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Are there outsiders in Champions League

Are there outsiders in Champions League

Posted by: Steve in Your Tips September 16, 2014 Comments Off on Are there outsiders in Champions League

-Dear fellas it's been a long time since my last post but here I am now and this is what I got for you. As we all know Champions League group stage just started and I think one of the teams stands out. They play in group G as the team with the lowest Uefa coefficient and unfairly, most of the people sees them as outsiders and foresees their fallout before knockout phase. Yes you guessed well. its Maribor from Slovenia. But. guess what/? I believe they have more chances than most of the bookmakers gave them and that's our chance for a good payoff. especially on their first game on Wednesday against Sporting Lisbon. Here are few facts. Maribor is playing their first match in the Champions League group stage for 15 years. They are well played team, and above all highly motivated to win in front of their own supporters on debut. They timed the form for Champions League and they did it well. During the qualifications they knocked out Celtic and for the past 5 games they have one draw one loss and three wins, while on the other side Sporting is still looking for their game and their form is yet not on the level. For the past 5 games they lost one, won one (barely, against Arouca scoring goal at 94th minute.)and played three draws. Maribor scored average of 2,1 goal per match and received less than one, while Sporting scored average of 0,9 goals per match and received 1,2 in the same period. There are more facts in favor of Maribor, but I think this is enough for now and for the upcoming match.

My prediction for the game Maribor - Sporting Lisbon would be X (result 0:0) with a slight advantage for Maribor and therefore you can also play 1 (result 1:0)

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FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis, 2005 Season Predictions

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OK, let's start with this basic rule: picks are essentially silly. We know that every season in the NFL, there are going to be teams that improve and decline for reasons that nobody predicted. Even sillier than picking the divisions is picking conference champions or the Super Bowl winner. Let's say we think the New England Patriots have the best chance of any team in the AFC to make it to the Super Bowl. Perhaps we think they have a 20% chance to make it, and we think that six other teams have a 10% chance to make it, and eight other teams have a 2.5% chance to make it, and they will also play some games in Cleveland this season. OK, so we pick New England to win the AFC. Even based solely on this opinion, there is four in five chance the pick will be incorrect. So we are all going to be mostly wrong.

We're going to make picks anyway.

You will find picks here from most of the members of the of the Football Outsiders staff. The new guy whose name you might not recognize is Tim Gerheim, who wrote the Houston and San Diego chapters for the book and is going to be "assistant editor," meaning that he gets to fix everyone's grammar all year. On each table you will also find picks based on the DVOA Projection System, which you can read about here, and a staff consensus. Will Carroll just sent us his picks and a few "surprises" comments, which is why you will find a little less commentary from him.

As many of you know, last year we won King Kaufman's expert predictions contest when the staff consensus correctly picked 10 of 12 playoff teams (9.5, actually, since the consensus had a tied pick for one division). Here's a prediction we feel we can make with confidence: We are not going to repeat as champions of the expert predictions contest. There are just too many good AFC teams to accurately pick that conference, and frankly there are not enough good NFC teams to accurately pick that conference, since most of us think at least one seriously flawed team in the NFC will end up bumbling its way into a wild card.


Picking the teams that won't make the AFC playoffs is much easier than picking the teams that will make it. Cleveland is rebuilding, Tennessee is rebuilding but from a better position, Miami has no offense, Oakland has no defense. Everyone else in the AFC has legitimate playoff hopes, so let's knock them out one at a time. Jacksonville's offense is a myth caused by the division they play in. I think Kansas City could be spectacular but all it takes is for one or two of those offensive players over 30 to get injured and the whole thing will collapse like a house of cards. Jon Quinn is the backup quarterback, okay? I love the Chargers but the schedule is just killer. I love the Buffalo defense but that offense is going to be bad, and the problem isn't Losman as much as it is the offensive line, which means switching to Kelly Holcomb won't fix anything. I've been picking the Texans all summer, saying with just a little improvement on both sides of the ball, they would snag a wild card with an easier schedule than better teams from the other divisions. But upon further review, the offensive line still stinks, so they go 9-7 and miss out. When I sent my picks to King Kaufman, I said the Jets would win a wild card, and they would with Houston's schedule, but those holes on the lines and in the secondary can't be masked when you play so many well-coached teams. (I've changed my AFC picks roughly every five minutes for three months now.) As bad as the Pittsburgh offense has looked this preseason, I think that their defense should be able to drag the team to ten wins. Same goes for the Ravens, and I wanted to pick the Bengals, so we go with three teams from one division in the playoffs. I'm not sure why so many people are down on the Broncos -- the defensive line is a little worse, the punting a little better, so they'll go 10-6 and lose in the first round of the playoffs yet again.

I hate predicting this many repeat playoff teams, but I can't avoid it. Pittsburgh's schedule is too easy for them not to make at least the Wild Card. Baltimore's looks even easier, which is why I have them winning the division. I'm not going to do something stupid like pick against New England. The Colts can put up 30 points on anyone in the league, and now with Corey Simon maybe they can regularly hold their opponents to under 30. The only really surprising pick is probably Kansas City winning the West. But they were much better than their record indicated last season. Sure their offense is a little old, but they've improved enough on defense to make up for it. The Chargers get the final wild card spot from me, beating out Buffalo.


Why do I like the Ravens to come out of the AFC? I think the defense is still pretty good, and I don't think the offense is going to be as bad as it has been. I know a lot of people see Jamal Lewis's tough off-season as a reason not to like the Ravens, but I actually think it might encourage them to use Chester Taylor more, and I'm a Chester Taylor fan. When I look at the Patriots and Colts, I actually like them better than the Ravens, but I just feel like the Ravens are a team that might be better at the end of the year.


The Steelers have looked flat in preseason, but they'll pull it together well enough to go 11-5 and take the North. The West is wide open, of course; I like the Broncos' buttoned-down style on offense and deep defense, and I think the Chiefs' defense will pull together enough to go 10-6. Picking the Chargers came down to picking Marty Schottenheimer over Brian Billick to win a game when it matters most.

The AFC is almost an impossible conference to handicap. I seriously thought about eleven different teams to possibly make the playoffs. The two I am most confident about are the Patriots and the Colts. I cannot imagine the Colts losing their division, and although I believe some good breaks for the Bills or Jets could get them past the Patriots, both have too many questions to make me comfortable picking them. In the North, I think the Bengals, Steelers, and Ravens will all be very close. I question how the Steelers are going to match the production they got last year from Bettis and Burress, and Roethlisberger was clearly playing above his head. I take the Bengals over the Ravens because I trust Marvin Lewis to fix the Bengals' run defense more than I trust Kyle Boller to be a good quarterback. In the West, I am breaking with our prediction model because I hate what Denver did this off-season, and I think the Chargers defense will seriously regress this year. I agree with some that the Chiefs could completely fall off this season, but I am betting that they hold off Father Time for one more season. As for the Bills and Ravens, I think things shift back towards defenses a bit this year, but if Denver, San Diego, Pittsburgh, or the Jets edge them out, I would not be surprised.


I think the loss of the coordinators and the brutal early schedule catches up with the Patriots enough this year that they could end up having to play at Indianapolis in the playoffs. I'm not sure I really believe that the Colts can win that game even if it were played on the moon -- then again, think of that passing attack in zero gravity! -- but I think there's a good reason why we've never seen a three-peat in the Super Bowl era. Kansas City will have just enough defense to win the West, but not enough to win in the playoffs. If Boller isn't horrible, the Ravens should win the North. After all, the Steelers are supposed to be good this year, which means they probably won't be. The Jets will be doomed by a tough schedule and Pennington's shoulder. San Diego will struggle early as it realizes how much tougher it is to win as a favorite, but they'll rebound in time to sneak into the playoffs along with everyone's favorite up-and-coming team, Jacksonville.


I'm picking the Patriots to win the East. At this point it would just be silly not to. J.P. Losman might be athletic, but he's still a spaz, and the Dolphins' starting quarterback could end up being the same guy who once gave himself a concussion by head-butting a wall. In the North I like the Steelers, but if Roethlisberger turns into a pumpkin, don't be surprised to see this team run the ball 50 times a game. Unless the Ravens go to the single-wing, Kyle Boller renders their offense useless, and the Browns will have to be content with the fact that they already won their AFC North title … in the preseason. The Colts will edge out the Jaguars in the South and Denver will somehow win the West without Maurice Clarett -- and because the aged Chiefs offense will literally turn to dust sometime around Week 12. The Jaguars will just fall short of the post-season again, and the Chargers will fall back to earth while the Jets and the Bengals nab the wild card.


I feel like all the insipid commentators I like to rag on for constantly picking last year's division winners to be this year's division winners. But I don't think you'll find many people to disagree with either the Patriots or the Colts as repeat champs (again), and after writing about them in PFP I'm really high on the Chargers. I don't like last year's 15-game winner though: I have the Steelers finishing 3rd in their division as Roethlisberger and the rest of the offense crash to earth like Mir. I like the Texans as a wild card team for two reasons: I'm from Houston, and I think they're the second-best team in the AFC South, whose teams gets to feast on the slow wildebeests from the NFC West.


The one glaring omission in the AFC playoff picture is the Jets, and each time I penciled them in, Chad Pennington's shoulder erased that choice. After his promising 9 for 10 performance his first preseason game, Pennington has regressed. Replace his shoulder and this team fights for AFC supremacy . It is hard to call a team with Trent Green and Priest Holmes the surprise team of the year, but the Chiefs are my early “On the Wagon� pick after I went against them a month ago in the Scramble for the Ball Over/Unders. The Kansas City front office finally realized that two straight years with a terrible defense under different coordinators meant that the personnel needed to change. Kendrell Bell and Derrick Johnson are much welcome additions, and opposing quarterbacks will not be able to be as daring anymore with Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight . It is now or never for Kyle Boller, who should have enough around him to knock off the Steelers for the AFC North crown.


If you read Pro Football Prospectus, my picks are obvious, except for the Vikings. For a long time I expected to say Detroit Lions here, and everyone knows I like Kevin Jones and they have a promising young defense, but Harrington still just doesn't look like he gets it -- the good preseason performances came because nobody was putting on a complicated pass rush in the first two games. So instead of Detroit as division champ and the Vikings as wild card, I'm going with Vikings as division champ and -- eek -- Tampa Bay as wild card. I know this will come back to haunt me, but it isn't just the DVOA thing. That offense really was much better with Brian Griese at the helm, Michael Clayton is awesome, the defense is still pretty good, and the schedule is easy except for the games against the AFC East and the Panthers.

Yeah, I have Chicago winning the NFC North, though it's mainly by default. Green Bay is ready for a huge collapse with the decline of their offensive line and their defense's inability to stop anyone from running the ball. The Vikings have added a ton of players on defense, but their offense will struggle to overcome the loss of Randy Moss and Matt Birk. The Lions are a complete mess at quarterback. Joey Harrington will be replaced by Week 7, but Jeff Garcia isn't much better. That leaves Chicago with a solid defense and multi-faceted running attack. If Kyle Orton doesn't screw up royally, which is a big if, there's no reason the Bears can't win the division. The Eagles should easily win the East with at least 11 wins. Carolina is the class of a poor division. Seattle's defense can't be as bad as it was last year. Maybe if I keep picking Arizona to make the playoffs they actually will one of these days and make me look like a genius.


In the NFC, the question is whether anyone has caught up with Philadelphia, and my answer is yes, the Panthers have. I still think the NFC is fairly weak top to bottom, but I like what the Panthers have done (especially signing guard Mike Wahle), and I think they'll have a fairly easy division schedule. The Packers and Bucs as wild cards? I don't know. It's hard to find six playoff teams in this conference.


The division champs are all by-the-book selections. I liked the Cardinals as a Wild Card earlier in the offseason, but I am not sold on their offensive line or running game. Many FO'ers are picking the Falcons to crash and burn, but I see their defense and special teams giving them lots of opportunities to win. It will be another year of 8-7 and 7-8 teams battling for a Wild Card (or maybe the South or West crown) in the NFC.

Unlike in the AFC, I had trouble finding six playoff-worthy teams in the NFC. The Eagles to win the East remains the easiest selection around, even with the TO issues. I do not really like the Vikings or the Seahawks, but I think the competition in their divisions is just too weak. It would be great for Detroit fans to have a good season, but I just do not trust their quarterback situation with either Harrington or Garcia. The Packers have too many holes on the offensive line and did not improve their defense (although I like the Jim Bates hiring). The South is actually a quality division, and I could see the Bucs, Panthers, or Falcons winning it. I am going with the Bucs because I think they still have a strong enough defense, and their offense under Brian Griese was actually pretty good. Add in Cadillac Williams and their continued domination of Michael Vick and I think they take the division. I will say that unlike some, I think one of these years Michael Vick will recapture his 2002 form and the Falcons will be very good. I just think that may be a year away. As for the Rams, the defense was really good in 2003 so it should not be as bad this year. Also, I am officially on the Steven Jackson bandwagon.


All the pieces seem to be in place for Carolina. I put more stock into the second half of last season because this is a team that has had recent success; it didn't come out of the blue to 6-2 down the stretch. If they avoid last year's injuries, they should win the South. I'll take Minnesota by default in what I expect will be an awful North. Philly would still win the East even if the TO thing blew up several times during the season. Dallas should rebound nicely this year if Bledsoe doesn't hold them ball for 10 seconds on every pass play. Hand off, dump it off on screens, don't get killed, and let the defense and the schedule do their job. Seattle will win the West easily, but St. Louis will edge out Atlanta for the last playoff spot, as Mike Martz aggravates fans all season.


Anytime you see the name "Drew Bledsoe" next to "featured quarterback" you've got yourself a date with a top-15 pick in next year's draft. Eli Manning and Patrick Ramsey will battle for the title of "the next Drew Bledsoe," and the Eagles will wrap up the East by early November. Conventional wisdom suggests that the Vikings should probably win the North easily, but conventional wisdom also says that head coaches shouldn't scalp tickets. Knowing that, I'm taking the Packers. I was a year too early in picking the Panthers last season, so I'm taking them again this season, and the 2005 version of the NFC West could look a lot like the 2005 version of the NL West. The San Diego Padres will be played by the Arizona Cardinals, who will win any division for the first time since 1975. Yikes. The Seahawks will squeak into the wild card with a losing record and the Vikings will get back to the playoffs despite their head coach.


When the biggest question mark on your team is a petulant superstar who's going to play for you even if he's not happy about it dammit, you're going to win the NFC East. Minnesota had better win, since they have more cap space this year than a ten-gallon hat. I like the Panthers a lot, and I definitely buy into the FO-conventional wisdom that Atlanta's brutal schedule and overrated quarterbacking will lead to a regression to the mean, i.e. 8-8. The Rams and Cowboys seem like the best of the rest in the weak-sister conference. Seattle only gets the nod as the undeserving 6th because they get to beat up on the Niners twice (not to mention the talent-free Titans) and I just don't trust Arizona.


Take my NFC playoff spot, please. Sorry about the stretch with Henny Youngman reference, but this is one of the weakest NFC conferences in recent memories, with only three teams as clear cut +.500 teams for me – Minnesota, Philadelphia and Carolina -- but it should be a dogfight for the NFC title between those three (more on that below). I potentially see three 8-8/9-7 teams making the playoffs this year . Expect another ulcer-inducing season for the Rams and Marc Bulger (10 interceptions in the red zone), but one that will be just good enough to sneak into the playoffs . As much as we all here have killed Michael Vick, this Falcons team has the leg power and speed on defense to win games. Ed Hartwell will be one of the best offseason pickups and will make Keith Brooking look even better . Dennis Green has plucked quarterbacks off the scrap heap in the past (Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon) en route to the playoffs, and he could do it this year with Kurt Warner. JJ Arrington will be offensive rookie of the year as well.

AFC Champion

Aaron: Indianapolis Accurately picking the winner of the AFC this year is like accurately guessing which Scrabble tile is the next one out of the bag. But Indy's easy schedule makes them the "E". I feel very confident in saying that the AFC Championship will match the Colts and another team that can probably beat them with running and defense. But I don't know which team that is going to be -- although the Patriots are still the best guess -- and Corey Simon at least gives Indy one player who might help them stop that team from running all over them. Remember that Green Bay lost to Dallas seven straight times between 1993 and 1996, but in the 1996 playoffs, the Panthers knocked off Dallas, the Packers knocked off the Panthers, and Brett Favre -- at the time, known for being unable to win the big ones -- finally won the Super Bowl.

Al: Indianapolis It's this year or never for this team. I vote for this year.

Mike Smith: Baltimore I'm not a Kyle Boller fan, but I wasn't a Trent Dilfer fan, either. I think the offense can be just good enough, and the defense can be very good.

Mike Tanier: Indianapolis The defense looks runny, and opponents are stocking up on defensive backs so they can stop Peyton. But a 6-0 division record is likely, and all of the other division champs will be facing tougher schedules. If the playoffs go through the fast track at Indy, forget about it.

Ned: Indianapolis I just have a hard time not seeing them with the most wins in the conference. Corey Simon is not the greatest player, but I was leaning Colts even before they signed Simon. If the Colts play New England, even in Indy, I maybe would lean towards the Patriots, but odds are they do not meet again. If the Colts are hosting the AFC Championship against anyone else, I think they will win.

Russell: Indianapolis Real original line of thinking coming here -- if the Colts can get home-field advantage, I think this is the year they make it past New England and to the Super Bowl, perhaps over Kansas City in the championship game after taking out New England in the divisional round.

Ryan: Indianapolis In a perfect world, I would be able to make this pick anonymously just to avoid having Rodney Harrison show up at my door with the inevitable questions about disrespect. Well, I have nothing to hide and if anyone's interested (I'm talking to you Mr. Harrison); I spend most of my time in Framingham, MA under the name Schatz. The laws of probability suggest that the Colts have to win a game eventually, even if it's by accident. I think this is the year.

Tim: New England New England beats Indianapolis in the AFC Championship game for the 50th time in a row, this time how 'bout in the RCA Dome for a change. After the game, Peyton Manning's head explodes.

Vivek: Indianapolis A tough schedule and a weakened defense will wear down the Patriots this year. Not enough to prevent them from taking the AFC East, but enough to keep them out of the AFC Championship game. Playing the role of AFC contenders this year will be the Colts and Chiefs. Peyton will finally climb that hill and take the Colts to the Promised Land.

NFC Champion

Aaron: Philadelphia Sure, I suppose it could be Carolina or Minnesota, or even Seattle, but one of those teams would have to have nearly everything go right and have a number of things in Philadelphia go wrong in order to be favored in the NFC Championship game.

Al: Carolina I just can't pick the Eagles. Something will go wrong with that team at some point in the year. As I wrote a few weeks ago, this year's Panthers remind me a lot of the 2003 Patriots.

Mike Smith: Carolina I love the front four and I have trust in Jake Delhomme.

Mike Tanier: Philadelphia Every other team in the NFC is hoping Terrell Owens does something flaky. Only the Seahawks and Vikings have the talent to stand up to the Eagles if TO is playing; look for an Eagles-Seahawks title game in Philly, Home of the NFC Title Game.

Ned: Philadelphia The Eagles were head and shoulders above the conference a year ago, and I see no reason why that is different this year. The team had one weakness, run defense, and the insertion of Trotter a year ago seems to have solved that problem. Even an improved Panthers, Seahawks, or Vikings will not be enough to catch the Eagles.

Russell: Carolina The NFC is still well behind the AFC in terms of overall quality, but the depth will be somewhat improved over last season. Philadelphia has come back to the pack a little bit, and I believe Carolina, Seattle and Minnesota will be much improved. All are Super Bowl threats, but I like Carolina to emerge from the pack, even if they have to go on the road in the playoffs.

Ryan: Philadelphia The Eagles will beat the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game. Seriously.

Tim: Minnesota Minnesota over Carolina, which is purely fantasy because I don't think Philly knows how to lose before the conference championship game. But I'll root for it because I'm bored with the Eagles.

Vivek: Minnesota This is Dante Culpepper's show now. The offense will not be as potent as it was in the pas, but Culpepper will make Nate Burleson and Troy Williamson 1,000 yard receivers. Like the Chiefs, the Vikings knew that they had to upgrade on defense and did just that during the winter. Fred Smoot and Darren Sharper will prevent a repeat of last year when opponents dropped 27+ points on the Vikings nine times. The law of averages finally sets in and the Eagles will not make their fifth straight appearance in the NFC title game. Rising to the top of the NFC will be the Panthers courtesy of their defense. Take Julius Peppers, a returning Kris Jenkins, Pro Bowler Dan Morgan and the top two pickoff men in the NFC (Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas) and you have the makings for a potential shutdown defense. The Vikings take this battle 17-13. Did you ever think the Vikings would win a defensive battle in the playoffs?

Super Bowl Champion

Aaron: Philadelphia I picked Indy to win their conference since they have the best chance, by far, of being one of the final two in the AFC. I'll pick Philadelphia to win the Super Bowl since they have the best chance, by far, of being one of the final two in the NFL. If the Super Bowl really ends up Eagles-Colts, remember back to my preview from last year's Super Bowl, when I predicted that the Patriots would beat the Eagles because nearly all of Philadelphia's offensive weapons are designed to take advantage of teams with bad linebackers. Which position is Indy's obvious weakness? Yep.

Al: Indianapolis No one will be able to stop the Colts indoors this season.

Mike Smith: Carolina John Fox doesn't get enough credit for what a good coach he is. Even with the injuries that nearly devastated the team last year, the players who were on the field looked ready to go.

Mike Tanier: Philadelphia Indianapolis I am required to pick the Colts so I do not jinx my Birds. But if this game goes down, the Eagles will stop Peyton more often than the Colts stop Donovan.

Ned: Philadelphia I think they are the best team in football. I think Andy Reid is the second best coach in football. I think Donovan McNabb does not turn the ball over three times no matter who they face.

Russell: Carolina I would like to state for the record that it was only after I made this pick that I went back and checked Dr. Z and realized he picked the same matchup and winner. Carolina over Indianapolis in SB XL, as the Panthers' defense does enough to harrass Manning and mug his receivers to slow the Colts down.

Ryan: Indianapolis Surprisingly, this matchup will be a defensive struggle and the game will be decided when former Eagle Corey Simon sacks McNabb, recovers the fumble, and outraces Terrell Owens to the end zone as time expires.

Tim: New England The owners will begin exploring rules to forbid shared revenues from entering the state of Massachusetts after the Patriots win their 4th in 5 years -- by 3 points. It's too bad, too, because it would be really funny to watch Al Michaels interview Zygi Wilf at midfield.

Vivek: Minnesota I wonder if Randy Moss will call Culpepper to congratulate him after the Vikings win the Super Bowl. What a quarterback showcase – the best since the Jim Kelly-Troy Aikman matchups of Super Bowl XXVII an XXVIII.

CONSENSUS: Philadelphia (Since Mike Tanier picked the Colts but isn't actually picking the Colts.)

The First Pick in the 2006 NFL Draft Belongs to. 2006 Rose Bowl

Aaron: USC over Georgia

Al: Louisville over Boston College (yes, I know nothing about college football)

Mike Smith: USC over Iowa

Mike Tanier: USC over Texas

Ned: Texas over Louisville

Russell: USC over Texas (each with one loss; USC at Arizona State, Texas at Ohio State)

Ryan: USC over Virginia Tech

Tim: Texas over USC (more homerism)

Vinny: Ohio State over USC (just shoot me)

Vivek: USC over Iowa

Will: USC over Texas (yeah, way out on a limb there)

2005 Surprises

Aaron: I feel like a robot, reciting the same list of surprises in five-minute interviews on radio stations all over America. They're all in the book, aren't they? Atlanta collapses despite the best efforts of Ed Hartwell. Seattle finally wins a playoff game, but not two. Matt Hasselbeck and Kevin Jones are great, Bobby Engram is swell, Reggie Wayne has better numbers than Marvin Harrison, Brett Favre gets injured, Ben Roethlisberger regresses (and then improves in 2006). No backup running back who has been described in the preseason as a possible candidate to vulture touchdowns from the starting running back actually vultures any touchdowns from the starting running back. Mike Shanahan actually sticks with Mike Anderson all year. Josh McCown starts at least five games. Andre' Davis, not Kevin Curtis or Brandon Stokley, is the top third receiver in fantasy football. The Tennessee Titans learn to play defense around midseason, making them the hot second half team and a popular pick for 2006. Football Outsiders material appears in a very surprising place, not counting the New York Daily News. Boston sports radio station WEEI continues to not return my phone calls.

Al: Chicago and Arizona make the playoffs in the NFC. Brett Favre finishes in last place in his last season. Steve McNair has a resurgence with Norm Chow and a terrible defense that forces him to throw the ball every down. Miami plays playoff spoiler with a nice late season run. Coaches that won't be on the sidelines in 2006: Jim Haslett, Mike Tice, Mike Sherman, Steve Mariucci. Ricky Williams gets hurt in his first game back from his drug suspension and is never heard from again.

Mike Smith: Tim Rattay has a good enough year to turn himself into this year's Drew Brees and turn Alex Smith into this year's Philip Rivers. Daunte Culpepper misses the deep threat of Randy Moss and the protection of Matt Birk and struggles through a mediocre year. Ben Roethlisberger regresses while Eli Manning progresses, causing a debate about which team took the best quarterback in 2004. (Philip Rivers continues to sit on the bench.)

Mike Tanier: Bears are around .500. Ravens, Jets, and Raiders disappoint.

Ned: Well, I think the Bengals are my biggest surprise. I just think that offense by the end of last year (or at least before Palmer got hurt) had reached the upper echelon. They made great strides on defense under Lewis, and I think they will continue to improve. Other teams I like more than most include St. Louis (best offense since 2001), Tampa Bay, and Washington who I think finishes second in the division. I think Clinton Portis bounces back this year, the Colts' defense is a top 10 unit, and J.P. Losman plays pretty well. On the negative side, I think Pittsburgh struggles, Jacksonville finishes in last place, and Dallas finishes under .500. I would bet against Drew Bledsoe and Kurt Warner, but is that really a surprise?

Russell: Nick Saban will edge the Dolphins towards .500 and have them back in the playoffs next year. I like everything I've heard from him this summer. Miami will be a tough game for every opponent and will finish around 7-9 with several narrow defeats. Biggest disappointment: Pittsburgh. I don't like the vibe at all from Steel-town. Something tells me Roethlisberger is headed for not just a disappointing season, but an awful one. He was very shaky by the end of last year and looked lost at times this preseason.

Ryan: Charles Rogers will avoid injury and finally have a big year. The Miami Dolphins will end the season with negative total rushing yards. Kyle Orton will be the best rookie on the Bears, even though he'll spend a lot of time on his back. Braylon Edwards will have a better season than Mark Clayton, and Charlie Frye will have a better season than Kyle Boller. Matt Cassel will start a game during the regular season, and Sunday Night Football will adopt a new format: no announcers!

Tim: I like the Dolphins to be closer to 8-8 than 4-12. (I suppose that means 7-9.) Randy Moss or no, Oakland should still lose more than they win. The Saints' late-season surge brings them to 7-9, and they lose a tiebreaker with the Seahawks, ruining the feel-good story of the year.

Vivek: Dick Vermeil will shed a tear only once on camera this season . Jay Fiedler wins more games this year for the Jets than Chad Pennington . Dallas rejuvenates Peerless Price . Tom Coughlin will be the first head coach let go . Charlie Weis will almost double Romeo Crennel's win total . No Patriot wide receiver will play in the secondary.

Will: Saints become the big story, playing inspired football while being homeless. The Cowboys just miss the playoffs after injuries collapse them late. Brett Favre is injured early in the season. Dolphins are better than expected and Nick Saban wins coach of the year. Colts offense sputters. Michael Vick continues to regress. Eli Manning starts to look like Ryan Leaf minus the mood swings. Bears go 1-15.

Posted by: admin on 08 Sep 2005

88 comments, Last at 15 Sep 2005, 9:05pm by thad

The thing about preseason picks is no one remembers them 1 week after the season starts. It's like draft review columns. It would be interesting to see in week 8 or so how these predictions hold up.

What happened to Jason Beattie's drunken monkey picks?

Brady is ineffective for the first 6 weeks, and gets replaced with. Maurice Clarett, who leads the Patriots to the Super Bowl as the first ever QB who was actually a running back, not counting Mexico.

Two late thoughts, so I'll stick them here.

First, the fact that I'm picking Dallas to make the playoffs with Drew Bledsoe when Buffalo couldn't make the playoffs with Drew Bledsoe is about the clearest statement I can make about the difference between the AFC and the NFC.

Second, I do have to admit that part of the reason why I picked Indianapolis and not New England is a general fear that anytime I say anything nice about the Patriots, people will confuse this site with Cold Hard Football Facts. I don't want to seem biased in favor of my team. It's a tough bind.

Biggest 2005 surprises - Redskins in the playoffs (how much different are they really from Baltimore?) and NFC wins more games heads up vs. AFC. Either that or parity is dead.

Randy Moss is suspended for violating the drug policy for 4 games. The Raiders win all four games to finish the season 4-12.

Donovan McNabb throws for more yards and touchdowns than Peyton Manning.

The New Orleans Saints fail to become America's team, and degenerate into a confused, massed jumble of self-centered stars who cannot pull together to win. In other words, the hurricane will have changed nothing.

Eli Manning is turned upon by the New York Media when he goes down with an injury and backup Tim Hasselbeck leads the team to three consecutive wins, all on last second field goals against inferior competition. Eli Manning returns and the Giants lose by less than a touchdown the next two weeks against good teams. Football Outsiders goes ballistic at the poor football judgement by the New York Media.

Football Outsiders goes public with a record first day pop, making all the writers instant mega millionaires.

Football Outsiders writer Aaron Schatz is later arrested for insider trading. In a scandal called "Worse than Enron" it is revealed that all stock transactions were sham ones designed to inflate the stock price. "After learning how to predict the play calling of Mike Tice, I realized that forcasting the buying and selling decisions of millions of idiots was child's play" Mr. Shatz will be heard to say as he was carried away by the FBI.

Why so much hate for the 'Skins? Everyone jumped on their bandwagon last year, which got derailed by Mark Brunell.

Why their offense will be better?

1) Offensive line is improved, reliable Randy Thomas, the better-than last year Dockery, and healthy Samuels and Jansen along with the new Rabach. they should have one of the top 5 offensive lines. They ran all over the Ravens, Steelers and Panthes in the preseason.

2) Better receivers. David Patten should be a fantasy sleeper and Santana Moss is a better deep threat than Gardner or Coles were (although you all watch the AFC East, so I don't know how good Moss is). They are smaller, but should be able to get more separation.

3) Ramsey, this is his make or break year. and Brunell can't possibly be any worse (Campbell won't even sniff the field this year. )

4) Joe Gibbs is going to utilize Clinton Portis better. he's not the tard people make him out to be.

Why their defense won't fall

1) Gregg Williams has a fantastic scheme

2) Return of Lavar Arrington will offset loss of Antonio "Pratice Squad" Pierce (my nickname. he played during the Schottenheimer years and the announcers always talked about how he was called up from the practice squad)

3) Sean Taylor starting from week one

4) Carlos Rogers has looked good during preseason, he'll get picked on early but Williams will give him a lot of health

5) Return of Matt Bowen (until he gets hurt before week 6) will provide even more flexibility for the blitz.

I don't see much difference between them and the Ravens besides past performance. Ramsey and Boller are both inconsistent, but both teams should have strong running games and

Why you guys might be correct:

1) Patrick Ramsey decision making and confidence is questionable.

2) Weak at cornerback position (can it be offset by strong safety play?)

4) Division strength is a wildcard. we know about the Eagles, but are the Cowboys and Giants as improved on the field as they are on paper?

5) NFL ref's hold a grudge against Snyder (only owner who voted against their pay raise), Redskins are always getting screwed by questionable PI calls or phantom penalties (tin foil hat alert!)

I want to know where is the love for my Jets. Do you all think Chad's shoulder is THAT bad? We have a much more able backup on the sidelines in Fiedler if we need to go to him.

Plus, the Ty Law signing dramatically upgrades the teams biggest weakness. secondary. I would be shocked if the Jets did not earn AT LEAST a wildcard.

Off subject, but I am also surprised no one picked the Saints for a wild card. I think in a mediocre NFC, they will finally have the motivation to get over the hump. and finish 9-7.

(/me puts on his nerd glasses)

A couple of nitpicks here:

1. Jonathan Quinn was cut by the Chiefs

2. The gravity on the moon is 1/6 that of earth, not zero

1) Patrick Ramsey decision making and confidence is questionable…

You, sir, have hit the gold mine.

Take that, and a first round draft pick on a QB sitting on the sidelines, and a $5M price tag QB also sitting on the sidelines, and you've got yourself the recipe for a QB carousel the entire year.

2. The gravity on the moon is 1/6 that of earth, not zero

Oddly enough, I actually think Peyton Manning could easily put a football into orbit on the Moon.

i am having a really hard time waiting for tonight.

I just want to say that the weeks immediately before

A) the NCAA tournament

B) the NFL season

C) the NFL playoffs

are my favorite sport weeks of the year that do not involve any games being played (well, they have games being played in some cases, but the point is I don't like them for the games, but for all the predicting and anticipating that goes on.

My god, the Chiefs cut Quinn? Did Collins and Huard get healthy? Who the hell is the backup now if those guys aren't healthy? Eaagh.

Two reasons why Redskins are not Ravens: Fred Smoot and Antonio Pierce.

The Cheifs cut Jonathan Quinn, medicine woman? Tragic.

I love the reasons people pick against Philly in the NFC championship game. It basically boils down to "they have to lose some time, don't they?"

Well, they did. 2003. Unfortunately for the rest of the NFC, they flopped as well, and the Eagles figured out "hey, we have an offense!" by the end of the season.

Really, 2004 was just the Eagles putting a few more pieces together on their offense, and figuring out how to fix the defense again.

Q: All three of your QBs are on the injury list. Has that ever happened to you before?

VERMEIL: “It is the first time, but I’m glad they’re back. Todd Collins today threw some of the scout team pass offense. He wouldn’t be ready to play in the game Sunday but maybe a week from now he might be ready to be a legitimate number two quarterback. He’ll be our number three this week.�

This just has "train wreck" written all over it.

But Brady could make it land while preparing the shuttle for launch.

I don't like to make predictions but I have to say I think the Bears will get 10+ sacks from a d-lineman for the first time in a long time. Also, Grossman will mysteriously trip over his dog while moving furniture, breaking both wrists, and while picking up the phone to call the hopsital he breaks his hand. It's not that I really think he's injury prone I just think the Bears have a QB curse and Grossman's the most unlucky recipient of the effects.

To Russ and Will - in your opinion, how did the Bears get bad enough over the offseason to deserve the first pick in the draft? I'm trying to think of an area we downgraded, and I can't. What Muhammed, vs. David Terrell? I personally am pretty sure that it will be one of 49ers, Browns, or Dolphins (probably Dolphins - their O-line + QB'ing is deadly).

Somebody cheapshots Tom Brady in the leg and knocks him out for the year.

If you don't think someone won't try this people have already tried to take Brady out, 2001 AFC championship game steelers is one instance.

To Mr. Furtek on his 'Skins: You went 6-10 last year, and I don't think people see enough improvement from that team to become a serious playoff competitor. The O-line will get healthy, and the center position has been upgraded (or at least, that's what I've heard). However, 1) Pierce was great last year, and Arrington is still a ? right now due to his injury history. 2) I'm not sure Moss and Patten is really an upgrade to Coles and Gardner, and the ALL-SMURF, ALL THE TIME receiving corp has to have some issues. 3) Relying on Ramsay is a leap of faith.

As far as the Jets go, it all comes down to Chad's shoulder.

About the redskins getting screwed by phantom penalties, couldn't agree more. This happens a lot when they play nfc east opponents especially.

Also wanted to say, IMO, Mcnair's the 3rd best quarterback in the afc, if the colts can make the playoffs with crappy d and good quarterbacking, why can't the titans get a wild card with the same formula?

@ Pat: I love the reasons people pick against Philly in the NFC championship game. It basically boils down to “they have to lose some time, don’t they?�

Yessir, this is otherwise known as the "gambler's fallacy", which built a city in the desert called Las Vegas. The most frequent abuser of this fallacy is Clark Judge over at, who calls it "learning the lessons of history." Umm, Clark, historians generally like to have something called cause and effect in their "lessons".

Also big in football predictions in the "reverse gambler's fallacy", which you usually spot in this guise: "I like team XXX. They're on a roll."

Don't you love how about 75% of comments in articles like these boil down to:

"How could you think so little of my team??"

Ahh, the NFL. Where every fan is an optimist. ;^)

By the way, for anyone who saw Pat say, "Oddly enough, I actually think Peyton Manning could easily put a football into orbit on the Moon." and believed him, escape velocity for the moon is 2.4 km/s. Not even the great Peytom Branning could put a football into orbit up there. ;^)

Wild Cards:Steelers, Jets

why can’t the titans get a wild card with the same formula?

It's not that the Colts have no defense. They do have a defense. Their defense is just more predicated on turning the ball over than actually stopping people from scoring.

The model you're looking for is the Rams.

For anybody like me who needs thier mesurements translated into english:

2.4 km/s = 5,300 miles/hr (Thanks, Google!)

Johnny: I seem to remember that FO re-posted the 2004 predictions thread after the season was over. I'm sure they'll do it again, so let me go on record with:

One of my football tenets is to never trust the team that brings in a bunch of free agents. Especially if their high-priced free agents. I think that Minnesota and Baltimore will only be mediocre.

I do not think the Chiefs are headed for a rebound. If Priest stays healthy they're probably an 8-8 team, if he gets injured again I would put them at 6 or 7 wins.

The Chargers will win the West, Oakland will be in last.

Dallas will not make the playoffs.

I don't see how Miami will be any good this year. Cleveland will have the first pick of the 2006 draft.

The Bears could be surprisingly decent. I'm shocked that SI had them ranked at the very bottom.

and believed him, escape velocity for the moon is 2.4 km/s. Not even the great Peytom Branning could put a football into orbit up there. ;^)

That's escape velocity. It's less to put it into orbit. Not enough that a human could do it, no - it was a joke - but it is less. :)

Consistently over-rated (almost always choke in December), abnormally lucky last year. People seem to focus on almost making a kick against the Steelers rather than SD almost knocking them out with a kick in the first round. Their margins of victory were so narrow last year (including a 2 point win over the Bills, who will supplant them for second in the division this year) that they would need a second straight year of incredible luck to make it. If the Jets honestly think Chad Pennington + a LONG BALL offense = Super Bowl, more power to them. Their o-line is weak, their RB is old, and their secondary outside of Law is awful. They could lose both games to the Pats and the Bills and stand a chance of splitting with the Dolphins.

Why does everybody have a hard-on for this team? The offense is nearly identical to the Bills (with a young quarterback with one more year of experience). However, their defense is weak, and counting on two rookies to lead your defense to the top is a bad idea. Bills/Bengals late in the season could be a huge game, but I think the Bengals will be out of it by then.

You know who could put a ball into orbit on the Moon? Ralph Kramden from the Honeymooners. As long as the ball was named Alice.

I’m not sure why so many people are down on the Broncos – the defensive line is a little worse, the punting a little better, so they’ll go 10-6 and lose in the first round of the playoffs yet again.

Strongly disagreed with this statement. Denver's D-line lost Reggie Hayward, but returned every other member of its D-line rotation. And, almost to a man, those guys who were starting last year have been bumped down to the third string. Trevor Pryce is back after missing 14 games last year, and I'd say Pryce is better than Hayward, easily. After that, Gerard Warren is better than Monsanto Pope. Michael Myers is better than Mario Fatafehi. Courtney Brown is better than Marco Coleman. Ebenezer Ekuban is better than Darrius Holland. John Engleberger is better than Dorsett Davis. How do I know? Check out the depth chart. All 6 of those new acquisitions (counting Trevor Pryce) are playing ahead of every single Denver starter from last season (with the exception of Reggie Hayward, who is gone).

If you think Shanahan's doing it to save face, I think you're mistaken. If Shanahan was concerned more with saving face than with putting his best players on the field, then Bell would be starting RB, Clarett would be on the practice squad, and he never would have let Hayward go (and signed the entire Browns D-line for as much this season as Hayward is scheduled to make).

The way I see it, Shanahan has upgraded his defensive line at all 4 starting positions, as well as the two primary backup positions. And it's showed splendidly in the preseason. Against Indy's first string offensive line, which the last two years has rendered Manning untouchable, Denver was getting pressure on every play (and if you think Dungy was protecting his golden boy with lackluster protection schemes, you're daffy). Heck, Denver's second string defensive line actually outplayed Arizona's first string offensive line, too.

Oh, and their red zone offense is going to be rather drastically improved with the return of Anderson and a TE who can both block and catch in Alexander.

Remember, DVOA is projecting them to be the 4th best team in the league this season (although I'm still sad that it's projecting Denver to a better DVOA and easier schedule but worse record than KC). If you want to take shots at them, go after their lack of depth in the secondary, because that's the only weakness I'm seeing from where I sit.

Double posted to say you're also welcome to make as many Bradlee Van Pelt jokes as you want. The prospect of him starting at QB for Denver terrifies me.

Yah, I think Kibbles is right and that Denver could have a very strong year. While people make jokes about the Browns-displaced DL, a lot of their problems were durability - and if you've got starting quality players behind them, who cares about their durability?

Worst comes to worst, Courtney Brown gets injured (in Week 2), and they're no worse off than the year before.

One of my football tenets is to never trust the team that brings in a bunch of free agents. Especially if their high-priced free agents. I think that Minnesota and Baltimore will only be mediocre.

I'm not sure if those two sentences are supposed to be connected, but--Baltimore got exactly 2 free agents who are expected to play--one on offense and one on defense; that's not "a bunch"

secondly, I disagree with the premise in the first place--the problem is not signing a bunch of free agents, it's signing a bunch of BAD free agents;

If they were good, the original team wouldn't've let them go. :)

We love our Redskins in Washington. this team has changed a lot in the offseason.

Moss and Patten are both ranked higher in DPAR than Gardner and Coles. I would argue that is an upgrade.

I'm not arguing against the detractors. just look at the NFC QBs. Once you get past McNabb, Culpepper, Delhomme, Hasselback, Bulger, and Farve. who would you trust to be your QB? Every QB beyond those has question marks. has the QB position always been in this state? It would be interesting to see QB DPAR from 1995 to 1999.

Looking at the 2000 DPAR stats I would say. yes the QB position has always been in dire straights. Now I see why Joe Gibbs always tries to have a more than Sorgi-able backup

(I don't know about the situation behind Theismann, but I do remember the Williams/Schroeder, Rypien/Humphries two headed monsters. looks similar to the Ramsey/Brunell two headed monster. )

I think I need to have a more diverse football background. maybe I'll start following the Jets so I can join in these AFC East discussions that always break out.

Picking the Chargers came down to picking Marty Schottenheimer over Brian Billick to win a game when it matters most.

Why in the world would you do such a thing? Aren't games in the playoffs games that matter most? Haven't Marty's teams made early playoff exits for, oh, almost 20 years now?

Marty has never beaten a better team in the playoffs. I don't know if his exits can all be classified as "early" though.

just look at the NFC QBs. Once you get past McNabb, Culpepper, Delhomme, Hasselback, Bulger, and Farve

In other words, once you get past almost every team that made the playoffs last year?

Hmm, I wonder why we're down on the Redskins. :)

Moss and Patten having higher DPARs in 04 has more to do with the teams they used to play with than it does thier individual talents. Hey, I like Patten, but he's best suited as a 3rd or 4th option.

We love our Redskins in Washington… this team has changed a lot in the offseason.

what is it about Skins fans?

if you saw the Skins/Ravens preseason game last week, which was replayed on NFL network, the three Skins announcers predicted 10,10, and 11 for the # of wins for this team this year

one of the announcers was Theismann, (but the other two weren't)

As long as people are making predictions, I'm gonna go on record with mine, so I can look foolish at the end of the year.

playoff seeds listed in () so you can see who will win tiebreakers. yeah, i know, what's the point of trying to be so precise when these won't be accurate in the end anyway.

New England 12-4 (D2)

Baltimore 11-5 (D3)

Cincinnati 10-6 (WC1)

Indianapolis 13-3 (D1)

San Diego 11-5 (D4)

Kansas City 10-6 (WC2)

Philadelphia 13-3 (D1)

Washington 10-6 (WC2)

Minnesota 9-7 (D4)

Tampa Bay 11-5 (D2)

Carolina 11-5 (WC1)

New Orleans 5-11

St. Louis 10-6 (D3)

San Francisco 3-13

Colts over Panthers in the Super Bowl.

(I know there is no way the Panthers win 3 straight road playoff games, but what the hell. if I'm right I look like a genius.)

Minimum orbital velocity is approximately 0.7 escape velocity.

Now that's the type of homer insight that I love to read and provide in FO.

but does he have to throw it at escape velocity to put it into orbit, as these are still trapped in the gravitational field, but simply keep "missing" the planet? and whats the equivalent of throwing a 30 mph football to a major league fastball, in 1/6 g? (Thanks, MNF!)

Re #31: but would this be possible? If he could hit Alice hard enough to knock her to the moon, would it be possible to hit her hard enough to exceed escape velocity on Earth, put her on the right trajectory to the moon, yet at a speed that would enable her to establish an orbit around the moon?

I think it's more likely that she'd be traveling too fast, and that she would hit the moon, rather than orbit it. Or am I not thinking about this correctly?

most of the time you are spot on, but corey simon?

let's look at his stats for the past three years.

year sacks rank stuffs rank pd's rank

04 4.5 59t 9 59t 1 105t

03 7.5 21t 10 4 2 63t

02 2 113t 7 89 3 41

Simon may be ok, but one has to think the Eagles let him go for a reason. I cnnot believe that this is the guy who is really gonna help the colts stop the run. Lets compare him to a dominant DT,

c griffin redskins

year sacks rank stuffs rank pd's rank

04 5.5 43t 22 2 6 10t

btw, all rankings are for dl's only.

Maybe simon will help the colts, but their run defense is horrible. They gave up 4.6 yards per carry last year.

it is incredibly hard to win a playoff game giving up 4.6 yards per rush, nevermind the superbowl. Also, lets see if Manning can maybe score more than 14 in the 2nd round.

Sorry, the numbers all got jammed together. I suck at posting. I was just trying to show that except for maybe 2003 corey simon has been mr mediocre and will probably not help the colts and their sorry run d

Can I just confess to being so desperate at this point that all I do is look for signs from people who pay a lot more attention to the game than me that my team will do well?

I mean, I don't care about AFC teams my Seahawks aren't playing this year, for example.

I don't mean to suggest anyone else stop talking about them, or that my reasonings should have any affect on anyone else, but is it okay to just confess this now and not be looked at as a luddite and a pariah for hoping that maybe, through some glimmer of fortune, fate might smile on my team this year?

Think of this as me publicizing my "Seahawks Fan Anonymous" introduction speech on Football Outsiders.

Seahawks will win, the first in a series of wins that will inspire a mild flood of positive media attention that will be completely obliterated as soon as they go on a 6-game losing streak halfway into the season, including embarassing losses to the 49ers and Rams. The final result will be a 9-7 record and a first-round playoff matchup against (anyone) that will result in another disappointing loss.

Also, the decent-when-healthy defense will suffer a rash of injuries to key players early in the season that will leave everyone thinking "Gosh, these guys can't put together a good defense!" despite the fact that they have recruited Some Guy Named Wilbur to play MLB after their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-stringers suffer a series of career-threatening injuries, one of which occurs off the field in a frisbee accident.

Also, Koren Robinson will go on a tear, leading the league in yardage and TD catches, making Minnesota fans everywhere ask "Randy Who?" until he shows up to his mother's funeral completely plastered and is arrested for peeing on a member of the press.

He will then be traded to Philadelphia, where he will help them win the Super Bowl over the Indianapolis Colts, who finally realize their wish to beat the Patriots, a team which failed to recover from the shocking news that Bill Belichick had had 15 illegitimate children with 18 different women (a feat that will be marvelled at by statisticians everywhere) since July of 2002, a fact which ultimately led to his divorce.

D4: Oh, I guess SD.

(great big line of demarcation)

W2: Whichever pitiful NFC team is just a little bit better than its pitiful company. For the record, I will say Dallas.

Super Bowl: Philly over Indy

Whoops, forgot my NFC picks.

Wild Cards: Cowboys and Bucs? Maybe Falcons or Rams. I have no idea.

I predict all teams will finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs this year.

Thad - Completely agree. Everyone conveniently forgets that the Eagles 2003 run defense was poor and through the first 8 games of 2004 was again poor. What changed? Did Simon come back from injury? No. Trotter was inserted at MLB in place of the under-sized Simoneau. I don't understand why the mjority of prognosticators believe Simon will magically transform there run defense. He's not a run stuffer, he's a pass rusher. Hollis Thomas when healthy has been the Eagles best run stuffing DT over the past several years.

Will Simon make the defensive line better? Probably, if he plays up to potential. He hasn't always.

Is he a run stuffing savior? Not if you've watched him play over the past few seasons.

North - Browns (What happened last time Trent Dilfer was a #1 QB?)

I think predicting wildcards is dumb. Maybe like picking the Browns.)

Simon will improve the Colts run defense because "average" is an improvement on "suck."

Aw man, I am going to sound like *such* the homer on this one-- but I think nearly everyone has my Giants severely misjudged.

We were down near 25% on 3rd and 1 in the past thanks to Dayne and some bad run blocking. That won't happen this year-- and when drives continue it makes a huge difference. Our offense will be markedly improved on this alone with Jacobs and our revamped line.

As for our D, having scored a first round talent at corner in the second round is nice, but it is really nice when he is showing signs of being a ballhawk when our D has had trouble causing turnovers.

Then think regression to the mean. Can our QBing be as bad as last year? Yes, but odds are it will be better. Can our wideouts be as bad as they were last year? Yes, but with a healthy Toomer and with Plaxico, it is unlikely. If the QB play is better, do you think it is more likely that Shockey regresses, stays the same, or improves? I'm betting the latter.

We were 6-10 last year with crap QB play, a tough schedule, no help from our wideouts, a D that did not force turnovers, no short yardage running game, and some bad luck (the Cowboy game early on comes to mind).

This year, our QB should be somewhat (or perhaps markedly) improved, our schedule is easier, our wideouts are improved, we should generate a few more turnovers, will be markedly better at picking up short yardage first downs, and luck should even out.

About the only place I see a step back is with Tiki. Admittedly, there is a lot of room for stepping back there.

We will be in contention, and I expect us to make the playoffs.

Congratulations, you've just correctly predicted more final records and (non) playoff teams than any other person in football. Don't you feel special?

Similar to how you can't really call a team a "sleeper" when many "experts" are picking them (hello, Panthers and Bengals), it's kind of hard to predict a "disappointing season" for a team when virtually everyone who calls himself an expert is predicting the same thing; in this case, this would be the Steelers. I haven't seen a single prediction, from a person I respect or a person I don't, for the Steelers to do any better than 11-5, and many folks have them outside of the playoffs.

I don't see it; it's hard for a team coming off a 15-1 season to be underrated, but could Pittsburgh be? I look at their team and their schedule and can't help but think 12-4 and a first-round bye is in their reach, even assuming Roethlisberger regresses some. I grant you they have zero chance to do anything in the playoffs, as long as Bill Cowher continues coaching them, but they'd have to work awfully hard at it to fail to win 10 games.

re: 30. Yeah, the Jets have a weak offensive line. Dr. Evil voice: Riiiiiiiiiggggghhhhhttttt.

They paved the way for 2004's leading rusher. Only Kareem McKenzie has gone (for Adrian Jones who is probably better). McKenzie was good his first couple seasons, but did regress in 2004.

2005 Surprise: On their final drive of Super Bowl XL, down by 6, T.O. breaks away for the game winning TD, only to be met at the 5 yard line by Drew Rosenhaus to stage a holdout for a new contract.

Anyone that says the Jets have a weak offensive line should be reading another site. This one is for people that watch football. That line is so quick and athletic they can make an old, slow running back the league rushing leader, they keep a slow qb from getting sacked, and they are rarely penalized. There may be better offensive lines in the NFL, but probably not many.

Pittsburgh will win the Super Bowl. Roethlisberger will have a photo-negative of last season: he and the passing game will start very slow but he will figure things out and finish on a hot streak. He can deal with pressure; he's courageous. Look at that 4th quarter QB rating from last year.

But Pittsburgh will win because Willie Parker is going to give them some big plays from the RB spot, and Duce Staley, by missing games early in the year, will actually be healthy when it counts, and the defense will be better than last year.

But, I am a homer! Gotta love it when you're team is 0-0.

but would this be possible? If he could hit Alice hard enough to knock her to the moon, would it be possible to hit her hard enough to exceed escape velocity on Earth, put her on the right trajectory to the moon, yet at a speed that would enable her to establish an orbit around the moon?

I think it’s more likely that she’d be traveling too fast, and that she would hit the moon, rather than orbit it. Or am I not thinking about this correctly?

If it's not possible to shoot something from the earth that goes into orbit around the moon, how did they do the Apollo missions? :)

I guess you would need some rockets on Alice to slow her down as she got near the moon. Since she left earth travelling at earth's escape velocity, and there's no friction in space, she will be going faster than the moon's escape velocity and thus* be unable to establish an orbit around the moon.

* = usage of "thus" should not be construed to mean that I really know what I'm talking about.

Ray: Thank you, I do feel special. :)

This isn't really a predicton, but I had this really wierd dream last night - I'd been lost on a desert island or something all season.

I got back just in time to get to a superbowl party, and found that San Diego were beating Chicago in the 4th quarter. Then Chicago started staging a comeback. Sadly I woke up before finding out who won - I doubt it matters very much though!!

QB performance does not regress to the mean. See Exhibit A: The Chicago Bears. McCown, Miller, Matthews, Burris, Stewart, Grossman, Hutchinson, Quinn, Krenzel.

Exhibit B: Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco last year.

Exhibit C: Indianapolis and New England

QB performance is fairly consistent with a few old QBs losing it (Brunell) and some young QBs gaining it (Brees) but at first brush I'd have to say QB play is one of the more consistent factors in football.

"but at first brush I’d have to say QB play is one of the more consistent factors in football."

Seeing as it is pretty well established that quarterbacks struggle as rookies (Roethlisberger and Marino being two notable exceptions), I don't think it is safe to say that QB play for players going from their rookie year to their second year is one of the more consistent factors in football.

I'm not sure I understand the rampant pessimism concerning the Jets. #30, in particular, seems to be significantly overstating the negatives and ignoring some real positives:

- The Jets were not notably "lucky" last year. They lost regular season games at New England, Pittsburgh and St. Louis that they could easily have won; lost at Buffalo, after starting well, when the offense stalled after Pennington was hurt; and lost at home to Baltimore in a game they generally dominated due to coaching miscues. The only game where the Jets were not competitive was the home game against New England, where they were strangely flat and were manhandled after the first quarter. The Jets would have won both playoff games in regulation, too, had it not been for inexcusable mental, physical and coaching errors.

- The offense is generally solid, and has the potential to be excellent. Coles is an improvement at WR over Moss; McCareins would appear to have upside; the TE situation has improved; and the offensive line is, I would submit, among the league's most consistent. Yes, Pennington's shoulder is a question mark (but they've added a quality backup in Fiedler); yes, Curtis Martin is another year older (ditto re Blaylock); yes, Adrian Jones has not played before (though McKenzie had an awful season last year and is not, particularly at that price point, a great loss, and they just added some decent veteran insurance in Scott Gragg).

- The defense is weaker in one area; defensive tackle, where Jason Ferguson has left a significant void. (Whether the Tuna was wise to give a 31-year old with injury and drug histories a $21M deal is another question.) Yet Robertson will presumably improve, Ellis and Abraham are healthy, the LB's continue to mature, and Ty Law adds a potential shutdown CB to the secondary. If some combination of Reed, Legree and Pouha can hold the fort at DT, I think the D has a chance to be even better than it was last year.

- The schedule looks difficult on paper, but I think we've all learned that schedule strength is a judgment best made in hindsight. There are no gimmes in the NFL, anyway.

- I would submit that the biggest gap between the Jets and Patriots is the lopsided matchup between Belichick and Herman Edwards. Everybody loves Herm; he's a tremendous motivator, and a decent personnel guy. But his game management skills are among the worst I've ever seen, and the situation doesn't seem to have gotten better with time. At some point this season, I'm afraid the Jets will lose a game they should've won due to a clock or game management screwup from the coaching staff. And there's simply not enough room for errors of that nature with the Pats in the division.

Bottom line; I think the Jets will win 10 or 11 games, and be either a wild-card or edge the Patriots for the division title. They may even win a playoff game or two - but their achilles heel, game management by the head coach, will ultimately sink them in a playoff game. Again.

Nice summary, Dan. I would say the loss of Ferguson, while not negligible, is not as significant as has been suggested. Until this offseason, I've never heard anyone refer to him as a great player or difference maker. It happens that he was picked up (at a very high price) by a coach that is an opinion maker. Had Ferguson signed with Arizona, do you think Peter King would know who he was? He's a solid player and great guy in the locker room, but he was also the starting nose on a team that was among the worst against the run for two straight years before Robertson developed and Vilma/Barton replaced the aging Jones/Lewis. Doesn't make sense if he's such a force against the run.

Anyway, the Jets biggest flaws, and I hope they aren't fatal, are the secondary and their depth. If Law can be 85-90% of his former self, the secondary might not be terrible. It will never be good. They might get away with not terrible because front 7 is so strong. But if Robertson or Vilma gets hurt they will leave unfillable holes. The offense may start a little slow as Pennington plays himself into regular season form, but it will eventually be as good, if not better, than last year. But they need some good luck on defense to be a contender.

"I guess you would need some rockets on Alice to slow her down as she got near the moon. Since she left earth travelling at earth’s escape velocity, and there’s no friction in space, she will be going faster than the moon’s escape velocity and thus* be unable to establish an orbit around the moon."

Two points here. One, Ralph always said "To the moon, Alice!", meaning the stated goal was to get her TO the moon, not in orbit necessarily. One shouldn't assume that he intended a safe landing or a perpetual orbit. After a couple of hundred thousand miles in the vacuum of space, it's likely that her frozen, lifeless corpse would crash-land (ironically) in or near the Sea of Tranquility.

Two, even if there's no friction in space, there would still be minor gravititational forces acting upon Alice when she leaves the nominal pull of the Earth's gravity. It's also possible that her omnipresent dress and apron combination would act as a sort of drag parachute and slow her progress.

I was pretty close to responding to that until I realized how stupid a discussion it is.

As for football, I am worried that JP Losman will make me miss Drew Bledsoe. And that an injury to McGahee will make me miss Travis Henry.

#43 I can't believe that you pick the Dolphins to go 3-13, and you don't even give them first pick in the draft.

Her velocity would be slowed as she left Earth (because the Earth is fighting against her leaving), so if she was just hit hard enough to escape Earth, she could easily be going the correct speed to fall into orbit around the moon.

I hope everyone goes 9-7, I would make a killing on my over/unders.

I just looked at my prediction again, and there are way too many teams that win 4 or less game there. I tried the Dr. Z style prediction (looking at every game), and I obviously should have thrown a few more sleeper-ish upsets in there I guess.

New York Jets. 10-6

New England. 10-6

New York Giants. 4-12

New Orleans. 2-14

San Francisco. 5-11

1. Cincinnati Bengals

2. San Diego Chargers

3. New York Jets

4. Tennessee Titans

5. New England Patriots

6. Indianapolis Colts

Championship: San Diego over Cincinnati

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. St. Louis Rams

4. Green Bay Packers

5. Carolina Panthers

6. Seattle Seahawks

Championship: Philadelphia over St. Louis

Super Bowl: Philadelphia over San Diego. Marty Schottenheimer cries.

Re #52: Baltimore, Pitt, AND Cincy in the playoffs this season? You do realize that they all have to play each other 4 times each, right? You do realize that the AFC is loaded with talent, right?

I can't see 3 teams from one division all making the playoffs, unless they play in the NFC and it sucks as much as last season and sends two 8-8 teams.

WC - Steelers, Chargers

WC - Cowboys, Bucs

AFC CC - Colts/Chiefs

NFL CC - Cowboys/Vikes

SB - Chiefs beat Vikes

Am I crazy to think the Bears can win the NFC North? Sure thier offense will stink, but nobody else in that division can play defense and the Bears D will be a force.

Looks like SOS(D) - Same Old Seahawks Defense. 200 yards in the first quarter. On the bright side, the Jags have only converted 1 of 3 opportunities in the red/pink zone. They forced field goals on the 5 and on the 23 (mostly-red zone), though they gave up a 30 yard TD pass in the 2nd. What surprises me the most, though, is that this was supposed to be a ground-pounder with the bad weather, but the Jags haven't put together much more than 50 yards running.

Mis-posted that one, meant it for the open discussion. My mistake!

AFC East- Patriots

AFC North- Bengals

AFC South- Colts

AFC West- Chiefs

AFC Wildcards- Bills, Jets

NFC East- Eagles

NFC North- Lions

NFC South- Panthers

NFC West- Seahawks

NFC wildcards- Vikings, Cowboys

you know Aaron may or not be right about Corey Simon but i totally forgot about our friend Mr. regression to the mean. Last lear the colts run defense was sad, this year it will almost certainly be better. That was stupid on my part, the colts could certainly improve enough to in the super bowl

We're just about out of week 1, and I'm starting to doubt some of it. :)

How original, Colts to win the AFC and go to the Superbowl (yawn). Different year, same story and no doubt it will have the same ending too.

The Colts offense in last 5 playoff losses under Magical Peyton Manning have put up 50 pts (10.0 PPG) and only 17 pts in it's last 3 post season defeats at 5.66 PPG.

The problem has not been Indy's defense, which in its last 3 losses to NE has played 10.2% worse than its regular season average, has performed better than the offense which has performed 54.8% worse. Clearly it's Indy's much vaunted offense that has failed to turn up in the boom or bust games.

Indy apologists claim that they will beat New England if they get homefield advantage, blatantly ignoring the fact that NE has already beaten Indy in their dome within the last 2 years and won its 1st superbowl against, supposedly, the "greatest show on turf", the St Louis Rams, in..(wait for it). a turf covered dome.

In fact I would wager that if they faced the Patriots, Chiefs or Steelers in the Playoffs the result would be the same, ignominious Indianapolis defeat.

Steelers or Patriots, I'll give you, but the Colts would trounce the Chiefs in the playoffs. of course, if the teams met next week, it'd be a different story, but the Chiefs are too old to make a run at the Superbowl this year.

Broncos? Chargers? It wil be hard for those teams to beat the Bills if they can't move the football. position wise, one can make arguments that Buffalo has the best defensive players in footbal at at least three positions. NO ONE (including Bailey, McCallister, Law, etc.) gets beat less often than Nate Clements. Spikes and Fletcher are easily the best combination at linebacker in football, and one would be hard pressed to find more then one or two guys better than Sam Adams at stuffing the middle. Sunday this defense had 5 takeaways, allowed 120 yards, Andre Johnson longest of his three catches went for 11 yards, and Domanick Davis, who was a popular fantasy pick this year, had a long of seven yards. not twenty seven, not seventeen, seven. And guess what, Denver's secondary sucks (ask Peyton Manning and Chad Johnson), and Tomlinson is not god, and he wasn't god last year either, and against the Cowboys. he sucked (19 car. 72 yds). and you know what? Dallas' defense is awful, so thats not a good sign of things to come. That leaves us with Buffalo, who come week 11 and week 15, will show you who the playoff team is by ruining San Diego and Denver (if anyone wants to watch the Denver mele, it will be nationally televised, but censored, because its gonna get violent.

you make some good points, but the cowboys defense is awful? Last year, yes, they sucked. But this year they brought in some new players and it might be a lot better. By a lot better i mean it might improve to average. Are they as good as the Bills on d? In a word, no. But defences tend to be pretty volitile from year to year. the Chargers 24 points actually is pretty damn good. btw, totally agree about spikes, he has seemed incredibly underrated for years now

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