The final preseason games are in the book so it is officially time to turn our full attention to the much anticipated start of the NFL regular season. The NFC East will be in the spotlight right off the bat with the Giants and Cowboys squaring off on Sunday Night Football followed by a Monday night clash between the Eagles and the Redskins. While division titles are never won on opening day, the results of these two games could go along way towards determining which two teams will be the lead dogs in what should be an extremely competitive title race that goes all the way to Week 17.
Last season I did a preview and pick for every Eagles' game as part of an ongoing series for Doc's Sports. Anyone who followed my previews as the Birds' season went on already knows that I do not make my living as a handicapper. To say I was 'off the mark' with my picks would be putting it mildly. I was downright awful and a 'bankroll buster' for anyone who actually bet the games the way I suggested. The good news heading into the 2013 season is that Doc's did not fire me, but they did expand this season's article to include all the games in the NFC East on a week-to-week basis. Be sure to check back later this week for my opening day pick.
Looking at the 2013 NFL season as a whole, I am ready to go on record with my official prognostications for division winners, wildcard teams and results for this year's Super Bowl Derby.
Starting in the AFC, I have Denver winning the West with ease while securing the No.1 seed for the playoffs. Houston should have a pretty clear path to the AFC South title as Indianapolis takes a step backwards from last year's 11-5 record. The Texans will win enough games to lock-up the other first round bye as the No. 2 seed in the conference. The Patriots still have more than enough talent to win the AFC East, but a record of 10-6 will have them playing in the Wildcard Round against Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs. There will be a changing of the guard in the AFC North as Cincinnati takes the division title while both Baltimore and Pittsburgh miss the playoffs altogether. The Bengals will face Miami in the other wildcard game.
The Divisional Round in the AFC will have Denver hosting Cincinnati and New England on the road against Houston. This sets up a conference championship showdown between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady with the Broncos earning the trip east to New Jersey for the Super Bowl.
The Green Bay Packers will prove to be the cream of the crop in the NFC as the No. 1 seed while Seattle claws its way past the 49ers to claim the NFC West title and No. 2 seed in the conference. The return of Sean Payton to New Orleans will make all the difference in the world as the Saints battle their way past Atlanta for the NFC South crown. Once all the smoke clears in the NFC East, the Giants will end-up tied with Dallas at 9-7, but earn the division title on a tie-breaker.
I have the Falcons beating New York in one wildcard game while New Orleans ends the 49ers' season in the other. Turning to the Divisional Round, both of the top seeds will prevail with Green Bay beating Atlanta and the Seahawks ousting the Saints. When it comes to the NFC Championship Game, I have the Packers earning a trip to the frozen tundra of Met Life Stadium by sneaking past the Seahawks on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
My official pick for Super Bowl XLVIII is Denver over Green Bay in a game that stays UNDER the total as a result of a blinding snow storm that pummels the entire Northeast.