To pre-empt TMQ:
It happens every year. The feckless pre-season predictions come out. Over at CNNSI, Don Banks boldly predicts that teams will pretty much finish in the same order they did last year and ten of the twelve playoff teams will repeat. ESPN hasn’t had their predictionfest yet, but I’m sure we’ll see the same. It’s absurd of course. Only five 2005 playoffs teams made the playoffs in 2006. Only five 2004 playoff teams from 2004 made the dance in 2005. Only six from 2003 made it in 2004.
The combination of short season, high injury rates, salary cap and 3/8 of the teams making the playoffs means that there is a lot of turnover at the top. Only the real dynasties can be counted on year-to-year.
Well, I’ll go ahead and make my predictions right off the top of my head. No knowledge, no training camp video, I haven’t even watched a pre-season game. My preparation consists entirely of reading Pro Football Prospectus.
NFC East – Philly, Washington, Dallas, Giants
NFC North – Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit
NFC South – New Orleans, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta
NFC West – St. Louis, Seattle, San Fran, Arizona
Playoffs Teams – Philly, Washington, Green Bay, Chicago, NO, St. Louis
AFC East – New England, New York, Miami, Buffalo
AFC North – Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland
AFC South – Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Houston
AFC West – Denver, San Diego, KC, Oakland
Playoff Teams – New England, Cincy, Jacksonville, Indy, Denver, San Diego
Superbowl – Philly over Jacksonville
That’s only six teams I expect to repeat. Three of these — Philly, Indy and New England are dynastic. The other three – San Diego, Chicago and New Orleans – were so good last year, I can’t imagine they’d fall completely out of it this year. But they can always suprise. NO’s offense could fall on its face. Donovan McNabb could get hurt again. Lovie Smith’s magic may not work a third year in a row. I haven’t predicted a single division to finish in the same order it did last year.
To be honest, I don’t have faith in any of my picks. It’s the NFL, for Chrissake. Anything can happen. Do I look like an SMT? But let’s see if I’m any more full of crap than the people being paid to make predictions.