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Football Predictions: A Second Slice
August 27, 2008
Clint Dempsey Interview
August 1, 2008
NFL Draft Review
April 30, 2008, 2008

Football Predictions: A Second Slice
September 7, 2008            by Richard Gale


8 Predictions For 2008 If You're A Fan Of The...

New England Patriots
1. Last year might have been the last great year for the Patriots. It's hard to just climb back on the bike after falling off at the last minute last year.
2. Tom Brady may not be sandbagging about that foot injury of his. He will be fine to start the season.
3. Randy Moss had a massive season last year, after being released from Oakland. If any of the offensive starters has a let–down, it could be Moss.
4. The Giants supplied the blueprint on dealing with Tom Brady with outside pressure to force him into pressure from defensive tackles. Other teams will likely employ that tactic this season (or try to). They won't manage it all the time, but the same gaudy numbers are unlikely.
5. The defense undergoes some annual turnover, the same as on any team, but it seemed like the Patriots were outgunning their opponents at times last year. This time, that bites them a few times.
6. The Patriots will open the season on a streak, and another quest for an unbeaten season will be raised. Such talk will die week six in San Diego.
7. The Patriots should again be an easy winner in the East, though without an elite win–loss. In our print edition we went for 13–3. I feel easier with 11–5 now.
8. The Patriots won't have the number of the Chargers or the Colts. No Superbowl return.

New York Jets
1. The most important offseason acquisition may not be Favre, but LG Alan Faneca. Did you noticed the way Chad Pennington was always getting injured?
2. Even so, Brett Favre's streak for starting games will end this year. At some point during the season Kellen Clemens will see time. And yes, I do still worry about the 'Madden curse'!
3. With Faneca and RT Damien Woody arriving, it could be a really good year for Thomas Jones. He had over 1100 yards last season, but could be in the 1300+ region. Don't expect just the one score from him this time around though.
4. Jerricho Cotchery gets noticed this year. He's had 82 catches in each of the past two seasons, averaging over 1000 yards, but the New York Giants get all the local attention, so Cotchery's been missing the column inches.
5. The addition of Vernon Gholston does as much for the defense as any of the veterans who were added to the offense. For one thing, he had it going when he met Miami's new tackle Jake Long when they played against each other in college.
6. The Jets will start badly, while the Patriots start well. And that's the division, folks. But at least the Jets will keep the Dolphins and Bills at arms' reach and be close enough to the wildcard hunt for long enough that the New York media will stay aboard the Jets' season.
7. A 9–7 season is possible, but this is the AFC, and that's not good enough for postseason.
8. At the end of the year, nobody bothers asking Brett Favre whether he's retiring.

Miami Dolphins
1. Ronnie Brown still isn't the back he was when the season starts, but come mid–season, he'll start to look pretty good.
2. As I've said elsewhere, Ricky Williams is back. It's not just that he never really lost his ability, but he felt trapped into being a football player. Executive VP Bill Parcells has given the nod that he believes in Williams, and that trickles down, firing up Williams.
3. Something that Bill Parcells clearly didn't believe in was the 2007 Dolphins draft. Four of last year's crop have been cut and many more of the free agents who caught on last season. QB John Beck looks like he might have been superseded too. Don't expect any favors for WR Tedd Ginn if he doesn't break out this season.
4. Anthony Fasano was something of a bust in Dallas, a second round pick who managed 28 catches in his first two years, but Pennington is a short–passing kind of passer. Fasano could have double his career total this season alone. That's not necessarily good news for the Dolphins, mind you.
5. The Dolphins played a lot of close games last season. The same will be true this year, but the players may feel there's a plan to it all, and progress will be made. A little believe could turn 1–15 into five wins pretty quickly.
6. The loss of Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor changes the personality of this team. It will take time for the team to find its new leaders on defense. But after starting winless until October 19 the team could go on a 4–1 run.
7. Sometime in November, making the Tony Soprano/Tony Sparano joke begins to wear a little thin.
8. The kicking competition opens again next offseason after using Dan Carpenter for 2008.

Buffalo Bills
1. Marshawn Lynch will break out against teams with poor rush defenses, but get stymied against those with good ones. Hey, you don't say. No, I mean he'll really put up big numbers against those that don't measure up, like 190 yards one week and then 60 the next. It'll drive fantasy owners nuts.
2. Left Tackle Jason Peters was still holding out as these notes went together on the eve of the season. If that rolls on, the Bills are going to have trouble advancing their offense.
3. The Bills still haven't sorted out their passing game, with not receiver over 55 catches last year. Trent Edwards and JP Losman combined for 11 TDs and 14 interceptions. With Jason Peters holding out so long, don't expect that to get much better this season. The Bills may decide neither is the future by season's end.
4. The Bills defense just gets better with Marcus Stroud stopping the run and Linebacker Kawika Mitchell bringing his game upstate from the Giants.
5. Buffalo could start the season 2–1 with Oakland and Seattle both making long cross–continent visit. Subsequent losses to St Louis and Arizona could bring them down to earth with a bump.
6. Buffalo will finish bottom of the AFC East, a game behind Miami.
7. Buffalo Bills head coach Dick Jauron is not bringing a spark, no matter how good his defense is. But he'll be given another year.
8. Visiting Toronto for games is great as a novelty, but won't look viable long–term. Discussions — serious or otherwise — about moving the team to Toronto go quiet.

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