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Tricks behind the picks

The somewhat-fuzzy logic behind my '05 predictions

Posted: Thursday September 1, 2005 11:52AM; Updated: Friday September 2, 2005 2:17PM
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Eagles WR Terrell Owens caught five pases for 131 yards and a touchdown in his first preseason game this year.
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Last year I provided capsule analyses of the teams I listed in my forecast in Sports Illustrated's preseason NFL Issue. This year I'm doing the same. See, some things never change. Except that I'm providing the projected record in parens (like this), which is an attempt to further illuminate the darkness. An asterisk denotes ... I'll bet you've already guessed it ... a wild-card team.


1. EAGLES (10-6)

In 2004 I predicted Terrell Owens would cause big problems early in the season. I missed it by about 10 months. Now I'm not sure. He might even stay quiet for the better part of the campaign, after Andy Reid gave him his "here's the way it's gonna be" lecture. They wouldn't have made the Super Bowl without T.O. Now all the psych majors are saying there's no way they can make it with him. Every other department is fairly solid, especially that terrific secondary, with a great coordinator to get them in the best schemes. But should T.O. go in the tank, the Iggles will be left with one of the weaker wideout groups in the league. Thus, I take the mid-ground and cop out at 10-6.

2. COWBOYS (10-6*)

In 2004 Vinny Testaverde was sacked 34 times. That's a good statistic, because the number is right around the league average and Vinny, as we know, was a lot slower than the average quarterback. Can the line set up a wall for Drew Bledsoe, who likes to hold the ball? I think so, and that, of course, is the issue, because the Cowboys' defense will be active and opportunistic and will force turnovers.

3. GIANTS (5-11)

I don't really think they're this bad, just as I don't think the Redskins are as bad as my 4-12 for them indicates. What happens, and I've already explained this a few times, is that I get the schedule out and play it out, game by game, and whatever comes up ... well, that's what I go with, unless it looks too ridiculous, then I adjust it by a game or so. I'm afraid I don't think Eli Manning is there yet. I just can't see New York beating a good team on the road under Eli, actually any team on the road, except for maybe the Niners. If the O-line were great, well then OK, maybe Eli would come around faster than we think. But it's just average.

4. REDSKINS (4-12)

I know this is a vicious prediction, and since Washington has some of the most dedicated e-mailers in the land, I expect to hear from an army of them next week, just as I did last year when I picked the Skins ... what ... 5-11 or something like that? Gregg Williams' defense shouldn't let this happen, but it was good last year, too, and so what? I think the Patrick Ramsey-Mark Brunell-Jason Campbell merry-go-round is a bad situation and the sign of a deeper problem -- namely that this team doesn't quite know what it's doing.