The draft is complete and training camps are open for business. Are you ready for some football?
NFL coverage is now year-round with off-season free agency followed by the draft followed by spring training followed by awful interviews with Jerry Jones. Despite the constant coverage, none of this is what makes the NFL great, what really makes it great is PARITY. Any team (except a select cursed few) could go to the Super Bowl next year. The Detroit Lions were not a good team last year; however, I could make a convincing case that they finish 10-6, make the playoffs, and go on a Baltimore Ravens like run through the Super Bowl. IT COULD HAPPEN FOLKS! (Note: It is unlikely.)
Off seasons are great for the media, but rarely matter. The “big” free agency amount to very little except for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets, two franchises set on digging themselves into a fiscal hole deeper each season. Usually, it’s the under-the-radar moves such as drafting Russell Wilson or not signing an aging free agent move that grades well. Of course, no one knows this until week 4 of the season, anything prior is pure speculation. So let’s join the speculation party and offer our NFL predictions and potential “lock-of-the-week” teams to finish at the top and bottom of their respective conferences.
The AFC Top 5
New England Patriots
The Patriots seem destined to be upper middle-class the rest of their lives. They have money, but not at fuck-you Richard Branson levels; a lock for the playoffs, but probably short of the Super Bowl, again. OH, and don’t forget: TEEEEBOOOOOOW!
No team needs an X-Factor more than the Texans. If there was ever a time one “Devin Hestor/Desmond Howard” away from being elite it’s Houston. Either they find someone or Andre Johnson needs to play the role of franchise savior and begin shattering records.
I would expect most to make the Broncos favorites heading into this year. They finished strong before a poor playoff showing. This is their chance. The window is NOW.
They are young and have a good mix of talent playing both sides of the ball. Plus: Cool helmets and bad ass uniforms. Who doesn’t root for the Bengals when it’s a neutral game?
Last year was a down year for the Steelers. In the past that has signaled a Super Bowl run. Do they have another one in them? If so, this could be their last hurrah.
AFC Bottom 5
When you draft a quarterback that most likely would have been still available in the third round you must be the Buffalo Bills. There is nothing more to say.
This is a jinxed organization in a jinxed city with no solution at the quarterback position (note: If you tell me their QB position is jinxed, I will not disagree with you.)
I mean really, just call Tim Tebow and call it a day. The Jaguars are horrible.
Always sad when a once strong team falls and the Raiders were once VERY strong.
New York Jets
Fans were hurt in 2012. Guess what? 2013 is going to really hurt.
The NFC Top 5
RGIII comes back and wins the MVP. Why? After his injury, secretly we all want a Hollywood ending.
San Francisco 49ers
There is a chance this team wins 14+ games. I don’t like Jim Harbough or most of the team he has assembled, but there is no denying they are REALLY good.
A volatile team could win it all or not make the playoffs. Sure, this applies to just about any NFL team, but more so for a team relying on so much athleticism from a handful of players.
I honestly don’t know what to do with this team.
Eventually they have to win, right?
* Note that I am selecting Dallas over both the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. I expect both to regress back to 9-7 which still may get them into the playoffs, but not in my top 5.
NFC Bottom 5
Eagle fans can be in denial all they want, but this is a rebuild project. It will take approximately two years at which time everyone will realize this is NEVER going to work.
Cam Newton alone isn’t going to put the Panthers in the playoffs. It’s impossible I tell you.
It wasn’t that long ago they were in the Super Bowl. Seems like FOREVER!
Because, well, Detroit.
Because, well, Jay Cutler
David S. Grant is an author of several books, rock columnist, travel writer, and NBA blogger. Follow his writing at pulpscribbler.com and Twitter @david_s_grant