Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Chiefs and AFC West Update 10-7-2012

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

My plan had been to write quarterly updates on the AFC West this year. Games start shortly, so here goes!

Denver Broncos
Prediction 10-6 / Record 2-2

I still expect the Broncos to win the division. They’ve beaten the Steelers (who have not been very good) and the Raiders (who are bad). And they’ve lost to two very good teams in the Falcons and the Texans. The Broncos’ defense has shown signs of dominance. And the offense will only get better as Manning develops chemistry with his backs and receivers. They are the best team in the West.

Kansas City Chiefs
Prediction 8-8 / Record 1-3

How bad are the Chiefs? We’ll probably find out today against the Ravens. But they’re still only one game behind the pace that I expected, even if they lose today. The turnovers from the offense, and the lack of turnovers from the defense, has exasperated the rest of the teams’ problems. They aren’t as bad as they’ve looked. But I’m not sure you can expect things to get much better. If the Chiefs can flip the turnover numbers, they’ll win some games. More on the Chiefs later in this post.

San Diego Chargers
Prediction 7-9 / Record 3-1

I’m still not sold on this team. They’ve beaten three teams with a cumulative record of 3-9. The only good team they’ve played are the Falcons, who dominated them in San Diego 27-3. Who is the head coach? Norv Turner. Sell high.

Oakland Raiders
Prediction 6-10 / Record 1-3

I guess they’re about what I expected. The only team they’ve beaten is the Steelers, who do not look like the Steelers of old. Carson Palmer has not been very good. Will be interesting to see how long they stay with him at quarterback. They gave up a lot to get him last year, but they’ve got the youngster Terrelle Pryor sitting on the bench. By mid-season, it might be time to see if he can play.

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So what’s up with the Chiefs? If you’ve read my blog over the years, you know that I’m not very reactionary. I think fans and the media often react too quickly to what has happened, instead of understanding the bigger picture. When the team wins, we’re going to the Super Bowl. When we lose, start firing people!

But I’m almost to the end of my rope. I think this team has some good talent, but some significant problems at quarterback, head coach and general manager. Only the three most important positions in a team. I would play Matt Cassel the next two games against the Ravens and the Bucs. If the team gets crushed, it’s time to make changes during the bye week. At a minimum I would sit Cassel and let Brady Quinn finish out the season. Though I would be tempted to fire general manager Scott Pioli during the bye week as well. I would replace Romeo Crennel at the end of the season. And I would do whatever I had to do to draft Matt Barkley or Geno Smith as our next quarterback.

AFC West Predictions

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Every year there are surprises in the NFL. A team that had struggled to a 5-11 record the year before goes 11-5 and wins their division. Teams lose key players to injury, like the Colts losing Peyton Manning, and end up with the number one overall pick in the draft. The league is unpredictable. Except that it’s not. While NFL fans always seem to have hope at the beginning of the season, most teams end up in that middle ground winning somewhere between 7-9 games. Bad teams typically remain bad teams. And despite all of the parity in the league, the best organizations, like the Steelers and the Patriots, seem to find ways to win year after year.

The AFC West appears to be an interesting division again this year. The division has a low ceiling, and a high floor. Whichever team wins the division, may be the worst division winner in the league. And whichever team ends up last, will probably be better than the last place team in every other division. Look at last year’s records: division winner Denver (8-8), San Diego (8-8), Oakland (8-8), and Kansas City (7-9). Nobody was really good. And nobody was really bad. I doubt it will be much different this year. Every team has a legitimate chance of winning the division. Though it’s not likely that they’ll all finish within one game of each other again.

Denver Quarterback Peyton ManningDenver Broncos: It pains me to write this, but the Broncos have the best head coach and the best quarterback in the division. They have a decent supporting cast. And they likely have the highest ceiling of any of the teams in the division. But they’ve also installed a new offensive system with Peyton Manning, and they’ve had to replace their defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen, who moved onto Oakland to become their head coach. If everything clicks quickly for the Broncos, they could win 12 games. If the team struggles and Manning isn’t quite the Manning of old, they could win six. I have a lot of faith in Manning’s ability to overcome adversity. Prediction: 10-6 and Peyton Manning starts all 16 games.

Kansas City Chiefs: On paper, the Chiefs have the most talent in the division. But I have big questions about this team that I wrote about a few days ago. Is Romeo Crennel a good head coach? I don’t know. Can offensive coordinator Brian Daboll hit the ground running? That’ tough. Most teams take some time to adjust to new coordinators. Can the Chiefs overcome Cassel’s weaknesses? If everything goes right, the Chiefs could win ten games. And last year, when just about everything went wrong, they still won seven. Prediction: 8-8 and that Brady Quinn starts at least two games.

San Diego Chargers: These are not Marty Schottenheimer’s San Diego Chargers. Marty had built a team that was deep and talented. Other than Phillip Rivers, the stars are gone from San Diego. And who is their head coach? Norv Turner. A fine man, and a very good offensive coordinator. But he’s not an effective head coach. They have issues with their offensive line. A running back and tight end who can’t stay healthy. They lost their best wide receiver. And have struggled to replace their best players on defense. The last two years, the Chargers have finished 9-7 and 8-8. I don’t see anything that leads me to believe that this team can get back to winning 10+ games. And I think it’s possible that this is the year they fall off the cliff, go 4-12, and fire Norv Turner. Prediction: 7-9 and they fire Norv Turner.

Oakland Raiders: I like the direction of the Raiders under new general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen. I’m not making any long-term predictions for how this team will develop over the next few years. But often a team has to take a step back before it can take two steps forward. The Raiders have some talent. If he can stay healthy, Darren McFadden has the potential to be one of the most dominating players in the league. If everything goes right they could win 8-9 games. It’s more likely they’ll have some struggles this year as they try to rebuild the franchise. Prediction: 6-10 and that Carson Palmer gets benched before the end of the season.

Spending Big Means Nothing in the NFL

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

I’ve long made the case, even before the hiring of general manager Scott Pioli, that you build a team through the draft, not free agency. In a related story from Sam Mellinger in the KC Star this morning, it appears that there’s no correlation between money spent and winning games in the NFL. I’m not surprised.

Sam starts out by explaining:

The amount of cash that teams commit to players has no impact on their success.

Not some impact. Not a little impact. Zero impact.

That’s according to documents obtained by The Star through league sources, numbers that show that today’s NFL can be conquered equally by big spenders and small. Analysis by third-party sources confirms that there is no connection in the amount of money teams spend and the amount of on-field success they have.

The Chiefs have spent time defending their approach to free agency. They have come under fire from both the media and fans for not being more aggressive in pursuing the high profile free agents and spending more money. We’ve watched teams like the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins commit huge amounts of money to the “best” free agents on the market, yet have little to show for it.

The Chiefs had one of the lowest payrolls in the league a couple years ago as they started their youth movement. But now as their best players become due for new contracts, the Chiefs are spending more money retaining players like Tamba Hali, Jamaal Charles and Derrick Johnson. They are now in the middle of the pack in regards to money spent, with deals looming for Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Flowers.

Sam goes on to explain:

Since 2001, the highest-spending team in each season won an average of 8.3 games. The Packers and Colts won the Super Bowl in years they spent the most money, but six other seasons the biggest spender didn’t even make the playoffs. The Giants won their Super Bowl while being ranked 30th in spending.

Over the same period, the top quarter of spenders each year won an average of 8.4 games. It’s consistent too: No year averaged more than 9.4 wins (in 2009) or fewer than 7.1 (2005).

The last 10 Super Bowl winners have ranked, on average, 15th in spending. The Super Bowl loser ranked 16th.

A connection between spending and winning just does not exist.

Keep in mind these numbers reflect actual cash spent, not the funny-money manipulation of salary-cap numbers.

Through deeper analysis and conversations with personnel men throughout the league, logical reasons for the disconnect between big spending and big winning begin to surface.

First, as Washington and Dallas and a few others have proved, free agency is an extremely inefficient talent pool.

Second, big-spending teams are often desperate teams with a coach or GM clinging to his job. Free agency is often used to cover holes or chase bad investments, so steady and improving teams are better at resisting those temptations.

And third, under the old collective-bargaining agreement, top draft picks commanded huge contracts from bad teams.

The article is worth reading, and a vindication for the Chiefs from some of their critics.

AFC West Midseason Report 2010

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

NFL logoIn the immortal words of coach Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were!”

Instead of my usual weekly Chiefs column, let’s look around the AFC West today. If you go back to my predictions before the season, I think we’ll find that these teams are pretty much who we thought they were. (I am going to the game this weekend, and am predicting a Chiefs win over the Cardinals, 27-13. The Cardinals are a bad road team, and the Chiefs will be angry after the beating they took in Denver.)

Kansas City Chiefs: Record 5-4, Preseason Prediction 7-9
The Chiefs are an improved football team. They’re well coached. For the most part they’ve avoided beating themselves. And we’ve seen improvement in almost every area of the team. The rookies have stepped up and filled some glaring holes. Having said that, this team lacks impact players. Much has been made of cornerback Brandon Flowers and linebacker Derrick Johnson. They’ve emerged as very good players. But great? I don’t think so. They aren’t game changers. The Chiefs are playing very well at home (4-0) and have struggled on the road (1-4). They’re tied for the division lead at 5-4, but it’s hard to think they’re going to become a better road team all of a sudden. It looks to me like the Chiefs will finish 8-8 or possibly 9-7. Definitely better, but probably not good enough to sneak them into the playoffs. Don’t be disappointed. Haley has this team pointed in the right direction.

Oakland Raiders: Record 5-4, Preseason Prediction 6-10
I struggled with my prediction for the Raiders more than any other team in the division. They have talent. And with the departure of quarterback JaMarcus Russell, this team SHOULD be better. Russell will go down as one of the biggest busts in NFL history. The emergence of Darren McFadden has really helped this team turn the corner. They’re tied with the Chiefs at 5-4, and will certainly outpace my prediction. However, the Raiders still commit a lot of penalties and make a lot of mistakes. They will lose a few games down the stretch that they’re capable of winning. It’s hard for me to see them getting past 8 or 9 wins despite some recent success. Much like the Chiefs, the Raiders are getting better, but will probably be on the outside looking in when the season finishes. They do have a chance of winning the division if the Chargers stumble.

San Diego Chargers: Record 4-5, Preseason Prediction 11-5
The Chargers seem determined to repeat history. Start slow. Lose winnable games. Then pull it together just in time to win the division. Norv Turner is an awful head coach, but he’s got the most talented team in the division. And it looks to me like they’re getting healthy at the right time. I still expect the Chargers to win this division despite sitting here today at 4-5. They’re only one game back, and they have a fairly easy schedule to finish the season. Would not be surprised if they finished the season 10-6.

Denver Broncos: Record 3-6, Preseason Prediction 5-11
The Donkeys drubbed the Chiefs last week. But this team is more likely to get drubbed than to be the one doing the drubbing. I’m very unimpressed with head coach Josh McDaniels. Kyle Orton is having a great season at quarterback, and the receivers are good. But other than that, this team is headed in the wrong direction. They’re 3-6 and sitting at the bottom of the division. They’ve already played the easiest portion of their schedule. They still have road games against all three AFC West rivals plus the Cardinals. And home games against the Rams, Texans and Chargers. I only see two or maybe three possible wins left for Denver. Don’t see them any better than 6-10 to finish the season.

NFL Predictions 2010

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

NFL logoI love this time of year. And I love the NFL!

AFC West
Because I follow the Chiefs and the AFC West the most, I’ll spend a little extra time here in this division.

San Diego Chargers: I remain unconvinced that Norv Turner will ever take a team to the Super Bowl as their head coach. And I think the window that Marty created in San Diego is slowly closing. The Chargers have the most talent in the division, but are headed back to the pack. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if running back Ryan Matthews doesn’t win offensive rookie of the year. Record: 11-5.

Kansas City Chiefs: I hope I’m not just being a homer, but I really think that Haley and Pioli have this team headed in the right direction. I love the new coordinators. They’ve added weapons on offense. Have improved their offensive line. And their defense is flying around and making a few plays. Safety Eric Berry will be in the running for defensive rookie of the year. Still some concerns about the front seven stopping the run. Don’t jump off the bandwagon if they lose a few games early. They’ll be better in the second half of the season. Record: 7-9.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders won five games last year despite some of the worst quarterback play I’ve ever seen. Jason Campbell will help settle down the Raider’s offense. But still think this team has some issues. They really need running back Darren McFadden to step up and become a force for this offense.  Record: 6-10.

Denver Broncos: Injuries. Loss of talent. This team is headed in the wrong direction fast. Record: 5-11.

AFC East: I’m not convinced that the Jets are for real. Want to see them do it again before I jump on-board. I’ll go with the Patriots winning this division.

AFC North: I’ll root for the Steelers, but the Ravens appear to be the team that’s ready to step forward in this division. I like what they’re doing and think they’ll win the division.

AFC South: Pretty hard to pick anybody other than the Colts. So long as Manning is healthy, this machine just keeps on rolling.

NFC East: Possibly the hardest division to pick. Eagles have a new quarterback. Cowboys still have Tony Romo. Redskins are just in their first year with new head coach Mike Shanahan. Look for Eli and the Giants to bounce back and win this division.

NFC North: The Vikings might have Farve, but I really like the Packers here. They’ve been doing a great job of drafting and developing young players.

NFC South: Love Drew Brees and don’t see anybody else here who will challenge them.

NFC West: The worst division in football. The 49ers win here by default.

AFC Title Game: How about the Colts vs the Ravens, with the Ravens advancing to the Super Bowl.

NFC Title Game: Packers lose on the road to the Saints.

Super Bowl: Drew Brees makes it two in a row as the Saints beat the Ravens! People start talking about Brees in the hall of fame. Surpasses Manning as the best quarterback in the NFL.

NFL Free Agency Begins — Chiefs Needs

Friday, March 5th, 2010

NFL free agency is set to begin, and there’s already been some movement as teams release players no longer in their plans. The Chiefs have many needs, but don’t expect them to fill many of them in free agency. It’s not the Chiefs fault. There just isn’t much out there, and 31 other teams who will be going after this same small group of unrestricted free agents. So who should the Chiefs pursue? Here are a few suggestions:

Antrel RolleSafety Antrel Rolle: Released by the Arizona Cardinals in a financial move, Rolle would appear to be a good fit for the Chiefs. He would be an upgrade over Mike Brown. He’s played both corner and safety. And he’s only 27. He would be my number one target. I can’t imagine he’ll last long in free agency. There are a couple other free agent safeties who might be worth looking at including Ryan Clark from the Steelers and Dawan Landry from the Ravens.

Nose Tackle Jamal Williams: At 33 it’s hard to know how much Williams has left in the tank, but he’s a true nose tackle with tons of experience in the 3-4. Last year the Chiefs had Ron Edwards and not much else. Williams would provide depth, and might even push for a starting spot.

Antonio BryantWide Receiver: Fill in the blank here. The Chiefs are attempting to resign Chris Chambers, which I think would be an excellent move. But the Chiefs will need to consider yet another receiver. I’ve always like Laveranues Coles, and he was recently released by Cincinnati. Though at 32 his best seasons are well behind him. And I really like Antonio Bryant. He’s a playmaker, and only 28 years old. Plus there still might be an opportunity to trade for Anquan Boldin.

Running Back: The Chiefs will need to find a complementary back for Jamaal Charles. Preferably somebody with some size for short yardage situations. Chester Taylor from the Vikings is probably the biggest name out there, but he’s not necessarily the best fit for the Chiefs. Not sure where the Chiefs go here, but you’d think they’d bring in somebody to provide competition. Or they might just wait till the draft.

Offensive Line: I would expect the Chiefs to sign a couple of guys to create some competition, but there’s not much out there. Chad Clifton, the offensive tackle from the Packers, is probably the biggest name available, but he’s certainly not an elite tackle. I’d rather see the Chiefs draft an offensive tackle than sign Clifton.

The two biggest names on the market are linebacker Karlos Dansby and defensive end Julius Peppers. I don’t anticipate the Chiefs making a push for either of them. Dansby would certainly be an upgrade for the Chiefs at inside linebacker, but the Chiefs have such bigger needs elsewhere that it’s hard to see them going after Dansby. And Peppers would have to convert to an outside linebacker in the 3-4. He’s capable of making that transition, but with the Chiefs resigning Mike Vrabel this week it’s hard to see them making a play for Peppers.

Chiefs Draft and NFL Free Agency

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

NFL logoNFL free agency begins soon, and the draft is only a couple months away. A difficult time of year for us NFL junkies with little news to read.

Free Agency
With the expiration of the NFL’s labor agreement, free agency takes an interesting turn. Unless a deal is reached soon, which is not anticipated, this year will be an uncapped year. So you might expect a lot of money to get thrown around to free agents. But because of the expiration of the agreement, many players who would have become unrestricted free agents are now restricted free agents. So pickings will be slim. Add to that the uncertainty of the 2011 season and it’s likely now that many teams will refrain from spending much this off-season. There are a few marquee names out there who will sign quickly. But after that expect little action on the free agent market.

I found an interesting website this week: NFL Labor News. Lots of information focused on, well, NFL labor news. And if you’re looking for a site to track available free agents, try KFFL’s Free Agent Tracker.

Offensive Tackle Anthony Davis from RutgersChiefs First Round Draft Pick
Improving the Chiefs’ offensive line remains a priority this off-season. And I still think it’s likely that the Chiefs will take an offensive tackle with their first pick in the draft. Russell Okung from Oklahoma State has consistently been high on most draft boards, but appears to be slipping a bit as other players move up. One name to watch is Anthony Davis, an offensive tackle from Rutgers. Here’s how he’s described by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, who predicts that the Chiefs will pick him in the draft: “Davis has the physical talent to be a Pro Bowl player early in his career, but he’s still developing. Still, given a choice, the Chiefs can’t pass on his upside, which is as high as any player’s in the draft. A potential Walter Jones-like presence, if his development continues. The Chiefs also could move Branden Albert to the right side.”

Sports Notes — February 7, 2010

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Kansas City Chief Brian Waters Wins Man of the YearChiefs’ Waters Wins Award
Congratulations to Brian Waters, winner of this year’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Waters is a leader on and off the field. A very good player, and by all accounts, and even better person. Waters is the fifth Chief to win the award following linebacker Willie Lanier (1972), quarterback Len Dawson (1973), linebacker Derrick Thomas (1993) and guard Will Shields (2003). That’s more than any other team in the league. Here’s the story in the Star.

Super Bowl
I’m looking forward to today’s game more than any other in recent years. We’ll be watching Peyton Manning quarterback in his second Super Bowl. A win today and Manning enters the discussion as possibly the best quarterback to ever play the game. I’d already put him in the top five. But another win or two in a Super Bowl and he probably jumps to number one in my book.

And then there’s the Saints. What a great feelgood story. New Orleans suffered through so many years of really bad teams. I’m happy for the city. Drew Brees is the second best quarterback in the league right now behind Manning. And probably my favorite player who’s not a Chief. The Saints run an offense where they share the ball and make plays all over the field. New Orleans were number one in the league in total offense with more than 400 yards per game. And the Saints had seven players with at least 35 receptions.

You would expect a shootout between these two teams, but I really expect both defenses to make enough plays to keep this interesting. The offenses will keep this game entertaining. I’ve been on the Colts / Saints bandwagon for weeks. Nice to see that I can finally get one right.

Prediction: Colts 31, Saints 28

Collective Bargaining Agreement
The amount of posturing going on right now between the league and the player’s association is amazing. While this is a storyline that should interest all football fans, it’s really too early to take anything they say to heart. People are already predicting a lockout in 2011. That’s NEXT year! Deals never get done till the last minute. Don’t take anything you hear too seriously.

The owners have been unhappy with the last couple of extensions to the existing agreement, and appear ready to take a harder stance. The economics of the game need to be changed for the league to continue to thrive. Believe it or not, many teams are struggling financially under the current system, and need the players to take a smaller piece of the pie. Right now the players make approximately 60% of the revenues.

From a fan’s point of view, I’d really like to see the NFL implement a system like the NBA where the salaries of draft picks are automatically slotted. There’s no reason a player should ever holdout for more money. Or a team should balk at paying a rookie they drafted. Holdouts hurt the player AND the team.

In negotiations, if you want something, you typically have to give something up. And I’d be fine with teams giving up the franchise tag. Players hate it. Good teams should be able to get their players resigned without the threat of the franchise tag. And players hate it. Or possibly the NFL could look into some type of guaranteed contracts for players chosen in the first few rounds.

Picking the Colts and Saints, More NFL Notes

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

It’s a good thing I’m not a gambling man. Last weekend my teams went 2-2. But I went against my gut picking teams coached by Norv Turner and Wade Phillips. I won’t do that again.

Jets at Colts: The Jets showed some real grit against the Chargers. Great defense and a great running attack. Brian Schottenheimer has really developed into a fine offensive coordinator. But the Jets probably don’t beat the Chargers if kicker Nate Kaeding doesn’t puke all over the field and miss three field goals. The Colts on the other hand bottled up the Ravens running attack and controlled their game from start to finish. Look for another Colts win, and another trip for Peyton Manning to the Super Bowl. Prediction: Colts 24, Jets 13

New Orleans Saints Drew BreesVikings at Saints: A much tougher game to pick as both teams played very well last weekend. The Vikings defensive front four manhandled the Cowboys, and Brett Favre continues to make plays in the passing game. Yet the Saints have looked like the team of destiny most of the year. They put 45 points in the Cardinals, while holding Arizona to only 14 points. It appears that the Saints defense is getting healthy at the right time. And Drew Brees is maybe the best quarterback in the NFL not named Peyton Manning. Brees is uncanny in his accuracy. And he’s certainly the heart and soul of the Saints. I’m not jumping ship now. Prediction: Saints 27, Vikings 24

Dallas Cowboys: I thought it was interesting that the pre-game story on the Cowboys was all about how Dallas had gotten rid of all of the problems in the locker room, and that they were now a “team”. Yet immediately following the game wide receiver Roy Williams was pissed off because of how few passes have gone his way this season. Sounds like team first to me.

Pro Bowl: As a kid I looked forward to watching the Pro Bowl every year. It was a blast to see all the great players on the field at the same time. Only a couple of games were televised every week, and there was little opportunity to see many of the players throughout the season. But the Pro Bowl has lost its luster over the years. And I think primarily because now you get to see NFL coverage of every game in such great detail. This year the NFL is playing the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl, which means the players who have been nominated to the Pro Bowl but our bound for the Super Bowl won’t be playing. The Vikings have nine players slotted to play in the Pro Bowl, which means if they make the Super Bowl, that’s a lot of star power missing from the Pro Bowl. I’m not sure this is a very good idea. We’ll see what it does for the ratings.

Bills Hire Chan Gailey: Where did this come from? I like Chan Gailey as a coordinator, but he’s had little success as a head coach. I don’t see the Bills getting better any time soon.

Broncos Part Ways with Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan: I don’t understand this move at all. Denver’s defense has been bad for years. Mike Nolan converted the defense to a 3-4 and really made them competitive this year. And after one year, Nolan’s gone. Can only assume that Noland and head coach Josh McDaniels didn’t get along.

Chargers and LaDanian Tomlinson: I’ve enjoyed watching LT run the ball for years. He’s a class act on and off the field. But he’s no longer an every down back. And as explosive as Darren Sproles can be, he can’t carry the load either. Tomlinson has likely played his last game for San Diego. Look for the Chargers to draft a running back early this year.

Raiders: What’s up in Oakland? Are they firing head coach Tom Cable or not? Lots of rumors that Al Davis is testing the waters and talking to some potential coaches. But word has it that Al Davis wants a coach who will commit to working with quarterback JaMarcus Russell. And any coach willing to make that commitment won’t have a chance. Russell appears to be a complete bust.

Chiefs: And just because I love my Chiefs, I have to say one more time how excited I am about our new coordinators, Weis and Crennel.

NFL Playoff Predictions

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

I know, I know. I’m a day late with my predictions. My son’s Pinewood Derby Race has taken up a chunk of my time the last few days. His car, Cheesey Fish, went 2-2 and didn’t make the finals. But the crowd chanted “CHEESE FISH CHEESE FISH” every time he raced. It was a good day at the races.

Now on with the predictions.

New Orleans Saints Drew BreesI’m predicting that the Colts and Saints will win yesterday’s games. Now before you roll your eyes, I’ve been predicting for weeks that the Colts and Saints were my picks for the Super Bowl. They’ve been the best two teams in the league all year despite a few meaningless losses late in the season. They’re both loaded on offense with playmakers all over the field. Manning and Brees right now are the two best quarterbacks in the league. And they have opportunistic defenses. I’m still on the bandwagon. Or bandwagons.

Today’s games are more interesting match-ups to discuss anyway.

Jets at Chargers: The Jets are good where it matters most. In the trenches. Their offensive and defensive lines play very well, and will create problems for the Chargers. For the Jets to have a chance to win, and they do, they must shut down the Chargers running game, and come up with a couple of key interceptions. I’m not sure that LT and Sproles will have much success against the Jets defense. But the bottom line is that the Chargers are just too good at putting points on the board, and the Jets won’t be able to keep up. Prediction: Chargers 28, Jets 17

Minnesota Vikings Jared AllenCowboys at Vikings: Should be a great game. Brett Favre and Jared Allen are two of my favorite players. But the Cowboys seem to have found their mojo. They’ve exercised a few demons with their win last week against the Eagles. But they’ll find a stiffer challenge today when they travel to Minnesota. The Vikings have struggled a bit with deciding what they want to be on offense, and it could cost them today. Prediction: Cowboys 24, Vikings 21

What’s interesting for me with these two picks is that I’ve said for years now that Norv Turner and Wade Phillips were the wrong choices to leat these organizations. But now I’ve got both of them advancing to their respective championship games. I’m not ready to admit I was wrong. They’ll have to win a Super Bowl first.

Next weekend I’ll be picking the Colts and Saints no matter who wins today. And as of right now I’m on the Colts to win it all. But I reserve the right to change my mind on this one before the big game.

I love the NFL.