Sunday, September 6, 2015

My 2015-2016 NFL season preview

Summer is fading out. A federal court ruled against Roger Goodell again. That means it’s time for you NFL fans to set aside, yet again, all the yucky moral apprehensions that come with being a devout fan—like rooting for a league with an inordinate amount of batterers, rapists, and jock asshole motherfuckers who are frequently in trouble with the law; a league managed by a commissioner who earns $44 million per year; a league managed by a bunch of self-serving cunts who have been trying their darndest to mask the full truth about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) since 2006—the degenerative brain disease that has ravaged the lives of former players such as Mike Webster and Junior Seau and Harvard MBA-educated hard-hitting safety, Dave Duerson, both of whom committed suicide by shooting themselves in the chest. (Dave Duerson’s suicide note read, and the caps and misspellings were in his writing: “MY MIND SLIPS. THOUGHTS GET CROSSED. CANNOT FIND MY WORDS. MAJOR GROWTH ON THE BACK OF SKULL ON LOWER LEFT SIDE. FEEL REALLY ALONE. THINKING OF OTHER NFL PLAYERS WITH BRAIN INJURIES. SOMETIMES, SIMPLE SPELLING BECOMES A CHORE, AND MY EYESITE GOES BLURY… . I THINK SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY DAMAGED IN MY BRAIN, TOO.”) That’s right—it’s time for the NFL season to begin!

(Can you tell I’ve got October 27th marked on my calendar? That’s the day when the 2015-2016 NBA season begins with the Golden State Warriors hosting former Warriors guru-assistant coach Alvin Gentry and his upstart New Orleans Pelicans. This past season, I fully understood how fun it is to wholeheartedly root for a team and a sport that carries far, far less baggage than the National Football League.)
I can’t lie: I still enjoy football as a sport. It’s such an American sport, symptomatic of our war-like society:

I embrace that about football. Like FIFA, I abhor the NFL’s management, and I find it hard to root for piece-of-shits like Ray McDonald, Ray Rice (another guy giving other “Ray”s a bad name!), Jameis Winston and Michael Vick—people who should have their nuts ripped off and threaded down their throats until they slowly asphyxiate. I’m not going to pretend other sports are rife with upstanding individuals. I’m not the brightest, but I’m not naïve or fucking stupid. But, the modern NFL has an inordinate amount of deplorable human beings in comparison to other major sports leagues. If you’re a half-conscious fan, you can recognize that.

But anyway, without further ado, here’s my predictions:

NFC East
If things break well, this might be the year Chip Kelly’s Eagles shed the contender-pretender label and move into the top three best teams in the NFC. No matter who is carrying the rock or chucking it across the field, this team should field a top offense. Question is: can their defense—namely their secondary—step up their game? Either way, I see them winning this division with Dallas being their fiercest opposition.

A lot of folks had the G-Men as a dark horse playoff team but I don’t see it. And the Redskins are a fucking joke and always will be as long as they have a dumbshit owner. Like Tim Kawakami tweeted not so long about sports franchises: “You are who you’re owned by.”

NFC South

For the second year in a row, I think the regular season will end with none of the NFC South teams seemingly wanting to win their division. Whoever wins nine games takes this division.

I’m leaning toward the Saints because I find it hard to believe that they’ll go 3-5 at home for a second straight year. Their defense just has to be mediocre for them to win this division, and I think that’ll happen. Carolina will trot out the best defense in this division but without second-year wideout Kelvin Benjamin and the ghost of DeAngelo Williams they’ll struggle to score. On paper, Tampa Bay has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball but I think Lovie Smith just might be a bad coach after all. Just as importantly, a twenty-one-year old rapist from Florida State who threw 25 TDs to 18 INTs is hardly a leader. He’s not going to be as bad as DuhMarcus Russell, but I think he will end up being one of the worst top overall picks ever.

NFC North
Ah, the NFC North, the strongest division in the NFC. Unless Detroit’s defense plummets without Ndamukong Suh, I think this division may sport three playoff-worthy teams, but I think only two will make it.

Like most of the folks at, I think the Packers are a cinch to take this division despite losing a top-10 wide receiver like Jordy Nelson. And like Andrew Sharp, I believe Aaron Rodgers is the closest the NFL has to Stephen Curry. At his peak, I’d take Rodgers over Peyton Manning or Tom Brady at their best. My big concern, as always, is their defense.

Minnesota should be a tough team this year. I think Mike Zimmer will continue to improve that defense. With Adrian Peterson coming back and Teddy Bridgewater continuing to improve, they may very well be a team no one wants to face in the Wild Card round.

Detroit should be a physical team with a decent offense. Sadly, Chicago still has this generation’s Jeff George under center, but with John Fox as their coach and two all-star coordinators they’re on their way back to respectability and competitiveness; just not quite this year.

NFC West
Two years ago, this division—without question—was the toughest in the NFL. Not the case anymore. Seattle and Green Bay should remain atop the NFC dog pile. With their defensive line, St. Louis could have a devastating defense if they pick up where they left off during the second half of last season. Even if the shadow of Carson Palmer keeps upright, I think Arizona will continue its slow decline but remain competitive.

You Niners fans don’t need a reminder of how awful this off-season was. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it one last time: it’s hard to imagine a worst off-season for a football franchise. Within one year I’ve gone back to pitying Niners fans—and that’s coming from a long-suffering Raiders fan. But that’s how bad your off-season was, and that’s how shittastic the Santa Clara Niners will continue to be in their $1.3 billion-dollar money-sucking stadium with a piece-of-shit field as long as you have a fucking rich-boy sorry-excuse-of-an-owner handing the reigns to a megalomaniac general manager who is more concerned about running the show His Way instead of winning.

NFC Wild Cards: Dallas and Minnesota

Deflategate Brady & Van Gogh

 AFC East
Remember that whole “You are who you’re owned by” line? Well, here’s your proof:
four Super Bowl victories in the last thirteen years. Robert Kraft has been one of the craftiest (I couldn’t resist) owners in sports. It sure helps having Bill Belichick as your coach and general manager. The Pats will take this division again.

With Buddy Ryan’s most gifted offspring taking the reins, I think the Bills and their ridiculously frightening defensive line will surpass the Dolphins as the second best team in this division. I think both of those teams will be in the hunt for a wild card, but I think only one will make the cut.

AFC  South
The AFC South sports everyone’s sexy pick to unseat the Patriots from their AFC throne: the Indianapolis Colts. If I had to bet a digit on any division winner, I’d probably take them. Losing Arian Foster—my latest atheist crush—to an injury will be a blow, but I think the Texans will continue to progress as a team. Though it’s his rookie year, Marcus Mariota could become one of the more exciting players to watch on the gridiron. Jacksonville will continue their slow glide upward as well but I think they’re still a double-digit-loss team.

AFC North
The AFC North should be the NFC North’s stiffest competition for the title of Toughest Division in Football. This year, I think it’s the Ravens turn to take the division. Ozzie Newsome’s recent drafts and acquisitions may begin to truly bear fruit this season. Coupled with an efficient, low-turnover offense, I think they will again be the one team in the AFC the Patriots do not want to face in the playoffs.

Last year, Pittsburgh was my dark horse candidate to make it to the Super Bowl. Boy, I was wrong, and up until Maurkice Pouncey went down with yet another major injury I was thinking of picking them as a dark horse playoff team but I’m not so hot on them now. Cincinnati still has a load of talent but they still have Andy “Red BB Gun” Dalton behind center. I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs this year, which should spare him from increasing his porous playoff statistics. (55.7% completion percentage, 1 TD to 6 backbreaking INTs and a ghastly 5.5 yards per attempt average.)

Cleveland should be competitive, but not quite a .500 team. It will be interesting to see if Manziel can make any substantial progress this year. And believe me, he’ll be taking snaps at some point this season; how is McCown an upgrade over Brian Hoyer?

AFC West
Denver should take this division again though their recent strangehold on the division is finally giving. Their defense might be downright scary with Wade Phillips taking over as defensive coordinator but I think their offense will continue to weaken. If everything breaks mostly right for them, I think Kansas City can give Denver a run for their money. San Diego’s offense should continue to be a top-10 unit with potential to finish even stronger. But that defense—oy.

And what can I say about my team, the Los Angeles Redux-Raiders, I mean the Oakland Raiders. I think we’re still a double-digit-loss team. At best, I think our offense has the opportunity to be an average offense, which is still a major upgrade in the post-Hue Jackson/Run DMC-was-healthy era. Our defense can be average to mediocre. Probably mediocre, but having Del Rio as our coach should continue to push us in the winning direction.

AFC Wild Cards: Kansas City and Buffalo

Super Bowl Prediction:

Last year I picked the Packers to take it all before the season started, and, fuck it, I’ll pick them again. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the world. Dom Capers’s defensive unit just has to be slightly above average for them to take it. Seattle’s championship window hasn’t shut, but boy last year was their best shot at winning a second one in their Russell Wilson era. Right now, the only legitimate contenders in my book are the Packers, Seahawks, Patriots (of course) and the Ravens. The Colts, Broncos and Eagles are on the next echelon—and that’s it unless Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills reincarnate as a lesser version of the ’85 Bears 46 defense.

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