Football is back. Finally. This time of year, every so-called “expert” has predictions for the season. We may earn our keep by connecting people by delivering the best sports gifts for men, but this is the Internet. We’re all experts here. Definitely keep these can’t-miss predictions in mind when you make your office pool picks.
AFC EAST: NEW YORK JETS
There are few sure things in life. Ice cream cones will drip on your hand if you don’t eat them fast enough. You mobile phone will be a fossil within two years. And the Patriots will win the AFC East. Or will they? Here’s why we’re betting against them in 2016. Tom Brady is suspended for four games for not really taking the air out of footballs. Every wide receiver on the team is too short and shifty. And Coach Belichick wears sleeveless sweatshirts. Not a winning look. That leaves the door wide open for the Jets. After passing the Rex Ryan nonsense upstate, the Seven Forty Sevens are poised for a playoff run. Last time we checked, no other team has a Harvard-educated quarterback nicknamed “Fitzmagic.” There’s no way to beat that.
AFC NORTH: BALTIMORE RAVENS
We once read that we should quote the raven nevermore. Nowhere did Poe write that we couldn’t pick the Ravens nevermore. Right now, that may seem laughable, what with the Orange-and-black-striped Cats and the Metalworkers in their division. It also doesn’t help that Bal’more is a jumbled mess at the skill positions. But the Flac is back! Joe Flacco that is. And you just can’t bet against a Fightin’ Blue Hen from the perennially obscure University of Delaware football program. Throw 97-year-old Steve Smith back into the mix and you have a recipe for some scrappy, hard-fought victories.
AFC SOUTH: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Okay, you can stop laughing now. Hear us out. Last season, the Jacksonville British Luxury Vehicles routinely fell behind by 20 points by halftime. The Jaguars played their spots off in the second half, though their frantic rallies often fell just short. Once a decade, the laughing stock of the National Football League rises up and shocks the world. Remember when the Rams started that grocery store stock boy, Kurt Warner? Well, we’re pretty sure J’ville’s QB, Blake “99” Bortles “of Beer,” throws off his back foot a bit too much, but with a suddenly good receiving corps, the Jaguars are going to score some points. Defense remains a sore spot, but up-and-coming cornerback Davon House will lock down opposing receivers. And no one has a better name for announcing a pick-6…”House intercepts it and takes it to the HOUSE!”
AFC WEST: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Man Crates likes to pull for the underdog. The San Diego Fingers In Sockets fit the bill. Essentially dead men walking in Ron Burgundy’s hometown, which can’t find a way to build them a new stadium, the Chargers attract fewer fans than a senior lawn bowling affair. Ironic that a stadium named for a cutting-edge tech company couldn’t be more outdated. Anyway, you know Phil Rivers is going to bring it this year. After all, he has like 23 mouths to feed at home. Led by Jason Verrett and the once-scandalous Manti Te’o, the defense is improving. And on offense, our game plan would be to never stop throwing quick dump-off passes to America’s favorite 5-foot-8 scatback Danny Woodhead. All their games may be blacked out locally, and they may have one cleat out the door toward LA, but this team is going to drive up Interstate 5 with their heads held high, as winners.
By Myriam Thyes - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
NFC EAST: DALLAS COWBOYS
We watch NFL Network. We’re fully aware that Tony Romo’s spine is as brittle as a matchstick and he won’t play for at least six weeks. And yes, the defense has more holes than a window screen. However, this is America’s Team we’re talking about. No one disrespects the blue star. By now, we know that Jerry Jones’s elaborate ploy to distract opposing players with a scoreboard that’s bigger than a Carnival cruise ship hasn’t worked. What does work is the offensive line. This unit can maul. With rookie Ezekiel Elliott’s fresh legs scooting around behind a wedge of enormous men, the Cowboys will kill clock like a filibusterer. Just watch, come Week 7, Dallas fans will be saying “Tony Who?” as rookie Dak Prescott goes all “Linsanity” on the football world.
NFC NORTH: DETROIT LIONS
Who picks a team that’s notorious for recording about one road win every five years? We do. Why? Because Detroit needs a break. Wait, what? Calvin Johnson retired? Oh, can we change our–ah, nevermind. Let’s just roll with it. Now that the team discarded “human personal foul” Ndamukong Suh a year ago, their karma is climbing. The Detroit Kings of the Jungle may need Aaron Rodgers to sprain his shoulder doing the Discount Double Check to have a prayer, but stranger things have happened. Of course, we’ve saved the biggest factor for last: Jim Bob Cooter. No, that’s not some Dukes of Hazzard character who once did some freelance bad guy work for Boss Hogg. Cooter is Detroit’s offensive coordinator. He took over halfway through last season and the offense started clicking like a tap dance recital. Not sure why the other teams in the NFC North are even going to take the field. Whew, we really talked ourselves into that one.
NFC SOUTH: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
If they awarded wins for pirate ships built into stadiums, this would be a no-brainer. The Buccaneers are going to have to earn it if they’re going to outlast the Carolina Cams. One key contributor is linebacker Lavonte David, who has a proclivity for getting into screwball situations with his portly friend Jeff. Oops, that’s LARRY David. We like second-year quarterback Jameis Winston to take a big step forward. He has long strides. And we like that you can’t spell “Winston” without “W-I-N.” This is a young team that has upside, emerging stars and well-designed uniforms. The only question is, will the Lombardi Trophy fit in their treasure chest?
By Bernard Gagnon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
NFC WEST: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Okay, so this one might leave us flat on our back like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the ball away. It’s a bit of a homer call, with a Man Crates warehouse located mere minutes from Levi’s Stadium. In perhaps the toughest division in football, the once-great 49ers are already dealing with controversy and injuries. Four out of five football fans can’t even name a wide receiver on the roster. Step your game up, Torrey Smith! Chip Kelly is the third coach in the past three seasons, so at least there’s been solid continuity. His run-and-gun style is perfect for cutting into 21-point deficits. So with the deck stacked against them, how can San Francisco pull off a division title? Simple. Pay the nearby NASA site to design a time machine to bring back 1984 Joe Montana, Roger Craig and Dwight Clark. We’re expecting this to happen any minute now.
Before we get to our pick for the title game, let's see how your prognostication skills are...
THE SUPERB BOWL: BALTIMORE 22, TAMPA BAY 17
Nope, that not a typo. Apparently we’re not allowed to use the term S*per B*wl without the NFL’s permission. So for the purposes of this article, we’re going to call it the Superb Bowl. Flocks of corporate suits will be storming the streets of Houston to see this epic encounter. Trailing 17-16 with six seconds to go, Ravens QB Joe Flacco will heave a 90-yard Hail Mary that will bounce off of three helmets and land right the hands of tight end Maxx Williams, who will then officially change his first name to Maxxx.
We just touched on our projected division winners in this post, but if you want in-depth blog coverage of all 32 NFL teams, Bleacher Report is your hook up.
One last prediction:
Every guy you know who’s into the NFL will love to cheer on his team with the NFL Barware Crate. It comes with a set of officially licensed team logo glasses, wood-turf coasters and snacks to make game time a good time, win or lose. Recommended toast: Here’s to another season of football!