NFL Predictions

Posted: September 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

After a bit of a hiatus, Skood Sports is back for the fall season. With the baseball season having evolved into a disappointment, we’re hyped up for the beginning of football season. As you know, the NFL officially kicks of its 2012 campaign tomorrow evening. Below are the Skood Sports prognostications for the upcoming NFL season with a fearless prediction for each team:

AFC East

1. New England Patriots
2. Buffalo Bills
3. New York Jets
4. Miami Dolphins

– The Patriots come into the season with a young defense that could struggle early on. But, their offense is still the best in the business. Fearless Prediction: Aaron Hernandez will outperform Rob Gronkowski in 2012.

– Buffalo won’t sneak up on anyone this year. But, they’ll still perform on the field better than they have in the past decade. A first playoff appearance since 1999 seems feasible if CJ Spiller breaks out and Ryan Fitzpatrick limits the turnovers. Fearless Prediction: Stevie Johnson will break 1,200 yards receiving.

– The Jets are a mess. They weren’t even able to get into the end zone until their final pre-season game, when all the backups were playing. Tebow or Sanchez? It doesn’t matter. This team is going 8-8 at best and more likely 6-10. Fearless Prediction: Rex Ryan will be fired either during or after the season.

– Miami has a new coach, a new quarterback, and new beginnings on the horizon. Their defense took a hit when they decided to trade CB Vontae Davis to Indianapolis and their offense will need time to gel. This is a 3-year rebuild. Fearless Prediction: Reggie Bush does not mimic his career year numbers from 2011. 

AFC North

1. Baltimore Ravens
2. Cincinnati Bengals*
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Cleveland Browns

– Baltimore is without two defensive stalwarts to start the year in Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. However, their offense still boasts the best running back in the division and a young, deep WR corps. Fearless Prediction: OLB Paul Kruger (5.5 sacks in 2011) will reach double digits in sacks this season.

– Bengals’ Head Coach Marvin Lewis has been in Cincinnati forever. In fact, he’s the third longest tenured coach in the NFL behind Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. His unit has a ferocious young defense and an offense that is centered around an improving passing game with dynamic sophomores, QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green. Fearless Prediction: Benjarvus Green-Ellis will eclipse 1,000 yards for the Bengals. If Cendric Benson can do it, the Law Firm most certainly can.

– There are just too many questions for me to feel confident that the Steelers will make the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven years. QB Ben Roethlis-rapist continues to have injury problems which go under the radar only because the Steelers have had even bigger injuries to their backfield, offensive line, and defense. Fearless Prediction: Antonio Brown will lead the team in receptions, not Mike Wallace.

– The Browns will continue to perish at the bottom of this stacked division in 2012. An offense that consists of a 28-year-old rookie Quarterback, a rookie Running Back who has already undergone knee surgery, and inconsistent young Wide Receivers will help contribute to another dismal season. Fearless Prediction: Trent Richardson will not play more than 10 games.

AFC South

1. Houston Texans
2. Tennessee Titans
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Indianapolis Colts

– Houston is easily the class of this division after they won their first playoff game since joining the league in 2002 last season with backup QB TJ Yates at the helm. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson back, the Texans should contend for the AFC’s best record. Fearless Prediction: Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin will make Texans fans forget Mario Williams.

– The Titans will go as far as Chris Johnson can carry them. After a lengthy holdout and a disappointing 2011, CJ2K will rebound. Meanwhile, Jake Locker and a young defense should be enough to get this team to 9-7 again and a second place finish. Fearless Prediction: Kenny Britt will be arrested again by week 4.

– Obviously, I am going against a trend here. People continue to down Jacksonville for their mediocre fan base, dismal on-field performance, and putrid handling of the Maurice Jones-Drew holdout. But, I have more faith in a healthy MJD and a good young defense than I do a rookie Andrew Luck and a defense making the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Fearless Prediction: MJD will once again rush for 1,100+ yards.

– The Colts are definitely on the upswing after a brutal 2011. Gone is Peyton Manning. In comes Andrew Luck. Will this immediately make them better? Well, they will certainly be better on offense than they were when Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins were running the unit. But, their massive upheaval on defense will take at least a season to figure out. Fearless Prediction: Andrew Luck will outperform Robert Griffin III this season and beyond. 

AFC West

1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Denver Broncos*
3. San Diego Chargers
4. Oakland Raiders

– The Chiefs had a 2011 season in which they lost their star Strong Safety, star Running Back, and capable Quarterback and yet still finished 7-9 with guys like Tyler Palko starting games under center. With Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, and Matt Cassel back in tow, they will win at least 10 games and the AFC West. Fearless Prediction: Eric Berry will be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

– The media frenzy was unmatchable when the Broncos, fresh off a division championship, chose to deal Tim Tebow to the Jets and sign Peyton Manning from Indianapolis. The greatest QB of all time will try to resurrect a dismal passing game and combine with a tremendous defense to win his tenth division title. After watching him in the preseason, it’s clear his best days are behind him. Fearless Prediction: Knowshon Moreno will unseat Willis McGahee as the starter at RB by week 8.

– The Chargers have all the talent, poise, and experience to be a championship contender. The only problem is, Norv Turner is their head coach. Fearless Prediction: Turner will be fired mid-season.

– The Oakland Raiders have been in a perpetual rebuild since their Super Bowl XXXVII defeat in 2003. The foolish Carson Palmer trade will only keep the engine running on the rebuild. Fearless Prediction: Terrelle Pryor will be starting under center by the end of the season.

 

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New York Giants*
3. Dallas Cowboys
4. Washington Redskins

– Philadelphia has every reason to believe that this can finally be their year. If Michael Vick can stagy healthy, this is a team with few holes and a veteran coaching staff that should win a competitive division. Fearless Prediction: Andy Reid signs a 5-year contract extension following the end of the season.

– The defending Super Bowl champions will once again have a fantastic season. My only concern is the rampant injuries that continue to pile up on defense. Will the Giants be able to handle a Super Bowl hangover? Fearless Prediction: Jason Pierre-Paul will lead the NFL in sacks. 

– The Dallas Cowboys always lead the league in preseason hype. Years of success in past decades have obviously contributed to this. They have a great Quarterback and talent on the roster. But, I’m not convinced that Jason Garrett is a quality coach and their secondary is still a significant question mark. Fearless Prediction: Morris Claiborne will be a first round bust.

– Mike Shanahan gambled his next two drafts on Robert Griffin III. The former Baylor standout will undoubtedly bring drama and intrigue to the Redskins in 2012. But, it’s unlikely that his addition will bring much in the way of wins. Let’s also keep in mind that this he’s an injury risk with his size and playing style. Fearless Prediction: Fred Davis will lead the Redskins in receptions.

NFC North

1. Chicago Bears
2. Green Bay Packers*
3. Detroit Lions
4. Minnesota Vikings

– The Bears have always had a good defense and were on pace for 11 wins prior to Jay Cutler’s injury last season. With a healthy gunslinger, a happy Matt Forte and the additions of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the Bears will win the NFC North. Fearless Prediction: Jay Cutler will return to the Pro Bowl.

– Green Bay enjoyed a spectacular season in 2011. Their quest to repeat fell short at the hands of the Giants. Expect another great season from Aaron Rodgers and the offense. But, will the lack of a consistent running game and the difficulties of plugging young players into the defense cause them to fall back a bit? Fearless Prediction: Aaron Rodgers will not play all 16 games this season.

– Detroit had their finest season since 1991 last year. Matt Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson was a machine in a man’s body. But, their defense is still young and lacking in several areas. Expect a fall off with a harder schedule on the horizon. Fearless Prediction: Calvin Johnson will get injured and will not exceed 1,100 receiving yards.

– Minnesota may have Adrian Peterson set to go for week one. But, his knee injury will likely keep him at less than 100% for most of the season. Their defense is ways away from where it was three years ago and unless Christian Ponder shocks many with a resurgent 2012, the Vikings will be sitting at the bottom of the division. Fearless Prediction: Matt Kalil will be a perennial pro-bowler.

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Carolina Panthers
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

– Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers…Matt Ryan has an abundance of talent surrounding him. Their defense is improved, as well, with the signing of Asante Samuel.  The Falcons should win the North, and will compete for the top seed in the NFC. Fearless Prediction: The Falcons will boast the #1 ranked passing offense in the NFL.

– The tumultuous offseason is over for the Saints. But, don’t expect the regular season to be much more tranquil. Their running game is still mediocre and their defense will be hurt by the BountyGate suspensions. They still have Drew Brees, so the Saints should win more than 8 games. But, I don’t think it will be enough to make the playoffs in a tough NFC. Fearless Prediction: Drew Brees will throw for over 5,000 yards again.

– The Carolina Panthers are a young and exciting team. By this time next year, we will likely be considering them as a Super Bowl contender. If Cam Newton can improve on his spectacular rookie season, the Panthers just might make the playoffs. Fearless Prediction: Greg Olsen will emerge as a superstar at Tight End.

– Greg Schiano is already getting acclaim for the way he handled the young Bucs this summer. The former Rutgers Head Coach will have a Quarterback going into a make-or-break season in Josh Freeman. Fearless Prediction: Vincent Jackson will have a down season in his first with Tampa Bay.

NFC West

1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Seattle Seahawks
3. St. Louis Rams
4. Arizona Cardinals

– Jim Harbaugh’s magical rookie season as an NFL Head Coach ended in disappointment after a muffed punt in overtime cost him a chance at the Super Bowl. However, he will have another shot in 2012. Alex Smith finally proved he could run a competent offense and he will have more weapons this season with the acquisitions of Randy Moss and proven champions Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs. Fearless Prediction: The 49ers will have the #1 ranked defense.

– The Seahawks start anew this season with rookie Quarterback Russell Wilson under center. I have a lot of confidence in this young man, and it’s not only because he’s undersized (Doug Flutie, anyone?). The weapons around him are not great, and their defense is decent at best. Fearless Prediction: Russell Wilson will outperform RGIII this season. 

– Jeff Fisher returns to the NFL with St. Louis and boy do they need him. The former Titans coach will attempt to rebuild a defense that has been porous for decades. Sam Bradford’s stability at Quarterback is what keeps this team out of the cellar in the West. Fearless Prediction: This is the end of the line for Steven Jackson as a starting RB.

– The Cardinals thought they had found a future star in QB Kevin Kolb. Instead, John Skelton has been named the team’s starter for week one. That’s $65 million on a backup QB. Sure, they have Larry Fitzgerald. But, their QB and RB situation will keep them in the gutter. Fearless Prediction: Ryan Williams will outperform Beanie Wells this season. 

 

Playoff Predictions

Wild Card Round

Kansas City Chiefs OVER Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens OVER Denver Broncos
Green Bay Packers OVER San Francisco 49ers
New York Giants OVER Chicago Bears

Divisional Round

New England Patriots OVER Kansas City Chiefs
Houston Texans OVER Baltimore Ravens
Atlanta Falcons OVER Green Bay Packers
Philadelphia Eagles OVER New York Giants

Conference Championships

Houston Texans OVER New England Patriots
Atlanta Falcons OVER Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl XLVII

Atlanta Falcons OVER Houston Texans

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