Of course, those aren't listed in the order in which they were written, so you can't really trace the sharp decline in quality of both research and writing throughout, but trust me, it's there. Let's get this over with.
Houston TexansIn case you haven't followed professional football in the past few years, yes, this is a real team. They're not on TV very often, so, y'know.
And with good reason, I might add. The Texans fall into that category of teams that perennially stink, and I feel safe assuming that they will continue to stink until they prove otherwise, sort of like AZ and, until last year, Cin. One of these years the Texans will be good and when that happens, I won't be the one who was bold enough to predict it.
Total wins: 51/2
If you figure they'll split with TN, take one from NYJ or Buf and then get lucky once in the NFCN, they're still short even if they win their other two. Sounds like an under to me.
Division title: 10-1
Fat bloody chance.
Super Bowl champs: 100-1
It's moments like this that make me wonder why I even write these things.
Indianapolis ColtsLet me say for the record that, until last year, I don't think Peyton Manning was a choker. He catches a lot of flack for winning a bunch of regular season games before honking in the playoffs, but I don't think you can really hold not being able to beat NE against the guy. We're talking about the best team in football. No one could beat them. And another thing: there's only one defense in the league that can stop Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady only has to face them in practice.
But last year was different. It was an off year for just about every team except Indy, who had their classic offense together for one last year before losing James and finally had a defense to match. In short, the title was theirs for the taking and they have absolutely no excuse for not winning it. So now, now he's a choker. But not before. And for God's sake, then he gets up there at the post-game press conference and blames his line? What a weak move. Let's move on.
Total wins: 111/2
Of course they'll win twelve games. Who are we kidding here? They'll probably win fifteen. Over.
Division title: 1-5
Yeah, no shit. I'm surprised the payoff's that good. This should be like 1-20. No thanks.
Super Bowl champs: 6-1
They're gonna win it one of these years, and Manning probably won't take as long as Elway. This is kind of a safe bet every year. Take it.
Jacksonville JaguarsDo you remember how many games they won last year? Twelve. Seriously. That's more than Cin. Prepare for the old market correction on this one, but they'll still be pretty good. I don't really have anything else to say about them, not even another stale Fred-Taylor's-groin crack.
Total wins: 9
Probably right around there. Skip this one.
Division title: 7-2
If you take this you're basically betting on Peyton Manning getting hurt. So, y'know, your call. I'll pass.
Super Bowl champs: 30-1
Not this year, but I'm looking at this season as a referendum of sorts on the Leftwich-Del Rio era, and whether or not they've got a shot to win one in the next couple of years.
Nashville TitansCareful counting out Jeff Fisher for too long, he'll bite you in the ass (not literally). The Titans are never bad for more than a season or two at a time, so who knows? Maybe this is their year.
On the other hand, probably next year, when Vince Young will enter camp as the starter. Still, no reason they can't aspire to 8-8 this year.
So McNair's gone. I always liked him. He was a Houston Oiler, you know. Remember them? And a Memphis Oiler. I wonder if there are any other Oilers left on the Titans. Matt Stover's the last Brown left on the Ravens. Don't really know where I'm going with this. It's the last team of the last preview. As sick of these things as I got, I just can't seem to let go.
Total wins: 51/2
Seriously, why not us, why not now? Could they take three in this division? It's a stretch, but doable if they sweep Hou. Two AFCE? Why not? One NFCE? Tricky, but possible. That leaves @SD and Bal. They can take Bal. That's seven games. Over with room to wiggle.
Division title: 20-1
Why this and the SB odds are twice as long as Hou's is beyond me. Still, neither team's gonna win big, so I guess it's a moot point.
Super Bowl champs: 200-1
Look, I'm optimistic but let's not get ridiculous.
RecapIndy, Indy, Indy. When will you win a title? Perhaps this year. No time like the present.
The picks: Hou < 51/2, Ind > 111/2, Ind SB 6-1, TN > 51/2. Over and out.