My NFL predictions, plus thoughts on everything from Albert to Zack
I like the Giants to win the NFC East, the toughest division in pro football
Look for Chris Carpenter to edge Tim Lincecum in a tight Cy Young race
College football would be better off without a preseason poll
Well, the NFL season is about to begin. So we kick off this week's column -- an homage to the great Peter King -- with some NFL predictions I think I think.
Champ: New England. Unless Tom Brady gets hurt. And If Brady does get hurt ... actually I think Patriots will still win.
Potential surprise team: New York. I like the Jets to have a big year, though I can't really give you any logical reason why.
Potential disaster: Buffalo. A coach who wants to run a Pop Warner offense and a receiving corps led by Terrell Owens. Something about that combination doesn't quite work for me.
Champ: Pittsburgh. If a Steelers fan went into a coma in 1975 and woke up in 2009, he would say: "Wow, nothing in the world has changed."
Potential surprise team: Cincinnati. For the first time in, well, forever, they seem to be building a real defense in Cincinnati.
Potential disaster: Cleveland. I guess it depends on which quarterback plays. Or ... actually, it doesn't.
Champ: Tennessee. Chris Johnson might be the most fun player to watch in the NFL. Len Dale White might be the most boring. Forget Thunder & Lightning, THIS should be their nickname: Fun & Boring.
Potential surprise team: Houston. This is, what, the 29th year in a row that the Texans are a trendy surprise-team pick? But it could be the Texans' time.
Potential disaster: Indianapolis. Disaster is too strong a word for a team that has won 12 games or more for six straight season. But... New coach, aging offense... it could be a missed playoff year for the Colts.
Champ: San Diego. By default.
Potential surprise team: Oakland. It's hard to say this with a straight face, but some team has to win some games in this division. And the Raiders do occasionally show a reasonable defense and they have a high draft picks on offense... or maybe not.
Potential disaster: Denver and Kansas City. And Oakland too. One of the fun things to do when covering the NFL is going to AFC West games and listening to the beat writers in various cities argue about which of their teams is worse.
Champ: New York. This is the toughest division in pro football. Philadelphia and New York might be two of the five best teams in the NFL. The Giants' powerful running game could make a difference.
Potential surprise team: Washington. The Redskins are always the trendy surprise pick (see: Texans, Houston).
Potential disaster: Dallas. But aren't the Cowboys ALWAYS a potential disaster? Watch for ricocheting punts.
Champ: Minnesota. Nobody has any idea how the Brett Favre thing is going to work out, but when you have a potentially dominant defense, a great offensive line and the biggest offensive weapon in the game, you should do OK, right?
Potential surprise team: Green Bay. The Packers will score points, but is that defense going to be good enough? I actually think the Bears will have a good year too -- this has suddenly turned into a good division. Has power shifted from AFC to NFC?
Potential disaster: Do we really need to say it?
Champ: Carolina. Atlanta is a trendier pick, but the Panthers have the power running game and tough defense. They're like the Giants South.
Potential surprise team: New Orleans. People say that Drew Brees won't throw for 5,000 yards again. I disagree. I think he might break Dan Marino's record this year.
Potential disaster: Tampa Bay. Offensive coordinator? Who needs an offensive coordinator?
Champ: Arizona. Surprise teams one year do tend to fall off the next year, so I would like to pick another team. But there doesn't seem to be another team to pick.
Potential surprise team: San Francisco. Hard to believe that Bill Walsh's creation will try to win with old-style Monsters of the Midway defense and something resembling a Woody Hayes offense. But in this division, it could work.
Potential disaster: St. Louis. The Rams actually seem to be making strides, but they're beat up and the schedule is brutal.