Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BOLD Predictions for the 2010 NFL Season

In the NFL, anything can happen.

Whether it be New England's undefeated regular season in 2007, Tom Brady's 50 touchdown passes that same year or Chris Johnson becoming the sixth player ever to rush for 2,000 yards in a season just last year, we witness something great year in and year out.

That's why I'm here today.  I'm here to inform you of the next great thing(s) we are bound to witness this upcoming season.  Of course, my list may include a few long shots, but when it comes to football you just never know what you're gonna get.

Brett Favre Takes Minnesota Back to Playoffs

As of right now we don't even know if Favre will be back in action in 2010, but it's Brett freakin' Favre we're talking about here.  Of course he's gonna be back in uniform.  Surgery hasn't stopped him from returning before, has it?! No, of course not.
 The playoff loss, especially the way they lost it, is still lingering in Favre's world and you know he wants to redeem himself.  Not saying whether he will succeed or fail miserably...again.  But what I do know is he will be back in a purple uniform come September.

Minnesota fans have nothing to worry about.

Joe Flacco throws for 4,000 yards and 30 TDs

Entering his third season in the league, the 25-year old signal caller fell just 400 yards shy of the mark last season with a lacking receiving corps.  All of his passing stats improved greatly from his rookie season and I expect his yards and TD totals to go up even more with the additions Baltimore has made.

He has the best offensive line in the AFC North protecting him, and now has Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth on his side.  All four of his tight ends are 6'4'' or taller, as well, giving him large targets up the middle.

Running back Ray Rice was one of the best backs out of the backfield last season and I don't expect him to slack off this season.  Personally I would be shocked if Flacco didn't crack 4,000 yards and at least come close to 30 TD tosses.

Chris Johnson becomes first player to rush for 2,000 yards on two separate occasions

Chris Johnson certainly has the ability to achieve this.

Johnson was, without a doubt, the most electrifying player to watch last season and has amazing open-field ability.  For a while there I seriously think defenders were scared to take him on man-to-man.

With the Titans' QB situation still a bit blurry, I would expect C.J. to get the ball just as often.  The one thing that could prevent this from happening is his health, though he has yet to have many health problems while in the NFL.

But if Tennessee wants to win, they're gonna have to get the ball to this guy, which is why I'm going out on a limb and saying he will break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards.  This season.

Texans Make the Playoffs

I have been predicting this the last couple of seasons, but this time it's actually going to happen.

Matt Schaub had, by far, his best season last year, throwing for close to 5,000 yards (4,770, to be exact) and 29 TDs and completing 67.9% of his passes.  With weapons such as Andre Johnson (who claims he has no problems with his current contract) and 6'3'' Kevin Walter, Schaub will put up equal numbers in 2010.

If third-year running back Steve Slaton had matched his 2008 rookie numbers, there's no doubt that the 9-7 Texans would have been playoff-bound in 2009.

On defense, Houston has the keys (Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing) to take their game to the next level.  All they need to do is find a way to force more turnovers and they could be a top-10 talent.

Offense wins game, defense wins championships.  This cliche is exactly why they will be a playoff team, but nothing more, in 2010.

Jets Win Division, Have Top Defense in League Again

As a rookie passer, Mark Sanchez turned the ball over far too many times (20 INTs), yet New York was still a win away from the Super Bowl.  This is most likely because of their stout running game with Thomas Jones breaking 1,400 yards.

But, Sanchez did prove he belonged by leading the Jets through the playoffs with just two interceptions.  He showed maturity throughout the season and will be even better when it comes time for the season opener this year.

During the off-season, New York went out and signed some big-name players, including Ladianian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie and Jason Taylor on defense.  Head coach Rex Ryan has the ability to merge talent and hard work together to create a winning ball team.  Which is exactly why he's the Jets' head coach.

Cromartie will be a huge addition opposite one of the game's shut-down corners in Darrelle Revis.  Taylor provides that pass rusher New York lacked last season, and LT becomes their third-down back and mentor for the second-year Shonn Greene.

What's not to like?  The rich get richer.

Dez Bryant Wins Rookie of the Year, and Becomes Romo's Favorite Target

Last year we saw the unexpected when Miles Austin broke out with a huge game against the Chiefs (week five), and seemed to be Tony Romo's go-to guy the rest of the season.  The six-foot-three, 215 pound Austin finished the season with 81 receptions, 1,320 yards and 11 TDs, all career-highs.

Rookie wideout Dez Bryant--24th overall pick in this year's draft--has already impressed coaches in mini camp.  He may have actually chased Roy Williams out of Dallas.  I guess I would be feeling left out if a rookie came in and took all my spotlight, too.

Bryant, six-foot-two, 224 pounds, has a similar frame to Austin and was one of the draft's top wide receivers.

All I'm going to say is you know Dallas has high hopes for him when you see him wearing No. 88.  I'm thinking approximately 75 receptions, 1,100 yards, 8 TDs.  What do you guys think?

Lions' Stafford, Rams' Bradford Lead Respective Teams to Six-plus Wins

As a rookie last year, Matthew Stafford threw 20 INTs while going 2-8 as a starter.  Sam Bradford missed a majority of his junior season at Oklahoma because of an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder (he would later have season-ending surgery on that same shoulder).

What a difference a year can make.

My bold prediction for Stafford is that he will lead the sorry Detroit Lions (2-30 over last two seasons) to a 6-10 season.  That's right, you heard correctly.  Stafford made some rookie mistakes, but he is the franchise's savior and has enough games under his belt (and a couple of weapons in Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith) to prove he's a winner.

My bold prediction for Bradford is that he will give Dez Bryant a run for his money in the Rookie of the Year race.  Bradford showed everyone his arm is as strong as ever in those workouts.  Obviously he hasn't been fully tested, but he is a smart guy and shouldn't have much trouble adjusting to the pace of the game.

Of course both guys are going to be under a lot of pressure, but they have both shown they can handle pressure (I mean, Stafford did get the Lions their only two wins over the last 32 games).

Bradford has some guys on the offensive side of the ball who can help him through the difficult times.  Steven Jackson is going to get a good amount of carries to take some pressure off Bradford's shoulders.

The reason these two teams aren't heading towards a winning season for several years is simply because of the lack of a defense.  St. Louis and Detroit had the bottom two defenses in the league last season.  Don't expect anything big from them this year, either.

Ben Roethlisberger's Suspension is Limited to Four Games; Steelers Start Winning Right Away

All Roethlisberger has to do for his six-game suspension to be limited to four games is stay out of trouble, meaning don't make any more headlines.  If he can't do that, then he really doesn't belong in the NFL at this point.

I fully expect his suspension to be limited, and for the Steelers to get back to winning once he returns.  From the looks of it, Pittsburgh will probably be 1-3 through those first four games (v.s. ATL, @TEN, @TB, v.s. BAL).  But, looking at their remaining schedule they could easily turn things around and finish the season 8-8.

In no way am I saying Pittsburgh is going to be playoff-bound, I'm just saying you shouldn't count them out of it.  Last year the reason they didn't make the playoffs had nothing to do with the offense.  Believe it or not it was all on the defense.  Pittsburgh's D gave up five fourth-quarter leads last season, leading to a 9-7 finish.

Baltimore and Cincinnati will finish ahead of the Steelers in the division, leading to two consecutive non-playoff seasons for the Steelers.  But if I was in the AFC North I still wouldn't count these guys out of anything.

Kevin Kolb Leads Eagles to Playoffs

Philadelphia did not handle the McNabb situation all that great, but that doesn't mean they are wrong for moving on without him.

Kolb has seen enough while riding the bench in Philly, and has shown spurts of excellence when filling in for McNabb.  I mean, he did learn from one of the league's best QBs.

The Eagles knew he was ready to show he can start in the NFL and, quite frankly, were ready to end the McNabb era.  Facing the McNabb-led Redskins twice a season is going to be tough, but Philadelphia is a much better all-around team than Washington is, so they won't have much trouble beating them.

Kolb has the keys to win games with young guys such as LeSean McCoy coming out of the backfield and DeSean Jackson running deep posts down the field.  Even his tight end, Brent Celek, has a promising future (76 receptions, 971 yards, 8 TDs at age 24 last season).

All Kolb really has to do is relax and let his supporting cast do the heavy lifting.

Cutler Throws Another 20+ INTs for Chicago

Lets face it, Cutler isn't God.

When Chicago brought him in before last season, he was supposed to be the franchise's savior.  Yes, he is a solid quarterback and would be a starter for most teams.  But he's not what everyone seems to think he is.  He still seems to make mental mistakes, rookie mistakes.

Even in his best NFL season, with Denver in 2008, Cutler threw 18 INTs.  Put this guy under pressure like he was in Chicago last season (35 sacks) and you're gonna get a disastrous outcome.

So, until Chicago can block for longer than 2.5 seconds and gets a couple of consistent WRs (Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu and Earl Bennett just aren't gonna cut it), Cutler will continue to struggle in Chicago.  Sorry guys.

Others of Note:

*Panthers make a run with Moore under center
*Seahawks return as division champs with Pete Carroll at the helm
*Tebow starts 5-6 games at QB
*Jack Del Rio fired as Jags head coach by seasons end
*T.O. isn't signed in time for season opener

What do you guys think?  What are your bold predictions for the upcoming season?  Feel free to share them.

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