Thursday, September 08, 2005

Picks and observations for '05

I'll keep my picks short and to the point as I go through the NFL, maybe a sentence or two in the way of observations, while working my way, like I did last year from east to west in the NFC and back again in the AFC.

Feel free to comment, all feedback is welcome.

NFC East – Boys closing the gap.
1.Eagles - 11-5, Owens' issues, lack of power runner eats into Eagles win total.
2.Cowboys - (Wild Card) 10-5, Demarcus Ware and Drew Bledsoe become difference makers for the 'boys
3.Redskins – 8-8, Gibbs offense begins to show signs of life, carried by defense.
4.Giants – 6-10, Eli Manning continues to feel growing pains in division with some tough D's.

NFC North – Lions, Vikings and Bears, oh my.
1.Vikings – 11–5 Improved D and lack of Moss distractions makes for a better team, still have to overcome the Mike Tice factor to get there.
2.Lions (Wild Card) – 9-7 Young team makes playoffs, bounced in first round.
3.Packers – 8-8 Deficient D and O-line cause Pack to slide
4.Bears – 6–10 Bears heading in right direction, but too much inexperience at QB.

NFC South – Act of God interrupts Saints' turn to be on pun intended.
1.Panthers – 12-4, Healthy cats dominate division.
2.Falcons – 9-7, Not even Mike Vick can defy history. Falcons have never made playoffs in back to back seasons.
3.Saints – 8-8, In consecutive seasons the Buccaneers, Panthers, and Falcons have all taken the division. Homelessness due to Katrina is too much to overcome.
4.Buccaneers – 6-10, Gruden hits the end of the road.

NFC West – Is this the season the West improves to “good”?
1.Cardinals – 10 - 6, Second worst to first.
2.Rams – 9 -7, Not convinced that the D can come up with the big stop when needed.
3.Seahawks – 8-8, Receivers' failings put Holmgren on the hotseat.
4.49ers – 5- 12, Nolan puts team on right path, but Herrion tragedy too major an emotional issue combined with the problem of too many holes still to fill.

AFC West – Chiefs seize up-for-grabs division.
1.Chiefs – 12-4, Revamped defense just enough to get a sterling O to the post-season show, but not quite good enough to advance them.
2.Chargers (Wild Card) – 10-6, Brees increases stock going into free agency with another strong season.
3.Raiders – 8-8, Some good off-season moves translate into visible improvement, but still a year away.
4.Broncos – 6-10, Dumbest move ever; importing the Browns defensive line in order to improve the D. Backslide on D manifests in overall record.

AFC South – Colts continue to dominate division, Jags still too raw for playoffs.
1.Colts – 12-4, Manning gets team to playoffs again, woes in the snow continue.
2.Jaguars – 9-7, Young team slowly closing on the Colts barely misses the post-season.
3.Texans – 9-7, Making strides, still not consistent enough on D to be a playoff contender.
4.Titans – 6-10, Young team will be on the losing side of a lot of close games as they learn what it takes to win in the NFL

AFC North – Defense heavy division
1.Steelers – 10 – 6, Division could go to Ravens if Big Ben struggles.
2.Ravens – 10-6, Lose on tie-breakers.
3.Bengals – 9-7, Continued improvement not enough to overcome Pittsburgh and Baltimore D's
4.Browns – 5-11, Crennel points in the right direction, but is still at least one off-season away from being competitive.

AFC East – Patriots continue dominance of tough division
1.Patriots – 13-5, Reports of their demise have been greatly exagerated.
2.Jets (Wild Card) – 10-6,
3.Bills – 7-9, Losman not the missing piece as predicted, Bills backslide.
4.Dolphins – 5-11, Would show more signs of improvement in a weaker division.

Division championships -
Panthers over the Vikings

Patriots over Colts

In a rematch of XXVIII, the Pats go three in a row. Until someone knocks them off, the Pats are the pick.

Coaches on the hot seat this season -
Mike Holmgren - if he fails to make the playoffs, he's out.
Jim Haslett – same here.
Jon Gruden – on last legs in Tampa
Mike Shannahan – Will probably get at least one season's grace on the caveat he gives up personnel decisions.

Will be back this weekend with observations on the BoSox stretch run, and some other comments about what's happening in the world.