2008 NFL Predictions for Records and Playoffs by Chris Gossett: It's Pittsburgh vs. Carolina for Super Bowl XLIII
In evaluating the Steelers off season it is very easy to look at the offensive line and to speculate. The fact that Max Starks was benched almost the whole season in favor of five other linemen and now he has been given the transition tag seems contradictory. The fact the Steelers gave up 90 plus sacks in the past two years made looking at the draft feel like an Offensive Line stud was to be the next first round choice for the Steelers.
Lo and behold, all the top linemen were gone by number 23 so what did the Steelers do? They grab their first Running Back in the first round since Tim Worley in 1989, Merrill Hoge's partnering back.
Itís always fun to speculate about the newest Steeler. What's Rashard Mendenhall's claim to fame? Duality. He can butt heads and high knee it through the line, a la Merrill Hoge, or he can flash past you, a la Walter Payton. To me, he reminds me of an Eric Dickerson or a Roger Craig. Remember how Merrill Hoge would butt heads, and probably preferred to, how Roger Craig would go plowing through the line and high stepping his knees into defenders? How Dickerson would go head up, toe to toe always, but Dickerson always high kneed it through the line, and he could run away from everyone if he got to the second level? He and Roger Craig made that high stepping look too easy which Mendenhall does. The difficulty is in NOT running straight up and down, when you're high stepping through the line, as that gets you clobbered, or even clothes lined. The speed factor is there but with Mendenhall it's said to be more burst than distance. I remember another RB who fit all these criteria; Walter Payton. It's way too early to compare the two but remember he had all the above however Payton could be caught from behind, as Parker seems to be, more and more. Tony Dorsett was one to almost never caught from behind, except once by Roy Green. If you want to see "speed" go to You Tube, type in Tony Dorsett, and watch the first thing you find - the 1977 Sugar Bowl Scamper.
After speculation over draft and needs and wants, the schedule appears daunting. This is based on '07 information. Teams rise, fall, flatten out and plateau like the rise and fall and ebb of the tide. I wouldn't change a stroke of their schedule if I could. ĎPrime time! Put off the dish till '09. There's no need for it in '08. 'Very cool.
Next, itís always fun after evaluating the draft picks and schedule to examine the state of the NFL and predict the finish of all teams. Looking at this, team by team, I have a hard time not faulting all NFC teams as the inferior, whipping boy, step children of the NFL. I want to call them all 8-8 contenders for mediocrity.
I sincerely believe there is a more severe gap between the conferences than there was during the 13 championship seasons the NFC held over the AFC from Super Bowls 19-31; 1985 to 1997.
Regardless of the fact that the Gi'nts won it all last year, they had Karma on their side. I'll take the people called Karma and Luck over those people named Skill and Odds any day. Stop and think; the NFC has who? Dallas and New York. Green Bay? Please. The New York Times said "God Is Dead And War's Begun"; Brett Favre is not coming back, regardless of how many Hail Marys you say. Stop and think; the AFC has who? My saying - the Media's People, a.k.a. the Patriots, then there are the Chargers, the Colts, the Jaguars, of course our beloved Steelers, the ďrisingĒ Browns, the always scary D of the Ravens, the scary O of the Cell Block Been-Gals? I mean, I think if you put any of those teams in the Super Bowl they will kill the best of the best of the NFC, Dallas; anybody; as long as they don't have Karma working against them the AFC wins every time. As long as the Patriots donít have karma against them, they beat the Giants ninety nine times out of one hundred. Please. New England should have toasted the Giants, shouldn't they? I'm really glad they didn't but, seriously, who's the better team? I loved the result but I knew I was almost as happy when it ended, as I was when Penn State somehow beat Miami on Jan 2, 1987. I knew it was unreal. I knew they were better THAT NIGHT; look at the pro careers of my beloved Nittany Lions versus the careers of the hated 'Canes. So be real, be glad the AFC lost this one Super Bowl - that's history. Thatís done and over. It won't happen again any year soon. The gap in the AFL vs. NFL? The gap in 1985-1997 NFC vs AFC? This is the greatest gap, right now, today. One NFC team, Dallas, MIGHT be up to par with the AFC leaders. Thatís it. If the Steelers can separate themselves from the pack in the AFC then the Super Bowl will be theirs.
Below is the chart of finish and beneath it is a synopsis of each team and playoff predictions; go easy; a lot of this is for fun; AFC then NFC.
1. Pittsburgh - 13-3 Tomlin starts his era of Super Bowl wins now. This fear over the NFL "toughest" schedule based on '07 indicates it will be an easier version in '08. Be glad they are prime time almost every week and enjoy the feast. The pressure taken off Big Ben and FWP with the addition of Mendenhall will be soon obvious. This is now the most potent tandem of RBs in the NFL; it just needs to be proven in a matter of time.
1. Buffalo - 11-5 Poz would have looked good in black and gold. This is one of the two up and coming teams of the AFC to watch in '09.
2. New England - 8-8 Cheaters, cheaters, cheaters. Karma has a way of fixing cheaters. The party is over. 8-8. Swear.
3. Miami - 5-11 Next question.
4. New York Jets - 1-15 The J-E-T-S, jets-jets-jets are this year's Miami.
1. San Diego - 11-5 L.T. and Shawne Merriman will reign supreme again and the Chargers will remain one of the top six AFC teams - er, I mean one of the top six NFL teams. AFC, NFL, potato, po-tah-to; what's the difference? All the best teams are from the AFC - the Giants had Karma on their side which this year's Super Bowl feast from the NFC will not have.
3. Kansas City - 10-6 Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Always a contender, inevitable pretender.
4. Denver - 7-9 This isn't 1998. It's 2008. Elway sells cars.
1. Jacksonville - 12-4 This is the team that scares me.
2. Indianapolis - 12-4 As long as it's Peyton's Place you can count on the Colts contending; like a Bradshaw or a Roethlisberger team....
3. Tennessee - 8-8 Vince Young almost retired after 06? What's he going to do after 08 if they don't go to the playoffs?
4. Houston - 4-12 Houston fans, just imagine, David Carr, who you hated so bad was actually able to complete 65 percent of his passes, but you talked like he was the captain of a shipwreck. What have ye to say now? The plank looks pretty attractive eh?
AFC Wildcard Indianapolis vs. Cleveland - Indianapolis wins
AFC Wildcard San Diego vs. Buffalo - San Diego wins
AFC Divisional Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis
1. Dallas - 13-3 Here's your NFC Championship game loser.
2. New York Giants - 8-8 Super Bowl hangover. 8-8 or less. Ask Pittsburgh.
3. Philly - 6-10 My father always told me "things could be worse. You could be in Philadelphia". Poor Donovan.
4. Washington - 6-10 Speed, speed, speed; just not enough.
1. Minnesota - 11-5 Adrian Peterson is a stud. That's enough to contend with the laughable NFC.
2. Detroit - 10-6 The greatest surprise of 2008, for real this time. It was always " 'Still rebuilding after all these years. They've been rebuilding since about 1958." " Unbelievable - 10 wins
3. Green Bay - 8-8 or bust.
4. Chicago - 5-11 Da Bears. Who cares? '06 couldn't feel further away.
1. Arizona - 11-5 Pittsburgh West. This team could be playing the Steelers in a Super Bowl one day soon. That would make for one interesting contrast. This is no doubt one of the two up and coming teams in the NFC.
2. San Francisco - 9-7 Gore gives them a chance to go to the post season every year.
3. Seattle - 7-9 Holmgren finally stops crying about officiating from Supe XL. Believe it or not - it will actually happen. The SeaBass will flop on the floor.
4. St. Louis - 6-10 Go back to the yellow because you're not golden.
1. Carolina - 12-4 The Panthers D is looking like world beaters. Dan Morgan and Bob Shaw make the ultimate PSU LB tandem in the NFL - oh wait, the only PSU LB tandem in the NFL. I think the Panthers are on to something.
2. New Orleans - 10-6 As long as you have a stud, or two, in the backfield you will put the NFC on fire. McAllister and Bush are ready to roll together, one last year. Then it's Bush's to endure.
3. Tampa Bay - 6-10 The dirty, half dozen quarterback shuffle is a moot point.
4. Atlanta - 4-12 Hammerhead Heyward where are you? Creepy, desperate, rotten, horrible, homicidal; wait, are we talking about Atlanta or the typical Falcon's fan's suicide watch since Mr. Vick's demise? I pity the four fools.
NFC Wildcard Minnesota vs. New Orleans
NFC Wildcard Arizona vs. Detroit
NFC Divisional Carolina vs. New Orleans
NFC Championship Dallas vs. Carolina
Super Bowl Champion: Pittsburgh