By Robert Vincent
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY TRUTH
It has been seven long months since the worst play call in Super Bowl history caused Russell Wilson to throw an interception on the one yard line and the Patriots beat the Seahawks to get Tom Brady his fourth ring, and Pete Carroll his worst loss as a coach since he met up with Vince Young and The Longhorns for the college championship about a decade ago.
Since then, in the offseason, we have seen teams totally implode (San Francisco), teams sign so many free agents they became Super Bowl favorites (Indianapolis), and a slew of appeals that have put a stain on one side (The NFL execs) and a bigger stain on a dynasty (New England). When all is said and done, there are 256 games to play in the regular season, and ten in the post season before we get to Super Bowl 50.
So, here we go…
For New England fans, Brady will be suiting up for the season opener against Pittsburgh. This could give them a boost, but Miami’s defense looks better with Suh signing and the Bills might make a big push to win the AFC East.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore still look good in the AFC North, and in the AFC South, The Colts look as though they own the division, and maybe the conference, with Andrew Luck keeping his #1 receiver and gaining a great, yet aging, superstar in Andre Johnson. The Colts also took a step in the right direction in the running game by picking up Frank Gore.
The AFC West still has Peyton Manning, who should at least give the Broncos 10 wins as long as he is healthy, but The Chiefs look like they have the ability to sneak up on Denver due to an easy schedule and a much improved receiving corps.
The NFC East has Dallas and Romo, but, as most football fans can remember, never count out the Giants, especially if Victor Cruz comes back healthy and Odell Beckham can still pull off amazing catches using everything from his shoe strings to his eye lashes.
The NFC North still has Aaron Rodgers and that means the Pack should still win games. The NFC South has a Panthers team that is still the only team since the realignment to win the NFC South in consecutive seasons.
The NFC West looks to be the best and most exciting division in the NFL. The Seahawks still have a powerful defense. The Rams might finally have a QB that can stay healthy and allow their tough D to work. The Cardinals might actually stay healthy enough to do something with 11 wins other than bring a MASH unit out on the field to get thumped in the first round of the playoffs.
The Jets have no Quarterback to go along with Revis Island. The Bengals need to find a way to win a playoff game for the first time in 25 years, but they might not get the chance to even make the playoffs this year. The Titans and Jags still have no idea how to climb a ladder to get out of the cellar.
The Eagles in the NFC East look like they have parts, but nothing to bring those parts together. The Bears have a new coach, but as long as Cutler plays the way he has the past few seasons, they have no chance. The Lions lost just about all the defense they had, and, yes, the offense can put up 40 points a game, but that defense can give up 45.
The Saints rely on Drew Brees, but Father Time is on his tail. The 49ers have either blown up a good team in order to build from the ashes, or they will look more like the team from 10 years ago that could only win 2 games in a season.
THE UGLY TRUTH:
It comes down to the playoffs:
In the AFC, I look for The Patriots, The Steelers, The Colts and The Chiefs to win the divisions with Denver and Buffalo as wildcards.
In the NFC, division winners are The Giants, The Packers, The Panthers, and The Cardinals with the extra spots going to Seattle and St. Louis.
The Colts will beat the Broncos for the AFC crown and The Packers will avenge last season’s loss to the Seahawks for the NFC Title.
As for the Super Bowl…Green Bay 31, Indy 27.
Keep your eyes peeled for your regularly scheduled Voice on Sports in a few days where I will talk about Edmonson’s win against those Swampies, The wild Wild Card race in the NL, and a slew of NCAA and NFL predictions…
Until then, enjoy and remember...Competitive eating…well…it might be a sport…