Red’s NFL Preseason Picks

Red’s 2015 NFL Predictions

It’s ridiculously hot, humid and paradoxically parched. That can only mean one thing. It’s time for football in Texas. At least the NFL does not insist on playing games before Labor Day – which is something the geniuses at Texas colleges have been unable to resist for many years now. Red attended a September afternoon game in Austin in 2000 and he still hasn’t fully rehydrated.

Every year, Red makes his pre-season predictions and every year Red doesn’t do all that bad. However, Red disclaims all responsibility for those foolish enough to base any sporting wager on Red’s recommendations. And remember kids, this is serious business. Don’t try this at home without adult supervision.

2014 Recap

Red’s NFC division champions were the Eagles, Panthers, Cardinals and Bears. Wild cards were the Seahawks and Packers. That’s 4 out of 6 in the playoffs. Depending on the odds, Red has a pretty good weekend in Vegas.

Red’s AFC division champions were the Patriots, Broncos, Texans and Bengals. Wild cards were the Colts and Ravens. That 5 out of 6 in the playoffs. Red will skip work on Friday and take his chances at the sports book in Caesar’s Palace.

Red’s 9 out of 12 tied professional prognosticator and POS Pete Prisco. The only difference was P2 picked the Stealers and Red picked the Panthers. So Red (who actually works for a living despite rumors to the contrary) is as good at this as the guy who has “covered the NFL for three decades.” Figure that.

Red totally whiffed on the player and coach awards.  On to the predictions.

Red’s Annual Bitch.

Before we start, readers must first endure Red’s annual bitch about the Cowboys, TV and life in general.

Week 1       Giants Sunday Night

Week 2       At Eagles Sunday Late Game

Week 4       At Saints Sunday Night

Week 5       Patriots Sunday Late Game

Week 7       At Giants Sunday Night

Week 8       Seahawks Sunday Late Game

Week 9       Eagles Sunday Night

Week 12     Panthers –Thanksgiving

Week 13     At OTNA’s Monday Night

Week 14     At Packers Sunday Late Game

Week 15     Jets Saturday Night

So 4 of the 16 Sunday Night games feature the Cowboys.  Plus they get 4 Sunday Late Games – none of which are time zone related.  Plus a Monday Night appearance. And the traditional Thanksgiving day game.

That is 11 national TV appearances this season. And Red cannot whip out the usual old dick about lack of playoff success because the Cowboys actually managed to beat the Lions in the Wildcard round last season. Still this is a team that hasn’t sniffed the tire tracks of the limousine that carries the Lombardi Trophy to the Superb Owl in going on 20 years.

And before we forget – The 2014 Dead Man of the Year Award

Given annually to the player who went from meaningful contribution to his team winning in the previous season to utter worthlessness. In other words, the player who contributed about as much as a “Dead Man.”

First, there was some serious competition this year – Ray Rice would have been in the running except for the inconvenient fact that he did not play a single down in 2014. You have to have lived to be dead. Matt Schaub – as defending champion – was another possibility. His game against Cleveland one pass, one interception and zero yards could have put him in contention. But fortunately for Matt, it is technically impossible to claim back to back Dead Men given the nature of the award. You can’t be already dead – something that was indisputable with Schaub as last season began. That same problem precludes consideration of Doug Martin who was god awful in 2014 after an injury shortened 2013 season. Other players such as Kirk Cousins and Jake Locker had disappointing seasons but have been clinically dead for their entire careers. Trent Richardson was at least alive for one season but it was back in 2012.

So the 2014 NFL Dead Man of the Year award goes to ADRIAN PETERSON! Yes, Red knows that it was off the field issues regarding the unsupervised brutal butt whipping of one of his many children (AP remains in contention for the Calvin Murphy Father of the Year Award), but the plain fact is that AP (or AD as he prefers) was not there “All Day” because he was too busy dealing with the aftermath of beating on his boy. So instead of providing the Vikings with his standard 1600 total yards and 12 touchdowns, AD was there for one game, less than 100 total yards and 0 touchdowns. Way to go AD/AP you are the Dead Man of the Year.

NFC East:  Eagles. Red really thought the Eagles were a good pick last year. Red also bought Exxon stock. When Nick Foles was carried off the field in a basket in the first half of the Texans game last season, Red thought all bets were off. And in fact they were for both teams. Marc Sanchez entered the game and immediately heaved a 52 yard bomb to Jeremy Maclin and the Texans’ playoff hopes began circling the drain. For the rest of the game, however, it appeared the Eagles coaching staff was terrified of letting Sanchez throw the ball again. So why fly with the Eagles again? Well, exactly who else is Red going to pick? The Cowboys rode DeMarco Murray and their excellent offensive line to the playoffs last year. Which admittedly was better than the Eagles who rode Sanchez to the couch in the big media room to watch other teams in the playoffs. Romo is coming off of his best year ever and maybe the O line can make any one look like an All Pro. But everything pretty much fell into place for the Boys last year and they still needed a bogus call to win a playoff game. Red predicts this is the year that Tony Romo starts to look both tired and old. The Offensive Term for Native Americans (“OTNA’s) are lost in the woods and can’t find their hatchet. The Giants are a mystery. And while Red likes mysteries, this one is unsolvable. If Sam Bradford goes down (more like – when Sam Bradford goes down) Marc Sanchez will again be there to walk over the lifeless remains of Bradford’s battered corpse and take control of Chip’s offense. And once he runs off or trades most of the African-American players, the Eagles will more closely resemble their last championship team from 1960. 11-5 will win this division.

Our new Feature: Low Point of the Season. Red will highlight the low point of the previous season for each of his playoff picks.

Low Point of the Season: The Eagles low point had to be the moment (see above) where Nick Foles was carried off the field of NRG stadium. While Sanchez did go on to win that game. The Eagles fate was sealed when their No. 1 guy went down.

NFC South: Falcons. Red hates picking the Falcons because they always disappoint. But he has to pick someone in this division. The Panthers are in trouble with a limited running game, their top receiver out and their defensive front seven never playing up to expectations. The Saints seem on the downhill slide and the Buccaneers are – well, still the Buccaneers. It will all start with defense for the raptors. Dan Quinn should have the unit up to an acceptable level of mediocrity. The two-headed running attack of rookie Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman needs to click. And needless to say Matty Ice has to actually show up for a change. With tremendous trepidation, Red has the Falcons going 9-7 and winning the division on a tie-breaker.

Low Point of the Season: There were so many low points for the Falcons in 2014 – the 5 game losing streak, losing on the last play field goal by the Lions at Wembley Stadium after leading by 21, getting fined and losing a draft pick for pumping artificial noise into the Georgia Dome. But the low point had to be the brutal 34-3 butt-whipping laid on them by the Panthers in Week 17 to officially eliminate them from the playoffs. Yes they would have made the playoffs at 7-9 if they had won that game.

NFC West:  Seahawks. Although Red picked the Hawks to make the playoffs as a wildcard last year, it wasn’t a strong recommendation. And Red still has reservations. Even more so when he visited the Seahawks official website and was greeted with “I’M IN” in 96 point font. Exactly what would Red be in for? In for the worst call in Superb Owl history? In for what appears to be the 4th toughest schedule in the league? In for five rounds of tequila shots and a few hits on the bong before kickoff?   With 9 games against playoff teams from 2014 and a continual talent bleed, Red could see the Seahawks season taking an ugly turn early on. But a tremendous home field advantage and a couple of bottom feeders in their division should put the Hawks back in the playoffs for the fourth straight year. 10-6 probably should do it in the NFC West.

Low Point of the Season: The very last play of the season – now known as the worst call in Superb Owl history. Nothing like finishing on a low.

NFC North:  Packers. The Pack continued to under-achieve by the lofty Packer standards in 2014. Most franchises are pretty ecstatic to make it to the conference championship game, but for Wisconsin’s team losing in OT to the Seahawks was just another year not raising the Lombardi Trophy in its rightful place in Packerland. Still they outperformed Red’s prediction of a first round exit last year. But only the most controversial overturned call of the year kept them alive in playoffs when Dez Bryant’s acrobatic catch was somehow called back when the ball jiggled a bit as he hit the ground on what likely would have set up the game winning touchdown for the Cowboys. But the OT loss to the Seahawks in the conference championship game will likely mean the Packers have adequate belly-fire to fight their way back to the playoffs in 2015. Even with Jordy Nelson out –all the tools are there. Packers go 12-4 and get some rest down the stretch.

Low Point of the Season:   And speaking of finishing on a low, the Packers managed to do it as well. After having a 16 point lead at the half and leading by 12 with 5 minutes left in the game, the Packers somehow managed to blow the NFC Championship game. The low point of that game came with 2:09 left and the Packers still leading 19-14 when Packer TE Brandon Bostick fumbled the Seahawks’ onside kick allowing the Hawks to score and take the lead. The game still went to OT, but almost undoubtably is over if the Packers can simply recover an onside kick.

 NFC Wildcards:   Rams. One last hurrah for St. Louis before the Rams shuffle off to Southern California. Just another city to have its heart broken by the NFL. But then again, Jeff Fischer is used to getting run out of town. Rams on the edge at 9-7.

Low Point of the Season: The 2014 season’s finest exemplar of the dreaded “Field Goal Fest” came in Week 15 when the Rams lost 12-6 to the Cardinals. After beating the OTNA’s and Raiders by a combined 76-0 the previous two weeks, the Rams manage to score 2 field goals and be eliminated from the playoffs for the 10th straight season when Chandler Catanzaro puts 4 through the uprights.

Vikings. With Dead Man of the Year Adrian Peterson back, the Vikings are in good shape. Bridgewater looked very good in the second half of the season with total scrubs in the backfield. Veteran Mike Wallace will solidify the receiving corps. Vikings get in at 10-6.

Low Point of the Season: See Dead Man of the Year Award.

AFC East:   Patriots. This is typically where Red writes that it is cowardly and spineless to pick the Patriots year after year and Red’s loyal readers snow that he goes and does just that. But with the deflategate controversy still raging, the cheat is on the Pats this season. Let Red trick off the reasons the Pats win this one. The Patriots organization is just superior – it has not and does not sucker anything close to that. Brady has several talented deceivers who can burn a defense with that double-cross pattern in the red zone. The offense just clips along. And ol’ Bilk Belichek will be there on the sidelines wearing that hoodwinking at the other coach he has just outwitted again. It wouldn’t shark Red for this division to be closer than usual. Red still thinks the Pats will gets 5 division swindler at least 4. Red expects the Patriots to rip off at least a dozen wins. You better bleed it – Pats con do it at 12-4.

Low Point of the Season: You could argue being 2-2 after receiving a 41-14 palindromic whipping by the Chiefs in Week 4; but, well, really none.

AFC West:   Broncos. Last year Red wrote, “Hard as it maybe to recover from the ignominious butt-whipping they received in the SB, the Broncos will be back.” And indeed they were – that is, back for the ignominious butt-whipping they received at the hand of the Colts in the second round of the playoffs. Red would have bet the ranch if you gave him the Broncos plus 10 at Mile High against the Colts. Red isn’t betting on anything Broncos this year, except C. J. Anderson winning the rushing crown and PMS (Peyton Manning Starting). Broncos face toughest division in NFL and win it at 10-6.

Low Point of the Season: Red skips over the obvious loss in the second round of the playoffs to the Colts – even though that had to sting PMS. The real low point was the Week 3 OT loss to the Seahawks. After rallying for 17 points in the 4th quarter including a 80 yard game tying drive with no timeouts and only 1:08 on the clock, the Broncos still managed to lose the game in OT and understand that they just did not have the class to win one against the big boys.

AFC South:   Colts. Wow, Red is really going out on a limb with this one. The Colts have an unfair advantage in playing in the NFC South. The Colts are the class of this division and always have been except for a brief Texans interregnum in the post-Peyton era. Okay, and the Titans won the first AFC-South crown and had that excellent 13-3 season in 2008, but year in year out Red is going to bet the farm (or some smaller portion thereof) on the Colts winning this division. Red is not too petty a man to admit that it appears from all current signs that he was dead wrong about Andrew Luck. That dude will play for a NFL Championship someday – but not this year. There are questions marks. Is there any tread left on Frank Gore’s tires after 11 tough seasons? Will Luck and Andre Johnson make a connection? Will starting to two rookies (David Parry and Henry Anderson both from Stanford) on the defensive line work out? If the Colts get 2 out of 3 right on that quiz, they should be on target to blow through the outhouse of a division that NFC-South appears to be this year. Colts go 14-2 losing only to Texans at home and Falcons on the road.

Low Point of the Season: Colts were totally outclassed by Patriots in AFC Championship game. The Pats scored 3 TD’s in the third quarter to snap the spine of the Colts and send them packing back to Hoosierville.

AFC North:   Bengals. Red has a particular fondness for the Red Rifle from Katy, Texas for obvious reasons. And there are plenty of other reasons to like the Bengals making the playoffs a fourth straight time. The Bengals’ defense will be among the best in the league. On the other side, they may have the best tandem running backs in the game in Hill and Bernard which will certainly free up some space for the passing game. But still, Red is again picking a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in 25 years.   Who says Red aint got no cajones? Bengals 11-5.

Low Point of the Season:   In the 2014 season’s only tie, Bengal kicker Mike Nugent’s 36 miss on the last play of overtime against the Panthers cost the Bengals a shot at the division championship – actually lost when the Stealers whipped them in Week 17 – but really missing a 36 yarder in OT?

AFC Wildcards:   Chargers. The Chargers never fail to disappoint Red. But some day . . . some day. . . . Chargers in at 10-6.

Low Point of the Season: After starting the season 5-1, the Chargers cap off a 3 game losing streak with a 37-0 stomping by the Dolphins.

Ravens.  Ravens are a semi-popular choice to make the Superb Owl. I don’t see that with Kubiak no longer running the offense, but there is enough residual talent here to make the Ravens an above-average team and that may be all it takes to be a Wildcard in what appears to be a down year for the AFC. Questions remain? Is Justin Forsett last season’s Gary Brown or this season’s Charles White? Is the Ravens defense just a shell of its former bad-ass self? And then there is Joe? Answers: Red thinks JF has at least one or two more superior seasons in him. The Ravens D is no longer elite but good enough to win a few games. And while Red hates him, he never discounts the power of Flacco Joe – still among the best Quarterbacks in NFL history judged solely over his first seven seasons.  Someone has to get in at 9-7 

Low Point of the Season: Losing 25-13 in Week 16 to the Texans who were down to a 4th string quarterback in super-scrub Case Keenum.

 Awards:

NFL MVP –   Aaron Rodgers – A-Rodg returns to form despite loss of J. Nelson.

Defensive Player of the Year –  JJ Watt – don’t overthink it, he’s just that good.

Offensive ROY –   Melvin Gordon – problematic choice because no one watches Chargers’ games.

Defensive ROY –  Kwon Alexander – someone has to win in what looks to be a pretty diverse class of defensive rookies.

Coach of the Year —   Mike Zimmer – not even close if the Vikings win a playoff game.

NFL Playoffs

NFC Championship Game – Packers over Eagles

AFC Championship Game – Patriots over Bengals

Superb Owl – Packers over Patriots in a fitting match for the game formerly known as “Superb Owl L.”

SPECIAL NCAA BONUS PREDICTIONS

NCAA Playoff Teams:

TCU

USC

Florida State

Ohio State

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