This season, I'll be providing my picks (for entertainment purposes only) here at The Phinsider in a weekly segment called the Phearless Phorecast (get it...Phinsider...Phearless Phorecast...the PH...yes I'm that clever). So what better way to start things off than by giving you my 2007 season predictions. Let's first quickly go division by division.
A lot of people love the Cowboys, but I'm just not sold on Wade Phillips as a head coach. They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, though, and that should carry them relatively far in a weak conference. I don't particularly like the Redskins. Clinton Portis has bad knees and, despite all the love for Ladell Betts, I'm not sold on him. The defense is strong, though, and has one of the best secondaries in all of the NFL with Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers, Sean Taylor, and LaRon Landry. But they will only be as good as Jason Campbell will allow them. The Giants have a bad head coach and are pinning their hopes on Eli Manning, but I just don't see him ever living up to expectations. And their defense is not very good at all. The Eagles will be the team to beat in the division as long as Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook stay healthy. I love their defense.
The Bears will again be the team to beat thanks to their defense, though I do look for some improvement on the offensive side of the ball. The Packers have a good, young defense which I like a lot, but their offense is questionable. Brett Favre throws too many interceptions, the running game is a huge question mark, and the team has no legitimate #2 receiver. The Lions have the potential to be an explosive offense, bit Jon Kitna needs to cut down on the mistakes. The problem in Detroit: they have a terrible defense that got even worse with the loss of safety Daniel Bullocks (who I like a lot) for the season. The Vikings have a good defense, especially when playing the run. However, they are relying on Tavaris Jackson to run the offense without any really good wide receivers (no, Troy Williamson and Bobby Wade aren't good).
The media is really hyping up the Saints, though I still am not a big fan of their defense. However, their offense will continue to put up points and they will make a strong push in the playoffs. The Panthers were a disappointment last year and I am having trouble thinking that they might be better this year. Jake Delhomme needs to bounce back and this defense, which was once feared, needs to play better for Carolina to be successful. The Bucs will have to depend on their defense to be any good in 2007. And I did like the Cato June signing. However, they lack a #2 receiver and I'm not sold on Jeff Garcia. He's 37 and doesn't have nearly as good of an offense as he did in Philly last year. As for the Falcons, they're hopeless. Joey Harrington just won't get the job done.
This is going to be a very interesting division to watch. The 49ers are getting a lot of preseason hype, and though I do think Alex Smith will take a big step forward and Frank Gore (if healthy) will have a big year, I'm just not ready to call them a playoff team...yet. The Seahawks are a good, veteran team, but how much does Shaun Alexander have left. He's saying he feels as good as he ever has, but so did Eddie George before his career took a huge downfall. The Cardinals are a young team and I do like their offense. Anquan Boldin is one of the most underrated receivers in the league. He lacks great speed, but he consistently moves the chains. Their defense, though, is still very, very shaky. That brings me to the Rams. I love this team this year. They added a great #3 receiver in Drew Bennett and will have a top 3 offense this year. Bank on that. And the defense is not as big of a liability as it has been in the past. Leonard Little is a disruptive force up front and Will Witherspoon is the most underrated linebacker in the NFL, bar none. In my view, the Rams can make a lot of noise in the weak NFC.
The Patriots are again the team to beat. Their offense has the potential to be the best it has ever been during the Tom Brady era. The defense, though, does have a few more holes than in the past. The Jets were a product of a weak schedule last year and will come back to earth in 2007. I don't think Chad Pennington is as great as some do and their defense is loaded with question marks (except for Kerry Rhodes, who is flat out nasty). The Bills are relying on J.P. Losman and a rookie tailback who reminds me of J.J. Arrington. And their defense lost London Fletcher, Takeo Spikes, and Nate Clements. Sorry, but this year will be a long one in Buffalo. As for the Dolphins, what more can I say that I haven't already said. Their defense is great and could be elite if they get improved play in the secondary. Their season will come down to how the offense plays. The D will keep them in most games, but can the offense make plays? That'll be the question in 2007.
This division is very good. I think the Steelers will be improved from last year. I like Willie Parker and I think that Santonio Holmes will have a big year. And new head coach Mike Tomlin is a good one. The Ravens will likely take a step back from last year's success. They're a veteran team, but with that comes the higher risk of injury. Also, I got a feeling that Steve McNair is going to drastically decline in '07. The Bengals have the ability to score points in a hurry. However, Rudi Johnson and company can also grind it out if need be. I think the defense will be improved and that this could finally be the year Cincy wins the division. As for the Browns, I like what they are doing in terms of rebuilding the offense (Winslow, Edwards, Thomas, Quinn) but think that this year will be a long one, and potentially the last one for Romeo Crennel.
This division still belongs to the defending Super Bowl Champion Colts. They lost Dominic Rhodes, but that doesn't matter at all as Joseph Addai is going to be a very good player. And they still got Peyton, Marvin, and Reggie. As always, their postseason success will come down to how well the defense can play. The Jaguars have a very good defense and have 2 good running backs. But how good can David Garrard be as the opening day starter for the first time in his career? That's what I wonder, especially since their receivers are unproven and frankly aren't very good. The Titans will be exciting to watch with Vince Young, but they have question marks all over the offense. Who will bne their running back? Whhich receiver, if any, will become Young's favorite target, if any? And the Texans are still lagging behind everyone. I like the acquisition of Matt Schaub and think he'll be a good QB in time, but not this year. I also have my questions about Ahman Green. And when will this defense play like they should? DeMeco Ryans and Dunta Robinson are good players and safety C.C. Brown is a blossoming talent, but the rest of the defense needs to play better to be successful.
I think this division is a 2 horse race with the Chargers and the Broncos. San Diego has all the talent in the world, but how will Norv Turner do as the team's new head coach? I suspect this team will thrive under Turner, who is a good coach that has just been put in impossible spots in his previous head coaching assignments. The Broncos will rely on one running back for a majority of the team's carries for the first time in a while and I suspect Travis Henry will be very successful. I also like Jay Cutler a lot and the addition of Dre Bly makes this defense a tough one to score on. The Chiefs will likely struggle a bit more this year than in year's past because they simply don't have much of a passing game and their defense is still shaky. The Raiders have the potential to surprise some people ,as their defense is very good. But I just don't like this team's offense.
AFC Championship Game: Patriots at Chargers
AFC Champs: Chargers
NFC Championship: Rams at Saints
NFC Champs: Rams
Super Bowl: Chargers vs Rams
2007 Champions: Chargers