2006 NFL Predictions

By Eric Williams

When it comes to equality, the upcoming 2006 NFL season, may be the ultimate showcase in NFL history. At no time in recent memory can I recall there being so many legitimate contenders in each of the respective conferences.
Having said that, here are my predictions for each team as well as the playoffs and Super Bowl.

AFC East

New England Patriots
I am amazed at how many people think the Patriots are suddenly going to fall apart. Well, it’s not going to happen.
13-3

Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins won their final six games last season to finish 9-7 and put, not only the Patriots, but the entire AFC, on notice, that they are for real.
12-4

New York Jets
Everything I’m hearing out of New York is that 35-year-old rookie head coach; Eric Mangini has the stuff it takes to succeed as a head coach in the NFL. Having said that, I don’t care if the man is the reincarnation of Vince Lombardi, the Jets are a team that should struggle to stay around .500 this season.
5-11

Buffalo Bills
I always liked Marv Levy when he was coaching the Bills through their four Super Bowl losses, but I have to say that maybe it I time for the man to walk away from the game and enjoy retirement like most people his age.
3-13

AFC West

Denver Broncos
As I stated earlier, the Broncos should be a playoff team again in 2006.
I know Jake Plummer’s decision-making makes him look like he is two steps away from a psychiatric facility, but Plummer actually had an outstanding regular season in 2005.
13-3

San Diego Chargers
I’ll go n record right now and say that I think the Chargers committed a major boo-boo by allowing former starting quarterback, Drew Brees to walk out of town as an unrestricted free agent in favor of the talented, but untested former first-round pick, Philip Rivers.
9-7

Kansas City Chiefs
Not only do the Chiefs have a new head coach in Herman Edwards, but they also have a new offensive coordinator in Mike Solari. However, the Chiefs are a veteran-laden team that should be able to handle the adjustments without too much difficulty.
7-9

Oakland Raiders
I’m ecstatic that Raiders owner, Al Davis decided to give Art Shell another crack at coaching this proud franchise that has turned into one of the most beleaguered teams in all of football. Having said that, Shell will certainly have his work cut out for him. At this point, the Raiders have more question marks than the ‘Riddler.’
3-13

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals’ big – and only – question may be whether former Heisman trophy winning quarterback, Carson Palmer, can bounce back from the horrific knee injury he suffered in the playoffs against the Steelers.
10-6

Pittsburgh Steelers
As usual under head coach Bill Cowher, the Steelers will once again field another strong defensive team. Whether they can run the ball effectively without the power running of Jerome Bettis will be a question the Steelers can answer only when the regular season begins.
10-6

Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have needed a new quarterback for the last few seasons, but head coach has idiotically continued to believe that former starter, Kyle Boller, had what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
9-7
Cleveland Browns
Head coach Romeo Crennel has already begun the transformation of the Browns from bungling losers into competent professionals. Year-two under Crennel should continue this process as the Browns now have several talented players who should make even bigger contributions than they did last season.
8-8

AFC South
By Eric Williams

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts took a huge blow when thy decided to let starting running back, Edgerrin James bolt for the truckload of money that the Arizona Cardinals offered him this offseason.
10-6

Jacksonville Jaguars
I really like what head coach Jack Del Rio has done in his brief tenure in Jacksonville. The Jags may have taken advantage of their weak schedule last season, finishing with a 12-4 record, but they will be hard pressed to repeat that performance in 2006 with one of the toughest schedules in the league this season.
6-10

Tennessee Titans
I am already on record as saying that the Tennessee Titans ownership and front office are the most despicable and idiotic employers in all of professional sports (okay next to the Philadelphia Phillies, Sixers and Flyers) but I will say that the monetary plan they created a couple of years ago seems to be working to perfection, no matter how bad they screwed over franchise player, Steve McNair.
5-11

Houston Texans
The Texans’ loss is the Titans gain here. I have absolutely nothing against Mario Williams – and I think he’s going to turn out to be a fine player for many years – but for the life of me, I still can’t see why Houston didn’t select running back Reggie Bush with the first overall selection of this year’s draft.
3-13

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
I know a lot of Cowboys critics are focusing on the fact that Terrell Owens can’t solve all of the teams’ ailments all by himself, but I am going on record right now to say that the ‘Boys will probably be better than expected in 2006..
12-4

Philadelphia Eagles
This year’s Philadelphia team may resemble some of the Eagles teams that reached three consecutive NFC championship contests before the enigmatic Terrell Owens ever arrived in the “City of Brotherly Love.”
11-5

Washington Redskins
I’ve always been a huge Joe Gibbs fan and it’s easy to see why the man is a Hall of Fame head coach with three Super Bowl championships. Gibbs knows football – and more importantly – he knows how to build a team.
10-6

New York Giants
I think the Giants should be thanking their lucky stars that Tiki Barber is as good as he is. I like Eli Manning a lot, but he had better step up his learning curve in a hurry now. I’m also not sure how long head coach Tom Coughlin’s overbearing act is going to go over with the Giants’ veteran players either.
8-8

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks
Recent history suggests that the Seattle Seahawks will struggle mightily just to make the playoffs this season, but I say that the Seahawks are going to buck that disturbing trend. They should win at least four division games and possibly five or six, setting themselves up for another deep playoff run in the process.
14-2
St. Louis Rams
I fully expect the Rams to take a step backwards this season as they begin their first season of the Scott Linehan era. The Rams, who were formerly known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” because of their high-powered offense under former offensive coordinator and head coach, Mike Martz, will look to balance their offense more under Linehan and become more of a power team on both sides of the ball.
8-8
Arizona Cardinals
Okay, now all excuses are off for the Cardinals. After acquiring running back Edgerrin James and drafting rookie quarterback, Matt Leinart, the Cards should be a much-improved team than the one that ended last season with a disappointing 5-11 record.
7-9

San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have nowhere to go but up. The Niners grabbed an incredible prospect in Maryland tight end Vernon Davis with their first round selection this year and by all accounts, he could turn out to be a legitimate star.
2-14

NFC North

Chicago Bears
I really like what Lovie Smith has done with his team the past three years and the Bears have one of the easiest schedules in the league this season, not to mention the fact that they are returning 22 starters from last year’s team. So why is something bothering me about the Bears?
9-7
Minnesota Vikings
I think the Vikings made one of the best acquisitions in the NFL this past offseason when they hired former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator, Brad Childress to become their new head coach, replacing an almost comically inept Mike Tice.
7-9
Green Bay Packers
I’ve always admired the way Brett Favre has played the game. He was been a genuine warrior for nearly two decades now and has come to be recognized as the face of the Green Bay Packers franchise.
6-10
Detroit Lions
It seems like every three years or so, the Lions hire a new head coach and an entirely new regime takes over to continue the Lions’ losing ways. The Lions new head coach, Rod Marinelli makes the third new head coach in the division, which should be entertaining enough in itself.
4-12

NFC South

Carolina Panthers
I genuinely believe that the Panthers have to be considered as one of the favorites to, not only win this division, but win the entire NFC. Head coach John Fox is as good of a defensive coach as there is in all of football and has assembled this team for the long haul.
12-4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs should be even better than they were last season if quarterback Chris Sims continues the maturation he showed after taking over as the starter last season.
10-6
Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are a team that could literally go either 6-10 or 10-6 this season – depending on the health and maturation of quarterback Michael Vick who can look absolutely amazing one second and totally perplexing the next.
5-11
New Orleans Saints
The Saints had the worst record in the NFC last season, but with everything they suffered through with the Hurricane Katrina related uprooting, they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Besides, this team is going to be immensely different from the team that closed out last season.
2-14

AFC Playoffs

New England

Cincinnati

Denver

Indianapolis

Wild Cards

Miami

Pittsburgh

Denver over Pittsburgh

Miami over Indianapolis

Cincinnati over Miami

New England over Denver

AFC Championship: Cincinnati over New England

NFC Playoffs

Seattle

Carolina

Dallas

Chicago

Wild Cards

Tampa Bay

Philadelphia

Dallas over Tampa Bay

Philadelphia over Chicago

Carolina over Philadelphia

Seattle over Dallas

NFC Championship: Seattle over Carolina

Super Bowl: Seattle over Cincinnati

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