It's the opening day of the NFL season, and visions of Brett Favres are dancing in my head. I've been called "crackhead" in the past because I tend to make wild, outrageous NFL predictions...that sometimes come true. Some of these may be bolder than others, but I present my 10 "crackhead" bold predictions for the 2010 NFL season (and be sure to leave your bold predictions in the comments).
10) The Vikings won't make the playoffs.
I have no question that Favre will play all 16 games. That's why they won't make the playoffs. He's gimpy already, and he won't pull himself out of a game. With a mediocre offensive line, I see 20+ picks for Favre again this season; And a team with that secondary can't survive that.
9) Kevin Kolb will be a top-5 quarterback this season.
People outside of Philadelphia were scratching their heads when the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb. But Eagles fans rejoiced. For all the criticism of Andy Reid, he has a fantastic passing system and the guys to run it: A four-star receiver and deep threat in DeSean Jackson, a strong receiving tight end in Brent Celek, and one of the league's best pass-catching RBs in LeSean McCoy.
8) Wade Phillips and Lovie Smith will finally be shown the door.
An owner has only so much patience. And despite Jerry Jones saying he's been told to not talk about the Super Bowl, that doesn't mean he isn't thinking about it again. Chicago management feel they've delivered everything Lovie Smith needs to win, but he won't be able to escape the team's fourth straight January watching the playoffs from home.
7) The Raiders' predicted rise from the basement is premature.
Why is everyone talking about how Jason Campbell is the savior of this team? "He's better than JaMarcus Russell," is what I hear over and over again. But folks, he was not good in Washington throwing to Santana Moss and Chris Cooley; Why is he suddenly going to be a break-out star throwing to Louis Murphy and Zach Miller? And with that offensive line, my guess is he's not even in the top 20 of all QBs at the end of the season (I could see him being benched). The defense could be quite good, and that will keep them from the three-touchdown losses that plagued them last year, but the Raiders aren't going anywhere this season.
6) Cincinnati's predicted fall from grace is premature.
It seems everyone considers the Bengals' run at the playoffs last year a fluke. Not me. I see it as a long time coming. This is a good team that hit hard times over the last couple years, and last year it all came together. While I usually hate the disruption T.O. brings to a team, I'm banking on him being a model citizen who just wants to win the Super Bowl. And if that passing offense can just be ranked in the top half of the league, they will win the AFC North again.
5) Aaron Rodgers will be the NFL MVP.
This season will mark the completion of Rodgers' emergence from Brett Favre's shadow. Not only will his Packers win the NFC North, but Rodgers will put up crazy numbers that hand him his first league MVP trophy. He had a stellar season last year despite a horrible offensive line. But midway through the 2009 season, the team switched its blocking scheme and Rodgers soared. Look for 4,700 yards and 40 TDs (passing and running) from Rodgers this year.
4) San Francisco 49ers will be in the NFC Championship game.
Mike Singletary and the Niners front office are building a champion in the Bay Area. I don't think any team had a better draft, with San Francisco taking two stud offensive lineman (one of their biggest weaknesses last year) in the first round. I think that will allow their offense to explode this year, with Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree leading the charge. And with a top-5 defense, the 49ers will be playing deep into January; Whether they play in February or not may depend on whether they have to visit Green Bay in the snow.
3) The New York Jets will miss the playoffs.
As a Patriots fan, I'm thrilled that another team is now the most-hated team in the league. The Jets have taken their bragadocio to national television, proclaiming themselves the best team in the NFL. But it seems everyone has forgotten that this was a 7-7 team last year before their final two opponents (Colts and Bengals) decided to sit their starters in their final two games. Mark Sanchez was terrible last year (passer rating of 63.0), and that was with a 1,400-yard rusher in Thomas Jones (who is now gone).
2) The Lions will be a .500 or better team.
No team will take a bigger leap on defense this year than the Lions. Last year they couldn't get any pressure on the quarterback and gave up over 30 points and 265 passing yards per game. In the offseason they revamped their defensive line, drafting Ndamukong Suh and bringing in Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch. And while we hear about the "sophomore slump" for quarterbacks all the time, I think Matthew Stafford and the offense will be better. The Lions are rebuilding, and they will see some of the fruits of that rebuilding this year.
1) The Kansas City Chiefs will win the AFC West.
The fall of the Chargers is at hand. They let their best running back go, their best wide receiver won't play for them, and one of their key offensive lineman is holding out. This team doesn't start strong to any season, and this time they won't be able to recover. On the flip side, we will witness this year the rise of the Chiefs. I love what they did this offseason. They now have a two-headed monster at running back in Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. They have two fantastic coordinators in Charlie Weiss and Romeo Crenell (guys who weren't great head coaches but who know their side of the ball as well as anyone). And while everyone is talking about whether Dwayne Bowe will finally break out this year, I look for Chris Chambers to have a resurrection. Add to that a favorable schedule and you have a 10-6 division champion.