And it's week one in the NFL, with the patriots off to an inauspicious, albeit victorious beginning; with a 19-17 win over Buffalo on this Ty Warren sack for a safety.
Won by a safety? Man when was the last time THAT happened.
Oh and funny enough, this win brings the all time team record (regular season) to .500; with 356 wins and 356 losses over 47 years. Of course that covers some pretty rocky years; the record since Bob Kraft took over is a far more respectable 131-80 (62%).
Oh, and another milestone, this is Bill Belichicks 100th regular season win as a head coach (100-77 for 56%), only the 31st coach to do so in 100 years. Even better, his patriots regular season record goes to 64-33, making the teams "Belichick era" record a VERY respectible 65%.
Of course we all know what Belichicks post season record is with the patriots now don't we.
Ok, my view on the coming season: I'm not gonna say it's an easy schedule, but it aint all that hard
|Sep 17||@N.Y. Jets|
|Nov 12||N.Y. Jets|
|Nov 19||@Green Bay|
Even given the lackluster pre-season performance, I'm happy with our prospects.
I think we've got the Jets and Miami twice each, Buffalo twice (we've won once, if barely), the Bengals, Detroit, the Bears, Houston, and Tennessee as likely wins.
Sorry titans boys, I think TN is a sick man this year; and yeah I know Miami had a great streak a the end of last season, but it was a fluke. They have players but no team, and they got Steamrollerd by the steelers. Buffalo is never easy to predict, especially against the pats; but barring another stinker like Sunday, I'm confident. The Jets... well the only reason they won this weekend, was because it was against the Titans. Pennington and Mangini have a long way to go togehter before we can expect a winning team.
Denver and Indy are likely losses I think. In fact I would expect the playoff semifinals to come up Pats, Colts, Broncos, and with the easiest schedule in the AFC, the Steelers.
I'm thinking tossups on Green Bay, Jacksonville, and Minnesota. I gave up trying to predict Green Bay a loooong time ago, and I expect J'Ville and the Vikes to have good years this year; in fact I almost put them both in the likely loss column.
So I'm thinking best case, we go 14-2, but thats not likely. I'd love 12-4, but I'm guessing more like 11-5; with a worst case 10-6, down to Denver, Indy, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Green Bay, and once to Buffalo.
The NFC is a charlie fox again this year, and I'm having a hard time calling it.
On the low end side of thing, I'd guess the Cardinals finish just below .500 (best case is 8 wins). SF should continue its decay, while the Saints maintain their record as the worst team in NFL history. Detroit is going to get creamed by their schedule alone, never mind not having a team. It would surprise me if the Packers got much above .500.
I'm thinking somwhere around the middle of the pack will be St. Louis, the Buccs, Chicago, and the 'Skins. St. Louis has an easy schedule, but they just aren't that good a team, so I expect they'll float in the middle. The buccs are a better team, but they have a much harder schedule, and I don't think they have it together this year. The skins.. eh... their schedule is middling, they have decent if not great talent, and they COULD do something this year, but I don't think they will. The Bears... I dunno... I'd guess something like 9-7.
I expect we should see good things out of Atlanta, Carolina, and Minnesota. Solid performances with decent schedules.
What's really got me confused, is the "maybe" teams. If these guys get it right, and given their schedules; we could see MAYBE Seattle, MAYBE Dallas, Maybe the Giants, and MAYBE Philly, doing something interesting (though I expect Philly might self destruct). Hell, even the Buccs , the bears, and the Skins could be maybe teams. I'll know better week four.
Just a wild ass guess, but I'd say the NFC semi-finals look something like the Falcons, Panthers, Vikings, and... uhhh.... come back to me week 4. Seriously I can't even come close here.
Alright, my predictions for the AFC Semi-final and championship games?
The semifinal is almost easy to call, because of quality of team and quality of schedule:
Denver - Indy - Pats - Steelers
The AFC championship though... I'm not happy about this... much as I hate to say it; it would very much surprise me if the final wasn't Colts - Steelers.
The ideal for the Pats would have the Colts and Steelers killing each other in the semi-finals, in which case I can't really call that game; but I'd expect the Pats to take the Broncos if the weather is cold, or if we get home field (or both).
I expect good performance; but I don't expect another superbowl this year. We'll see.