FACT CHECK: THE 2008-2009 NFL SEASON
The predictions below are bound to come true, right? Not so fast.
Every year when the calendar turns to September, there are a series of expected truths about the upcoming NFL season: "So and so will win the rushing title!" or "This team is a lock to win the NFC!" The chorus has begun again. Here now: ten blanket statements about the NFL this season, and the views on those statements by a variety of experts—traditional media and web!—and league observers. Feel free to leave your own views in the comments.
THE COWBOYS WILL WIN THE NFC
A distraction, a superstar, or both?
Logic: Explosive squad: Romo, Owens, Barber. But…possibly implosive squad too: Pac-Man. Tank Johnson. Jessica Simpson. What happens to these guys?
"The Cowboys won't win the NFC. I'm still not a big Tony Romo guy, especially if the Cowboys can't find a complimentary wide receiver weapon for Terrell Owens." - DREW SHARP, THE DETROIT FREE PRESS
"NFC? Did you mean the Texas Penal League? The Mean Machine has the flair of Burt Reynolds, but the depth of Burt Reynolds. Age and injuries will weaken the offensive line and Tony Romo's star, along with the Cowboys locker room, will supernova." - FIELD GULLS
"On paper, the Cowboys are the class of the NFC. Unfortunately, the last couple of years the Cowboys have done their post-season business on paper, much like a puppy does his business on a paper. This season, Wade "Pillsbury Doughboy" gets it done." - DAVE HALPRIN OF BLOGGING THE BOYS.
"No chance. They're the prohibitive favorite, and thus won't win. (First rule of thumb about preseason expectations: if everyone thinks so, there's no chance it will happen.)" - MATT UFFORD, FOUNDING EDITOR OF KISSING SUZY KOLBER
"Yes. They have done nothing but upgrade their team and will learn from last year's mistakes." - MORGAN TURNER, SON OF CHICAGO BEARS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR RON TURNER
THE GIANTS WILL WIN MORE THAN 10 GAMES
Is he the QB of 4 INT against the Vikings or the QB who beat the Patriots?
Logic: Hard to think a Super Bowl champion won't be back somewhere in the hunt, right? But: no Osi, no Michael (as of now), no Shockey, and there's always the 'Eli got hot when it mattered' argument (remember the Vikings game last season?) What do people think of the G-Men?
"In a rough division, no. The Giants aren't even the best team in Giants Stadium this year." - JAY MARIOTTI, most recently of THE CHICAGO SUN TIMES
"Disagree. I see them as a 7-9 win football team in the regular season. Even if we included the postseason, I'd still be betting on the higher end of expectation and the increased difficulty of a postseason win. If I had to settle on a number I'd say they win 8 regular season games." - WILL ALLENSWORTH, HOGS HAVEN
"It's very likely. They still have a strong front seven, a very deep running game and a capable quarterback. With so many teams lacking at least one of those, they're virtually a lock to finish with 9 or 10." - DAVE FALCONER, THE FALCOHOLIC
ADRIAN PETERSON WILL LEAD THE LEAGUE IN RUSHING.
Will he surpass LT consistently?
Logic: Did you see him last year?
"True, but it will be the Adrian Peterson who plays for the Chicago Bears. He will lead the league with 12 rushing yards, as the superlative play of super-QB Kyle Orton inspires the Bears (and every other NFL team) to abandon the run in favor of balls chucked aimlessly down the field." - JOSH LEVIN, SLATE.COM.
"Not with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. The Vikings will face more eight-man fronts than any team since the Barry Sanders-led Lions." - SETH WICKERSHAM, ESPN THE MAGAZINE
"Until a guy by the name of LaDainian Tomlinson is no longer in the NFL, you simply can't bet on anyone else to win the rushing title. He's that great." - MATT INFANTE, PHIN INSIDER.
"Adrian Peterson stays healthy this season. That coupled with the fact that he'll run against the porous Detroit Lions' rushing defense twice (that's good for 500 yards right there) means he'll get a minimum of 1,700 yards this season. He'll make a strong case for NFC Player of the Year." - DREW SHARP
THE PATRIOTS WILL NOT BE AFFECTED BY THE SUPER BOWL LOSS.
Can this man keep the Pats focused after a huge loss?
Logic: To get that far and NOT close the deal has to stay with you, right? But when your coach is famous for blocking everything out, is it as big a deal?
"Actually, like Spygate, Belichick and the players will be motivated by it." - MARIOTTI
"They will be affected by their Super Bowl loss but they'll be more affected by the aging of their dynasty. Jerry Glanville once told us the NFL stands for "not for long" and that applies to dynasty runs, especially in the new economics of the NFL." - HALRPIN OF BLOGGING THE BOYS
"I don't believe that pressure had anything to do with it—they just got outplayed by a hot Giants team. The Patriots are still the measuring stick around the NFL." - JOHN CRIST, BEAR REPORT.
"They certainly won't go undefeated again but they'll still win their division and be a top 3 seed in the AFC. But they won't get to the Super Bowl because their secondary can't stand up to the passing attacks or Indy, Pittsburgh or even San Diego." - CHARLES GOLDEN, REVENGE OF THE BIRDS.
THE CLEVELAND BROWNS WILL BE THIS YEAR'S BREAKOUT TEAM.
There can only be one: Browns or Texans?
Logic: We know, we know. They won 10 games last year! But we're talking breakout as in, 'Give the conference elite a run for their money.' The team has a ton of weapons. Let's see what others think.
"How about the Houston Texans. They went 8-8 and that was with an abysmal 1-7 record in their own division. If they go 4-3, they become a Super Bowl contender." - SCOTT WOLF, THE LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS
"This year's breakout team, I dare say, will be the Buffalo Bills." - MARIOTTI
"The New Orleans Saints. They have a solid QB (which is more than the Vikings can say, another "break-out" contender) and a defense that can't get any worse. Combine that with a horrid division and a much softer schedule than the one they faced in 2007 and I think the Saints take the South in '08." - ALLENSWORTH FROM HOGS HAVEN
"It's going to be the Rams, in a weak division, with Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson playing in their old offensive system behind a healthy offensive line." - WICKERSHAM FROM ESPN THE MAGAZINE
THE NOTION OF A 'CELEBRITY GIRLFRIEND CURSE' IS NOT TRUE.
Oh, Jessica! You're going to doom America's Team.
Logic: Tom hasn't won a SB since Gisele (right after they started dating, the Pats blew the AFC Title game to the Colts). Bush hasn't been himself since Kim. Romo goes to Cabo, and loses to a generally-not-as-good Giants team. Should we be concerned about this?
"False. The Saints have never won a Super Bowl because of the curse of Bobby Hebert's one-time girlfriend, Satan." - LEVIN FROM SLATE
"There is not a celebrity girlfriend curse, there is a Jessica Simpson curse. Her ex-husband, Nick Lachey, became best friends with Matt Leinart and look what's happened to him. Tony Romo's only the latest victim." - WOLF FROM THE LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS.
"Someone here has never dated Leslie Ann Warren. I hooked up with the woman for two weeks, next thing you know my bank account is drained, my dog gets hit by a bus, and I contract spinal meningitis. Coincidence? I THINK NOT!" - DREW MAGARY FROM KISSING SUZY KOLBER.
"I'm not certain about that. I would like to test the theory personally and report my findings." - ANTHONY BROWN FROM MVN.COM.
"False. It applies, just not to Tony Romo." - JASON MCINTYRE, THE BIG LEAD.
THE COLTS' BEST DAYS ARE BEHIND THEM, AND THEY WON'T WIN ANOTHER SUPER BOWL UNDER PEYTON.
Will we see more of this dejected pose?
Logic: Did anyone see that loss to the Chargers in the playoffs IN INDY coming? The big man was hurt this preseason, Tony's retiring…what's going to happen?
"Who cares as long as he keeps making DirectTV ads?" - WOLF FROM THE LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS
"The Colts will win another Super Bowl under Manning's direction because there are few teams more capable of drafting and developing good supporting players than the Colts." - DREW SHARP
"Their best shot was to repeat last year, and they blew it. They would have beaten Giants in Super Bowl." - MARIOTTI
"True. Only upon Peyton Manning's departure will the Colts return to the glory days of Mike Pagel." - LEVIN FROM SLATE
"Although an injury to Peyton is scaring some Colts fans right now, I think they'll win at least one more Super Bowl in the next few years, and it'll be thanks to Peyton Manning." - SEAN YUILLE FROM PRIDE OF DETROIT.
MIKE HOLMGREN'S LAST CHANCE TO WIN A SUPER BOWL IN SEATTLE IS HIS BEST CHANCE.
Feel good story of the year?
Logic: Remember when they made the SB a few years ago, and everyone holds the conspiracy theory that the refs "gave" Pittsburgh the game because of the "Bettis-goes-home-to-end-his-career" storyline? Well, does Holmgren get enough similar calls in his last year to paint a storybook Seattle ending (and make the Northwest forget the Sonics!)?
"Seattle has the best line talent in football. Last season, Seattle allowed the fewest yards (24.24) and points (1.39) per drive in the NFL. That young, talented defense will pair with Mike Holmgren's experienced, exacting offense to create not only the greatest collection of talent in Seahawks history, but odds on Super Bowl favorites." - FIELD GULLS
"This will be a disastrous season for Seattle. There's nothing more poisonous than a lame duck NFL head coach. It doesn't matter that Holmgren's heir is already on staff—Jim Mora, Jr. Things go south quickly in the NFL when players know the big boss isn't coming back." - DREW SHARP
"Could be. The Hawks' defense returns all 11 starters. All that's needed is an every down running back and a meshed offensive line." - WICKERSHAM FROM ESPN THE MAGAZINE
THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS CAN SOLVE THE PATRIOTS IN THE POSTSEASON THIS YEAR.
SAN DIEGO SUPER CHARGERS!
Logic: This is becoming a good feud, eh? Note: we got some answers back before the Merriman news.
"Norv Turner will prevent that from happening." - MARIOTTI
"Two words: NORV. TURNER. As long as Turner is head coach they will never beat New England. There's too much talent there for them to not make the playoffs, but in the playoffs, Norv Turner will be taken to school yet again by Bill Belichik." - DAVID FUCILLO OF NINERS NATION.
"I think it can be done. The Patriots get a little older each year, while the Chargers continue to add weapons. If the two meet up, I'd put a very small amount of money on the Chargers." - DAVE FALCONER, THE FALCOHOLIC
DARREN MCFADDEN WILL BE THE NFL'S OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.
Can McFadden help the Raiders get back towards glory?
Logic: He runs quickly. He was good in college. Al Davis seems to want him to have the ball. It could happen, right?
"No running back will win an award coached by Lane Kiffin, the man best known for keeping Reggie Bush on the sidelines during the critical fourth-down play against Texas in the 2006 BCS title game." - WOLF FROM THE LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS
"Rashard Mendenhall wins Rookie of the Year. He becomes Pittsburgh's No. 1 running back option and takes the pressure off Ben Roethlisberger." - DREW SHARP
"Impossible, he plays for the Raiders." - HALPRIN OF BLOGGING THE BOYS
"Word out of Oakland is that he's already the best player on the roster. If JaMarcus Russell has any chance of developing this year, then McFadden better get his hands on the football a lot." - CRIST FROM BEAR REPORT
"Offensive? Yes. And Defensive ROY will be Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo." - WICKERSHAM FROM ESPN THE MAGAZINE
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