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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Fearless NFL Prediction

Given how bad my track record is...perhaps I shouldn't do this. But I can't resist...

AFC East
1. New York (Jets)*
2. New England*
3. Miami
4. Buffalo
I'll disingenuously not pick the Patriots since good things happen when I predict a bad year pre-season, though they're still the pick of many (if not most) to go back to the Super Bowl. The Dolphins appear to be in disarray but there's at least a medicore team (despite a bad coach) down there. The Bills appear to be lost. No one's talking much about the Jets and that makes me nervous.

AFC North
1. Baltimore*
2. Cincinnati
3. Pittsburgh
4. Cleveland
Definitely the hardest AFC division to figure; no order would surprise me all that much.

AFC South
1. Indianapolis*
2. Jacksonville
3. Tennessee
4. Houston
This may be the year Dungy gets to the Super Bowl as they appear to have clear sailing in the South. Houston's not really an "expansion" team anymore and the Jags will show marked improvement, but neither is going to challenge Indy.

AFC West
1. Kansas City*
2. Denver*
3. Oakland
4. San Diego
Yes, it's dangerous to pick the same finishing order from last season. But I don't see Portis-for-Bailey (or Jake Plummer) working out that well for Denver, the Raiders are still rebuilding, and the Chargers are still the Chargers. KC will need a better defense to reach the Super Bowl, but they could win the West kicking offsides half the time.

NFC East
1. Philadelphia*
2. Washington*
3. Dallas
4. New York (Giants)
As much as I would wish for another overhyped flop of a Redskins team...they look like a playoff-caliber team from here. But the Eagles, their defense, and their new import T.O. are still the team to beat. The Cowboys still have no offense, and they aren't going to sneak up on anyone this time. And the Giants are still lost at sea.

NFC North
1. Minnesota*
2. Green Bay
3. Detroit
4. Chicago
If I had to bet on one of my divisional predictions being right 1-4, it'd be this one. Mariucci will start to get results but Favre and Green Bay probably have one more year as a pretender to the throne. The Vikings will put it together for a playoff run, and the Bears could be as bad as that monstrosity of a stadium they now play in.

NFC South
1. Atlanta*
2. Carolina
3. Tampa Bay
4. New Orleans
As with the AFC North, no finishing order would surprise me. I'm going to guess that Carolina is going to find life at the top at least a little uncomfortable, but a return trip to the postseason isn't out of the question. I've picked New Orleans as a sleeper for the last time; I'm going to pick them to stay asleep this time. My instincts tell me Tampa is played out. Michael Vick may mean more to his team than anyone, and he's made me a believer.

NFC West
1. Seattle*
2. St. Louis*
3. Arizona
4. San Francisco
Seattle may be able to ride home-field advantage to the Super Bowl, seeing as their one division rival who does not totally suck is coached by Mike Martz.

(Playoff teams noted above with asterisks.)
AFC Championship Game - Indianapolis def. Kansas City
NFC Championship Game - Minnesota def. Seattle
Since I'm pulling for an improbable Red Sox World Series win that I'm deathly afraid of predicting, I'll instead call for something that history suggests is equally improbable: a Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl victory. Minnesota over Indianapolis.


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