Thursday, August 15, 2013

2013 Football Predictions

"You can observe a lot by watching..." -Yogi Berra-

Hello everyone.  Is it an ominous sign that I hear thunder and see lightning RIGHT BEFORE I begin typing my predictions for the 2013 football season?  I think so...  :)  It's preseason football that's on in the background right now, but we're getting REALLY CLOSE my friends...  For those of you who are new to the blog (and/or for those of you who are returning), starting with the first weekend of college games that kicks off 2 weeks from now, and for the next 6 months after that, up through and including the Super Bowl, I will be making predictions on football games here.  During the regular season I will look at all of the college and NFL spreads and the over/unders, and I will post what I believe are the ten best bets of the week.  When the college bowl season arrives, I will publish my picks for all of the bowl games (unless I'm too busy because I'm lucky enough to make a return trip to Las Vegas late this fall/early this winter), and I will make predictions on all of the NFL playoff games.  This year I will also be making weekly score predictions for all of the Texas State Bobcats (my alma mater) and the Texas Longhorns football games - these games are of great interest to a lot of my readers...  One of the reasons that I started doing this in the blog almost two years ago is that I wanted to keep track of how well my picks performed to help me gauge if I should move back to Las Vegas to bet football games during the season.  I know that you can find other outlets to wager, but I love my football parlays and parlay cards, and I've never had any trouble cashing a winning ticket at a Las Vegas sportsbook (that one time that I was right)...  ;)  Anyway, the reason that I'm telling you all of that is that I don't like making "prop bets" myself (the bets that depend on the outcome of a whole season of play, etc...) because they can be impacted by several factors, and even if you win, you have to wait so long to collect on your wager.  I would rather make weekly wagers where I can take into account how injuries and other trends will affect games, so just keep that in mind as you read these predictions.  You also have to know that I LOVE making predictions, so I'm going to make these anyway...  ;)

                                                    2013 Football Predictions

1)  Not only will the Baltimore Ravens not repeat as Super Bowl Champions, but I'm predicting that they won't even reach the playoffs this season, and that they'll be lucky to be better than .500 (an 8-8 record).  The Ravens were playing mediocre last season until Ray Lewis returned from his injury.  This season they won't have Lewis' talent or leadership, or Ed Reed, or Anquan Boldin (who MADE Joe Flacco's new contract), in addition to a lot of other players.  I do think that Flacco will do fine as a fantasy quarterback because I obviously think that the Ravens will be trailing in a lot of games and that Baltimore will have to throw, but will they repeat?  No...

2)  Not only will Johnny Manziel not repeat as the Heisman Trophy Winner, but I'm predicting that he doesn't even get selected as a finalist (if he is eligible to play this season).  Even if Manziel is eligible to play, I think that it's going to be extremely hard for him (and his teammates) to stay focused, teams have a book on him now, and the Aggies only return half of their starters from last season (6 on offense and 5 on defense).

3)  Not only will Adrian Peterson not break the single-season rushing record this season, but I'm predicting that he won't even break 1,500 rushing yards.  Historically, running backs haven't fared nearly as well the season after performing in the neighborhood of the 2,000 yard mark the previous season, plus you have to factor in the toll of all of those carries and the hits that he took last season.  Peterson would have to stay healthy and perform exceptionally for most of this season, and I don't think that he's going to get there...

4)  Look out for the Louisville Cardinals...  They could be this year's Boise State, meaning they're a decent team that could benefit tremendously from playing a relatively weak schedule, which could result in them finishing high in the rankings and getting another shot at a big bowl game.  Last year the Cards upset Florida 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl, and this year they return 6 offensive and 10 defensive starters from last year's squad...

5)  The Philadelphia Eagles will play in a lot of high-scoring games and will gain a lot of yards on offense...  Former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is at the helm of the Eagles now, and they are going to run A LOT of plays on offense this year.  This will have a significant impact on the over/under in their games, and will also have a big fantasy impact over the course of the season.  I would not take the Eagles defense in fantasy (their opponents will have a lot of possessions also), I would take a long look at their placekicker, I think that LeSean McCoy will have a HUGE year, and I would consider Eagles over equally-talented players at other positions when you're stuck on who to select.

6)  On a related note, I do not think that the Oregon Ducks will be as strong this season.  Now don't get me wrong, the Ducks will be good (#5 in Phil Steele's preseason rankings), but I have a lot of respect for Chip Kelly, and I don't believe that the Ducks will be as dominant this year (which I'm sure will be reflected in my weekly picks, as I think that Vegas may give their opponents too many points in games, especially earlier in the season)...

7)  In fantasy football, I think that Drew Brees may be the most underrated player that I've seen up to this point based on what he's done in his career.  You have to remember that Brees didn't have Sean Payton on the sidelines last season.  Brees probably tried to do too much to carry the team himself, and I believe that this led to a lot of his interceptions.  I think that Brees is still extremely dangerous with all of the weapons that he has in New Orleans, coupled with the fact that the Saints don't have the strongest strength of schedule this season.

8)  Alternatively, I think that Danny Amendola may be the most overrated player that I've seen in fantasy circles up to this point.  Amendola is going to draw a lot of attention in New England due to the weapons that the Patriots have lost, he's been prone to injuries during his career, and he'll have to play several games in cold weather at the end of the season.

9)  I don't believe that Texas A&M will finish the season ranked in the Top 20.  The Aggies are ranked #13 in Phil Steele's preseason rankings, but that whole squad will have to deal with the spotlight that comes with Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy last season (something that Manziel himself hasn't handled very well to this point), half of their starters will be new, this year Alabama has a bye week before playing A&M, and the Aggies will travel to LSU, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri.  A&M has a lot of new faces and won't be sneaking up on anyone this season...

10)  Who is going to the playoffs in the NFL?  First of all, there will be a TREMENDOUS AMOUNT of parity in the league this season.  I believe that the vast majority of the league's 32 teams will finish with between 7 to 10 victories this season.  As you all know, injuries are always a key factor (which is the reason that I wouldn't bet my life savings on these picks, as small as that amount may be), but even with some of the stronger favorites (Denver, Green Bay, and New England for example), if they suffer only a few more injuries, they won't be strong favorites...  That being said, I like the Texans, Broncos, Patriots, Colts, Bengals, and the Steelers to reach the playoffs in the AFC.  The Texans and Colts will benefit from playing the Jaguars and the Titans twice, the Broncos will benefit from a whole division trying to play catch-up (as will the Patriots), and the Bengals and Steelers will be fighting each other and the next best Wild Card contender off.  In the NFC, I like the Falcons, 49ers, Packers, Seahawks, Saints, and the Cowboys to make the postseason.  The Falcons added a hungry Steven Jackson (former Ram) to an already loaded team (which gets the Panthers twice, in addition to games with the Rams, Jets, Cardinals, and the Dolphins), the 49ers are still extremely talented (and play the Rams and the Cardinals twice, in addition to games with Carolina and Jacksonville), the Packers have just a little bit more talent than the Bears and the Vikings, the Seahawks (like the 49ers) benefit from that weak NFC West schedule, the Saints will be back under the leadership of Sean Payton, and the Cowboys will be the best team in a HOTLY-CONTESTED NFC East. 

And there you have it...  I hope that gets your football juices flowing (if they weren't already) and I look forward to enjoying the 2013 football season with you.  Have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!




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