As I made plans last night as to which local watering to hole my (quite extensive) posse and I would travel to for the game tonight, it hit me.
It’s really football season.
My fantasy football drafts have come and gone, the preseason finally grinded to a halt, and each of the National Football League’s 32 teams have solidified a 53-man roster.
So what now? What can we expect other than gaining 15 pounds from doing nothing but sitting on the couch and eating grandma’s secret chip dip every Sunday? And Monday? And now Thursday?
Number one: expect the unexpected. Rookies will lead their teams to the playoffs, even if they were the NFL’s two worst teams a season ago. Coaches will be fired despite 10-win seasons. Cris Collinsworth will return to the broadcast booth.
Collinsworth’s lack of talent aside, 2012 was a season to remember in the NFL. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III lived up to the immense hype, Adrian Peterson came closer to breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record than anyone else ever had, and Ray Lewis got his second Super Bowl ring, sending him into retirement at a Jordan-esque high.
Will he mount a comeback as an owner/player? I’m not sure he’ll pull a Jordan in that sense, but if there’s anyone that can do it, it’s Lewis.
Will 2013 be able to live up to the high bar set by 2012? Every NFL season is great in its own sense, but this year’s installment has me all sorts of excited about a few things.
The Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts were the worst the league had to offer in 2011. In 2012, they both made the playoffs. Will we see another turnaround like this?
I think we will. The Jaguars are as miserable as ever, but the Kansas City Chiefs underwent a total recall after their 2-14 performance last season, and now have a new head coach in Andy Reid and a new signal caller in Alex Smith. Reid and Smith will know how to get the most out of weapons like Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster and Jamaal Charles; and don’t forget, this team had five Pro Bowlers on defense last year.
The AFC West is weak right now. I see the Chiefs beating the Raiders twice and the Chargers at least once. In Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs will even give the Broncos a run for their money.
KC goes 10-6 and makes the playoffs.
Adrian Peterson will be a beast again this year, and I predict another 2,000 yard season. Will he get Dickerson this year? I’m not sure, but he’ll be darn close again.
Within the division, Peterson gets to go up against two average-at-best rushing defenses in Green Bay and Detroit, as well as a Chicago D that lost its heart and soul, Brian Urlacher.
The other 2,000-yard man is Calvin Johnson, whose physical attributes are matched by none. The 6-foot-5 monster of a man was just 36 yards shy of reaching 2,000 last year and there’s no reason (other than injury) that he won’t near that mark again this year.
Detroit loves to huck the ball all over the yard (Matthew Stafford set a record last year with nearly 800 pass attempts) and many of those passes go Megatron’s way. With a healthy Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles returning to the lineup, the new CJ2K will see fewer double teams and break free for just as many big plays.
Yeah, but who wins it all?
A fair question indeed. And I suppose if you’re going to put me on the spot, I’ll take San Francisco.
The 49ers really have no weakness. They have one of the best defenses in the league, an up-and-coming star quarterback, and a solid running game. The fact that they play a team as good as Seattle twice during the course of the regular season is a bonus as well. The Niners will have the opportunity to beat elite competition during the regular season, preparing them for the grueling postseason.
The AFC is considerably weaker than the NFC in my mind, but it will boil down to the Patriots and Broncos on that side of the bracket. Whoever makes it will be defeated by Colin Kaepernick, who will get a strong amount of MVP consideration this year.
Hell, I’ll pick him to win the thing. I’m sick of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning winning it. Give the kid a chance.
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