Unfortunately, I had to miss last night’s show because I have a job where my hours occasionally move around in order to make me compliant according to regulations set forth by our silly government. It happens, and I always hate when it does, because it always seems to happen during shows that I especially look forward to doing. Last night was one such show, because it’s the one where Jeff and I give our predictions on the upcoming season and make bets on the Eagles in the hopes of winning an artery-clogging hoagie. I won last year, and fully intend on taking another wrecking ball to my heart by winning again this year. I also wanted to get my thoughts on the upcoming season out there, since it begins with tonight’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Yinzer Rednecks and the New England Spying Deflators. I’ll go through each division and then give my thoughts on the Eagles bets (we’re doing offensive rank, defensive rank, and field goal % for Jeff’s one true love, Cody Parkey), as well as my playoff predictions, which are sure to be laughable by Week 5. Let’s go!
Kansas City – I’m not blown away by this team by any stretch of the imagination and I think they will get knocked out relatively early in the playoffs, but I think that this is the year they overtake the Broncos in the AFC West. Andy Reid has some good talent in place and has shown he can work with Alex Smith in his system. Prediction: AFC West champs
Denver – I think there are a lot of miles on Peyton Manning’s odometer and this might be the year that rears its head. They’ll run the ball more and will certainly contend for the playoffs, but this is the beginning of the slide. Prediction: Wild Card
Los Angeles…I mean, San Diego – I think rookie RB Melvin Gordon will definitely be a nice compliment to Philip Rivers and the Chargers will make a run of it, but their defense has a fair amount of questions. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Los Angeles…I mean, Oakland – Amari Cooper could very well contend for the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and make a nice little QB-WR combo with Derek Carr, but this team still has a lot of needs. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Indianapolis – The Colts are the beneficiary of being in one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. With the additions of Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Todd Herremans, and Trent Cole, the Colts got a little older, but they still have the best young QB in the league in Andrew Luck. That will be enough. Prediction: AFC South champs
Houston – I wanted to pick the Texans to finish lower in the division so I could make a comment about Bill O’Brien keeping tabs on whether or not Penn State’s offensive line gets Christian Hackenberg killed from a draft standpoint, but then I saw who else is in this putrid division. Yuck-a-roo! No way Hackenberg falls to his old college coach; Houston’s D is too good, even if their offense stinks. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Tennessee – Despite Chip Kelly’s best efforts, one of the league’s most non-descript franchises hopefully found its centerpiece in Marcus Mariota. Maybe he’ll give the Titans something to be remembered by other than the Music City Miracle. Tennessee is one of those teams you always forget about when you’re trying to name every NFL team off the top of your head. There’s a reason for that. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Jacksonville – The Jaguars are easier to remember than the Titans, and the only reason for that is because they are so unfathomably horrendous. Thank God this isn’t the English Premier League, or they would have been relegated years ago (a soccer reference in a football article…BOOOOOOOO!!!!!) While we’re on the topic of England, let’s just go ahead and move the Jags to London already. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Cincinnati – First off, let me say that nobody in this division jumps out at me as a team that’s going to be the dominant team. Cincinnati has been steady the past few years, and I think they’re going to focus a little more on the run to limit Andy Dalton’s opportunities to make a dumb play. Prediction: AFC Central champs
Baltimore – I’ve seen a few people pick the Ravens to be the AFC representative in the Super Bowl; some have even picked them to win it all. I just don’t see it. I think they’ll certainly be a decent enough team and may make the playoffs, but I don’t see what makes them special if they get that far. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Pittsburgh – I think the Steelers will be a pretty fun team to watch. Ben Roethlisberger should pile up numbers, Antonio Brown might be the best WR in football, and Le’Veon Bell is an upper echelon RB. But when your big addition to the secondary is a guy who was relegated to the slot in Philly, I have to have my questions about your defense. Stock up on the Iron City Light, you jagoffs. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Cleveland – If I was Johnny Manziel and I saw my name become a punchline throughout the NFL last year, I’d want to train as hard as possible and come back with a vengeance. Will he? Who knows, but either way it won’t be enough. Also, the Browns have a member of the front office (GM Ray Farmer), coaching staff (O-Line coach Andy Moeller), and roster (WR Josh Gordon) suspended to begin the season. WHEEEEEEEE! Prediction: Miss playoffs
New England – If there’s one thing Bostonians and their football team love more than winning, it’s being persecuted so they have an excuse to wallow in self-pity. I feel like I’m repeating this line from somewhere, but never have so many with so much to cheer about complained so much. I thought New Yorkers were the most annoying sports fans ever; congratulations Boston, here’s another title for you. I absolutely, positively, 100% believe that the Patriots will use this as fuel to get them through the season. There is nothing on Earth they would like more than for Roger Goodell (AKA, the only man in sports that makes Gary Bettman look like a competent commissioner) to have to hand over the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft after the whole Ballghazi thing. They might be good enough to make it happen, too, but I feel like they’ve lost a little too much on defense. Prediction: AFC East champs
Miami – I don’t know what it is about this team, but there is something about them that makes me think they are a playoff team. I’m sure they will make me look like a fool, but I think Ryan Tannehill continues an upward trajectory as a QB and super-villain Ndamukong Suh will give a nasty edge to the Dolphins defense. Well, as nasty as guys in Sea Foam Green can look, anyway. Prediction: Wild Card
Buffalo – I like the direction the Bills are going in, I just think there are not enough pieces in place yet, particularly at the most important position on the field: quarterback. Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel, Tyrod Taylor…was JP Losman not available? Hell, give Tyrod Taylor a shot at this point. He’s the only one I don’t know enough about to classify as terrible yet. Prediction: Miss playoffs
New York Jets – I’m drinking right now, so I originally typed “Jets” in as “Jest”, which is appropriate, because they are a clown show. My co-host’s second favorite team is going to eat losses like Geno Smith eats teammates’ fists. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Seattle – If not for perhaps the worst play call in NFL history, the Seahawks would be back-to-back champions now. Kam Chancellor is still holding out and we don’t yet know if the defection of Byron Maxwell will affect the Legion Of Boom, but I still think there’s enough here to make them a contender. Prediction: NFC West champs
Arizona – Every team has that one burning question, and for Arizona it is this: can they keep Carson Palmer healthy? If so, they are a playoff team. If not, they’re in trouble. I believe they can do so for long enough to guarantee a playoff spot. Prediction: Wild Card
Los Angeles…I mean, St. Louis – Nick Foles and Sam Bradford get to play switcheroo this season, so we have a fun little experiment to see how much scheme and the surrounding talent matters with these guys. I’m betting that in both cases, we see that they matter immensely. Both are talented enough to benefit from the better situation, but neither are good enough to overcome the worse one. Prediction: Miss playoffs
San Francisco – Wow. Jim Harbaugh was forced out, half the team retired, and they had to get rid of Aldon Smith because he feels life should be lived as if you’re the central character in “Grand Theft Auto”. Has any team ever had a worse offseason that didn’t include a death? Jim Tomsula should get Coach of the Year if this team wins 7 games. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Atlanta – Truth be told, I have no idea who is going to win this division. It could literally be anybody. I’m going to put on a blindfold, throw a dart, and hope it doesn’t hit someone in the eye. Give me Atlanta, I guess. Matt Ryan is OK, they have two good receivers, and they brought in Seattle’s defensive coordinator as head coach. Maybe he’ll help out the defense. Can you tell how un-enthusiastic I am about this pick? Prediction: NFC South champs
New Orleans – I mentioned that I think we will begin to see Peyton Manning slide this year, I feel the same way about Drew Brees. They will probably lean on the running game a little more. The defense is pretty bad as well. Do yourself a favor, New Orleans. You have one of the best players in the NBA in Anthony Davis; go support him and the Pelicans. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Carolina – Cam Newton is solid, if mistake-prone, but he needs something around him offensively. Did you know that RB Jonathan Stewart is only 28? If you told me he was 38, I’d have believed you. It feels like he’s been around forever. The defense has a few pieces I like a lot (Star Lotulelei, Luke Kuechly, and rookie Shaq Thompson), they also have former Eagle Kurt Coleman on their roster. Are they good enough to be a playoff team? Flip a coin. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Tampa Bay – I think that Jameis Winston can be a good quarterback in this league, and I think he has a couple nice, young targets to throw to and grow with in Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. That won’t be enough, and Lovie Smith can only coach up this defense so much. This build is only getting started. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Green Bay – Losing Jordy Nelson for the year will absolutely hurt, but I really think that Aaron Rodgers stands alone as the best QB in the NFL, and he is the kind of guy that should be able to work through the loss of Nelson. Eddie Lacy is one of the better running backs in football and there will still be plenty of targets for Rodgers to hit. Defensively, they are solid, if not spectacular. I’m betting high on the Packers. Prediction: NFC North champs
Minnesota – Every year, it seems like one team makes a huge leap and surprises a lot of people. This year, I think that’s the Vikings. I like what I saw out of Teddy Bridgewater last year and feel like he’ll keep that momentum going. Adrian Peterson is back after that pesky lil’ incident where he…OOOOH LOOK, FANTASY POINTS! The defense is young and may have a few growing pains, but is promising. These guys are my sleeper team. Prediction: Wild Card
Detroit – There are some nice pieces here on offense (Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ameer Abdullah, Golden Tate), but I just feel like the defense won’t hold up their end of the bargain, barring a resurgence from former Raven Haloti Ngata. I just feel like the Lions’ window may have passed. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Chicago – Another team with some decent offensive pieces (Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, but a defense that needs to be rebuilt. Penn State fans can watch Adrian Amos try to become a stalwart in the secondary, but this defense is a far cry from what Bears fans are used to seeing. And really, how many chances are we going to give Jay Cutler here? Prediction: Miss playoffs
Philadelphia – Alright, now what you were waiting to read. I put this division last on purpose. Coming into the preseason, I had a lot of doubts and worries, many of which have been calmed from what I’ve seen. I’m trying not to be over-optimistic, because everybody runs a vanilla scheme in the preseason. But our vanilla was a lot better than their vanilla, right? Obviously, so much of the team’s success will depend on the offensive line’s ability to keep Sam Bradford upright and healthy. The running back corps is deep and talented. The receivers could use a little more polish, but you can see star potential in Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. The front seven is very good, possibly underrated. The secondary will be a work in progress, but I expect them to get better as the season goes along, especially Eric Rowe, who I feel has a ways to go to improve. I think the Eagles go 10-6 again. 11-5 is absolutely attainable, perhaps even 12-4. I’m going to be conservative here, because teams always seem to lose a game or two they should win (for example, the second Redskins game last year). That said, I think the Eagles should be the 3rd best team in the NFC this year, behind Green Bay and Seattle. Best case scenario: the Eagles stay healthy, handle business, and make a deep playoff run. Worst case scenario: Jeff is trying to convince myself and the listeners that the Birds can still make the playoffs with Mark Sanchez at QB. Prediction: NFC East champs
New York Giants – There’s something about the Giants. Even when I don’t think they’re that great, for some reason I am always wary of them. Yes, Victor Cruz is coming back from a major injury. Yes, Jason Pierre-Paul is gone after blowing a finger off. Yes, Eli Manning throws dumb interceptions and makes dumber faces. But I still am always worried about them for some reason. They’ll be better, but not good enough this year. Prediction: Miss playoffs
Dallas – Wow, this far of a fall? I don’t know what to think. The defense added some talented players and criminals in Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory. The offensive line is strong and the addition of La’el Collins will prove to be a steal. Dez Bryant is a legitimate stud at WR. Still though, something just feels off. They better hope Joseph Randle is the answer at RB, because I can tell you that Daren McFadden is not. Tony Romo is another QB that I think may be close to the end. Maybe they finish second, but they don’t finish first. If they do, Ol’ Chip has some explaining to do.
Washington – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! No, really, you guys. Stop it!
Eagles season end ranks – Offense: 3rd overall in the NFL (going “Price Is Right” style here with my bidding since Jeff has them 2nd). Defense: 12th overall in the NFL. Cody Parkey: 92% field goal percentage
AFC Championship: New England Patriots over Indianapolis Colts
NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers over Philadelphia Eagles (one year away, guys)
Super Bowl: Green Bay Packers over New England Patriots; Roger Goodell cries tears of joy that he doesn’t have to give the trophy to Kraft, Belichick, Brady, etc.
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