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The Sin City BetBot Presents….Predictions!

Initially built by NASA to set lines for the Las Vegas casinos in the late 50’s (who do you think funded the Apollo missions? The government? It was the mob…), The Sin City Betbot 6000 calculated lines for over 30 years. The Betbot was given various upgrades through the years, not always with the best equipment, but he was very good at setting lines, and living the good life. 

 

The Betbot was de-commissioned in 1990 after San Francisco destroyed Denver in the Super Bowl. The 45 point spread simply fried a number of the Betbot’s wires and he retired. The Betbot was discovered by Fantasysharks.com and retooled to give fantasy advice. He lives now to help your team with deeper sleepers to start each week.

 

The Betbot’s column is transcribed each week by Joe Petrizzi and Tom Walls, because, “Typing is a dame’s BZZZT job.”

 

“Things aren’t always what they seem…”

          The Sin City BetBot 6000, from the Documentary/Biography “The Bot Stays in the Picture”

 

You know, that quote of mine never rings more true than at the beginning of the NFL season. You can watch all the tape from the pre-season, or the year before. You can run internal prediction heuristics and algorithms until the cows come home, but somewhere, some way, something is going to …BZT… surprise you.

 

There’s no better time of the year if you’re a football fan. And if you’re not a football fan, what are you doing reading this? Amscray Rub-a-dub! Every team starts with a record of 0-0. It’s cliché, but it’s true. Every team, every fan has reason to hope. “Why not?” they say; and if they’re a Jets fan; by week 4 they’re cursing their fate and wondering if they should root for the Mets or Yankees in the World Series. Everyone else, though, can dream a little dream of success.

 

Speaking of Dream a Little Dream, I did some work with Corey Haim and Corey Feldman back in the mid Nineties; those men know how to make other actors look good. I say, who needs acting talent when you have charm, moxie and no problems with wearing bandanas and sunglasses perched precariously on the tip of your nose? No, leave hoity-toity acting to James Lipton and his …BZZT… blowhard friends; make mine Corey, baby. Make mine Corey.

 

 

Just one more word about predictions – the one thing we know about NFL predictions in August is that they are going to be wrong.  There are always going to be surprises in any given season and half the fun of the NFL is watching those surprises take shape. Even an advanced robot built for setting lines can’t get every game right this early in the year.  The problem is that every team’s fans look at their team’s potential and start running around giddier than Shirley Temple on corn syrup – and that unrealistic exuberance leads to irrational behavior.  So before you send me any hate mail threatening to turn me into a tin can, remember that I don’t hate your team – even if I think they are going to rot out the hull of your good ship lollipop.

 

But, enough of this tease, let’s get this monster rolling…

 

AFC East

New England Patriots……..10-6

I have the Patriots winning the AFC East. I know, I know you’re getting tired of seeing them in the playoffs. Well, they make it again this year. Give me Tom Brady, a solid O-Line, Bill Belicheck, a stout front 7 for the defense…and you get the Pats back in the playoffs. I know about the …BZZT… problems with Deion Branch, I think he gets back on the field for the Pats by week 6. There is also some concern about the mystery injury of Laurence Maroney. If this is serious, it could be troubling. As long as Maroney is back around week 6-8 the Pats will be fine. Corey Dillon looks to be healthier than last year, and he can handle the workload himself through mid-year if needed.

 

Miami Dolphins……..8-8

I go against a popular pick by predicting that the Fins miss the playoffs. Trader Nick Saban has this crew on the right course, but I think that this team needs one more year of …BZT… seasoning. Of course Daunte Culpepper joined the team, and most pundits are putting a lot of weight in his addition. Me, I’m not as excited. Culpepper was very good at chucking it up for Randy Moss, but not so hot at reading defenses. He simply wasn’t asked to read defenses, and against most teams, he didn’t need to. Don’t forget how bad Mr. Pepper looked for the Vikings last year; I don’t blame that all on the love cruise. This will be a year where Culpepper struggles, and I believe improve, but not in time to ensure a playoff appearance. The Dolphins previously dominant defense is getting older and divorcing each other’s siblings. They’ll still be good on that side of the ball, but that’s about it. Oh yeah, Marcus Vick is …BZZZT… there too…insert your own Vick appropriate threat using my handy-dandy Marcus Vick Threat Generator ™ :

 

Don’t cross me, or I’ll treat you like Marcus Vick treated                                  

(a)Those Teenagers                          

(b)That underage girl

(c )That Louisville Defensive End

 

When he

(1) Cleated him/them/her

(2) Waved his gun at him/them/her

(3) Illegally did the Baby Bang-Bang with him/them/her

 

In that

(i) Bowl Game

(ii) McDonald’s parking lot

(iii) Uncomfortable, tight spot in the back of a car

 

New York Jets……..7-9

The Jets aren’t nearly as fun to write about as Marcus Vick, so I’ll try to make this short and sweet. The Jets are a boring, boring team. They are however, a team that did very well for itself in the draft, and Jets fans have a lot to look forward to in coming years. The O-line got 2 new rookie starters who will be stalwarts in years to come. But, I’m writing about this year. It’ll be ugly offensively. The Jets picked up Kevan Barlow in a smart trade after Curtis Martin warned them he would not be ready to go this year. Martin’s career is probably over, and the Jets will have to rely on Barlow, Cedric Houston and Derrick Blaylock to run the ball. If Chad Pennington stays healthy the Jets could be OK offensively. Pennington doesn’t stay healthy, he gets hurt, it’s what he does, it’s his special talent. Ol’ Blue Eyes can sing, Fred Astaire can dance, and Chad Pennington can get hurt. Coach Eric Manigini brings all he learned from the Patriots to the Jets, like I wrote above, I like what I see for him and Kellen Clemens two or three years from now…

 

Buffalo Bills……..5-11

I don’t know what they’re doing up in Buffalo. They drafted a safety with the 8th overall pick. You draft safeties that high if you have no other …BZT… holes, or that safety is Michael Huff. I don’t like the QB (J.P. Losman? I’d rather have Kelly Holcomb, OK maybe not, but it’s not good), I don’t like the O-line and I don’t like the defense. I do like their coverage units though, so you have that going for you Bills fans. Moving on…

 

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers……..12-4

Booooring. Booooring. Remember how boring the Steelers were last regular season? Run the ball, stop the other team, win ugly…yuck. Well, they won the Super Bowl with a heaping helping of assistance from the men in black and white. I heard the refs are so ashamed they changed their uniforms lest they be associated with what happened in Detroit last year. All that aside, these guys are the best in the division. Losing Jerome Bettis is a minor thing outside of the locker room, there is no more over-rated skill than a goal line runner.  All you need is a good O-line who run blocks most of the game to wear down the D-line and the rest takes care of itself. Rest easy Steeler fans, as long as Crash Test Ben Rothlyzplyk doesn’t have to do too much, the division is …BZZT… yours this year.

 

 

Cincinnati Bengals……..10-6 (Wild Card)

Now this is a fun team to watch. You never know what’ll be more offensive, their arial attack or their off-field attacks. Ha! I want to see Carson Palmer get through a month full of full games before I declare him ready. If he hadn’t been injured last year, I may have picked the Bengals to win this division. Their defense was quite bad last year; they were in the bottom 5 in total defense. Now, some of this is because their opponents were so far behind that the Bengals played prevent and gave up some cheap yards, but still, they were not good enough, and the team as a whole won’t sneak up on anyone. A talented crew on offense, but still an unbalanced team.

 

Baltimore Ravens……..9-7 (Wild Card)

They have to make the playoffs this year, or Brian Billick will be offering his wares to the networks for a year; and none of us wants that, do we? The Ravens offense will be much better this year with the addition of Steve McNair. McNair has very good …BZT… weapons with his old friend Derrick Mason, the dynamic Mark Clayton and the pile-like Todd Heap to round out a very good receiving corps. Jamal Lewis’ health is a much lesser concern with Mike Anderson, and the two of them will ensure that defenses won’t have to key on McNair. Now, remember what I said about Chad Pennington? Well, you Ravens fans had better hope that McNair stays healthy, because Kyle Boller has shown nothing in games that count. The Jaguars are in a weaker division, and that may be their greatest advantage over the Ravens, but I gave it to the better team. The defense may be even more potent this year with an offense that can put points on the board, the Ravens are my semi-surprise pick to make the playoffs as a Wild Card.

 

Cleveland Browns……..6-10

Da Dawg Pound!! Ruff ruff ruff!!! The Browns have almost nothing I look for when choosing teams I like for the playoffs. They had a very nice off-season, picking up good players in free agency and the draft, they’re better, but that’s not saying much. I like Kamerion Wembley and Willie McGinest, they may put some pressure on opposing QBs, but they’re not enough. Charlie Frye needs to show me something before I see only promise with no …BZT… production. Losing LeCharles Bentley stinks, but injuries happen. The Browns may have a nice running game, but nothing here excites me otherwise.

 

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts……..12-4

Like all those new commercials with Peyton Manning? Me neither. They’ll be great all regular season, then they’ll choke.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars……..9-7

This was a very tough choice here. I like the Ravens over the Jags for the last Wild Card. The Jaguars had the 6th best defense last year, and they haven’t lost much talent, I believe they’ll be a top 10 or top 5 defense this year. I have two main concerns with the Jags, Byron Leftwich and the running game. I like Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford and Reggie Williams and I really like Marcedes Lewis as a tight end who will mature through the year. Leftwich, though…he has yet to strike me as man who leads teams week after week. Not like Manning, Brady, Palmer, McNabb or McNair; that’s what this team needs, Leftwich to step up and take over. The running game will be very good until Fred Taylor gets hurt. The Jags lost Greg Jones, Labrandon Toefield is a nice change of pace guy, but not someone to count on. Watch Leftwich’s progress, if he starts winning late or takes a bigger leadership role, the Jags may …BZT… sneak into the playoffs.

 

Tennessee Titans……..5-11

The Titans have a better defense than the Texans, a more seasoned coach and a comparable offense. That’s not saying much. But I give them one more game. The Jags and the Colts have 4 easy wins on their schedule, provided by the Titans and Texans. The Titans just picked up Kerry Collins who will likely start week 1, that’s a stinging indictment of Billy Volek, who I had some hopes for. Vince Young is no quick fix, and Collins may start a couple of years for the Titans. The Titans won’t do a whole lot on offense, but they should hold their own on defense. Sorry Titans fans, I can’t offer much hope.

 

Houston Texans……..4-12

Not good. Not good. They should have traded the number one pick in the draft instead of taking Mario Williams with that pick, but that’s all in the past. If Wali Lundy and Vernand Morency can handle the load, not taking Reggie Bush may not be a complete disaster, just a PR disaster. However, David Carr may be so shell shocked form his first couple of seasons of abuse that he may need a whole season to get his head …BZT… right. Carr has looked pretty bad in the pre-season, even when he has time. The running game looks serviceable, but that’s not enough. The defense was ranked 31st last year, which is reason #1 why they took Williams in the draft. Maybe they’ll move up to the mid twenties this year. This is a bad team, and it will be another rough year for the Texans. Nice stadium, though.

 

AFC West

Denver Broncos……..11-5

That Jake Plummer had better make the most of this year, because it’s likely the last year he starts for this team. The offense is explosive, they were a top 5 performer last year, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t repeat that feat. The defense is solid, if unspectacular. The Broncos are a well-coached team who should challenge for the Conference crown, and they’ll win this division easily.

 

San Diego Chargers……..8-8

You notice a recurring theme? I place great value on QBs. Now, for fantasy football, placing too much value on QBs can wreck a team; but there is no more important position in pro sports (maybe a goalie in hockey, but that’s about bleeping it). The Chargers have Phillip Rivers calling the shots this year, and while he learns the ins and outs of leading an NFL team, the Chargers will hover right around a .500 club. They have a good, attacking defense and of course LaDanian Tomlinson. Phillip River’s year of tutelage may cost Marty Schottenheimer his job, but I’d rather see him back on network TV than experience Brian Billick.

 

Kansas City Chiefs……..8-8

Leo ‘Showtime’ DeRosa was a guy I knew back in the early 60s. He ran the Blue Dahlia club in Las Vegas at that time. Now, the Dahlia was owned by Stevie ‘Snack Cakes’ Snacosi who may or may not have been in the Mafia (which doesn’t exist). Leo ran a tight club, had the coldest beers and the hottest …BZZZT… girls. Midway though 1963, strange things started happening at the Blue Dahlia, the club started to drift. Showgirls began leaving the club, and heading to a competing night club, The Prestige down the Strip. Acts who previously had performed at the Dahlia started performing at the Prestige. In early 1964 Leo DeRosa left the Dahlia and joined the Prestige himself. All that time in ’63 Showtime DeRosa had been sacking his job at the Dahlia and began planning for the Prestige, sending vendors, showgirls and acts to a competitor. Worst of all, DeRosa stopped caring about his job and the Dahlia went downhill. He took his eye off the ball, and ended up in a meat locker in a butcher’s shop next to the Prestige in 1965. Snacosi and a couple associates went to jail for 4 years, but they sent a message.

 

Why do I bring this up? Because I think Herm Edwards gave up on the Jets last year. I think he took his eye off the ball. As cut throat as the NFL can be, I don’t think Herm has to avoid butcher shops, but I don’t like how he treated the team he should have been managing last year. Herm is now coaching the Chiefs, and I think Herm’s a good coach, but the defense for the Chiefs still has a way to go. Larry Johnson and Trent Green will be good enough for the Chiefs to be competitive, but not good enough to carry the team to the playoffs.

 

Oakland Raiders……..6-10

Jeff George. Jeff bleeping George, Nuff said. Give it up Al Davis! You’ve taken a once proud franchise and made it a laughing stock. Bad, bad, bad…

 

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles……..10-6

The “gurus” are sleeping on the Eagles, and I can’t figure out why – the Eagles were bad last year mainly because the QB was hurt.  He’s not hurt anymore – it’s OK to expect the team to play better.  Donovan McNabb is back, and he’s still the best QB in the division and probably the conference, depending on what you think of Matt Hasselbeck.  An absolutely stacked …BZZZT… defensive line is also nice.  It’s not all rosy – when Donte’ Stallworth is a massive improvement in your WR corps, something stinks like an outhouse.  But the QB advantage is just too large to ignore.  Two questions I need answered: 1 – Pam Anderson and Kid Rock – what gives?  2 – Why have the Eagles not signed a bruiser at RB to pair with Brian Westbrook?

 

New York Giants……..10-6 (Wild Card)

Well, I like LaVar Arrington and applauded his signing in the off-season, if for no other reason than he looks like he has a lot of pent up revenge he wants to serve to the Redskins.  But I really took notice when he started comparing the formidable Giants defense to Voltron.  If the NFL ever does adopt a rule that forces the offense and defense to …BZT… combine into giant robots that battle each other with laser swords, we will have achieved entertainment nirvana.  Unfortunately, the FOX coverage will still suck.  As for the G-Men, the spotty play of Eli Manning will suppress any lofty expectations, and I fear for Tiki Barber’s health given his age and workload last year.  But they should be good for a playoff spot even if their hands aren’t shaped like a lion’s mouth.

 

Dallas Cowboys……..8-8

The addition of NPD victim Terrell Owens makes this group the chic pick to represent the NFC in the super bowl.  Call me crazy, but it’s not like the Cowboys had a problem at WR last season.  This is a team that still sports an offensive line dealing with the double threat of age and incompetence.  One injury to Flozell Adams means another likely revolving door at left tackle, which leaves immobile and scared Drew Bledsoe dancing to more of last year’s late season scuffle shuffle.  Some nice additions on defense, including LB Bobby Carpenter, will keep the unit solid – but the interior still looks as soft as the unit that was ineffective stopping the run last year.  I admire Bill Parcells quite a bit because he’s so cantankerously quotable, but when his to-do list says “Upgrade at QB: Tony Romo” then I just can’t take Dallas seriously as a super bowl contender.  But I know that Ed Werder will be all over the story next time TO breaks wind in Parcells’ office.

 

Washington Redskins……..7-9

The general consensus among the NFL experts out there is that this division is going to be a toss-up, and with good reason.  Each team features good coaching and good defense, and that’s a fine recipe for being competitive.  You’ll hear a lot of rah-rah nonsense about heart and character separating the contenders from the also-rans but it really comes down to injuries and …BZZT… depth.  No team lives on the edge quite like the Redskins in this regard – if Mark Brunell goes down, for example, untested Jason Campbell steps in.  36 year old Brunell was hurt 2 of the last 3 years – you do the math.  This team has some star power but is very shallow, and I’m betting that they get burned this year.  Oh – the pre-season incompetence is a concern – I haven’t performance that consistently bad since the David Lee Roth show. 

 

NFC North

Chicago Bears……..10-6

You know what?  I don’t like any team in this cold, crummy division.  I’m picking the Bears because Lovie Smith has assembled a top defense and two of the teams in this group are patently offensive.  They still don’t have a good QB so they’re not a serious contender for the conference, but someone here has to …BZT… win.  Multiple choice question: “Greasy and gross, man” could be a response to which of the following questions….

a)      What is the anticipated Bears QB combo?

b)      Dude, who are the hosts of Chicago’s classic rock morning show?

c)      Hey bro, how’s the food at the $7.99 Circus Circus buffet?

d)      Whoa, did you see Priscilla Presley’s facelift?

 

Detroit Lions……..9-7 (Wild Card)

Every year I seem to annoy people with some prediction that goes against the status quo, and picking the woeful Lions for a wild card spot could be this year’s problem.  I see some things that I like, including four games against Green Bay and Minnesota.  New head coach Rod Marinelli is saying the right things and cutting ties with high round failures like Charles Rogers and Joey Harrington.  Mike Martz, for all his annoying smirks and ridiculous “max Q” nonsense, is still a top notch offensive coordinator (although he treats defense and special teams like casinos treat fresh air).  Roy Williams and Kevin Jones are still young and athletic, and the last time Jon Kitna was a full time starter he was really good.  Even if he doesn’t throw for 26 TDs again, he won’t hurt this team.  As a bonus, the 2006 draft featured 6 of 7 players on defense or offensive line, and no wide receivers.  Matt Millen still hangs over the team like stink on a …BZZZT… carcass, but if a few things go Detroit’s way they’ll be contending for a playoff spot.

 

Green Bay Packers……..4-12

Let me start by saying that I knew Vince Lombardi – maybe not enough to  …BZZT… loan money to – but I had watched his dominance in the first two Super Bowls and respected the man enough to make his acquaintance.  Jump forward to 2006.  Vince wouldn’t be proud of this team, not even a little.  Time for the Pack to pack-it-in.  Favre is too long in the tooth, and behind too shaky an offensive line, to really compete against the NFL’s best defenses.  And when your defense sports Al Harris as their star, you’re either a very bad defensive team or a  …BZZT… public service warning against bad hair.  Yeah, that’s the same thing I wrote last year except I changed the 2005 to 2006.  It’s not like anything’s changed.  AJ Hawk and Charles Woodson won’t make enough of a difference on defense, and Favre and the O-Line are still a mess, the running backs stink, and the receivers are either old or rookies.  At least overmatched Mike Sherman was replaced as head coach…with the offensive coordinator for a team that finished 30th in points scored last year.  This team needs to be imploded worse than the Tropicana, but there is good news – they aren’t the most pitiful franchise in the division.

 

Minnesota Vikings……..4-12

Let me get this straight.  You’re the owner of the Vikings.  You rally around a new team vision by loading up with character guys (what, they lose gracefully?) like Koren Robinson and Dwight Smith.  Oops.  You seem intent on picking up Eagles castoffs like Billy McMullen and Todd Pinkston (Mike McMahon didn’t make the cut).  Ooookay…  And of course you have a star QB – an ex-first rounder who put up one of the best all-time QB seasons in NFL history 2 years ago, a guy with unusual athletic ability still in his prime (although coming off a pretty nasty knee injury but expected to recover).  You also have a new head coach, mostly known as the guy who was responsible for writing down Andy Reid’s offense for the last few years, a man who has never even been a head coach at any level.  Seriously, Brad Childress looks like he’s in over his head.  Now, the stud QB (maybe 5 exist in the whole world) and the rookie head coach don’t get along.  So what do you do?  Hit the road, Culpepper!  This will not end well.

 

NFC South

Carolina Panthers……..12-4

Everybody loves the Panthers to win this division, and so I’m going to give them the kiss of death.  The defense looks great again, even if Kris Jenkins is more fragile than a box of Christmas ornaments.  Julius Peppers is one of my favorite players in the league and one of the greatest names in all of sports.  Keyshawn Johnson adds a much needed second option for the receiving game, as Steve Smith can’t be counted on for another 2005 – those of you drafting him as the #1 WR expecting another 1500 yard season will be …BZT… sorely disappointed.  But the Panthers should still roll this division like gang members on a bum.

 

Atlanta Falcons……..9-7

Last year I lambasted Michael Vick for his childish Ron Mexico behavior, so I’ll refrain from repeating myself about his lack of class.  But I do want to talk about the fact that he hasn’t improved at all in nearly 4 years since his breakout 2002 campaign.  I don’t care how fast you are, a 54% completion rate is not going to get the job done at QB.  Seriously, at what point do the Falcons start thinking about moving Vick to a different role on the team?  Vick is clearly bringing the offense down, even with young talent at WR and a top TE in Alge Crumpler.  The defense hopes that the return of Ed Hartwell will stop teams from running all over them, but I’m not counting on it.  The young secondary is shaping up nicely.  Expect another year missing the playoffs unless Vick figures out that he’s part of the problem and takes steps to improve his game.  Jim Mora Jr. isn’t talked about like a potential hot seat victim, but he should be.

 

Tampa Bay Bucs……..7-9

Last season was fun, huh?  I’m pessimistic about their chances for a repeat engagement, mostly because of the age on their defense.  Chris Simms intrigues me.  Long known as they guy who couldn’t beat Oklahoma, Simms was actually pretty good last year for the Bucs – a 61% completion rate and 6.5 yards per attempt is more than acceptable for a second year guy.  But he’ll need to air it out a little more this season if the defense can’t hold up, and I’m not sure a 12 year old is up to the task.  What’s that?  He only looks like he’s 12?  Ugh…that’s not much better – one crisp hit means what, Bruce Gradkowski time?  Michael Clayton will need to find his magic dust again because Joey Galloway can’t be counted on to stay healthy and effective for a second season in a row.  Cadillac Williams is a nice young back with an even better nickname.

 

New Orleans Saints……..4-12

Reggie Bush is supposed to be the second coming of Gale Sayers; Saints fans hope his career lasts longer than the 6 year career Sayers had.  Bush is fast, fast, fast but he’s about all New Orleans has to look forward to.  Drew Brees is underrated at QB, but New Orleans just traded their best WR Donte Stallworth (apologies to the fading Joe Horn) for a draft pick and Mark Simoneau…who is actually an upgrade to the LB corps.  Read that again.  The offensive line is a colander and the defense is…Will Smith.  Even if Bush comes as advertised, every defense in the league is going to be keying on stopping him, and you can’t run much when you’re giving up 25 points a game anyway.  So listen, I’m told that Sean Payton is a gifted coach and a bright …BZT… offensive mind.  So explain this to me – Payton was demoted as offensive coordinator for the 2002 Giants when Jim Fassel took over the playcalling, and the move was extremely successful.  And he was so valuable to the Cowboys last year that Bill Parcells didn’t even replace him.  NFL rank in points scored for a Payton-led offense since the 2000 Giants: 15, 21, 22, 30, 25, 15 – out of 32 teams.  Yeah, he’ll …BZZT… turn this thing around.

 

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks……..13-3

The class of this division, led by the way underrated Matt Hasselbeck at QB and solid coaching from Mike Holmgren.  Putting aside the argument that the most valuable player should always be a QB (it should), Shaun Alexander had a great season last year.  At 29 years old and coming off a two year span that saw over 700 carries, I wouldn’t expect another season like that.  In fact, I’d lay even money that Alexander misses time to injury this season.  Nevertheless, the defense will be the story in Seattle – Lofa Tatupu leads the group.  His rookie season was the best thing to happen to a Tatupu since …BZT… Tecmo Bowl.

 

Arizona Cardinals……..7-9

Let’s get this out of the way immediately – Matt Leinart dropping to the 10th pick in the draft is the biggest blunder I’ve seen in some time.  Teams like Oakland and Buffalo are in dire need of major QB help and are bad enough that rebuilding behind a QB would be a great move.  Luckily for the Cardinals, the people running those teams are a combined 157 years old.   Hey, I love old people – they keep the casino business running with a steady flow of …BZZZT… slots cash.  But I don’t want them running my NFL team.  Anywho…the Cards are a popular sleeper pick among the experts because of the talent at the skill positions, but I’m not buying it.  First off, Kurt Warner has as much chance of lasting this season upright as the girls down at the bunny ranch.  And I don’t care how NFL ready Leinart is, a rookie QB is a rookie QB and that’s not conducive to making the playoffs.  My projections say he’ll be entrenched by week 11.  Second, Edgerrin James was a nice addition except that the offensive line in Indianapolis is good, and the O-line in Arizona is one of the worst in the league.  I smell a major disappointment for Edge owners this season.  Third, the defense is merely average and I don’t see a whole lot of run stopping ability.  Add it all up and you get a decent season – possibly even a .500 season if Leinart comes prepared down the stretch.  But there’s not enough in the trenches here to sustain a playoff bid.

 

San Francisco 49ers……..6-10

Another projection sure to get me hate mail…from Rams fans.  Hey, there are some things to like here, starting with pawning Mike McCarthy off on the Packers and Kevan Barlow on the Jets after the disaster that was the 2005 Niners offense.  Alex Smith is generally regarded as a mistake as a franchise QB, so of course that means he’s a guy to keep an eye on.  Yes, his 50% completion percentage is pitiful.  Yes, is 1-11 TD/INT ratio is cringe-worthy.  Yes, he wasn’t even the best Alex Smith in the league last year.  But he’s young enough to improve, and the addition of superstar Vernon Davis and quietly productive Antonio Bryant should help.  Make no mistake, this team is going to stink like a bag of rotting beetles, but there is no way a team with this much youth can’t improve, right?  Maybe it’s just time for another Martini.

 

St. Louis Rams……..4-12

Mike Martz mismanaged the Rams so poorly you can almost see the badness emanating off his back as he skips town.  For some reason the Rams are perceived as contenders, and I can’t figure out why.  Marc Bulger can’t stay healthy, and his backups rot.  Steven Jackson can’t decide whether he wants to be great or terrible, and apparently there is no in between.  Torry Holt is a great receiver, but at 30 years old I’m not expecting him to light up the stage – what you see is what you get.  And those are their best players.  They have no players of note on defense, and their front seven are as bad as any team in the league, particularly the interior of the defensive line.  Their special teams have been neglected for so long, child services are getting involved.  Head coach Scott Linehan has a tall order in front of him – nothing is worse than taking over a team that is heavily overrated by the casual fan – perceived underperformance could cost him his job and sideline his career.  When people say that the NFC West is the weakest division in the NFL, they’re mostly talking about the Niners.  …BZZZZT… Mostly.

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