NFL, 2013 Style
September 5, 2013
The NFL season is finally here. After a summer of off the field news, the regular season begins this week. This is when I make my annual preseason predictions. I checked back a few years and noted that I am usually right on with about half of my predictions. Most of my thoughts center around teams and players though I do pick playoff teams and Super Bowl champions.
Last year was no different as I hit some and lost out on some others. For instance, I stated that Peyton Manning would recover nicely and lead Denver to a playoff berth. It happened. I was also right when saying that rookie quarterback Russell Wilson would start and lead Seattle to a playoff spot.
I was wrong when I stated that the Detroit Lions would prove that 2011 was not a fluke. They were terrible. I also thought that the New Orleans Saints would survive the year-long suspension of head coach Sean Payton. They did not.
So here we go in 2013. Some will be right, some will be wrong. Here are 12 predictions of the upcoming NFL season.
1. I think that the defending Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens will struggle to make the playoffs. Defense has always carried the Ravens but the loss of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams on defense that will be a season-long issue. This will put pressure on Baltimore’s offense and I do not think quarterback Joe Flacco is all that.
2. The Cleveland Browns will be one of the surprises of 2013. The AFC North will not be as quite as tough since Baltimore and Pittsburgh are down. Normally, the Browns cannot beat either one of them. That will change in 2013. Cleveland’s defense is still considerably ahead of its offense. But there is some young talent on offense.
3. Tony Romo will shed his reputation of losing big games. He and the Dallas Cowboys will win at least one playoff game in 2013. I know people say this every year about Romo and the Cowboys. But trust me, this is the year.
4. There were eight head coaching changes in the league during the offseason. The two who will make the most impact are Andy Reid in Kansas City and Chip Kelly in Philly. I think Reid will take advantage of the very weak AFC West and capture a wildcard playoff berth. Remember, he inherited a 2-14 franchise. I think Kelly will lead the Eagles to a .500 record. If Kelly’s quarterback, Michael Vick, remains healthy, Philadelphia may find itself in the playoffs. But what are the chances of Vick staying healhy an entire season?
5. Eddie Lacy of Green Bay will be the Rookie of the Year in 2013. He will rush for over 1,200 yards while taking some pressure of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the playoff bound Packers.
6. New Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan won’t likely perform magic with the New Orleans Saints defense. But the defense will be better and this will enable the Saints to win three or four more games in 2013. Drew Brees and the firepower of the Saints’ offense will appreciate the improved defense and this will lead to a playoff spot. There will be joy again in the Big Easy as the debacle of last year’s bounty saga comes to an end.
7. Tom Brady will do just fine with Danny Amendola as his new receiver. Amendola replaced Wes Welker who the New England Patriots chose not to sign to a long term contract. Welker is now in Denver with Peyton Manning. They will do fine also but Amendola, with Brady getting him the ball, will produce better numbers then Welker.
8. As a Steelers fan, this one hurts me to say. Age and a lack of talent at the skill positions will combine to produce Pittsburgh’s worst season since the Steelers finished 6-10 in 2003. I see a last place finish within the AFC North is my forecast for Mike Tomlin’s team. Missing out on the playoffs again this year will mark the first time the Steel City has had to endure consecutive non-playoff seasons since 2000.
9. Look for last year’s top two picks in the draft, Andrew Luck of Indy and Robert Griffin III to find the going a bit tougher in 2013. I don’t think either will make the playoffs.
Cowboys’ Tony Romo
10. I know Cincinnati has not won a playoff game since 1990, even though it has been to the playoffs four times in the past eight years. But, like the Dallas Cowboys, this streak comes to an end in 2013. Andy Dalton will emerge as a Pro Bowl quarterback and the Bengals have one of the better defenses in the game.
11. I noted last year that the NFL was in the midst of having at least five newcomers in the playoffs every year since 1996. Last season, there were only four newcomers (Colts, Vikings, Redskins and Seahawks). This year, I think there will only be three new arrivals (Kansas City, Dallas, New Orleans).
12. I like Denver to win the Super Bowl over Seattle. The Broncos will beat Cincinnati in the AFC Finals while Seattle will beat NFC West rival San Francisco in the NFC Finals.