Today is the the last Sunday without NFL Football until the off weekend before Super Bowl XLVII, and a good day to pick the final order of the teams in each division. So I sat down with the NFL’s 2012 schedule this afternoon and picked a winner for each game. It went faster than I expected—working out the tiebreaks took longer—and here it is.
(Disclaimer: I am a fan, not an expert, but what do the experts know?)
NEW ENGLAND 14-2
NY Jets 4-12
Kansas City 9-7
San Diego 5-11
NY Giants 9-7
GREEN BAY 13-3
New Orleans 13-3
Tampa Bay 4-12
San Francisco 10-6
St. Louis 5-11
Key: #1 SEED, Division Champion, Wildcard.
A few other predictions:
Most Valuable Player: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints. He will be their quarterback and their coach this year and the one reason they’ll have a real shot at a home-field super bowl (and a big middle finger to Roger Goodell).
Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rogers, QB, Green Bay Packers. He was MVP last year. This year he and Drew swap places.
Defensive Player of the Year. Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears. This is the Bears’ year and though they won’t catch Green Bay during the regular season, they may just upset them in the playoffs (given the recent struggles of number one seeds). Plus if he wins this I’ll feel better about the preseason pounding he gave RGIII.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins. This one will be wire-to-wire with Andrew Luck. I’m going against conventional wisdom and making the homer call. HTTR!
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers. My first pick, Ravens LB Courtney Upshaw is struggling with an injury, so maybe Carolina can get a trend going: top rookies on losing teams. My other thought was Morris Claiborne, but I can’t pick a Cowboy. I just can’t!
Comeback Player of the Year: Jamal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs. Sure, I could pick Peyton Manning like everyone else. Where’s the fun in that? Seriously, I wish both Manning brothers all the best, but this may be the first season since 1998 with neither of them in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Charles was averaging over six yards per carry when his brief NFL career was sidelined by a torn ACL. If he can get back on his 2010 pace, he could carry the Chiefs from last place to an AFC West title.
Coach of the Year: Chan Galley, Buffalo Bills. If they can flip their record this year (as I’ve projected) he may get it even without reaching the playoffs. Otherwise, maybe Lovie Smith of the Bears or Romeo Crenel of the Chiefs (who have the best shot at going “worst to first”).
And Super Bowl XLVII?
I want to pick the Saints—I really do—just to see Goodell force a smile while handing the Lombardi Trophy to Joe Vitt and Drew Brees in the heart of Who Dat Nation. But with all the distractions they’re facing this season, Brees and a big chip on their shoulders will only take them so far. Instead, I’m going with my gut: a knockdown, drag-out, blue-collar, lunch-pail Super Bowl. No pretty-boy quarterbacks allowed.
Why Chicago? Well, look at the last two Super Bowls. Who expected the Pack would win two years ago as a number six seed? Who expected the Giants to go on a hot streak last year after barely making the playoffs. Based on recent history, I’m going with a road team hitting a hot streak at the right time.
Which means it will be Green Bay vs. New England and I’ll be firing up the barbecue. Mmmm, crow.