Not So Deep Thoughts: Prediction Time

From time to time, I like to check out the sports world and make a few
bold predictions and then check back at a later date and see how I
fared. With six weeks left to go in the NFL season, I’m going to step
out on the limb and let’em fly. Although to be fair, I’m not really
stepping out on any limbs because there are no real consequences to
being wrong but my pride is at stake and that has to count for
something, right?nfl-shield-mark-cl.jpg

In the NFC, three of the four division winners seem to be locks, with
Minnesota, New Orleans and Arizona all cruising along without much of a
challenge. The true race remaining is in the NFC East where Dallas
(7-3) holds a one-game advantage over the New York Giants (6-4) and the
Philadelphia Eagles (6-4). A quick look at the teams’ remaining
schedules points out the fact that Dallas has the toughest road, with
games against the Giants and Philly, not to mention the defensively
sound Redskins and the surging Chargers. The Cowboys will finish off
the season with a road game against the Saints but could catch a break
as New Orleans might be sitting its starters for the playoffs.

In addition to its games against Washington, Dallas and the Giants, the
Eagles will also square off against Atlanta, San Francisco and Denver,
all three still in the playoff picture. The Giants face Denver next and
couldn’t be facing the Broncos at a better time, as they’ve dropped
four straight and starting quarterback Kyle Orton continues to mend his
injured ankle. After its three straight games with its division
opponents, New York will close out the season at home against Carolina
and on the road against the Vikings, who should also be resting many of
its starters in the finale.

Because of the fact that their the more experienced playoff team and
because of their favorable schedule, I’m going with the Giants to win
the East with a 10-6 record. Don’t fret though Philadelphia fans, the
Eagles still make the dance with a 9-7 mark, good enough to grab one of
the Wild Card spots. I see the other Wild Card spot going to the
Atlanta Falcons. Despite being a game behind Green Bay (6-4), Philly
and the Giants, Atlanta has four games remaining against bottom
feeders, including two against Tampa Bay, another against the
struggling Jets and also face the very erratic Bills. While the Falcons
do face the Eagles and the Saints, both games are at home so I see them
finishing at 9-7 as well and sneaking into the postseason. Despite
looking very solid in its last two games, Green Bay’s hopes were dashed
Sunday when starting OLB Aaron Kampman and starting CB Al Harris were
both lost for the season with severe knee injuries. Those injuries and
a suspect offensive line will prove to be too much to overcome and the
Packers will be forced to try again in 2010.

In the AFC, I see New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and San Diego
all cruising to wins in their respective divisions, with Pittsburgh and
Houston snatching the two Wild Card spots.

The posteason will be broken down like this. NFC: No. 1 seed: New
Orleans (15-1), 2. Minnesota (14-2), 3. Arizona (11-5), 4. NY Giants
(10-6), 5. Atlanta (9-7), 6. Philadelphia (9-7).

NFC Wildcard
Philadelphia 34, Arizona 31
NY Giants 27, Atlanta 16
NFC Divisonal Playoffs
New Orleans 38, Philadlphia 21
Minnesota 30, NY Giants 13
NFC Championship
Minnesota 24, New Orleans 21

The AFC postseason will break down as follows: No. 1 seed: Indianapolis
(16-0), 2. New England (12-4), 3. San Diego (12-4), 4. Cincinnati
(11-5), 5. Pittsburgh (10-6), 6. Houston (10-6).

AFC Wildcard
San Diego 27, Houston 17
Cincinnati 34, Pittsburgh 24
AFC Divisional Playoffs
Indianapolis 38, Cincinnati 17
New England 38, San Diego 13
AFC Championship
Indianapolis 27, New England 21
Super Bowl
Minnesota 30, Indianapolis 24

While these picks may have been a little bolder if they were made
prior to the start of the season, they’re still bolder than making them
once the playoff picture is cleared up. Good luck and here’s hoping the
final six games of the NFL season will be as enjoyable as the first 10.
We’ll check back in February and see how embarrassed I should be by
these.

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