- Gene Wojciechowski, Columnist / College Football reporter
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One hundred things I'm almost positive will happen in the NFL this season:
Nothing against Marshawn Lynch (the Buffalo Bills broke a lot of teams' hearts by taking him at No. 12), but fellow rookie Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings will end up with more rushing yards. It's simple: better O-line.
This will be the year new Denver Broncos running back Travis Henry scores more on the field than off it. For the first time in four seasons, he'll finally have more touchdowns (let's say, 12-14) than kids (9).
San Diego Chargers football savant LaDainian Tomlinson outscored the entire Oakland Raiders team last season (186-168). It won't happen again -- not because LT isn't good for another 170-plus points, but because the Raiders' offense can't be that gruesome again can it?
I still think the Dallas Cowboys could have done better than Wade Phillips as their new head coach. That said, Phillips will do what Bill Parcells couldn't do with the Cowboys' 3-4 alignment: tweak it enough so Dallas finishes higher than 13th in total defense.
Don't tell me Post-Concussion Syndrome isn't a real problem in the NFL. Why else would quarterback Jon Kitna and wide receiver Mike Furrey say the Detroit Lions would win more than 10 games in 2007? I figure 7-9, and that's only if Matt Millen isn't allowed within a Ford factory of the roster.
And then they'll get beat Nov. 25 at New England. You'll hear the 1972 Miami Dolphins popping champagne corks.
For the first time since 2000, someone from Appalachian State better be selected in the NFL draft.
Everybody keeps saying Rex Grossman is the key to the Chicago Bears' season. Nuh, uh. Grossman will be fine. No way does he throw another 20 interceptions or slop around with a 54.6 percent completion rate. Nope, the guy who absolutely has to deliver the goods is running back Cedric Benson.
Priest Holmes, who is on the reserve/non-football injury list until Week 6, will play again for the Kansas City Chiefs. He'll make an appearance for no other reason that the Chiefs owe their franchise career rushing leader a proper farewell.
But if somebody does, it will be Parker.
The Houston Texans didn't get a new offensive line, right? Until they do, it doesn't matter how much they paid quarterback Matt Schaub ($48 million --$7 mil guaranteed -- despite just two career starts), or that 30-year-old Ahman Green is the new starting tailback (as opposed to, you know, drafting Reggie Bush). Here's an idea: half-step drops for Schaub.
NFC East finish: (1) Philly, (2) Dallas, (3) Washington, (4) Giants.
NFC North finish: (1) Chicago, (2) Green Bay, (3) Detroit, (4) Minnesota.
NFC South finish: (1) New Orleans, (2) Carolina, (3) Tampa Bay, (4) Atlanta.
NFC West finish: (1) Seattle, (2) St. Louis, (3) San Francisco, (4) Arizona.
Now that the Super Bowl hangover/motorcycle accident/lame-duck coach/got-sacked-nine-times-in-a-single-game phase of his career is done, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will have a bounce-back year. He's much better than the 18-TD/23-Int numbers of 2006.
Another Chicago Bear will do something stupid at 3 a.m. (park his Ferrari on top of the Sears Tower ... try a swim move on a cop ... attempt to buy North Korean nuclear launch codes), and yet head coach Lovie Smith will bristle when reporters ask him if alcohol was involved.
The Saints' Bush won't rush for 1,000 yards, but he'll be in the vicinity. Count on his attempts, total yards and rushing average all to bump up.
First coaching casualty: Jon Gruden of the Bucs.
First coaching hire during the offseason: Jon Gruden.
If one NFC team is going to shock the world, it's going to be the New York Giants. Workable schedule. Desperate team. Quarterback with something to prove. Better-than-you-think replacements for Tiki Barber (remember what Tiki says in those Caddy ads about opportunity?). Understanding, patient fan base. It all adds up to a possible mini-miracle.
Runner-up: the Packers. In Favre We Trust.
Team with best chance to go winless: Falcons.
At the halfway point in the season we'll be raving about the Eagles and Baltimore Ravens.
No Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison for the first four weeks of the Patriots' season. Hello, 2-2 start. Seymour is on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, while Harrison is on the cheated/took illegal performance enhancer list. He'll miss one-quarter of the regular season. Meanwhile, Barry Bonds, who argh, never mind.
AFC East finish: (1) New England, (2) Jets, (3) Buffalo, (4) Miami.
AFC North finish: (1) Baltimore, (2) Cincinnati, (3) Pittsburgh, (4) Cleveland.
AFC South finish: (1) Indianapolis, (2) Jacksonville, (3) Tennessee, (4) Houston.
AFC West finish: (1) San Diego, (2) Denver, (3) Kansas City, (4) Oakland.
The Vikings' Peterson will catch more passes this season than he caught during his three years at Oklahoma (24).
For the first time in his nine-year career, Cardinals running back Edgerrin James will reach 300 carries and not gain at least 1,000 yards. His rushing average has decreased in each of the last three seasons. Love the guy, but the numbers usually don't lie when it comes to running backs.
Randy Moss won't be able to help himself. He'll pop off at least once this season about not getting the ball enough. Patriots QB Tom Brady will approach him on the sideline, in full view of NFL Films cameras and boom mikes, and tell Moss he has two choices: (1) Shut up and play, (2) Retire at 30 and spend the rest of his adult life in the exciting world of smoothie franchises.
And the Titans will still struggle to reach .500.
The All-Wish-We-Were-Starting-For-A-Contender Offense: Bucs QB Jeff Garcia, Chiefs RB Larry Johnson, Browns RB Jamal Lewis, Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez, Lions T Jeff Backus, Dolphins T Vernon Carey, Vikings G Steve Hutchinson, Chiefs G Brian Waters (save yourself the e-mailings-I know Backus and Carey are both left tackles, and Hutchinson and Waters are both left guards), Vikings C Matt Birk, Texans WR Andre Johnson, WR Larry Fitzgerald.
The All-Wish-We-Were-Starting-For-A-Contender Defense: Dolphins DE Jason Taylor, Vikings DT Kevin Williams, Falcons DT Rod Coleman, Raiders DE Derrick Burgess, Titans LB Keith Bulluck, Texans LB DeMeco Ryans, Browns LB Kamerion Wimbley, Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson, Vikings CB Antoine Winfield, Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Raiders FS Stuart Schweigert.
Falcons coach Bobby Petrino will wish he had never left Louisville.
If one AFC team is going to shock the world, it's going to be ... the Steelers. They could be 4-0 going into October. They also get their bye week just before they have to go to Denver and then Cincinnati. Granted, December won't be fun (Cincy, at New England, Jacksonville, at St. Louis, at Baltimore), but there's still enough talent on this team to cause Terrible Towel sales to jump.
Runner-up: the Titans. VY makes the impossible possible.
The AFC wild-card teams will be the Bengals and Jaguars.
Last AFC team eliminated from playoff mix: Broncos.
The NFC wild-card teams will be the Panthers and Cowboys.
Last NFC team eliminated from playoff mix: Rams.
Can the Colts repeat? We'll learn a lot about their chances during a brutal four-game stretch that begins Oct. 22: at Jacksonville, at Carolina (only five days of prep time for the Panthers), New England, at San Diego.
If the Colts scuffle, it won't be because of rookie left tackle Tony Ugoh. I'd be more worried about the Colts' defense than Ugoh.
If sentenced to prison, Michael Vick will not be allowed to order Direct TV's NFL Sunday Ticket package.
Titans running back LenDale White can't screw it up two years in a row, can he? Nope. He'll get his act together. If he doesn't, you won't remember the Titans this year.
The Colts will beat the Jaguars, and the Ravens will beat the Bengals in the AFC wild-card games.
The Bears will beat the Cowboys, and the Panthers will beat the Seahawks in the NFC wild-card games.
I picked him in 2006, I'll pick him again in 2007: Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman will be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. And unless he suffers a serious injury, I'm already picking him for 2008.
If the Dolphins newbie offensive line can keep 37-year-old Trent Green upright, Miami will be the best of the AFC's win-challenged teams.
Just to jerk their chains, Dolphins coach Cam Cameron angrily will tell reporters that's he's not leaving Miami for Alabama.
This year's Grossman will be Broncos QB Jay Cutler. Up, down. Up, down.
The Chargers will beat the Colts, and the Patriots will beat the Ravens in the AFC Divisional playoffs.
The Bears will beat the Saints, and the Panthers will beat the Eagles in the NFC Divisional playoffs.
The best thing about the Raiders will be their unis. And Asomugha.
The worst thing about the Chargers is that they can't wear those powder-blues every week.
Relax, Jets fans. Even though a calf injury limited RB Thomas Jones to just eight carries and 27 yards during the preseason, he'll be in the starting lineup against New England Sunday. He didn't come to the Jets to sit. He came to prove to the Bears that they kept the wrong running back.
A league willing to sell a $40,000 book on itself -- the MVP Limited Edition Super Bowl XL OPUS -- isn't going to be too concerned about ripping you off during the joke that is preseason football. (By the way, according to the NFL Catalog, the Opus "comes with white cotton gloves and delivered in silk clam-shell box.")
I used to think Los Angeles would get an NFL franchise sooner rather than later. Now it's looking like the reverse is true. We're going on Season 13 without an NFL presence in the nation's second-largest market.
Best sleeper player: Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez. Is the guy serious about football? Let's see, at Ohio State he slept in a tent that simulated low-oxygen conditions so he could improve his body's ability to function better when winded. That serious enough? Plus, the guy can catch.
Chic 2007 NFC pick San Francisco isn't ready yet. Let the 49ers finish .500 or better (and they haven't done that since 2002) before we start crowning them.
They'll finish .500 this year.
The league will somehow muddle along without Tank Johnson.
And Pacman Jones.
And Chris Henry.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith won't be able to blame Marty Schottenheimer if San Diego doesn't reach the AFC Championship this year. According to Sports Illustrated's player rankings, new coach Norv Turner has the No. 1 running back in the game (Tomlinson), the No. 2 linebacker (Merriman), the No. 1 tight end (Antonio Gates), the No. 2 defensive tackle (Jamal Williams), the No. 3 offensive tackle (Marcus McNeill) and the No. 5 offensive guard (Kris Dielman).
The most underrated player in the league will be Eagles RB Brian Westbrook.
All my chirping about the Bears gets stuffed into the garbage disposal if Benson struggles and DT Tommie Harris' hamstring injury of 2006 lingers more than Chicago coaches are saying.
The NFL Rookie of the Year will be Peterson.
Runner-up: Detroit WR Calvin Johnson.
Week 1 Mini-upset Special: Baltimore over Cincy at Cincy (ESPN, Monday, 7 p.m. ET).
Tomlinson will be the NFL MVP.
Of the six new head coaches in the league, Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt will have the most impact on his team's record.
Workout freak Kevin Jones (I once saw him do an intense hour-long workout session at his Blacksburg, Va., apartment after a two-hour practice at Virginia Tech) never would have signed off on his Lions' return if his injured foot wasn't sufficiently healed.
In a way, it won't matter. Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz wants to go steady with new RB Tatum Bell.
If Gruden isn't fired first, the new pink-slip favorite will be Cleveland's Romeo Crennel.
Brett Favre will break the NFL all-time record for victories, TD passes and, if he averages 241.3 yards per game, passing yards. None of it will matter to Favre unless the Packers are in the late-season playoff chase. Favre always has been about the W's.
Will he retire at season's end? Well, he turns 38 on Oct. 10. He's been reduced to making Wrangler jean ads where's he's playing ball with male models. And his hair is grayer than a December Green Bay sky. And, no, I don't think he'll call it quits if he thinks the Pack is thisclose to winning something in 2008. At least, I hope not.
Tens of people around the country will watch the thrilling Colts-No Vick Falcons on Thanksgiving Night.
No two defenses will mess with quarterbacks' minds more than the ones used by the Ravens and Patriots.
He isn't Randy Moss (the guy Favre desperately wanted the Packers to sign during the offseason), but rookie WR James Jones of San Jose State will become one of No. 4's favorites.
The presence of veteran QB Garcia will mean the Bucs' Cadillac Williams rushes for more than 1,100 yards. Last year, he didn't reach 800.
The Bengals' offense will be the new Colts. Now the bad news: the Bengals' defense will be the old Bengals.
The Chargers will beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship.
The Bears will beat the Panthers in the NFC Championship.
The Chargers will beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLII.
I'll do better than the 53 percent I got right last year.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com. He co-authored Jerome Bettis' autobiography "The Bus: My Life In and Out of a Helmet," which is available now.
As season openers loom, here are 100 things you absolutely, positively ... well, should or might ... see this NFL season.