by Tuesday Morning Tailback
Well, here we go with another NFL season kicking off Thursday with the Ravens and Broncos. Today, we’ll kick off the weekly Tuesday Morning Tailback articles by making our annual picks, division by division. We do this knowing that there is so much unforeseen in any given NFL season and we sincerely doubt that we’ll get all of our picks correct. But we promise that we will not act as know we knew it all along when one of these teams takes us for surprise.
While it feels like the Dolphins and possibly the Bills are on the verge of a resurgence, the division is still the Patriots to lose. having been a dominant force in this division for over a decade, New England is due for a down turn one of these years. But it would be hard to justify favoring one of those teams or the New York Jets this year. I no longer think the New England Patriots are a Super Bowl caliber team, but they should be playing in January.
Our Pick: New England Patriots
The Baltimore Ravens got hot just at the right time on their way to a championship last season. Their traditional rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, fell out of the playoff picture while the Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs for the second consecutive year in 2012. Cleveland remains the doormat of the division, and with somewhat good reason, although their may be just the slightest glimmer of hope for the Browns. As champions, the Ravens will surprise no one this season and this seems like just the right situation for Pittsburgh to eak out a tight division race.
Our Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Houston Texans have firmly established supremacy in this division for the past two seasons after the Peyton-Manning-led Indianapolis Colts had dominated for so long. But Manning is gone and the Colts just may have replaced him with someone of near equal talent in Andrew Luck. By the way, the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, uh… no. So the question which may determine this division is does Luck have a sophomore slump or really come of age in 2013? We say the latter.
Our Pick: Indianapolis Coltss
Two years ago, the Denver Broncos won the division by default when everyone was near 500. That is no longer the case as the Broncos are one of the favorites to win it all with Manning at the helm and Kansas City, Oakland, and San Diego each fading into oblivion. Wild Horses by a half mile.
Our Pick: Denver Broncos
The modern version of the New York Giants have got to be the most skizophrenic team in the history of the league. Two years ago, they looked very mediocre through most of the season but somehow managed to rally in the playoffs and win it all (as they had in 2007). Last year, they seemed like clearly the best team in the division but somehow blew it in the end (as they in other recent years). Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins certainly showed that they have talent in winning the division but also had their weaknesses exposed in the playoffs. Dallas and Philadelphia only exist to give bored sportswriters something to hype in September and forget about in December. G men.
Our Pick: New York Giants
There’s a side of me that thinks the Green Bay Packers should be going for their fourth consecutive championship this season, But bizarre playoff collapses do count for something. The teams in the rest of the division have shown equal measures of brilliance and disappointment in recent years, with the Minnesota Vikings being the biggest surprise in 2012, the Detroit Lions being the biggest disaster, and the the Chicago Bears going into hibernation several weeks too early. The Pack will be back.
Our Pick: Green Bay Packers
The New Orleans Saints had a crushing season last year with sanctions and confusion, which knocked them from their perch. Atlanta was happy to fill the void, becoming the league’s best team during the regular season before falling in the NFC Championship Game. Both Carolina and Tampa Bay had very disappointing seasons when they were supposed to be coming of age. With all teams on an even keel, the edge goes to the team with Drew Brees.
Our Pick: New Orleans Saints
The San Francisco 49ers came ever so close to winning it all last season, a few yards from taking the Super Bowl. Seattle made great strides with a surprising young quarterback and many are predicating the Seahawks to leap-frog into the top spot. St. Louis and Arizona still need much work. Nothing indicates that the 49ers will fall off and they are our Super Bowl pick.
Our Pick: San Francisco 49ers
You may have noticed the right hand column which is our overall rankings, 1-32. After the Super Bowl we’ll compare these side-by-side with the season’s actual results to show just how smart or stupid we really are.
Enjoy the first week of football everyone!
Tuesday Morning Tailback is a weekly article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.