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Football Predictions: A Second Slice
August 27, 2008
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April 30, 2008, 2008
Football Predictions: A Second Slice
8 Predictions For 2008 If You're A Fan Of The...
1. I seem to be suggesting most QBs in the AFC are going to have a down year, so somebody must be having an up year, right? David Garrard could be the man. Not that he had a bad year last year, with a QB rating over 100, but this year his 18 TDs could be up to around 26. Of course, expecting only 3 interceptions again is unlikely, as he plays a little looser and takes a few more risks.
2. Jacksonville will be the place for rebounding receivers in 2008. Jerry Porter caught 45 balls over the past two years in Oakland, but should be back to around 60 and 900 yards this time. Troy Williamson never managed more than 37 catches in any of his three seasons in Minnesota, but the passing game in general didn't progress there, so he could surprise for the Jaguars.
3. Regardless of off–field issues, Matt Jones will be elsewhere after this season. Jones shows enough to suggest he has the talent, and he clearly has the size, but with Williamson and Porter n the mix, that's too many no.2 receivers when they desperately need a No.1.
4. As a stable–mate of Maurice Jones–Drew, Fred Taylor has enjoyed the highest per–rush averages of his career the past two years. But it's getting hard to hold off Jones–Drew as Taylor enters his 11th season. Don't be surprised if Jones–Drew beats Taylor's numbers on the ground this season.
5. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams arrives with a blitzing defensive style that coincides with the departure of DT Marcus Stroud. The Jaguars' pursuit of the quarterback could result in some soft play against the run, which was the 11th–best last year, but will drop deep into the teens this time.
6. Part of that drive for an increased pass rush was selecting DE Derrick Harvey in the first round, but Harvey held out for over a month of training camp. That sets things back, but Harvey's raw talent will see him break out in a big way in the second half of the season.
7. The Jaguars have an easier schedule than the Colts and are the more physical team. They could dismantle Indianapolis September 21, putting them at the forefront of the division for the rest of the season.
8. Jacksonville will win the AFC South this season. 12 wins gives them a week off in the playoffs and they make it as far as the AFC Championship game.
1. The Colts will feature the running game more heavily this year. They were mid–pack last season, but with Dominic Rhodes back to play alongside Joseph Addai, and Mike Hart in the wings, the Colts will stay dangerously fresh out of the backfield.
2. That said, don't expect the best yards early in the season — some shuffling of the line personnel could cause miscues.
3. Marvin Harrison's long career is clearly waning. WR Anthony Gonzalez arrived on the scene with 37 catches last season and will tally around 50 this season.
4. The Colts are a bit banged up to start the season (isn't everybody this year?). Manning's touted to start, but only because an 85% Manning is still better than a 100% Sorgi. The injuries are just one of several things that nag at the Colts, making them look less than special.
5. Ah that 'new carpet' smell. The new stadium is another. At first it will be alien to them, even though they've played a couple of preseason's there. The crowd will be behind them, but it won't be 'home' until they've earnt a few wins there, so it'll be like playing at a neutral site.
6. The schedule is tough, including meetings New England and San Diego along the way. San Diego have been coping just fine with the Colts recently. The Chargers game, as well as those against the Vikings, Packers and Browns, are on the road.
7. It may be mid–October before the Colts climb above .500. They'll have to battle hard to get two above evens by season's end.
8. They'll make the playoffs, but they could limp in on the final weekend as a wildcard.
1. Finally, a left tackle. Tony Boselli was going to be their man when the team started in 2002, but he never saw a game. Charles Spencer showed up two years ago and for two games the Texans seemed to have their man. Then Spencer suffered a broken leg from which he's never fully recovered (he's now a Jaguar). Now comes Duane Brown. Unless this is turning into some kind of curse, expect Brown to work out, though his impact in this first year will be slow and at times hopeless.
2. Alex Gibbs as the team's new assistant head coach. The offensive line genius who made a name for himself and many a running back in Denver arrives via Atlanta and is a cast iron guarantee that the Texans line will continue its path from 'not quite awful' to 'good'.
3. Net winner of all this line talk: rookie Steve Slaton, who will take to the one–cut approach and blow through for some big plays. The depth chart suggests Ahman Green is ahead of him, but don't expect that to last.
4. Matt Schaub didn't set the world on fire last season, but the line in front of him is now overseen by the same man he recognizes from Atlanta. As the line gets better, so will Schaub. But not one before the other.
5. The team will still keep Sage Rosenfels arm warm. Schaub won't have the opportunity to seal the deal, statistically, and Rosenfels looked the better QB in patches last year. If anything happens to Schaub — and it could well do in the first part of the year while the line finds itself — Rosenfels may steal away the No.1 role.
6. How fit is Andre Johnson? He's been excellent when healthy, and would almost certainly have had 100 catches for the second straight year in 2007 had he not been injured. If fit, he'll be in the 100 catch club again.
7. They will win four of their last five games, the only loss coming with a visit to chilly Lambeau Field.
8. This is absolutely the last season before the big breakthrough in Houston. The Texans have a tough schedule which counters their progress for a mediocre record, but if all of the progress above takes place by season's end, they could be an 11– or 12–win team in 2009.
1. The modern NFL remains a drop–back–and–pass league, or at least a roll–out–and–pass league, and as talented as Vince Young is, the NFL won't bend to his running ability. Young addressed that to some extent last season, as his completion percentage leapt 11 points. However, his interceptions climbed as well, and I don't foresee that changing with the receiving talent here.
2. Justin McCareins, Justin Gage – not likely to put the fear into opposing defenses. McCareins is on his second stint with Tennessee, but has never topped 900 yards or 60 catches, and last year managed just 19 balls. Gage had 55 for 750 last year. Don't expect either to get more than 60 this year, either.
3. TE Alge Crumpler arrives from Atlanta, where he was metronomically good as Michael Vick's target, with between 44 and 65 catches each year between 2003 and 2006. Without Vick last season, he dipped slightly to 42, but will be Young's favorite target here. If anybody gets 60 catches, it'll be him...
4. ....or running back Chris Johnson, who will be an instant hit. The first rounder adds some pop to LenDale White's pow, leaving last year's rookie Chris Henry out in the cold. Does it seem like I'm predicting a lot of rookie running backs to have a great season? Yes, because this is a very special crop, maybe the RB equivalent of the QB class of '83.
5. The Titans were no.5 in rushing last season. Don't be surprised if they're no.2 this season.
6. DT Albert Haynesworth is in a contract year and looking for headlines. With Jevon Kearse back at End, Haynesworth could take advantage, and will beat last year's 6 sacks.
7. Jevon Kearse — another ex–Titan come home to roost — managed only 16 games the past two years, and may not be the force he once was if injuries nag at him again. But just as Haynesworth can take advantage of Kearse, so the opposite is equally true.
8. All the action on this team is defensive, and that's not so special in the AFC South. The pass offense remains a dud, and double-digit losses could be the result.