The trees have shed their leaves, the mornings are cold, and in many parts of the country, snow is finally appearing.
Who gives a flying s… you may ask?
We do, REAL football is played in these conditions. This is when the men get separated from the boys (as the old saying goes).
It has been this way forever. NFL teams started to build domed stadiums, retractable roofs, expanded to numerous warmer areas; all to fight the element. Yet, the element is still coming, and as it does every year, it will affect the outcome of the games.
This is when you better be able to run the football, as the winds blow, so will the finesse passing teams. Every year at the halfway point, it seems we have QBs on pace to pass for 5000 and even 6000 yards, however they mostly fall short, why? Old Man Winter!
On the other side of the equation, defense becomes a factor. Since teams run more, you damn better be able to stop the run. If you can’t, you will not be winning too many games.
As a result, here is what I predict:
1. Carolina wins the NFC South. They are built to run and to stop it. The Saints can’t stop it and can’t run it…good luck in cold games playing away from NO
2. Bills sitting at 3-7 will finish with a better record than the Dolphins at 5-5. Last night’s game clearly demonstrated that the Dolphins never addressed the running game while spending money freely. The Bucs lost their best running back in the first quarter, they were running 3rd and 4th stringers, and the defense couldn’t stop them when it mattered.
3. A Jets team that was predicted to be dead by now will make the playoffs, and finish 10-6. The Jets are the best in the NFL against the run, and with Ivory healthy, they can run it……hello winter!
4. The Patriots’ defense has improved tremendously IMO. This is far and away the best unit since the Bruschi days, however….losing Mayo and Whilfork is starting to show up on the stat sheet. They can’t stop anybody from running the football. What used to save them was Brady’ and his WRs being able to score fast (but can they this year?). They can’t, so they are relying on a running game? Patriots will lose a few more games (Carolina, Ravens, Broncos) and end up 11-5. Both Patriots and Jets will have feasted equally on the distant cousins from Western NY and South Beach.
The Bengals will emerge as the team to beat in order to play in The Freezer Bowl, and they will play the Seahawks. Bengals are very solid all around team. Seattle has so many games left at home; they will have home field throughout and easily get to Met Life. Bengals win it all, they are built to play in the months up ahead.