The season starts today. I make the predictions.
1. New England 10-6
-Their over/under is 9.5 wins; if you can tease that down to 9, I don't see, absent a Brady injury, a circumstance where they don't win 9 games. Despite the Patriots dominance, they haven't gotten as much respect as they deserve from the public, particularly on the road - they're 34-19 against the spread on the road over the past six years. The reason for the excessive number of holdouts as we hit week one (Mankins is still out for NE) is there are players who would be unrestricted free agents if not for the uncapped year. I sort of want to be the only guy on the Patriots bandwagon this year - it seems to me as if it's a rare opportunity to buy low.
2. New York 9-7
-Maybe it's 10-6, I'm less than certain that Sanchez is ready to contend for a Super Bowl than are others; I like the Jets as the second WC team in the AFC.
3. Miami 9-7
-Over the past 6 years, the Fish are 14-34 at home against the spread ("what do trends matter" you ask "this years Dolphins aren't the Dolphins from 2007") the reason that's valuable even though the teams turn over every year is the public doesn't - and when you see Miami is 20 games under .500 ATS over the last six years at home, and 8-22 ATS as a favorite the past six years - is that the public overvalues the Dolphins, particularly at home or when they are favored. If you see Miami as a home favorite this year, look to the other side.
4. Buffalo 5-11
-Defense is pretty good - offense is an absolute disaster; 6-10 wouldn't shock me, either would 2-14.
1. Baltimore 11-5
-Their over/under is 10; that's a good play. I don't see too many scenarios where they don't win ten games. They're 30-19 at home against the spread, and 22-30 on the road against the spread, over the past six years. More likely to go 12-4 than 9-7. I'll say they lose the AFC Championship game.
2. Pittsburgh 10-6
-I feel similarly, maybe a little less strongly, about the Steelers over/under, which is 9, as I do with the Ravens at 10. Is Troy Palamalu the best defensive player in football?
3. Cincinnati 8-8
Not entirely dissimilar to the Jets, and Palmer's in a better position to be a game manager than is Sanchez.
4. Cleveland 3-13
-Their number is 5.5, the Browns have to win 6 games to beat you, that seems unlikely to happen. Colt McCoy's in there by season's end, and the Browns waive the white flag.
1. Indianapolis 11-5
-I'm picking the Colts to win the Super Bowl.
2. Houston 9-7
-I like them more than the metrics would indicate. They, like Dallas, were unusually healthy last season (what's going on down there in Texas?) and that would indicate a bounce in the other direction. I'm just a sucker for Schaub and Johnson - and I really like the Leinart signing.
3. Tennessee 7-9
-I just flipped the Titans and Texans.
4. Jacksonville 7-9
-I've been on the Jags for fantasy purposes the past couple of years - I'm out and I think they're, on the margin, the worst club in the division.
1. San Diego 9-7
-They don't have McNeil or Jackson; the 11 win over/under for San Diego is stealing money; if the Chargers go 12-4 and you do worse than push that bet, you can curse my name. They have really cleaned up against the number - over the past six years, 62-39 against the spread, 47-31 vs. AFC teams against the spread, 22-7 as a dog against the spread.
2. Kansas City 8-8
-the 6.5 total means a 7-9 season gets you paid, if you could tease the number down to 6, so the Chiefs would have to go 5-11 for you to be a loser, that makes lots of sense. Chiefs have the easiest schedule in football. Cassel is my backup on all 3 fantasy teams.
3. Denver 7-9
-I've never liked the Broncos; I was anti- Orange Crush in the late 70s; Elway was easy to dislike in the 80s and 90s - and now, Tim Tebow? Perfect. They can't lose enough for me.
4. Oakland 6-10
-I'd really like to see a good team in Oakland again; outside of my Niners, I very much want to see a resurgent Raiders. They have really been overvalued over the past 6 years - 38-57 against the spread, and 15-32 at home - the public sees the Raiders in Oakland and looks for a home field advantage that isn't there.
1. New York 10-6
-Their number is 8.5, if you can buy it down to 8, that would mean they'd need to go 7-9 to beat you; I maybe am overrating the Giants at 10 wins, but I think they're at least .500. Theyre strong against the spread , 33-18 on the road, 46-30 against the NFC over the past six years. I don't have a good handle on this division, literally any order possible in these rankings would not surprise me - I'd expect everyone bunched somewhere near .500, and it's Eli who breaks the tie for me.
2. Dallas 9-7
-They don't win 11 games, and their number is 10. They get the WC spot.
3. Philadelphia 9-7
-Same as NY; if you can buy down their 8.5 to 8, that's a play. Eagles are strong over the past six years against the spread, 47-32 against the NFC.
4. Washington 7-9
-I'm rooting for McNabb, and if they were to win this division I wouldn't be surprised.
1. Green Bay 11-5
-I'll take the popular route and pick Green Bay to come out of the NFC, but I don't see them as head and shoulders above the rest of the top teams in the conference, and don't see them as the equal of Indianapolis or Baltimore.
2. Minnesota 9-7
-Their 9.5 total would look tempting if it were 10. I'll say no playoffs for Favre in his final season.
3. Chicago 7-9
-I wish Martz would have stayed in San Francisco.
4. Detroit 5-11
28-40 against the spread vs. NFC over the past six years. They're improving.
1. Atlanta 10-6
-Their number is 9, they're more likely to win 11 than lose 8, it's a good play. The Falcons are coming; if I had any guts I'd take them to win the NFC.
2. New Orleans 9-7
-They don't win eleven games, and they need to if they want to beat the 10.5. They get the last WC spot.
3. Tampa 6-10
-I have nothing to say about Tampa Bay.
4. Carolina 6-10
-Their 7.5 means it takes a .500 season to beat you. Like the Browns, there could be a white flag flown and Jimmy Claussen might be taking snaps in late season losses.
1. San Francisco 9-7
-This is my most optimistic about my club. I am not on board with a ball control, low possession strategy in the 2010 NFL, it seems designed to forever keep your franchise at .500. But this is an extra bad division, one in which 8-8 wins it this year; I gave us an extra win just to do. We haven't been to the playoffs since '02, just getting in mistakenly would feel like progress.
2. Arizona 7-9
-Max Hall is their starting QB by season's end.
3. Seattle 7-9
-Bad on the road against the spread over the past six years, 18-32. This is an optimistic projection because my SC guys are their new staff, but that OL is a mess and their QB is done. I'd be more surprised if they were 9-7 than 5-11.
4. St Louis 6-10
39-59 against the spread over the past six years. Bad on the field, bad against the number. This is a top end forecast for the Rams.
So - Colts v. Packers is my Super Bowl. I'll say Manning gets the chip.