I know, the season hasn’t even started yet, and here I am proclaiming the winner of Super Bowl XLVII (that’s 47, for those that don’t use roman numerals in their everyday life).

But what the heck, everybody else is out there saying how many games this team is going to win, and what it’s going to take for that team to make it back to the playoffs, and on and on and on!  So why not.

Besides, my scientific method of printing out the entire season schedule, picking winners for every game played, and then plugging them into a spreadsheet to come up with the final standings worked so well for major league baseball, except for the West divisions (see MLB — HOMESTRETCH PREDICTIONS FOR 2012, dated 8/22/12 —, I figured I’d give it shot with the NFL, which is so much easier to predict!!!

Okay, if you’re done laughing, we can move on.

Before I dared start making any predictions, I had to scour the injury reports to see who was still standing, after this brutal pre-season took out so many potential game-changers.  Amazingly, most of the big fantasy point generators are still alive and kicking, but a lot of the important players that help provide the opportunities for the stars to generate points have been knocked to the sidelines.

I also had to consider which teams are all hype and which teams have the proper tools to play according to the experts’ predictions.  As you might imagine, I don’t always agree with these ‘experts’, so you may find my predicted playoff picture to be a bit different than those shown on prime time.

That’s okay.  It wouldn’t be the first time, and most certainly will not be the last!

For instance, a lot of people are predicting that three teams will be battling to the very end for the NFC North division.  I disagree.  I think it will be a two horse race, with Chicago and Minnesota battling for last place.

I also think that Denver, by virtue of being in the worst division in football in the past several decades, will win their division by a landslide.

And don’t even get me started on the N.Y Jets.  With all of this talk about “will it be Tebow or will it be Sanchez”, everyone seems to be forgetting that the team is awful and couldn’t put together a winning record with Brady, Rogers or Brees at the controls!

Okay, enough with the teasers.  Here is what I came up with for the regular season.

AFC West – As stated above, Denver will finish with a 12-4 record and the #3 seed in the AFC playoffs by virtue of walking all over their division of lottery teams. Remember, they didn’t simply bring in Peyton Manning, they built a very formidable receiving corps and a solid running back duo.  If the O-line holds up, they will be the real deal.  Oakland will rise above the other teams with a 5-11 record, followed by San Diego at 4-12 and Kansas City at a whopping 2-14.

AFC East – Another division with one team walking away with it.  This time it’s New England, who will be one of two teams in the league to finish at 15-1.  They are solid from top to bottom on offense and their defense can only improve over last year’s squad.  Add to that the fact that they are in a league of rebuilding (or falling apart) teams, and you can see that there will be no competition for them at all.  Buffalo will take second place at 6-10, with Miami and the Jets both finishing at 5-11.

AFC South – Finally, a division that will require a battle for the lead.  The Tennessee Titans are a team on the rise.  The good news — Chris Johnson should have a better year than the last and Jake Locker will have another year of experience.  The bad news – Houston will have their number one signal caller back and will only improve over last year’s division winning season.  The Texans will bring home the division title and the #4 seed with a 12-4 record, while the Titans will sneak into the playoffs with the #6 seed as this year’s only 9-7 playoff team.  The Indianapolis Colts will win a lot more games than anyone expects, finishing at 7-9, while the Jacksonville Jaguars will show that they need more than Mo-Jo Drew to be good, finishing with a dismal 2-14 record.

AFC North – This is the division to watch in the AFC this year.  There are three teams that will have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs (sorry Cleveland fans) in what may be the most physical division in football.  Ultimately, the teams with experience will rise to the top, as Baltimore grabs the division and the #2 seed with a 13-3 record, followed by Pittsburgh at 11-5 and the #5 seed.  Cincinnati will come up short at 8-8, followed by the Browns at 3-13.

NFC West – In the division that was considered by many to be the worst ever only a few short season ago, there will be three teams battling all season long for this division title and several playoff spots (again, sorry St. Louis fans).  With all of the hype during the preseason about which QB will start for Arizona, this division will become a perfect example that it takes a team to win.  The Cards are going with their #2 over the big-salaried starter, Seattle is going with a rookie over a high-salaried starter and the 49ers are sticking with their ‘average on a good day’ starter of the past couple of years.  No superstars to be found here, yet three teams will finish with winning records.  Ultimately, defense will be the difference, as San Francisco will take home the division title and the #3 seed at 11-5.  Arizona and Seattle will both finish 10-6 and will both miss the playoffs.  The Rams will bring up the rear again at 5-11.

NFC East – This division always enters the season with question marks, yet somehow finds a way to put a Super Bowl contender into the mix by year’s end.  Usually it’s the Giants, but this year, the Eagles will fill that role, winning the division by virtue of a tie-breaker, as they finish with a 10-6 record and the #4 seed.  The Giants will also finish 10-6, but will miss the party this year.  Dallas comes in third at 6-10, with Washington closing it out at 4-12.

NFC South – Most experts agree that the Saints cannot possibly survive this season, given all of the turmoil that has surrounded the team over the past six months.  After all, their head coach has been suspended for the entire season.  Call me silly, but I can’t remember the last time the head coach scored a touchdown!  I think that New Orleans will survive the storm, as they have grown accustomed to doing, and will hold off the Atlanta Falcons to win the division and the #2 seed with a 13-3 record.  The Falcons will finish a close second at 12-4 and the #6 seed.  Carolina will hang around for a while, but will fizzle at the end to finish 8-8.  Tampa Bay will struggle to win any games, finishing 2-14.

NFC North – If you want to see some fireworks, pay close attention to this division, or at least Green Bay and Detroit.  If everyone stays healthy, these two teams could both average 40 points a game.  Yes, I know, their defenses will probably average 32 points against, but they will thrive in the shootouts, so that won’t matter until the playoffs begin.  Green Bay will join the Patriots at 15-1 and the #1 seed, with the Lions close behind at 14-2 and (gulp) the #5 seed.  As I stated above, a lot of experts are expecting the Bears to keep up with these two powerhouses, but I don’t see it.  Chicago finishes with a paltry 4-12 record, followed by Minnesota at 3-13.

So there you have the regular season predictions.  Now, let’s take a (very) quick peek at the playoffs.  I won’t spend a lot of time on this part because most likely, maybe even by mid-season, I will have to re-visit my regular season predictions.

However, assuming that my regular season predictions come true, here is how the playoffs will pan out:

In the NFC, Detroit will steamroll the Eagles, then fall to the Packers.  The 49ers will beat the Falcons, then proceed to upset the Saints and then the Packers (that old ‘defense’ thing again).

In the AFC, Pittsburgh will beat Houston in a thriller, and then fall to New England.  Denver will beat the Titans, but then lose to the Ravens.  Baltimore will take out the Patriots before beating the 49ers for the Super Bowl ring.

There you have it.  Carve it in stone and bring it down from the mountain top.  It’s a done deal.

Unless, of course, someone important gets hurt between now and then.  But this is the NFL.  What are the odds of that?

We’ll talk again soon!!



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