Well folks, we’re nearly half way through the NFL season, and it’s time to make some new predictions for this NFL season. And don’t for a second think that these are going to be your run of the mill predictions that you’ve already heard 18 different people make. Nope, these predictions are going to knock your metaphorical socks off and forecast (accurately) the rest of the season, and seasons beyond.
Home Teams in all CAPS
CINCINNATI over Cleveland
On one hand, this game looks like a bit of a mismatch if you look at the records and look at Cleveland’s quarterback situation. On the other hand, the Thursday Night Football games haven’t been a total atrocity like they were last year. There have actually been quite a few competitive and entertaining football games, and with the short week you never know what sort of wonky results might turn up. The Browns have been frisky, and if this one were in Cleveland I would have had to give this a nice long look, but on the road with a shaky back-up quarterback at the helm against an undefeated team that doesn’t even have to overlook this game because they play the Houston Texans eleven days later … it just doesn’t seem like Cleveland has much hope, and until they get their QB situation taken care of it’s hard to buy into them making any noise. Speaking of which, neither Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown will enter the 2016 NFL season as the Browns starting quarterback.
As for the Bengals, it’s still yet to be determined where they fall in the AFC hierarchy. A game at Arizona in two weeks might settle that, and if not, a Week 16 game against Denver could show us where Cincy ranks. Here’s the problem: for the time being, and especially after Denver annihilated Green Bay on Sunday night, I have to believe the Bengals are third on the totem pole, and because of that, I don’t think the Cincinnati Bengals will even make it to the AFC Championship Game.
BUFFALO over Miami
I love me some Rex Ryan. I like his bravado, I like his swagger. I like that he’s never afraid to say what’s on his mind and you can’t help but admire the fact that he coached back to back AFC finalists who had Mark Sanchez under center. Here’s the problem: if he’s not winning immediately in Buffalo, Bills fans aren’t going to like him as much as I do. I don’t think Rex Ryan will make it through next season as the Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills.
Let’s stay with this coaches theme, because at the end of the season the Dolphins are going to need to make a decision about what they want to do with that position. Interim Head Coach Dan Campbell has done an admirable job so far, but it’s unlikely the Dolphins wouldn’t at least sniff around to see if they could land a big name. Don’t expect them to go the college route, simply because of the Nick Saban experience ten years ago. Instead, look for the Dolphins to try to nab a high profile offensive coordinator; think Todd Haley or Josh McDaniels … or maybe New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton.
St. Louis over MINNESOTA
Alright, rather making one prediction for each team I’m going to kill two birds with one stone. You might call this cheating, but I call it thriftiness. Neither the Minnesota Vikings or St. Louis Rams will make the Playoffs. I crunched the numbers, and it just doesn’t work out for either of these teams so long as you believe the two following things, both of which, for the record, I believe: First, that the Atlanta Falcons, fresh off of a home loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, aren’t going to collapse down the stretch, and second, that the Seattle Seahawks recent surge is more representative of their true selves than their first four games were.
If you don’t believe one or both of those two things, then Minnesota and St. Louis has some serious significance this week, even more than the built-in and incredibly intriguing, Is Todd Gurley ready to take the Championship Belt from Adrian Peterson storyline. Enjoy it, guys. In two years Leonard Fournette is going to come into the league, take the title and hold onto that sumbitch longer than Bruno Sammartino held the WWWF Heavyweight Championship.
NEW ORLEANS over Tennessee
Did you know that Ken Whisenhunt went 6-44 in his last 50 games coaching in the NFL? Just thought I would offer up that little nugget so you understood that the Titans had a perfectly acceptable reason to fire him. My Titans related prediction is that no head coach will have a fifty game stretch that bad ever again. No, that’s not too bold, nor is it a prediction directly related to the Tennessee Titans, but you’ll just have to deal with it.
I’ve predicted that Sean Payton may be in Miami next season already, so we’ll need something new. Hey, how about a prediction about one of my favorite random players in the NFL, Marques Colston. Did you know that the pride of Hofstra University is in the top 50 all-time in receiving yards in NFL history? And I expect him to crack the top 35 by the end of next season, when his contract with the Saints is up (for the record, he needs over 1,200 yards to climb his way into the top 35, so this is in fact a bold prediction).
Green Bay over CAROLINA
This is half a reverse jinx attempt to send some bad juju to the Packers, who desperately need a bounce back game after being exposed last week, and half a call me crazy, or maybe stubborn, but I’m still not sure we can trust the Carolina Panthers pick. I’ve got another two birds with one stone special for you, and this one is a legitimately bold prediction. Neither the Green Bay Packers or the Carolina Panthers will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. More on this soon.
NEW YORK JETS over Jacksonville
Is there a sadder game on the schedule this week than this one? The Jaguars have the worst point differential in the AFC and the Jets are about two weeks away from the same sort of quarterback fiasco that the Texans were dealing with about a month ago. Can’t you just feel it coming? I’m pretty sure this is what Phil Collins was talking about in “In The Air Tonight.”
This quarterback situation is only going to get worse, and it’s going to be part of the reason that the Jets season is submarined, and Todd Bowles is going to be doing his best Jim Caldwell the entire time. The silver lining for the Jags is that their QB outlook isn’t nearly as murky as that of many other teams in the league, and I think they’ve got a keeper at running back too. Maybe it’s wishful thinking since he’s on my fantasy football team, but I’m going to predict that T.J. Yeldon has one of the better second halves of all running backs in the league, good enough to climb from 28th in fantasy points right now to the top 15 by the end of the season.
NEW ENGLAND over Washington
New York Giants over TAMPA BAY
Plain and simple: I think there is going to be a Super Bowl rematch this year … only it’s not going to be a Super Bowl XLIX rematch. I’ve got the New England Patriots and New York Giants playing in Super Bowl 50. You guys should start calling me Stone “Bold” Steve Austin. Don’t call me that.
PITTSBURGH over Oakland
The Oakland Raiders have gone from mildly to absolutely frisky, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have went from Le’Veon Bell to DeAngelo Williams in the backfield. Two drastically different Week 8’s for each of these teams. Even though the Raiders are on the come, I’ll take the Steelers in this one (on the sneak, this is probably the best game of Week 9). It should be a kitchen sink game for Pittsburgh, and in a big spot on the road, I still need to see Derek Carr come through before I back him in this situation.
As for my bold predictions, I’ve got three of them, ranging from not at all bold to now all of the sudden you’re calling me Stone Bold Steve Austin again … First, I’ll say Chris Berman doesn’t make it seven minutes into NFL Countdown before he talks about the Immaculate Reception. Second, I’ll say that the winner of this game makes the Divisional Round of the Playoffs (I know, I picked Pittsburgh, but even if Oakland gets the W, I’ll back them). And third, I’ll say that one of these two teams will be the next AFC team not quarterbacked by Tom Brady or Peyton Manning that represents the conference in the Super Bowl.
Atlanta over SAN FRANCISCO
I don’t have any predictions for this game because BLAINE GABBERT IS STARTING AT QUARTERBACK THIS WEEK. LIKE A TEAM IS CHOOSING TO A START HIM. LOL. I’M MIND BLOWN.
Denver over INDIANAPOLIS
Peyton Manning going back to Indianapolis and the Denver defense feasting on a turnover prone Colts offense when the team is on the brink of having a full-on fucking meltdown … give me the Broncos by a thousand points and expect the Colts crowd to serenade their team with boos as the game ends. I can’t use The Colts will fire Chuck Pagano at the end of the season as my bold prediction because that’s out there already. Instead, I’ll go with Jim Harbaugh will be the Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts next year, and he’ll win Coach of the Year.
Since I haven’t figured out what to make of the Broncos yet (actually, I might have a perfect idea of what to make of the Broncos, only it doesn’t quite make sense yet) I’ve got another Colts prediction to make. I don’t think the Indianapolis Colts are going to make the Playoffs. I’ve got the Houston Texans winning the AFC South division.
Philadelphia over DALLAS
Thanks to yet another one of those textbook Giants losses last week (allowing 51 points to throw us off their scent … vintage Giants right there) the Cowboys and Eagles (and Redskins, technically) are still in the hunt for the NFC East crown. I don’t think either of them top the Giants, and I also don’t think things are going to go too smoothly in the not-so-distant-future for either of these teams. I think this whole Greg Hardy situation blows up big time sooner rather than later (and Dez Bryant will probably be involved).
There isn’t as high of a crazy ceiling in Philadelphia, but I have a feeling that things are just as toxic there as they are in Dallas. I think that Chip Kelly is no longer the Eagles Head Coach after the 2016 NFL season. And in 2017, I think he’ll be coaching the Texas Longhorns.
SAN DIEGO over Chicago
I don’t know who this game is going to be more depressing for: the 20,000 Chargers fans who are going to be outnumbered by Bears fans in their own home stadium, or me, because the Bears are going to improbably find a way to blow this game on national television. Do you think the flex scheduling will ever apply to Monday night games, or nah?
As for my bold predictions: I predict I’m not going to like the outcome of this game, regardless of who wins. If the Bears lose, then my favorite team loses and watching that isn’t fun ever. If they win, then my favorite team moves one step closer to another year of pitiful mediocrity, and further away from bottoming out and moving in the right direction. Also, Philip Rivers is going to throw for 500 yards this game, because the Bears defense sucks and will continue to suck until they start losing. I’m telling you, unless you absolutely hit the jackpot with a later draft pick or are able to lure a couple of marquee free agents your way, the only way to win in this league is to bottom out. And that’s the bottom line, because Stone Bold said so.
Last Week: 9-5