Not your typical NFL preview

Another summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye; but fear not, there’s reason for optimism now that leaves are dropping and fall is upon us.

The 2011 NFL season starts tonight. Yes, the animosity from the now-forgotten lockout has passed – now just a faint memory. Do you remember who got the better of the concessions?  Neither do I.  But I do know that ex-players, and not lawyers, are giving their “expert analysis” on the NFL, and that’s always a good thing.

Art by Gener De Vera

To help you along with what to look out for every week from now until February, I devote this preview of sorts for the upcoming season.  No, I won’t bore you with yet another Super Bo…ERR…”Big Game” prediction.  If I had a dime for every Packers-Patriots prediction, I’d be able to make a sizable dent in the Federal deficit and still have money left over to attend an NFL game in a luxury box.

Without further ado, here are some things that could transpire in 2011.  As always, don’t wager any actual money based on the following, and these are all my humble opinions:

  1. The Eagles will not win it all. After signing CB Nnamdi Asomugha (the prize of the free agent class this abbreviated offseason), acquiring CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Arizona in the Kevin Kolb trade and adding WR Steve Smith from the rival Giants, expectations are high in Philly.  Add to that the signing of Michael Vick to a six-year, $100 million contract, and it’s easy to see why everyone has jumped on the “Dream Team” bandwagon.  However, the defensive front seven is not as solid as their secondary, and they are one hit away from Vince Young being their fill-in at QB.
  2. Nor will the Packers. Yes, they still have a great team intact and didn’t suffer any major departures during the offseason.  But the statistics don’t lie, and it’s rare to have a team hoist the Lombardi Trophy in consecutive years.  Plus, the NFC looks to have a number of tough contenders that will be taking aim at the Pack, including the Saints, Falcons and whoever emerges in the NFC East.
  3. Same goes for the Chargers. Now I firmly expect them to cruise through the weak AFC West, and QB Phillip Rivers should rack up even more impressive stats now that he’ll have WR Vincent Jackson back for a full season.  But the defense can be erratic, and they will also miss coordinator Ron Rivera (now the head coach in Carolina).  And let’s not forget how both Norv Turner and Nate Kaeding fold in January.
  4. The Texans will FINALLY make the playoffs. I know, we’ve been down this road before.  But now that Peyton Manning will miss Sunday’s game in Houston (and possibly additional time), the Colts are ripe for the taking.  The Texans have an excellent offense, led by the trio of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and the ever-tweeting Arian Foster.  But their porous defense should be much improved with the additions of CB Jonathan Joseph and coordinator Wade Phillips (and his 3-4 scheme).  Could they win it all?  I wouldn’t be surprised.  After all, who expected the Packers to do so at this time last year?
  5. Don’t be surprised… Since most of the above four predictions will probably blow up in my face, here are a few quick-hit ones that I feel more confident about:
  • The Giants and Cowboys will contend in the NFC East.  Expectations are low for both teams, and that’s when these two teams seem to perform best.  Don’t be surprised if one of them edges out the Eagles for the division title.
  • The Browns, Dolphins, Panthers and Vikings will be improved.  They may not make the playoffs, but they won’t be as bad as people think.
  • Saints RB Mark Ingram and Falcons WR Julio Jones should be the offensive rookies who make the biggest impact this year.
  • The NFC West will still stink.  But you knew that already,
  • Rex Ryan will continue to spout off and stick his foot in his mouth.  Wait, he might like that…
  • Fox’s Joe Buck will continue to annoy most viewers, but he’ll sound different doing so.
  • Once the season ends, a team will announce that it’s moving to L.A.  Don’t ask me what team, but my guess is that the Chargers and Jaguars are the favorites.

DISCLOSURE: Please don’t hold me to any of these predictions.  And enjoy the season.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri runs the “West Coast View” column for Sports Climax. A veteran to the keyboard, Chris also covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter for more sports observations.

Copyright ©2011 Sports Climax, LLC

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