Official Buckeyenewshawk 2009 NFL Predictions

Well the calendar indicates that its Labor Day again, which means my annual tradition of sitting down with the NFL Master Schedule and predicting the outcome of every game. So, without further ado, here are the results:

*Number in paranthesis indicates playoff seeding

AFC East
1. New England Patriots (1) 13-3: Tom Brady is back. I have some misgivings about their defense but I figure this team will get back to scoring points more or less at will enabling them to roar through the regular season.

2. Miami Dolphins (6) 11-5: I was actually a bit surprised I didn’t have the Dolphins backslide a couple games from last season but I like their running game, their defense, and Chad Pennington is a solid game manager. Upset wins over New England and Week 17 at home against Pittsburgh in a must-win along with taking care of easier games propel the ‘Fins to another solid season.

3. New York Jets 7-9: Starting a rookie quarterback with a solid but fairly unremarkable team around him. I have the Jets getting out to a very rocky start but then winning 5 of their last 7 to get back to respectable.

4. Buffalo Bills 3-13: Surprised that the Bills came out this badly, but they showed no offense in the preseason and are in panic mode, firing their offensive coordinator faster than even Terrel Owens could throw a fit over their performance. This team has Marshawn Lynch and TO but not a bunch else. Defense might allow them to win a couple more than I have, but I would look for the Curse of the Music City Miracle to continue.

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (2) 13-3: Relatively soft schedule playing the AFC West and NFC North will help this entire division. Almost all of the important players from last year’s Super Bowl victory are back. The main worry should continue to be the offensive line, but I am hopeful it will suck less than last season despite the loss of Darnell Stapleton for the season.

2. Baltimore Ravens (5) 11-5: The Ravens might backslide a bit if Joe Flacco suffers some growing pains or too many pieces of that defense migrated to New York. But I think this defense will still be quite good and the offense more potent than last season. Maybe a few more mistakes on offense and a few more points given up on defense but still good.

3. Cincinnati Bengals 7-9: This is a fairly conservative prediction for the Bengals giving them most of the winnable games on their schedule and no upsets over the Steelers or Ravens. They could easily be a game or two better than this if Carson Palmer regains his old form. Of course, if he goes down to injury again, 7-9 would perhaps be too optimistic. But the Bengals are a legit sleeper playoff contender as I think their defense will continue to improve.

4. Cleveland Browns 7-9: Upset win at home against Baltimore and again winning some soft games on the schedule. But I look for this team to give uneven performance over the course of the next few months preventing a better record. I assume that Brady Quinn will ultimately be named the starter but I don’t know if it’ll make much difference in wins and losses in 2009. This team has a lot of question marks and it could easily be a disastrous season, but I think they’ll be solid enough to avoid that. This does need to be the year that Braylon Edwards shows a consistent ability to catch the ball. I still think the Browns erred in keeping him while casting off Kellen Winslow. I understand why they grew weary of the Soldier, but he is a heckuva football player.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (3) 12-4: Look for Peyton Manning to have a full very good season without having the bum knee in the offseason. A bit of a transition not having Marvin Harrison, but the Colts have plenty of weapons.

2. Tennesse Titans 11-5: Miss the playoffs on conference record tiebreaking against the Dolphins and Ravens. No real dropoff but they just don’t quite get as many bounces as last season. Kerry Collins might begin to show his age in a couple big games.

3. Houston Texans 9-7: Not quite over the hump from a consistency standpoint and the Colts and Titans are high mountains to surmont. But I could easily see this team competing for a playoff spot.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13: Deep into rebuilding mode and will be playing their home games in front of empty seats. Rumors of the league moving this franchise to Los Angeles will swell during the season.

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers (4) 10-6: Not a hard division to win and they will again walk through the regular season a bit, but not as badly as last season. I look for a bit of a rebirth from LaDainian Tomlinson. The recent legal troubles for Shawne Merriman do cloud the picture a bit as the defense is not nearly as good without him.

2. Kansas City Chiefs 6-10: Someone needs to finish 2nd in this division. I do think the Chiefs and Raiders are both on the slight upswing, but its going to take time.

3. Oakland Raiders 5-11: Time to start finding out about JeMarcus Russell. A couple odd upsets and some divisional wins boost their record a tad.

4. Denver Broncos 4-12: I look for a brutal start to the season. I haven’t cared for how new coach Josh McDaniels has handled things thus far, Brandon Marshall is a huge distraction, and I think this defense still sucks.

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys (2) 12-4: Addition by subtraction getting rid of Terrell Owens. I am betting that Cowboys coaching wakes up realizes they could have a great running game if they call the occassional running play. Tony Romo will get over the December/January hump.

2. New York Giants (5) 11-5: Giants will struggle at times in the passing game but they should still have a good running game and very good defense. This figures to still be a very deep division and playing the NFC South and AFC West won’t hurt their records.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (6) 10-6: The whole McNabb/Vick dynamic could blow up and destroy this team, but I doubt it. I look for them to play inspired defense in the memory of Jim Johnson. If they don’t completely flub utilizing Vick (who I maintain could still be a good quarterback in this league) they should be very solid.

4. Washington Redskins 7-9: Just can’t quite get over the hump in this division especially on offense. Jason Campbell is okay at quarterback but not great and their receiving core is full of #2 and #3 guys.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (3) 11-5: This team just needs a little bit of defense to get back to winning games. Aaron Rodgers was superb last season throwing for over 4,000 yards.

2. Minnesota Vikings 9-7: I have the Vikings starting the year 4-0 before hitting the skids midseason and not being quite able to recover. I think bringing Favre in was a mistake and they would’ve been better off with Sage Rosenfels. He’s a collosal distraction to say nothing of being over the hill. All they need is a game manager with that defense and that running game. Favre will have some terrible games and that will cost them.

3. Chicago Bears 8-8: This team simply feels mediocre to me. Cutler is a better talent than Orton but not a better team leader and not a better winner. He brings some excitement to Chicago but they just don’t have the receiving core, and frankly the defense is not what it was a couple years ago.

4. Detroit Lions 3-13: Rarely can a 3 win season be described as a big step in the right direction, but in this case it would be. Home wins over St. Louis, Cleveland, and Week 17 against a lamed Chicago give a small measure of hope. But Stafford will take plenty of lumps and frankly I am not sold he is a legit NFL star. I mean, look at Georgia last year. When teams stopped the running game with Moreno the Bulldogs didn’t score. This is the guy being drafted #1 overall?

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints (4) 8-8: You can probably tell that I am predicting a down year in this division. Playing both eastern divisions makes for a rough schedule. The Saints don’t have much of a defense but they will score points, and teams like that can usually manage mediocre records.

2. Atlanta Falcons 7-9: A bit of a down year for the Falcons (see above wrt schedule). I look for a growing pains year for Matt Ryan leading to a mediocre performance.

3. Carolina Panthers 6-10: Nothing I can really quantify but I just get negative vibes about the Panthers in 2009. Maybe the way the finished 2008?

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-13: Horrible finish to 2008 carries over. Defense went fully over the hill and not much offense either. I think they did Jon Gruden a favor by shoving him out the door into the Monday Night Football booth.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (1) 13-3: History suggests a Super Bowl hangover for the team that loses the big game, but I don’t see it happening to the Cardinals, maybe because they weren’t all that great last regular season before peaking at the right time. Mostly I think in January they found a running game to go with that lethal passing game. The defense still won’t be great but it should be adequate. And, of course, they get to play the other teams in this division.

2. San Francisco 49ers 7-9: I like Shaun Hill at quarterback and I like Mike Singletary at coach. Playing the AFC South will make racking up wins hard for teams in this division but they might have an outside shot at the playoffs.

3. Seattle Seahawks 6-10: A lot of experts are giving Seattle love because Matt Hasselback is back. I am not necessarily in agreement as I think this team has plenty of other worts. Still they will be a lot more competitive than last season and could easily be closer to .500.

4. St. Louis Rams 2-14: Saving the worst for last. Put the Rams on the clock for the 2010 Annual Selection Meeting. This team lacks talent.

And now for the playoff predictions. These are usually rather wrong, but I like to make them anyway. Also, my own internal rules prevent me from taking the Steelers to win it all; I don’t want to jinx them.

3. Indianapolis defeats 6. Miami
4. San Diego defeats 5. Baltimore
3. Green Bay defeats 6. Philadelphia
5. New York Giants defeats 4. New Orleans

2. Pittsburgh defeats 3. Indianapolis
4. San Diego defeats 1. New England
5. New York Giants defeat 1. Arizona
2. Dallas defeats 3. Green Bay

4. San Diego defeats 2. Pittsburgh
2. Dallas defeats 5. New York Giants

Super Bowl XLIV: San Diego defeats Dallas

Yep I am calling for the official end of the Norv Turner jinx. An original AFL franchise gets over the hump on their 50th anniversary of existence.

Enjoy the season everyone!

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