Let the real games begin
After a long training camp, four preseason games, this reporter can't wait for the real thing to start next Sunday. By that time, I'll have made my predictions for the upcoming season. It's always fun to go back and see what you predicted prior to each season because you normally get a good laugh. You wonder how on earth you picked THAT team to win a division or a Super Bowl.
I was a game off on the Patriots last season. I remember in my gut I wanted to pick 9-7, but I let the preseason games dictate my pick, and I went for 10-6.
I'm trying desperately to resist the temptation I feel to over-inflate the Patriots record based on the preseason between now and next Sunday when the Globe football preview hits the newsstands. Whether I'm strong enough to resist remains to be seen.
Here were my picks in the Globe preview section prior to the regular season last season:
AFC EAST - New York Jets. Jets prevail in tremendous battle with wild-card Patriots for the AFC East title. Vinny, Curtis and very talented players on defense get the job done.
AFC North - Pittsburgh. Dominate the regular season.
AFC South - Indianapolis. Manning escapes Belichick, while Tony Dungy improves the defense.
AFC West - Oakland. Raiders get all A's.
NFC EAST - Philadelphia. Gotta love the way Jeffrey Lurie runs this organization.
NFC NORTH - Green Bay. For you, Terry.
NFC SOUTH - Tampa Bay. Gruden Magic.
NFC WEST - St. Louis. Silly offensive numbers.
AFC Champion - J-E-T-S! Curtis Martin gets what he deserves.
NFC Champion - Tampa Bay. Tough defense and much improved offense.
Super Bowl winner - Tampa Bay. Bucs justify their deal with Oakland for Gruden.
Let's analyze and disect. Jets pick was pretty good. They went on to win the division and then lost to Oakland in the AFC divisional playoffs. Never did I think Chad Pennington was in the equation. They did "prevail in a tremendous wild card battle with the Patriots (OK, Miami was in it, too)." Pittsburgh won the AFC North with a 10-5-1 record over 9-7 Cleveland. Messed up on Indy, which finished 10-6 a game behind Tennessee. Picked Oakland right. Picked the Eagles in the NFC East and the Packers did win the North and the Bucs the NFC South. Out to lunch on the St. Louis pick. Picked the Jets over Oakland, which was wrong. At least I got the Super Bowl winner right.
What do I think of the 4-0 record? I don't dismiss it. I'm not going to say it's irrelevant as much as I would like to. Why? You have to trust your eyes. The Patriots defense should be among the top 10, if not the top five in the league this season. They have a pass rush because of Rosevelt Colvin, a run-stopper in Ted Washington, who should help Ted Johnson make plays, a top corner in Ty Law, and two hard-hitting safeties in Rodney Harrison and Lawyer Milloy. Continued...