This will be my fourth year predicting on this website. I didn't do too well in my seasonal predictions last year because
I became conservative with my picks, straying from ones like "Rams to the NFC Championship game" in 1999 and "Ravens
to the divisional round" in 2000. This year, a few of my picks will be less believable. These are teams that I believe will
do very well, that I might have been afraid of picking last year.
The Eagles will win the division, barring an injury to Donovan McNabb. Of course this won't happen, because of
his summer workouts. The offense remains almost identical, the only difference being that Freddie Mitchell will be the
number two receiver, instead of Todd Pinkston. On defense, the Eagles lost Pro Bowl LB Jeremiah Trotter. This loss
will not matter much because Barry Gardner is an adequate replacement on running downs, while Carlos Emmons will
come in on passing plays. SS and OLB are upgraded by Blaine Bishop and Shawn Barber, while rookie defensive backs
Lito Sheppard and Michael Lewis will enable the Eagles to finally beat the Rams. Record after 8 games: 8-0. Record
after 12 games: 10-2. Projected Record: 12-4. Winning on a tie-breaker, and finishing in second are the
Cowboys. Their defense has become one of the NFL's elite with the additions of La'Roi Glover, Kevin Hardy, Bryant
Westbrook and Roy Williams. They were already ranked fourth in the NFL last year, so this group will be dominant all
year. On offense, the obvious thing that all Cowboys fans are waiting for is when Emmitt Smith breaks Walter Payton's
rushing record. Emmitt continues to be solid, the offensive line is one of the NFL's best and the receivers are adequate. The
only question mark that the Cowboys have is how QB Quincy Carter will play. I think he will make some mistakes that will
cost Dallas some games, but he will be better than last year. Record after 8 games: 4-4. Record after 12 games: 7-5.
Projected Record: 9-7. Since the Redskins can't beat the Cowboys, they will finish third. While they do
have great linebackers, and an even better secondary, the Skins do not have a pass rusher, which will hurt them.
However, Marvin Lewis is the defensive coordinator, so expect him to come up with
something. The Redskins have Stephen Davis and a pretty good offensive line, but they do not have much else on offense.
Rod Gardner is only a second year receiver, Jacquez Green is an NFL bust and their quarterbacks are even worse. The
Skins have more holes than the Cowboys, but they have a huge coaching advantage over them. Record after 8 games: 4-4.
Record after 12 games: 6-6. Projected Record: 9-7. As you can see, defense is key in the NFC East, and for the
first time in years, the Giants are not a defensive team. They lost the heart and soul of their team, Jesse Armstead
to the Redskins. Of course the Giants have Michael Strahan, Will Allen and Michael Barrow, but other than that, they do
not have much on defense. The Giants also lost Lomas Brown and Ron Stone, two offensive linemen, so expect Tiki Barber and Ron
Dayne to struggle. Kerry Collins returned to his intercepting ways last year, and if it continues this year, it will be a long season
for the Giants and their fans. Record after 8 games: 1-7. Record after 12 games: 1-11. Projected Record: 2-14.
The Packers have the best offensive line in football. Last year, they allowed only 22 sacks, and all five starters are back
this season. They will protect Brett Favre, who has two excellent weapons in Ahman Green and Terry Glenn. Brett doesn't have a good second receiver, but he does have Pro Bowl TE Bubba Franks to use. On defense,
the Packers are great. They solidified their defensive line by signing Joe Johnson away from New Orleans. Their
secondary is one of the best in the league. If Brett Favre can stay outdoors throughout the playoffs, the Packers might
be unstoppable. Record after 8 games: 7-1. Record after 12 games: 9-3. Projected Record: 13-3. The Bears
have a problem. They can't beat the Packers. And they won't be able to until they get a real quarterback. Jim
Miller is the most mediocore quarterback there is, and Chris Chandler breaks easily. The Bears will move the ball
conserivatley again, running with the A-Train and dumping the ball off to Marty Booker, Marcus Robinson and David
Terrell. The Bears' defense is great, with the exception of their secondary. Other than SS Mike Brown, there are no
above average players in that secondary. Record after 8 games: 6-2. Record after 12 games: 8-4. Projected Record:
11-5. "I play when I wan't to play." Hopefully, Randy Moss will want to play often this year for the Vikings
because 40% of the plays are geared towards him. Randy Moss is unstoppable, and as long as he and Culpepper are
healthy, there is no stopping this duo, especially with Derrick Alexander starting opposite of Moss. Defense is the
problem for Minnesota. They are much better than last year with the additions of Lorrenzo Bronell, Kenny Mixon, Henri
Crockett, and Corey Chavous, but they are still hurting for more quality players to start. The Vikings will be back, just
not this year. Record after 8 games: 3-5. Record after 12 games: 6-6. Projected Record: 6-10. Speaking of
coming back, a team that was never there is the Detroit Lions. They have only won one playoff game in franchise
history, but Matt Millen is trying hard to fix that. The Lions are hurting everywhere. They have a rookie QB, a pathetic
excuse for a running back, no secondary and no linebackers. Barrett Green, Bracey Walker, Brian
Williams.... who are these guys? They are starters on Detroit's defense. Two strong points that the Lions have is their
defensive line and their wide receivers. Joey Harrington will be a third, but he's not ready yet. Sorry, Lions fans. Looks
like another horrible season. Record after 8 games: 0-8. Record after 12 games: 0-12. Projected Record: 2-14.
Let's see if Jon Gruden can help the Buccaneers score this season. Offensively, he has brought in Keenan
McCardell, Joe Jurevicius, Michael Pittman and Ken Dilger. Pretty good. However, the problems the Buccaneers have
involve their offensive line and their quarterback situation. I have been arguing that Shaun King should be the starter
for a year now, and Gruden might agree with me. He seems to be "in love" with King, and definatley does not want
Brad Johnson to be the starter this year. The Bucs' defense continues to be one of the NFL's best. The weak part of
their defense continues to be their secondary, but with Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper no longer in their division,
the Bucs' secondary won't be exposed as much. Record after 8 games: 4-4. Record after 12 games: 7-5. Projected
Record: 9-7. The Saints have changed from a defensive-minded team to an offensive team. The Saints will
start with three receivers, Joe Horn, Jerome Pathon and Donte' Stallworth, which might be the best receiving trio in
the league. Aaron Brooks is a stud, and Deuce McAllister might be in the top ten in total yards this season. What really
hurts the Saints is the departures of La'Roi Glover, Keith Mitchell and Joe Johnson. The Saints might have the twentieth
best defense in the NFL this year, if they are lucky. The Saints will not contend with the Buccaneers, because of their
tough, early schedule. After week 9, things start getting easier and their receiving trio should be used to this offense.
Something that helps the Saints out a lot is that they no longer battle the Rams and 49ers twice a year. Record after
8 games: 1-7. Record after 12 games: 5-7. Projected Record: 8-8. Totally opposite the Saints, the Falcons
have an easy schedule before mid-season, but then have to face the likes of Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Seattle and
Cleveland. It should be interesting how Michael Vick does this year. He does not have a threat at wide receiver, but he
should use Warrick Dunn a lot, when he isn't scrambling around. Vick won't get a lot of passing yards this year, but he
is the first quarterback ever with a realistic chance of getting 1,000 yards rushing. The Falcons' defense needs work.
They have pretty good linebackers, despite the loss of Henri Crockett. S Keion Carpenter will help the secondary, but
they can get a lot better there. Record after 8 games: 6-2. Record after 12 games: 7-5. Projected Record: 7-9.
The Panthers won the first game of their season last year, but lost the next 15. Wouldn't it be fitting if they won
their first two games this year, and lost the next 14? This is what I have happening. This team just isn't that good. Chris
Weinke can be an efficent quarterback in this league, but he is already old and is only in his second year. Running back
Lamar Smith averaged 3.4 yards a carry in Miami last year. Muhshin Muhammad is very inconsistent and Isaac Byrd should
not be a starting receiver in this league. Wesley Walls is old, as is the offensive line. The Panthers' defense is looking
better. They have some future playmakers on their team, that include Julius Peppers, Dan Morgan, Michael Rucker and
Deon Grant. Add in veterans Sean Gilbert, Mark Fields and Mike Minter, and you have the reason why the Panthers
won't go winless this year. Record after 8 games: 2-6. Record after 12 games: 2-10. Projected Record: 2-14.
This is what I was talking about in my introduction. I feel the Seahawks have all the tools to be Super Bowl
contenders this year. They have the second best running back in the league, Shaun Alexander, who may lead the league
in rushing yards and rushing TDs this season. Their two receivers, Darrell Jackson and Koren Robinson should both
break out and have 1,200+ yard seasons. Tight end Jeremy Stevens will give Trent Dilfer a third target, while Dilfer's
offensive line is very solid, with the exception of right tackle. All of the starters on the Seahawks' defensive line are
solid, while their linebackers (Simmons, Brown and Kirkland) are incredible. Their secondary is the weakest part of
their defense, but a lot of teams wish they had Shawn Springs, Doug Evans and Reggie Teague. Trent Dilfer has all
of the tools he needs to succeed. He is undefeated in his last 19 starts, so its hard to bet against him. Record after 8
games: 6-2. Record after 12 games: 9-3. Projected Record: 13-3. I think everyone else is picking the Rams
to win this division. They might have the best offense of all time, while their defense is pretty good too (but not as
good as Seattle's). Their secondary is definatley the best part of their defense, but their linebackers are questionable.
Jamie Duncan will not be able to replace London Fletcher's leadership, while the other two are very young (Tommy Polley
and Robert Thomas). The two problems the Rams may have this season are their brutal schedule and the conceidedness
that lost them a few games last year, including the Super Bowl, last year. Record after 8 games: 7-1. Record after 12
games: 10-2. Projected Record: 12-4. Having the same problem as the Bears, the 49ers can't beat their
nemesis, the Rams. However, their young defense is always improving, so they look to be Super Bowl contenders once
again this year. It is just unfortunate that the Seahawks and the Rams both inhabit their division. The Niners are a team
without holes, other than having a dependable second receiver and tight end. A very tough schedule is something they
have to battle through, so an improvement over their twelve win season seems unlikely. Record after 8 games: 6-2. Record
after 12 games: 10-2. Projected Record: 11-5. The Cardinals will be the victims of this tough division. In
any other division, they could finish above .500, but they will be raped 6 times by their NFC West opponents. The Cards
should be close to matching up offensively their new rivals. Jake Plummer stopped throwing picks last year, their
offensive line is top ten, David Boston is of the NFL's elite receivers and Freddie Jones is a very good tight end, when
healthy. Their defense is the problem. They added Wendell Bryant, LeVar Fisher and Duane Starks this offseason, so
they will be better than last year, but they still need a lot of help. Record after 8 games: 4-4. Record after 12 games:
6-6. Projected Record: 7-9.
The Dolphins acquired Ricky Williams, so they finally have a great running back for the first time in ages. The
problem is, they don't have a quarterback, nor do they have an offensive line. Jay Fielder should not be a starter in
this league. He makes too many mistakes and often has to come back in games to correct his mistakes. He's lucky he has
Chris Chambers, who might be a top ten wide receiver this year. They have a stout defense, except for their defensive
line, which lost two players and has two other players returning from injury. The Patriots will give the Fins all they have,
but I think the Dolphins will win this division, making the playoffs a sixth straight season. Record after 8 games: 5-3.
Record after 12 games: 8-4. Projected Record: 11-5. The Patriots will try to prevent becoming one of
these "bubble-teams", teams that over-achieve because of an easy schedule. I think they will do well this year, but they
will not have the magical season that they had last year. Everyone will be gunning for them all season, so another division
title may be hard to obtain. Tom Brady will proove that he is no fluke with help from newly
acquired TE Daniel Graham and WR Donald Hayes. Antowain Smith should continue to run well behind an underrated
offensive line. Defensivley, the Patriots have an excellent secondary. This unit slowed down the Rams twice last year.
They are also solid everywhere else, so this team will prove that they were no fluke. Record after 8 games: 5-3. Record
after 12 games: 7-5. Projected Record: 10-6. The Jets were victims of the cap, so they lost a bunch of
players, most of which were on their defense. Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman both moved to Houston. They also lost
bookend tackle Ryan Young. The Jets must make Chad Pennington their starting quarterback, because they will get
nowhere with Vinny Testaverde this year, despite having Curtis Martin and Wayne Chrebet to help out. At least they still
own the Dolphins... Record after 8 games: 2-6. Record after 12 games: 5-7. Projected Record: 5-11.
There's a lot of hope in Buffalo this year. Many fans are expecting the Bills to make the playoffs this year.
That's not going to happen. The Bills don't have an offensive line, even with the addition of Mike Williams. Drew Bledsoe
will be running for his life half the time, and Travis Henry may fnd it hard to run inside. They also don't have a
defensive line. They will have no pass rush, despite having improved linebackers and defensive backs. The Bills simply
have too many holes on their team to contend with Miami and New England. Record after 8 games: 3-5. Record after 12
games: 3-9. Projected Record: 3-13.
It'll be a very surprising AFC North race, and it came down to a tie between the Steelers and the Browns. The
Steelers have the second tie-breaker (record in common games), so Pittsburgh will win their second straight division
title. The Steelers still lack the quarterback they need to take them all the way, but they have no holes anywhere else.
Jerome Bettis is a stud back, his offensive line is one of the NFL's best and their receiver duo, Plaxico Burress and
Hines Ward have both emerged to be Pro Bowlers caliber receivers. Their front seven in their 3-4 scheme are all more
than legit, while their secondary is the only non-outstanding thing on their defense. The Steelers will look prolific in
the regular season again, but should fall short in the playoffs. Record after 8 games: 5-3. Record after 12 games: 9-3.
Projected Record: 13-3. Like I said before, the Browns will tie with the Steelers. Now in the fourth
season, they have a realistic chance of winning the Super Bowl. Tim Couch finally has the tools around him to be
successful. The signing of offensive linemen Barry Stokes and Ryan Tucker were huge, while William Green finally
gives the Browns a running game. Kevin Johnson prooved that his rookie year was no fluke; having nearly 1,100
receiving yards with no legit second receiver. The Browns' defense was one of the NFL's best last season, and it
only improved with the signings of Kenard Lang, Earl Holmes and Robert Griffith. Coach Butch Davis has turned this
into a winning program and his players believe in him. There's no stopping a team that believes in themselves and has the
talent to win (see 2001 Patriots). Record after 8 games: 7-1. Record after 12 games: 9-3. Projected Record: 13-3.
The other Ohio team, the Bengals will also shock the football world this year. They aren't as good as their
cross-state rival, but they have some very good players. Of course, Dillon will be running behind Lorenzo Neal and a
great offensive line. The Bengals' front seven are perhaps one of the top five in the NFL. Their secondary is a little
shaky, but Artrell Hawkins and Cory Hall are both very good players. Jon Kitna is the weakest link on this
team. He is the most erratic quarterback in the NFL, however, he now has Michael Westbrook to throw to, in addition
to Peter Warrick. There will be no excuses for messing up this season. The Bengals' best quarterback, Akili Smith is
still injured. Cincinnati will benefit from an easy schedule, but this is no bubble-team. Record after 8 games: 5-3.
Record after 12 games: 6-6. Projected Record: 10-6. They were Super Bowl Champions in 2000, but now the
Ravens are one of the weaker teams in the league. Their great defense is dismantled, however, they still have
some outstanding players, like Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary, Chris McAlister and Ed Reed. They will
not be dominant this year, but this defense is still decent. The Ravens may have trouble scoring. Third year quarterback
Chris Redman will be making his first start with Jeff Blake breathing down his throat, Jamal Lewis is returning from
a torn ACL and a sprained MCL, Todd Heap will be replacing Pro Bowl TE Shannon Sharpe, and Brandon Stokley will
be starting at wide receiver for the first time. The Ravens may struggle early on, but look for them to pick up momentum
in the second half of the season. Record after 8 games: 1-7. Record after 12 games: 5-7. Projected Record: 5-11.
In a division with high-powered offenses and no defenses, the Colts are king. They had the worst defense in the
NFL last season, but Tony Dungy should boost this defense up ten slots in the NFL rankings. They brought in Larry
Triplett and Walt Harris, who become the best players on this defense. The offense should benefit greatly from moving
out of the AFC East, away from teams with powerhouse defenses like the Patriots, Dolphins and Jets. A huge concern
for Colt fans should be whether or not Edgerrin James will re-injure himself. I think it's a certainty. Following in the
footsteps of Jamal Anderson and Terrell Davis, James will be a cripple this season. Dominic Rhodes should be a good
enough replacement again. Good enough to win the weakest division in the NFL. Record after 8 games: 3-5. Record after
12 games: 5-7. Projected Record: 8-8. The Titans were considered a disappointment last season, but
last season was no fluke. This team is just not as good as the two 13-3 teams they had in 1999 and 2000. This defense
is just not good. They have starters like John Thornton, Kevin Carter, Frank Chamberlain, Andre Dyson and Tank
Williams. They have no buisness starting in the NFL (Dyson and Williams do in a few years). Their offensive line wasn't
that great last year, and they lose a great lineman in Bruce Matthews. There are a few positives. Air McNair had a career
year last year, and Eddie George is returning from injury. The Titans signed Greg Comella to block for George, so the
Titans' running game should be revived this season. The Titans will be close to the Colts, but I don't see them keeping
up with that high-powered offense. Record after 8 games: 3-5. Record after 12 games: 5-7. Projected Record: 7-9.
After a very successful expansion draft, the Texans signed a few quality players like LB Kailee Wong, FS
Chris Carter and C Steve McKinney. While they have some very good players, they have some huge holes. They have no
running game, nor do they have any receivers or tight ends. They are missing a pass rusher on the defensive line, as well
as a few good linebackers to fit their 3-4 scheme. You can't forget that they have a rookie quarterback starting. I think
it'll take a while for them to win their first game, but after that, they'll win a few more. Record after 8 games: 1-7.
Record after 12 games: 3-9. Projected Record: 4-12. The Jaguars basically lost the farm because of
their salary cap troubles this offseason. Now, all it seems they have is their often-injured trio (Brunell, Taylor, Smith),
Tony Brackens, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. These are great players to build around, but it'll be hard because
of their salary cap restraint. The Jaguars, the weakest team in the weakest division, may only win in their division.
Record after 8 games: 3-5. Record after 12 games: 3-9. Projected Record: 3-13.
Things were looking very promising for the Raiders, until their sack leader Ronald Regan Upshaw suffered a season
ending injury in June. Old man Trace Armstrong will start in his place, but he is coming off a season spent on the IR.
The rest of the defense looks very good. The additions of John Parella, Napoleon Harris, Rod Woodson, Bill Romanowski,
and Phillip Buchannon are huge. On offense, the Raiders are loaded with old vets. Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice and Tim
Brown have been getting up there in age, but they just don't stop playing well. The offensive line is a different story.
They are all very talented, however all five starters are coming back from some sort of injury. The Raiders
may wear down late in the season, just like they did last year. Record after 8 games: 5-3. Record after 12 games: 7-5.
Projected Record: 10-6. The Broncos have a very talented roster, but I can't have them do well because
of the chop-blocking karma. Every year, many Broncos get injured and it'll happen again this year. Ashley Lelie already
got injured in training camp. Realistically, the Broncos have the best receiving quartette in the league in Rod Smith,
Ed McCaffrey, Ashley Lelie and Shannon Sharpe. They also have four outstanding backs in Terrell Davis, Olandis
Gary, Mike Anderson and President Clinton Portis. You can't forget about their talented defense as well. In fact, the
only thing I would change about the Broncos' roster is their quarterback and a few players in their secondary. Back to
karma... How many Broncos will be injured this year? A lot. Record after 8 games: 3-5. Record after 12 games: 5-7.
Projected Record: 8-8. Losing a tie because of divisional records are the Chiefs. I would call this a very
disappointing offseason for Chiefs fans. I expected the Chiefs to go after Az Hakim, Qadry Ismail, and other fast
receivers in order to recreate what the Rams have. They did bring in Johnnie Morton, DT Ryan Sims and Pro Bowl tackle
William Roaf, but the Chiefs just haven't done enough to improve dramatically. They are still a good team because of
players like Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzalez, Trent Green and Marvcus Patten, but they are not a playoff team yet. Vermeil
took three years to turn the Rams into champs, so maybe next year. Record after 8 games: 4-4. Record after 12 games:
6-6. Projected Record: 8-8. I figure the Chargers to start off strong again, but with five consecutive
games against the Rams, 49ers, Dolphins, Broncos and Raiders, you have to assume that the Chargers will fade away
in the second half once again. Drew Brees has to start. Doug Fluite is 40 years old and does not have the arm strength
to throw downfield. Flutie was the main reason for the fade last year, but with Drew Brees, the Chargers may gain
momentum in the first half, and actually go 2-3 or 3-2 in that tough five game stretch. Being a conservative, Marty
Schottenheimer is almost guarenteed to go with Flutie, which is a huge mistake. Other than the offensive line and
receiving corps, the rest of the Chargers team looks great. The Chargers signed Donnie Edwards, Quentin Jammer and
Jason Fisk to help out their already-top-10 defense. The window of opportunity for the Chargers is shrinking. They
will soon be in salary cap troubles, while winning a lot of games in a tough AFC West is no easy task. Record after 8
games: 4-4. Record after 12 games: 5-7. Projected Record: 6-10.
49ers at Eagles: I don't like the Niners' chances traveling across the country to play in cold Philadelphia. Eagles by
10. Rams at Buccaneers: The whole football world will be shocked when the Rams lose to the Buccaneers in the first
round. The Rams just can't beat these guys. Bucs by 3. Buccaneers at Packers: There will be a beatdown in Green
Bay. The Buccaneers can't win in cold weather and in Green Bay, so do the two of them cancel out? No, it'll be a blowout. Pack
by 31. Eagles at Seahawks: Playing in the cold doesn't bother the Eagles, obviously. I like the Eagles in this one. They
will do the same thing to Seattle, that they did to Chicago last year. Totally shut them down. Eagles by 20. NFC
Championship: Eagles at Packers: You really can't bet against Brett Favre at home, especially when its under 40
degrees. It will be, and the Packers will go to the Super Bowl. Packers by 3.
Patriots at Raiders: I like the Patriots to keep beating the Raiders, especially if they win against them in week 1, which
I have happening. Patriots by 4. Browns at Colts: The Colts will proove that the division winner rule is a stupid one, as
they get dismantled by a much better team, the Browns. Browns by 24. Patriots at Steelers: I think the Steelers will get
their revenge here, beating the Patriots. A rare playoff win for Kordell. Steelers by 3. Browns at Dolphins: The Browns
will continue their rampage, slaughtering the Dolphins on the road. Jay Fiedler will not win in the postseason. AFC
Championship: Browns at Steelers: The Blackjack rule will come into play here, as an AFC Central team dethrones another
one in the playoffs. Browns win in a close one - 3 sounds good.
Super Bowl XXXVII
Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns: The Super Bowl is outside this year (thank God) so you have to like Brett
Favre to win this one. Cleveland won't go down without a fight though... Look for Favre to drive down the field and throw a game
winning touchdown to Bubba Franks sometime in the fourth quarter. Green Bay 27, Cleveland 24.
2002 All-NFL (Offense)
QBs: Kurt Warner and Daunte Culpepper
RBs: Marshall Faulk and Shaun Alexander
WRs: Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison and David Boston
TE: Tony Gonzalez
2002 All-Surprise-NFL (Offense)
QBs: Shane Matthews and Shaun King
RBs: Deuce McAllister and Travis Henry
WRs: Darrell Jackson, Freddie Mitchell and Jacquez Green