NFL prediction time — loss of Manning silences Colts; 49ers to win NFC West

Posted: 09/08/2011 in football
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The NFL season commences in a few hours so I figure I better make some predictions.

Otherwise, how does one prove they predicted the correct two teams to make the 2012 Super Bowl if they don’t publicize their forecasts?

On the other hand, it gives plenty of people the chance to call you a buffoon in January if your picks are a mess.

So time to dive in with some predictions … Please allow me to start with an easy one:

The Indianapolis Colts will struggle without Peyton Manning

Not exactly going out on a limb there but the Colts are just another football team without Manning, one of the top quarterbacks in NFL history.

I told my brother Manning wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season when Indianapolis signed Kerry Collins a few weeks back and I knew his neck injury had to be pretty significant when the Colts were working so hard at diffusing the situation last week.

Now that he’s had major neck surgery and the team hasn’t revealed a timetable for his return, I’ll help you what that means in NFL lingo – he will miss half the season and perhaps all of it.

Just know the Colts are in big trouble and the Houston Texans will win the AFC South.

The San Francisco 49ers will win the NFC West

Yes, I am aware that Alex Smith is still the starting quarterback but this hunch is more about who is now the coach (Jim Harbaugh) and who isn’t manning the sidelined any longer (Mike Singletary) and the weakness of the NFC West.

Remember, Seattle won the division with a 7-9 record a year ago. That won’t happen again with Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst as quarterbacks. Who says Pete Carroll is intelligent? Jackson and Whitehurst would have been quarterbacks 3 and 4 on some of Carroll’s powerhouse USC teams.

The St. Louis Rams have the division’s best quarterback in Sam Bradford but haven’t given him receivers to throw to and the Arizona Cardinals need new signal caller Kevin Kolb to live up to expectations that are significantly higher than his previous NFL results.

San Diego Chargers by default

The AFC West is the NFL’s second-weakest division and the underachieving San Diego Chargers appear poised to recapture the division crown that belonged to the Kansas City Chiefs last season.

Missing the playoffs was a hit to some of those high-ego players — so was being swept by the Oakland Raiders — and there isn’t as much turmoil surrounding the club as was the case last year at this time with the high-profile salary disputes with receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive tackle Marcus McNeill.

Hard to believe the Chargers have won just one measly playoff game over the last three seasons and you can hang that on coach Norv Turner, who won’t survive if the Chargers miss the playoffs for the second straight season.

With a move to Los Angeles looming on the horizon, this could be San Diego’s last chance to see winning pro football as well as enjoy star quarterback Philip Rivers.

Perennial doormat on the rise

Look for the Detroit Lions to be the surprise team of the league but still fall short of reaching the playoffs.

If Detroit keeps quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy, it is primed for an upward move. The Lions have two of the best players at their respective positions in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver Calvin Johnson.

Before you scoff at this one, keep in mind that nobody had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning 10 games in the tough NFC South last season, nor did anyone predict Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman would step up and have a 25-touchdown season.

AFC playoff teams

New England Patriots (East champs)

Baltimore Ravens (North champs)

Houston Texans (South champs)

San Diego Chargers (West champs)

Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC wild-card)

New York Jets (AFC wild-card)

AFC Championship Game – New England over Pittsburgh.

NFC playoff teams

Philadelphia Eagles (East champs)

Atlanta Falcons (South champs)

Green Bay Packers (North champs)

San Francisco 49ers (West champs)

New Orleans Saints (NFC wild-card)

New York Giants (NFC wild-card)

NFC Championship Game – Philadelphia over New Orleans

Super Bowl prediction

Philadelphia over New England

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