NFL Dreams

By the

September 6, 2001

The world is magically correct again. And no, I don’t mean because I saw a group of 40 first-years headed to a party last weekend on 36th and heard one of them say, “You know guys, there must be something to do on this campus besides drink!” Go ResLife.

But no, the world is magically right again because the NFL is beginning once again. On Sunday, it will be bone-shattering hits, dizzying runs down the sideline, aerial spectacles worthy of a Missouri state fair and more eBay-purchased jerseys on apartment futons than you can shake a stick at. Deciding to take the Mike Lupica role as “cocky sports columnist” this week, I figure most of my loyal readers (or, as I prefer to call them “my faithful gnomes”) will only care what I have to say. Eager to please the masses, I now present my unbiased predictions for what will go down in NFL ‘01:

Quick. Think of the biggest joke word combinations you can. Ready? Los Angeles Clippers. Mike Fratello. Freshmen herds. Oregon State (“Miami West”). Did anyone see that loss to Fresno? Ken Simonton shot himself in the foot a day after his cross-state rival Mr. Harrington became a legend. But I digress. There is another word combo that you can add to this list: Detroit Lions. The Lions, once at least known for having the best RB in football, will fade into obscurity this season under the front office guidance of Matt “Yes, I used to work for FOX” Millen. They are my pick for the worst team in football.

(Note: If you follow the pattern of my life and my ability to predict things accurately, bet on the Lions in Super Bowl 36. Oh, and take the points.)

A lot of so-called “pundits” are selecting the Tennessee Titans and the Denver Broncos as the teams out of the AFC. The Broncos are led by Brian Griese, who had one of the league’s highest QB ratings last season. A QB rating and one dollar might score you a buttered bagel at Wisey’s this morning, but otherwise, it means very little about your ability to win. Cade McNown was somewhere in the 90s last season, now he’s backing up a guy who used to go to Dartmouth down in Miami. The Broncos also have a rather sticky tailback situation, and Mike Shanahan is too concerned with his son’s progress over at Texas, receiving the deep ball from little Simms. I don’t see the Broncos going anywhere.

The Titans are sick good, even though their defense took a hit in the offseason. They shored up by getting Kevin Carter from the Rams but he’s coming off a sub-par season. Eddie George is a true beast; he has something like one percent body fat. George has his Kryponite, however, and that is big, bad Ray Lewis of the defending champion Baltimore Ravens. Lewis has George’s number, and the overall scheme of the Ravens’ defense is the best in NFL history. Defense wins games, and the Ravens will do that.

One last thing about the glorious AFC. Every year in the NFL, some QB comes out of absolutely nowhere and captures the hearts and minds of young chaps throwing the pigskin in backyards all over suburbia. This year, that man will be Tim Couch of the Cleveland Browns. I say this not because I own his jersey for a mere $12, but because I trust his upward progress to this point. In Cincinnati news, Akili will continue to provide pleasure to goats.

Wouldn’t we all like another I-95 corridor Super Bowl? Of course we would. ESPN Magazine seems to think it could happen, putting Donovan McNabb on their cover. I am going to call a new trend in sports right now: the ESPN Mag cover jinx. Donovan is a manchild, yes, but even a manchild gets tired by the playoffs when he accounts for 80 percent of his team’s yardage for 17 weeks straight. The Eagles have as many weapons lined up as Antarctica in an arms race. The real team to watch in da N to the F to the C is the Bucs, who will finally capture a Super Bowl provided they can learn to win in temperatures under 40 degrees. With strong-armed Brad Johnson hookin’ up with Keyshawn Johnson, the offense should be even more spectacular. In addition, in my token social strata-based remark of the week, the capturing of a ring by Tony Dungy will hopefully open the eyes of general managers league-wide to the excellence of black coaches in the NFL.

And you know, if it’s week eight and all this is proving to be wrong, just go with Plan B: Matt Hasselbeck, League MVP.

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