This is the first annual bold season predictions for the 2011 season.
The Buccaneers’ Forecast
It has been interesting reading about what the “experts” in the media are predicting for the Bucs this year. I have heard anything from 6-10 wins and most are centered around 8 wins. Mostly this is due to them playing in the toughest division in the NFL with the Saints and the Falcons. While I agree that this will be a tough division, I don’t understand why they think the Bucs will be the ones to falter this year and not one of the other teams.
Either the Falcons or the Saints have just as much chance to be the team that doesn’t live up to the expectations after some tough games. This would mean the Bucs will have another double digit win total this year. I think the more likely team to fall off of the pace is the Saints rather than the Falcons. The Saints have been good the last couple of years and obviously have the Super Bowl win a couple of years ago to prove it, but I just have a feeling that they will falter this year. Their offensive line is not what it used to be and the defense does not generate turnovers at the same rate as the Super Bowl year. This would leave the Bucs and Falcons as the top two teams in the division and I think either one can win it this year. The games between these teams were tight last year and I expect they will go either way again this year.
The Panthers are without a quality quarterback, thus will take last in the division again this year.
NFL Division by Division Forecast
NFC East: Everyone has already anointed the Eagles as the winner, but they still don’t have it all figured out and I think the Cowboys will rebound and take the division. The Giants will take a step back with all the drama this preseason and player discord. The Redskins are without a quality quarterback.
NFC North: Green Bay should be able to repeat as champions this year as they are as healthy as they have ever were last year. Detroit and Chicago will battle for second place and a possible playoff spot, with Chicago the likely victor. The Vikings are without a quality quarterback
NFC West: The futility of the division will continue, but the Cardinals will come out on top and will likely be the only team with a winning record. The 49ers will be better than last year and finish second, and the Rams will be competitive once again, but will be edged out in too many games. The Seahawks are without a quality quarterback.
AFC South: This division is completely up in the air with Manning’s injury. The issues in his neck may keep him out anywhere from 2-10 weeks, as that surgery and problem can be very hard to predict recovery. This leaves the door wide open, and the Texans will step up. I like the changes they made in the secondary and have the offensive weapons to compete every week. The Colts still come in second, and the Jaguars will be competitive, (but just cut David Gerrard) and will struggle to accumulate wins. The Titans are without a quality quarterback.
AFC East: The Patriots continue to be the top team in the division and likely the conference and will repeat as champs. The Jets will likely win enough games to get to the playoffs, and the Bills will surprise some people this year. The Dolphins are without a quality quarterback.
AFC North: The Ravens and the Steelers have dominated this division over the past decade or so, and this will not likely change much. I see the Ravens coming out on top if they can stay healthy. The Browns will be competitive again, but will lose some tight games. The Bengals are without a quality quarterback.
AFC West: The Chargers will run away with this division and it won’t even be close. The Raiders will surprise people and will challenge for a playoff spot. The Chiefs will take a step back, but will still be competitive. The Broncos have a quality quarterback, but feel like they need to play a first round draft pick who is not.
The first bold prediction in fantasy is that Josh Freeman will have a better year than Michael Vick in terms of total points scored for the season. Vick cannot stay healthy, will not live up to last year, and defenses are learning how to play him again. Just look as his preseason, where he looked horrible and is starting to believe his own hype again.
Second, as I alluded to last week, Phillip Rivers will be the top scoring player in fantasy. I also think that Jamaal Charles and Larry Fitzgerald will have the top years by a running back and wide receiver, respectively. Jason Witten will be the highest scoring tight end and the Packers will be the best defense overall. Kickers really don’t matter.
A couple of sleepers who may be surprise players this year will be Colt McCoy from the Browns who will be a serviceable bye week or injury replacement and Mike Thomas from the Jaguars who will likely emerge as a consistent, not quite spectacular receiver.
At The End of the Day
Quite a bit has been written about him this last week, but Lee Roy Selmon was a not only a great player, but also a great person. He did as much for the Tampa community than any other player, and will always be remembered for such. The Bucs should dedicate the season to Selmon and play in his honor by doing it the right way on and off the field.
Until next week, approach your day with confidence, and you will be rewarded.