Tag Archives: NFL Preseason Picks

Red’s NFL Preseason Picks

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.

NFC East

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.

NFC South:

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.

NFC West: 

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.

NFC North:

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.

 NFC Wildcards:

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.

AFC East

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.

AFC West

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.

AFC South:

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.

AFC North

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.

AFC Wildcards

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.

Awards

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.

Playoffs

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.

 

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