Today I am thin slicing the league with as little research as possible. Malcolm Gladwell would be proud of my ability to smell test the league. I will be doing a weekly picks column this coming season so keep coming back.
East: The New York Giants will win the division while Philadelphia Eagles again disappoint because Michael Vick isn’t a good enough or healthy enough player to ever win such a meat grinder of a division. The Redskins will be bad but Mike Shannahan bad is slightly better than bad mostly because he is a demonic being hell bent on destroying young quarterbacks as a sacrifice to the zone blocking gods. But they will beat the Cowboys and Eagles because a running back you’ve never heard of will take over a game or two while RG3 devises a plan for his offensive line to drown Shannahan in cooler of Gatorade. Kirk Cousins will change his name to Kirk Kousins and reveal that he has super powers but is quitting football to create a Ex football Justice League.* Dallas will figure out that Demarco Murray isn’t the second coming of Marion Barber and Tony Romo will get a brand new Michael Vick edition flak jacket.
West: The NFC West is crappy. San Francisco is a very good team with huge flaws such as a quarterback who is somewhere between bad and shurg worthy. But they have decided to dig up Randy Moss’ corpse so that should be great for soundbites and San Fran is a great food town so Randy should be happy about that. The rest of the western teams are bad, like really bad. But all of those bad teams are the kind of teams they will beat good teams for no good reason a few times this year.
North: The NFC North would be the best division in football if Minnesota would just move to LA and they could eat the St. Louis Rams. Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit are all quality teams. Green Bay will win the division, Chicago will come second and Detroit will be third. My readers will not like this but the Detroit Lions are perfectly set up for a bad year. They did nothing to get better on defence and their offensive line is still suspect and their situation at running back is just about the same as last year. Essentially they did very little to actually improve their team. Chicago is more complete, and Green Bay barring a plane crash is just better than Detroit.**
South: The NFC South is in disarray. New Orleans had the NFL take a dump on them, a quarterback who held out and missed time and they are poised to roll over this season. Only so much can go wrong before a team begins to feel snake bitten. So with that said there is a power vacuum. The Atlanta Falcons are the logical bet to take this division. They are boring enough. Tampa Bay has a wildcard in Josh Freeman but he could do his best Josh Johnson impression again this season. And Carolina is still a few years and Cam Newton concussions away from rebuilding again. So lets say for fun, Tampa Bay wines, Atlanta 2nd, New Orleans 3rd, and Carolina is still fun to watch.
East: This division is like the NFC West. One really strong team, and three horribly flawed teams. New England will roll this division though Buffalo will look promising early until their lack of depth is exposed. The Jets will play out the least desirable quarterback controversy in the history of football until Rex Ryan is found in a hotel room comatose with footprints all over him. The Miami Dolphins will give Reggie Bush his best season ever which will be classified as a moral victory. New England will play all their division games while giggling all the way to the playoffs.
West: Payton Manning will not raise his level of play but NFL analysts will mistake the altitude and lack of competition for his winning record and division championship. Norv Turner will continue his destructive co-dependant relationship with the San Diego Chargers. The Kansas City Chiefs will be disappointing but will win enough games to make it look like their are on the brink of being respectable. And the Oakland Raiders will look like world beaters much less other than their fans look like wife beaters.
North: The AFC North is another very good division but there is some bad mojo working. The Steelers have injury issues(as per always), the Ravens’ have Joe Flacco making hilariously delusional statements about his abilities, the Bengals are scrappy but flawed and Cleveland is just cursed enough to give hope to their fans before they ruthlessly disappoint them. The Steelers will end up winning this division but Baltimore will end up close to them with an easy wildcard birth.
South: The AFC South is the Houston Texans’ division to lose. They are really a complete team who should be excited to be the best team in Texas. The Colts, Jags and Titans are all in varying degrees of rebuilding. The Colts have a new franchise QB and now that they are not throwing games they should improve. The Titans are starting a guy who couldn’t supplant Matt Hasselbeck with a disc problem in his back which tells you how solid he is. And finally the Jags will be the worst team in the NFL but they will rack up some wins because of their division.
*Hershel Walker plays a man who can multiply into multiple people based on his multiple personalities. Jeff George will create distractions for the team with his arm strength and Donovan MacNabb will use his ability to disappear into thin air during high pressure moments.
**As a side note to Lions fans. All of the arrests this last off season would be a great sign if you were Oakland Raiders fans…but you’re not. This is a terrible sign that there isn’t enough leadership on this team. They need to lose this year to define the leaders so they can make a charge next year.