NFL 2011 Post-Lockout, Pre-Season Thread

AFC East:
NE 12-4
NYJ 10-6*
Miami 8-8
Buffalo 6-10 (like every year)

NE takes the second seed; Haynesworth behaves and the defense plays well. Buffalo is mediocre. Chad Henne improves and Mark Sanchez has more photo shoots than TDs.

AFC South
Houston 11-5
Indy 8-8
Tennessee 7-9
Jacksonville 5-11

Peyton Manning will miss enough games that his return keeps the Colts out of the playoffs. Houston finally breaks through, I like their pickups in the secondary, their one, huge, glaring need. Hasselbeck brings vague decency to the Titans, and Jacksonville winds up starting Gabbert halfway into the season; he'll improve, but this is going to be a rough year.

AFC North
Pittsburgh 13-3
Baltimore 11-5*
Cleveland 9-7
Cincy 4-12

THEY PLAY THE NFC WEST.

AFC West
San Diego 12-4
KC 6-10
Denver 5-11
Oakland 4-12

SD rebounds, KC collapses with a harder schedule, Denver sucks, and Oakland suffers even more when a hungry Al Davis goes on a rampage, eating players brains.

NFC East
Philly 12-4
NYG 8-8
Dallas 6-10
Washington 4-12

The Cowboys' problem last year was a lousy offensive line and terrible secondary. While they drafted o-line, they'll be young and inexperienced, and the secondary hasn't gotten any better. Yes, I buy Philly; you are not going to be able to throw against them. New York just has too many injuries. Washington . . . Beck/Grossman, would you like the giant douche or the turd sandwich?

NFC South
NO 11-5
Atlanta 11-5*
Tampa 8-8
Carolina 3-13

NO/Atlanta fight it out; they're both excellent teams. Josh Freeman continues his ascension, but the team simply isn't ready to contend this year; there's too much youth, and it's a tough schedule. They will, however, kick butt in 2012. Carolina will play badly enough to get the first pick and, thanks to Cam Newton, they won't take Luck, who will wind up being far better than Cam Newton. The suicide rate in Charlotte will quintuple.

NFC North
GB 12-4
Chicago 10-6*
Detroit 7-9 (Stafford injured by week four)
Minnesota 4-12

GB will be healthy and dangerous; Chicago grabs the other WC spot due to some improved o-line play. Stafford receives a season-ending shoulder injury eating a banana and Calvin Johnson still manages to catch 400 balls for 12,000 yards and 75 TDs this year, and it's still not enough. Minnesota explodes painfully, and will miss Andrew Luck by one draft spot. Why one? Because it's the most painful thing imaginable, and that's what always happens to Vikings fans.

NFC West
SF 9-7
St. Louis 8-8
Arizona 7-9
Seattle 5-11

Does anyone care?

Playoffs:
WC:
SD over NYJ
HOU over BAL
ATL over SF
NO over CHI

Divisionals:
NE over HOU
PIT over SD
PHI over NO
GB over ATL

Conference:
NE over PIT
PHI over GB

SB
PHI over NE

I just picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. The world can now end.

Elliottx wrote:

AFC South:
Texans 13-3
Colts 9-7* - Oh they struggle to start but Manning comes back midway and the colts win out the second half.
Jaguars 6-10 - Don't cut your starting quarterback the week before the season starts, mmmkay?
Titans 6-10

Wildcard Playoffs:
Colts OVER Jets - Stupid Manning.

I posted this in the fantasy thread, but it's probably more suited for this thread. I think your prediction for the Colts is optimistic at best (although I don't know if they Texans can go 13-3 either...). Let me preface the following rant by disclosing that I'm a hardcore, never-miss-a-game Colts fan.

Indianapolis is in trouble this year. Actually, let me revise that...they were in trouble last year. The dominant Colts we all know and love/hate were built on a core of draft picks that were almost unprecedented in their success rate from 1996-2003. Seven of the eight first round draft picks made during that era have went on to multiple pro-bowl appearances, along with Dallas Clark, a non-first round pick but perennial pro-bowler. They've also had ridiculous success with late round or undrafted players such as Robert Mathis, Jeff Saturday and Gary Brackett. This string of successful drafting has led to a team that, from 2003-2009, is only matched by the team success (DVOA for FOA readers) of the 1992-98 SF 49'ers. However, the end started a long time ago for the Colts. Since 2005, only a total of two of their draft picks have made the Pro Bowl (Joseph Addai and Antoine Bethea). Since Tarik Glenn, long a staple of a stout O-line, surprised the team with his retirement in 2007, the O-line has gotten worse with each following year. Draft busts such as Tony Ugoh (whom the Colts actually traded up to draft) and Mike Pollak have failed to rectify the situation. Since 2005, only a total of two of their draft picks have made the Pro Bowl (Joseph Addai and Antoine Bethea). (Thanks to the Football Outsiders almanac for random details and that little tidbit about the 49'ers)

The end for the Colts began last year. Not only did they notch their fewest wins since 2000 when they went 6-10 in Manning's third season, the advanced statistics show the regression is even worse than that. The offense that had ranked no worse than third from 2000 to 2009 was ranked 6th last year. Even worse, the defense has continued its long slide down, ranking 24th among all NFL teams. In the offseason, Manning issues aside, the Colts have done little to address any of these issues, or even shown that they understand the issues exist. Manning was able to mask the regression last year, but the offense is totally changed due to the O-line problems. It has gone from an offense that could bite defenses on all fronts to one that is almost entirely reliant on Manning's arm, and much shorter throws than were once common due to the inability of the O-line to provide the needed protection.

Manning's surgeries have shown that he's not the Superman he's been portrayed as for a decade now. Regardless, with or without him, this team is going to struggle this year. Father time is catching up with the few players left who have helped mask the team-wide struggles, and the clock's about to strike midnight for the Colts' Cinderella run.

I agree with what you said Landshrk83, and it also reminded me that the Colts have possibly the worst head coach in the NFL. Well I'd revise them down if I could, but I'd rather be wrong about them and smile like a Cheshire cat as they go 4-12. It is kind of like my plan 2 years ago in Fantasy Football which was to only draft players I hated, I was happy if Hines Ward caught the pass or got his bell rung.

Elliottx wrote:

I agree with what you said Landshrk83, and it also reminded me that the Colts have possibly the worst head coach in the NFL. Well I'd revise them down if I could, but I'd rather be wrong about them and smile like a Cheshire cat as they go 4-12. It is kind of like my plan 2 years ago in Fantasy Football which was to only draft players I hated, I was happy if Hines Ward caught the pass or got his bell rung.

The Colts don't have a head coach- they have Peyton Manning. I'm not saying Manning's calling the defense (that would be the D-coordinator), but the Colts' HC is 100% figurehead.

I'm trying to decide whether to take Jim Caldwell or Art Shell in my Emotionless Staring Contest fantasy draft tonight. It's a tough one.