It is late July and roughly this time each year I sit down with the new NFL schedule, open a spreadsheet, and start picking games. I highlight the non usual dates such as Thursday Night, Saturday Night, the ever expanding London (really NFL, NFL Europe was such a success) games, Sunday Night, and Monday Night. I feel it is important to look at the schedules shrewdly, if you play on Sunday then travel on Thursday that puts you at a disadvantage. If you play on Monday and travel the next Sunday, that also puts you at a disadvantage. The time between games is not as much as a hindrance on the coaches I feel, the players’ healing time needs that full week in order to play at their best. There are other factors that I feel can be the difference between a W or L. Of course home field advantage helps, but what if both teams are coming off of a road game the week prior? How many time zones a team must travel and at what time slot the game is to be played are major as well. How often have the Oakland’s or Arizona’s traveled to play the Miami’s or Carolina’s in the past few years? Usually the Eastern Time Zone team wins, especially if the game is played at the 1 o’clock time slot. Remember for a California team that’s 10 o’clock in the morning. Quarterback matters, another obvious point by me, would you rather have Tom Brady or Matt Cassel starting for your team? I’ll take the man with 4 rings thank you very much (deflated footballs be damned). Without further adieu here are the league’s 32 franchises’ win totals.
NFC East: Eagles* (13-3), Cowboys^ (12-4), Giants (7-9), Redskins (6-10)
NFC West: Rams* (12-4), Seahawks^ (9-7), Cardinals (8-8), 49ers (4-12)
NFC North: Packers* (12-4), Lions (9-7), Bears (6-10), Vikings (3-13)
NFC South: Panthers* (11-5), Saints (9-7), Falcons (7-9), Buccaneers (3-13)
AFC East: Patriots* (11-5), Dolphins^ (9-7), Bills (8-8), Jets (7-9)
AFC West: Chiefs* (13-3), Raiders (9-7), Chargers (8-8), Broncos (6-10)
AFC North: Steelers* (11-5), Ravens^ (11-5, Browns (6-10), Bengals (4-12)
AFC South: Colts* (9-7), Texans (7-9), Jaguars (4-12), Titans (3-13)
*=Division Winner ^=Wild Card
Your eyes may be drawn to several different points of interest with these picks. Oakland 9-7! Denver 6-10! What is this man thinking? How did he determine tie-breakers? (I assure you I have carefully went through each tie breaking policy on who gets in the playoffs and the 12 franchises I have as getting in are the correct ones). So that leaves us with the playoffs, first the Wild Card. I have 6. Seattle visiting 3. Green Bay in what is surely going to be the most hyped matchup of the weekend. The Packers get revenge from last years onside kick debacle to advance. The other game features 5. Dallas visiting 4. Carolina even though Dallas has a better record. I think that matters, Carolina’s division is weak and they will not be as battle tested as the Cowboys (who are in a primetime slot 7 times this year. Dallas wins and advances. On the other side of the bracket in the AFC you will find 6. Miami (who barely got in over the Raiders??? What!?!?!) going to New England for an inter divisional matchup with the Super Bowl champs. I have the two teams splitting in the regular season, both winning at home, I see no reason to change that mindset, Patriots advance. 5. Baltimore goes to the perennial AFC South champion 4. Indianapolis, Baltimore is clearly the better team and prove that with a convincing win. It is time for the Colts to really get Luck some help, last year was a fluke. Into the divisional round 5. Dallas goes to Philly for a cheesesteak and a road playoff win, they also want to spoil their former running back Demarco Murray’s first Eagle playoff appearance. I had both home teams winning in the regular season, however I feel Dallas has some mojo going after the Wild Card round, Dallas advances to the NFC Championship. The other matchup features 3. Green Bay traveling to 2. Los Angeles…my bad 2. St. Louis and facing the surprise of the NFC. I get Aaron Rodgers on turf?? I’ll take the Pack to advance and look out they will now host the NFC Championship at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field (channeling my inner Chris Berman voice). The AFC Divisional round’s first game is 5. Baltimore visiting 1. Kansas City, I feel Kansas City was injured a lot last year and never put it all together. They were the last undefeated team 2 years ago for a reason and blew out the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots at Arrowhead last year. Tough place to win, especially in the cold playoff atmosphere. Chiefs win. Another playoffs, another Brady vs Roethlisberger matchup. How good is Tom Brady in these? Add in the fact that Pittsburgh’s long time D coordinator left town and I see Belichek and Co. putting it on the Steel Curtain…wait the steel…well lets just say the Patriots win…again. The NFC and AFC Championship feature 4 historically relevant football franchises in the NFC Green Bay hosts Dallas in what is certainly going to be another “Ice Bowl”. As I mentioned earlier, I feel as though Dallas has something this year despite what recent history has given us as data to go on. Dallas to the Super Bowl! Will the same blowout happen to the Patriots at Arrowhead a year later? A much bigger game in importance and I doubt a blowout happens, but keeping with my earlier sentiments, the Chiefs were the last undefeated team 2 years ago for a reason. Chiefs to the Super Bowl! Dallas vs Kansas City in Super Bowl 50. Classic matchup, storylines galore…how’s this: Andy Reid does it to the Cowboys again and the Chiefs win their first Super Bowl since January 11, 1970.