 7-9
BRY 2 – DOOGAN 1
A disappointing Lions season was disappointing enough to cost Coach Schwartz his job, but not disappointing enough to cost Bry any sleep over his Over pick at #3.
4). DOOGAN – Atlanta Falcons – UNDER 13 wins: No team in the NFL won more games than the Falcons last year, but going into the playoffs, few people were picking them to even play in the Super Bowl, let alone win it. Why? Because they weren’t as good as the 13 wins suggested. It’s an excellent offense that will probably get better this year with Stephen Jackson an upgrade at RB, if he can stay healthy. The defense had trouble stopping the pass last year, which is a huge concern for any team in this era, and it will probably get worse. John Abraham replaced by Osi Umenyiora is a downgrade for a team that already ranked near the bottom of the league in sacks and the secondary is Asante Samuel and a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of. Throw in games vs. Green Bay, San Fran, New England, and Seattle, and this looks more like a 10-win team.
FINAL RECORD: 4-12
DOOGAN 2 – BRY 2
So, Doogan’s first two picks were Over on the most improved team and now the Under on the second-most disappointing team. Riddled by injuries all year, the Falcons lost 9 more games than 2012.
5). BRY – Indianapolis Colts – UNDER 11 wins: The Colts improved by a ridiculous 9 games last year to go 11-5 and make the playoffs. But, did you know that they were actually outscored by 30 points on the season? Now, I’m not a huge point differential guy, but it does have some value as a stat considering games are won and lost with POINTS, and they had a worse differential that those of complete non-contenders like the Panthers, Dolphins, Chargers, and Bucs. In fact, every team that had a point differential worse than the Colts HAD DOUBLE-DIGIT LOSSES. Now, other than Houston, the division is pretty soft, so that helps, but they do have to play the brutal NFC West. They also have the AFC West, which includes Denver at home and the always tough trip to Arrowhead. It’s not a terrible schedule, all told, and they did add Ahmad Bradshaw to help the offense, but the defense is still rather pourous, as Andrew Luck doesn’t play defense, and it usually takes more than a year to rebuild a 2-14 roster. I’m thinking this is more like a .500 team and certainly won’t threaten 11 wins again.
FINAL RECORD: 11-5
DOOGAN 3 – BRY 2
Doogan draws first blood, as Bry misses his pick at #5. The Colts won 11 games again in 2013 and even won a playoff game. A poor pick here by Bry gives Doogan the early lead.
6). DOOGAN – Minnesota Vikings – UNDER 10 wins: So many things pointing down for the Vikings. Percy Harvin gone and Greg Jennings is not the same kind of difference-maker. Antoine Winfield gone from the secondary. Adrian Peterson can’t possibly match one of the all-time great seasons. Christian Ponder. And then there’s the schedule. The Vikings were 10-1 in domes last year and 0-5 outdoors. They’ll play seven times outside this year, and every game is against decent to very good teams. AP is the best in the game and the defensive line is still elite, but this team will be closer to 10 losses than 10 wins.
FINAL RECORD: 5-10-1
DOOGAN 4 – BRY 2
Doogan continues to cruise, as he hits the Under on the Vikes, who went from 10 wins to 10 losses.
7). BRY – New Orleans Saints – OVER 7 wins: Probably a bit early to make this pick because their defense doesn’t appear to be all that different from the historically bad defense that they put on the field last season. But, I am expecting some regression to the mean on that side of the ball. I mean if they really were the worst defense of all-time, then they can’t really get any worse, right? And, they have Sean Payton back. And in football, much more than in any other sport that I follow, the head coach really matters. And, Payton may have even more influence because he is the play-caller and has such a harmony with his quarterback. So, if the defense can’t possibly be worse and the offense figures to be a lot better, then one would expect that they will win more games, right? Well, that’s at least what I’m banking on. Well, that and the fact that they get 3 gimmes wins from the AFC East.
FINAL RECORD: 11-5
BRY 3 – DOOGAN 4
Bry is back on track with an easy point from the Saints, who went back to the playoffs and rolled into the Linc and won their first ever road playoff game…awesome.
8). DOOGAN – Jacksonville Jaguars – OVER 2 wins: Well….I guess it’s time to take the Over on these 2 W’s. This looks to be the worst team in football. There’s not really anything good I can say about them. MJD is still pretty good? Obviously this has very little to do with the team and a lot to do with the fact that it’s just very rare for teams to lose 14 games in back-to-back seasons.
FINAL RECORD: 4-12
DOOGAN 5 – BRY 3
It’s amazing that it took so long for a 2-win Over to be taken, and Doogan was rewarded, as the Jags doubled their win total from 2012.
9). BRY – Pittsburgh Steelers – OVER 8 wins: Wow, it’s getting pretty tough, so I’m just going to go with an organization that I trust. The Steelers are always in the mix. It is hard to make the case that they are better, on paper, than they were a year ago. They lost Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall, and their aging defense is a whole year older. But, I think last year was the worst-case scenario with the talent they have. They added RB Le’veon Bell in the draft to compensate for the Mendenhall departure, and Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are probably ready to be #1 and #2 wideouts, respectively. And, they still have talented LBs who know how to play Dick LeBeau’s system. Not to mention they get to play the bad AFC East and the mediocre NFC North. And, because they finished 3rd last year, they get the extra games of Tennessee and Oakland this year. Throw in the possible step backwards for the Ravens and this looks like a 9-win team, at least. Hell, it’s Mike Tomlin, people, and he’s good at his job.
FINAL RECORD: 8-8
DOOGAN 6 – BRY 3
Bry misses a second pick here in the first 9 picks and, again, it is when the team hits the number exactly. The Steelers were playing a lot better than an 8-win team down the stretch, but they were a lot worse than an 8-win team in the beginning of the year.
10). DOOGAN – Washington Redskins – UNDER 10 wins: One of those where I’m betting against a rebuild that never has a hitch. The Niners burned me last year, I’ll try it again here. In the three seasons before last, the Skins averaged 5 wins per season. Granted, they did not have a guy named Robert Griffin III playing QB in those years, but they still made a leap last year that is often the harbinger of a step backwards the following season. You have to think they’ll be especially vulnerable at the start of the year, with Griffin working his way back from the injury.
FINAL RECORD: 3-13
DOOGAN 7- BRY 3
In what looks – in retrospect – like a pretty easy pick, Doogan picked up a nice point here at #10 and remains perfect with his 5 picks so far.
11). BRY – Cleveland Browns – OVER 5 wins: The Browns aren’t all that good of a team, but I think they’re better than they were last year. They have a much improving defense that could be top-10 this year, a potential star RB in Trent Richardson (behind a semi-decent o-line), and a potential #1 WR in Josh Gordon. Brandon Weeden wasn’t abysmal last year and is said to be having a decent preseason. This isn’t a playoff team, but they’re probably not an 11-loss team either. Plus, a quick look at the schedule shows home games against Jacksonville, Miami, and Buffalo and a road game at the Jets. They should win AT LEAST 3 of those games. So, if they can find 2-3 more wins in the other 12 weeks of the season, they’ll hit the number. Put me down for 6 wins for the Brownies with a MUCH better chance at 7 than 5.
FINAL RECORD: 4-12
DOOGAN 8 – BRY 3
This is getting ugly, as Bry now has 3 wrong picks in his first 6. The Browns went backwards in another year that had expectations of improvement. Lesson learned.
12). DOOGAN – Houston Texans – UNDER 12 wins: There’s a lot of talent on this defense, led by one of the very best players in the league in J.J. Watt. But, despite some big names on offense, they’re actually pretty mediocre on that side of the ball. Maybe Matt Schaub just isn’t good, maybe the coaching staff isn’t good, maybe a bit of both, but it’s tough to win 12 games in today’s NFL if you can’t throw the ball effectively. After a rout of the Ravens in October last year, the Texans went on the bye and were never really the same when they came back. It took overtime to defeat the lowly Jags and Lions, then they were manhandled by the pedestrian Vikings and Colts in the final two games of the regular season, with crucial playoff seeding on the line. All in all, this looks like a good, but not elite team, and those teams don’t usually win 12 games.
FINAL RECORD: 2-14
DOOGAN 9 – BRY 3
Doogan is just rubbing it in now, as he clears this point by TEN games. Doogan is prophetic with his “Maybe Matt Schaub just isn’t good…” comment.
13). BRY – Chicago Bears – UNDER 10 wins: This is a scary pick because there is a TON of talent on this team. But, I also think it’s a bit of a chemistry experiment that has been pretty stable for a couple of years and is just due to implode. This team has maybe the most highly combustible WR in the league (Brandon Marshall) and maybe the most highly combustible QB in the league (Jay Cutler), who are each ready to blow at any second. Now, the past two years have been okay, but they did have a veteran coach in Lovie Smith and one of the true grizzled vets in the locker room in Brian Urlacher. This year, they have neither. They have a rookie head coach and a bit of a void in leadership with the Urlacher retirement. On paper, this probably is a 10+-win team again this year, but I think this is a ticking time bomb that is overdue for explosion – and even a minor flare-up could be the difference between 10-6 and 7-9…or worse.
FINAL RECORD: 8-8
BRY 4 – DOOGAN 9
Bry saves a little face here with the Bears Under pick. They actually looked like a 10-win team, but only won 8. It is still hard to believe that they didn’t win a division that included a disappointing Detroit team, a bad Minnesota team, and a Green Bay team that didn’t have Aaron Rodgers for more than half the season.
14). DOOGAN – Denver Broncos – UNDER 13 wins: No reason to think they won’t score a ton, even with a running back corps that doesn’t look very impressive. But if you’re looking for holes (and that’s really all you’re doing when going Under on such a big number), you can find them on the defense. Elvis Dumervil (38.5 sacks over last three seasons) is gone, and Von Miller will miss the first six games with a drug suspension. Champ Bailey is starting to show his age after an incredible career and the rest of the secondary is not very good (see: Flacco, Jacoby Jones, Ravens, playoffs). The defense trips them up enough times to finish 11-5.
FINAL RECORD: 13-3
BRY 5 – DOOGAN 9
He’s human! Doogan finally misses a pick, as the Broncos hit the 13-win number on the nose. Doogan had the right assessment, but the offense was even BETTER than people thought, making up enough for a pretty poor defense.
15). BRY – Cincinnati Bengals – UNDER 10 wins: This is probably a bad pick because I can’t remember a year where I thought this team was any good, and yet they’ve made the playoffs 3 of the past 4 years. So, basically, I have literally no credibility when assessing the Bengals. That being said, here’s my assessment on the Bengals: they have a mediocre redheaded QB, a RB corps that is significantly below average, and a defense whose lack of talent is clouded by one of the 3 best D-coordinators in football. Yes, they have the elite WR talent of A.J. Green and a tantilizing rookie TE in Tyler Eifert, but the Browns are improving and the Steelers and Ravens are still the Steelers and Ravens. The schedule actually isn’t bad, but they do have NFC North. And, two of their 8 home games are against New England and Green Bay. But, the more words I put into this paragraph, the more I starting doubting whether this is a good pick or not, so I’m gonna just stop here…
FINAL RECORD: 11-5
DOOGAN 10 – BRY 5
Bry continues to struggle, as the Bengals go a game better than 2012. Maybe that redheaded quarterback isn’t so mediocre…in the regular season, at least.
16). DOOGAN – Arizona Cardinals – OVER 5 wins: I just took a LONG time to come up with a next pick. The very obvious point to make here is that Carson Palmer will be a solid upgrade at the most important position on the field, and he’ll help Larry Fitzgerald to actually impact games again. The Cards also will have a better O-line with 1st-Round pick Jonathan Cooper at guard and LT Levi Brown back after missing all of last year with injury. The defense is better than it showed last year because of some key injuries and has the potential to be above-average. Still, this division is suddenly very tough and the schedule is doing this team no favors. I see them as a 6-10 squad.
FINAL RECORD: 10-6
DOOGAN 11 – BRY 5
Another terrific pick here by Doogan, as the Cardinals were 5 games better in 2013 and probably should have been a playoff team.
17). BRY – San Diego Chargers – UNDER 7 wins: Who the hell stole the real Phillip Rivers? No, seriously… I usually LOVE the Chargers, but it’s about time I get off the bandwagon (ya know, the year after the fire their awful coach…). But, this team is not very good, and I’m struggling to find 7 wins on their schedule, even though they have 2 with Oakland, 2 with KC, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Miami. Honestly, they don’t win all 7 of those, and they will struggle to win ANY of their other 9 games. The defense is old and depleted. Ryan Matthews isn’t even that good when he’s healthy. The receivers are either banged up, unproven, or both. And, Rivers has been flat-out terrible for the better part of 2 years now. The o-line isn’t good. The secondary isn’t good. They don’t pressure the QB all that well. My love for the Super-Chargers is officially dead. Put me down for 4-6 wins this year…ouch.
FINAL RECORD: 9-7
DOOGAN 12 – BRY 5
This is getting embarrassing, as the Chargers and the rejuvenated Philip Rivers won 9 games and went to the playoffs. How did that happen? No, seriously?!?
18). DOOGAN – New York Giants – OVER 9 wins: Last year, every division in the league had a team with at least 10 wins. I’ve already gone Under on Washington’s 10, I’m not an Eagles believer for once, and I don’t see Dallas as a team on the upswing. That just leaves, unfortunately, these guys. It’s a veteran offense that you can expect to be solid, with the potential to be very good. They lost Andre Brown to a broken leg yesterday, but he’s only the backup RB. The defense has some areas of concern, but the D-line, with Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and newcomer Cullen Jenkins, is still really good. Big Blue wins 10-11, before the Birds take this division back in 2014!
FINAL RECORD: 7-9
BRY 6 – DOOGAN 12
Doogan misses a pick that I am sure he is perfectly okay with. The G-Men just aren’t very good and it might be a long road back.
19). BRY – Tennessee Titans – OVER 6 wins: (BOOOOOOO to that last pick…) This is absolutely nothing more than a play against the schedule because this looks very much like a 10-loss team again. But, Tennessee has a sneaky homefield advantage and their 8 home game are against the following teams: SD, NYJ, KC, SF, JAC, IND, ARI, and HOU. Other than SF and HOU, I’d expect that they will be favored in each of the other 6. Throw in highly winnable road trips to OAK and JAX, and potentially winnable trips to StL and IND, and I don’t think that this team has to be all that good to win 7 or 8 games. The scary part is that, well, they aren’t very good…
FINAL RECORD: 7-9
BRY 7 – DOOGAN 12
Bry keeps his title hopes barely breathing here, as the Titans squeak past the number. Pretty decent analysis in retrospect, from a guy who doesn’t have much to be proud of so far.
20). DOOGAN – New England Patriots – UNDER 12 wins: Our last untouched division here. Never fun to pick against the Pats, but the Under has won the last two years on them as they’ve dropped from 14 to 13 to 12 wins over that span. As we all know, Welker and Aaron Hernandez are gone. Gronkowski isn’t fully healthy, Danny Amendola is hardly ever healthy. The general consensus is that as long as they have Mr. Brady they will be fine. I tend to agree with that, but what happens if Brady misses time and Ryan Mallett is left to work with this very diminished set of weapons? The defense is good but not great. The offense may now be the same, even with Brady.
FINAL RECORD: 12-4
BRY 8 – DOOGAN 12
Doogan gets hit again with a team that hits the number exactly. Belichick just continues to prove that he’s the best coach in the history of football. This team did not have anywhere near 12-win talent.
21). BRY – Buffalo Bills – UNDER 6 wins: (Wait, what happened to Aaron Hernandez??? I hadn’t heard…) This should tell you all you need to know about the 2013 Buffalo Bills: they sat undrafted rookie free agent QB Jeff Tuel in their final preseason game because they couldn’t risk an injury to their Opening Day starting quarterback. That’s right. An undrafted rookie free agent is so important to the Bills hopes this year that the extra (much-needed???) reps that he would have received in their final preseason game were LESS important than him be ready to go to start the season. And, this on a team whose defense is their weaker side of the ball. Even if rookie QB E.J. Manuel gets healthy, the jury’s out as to whether or not he can play yet. Despite one of the best RB combinations in the league with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, this could be a monumentally bad season in Buffalo.
FINAL RECORD: 6-10
DOOGAN 13 – BRY 8
Another team that hits their number on the nose, costing Bry the point here. Will the Bills ever be good again? Maybe not in Buffalo…unfortunately.
22). DOOGAN – Baltimore Ravens – UNDER 10 wins: They got hot at the right time, but there was very little to suggest in the regular season that this was anything close to a Super Bowl winning team. With Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta gone, Flacco has Torrey Smith and not much else to throw to. It’s maybe a slightly above-average offense along with a defense that is not what it used to be and is also probably slightly above-average at this point. Throw in a pretty tough schedule, and that makes 10 wins hard to reach.
FINAL RECORD: 8-8
DOOGAN 14 – BRY 8
A really solid pick here for Doogan inches him closer to taking back the title. Do you think – deep down – Ozzie Newsome and Company wish they had let Flacco walk even after winning Super Bowl MVP?
23). BRY – Seattle Seahawks – OVER 11 wins: Man, I am playing this round like an amateur, not the grizzled vets that we are. An Under-6 last pick and an Over-11 with this one? Not sure what I’m doing here because you won’t win much money betting on NFL teams to either win or lose 12 games in a season, but this team is loaded. Another year of seasoning for Russell Wilson, plus a year of experience for a defense chock full of both youth and talent. Pete Carroll probably isn’t the fun-loving, jovial guy that he portends to be, but the guy can flat-out coach. And, that team plays with ENERGY. Football is a game where the harder you try, the better you’ll be, and he gets that team going. They are fun to watch, and their homefield advantage might be the best in professional sports. They would need to lose 5 games for this pick to go awry, and looking at the schedule, I see road games at Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco, and the Giants that may be trouble. They are so good at home, that I am not too concerned with San Fran and New Orleans at home, though they should be mentioned. The rest of the schedule is workable, so I can see this team winning a dozen games this year. Is it crazy to say that the Seahawks are the NFL’s best team?
FINAL RECORD: 13-3
BRY 9 – DOOGAN 14
Your Super Bowl champs jumped to 13 wins in 2013. I guess it was not crazy to say that they were NFL’s best team. Nice to see that written on our site back in August.
24). DOOGAN – Miami Dolphins – OVER 7 wins: A tough team to predict because they’ve had a lot of turnover on their roster, but this defense was quietly very solid last year, and they add #3 overall pick Dion Jordan to bolster the pass rush. Ryan Tannehill was not a guy that was ready to step in as an NFL QB as a rookie, but now that experience can only help him, and he did improve as the year went along last year. He lost a big-play guy with Reggie Bush gone, but he’s been replaced by another game-breaker in Mike Wallace. It’s still not a very good offense, but I’ll bank on a stingy defense and some weak competition (the Bills and Jets could potentially get them half the wins they need) to get this team to .500.
FINAL RECORD: 8-8
DOOGAN 15 – BRY 9
Doogan may have wrapped this one up with the slim point here. It was perfectly analyzed by Doogan, as they were exactly .500.
25). BRY – Dallas Cowboys – OVER 8 wins: If Doogan can take the Over on the Giants, then I guess I can justify the Over on the Cowgirls. Just know that I am not happy about it. And, it mainly has to do with my total lack of belief in the rest of this division. Chip is still rebuilding, RG3 is a huge question mark, and the Giants are aging. I also think that the arrow is pointing up for that awful team in Dallas. While the move from Rob Ryan to Monte Kiffin is about as drastic as possible, I think it’s a pretty solid upgrade. I also think that with Bill Callahan calling the plays, it might free up Jason Garrett to focus more on head coaching responsibilities and mid-week preparation, the coaching aspect at which he most excels. Tony Romo has always been as underappreciated as America’s Team’s QB can possibly be, and Dez Bryant is poised for a potential breakout season. If Demarco Murray can stay healthy and the O-line is just marginal, this offense could be really good. The D is a question mark, but they do have the game’s best defensive player in DeMarcus Ware, so there’s a start. I think this is your 9-7 NFC East champs in 2013 (ugh…) before, as Doogan said earlier, the Birds take the division back in 2014.
FINAL RECORD: 8-8
DOOGAN 16 – BRY 9
It is fitting and well-deserved that Bry would give up the 16th point (clinching Doogan at least a tie) by picking the Over on the Cowboys. How many years in a row is this now that they were 8-8?
26). DOOGAN – New York Jets – UNDER 6 wins: They have some players on the defensive side of the ball, and though Rex Ryan’s lost just about all of his credibility at this point, he still has a proven track record of coaching capable defenses. That being said, the quarterback situation has, God only knows how, actually gotten worse than the Sanchez/Tebow sideshow of last year. Now Sanchez isn’t even healthy, Geno Smith has been terrible and may not be fully healthy either, and I just saw a headline they signed “QB Quinn”. I hope for their sake that’s someone other than Brady Quinn, but I kind of doubt it. Bad times are afoot at the Meadowlands.
FINAL RECORD: 8-8
BRY 10 – DOOGAN 16
Doogan fails to clinch victory here, as Rex’s boys go over with a surprising 8-8 season. How great of a coaching job did Rex do in 2013? This team has NO talent, and yet he got 8 wins out of them.
27). BRY – Green Bay Packers – OVER 11 wins: On paper, the Packers have a pretty brutal schedule, but there is a whole school of thought that thinks trying to analyze an NFL schedule in the preseason is completely useless. I am not in that school of thought, which is probably why it took this long to pull the trigger on this pick. The school of thought that I am in, however, is: In today’s NFL, quarterbacks and head coaches wins games. And, the Packers are proud owners of the best quarterback on the planet. Their receiving corps is depleted, their running backs are inexperienced and unheralded, and their defense is the epitome of shaky. But, they have Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy in a division that may struggle. I don’t feel great about it, but put me down for a dozen wins from one of the best organizations in professional sports.
FINAL RECORD: 8-7-1
DOOGAN 17 – BRY 10
Congrats to Doogan for taking back the 2013 NFL Preview title. Now, he’s going to beat the 10-point margin by which he lost in 2012. It’s amazing that the Packers were able to win the NFC North without Aaron Rodgers for 9 games. They’re not a bad organization.
28). DOOGAN – St. Louis Rams – UNDER 7 wins: Speaking of the importance of quarterbacks, this whole pick will probably come down to Sam Bradford. It could be a make-or-break year for him, and I’ll bet that he’ll “break” and end up a backup QB in the league in a year or two. Though, of course, if I was more confident in that opinion I would’ve made this pick much earlier. Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola will be missed from the offense, though the 1st-Round pick of WR Tavon Austin should help offset that loss. The defense is solid, with a couple Pro Bowlers, but in a very tough division, Bradford won’t be good enough to have them competitive.
FINAL RECORD: 7-9
BRY 11 – DOOGAN 17
Another on the number finish, as the Rams are 7-9 yet again. Jeff Fisher is pretty good at winning between 7 and 9 games every year.
29). BRY – San Francisco 49ers – UNDER 11 wins: I already have the Seahawks Over 11, and, honestly, I almost took the Niners Over, also, because they are absolutely loaded. But there are question marks – namely a pretty rough schedule, a QB that has only done it for half a season, massive issues at WR, an aging RB that should have broken down years ago, and surprisingly thin defense, despite its stoutness. That last one is what concerns me the most, actually. This team will live and die on its defense, and the dirty little secret about the SF defense last year is that their starting 11 played more snaps than any other defense in the NFL. They were lucky with injuries, and they rode their stars. Would I be surprised if the Niners won 14 games and the Super Bowl? Not in the least. But, I have to play the percentages here, and if I think a team is the second-best team in their own division, then Under 11 is just the safer play. I’m not comfortable in any way here, though.
FINAL RECORD: 12-4
DOOGAN 18 – BRY 11
Never bet against the khaki-clad Harbaugh, as the Niners are a 12-4 wild card. What a brutal division that NFC West is. Remember when it was a joke of a division? That was only like 2 years ago, right?
30). DOOGAN – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OVER 7 wins: With mediocre division-mates Tampa and Carolina both still on the board with just three picks left, it pretty much comes down to which team you think is better. Their head-to-head matchups could definitely be the difference. I’ll go with the Bucs. Carolina has the clear edge at the QB position, but the Bucs look better in most other places on the field. They have some nice offensive weapons with Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin. They’ve added Darrelle Revis to the secondary, along with safety Dashon Goldson from the Niners. They won’t be too good on either side of the ball, but could definitely be just mediocre enough to go 8-8.
FINAL RECORD: 4-12
BRY 12 – DOOGAN 18
What a disappointing year in Tampa, as the Bucs were just really bad. Hard to know if it’s easily turned around. It might be.
31). BRY – Carolina Panthers – OVER 7 wins: I’ll take that bet, Doogan. I am not at all a fan of the Bucs, to be honest, and I’ve always been a sucker for the Panthers. (Actually, I was always a sucker for John Fox, whom I think has always been one of the top 5 coaches in the league.) I’m not a big Newton guy, but he’s FAR better than Freeman, who I think kinda stinks. Luke Kuechly is a stud linebacker, and their D-line is underrated. It’s hard to ever bet against Steve Smith’s toughness, and maybe having Jonathan Stewart hurt could actually help the Panthers because they can just let Deangelo Williams be a bell cow back, run him into the ground, and cut him loose next year. I tossed the coin and it came up 8-8. Now, I’ll let you have fun figuring out how you can spin the Raiders as a 5-win team this year…
FINAL RECORD: 12-4
BRY 13 – DOOGAN 18
Bry’s Panthers love pays off here, as Coach of the Year Ron Rivera leads a shaky team to 12 wins (somehow…). A couple nice comments here as Luke Kuechly ended up as Defensive POY, and Josh Freeman is on his way out of the league.
32.) DOOGAN – Oakland Raiders – OVER 4 wins: I actually had just typed UNDER before the 4. I was ready to go for it because this team looks just awful. It came out today that Terrelle Pryor will start at QB, which could possibly be the better long-term move, but it’s hard to imagine it makes them better right now. Then again, who knows, maybe he’s the next Kaepernick. Anyway, just before proceeding with the Under I took another look at their schedule. They only have ONE sure-fire good team (Denver) coming to play in Oakland all season and three teams (JAX, SD, TEN) that could easily be quite bad. And even that Denver game is in Week 17, when they could be resting up for the playoffs. And you might say that this team has almost no chance of winning on the road. But they have 10 days to prepare for the Jets in December, when the Jets may have completely imploded and given up. And they get the Chargers in Week 16, which is a bad team that never has any home-field advantage anyway. Yes, the Raiders may only be favored once all year (Jax in Week 2), but I see a lot of games that they could, conceivably, win. So, did I do it, Bry? 5 wins can happen, right???
FINAL RECORD: 4-12
BRY 14 – DOOGAN 18
Nothing Doogan could do here, as the Raiders hit that 4-win number on the nose. What a terrible franchise this has become. Bry makes a bit of a comeback late, but Doogan still prevails 18-14 in 2013!