Many of the season previews are out now, and the rest are coming shortly (keep checking the ?Team Articles? section!). While I try to have some fun with those exhaustive forecasts, I have to maintain somewhat of a reserved, balanced tone. Not this one, folks! Ladies and gentleman, here are 32 mostly random prognostications for the upcoming NFL season. Not all 32 teams are represented, but some teams and players just strike more of my fancy. Will all of these come true--probably not. Will any come true--hopefully, lest I look like a monkey with a laptop. Without further ado... 1. Tom Brady will be back with a vengeance, while Matt Cassel flops miserably away from Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Bill Belichick. 2. The last team to win a game will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it could take until a December visit from the Jets before they notch that first win. 3. Some team will show their desperation and sign Matt Jones, who has had a string of police run-ins, with inconsistent hands and poor route running. That team (my guess--St. Louis) will live to regret it. 4. Michael Vick will not attempt a pass in 2009. That does not mean he won?t be playing somewhere...probably Carolina (just a guess). 5. The Bengals break a long-running string and have zero players arrested during the season. That dubious string dates back to 1996, believe it or not. 6. Philadelphia is the biggest surprise team of the season, and not in a positive way. The OL and the back of their defense crumble as the team skids to a below-.500 record. 7. Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez prove every bit as dynamic a rookie QB duo as Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco of a year ago, though neither of their teams will make the playoffs. But both the Lions (Louis Delmas) and Jets (Shonn Greene) have even better rookie performers than the headlining QBs. 8. Not one person who has ever strapped on shoulder pads will miss John Madden one iota. I?m probably one of the select handfuls that will miss Tony Kornheiser. 9. Buffalo will crash and burn spectacularly, and TO will get most of the blame even though very little of it is actually his fault. Just like his stint on Superstars. 10. Four top 50 picks from the 2007 draft will fail to make their teams. Jarvis Moss (Denver), Craig Davis (San Diego), Drew Stanton (Detroit) and Alan Branch (Arizona) will join John Beck (Miami), Kenny Irons (Cincinnati) and Dan Bazuin (Chicago) as the faces of failure from perhaps the biggest hit-or-miss draft class in NFL history. Ted Ginn Jr. and Justin Harrell are close to joining that ugly family picture too. 11. Chicago?s offense will be fine, but the rigidity of Lovie Smith sticking to his beloved Tampa-2 scheme means the defense suffers and the Bears disappoint. Offenses have figured it out, period. 12. Players who will have huge comeback years include Will Smith in New Orleans, Patrick Kerney in Seattle, Carson Palmer in Cincinnati, Chris Samuels in Washington, Joe Thomas in Cleveland and Randy McMichael in St. Louis. 13. The NFL Network and the remaining holdout cable companies (including mine, Charter) reach an agreement just before the network?s regular season schedule kicks off. Millions of long-suffering football fans will gladly shell out the extra $4 a month to get it. 14. San Diego clinches the hapless AFC West before Week 12 and winds up with the best regular season record in the league. The Chargers set an NFL record for best turnover margin. 15. The first coach fired is Gary Kubiak in Houston after the Texans stumble out of the gate yet again. Joining him and the other 10% of Americans looking for work will be Dick Jauron in Buffalo and Mike Singletary in San Francisco. The shadows of all those Super Bowl-winning coaches--Shanahan, Holmgren, Gruden, Cowher, Billick--makes owners have itchy trigger fingers for any sort of on-field and off-field embarrassment. 16. Reggie Bush will rush for 709 yards, get 75 receptions for 856 yards, score 13 touchdowns and lead the league in total yards (including returns) and still most people will consider him a major disappointment. 17. One game will be marred by a senseless act of mass violence in the stands or parking lot, which results in over reactionary security measures that make airplane travel seem convenient. I pray I?m wrong on this one. 18. Jeff Garcia throws more passes for Oakland than JaMarcus Russell, and Louis Murphy catches four times as many passes as his more highly-drafted WR mate, Darius Heyward-Bey. 19. Peyton Manning proves it?s him, and not Tony Dungy, that truly makes the Colts special. Manning wins league MVP and threatens Tom Brady?s record of 50 TD passes. 20. Chris Mortensen of ESPN will report at least four instances of ?breaking news? that turn out to be bold-faced fabrications of his Peter Vescey-esque imagination. He will not be reprimanded by the network. 21. Vernon Gholston (Jets), Kevin Smith (Lions), Chris Long (Rams), Tyrell Johnson (Vikings) and Jason Jones (Titans) all make huge leaps in progress from their 2008 rookie campaigns. 22. DeMarcus Ware breaks Michael Strahan?s single-season sack record, and he does it without having Brett Favre lie down in front of him. He winds up being the only Cowboy to notch more than 5.5 sacks, however. 23. Three players who rapidly decline: Ray Lewis in Baltimore, Julian Peterson in Detroit, and Thomas Jones of the Jets. One who does not: LaDanian Tomlinson. 24. Only one of the teams that earn a playoff bye week will win their first playoff game, which makes the competition committee rethink the idea of bye weeks. That opens the door for an expansion of the playoffs to eight teams in each conference. 25. The banning of the wedge blocking scheme leads to a league-wide decline in kickoff return yardage and places more of an emphasis on the punting game. Teams with lousy punt and punt return units will struggle. 26. The final first round pick to sign his contract will be Michael Crabtree in San Francisco. The 49ers will extend the dubious streak that the final team to sign their first round draft pick fails to make the playoffs, a string that dates back to when Carolina and Jacksonville entered the league. 27. Albert Haynesworth plays in only 11 games but plays extremely well in those games, and the Ethnic Slurs defense winds up near the top of the league. 28. The Arizona Cardinals fall victim to the curse of the Super Bowl loser, missing the playoffs thanks to an inability to run the ball and a moderate decline by Kurt Warner. 29. Brett Favre will hold at least two press conferences regarding his desire to keep playing. 30. A controversial non-reversal of a goal-line stand/touchdown leads the NFL to adopt the placing of some sort of transmitting beacon at both tips of the ball that sends a signal when it crosses the goal line. 31. Defenses get savvy to the various ?Wildcat? packages and the phenomenon quickly fades away to obscurity for another 10 years. 32. The final four teams in the playoffs: Seattle vs. Carolina and New England vs. San Diego.
32 Fearless Predictions For The 2009 NFL Season