This Week in Sports: I know more about the NFL than I do about writing blogs

I was going to do a separate post on each division, but life and work keep getting in the way. So a quick story, then a lot of little thoughts that hopefully incorporate most teams and divisions. Drew Brees was drafted with the first pick of the second round by the Chargers the same year they drafted LaDainian Tomlinson. Before Brees was an All-World QB and Super Bowl champ, he was quite pedestrian at best. He was fine, but never great and closer to disappointing than pleasing. The Chargers did the right thing in drafting Philip Rivers three years later. But Rivers held out (like all Chargers first round picks did for most of this decade) and this slight lit a fire under Brees's ass and he got good...well better. For the next two years the Chargers are having to decide between Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. The former with more experience and comfort in the offense, the latter with the far superior physical skills. In that second year Brees injures his shoulder in the pointless last game of the season during the final year of his contract and the Chargers let him walk away. Even though I wish we had won the Super Bowl, I have no regrets and hold no ill will on either side. You have to remember your history and how things played out to understand that they really did happen the right way. Let's go Chargers!!

Now, the predictions of the bold and the boring:

AFC East: The Jets will miss the playoffs. I think the Patriots win the AFC East, but the wild card teams come from the AFC North and the AFC South. It actually feels really good to make this prediction. I strongly believe in the need of a good quarterback and I don't think Sanchez is close to good enough. The Dolphins will be good and are more likely to make the playoffs than the Jets, but I think both boringly finish around 8 or 9 wins. CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch will all have at least 100 carries. Wes Welker goes over 1000 yards. Chad Henne will finish in the top ten for QB rating. Brandon Marshall doesn't get to 85 receptions.

AFC South: The Colts will get the #1 seed...again. Peyton Manning wins another MVP. I haven't decided if I think the Titans or the Texans are more likely to make the playoffs...but right now I'm going to say the Texans, even though I don't like myself for making that pick. It's not that I don't like the Texans, it's just that the Texans have been a trendy "make-the-leap" pick for a while and I mostly dislike going with the crowd and conventional wisdom. And Jeff Fisher is a really good coach. Vince Young leads all QBs in rushing yards. Chris Johnson does not get to 2,000 total yards (combined rushing and receiving)...but he is still REALLY good. The Texans finish as a top four offense in the NFL. The Jaguars are kind of boring. They aren't bad, but they're average at best.

AFC North: I'm going with the Ravens and the Bengals to make the playoffs from the AFC North. I don't know why people are writing off the Bengals after winning last year. As long as they follow the same formula and run more than they pass, they will be good. I think if Owens and Ochocinco combine for 110 catches they will be much more effective than if they combine for 150 catches. Joe Flacco is ready to make a step...but I refuse to go with conventional wisdom and agree they are the Super Bowl favorite. Their defense is getting old and/or injured (especially in the secondary where Ed Reed is out for at least 6 weeks) and Joe Flacco isn't ready to win every shootout. He'll win most, but falter in the playoffs. The Browns will be really bad. The Steelers finish 9-7.

AFC West: The AFC West will go to the Chargers fairly easily. The Chiefs will come in second and the Raiders will win at least 7 games. Overall, the division will not be as bad as people expect. Josh McDaniels will hold his title as the most annoying coach in the NFL...although Shannahan is capable of taking the title belt if the voting is advertised on fantasy football sites.

NFC East: This division is good...again. I'll pick the Giants to win because their defense stays healthy. Eli Manning throws for fewer yards than last year, but it's a good thing. The Cowboys make the playoffs, but it will be ugly behind their aging offensive line. The Eagles and the Redskins will be too focused showing off their new QBs to win enough games. Kevin Kolb throws for more yards and a higher rating than Donovan McNabb. Jeremy Maclin has more catches, but fewer yards than teammate DeSean Jackson.

NFC North: THE LIONS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS! Yeah, I'm scared to type that. And every neuron in my brain is telling me to delete it. I think the Packers win the NFC North easily and Brett Favre and Jay Cutler lead their respective teams to an early offseason. Alright...I wussed out. The Lions finish 9-7, which is a bold prediction in itself, but just not the same as saying they will make the playoffs, because I think it will be two teams from the NFC South and East that make it. I like the Lions offense and Ndamokung Suh will help their defense a lot. Ok, the Lions increase their win total more than any other team in the NFL.

NFC South: The Falcons win the South and the Saints make it as a wild card team. Brees leads the league in passing. Matt Ryan finishes 15th in passing yards, but has a better record than Brees. Matt Moore and the Panthers look good and have a great rushing game...but finish with 6 wins as their defense lets them down. The Bucs compete with the Bills for the worst record in the NFL.

NFC West: If Russel Okung was not injured and I had any confidence that a college coach could easily make the transition to the NFL, then I might have picked the Seahawks to win the West because Hasselback is the best QB in the division. But those things aren't the case and they finish last. The Cardinals will be below average with Derek Anderson at the helm and the Rams will have the second biggest increase in wins after the Lions. I think the 49ers beat the Seahawks handily in week 1 and show they are the best team in the division. If the 49ers lose, it shows they suck and Hasselback will lead the Seahawks to the playoffs.

My overall predictions:
Playoff teams:
Colts, Packers, Falcons, Ravens, Giants, Saints, Chargers, Patriots, Bengals, Texans, Cowboys, 49ers

Close, but no cigar:
Redskins, Eagles, Titans, Steelers, Dolphins, Cardinals, Lions, Vikings, Jets, Chiefs

Not gonna happen:
Raiders, Rams, Panthers, Bears, Seahawks, Jaguars, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Bills


  1. You know what? Fuck it. I'm dropping the Cowboys and adding the Lions.

  2. As for our weekly picks...just like I did before the Super Bowl, I'm picking the Saints (-5) to win tonight.

  3. Your 'quick story' link had me busting up laughing. Well played sir.

    So just to be clear... you picked the Lions to make the playoffs, then unpicked them, then picked them again? Way to make a bold stand.

    You also glossed over one of your more baffling predictions... why will the Saints lose the division to the Falcons? What about the Saints makes you think they can't replicate last year's success? If not win the Superbowl, at least their division.

    Also what is the competition for most futile team? You list the Bills and Bucs as frontrunners, who else is in there? The Browns? Any surprise horrible teams, like the Cardinals maybe?

  4. I think the Lions will make the playoffs. That is so bold, my waffling doesn't interfere with the boldness of it.

    I think the Saints will drop from 13 to 10 wins, while the Falcons will increase from 9 to 11 wins. Since I think both are making the playoffs, I don't think it's a particularly bold prediction.

    I don't think the Cardinals will fall that far. There coach and defense and Larry Fitzgerald are pretty good. I could make the argument for any of the ten teams I list in the "Not gonna happen" section. I mean Carolina, Chicago, Denver and Jacksonville all finished with 7 or 8 wins and I say one of those three teams will have a top 3 pick. Is that bold enough for you?

  5. That's bold, but not bold enough. I know at least one of those teams will probably suck - but which one? That's the hard part.

    I personally think Chicago will overachieve compared to those teams, and Carolina will underachieve. I feel like Carolina might experience some Bills-level futility this year.

  6. As usual, it will come down to the QB play. If Matt Moore or David Garrard sucks, his team will be bad. So who is more likely to suck really bad?

  7. It's Brees'.

    Johnson doesn't get to 2K total yards? He predicts 2.5K RUSHING yards. I think he easily surpasses 2K total yards.

    This weekend's ATS Picks:

    Patriots -4.5
    Steelers +2.5
    Niners -3

  8. Yeah, that's why it's a bold prediction. I don't think he gets 2,000 total yards. It's really hard to do that. Although I do think he'll get pretty close. (1800-1999 or so)

  9. This weekend I'm taking:
    Cleveland +3
    Indy -2.5
    San Francisco -3
    Baltimore +2.5

    And with my Saints -5 push, I am 0-0-1 so far this season.

  10. Yes, and I'm saying it's a dumb, bold prediction.

  11. Ok, give me a smart, bold prediction.

  12. (not as a bold prediction, just picking spreads) I think the Colts at -2.5 is the biggest no brainer pick this week, hands down

    I also heart the Pats at -4.5 to demolish Oakland

  13. The Patriots are playing the Bengals, not the Raiders.

  14. Smart, bold prediction: A QB will not win the NFL MVP this year.

    Why is this bold? According to, 7 of the top 8 MVP candidates are QBs.

    Why is this smart? Chris Johnson will win this year's MVP after running for 2,500 yards. OK, maybe this is not so smart. Whatever.

  15. Like I said, I heart the Pats at -4.5 to demolish Cinci

  16. Did we keep track of oursleves last year? Or did we make predictions with no accountability?

    I mean, I have no problem rambling confidently without worrying about results...I just want to establish a FIWK standard.

  17. It is the FIWK way to shoot from the hip with absolutely no accountability. That being said... I want to track it this year

  18. Man, and the effing Colts got destroyed... wow

  19. Wait, I just realized you guys didn't pick five games. Are we going to force each other to pick five games, or can I choose to pick fewer games if I want to?

  20. Wait, were we supposed to pick five games? Did we have a meeting about this that I didn't attend? My custom last year was just to pick those games about which I felt strongly. Are we doing five per week now?

    I am strongly in favor of forcing MP to go 0-5 every week because he never picks anything.

  21. No, we don't have to pick five games. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't handicapping myself by having to find a 4th or 5th game to pick, even if I didn't feel that strongly about it.

    Can you guys think of a way to incorporate number of picks correct vs. winning percentage? It should be easier to pick one or two games correctly, but we should reward those who try to pick more games. The first thing that comes to mind is simply wins-losses. So the best will have the most net wins.

  22. I always look at it from the perspective of "what games do I feel strongly enough about to put money on," as if I were in Vegas at the sportsbook. So if I don't have 5 games I'd bet on, I don't pick them.

  23. But if I go 4-1 and you go 2-0, I would make more money than you in said sports book. That's the part we need to quantify...not just winning percentage.

  24. And if I go 8-8, I would have more total correct picks, but would not make as much money as you.

  25. I say we just go with win %, for 2 reasons:

    1) we're picking ATS, so there will rarely (if ever) be an obvious pick that would make picking 1-2 'easier' than picking 4-5.

    2) it's not like we're experts here; i'd expect all of us to finish close to .500 and Royce's small sample will be as much risk as reward.

  26. Ok, so I'm voting 'net wins'. Scott is voting winning percentage. Mik abstains.

    Royce, make the tie-breaking vote.

  27. Didn't you un-vote 'net wins' cause you felt it would hurt you more than Royce? Can you argue why win % would provide some level of advantage for any of us?

  28. No, every example I have given shows that net wins are better than winning percentage and total wins. 4-1 is better than both 2-0 and 8-8.

  29. I vote net wins as the stat which determines who the best picker is. But we should also just keep updated our total wins-losses and our win percentage, cause it's fun info to see regardless.

    Aaron, awesome 'Mik abstains' link. And a very nice 'wrong' link by Scooter.

  30. By the way, if I had time you'd better believe I'd have linked to the kid picking his nose in Caddyshack with 'best picker'.