Red’s 2016 NFL Predictions
Football season starts early in the Lone Star State. So early that Red has already been to not one but two high school games. And really, there is nothing quite as boring as your average high school football game with an average of 33 penalties, obnoxious parents, bad refs, inept play, mosquitos, surprisingly small crowds and a 7-0 final score. The tedium of a high school game is rivaled only by a regular season NFL game with its endless TV timeouts, incredibly loud piped in bad 80’s music (at least at NRG), obnoxious beer-guzzling fans, sanitized atmosphere and overall complete lack of spectacle. Such is the fan experience for the modern-day gladiation that is professional football. Red can handle about 2 pro games a year – maybe 3 if his team makes the playoffs.
Other than that, Red is totally excited to bring you his pre-season predictions. Red’s record in this regard over the last decade or so is at least respectable. As usual, however, Red disclaims all responsibility for little juvenile delinquent Timmy stealing the grocery money and going down to his local bookie and putting it all on Red’s projected Superb Owl winner. Those foolish enough to wager on any professional sporting event that doesn’t involve equines running counter-clockwise around an oval track get exactly what they deserve. So Danny, keep your grubby little felonious mitts out of Mom’s purse and leave this stuff to the pros who usually don’t do a whole lot better than Red.
2015 Season Recap
Red’s NFC division champions were the Eagles, Falcons, Seahawks and Panthers. Wild cards were the Rams and Vikings. That’s 4 out of 6 in the playoffs. Better than, “Meh!”
Red’s AFC division champions were the Patriots, Broncos, Colts and Bengals. Wild cards were the Chargers and Ravens. That 3 out of 6 in the playoffs. What can he say, Red blew it.
Red’s 7 out of 12 is unacceptable. He’ll run laps sometime in October. Please not that Red did pick JJ Watt as Defensive Player of the Year. Big Whoop.
Red’s Annual Bitch.
If you are a Cowboys fan, and may God have mercy on your soul if you are, thanks to the NFL scheduling gurus you need not worry about rushing home from church for the kickoff. This year is no exception. Here is the National TV schedule for the team that went 4-12 last season.
Week 1 Giants Sunday Late Game
Week 3 Bears Sunday Night Game
Week 4 At 49ers Sunday Late Game
Week 5 Bengals Sunday Late Game
Week 6 At Packers Sunday Late Game
Week 8 Eagles Sunday Night Game
Week 10 At Stealers Sunday Late Game
Week 11 Redskins Thanksgiving
Week 12 At Vikings Thursday Night Game
Week 13 At Giants Sunday Night Game
Week 16 Lions Monday Night Game
Cowboys get 3 of the 16 Sunday Night games. Plus 5 Sunday Late Games – only one of which (49ers) is time zone related. Plus a Monday Night and a Thursday Night appearance. And the traditional Thanksgiving day game
That is the standard minimum of 11 national TV appearances for a franchise that shat their collective pants last season. Only in corporate America does such incompetence get rewarded like this.
Giants. This division is more up for grabs than a deep ball from Peyton Manning. Any team could win this thing. But those darn statistics boys tell us that only one team can. It’s up to Uncle Red to figure that one out. The Cowboys will be starting a rookie quarterback and unproven rookie Ezekial Elliot at back. It’s unclear what the OTNA’s are up to and the Eagles are still a mess. Red is predicting that the NFC East will be this year’s PEFAPFD (that’s pathetic excuse for a professional football division for those who haven’t been paying attention). Now that the Tom “Coach of the Walking Dead’ Coughlin is gone, look for new life in Northern Jersey. Ben “No Relation to Bob” McAdoo takes over after serving as offensive coordinator. The Giants probably had more money to spend than any other team in the off season and spend like drunken sailors they did. Additions of Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple to join Dominique Rogers-Cromartie may give the Giants the best trio at corner in the league. Name a better group. Hmm, thought so. And they won’t be short-handed with Jason Pierre Paul back for the entire season (no pun intended). As seems to happen almost every other year now, a team with a losing record will advance to the playoffs. New Jersey racks up a 5 game losing streak in the latter part of the season but still slides in under the door at 7-9 while the rest of the division goes home to kick the dog.
Panthers. Red usually picks the Falcons and we see how that usually works out. In a swift break from tradition, Red is going with the NFC Champion Panthers to repeat as division winners in 2015. The Panthers were undoubtedly the best team in the NFL last season until the clock struck midnight, the offensive line turned back into a bunch of rats, the football became a slippery pumpkin and Cam Newton lost one of his glass cleats on the way out of the locker room only to have Von Miller stomp on it like the groom at a Jewish wedding. That’s how the Cinderella story usually ends. This season Cam solidifies his spot as one of the two or three best all round quarterbacks. And he has some more help with Kelvin Benjamin back. The loss of Josh Norman will be painful, but Luke Kuechly anchors a more than good enough defense. It’s a bit of a comedown for Carolina to a 12-4 season but only a bit of a comedown as shall be seen.
Cardinals. Call Red a frontrunner if you must – it won’t hurt his feelings. Red didn’t believe in the Cardinals last year and he isn’t exactly drinking the Kool-Aid now. The Cards may be just a Carson Palmer pulled groin away from a 7-9 season. David Johnson is the hot topic now. Look for a bit of a sophomore slump, but there 10-6 for Arizona probably should do it in the NFC West.
Vikings. Remember when NFL teams used to play at places with mysterious names like the Polo Grounds or Arrowhead Stadium or Candlestick Park or the Los Angeles Coliseum or the Cotton Bowl? Red is showing his age I suppose. The Vikings who once played at Metropolitan Stadium and then the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome are now leaving the not so cozy confines of the TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota for new digs. Red would research the record for established teams breaking in new stadiums if he were that kind of guy. Rest assured, he isn’t. Exactly how does one get excited about a Sunday afternoon game at good old U.S. Bank Stadium. Does that come with free checking and a carry-all? Red is high on the real stuff and Teddy Bridgewater. Touchdown Teddy will have a true break out season in 2016 and No. 1 pick Laquon Treadwell will provide a tempting target that was missing most of last season. The real mystery man in the passing game may be Moritz Bohringer who was drafted in the 5th round out of the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League. He’s a long shot to make the team but he has size and speed enough if he can pick up the game. Minnesota makes it look easy this season with a 13-3 record to win the division.
Update: Oops! Teddy’s gone for the season and Sam “Where’s My Head” Bradford is at the helm. Red is going to cowboy up and ride the Vikings anyway because it’s too much trouble to rewrite this stuff.
Buccaneers. Last season’s rookie of the year Jameis Winston has Red believing. Red also still believes in Santa Claus and alien abductions. The running back combo of Doug Martin and Charles Sims could be the most potent in the NFC – after all they combined for 2700 yards of total offense last season. All that wasn’t good enough to avoid a four game losing streak that ended in Head Coach Lovie Smith and the entire defensive staff getting shit-canned. Out with the old and in with the old as the Bucs promoted offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter (who has as close to a good porn star name as you are ever going to see on an NFL coaching staff unless Dick Butkiss comes back) to head coach. JW will not have to learn a news system and the Bucs offense was certainly good enough to have a winning season last year. On the other side, they brought in also shit-canned former Falcons head coach Mike Smith to run the defense. It seems that defensive guys who get head coaching spots and fail almost always come back and do pretty damn well as defensive coordinators again. See, e.g., Dom Capers, Jack Del Rio and Wade Phillips. Tampa Bay sneaks in at 9-7.
Packers. Really by default. Of course they are probably going to win the North with Bridgewater gone. Of course Aaron Rodgers is going to be good. Of course, someone at Lambeau Field will suffer frostbite in Week 17. Of course, they will sell out every game. Of course, Red will stop picking the Packers someday. Of course, today is not the day. Green Bay does it again at 10-6.
Patriots. This is typically where every year Red writes that it is cowardly and spineless to pick the Patriots year after year and then he goes and does just that. Each year Red thinks that this cannot last forever, that Tom Brady is finally going to look tired and old, that Belichick’s deal with Satan is up, and that the Pats will finally see the Jets or the Bills or the Dolphins gaining on them and not be able to finish. And each year Red is wrong in his mind but right on the pick. New England whips the East yet again and goes 12-4.
Raiders. Really not excited about picking any team in this division. Red likes Lativius and Lil’ brother Carr while continue to maintain that David Carr still sucks! But maybe just maybe, this is the season after which the wretched and emaciated ghost of Al Davis can finally rest in peace with another division championship. Ah, who is Red kidding? Dead Al will walk the corridors of NFL stadiums for all eternity searching for another championship for the Silver and Black. Oakland surprises everyone with an outstanding 12-4 record.
Jaguars. Red likes to go out on a limb in this division. Red views this as possibly the most competitive division in the NFL in 2016. Every team has a chance and every team has a big question mark. The Texans have a revamped offense at the skill positions and a solid defense (if Clowney and Watt are healthy), but the offensive line is a complete disaster. The Colts have question marks everywhere, but have the only truly experienced quarterback in the division. The Titans are coming on strong, but is Mariota the franchise QB? Red predicts you will have one team at 8-8 and three teams at 9-7 and have to go deep into the tie-breakers to pick a division winner. Jacksonville wins with best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and allowed (Tiebreaker No. 7). How’s that for exactitude.
Bengals. Red distant cousin Andy “Red Rifle” Dalton can’t seem to catch a break. He was having a season that could have put him reach of an MVP award when he broke his thumb in Week 14. Even so, they almost won a playoff game against the Stealers with A.J. McCarron under/behind center. So it’s pretty much make or break time for this current iteration of the Bengals. They have the weapons on offense with the Jeremy and Gio show. Bengal have lost 8 straight playoff dating back to 1991 and have lost 5 straight in the last in the last 5 seasons – the only team in NFL history with such a record of playoff futility. Once again, Red is again picking a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in 25 years. Cincinnati 11-5.
Jets. Meet the Jets, Greet the Jets, Step Right up and Beat the Jets. But not too often. New Jersey 10-6.
Broncos. The defending champion sometimes has a rough road to even returning to the playoffs. The Broncos may have it even tougher with new quarterback Trevor “the Ape Man” Siemian beating out tired old Marc Sanchez for the starting job. Gibbon his lack of experience, you might think Red is a fool to pick the Broncos. But in Siemian, Red can siamang who knows how to use the offensive weapons he has. With an inexperienced starter, Kubiak won’t monkey around with trick plays. Instead, he’ll find a way to macaque the defenses straight on. But do look for some langur passes to stretch the field. And the Broncos defense is strong, so awesome that it might seem surrillis at times – and but rest assured it’s very real. I could see the Chiefs getting this last spot but I lemur to Denver. They are bonobo at least 10-6 and get into the mix. The orangutan and blue is headed back to the playoffs and Broncos fans can gorilla crazy in January. They won’t be the chimps, but it will be a good season.
NFL MVP – Andy Dalton – As noted, he might have won last year but for the untimely broken thumb.
Defensive Player of the Year – Khalil Mack – He would have won last year but for the force of nature that is JJ Watt
Offensive ROY – Will Fuller must learn that those things he has called hands are designed to catch a football. If he does that, he’s ROY.
Defensive ROY – Myles Jack – He’s got to stay on the field, but if he does he could put up some numbers that will get attention.
Comeback Player of the Year – Jordy Nelson will be a fantasy favorite in 2016.
Coach of the Year – Gus Bradley – All he has to do is win.
NFC Championship Game – Panthers over Cardinals
AFC Championship Game – Bengals over Jaguars
Superb Owl – Panthers rout Bengals and claim the first Lombardi Trophy for one of the post-modern era expansion teams.