Sunday, December 7, 2008

Home Stretch Preview

There's only four weeks left in the NFL season (only three for some teams who look to lock up seeds before week 17).  Here are some predictions for the final month for you all to critique, make fun of, nod your head to, laugh at or maybe even use as gambling advice.  This is what it looks like now and this is how I see it:

NFC East: The Giants will continue their dominance in the once strongest division in the NFL and lock up a first round bye in the next couple of weeks.  I have them as the only playoff team from the East.  Dallas has the best chance at 8-4 but their next four opponents (@PIT, NYG, BAL, @PHI) have a combined record of 34-13-1, a winning percentage of .708.  

NFC North:  Minnesota has Detroit this week and a Giants team that will likely be resting starters week 17.  I look for them to win both of those games and pick one up from Arizona or Atlanta and finish 3-1 down the stretch, locking up that division.

NFC South:  I like Tampa Bay to win the League's best division.  Their three losses have come by a combined 11 points, all on the road.  I pick them to take it to Carolina Monday night in Charlotte and put a strangle-hold on the South.  I also see not one, but two other teams from the division getting to play January football.  Carolina will finish second, a game behind the Bucs.  The third representative will be the Atlanta Birds of Prey.  What a great story for that city and franchise, Matt Ryan will runaway with the ROY award.

NFC West:  What an awful division.  I won't waste much time or many words talking about the futility of it all.  At least they have company in the AFC West (both divisions combine for a record of 32-66, good for a .326 W%)

NFC Seeds:
1. New York Giants, 14-2
2. Tampa Bay, 12-4
3. Minnesota, 10-6
4. Arizona, 9-7
5. Carolina, 11-5
6. Atlanta, 11-5

AFC East: At times it's looked like the strongest foursome in the NFL.  It's been up and down to say the least.  New England looking to go 16-0 again only to lose Tom Brady during the first half of week 1.  Then Buffalo starts out 5-1, only lose five out of the next six.  Miami went 1-15 last year and many thought three or four wins this season was their ceiling.  The Jets looked like the best team in the conference after beating the previously perfect Titans, but celebrated that win by getting spanked at home by the Broncos.  My mind sees the Jets getting the crown and my heart has the fins getting the division's only wild card berth.  

AFC North: The Steelers will finish the season strong and lock up a first round bye on the strength of the man I call The Clocktower, Big Ben Roethlisberger.  Since I'm going with my heart on my final wild card pick, I had to pick one of the two teams ahead of Miami to falter and the Ravens don't make my cut.  Their next handful games are not exactly walks in the park (WAS, PIT, @DAL).

AFC South: Tennessee will secure the #1 seed in a week or two, so the real question is will this quietly good Indianapolis team be a force in the playoffs.  Manning is on pace to throw the most picks (12 thru 13 games) since he was intercepted 19 times in 2002.  

AFC West:  (See NFC West) Denver wins.

AFC Seeds:
1. Tennessee, 14-2
2. Pittsburgh, 12-4
3. New York Jets, 11-5
4. Denver, 9-7
5. Colts, 11-5
6. Miami, 11-5

Check back after week 17 when I'll take a look at my hits and misses as well as preview the playoffs.


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