Ten 2010 NFL Predictions
1. Brett Favre will be back with the Minnesota Vikings in 2010. Even before his “Pants on the Ground” celebration, Favre formed a bond with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. They embraced him as their leader and Favre had more fun that he’s had in years, perhaps ever. He truly was like a kid out there. Sure, we’ll have the typical “will he, won’t he” banter, but in the end, I expect #4 under center.
2. The Tennessee Titans will return to the playoffs. They were perhaps the best 8-8 team in NFL history. They suffered through a rash of injuries, particularly in their secondary, and a QB that aged quickly. With Vince Young leading the charge they will return to the postseason.
3. The 49ers will win the NFC West. Seattle and St. Louis are terrible. Arizona lost its leader when Kurt Warner retired, as well as a weakened WR corps following Anquan Boldin’s departure. Matt Leinart is bound to have some growing pains. Meanwhile the 49ers were much-improved in 2009 with Alex Smith and Vernon Davis shedding their bust labels. Patrick Willis leads an underrated defense. They won’t pile up the wins, but should have enough to take home the division.
4. Pittsburgh will miss the playoffs. I won’t call this bold because they didn’t make the playoffs last year. Big Ben’s off-the-field issues coupled with the Santonio Holmes spells doom for the Steelers. Time to regroup.
5. Chris Johnson will not lead the league in running. Since 2001 there has only been one back-to-back NFL rushing champ (LaDainian Tomlinson). In fact, LT is the only back with two rushing titles in that stretch. Chris Johnson was overused last year. LenDale White, provided he remains with the team, will see the ball more frequently. Johnson will have a nice year, but I expect Adrian Peterson to reclaim the rushing title.
1. The Texans will make the playoffs. After two consecutive 8-8 seasons, the Texans broke through with a 9-7 record. Unfortunately it was not good enough to earn them their first playoff spot. This year, however, they take the next step forward. They have stars on both sides of the football in Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, and DeMeco Ryans. This is the year they take the next step.
2. The Oakland Raiders will win eight games this year. No, I’m not huffing paint fumes. The Raiders have a decent defense and play in a weak division. I’m afraid the Broncos will continue their second half slide, and the Chiefs just don’t have enough talent to compete. They also play the Rams and Seahawks at home. Maybe eight wins is a bit optimistic, but it’s possible.
3. The Jets will miss the playoffs. After their impressive run, most assume they’ll be right back in the mix in 2010. Not me. I love their defense, starting at the top with Coach Rex Ryan to their robbed of the defensive player of the year shutdown corner Darrelle Revis. I’m afraid they are going to miss Thomas Jones more than they anticipate on offense. He was a true professional, and a leader in the clubhouse that will be missed. Not to mention he was an outstanding running back for the Jets. They added a talented WR in Santonio Holmes, but he’s likely to serve a suspension. Plus, he just gives them another distraction. I already have Tennessee and Houston making the playoffs as the wildcard teams so they’ll have to knock off the Patriots for the division title. I don’t see that happening.
4. For the first time since 2004 there will only be one NFC East team in the playoffs. The NFC North figures to be strong with Minnesota, Green Bay and an improved Chicago team. The NFC South is led by the Super Bowl Champion Saints. Plus, Carolina and Atlanta were both playoff-bound in 2008. The G-Men are down and Philly could struggle to find leadershipafter losing both Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb just a year after losing Brian Dawkins. Shanahan won’t work that fast in Washington even with the addition of McNabb.
5. Julius Peppers will lead the league in sacks. Going up against the NFC North he could have a field day. He abused Bryant McKinnie when they squared off last year. The Packers had all kinds of problems protecting Aaron Rodgers last year. Detroit is still Detroit. Peppers will want to prove that he deserves his big payday, and a career high in sacks could be in order.