February 14, 2008

Is It Football Season Yet?

JUST FOR THE RECORD: the Arena Football League and the arenafootball2 league and the Canadian Football League and the All-American Football League seasons -- much less the NFL season -- can't get here fast enough. Christ, I'm dying for football and it hasn't even been two weeks since the Super Bowl. (What's that? No, I did not watch the Pro Bowl. Besides, I heard the NFC won, which proves the game is a complete joke).

All things considered, it was probably a good thing I wasn't here in New England for the Super Bowl. Prior to the game, pretty much everyone in New England was really excited about the game, given the Patriots' incredible season. They were wearing their jerseys and commemorative T-shirts and were in such a good mood even outlanders like me couldn't fault them. All I could do was salute some Jacksonville Jaguars fan I saw in the airport. So I was glad I wasn't around for the let-down afterwards.

As amazing as it might seem to Loyal Rant Readers, I was not openly gleeful, joyous or thrilled the Patriots were defeated on Sunday. As a committed Conference Loyalist, I believe it imperative that the American Football Conference champion must not only beat the National Football Conference champion, but beat them so soundly that I can spend the third quarter mocking the commercials. As this did not happen, I was somewhat annoyed. (Which reminds me: the Terminator robot attacking the Fox football robot was actually cool, because I hate the Fox football robot. Also, I hate the Fox network's football announcers, the Fox network's pre-game football show, all of the Fox network's sports programming, and all the other vapid shit the goddamned Fox network passes off as "entertainment." I don't know how you NFC fans put up with them every week. Cor).

But anyway. I do realize this was not the case pretty much everywhere else in the country: from what I gathered, the rest of the country was a) thrilled the Patriots got thrown down to the ground, and b) glad for Eli Manning, who has gotten crap for years from the New York media and is now on top of the world. As I only dislike Eli Manning -- hell, he's had to live with Peyton his whole life, not just on Sundays -- I also hope he gets to enjoy his great moment for a few days. Because next season the Giants have to play the AFC North and if the Browns don't kick the Giants' asses, the Steelers will. So sayeth me.

Anyway, arena football starts in March (yay!) so I am very much looking forward to that, although I hope ESPN just calls the bloody game and doesn't get cute with its broadcasts like it did last year. For instance, one trick they had last year was letting viewers listen into the quarterback's audio feed, thus telling viewers what play would be run prior to its execution. I don't want to know what play will be run -- that spoils part of the joy and hurt of it all. Come on, guys, don't screw it up.

But until then, I suppose I can set myself up for trouble by making some early predictions about the outcome of the NFL's 2008-2009 regular season. You know, because I can. Here's my thoughts:

AFC NORTH:

PITTSBURGH: 11-5
CLEVELAND: 10-6
BALTIMORE: 6-8
CINCINNATI: 3-13

Due to a brutal inter- and intra-conference schedule draw, the whole division is in Major Trouble. The AFC North must play the NFC East (big trouble ahead) and the AFC South (God help us). Both divisions sent THREE teams onto this year's playoffs, while the AFC North only sent the Steelers. Plus, the division champion Steelers also get to play New England. Oh joy.

Still, I think Pittsburgh will manage to win 11 games, while Cleveland will win 10. I think the Steelers, by next year, will be able to beat any team in the NFC East -- even the Giants -- while they'll face tough fights against New England, San Diego, and all the AFC South teams. We'll see how that works on the field. Cleveland is much improved and anyone who discounts the Browns is asking for trouble. I think Baltimore is in trouble -- they've got Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator, for God's sake. They've also got the former Falcons OC as quarterbacks coach, the former Lions RB coach as running backs coach, and the wide receivers coach hails from the 49ers. They are so screwed. Speaking of screwed, Cincinnati will stink up the joint again as Marvin Lewis once again fails to keep his ill-disciplined rabble under control, while Ocho Stinko's head explodes in Week 12 after once again not getting the ball. If they were 4-12 this past year, they'll have major problems in the next.

AFC EAST:

NEW ENGLAND: 13-3
BUFFALO: 8-8
NY JETS: 6-10
MIAMI: 5-11

New England steamrolls to victory again, helped yet again by six easy in-conference games. The Bills have a mediocre season, beating bad teams but getting pounded when they face good ones. The Jets -- God help them -- will be in trouble. As for Miami, the less said the better, but hey -- it's a rebuilding year and anything can happen.

AFC SOUTH:

JACKSONVILLE: 13-3
TENNESSEE: 11-5
INDIANAPOLIS: 11-5
HOUSTON: 9-7

Now wait, you say. Jacksonville on top and Tennessee second? Are you MAD? Well, no, not as such. I'm contrarian! True, I'll look foolish if I'm wrong but the flip side is that if I'm right, I'll look like a frickin' genius. That's a chance I'm willing to take.

The AFC South plays the NFC North and the AFC North this year. Folks, that's six games in the win column for every team at the very least. We'll see how it plays out in terms of who beats what, but I'm sorry, I can't see either the hapless NFC North or even the decent AFC North doing all that well against this powerful and menacing division. I think Tennessee will be much improved in the off-season, and Jacksonville will continue to be an underappreciated menace on the field. Even Houston might do all right for itself.

As for Indianapolis -- well, the Dolts are moving into a new stadium next year, and I think that's going to screw them up. For one thing, it has a retractable roof. For another, the new stadium is "bigger and better" than the RCA Dome, according to its backers. Unfortunately, one of the key points going for the RCA Dome was the fact it was smaller and thus impossible to hear anything. Also -- and let's be honest -- the Colts secretly pumped in crowd noise. Never mind the official denials from the team, the league, the broadcasters -- you know it, I know it, your neighbor's cat knows it. This new stadium might screw all that up. Plus, I think this is the year the Colts' luck runs out. They've been good for a long time, but I don't think they'll be good enough to challenge Jacksonville or even what I believe will be a very good Tennessee squad.

AFC WEST:

SAN DIEGO: 12-4
KANSAS CITY: 8-8
DENVER: 6-10
OAKLAND: 3-13

San Diego marches on to yet another division title. Kansas City improves, while Denver -- God, I hate Denver -- does not. Oakland -- well, maybe they'll be 4-0 in the preseason. Cue the Raiders guy. Cue the flaming barbecue.

NFC NORTH/EAST/WEST/SOUTH:

All ultimately irrelevant due to the NFC losing to the AFC in next year's Super Bowl.

Well, that should give everyone out in sports blogging land some ammunition. Oh, and never mind that last clip in the video link. That was simply an aberration.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at February 14, 2008 09:01 PM | TrackBack
Comments

I love your predictions and they make so much sense; I do believe the Titans are way better than what they look on paper. The NFC North is a win for everyone not in that division, and ya I'm saying it -- the Colts aren't goin' to win the south this time. Man, all I've got to say is, pure genius, bro. And the Browns will improve but ya not those Raiders, haha. And forget about it, Dolphin fans: they will only win a few, not several. Oh yeah, the Pats are still champs in the mold even without the cameras and thiefing -- OK OK, I'll stop, but ummm ... I do not think the Giants will do it again, but they sure will put up a fight .

But ya its go time and you are correct buddy.

Posted by: Eric Johnson at June 23, 2008 03:38 AM
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