Posted: Thursday November 17, 2005 9:53AM; Updated: Thursday November 17, 2005 11:09AM
Linebacker Mike Peterson leads the NFL's fifth-best defense in Jacksonville.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
We were all on the money with Indy. I had 'em going to the Super Bowl, yaaay! Didn't have them winning it, though. Had 'em losing to Carolina. I can live with that.
I had Jacksonville at 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Some others had them about the same, but reaching the postseason. I didn't think it through carefully enough. I should have given the schedule a more careful look. They have only one game out of seven remaining against a team with a winning record. They have double-dippers against Houston and Tennessee. See, I should have done a little more work here.
Tennessee and Houston. Everyone had the Titans last, because of the free-agent drain and the Texans third. As we used to say when we were GIs in Germany, "Makes no mox nix." Makes no difference.
Nobody, including yours truly, liked the Raiders. There were hints that they might escape the division cellar, but no one could come up with a replacement.
I had the Chiefs as the weakest AFC division winner, with a 9-7 record. I thought the new defensive players -- Patrick Surtain, Kendrell Bell, Sammy Knight, plus the best rookie linebacker, Derrick Johnson -- would do it. When they beat the Jets, 27-7, in the opener, and Johnson was flashing all over the field with unbelievable speed, I said, "Yeah!" Two games later, when I saw the kid swallow every fake Jake Plummer threw at him, I said, "Oh oh."
Not many people liked K.C. as division winner. I didn't think their offensive line would be as erratic as it's been, but then again, I didn't see Larry Johnson coming on as strong, either.
San Diego was the consensus to repeat. I had the Chargers at 9-7. The theory I'd worked out was that last year Hudson Houck, their excellent line coach, had created a fine unit out of basically ordinary players. Now he was gone. And the line would suffer. You see any suffering so far? I sure don't. Maybe later.
Denver? One or two people really liked them. I didn't. I thought MikeShanahan's personnel judgment had taken a weird trip. I mean, all those Cleveland D-linemen, plus running back stiffs such as Maurice Clarett and Ron Dayne. C'mon now. I had them at 7-9. I did NOT see the emergence of the Snake as a top flight QB. Did you?
Just about topsy turvy. The consensus agreed with my own order of finish -- Eagles at 10-6, Cowboys at 10-6, with a wild-card berth, Giants at 5-11, Redskins at 4-12. It could wind up exactly the reverse. If you're gonna be wrong, I say, be good and wrong. I couldn't understand why Joe Gibbs was sticking with an obviously washed up Mark Brunell. That stubbornness, I believed, was going to land the Skins right in the division cellar, kerplop! It didn't occur to yours truly that perhaps Gibbs was right when he said that Brunell's problems last year were strictly physical, and he'd be just fine when he got healthy. What did he know, right?
The Giants? I didn't like Eli Manning -- not yet, anyway. I thought sticking to him through thick and thin was a case of first-round draftitis that would hurt the team in the short term. Oh-for-two, that's me, but everyone else was in the same boat, too, even if they'd deny it now. Yeah, we liked the Cowboys and their young defensive talent. Drew Bledsoe? Oh, Parcells would figure out a way to get him functional again.
The only reason I didn't pick the Eagles to repeat as a Super Bowl team was that, as I mentioned, I usually don't like to pick repeaters. Let's get some new blood in there. Yeah, Philly's solid all right. T.O.'s holdout threats? Kid stuff. They got through last year with him, didn't they?