Usually, around this time, I am getting my fantasy football season into gear. This year, I have decided the not play. No, I haven't completely given up on fantasy. I love playing. I just don't have a lot of free time these days. Now, I'm not a football expert. So, I'm not going to even pretend to be, but here are some of the things I'm looking forward to this NFL season.
The Kansas City Chiefs
My Chiefs surprised everybody (including me) with a 10-6 record last year taking the AFC West and making the playoffs for the first time since 2007 (losing again in the first round, sigh). Can Matt Cassel lead the Chiefs the back to the playoffs? Will the Chiefs offense suffer with the loss of Charlie Weis? Tamba Hali has his contract, and I'm hoping to see more from this defense and Romeo Crenell. Can we stay healthy? Mostly, I just want to have faith in Todd Haley and stop being Pessimistic Patty. Go Chiefs!!!
Shawne Merriman-Buffalo Bills
Merriman broke into the league with an impressive 39 1/2 sacks over his first three years, winning defensive rookie of the year, and earning 3 Pro Bowls. Enter Kevin Mawae and Dave Stewart, a poor decision not to have surgery early, playing on a bum knee, more surgery, more injuries, release from Chargers, picked up by the Bills, hurt at his first Bills practice, and it's been a while since Shawne has made a major impact on the field. I'm looking forward to seeing if he can regain some of his Pro Bowl form and light it up for the Bills. (I, however, have little hope for the Bills.) Yeah, of course, his first game back is against the Chiefs. He likes playing the Chiefs. He has 46 tackles and 6 sacks against the Chiefs. Chiefs, I'm gonna need y'all to handle Merriman.
Tony Gonzalez-Atlanta Falcons
Tony Gonzalez is one of my favorite players of all time. He's heading into his fifteenth season. He's set up a rad nutrition company with All-Pro Science. He has practically every tight end record in the NFL. I'm sure they are preparing a spot for him at the Hall of Fame as we speak. He has everything all lined up for retirement. Everything except a Super Bowl ring. The Falcons were in position to make a run until they ran into Green Bay last season. I want TG to get that ring that has eluded him for so long. Heck, at least, know the feeling of winning a playoff game (the guy has never won a playoff game). Here's hoping one of the good guys gets to walk away a winner. Although, ring or not, he's always a winner in my book.
The Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders
I want to see them fail. Not just fail, I want them to fail miserably. In every aspect of the game, I want them to fail. I want them to never post a score this season. I want them to lead the league with the most turnovers. I want their quarterbacks tied with the most sacks and the most safeties. I want their kickers to perpetually miss wide right. I want Al Davis to live a long, healthy life. Just cause. Just cause.
The San Diego Chargers
I want to see them in the Chiefs rearview mirror. I don't hate the Chargers as much as the Broncos and Raiders, but yeah, 2nd place would look good on them.
The NFC West
Is there a worser division in the NFL? (I know "worser" is not a word, but it is accurate for the NFC West.) Their division Champs last year had a 7-9 record. Freaking 7-9!!!! The AFC West may have it's bad moments, but it's Champ has had a winning record. The Rams, 49ers (my late grandmother would not believe what has happened to her favorite team), Seahawks, and Cardinals. Just...I think, St. Louis has a real chance of winning, but sadly, so do the others. It's probably going to come down to the very last game of the season. Hopefully, they can do better than 7-9. Sheesh...
The Indianapolis Colts
No Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning started his first game on September 9, 1998. For the first time since 1998, Peyton won't be starting a Colts game. The #1 Song was Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," The #1 movie was There is Something about Mary, and the #1 and #2 shows E. R. and Friends were on NBC (Whatever happened to NBC?). I wish Peyton a healthy recovery, even though he has killed my Chiefs playoff hopes on numerous occasions. I wish the Colts luck. They are gonna need it.
So now, I put on my psychic (psycho) cap and make my predictions (which will inevitably go wrong):
AFC EAST-New York Jets
AFC NORTH-Baltimore Ravens
AFC SOUTH-Houston Texans
AFC WEST-San Diego Chargers (I really, really wanted to pick my Chiefs, but I see them slipping a little this year with that tough schedule)
AFC WILDCARDS-Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots
AFC CHAMPS-San Diego Chargers
NFC EAST-Philadelphia Eagles
NFC NORTH-Green Bay Packers
NFC SOUTH-Atlanta Falcons
NFC WEST-St. Louis Rams (or really anybody this division is wide open)
NFC WILDCARDS-New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys
NFC CHAMPS-Atlanta Falcons
Super Bowl Champs-Atlanta Falcons
Okay, yeah, I know. To be honest, I would like to see a Chiefs/Falcons Super Bowl. But, yeah, right. So, why the Chargers? No particular reason. I don't think the Pats, Jets, or Steelers are gonna take a step back. I think the Chargers have been right at the threshold for multiple years. I just think it's time for Philip Rivers to shine.
The Falcons? I think they have learned from last year's swift exit. If their defense can step it up to match their offense, look out. Besides, how cool would it be to see Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez take the field in the Super Bowl?
There they are guys, my picks for the year. Good, bad, or other, those are my picks, and I'm sticking to them. Until next time... "Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong." — Terry Pratchett