|SI.com's NFL Season Predictions|
|NFL contributors Peter King, Don Banks, Jim Trotter, Ross Tucker, Damon Hack, Lee Jenkins, John P. Lopez, Adam Duerson & Dominic Bonvissuto provide their '09 predictions. (Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)|
|Best Team That Won't Make the Playoffs|
Kerry Collins, who turns 37 in December, has to survive a tough road slate (at Steelers, Pats, Colts) for Tennessee to make it. He hasn't started 16 games since 2002.
Because the NFC South has never had a repeat playoff qualifier, and the Panthers and Falcons will keep that streak alive this season.
The ghosts of December continue to haunt Tony Romo -- and by extension Wade Phillips.
Too much uncertainty with Michael Vick and the quarterback situation and the health and continuity along the offensive line. Plus the defense has a new defensive coordinator that looked less than stellar during the preseason.
They will be a different team without Albert Haynesworth. Kerry Collins will take a step back in 2009.
The NFC North has become the deepest division and three teams can't make it.
The best thing to happen to Donovan McNabb is Michael Vick. It's also the worst.
Not a receiver to speak of in town; plus, Mark Sanchez's happy feet make me nervous.
I don't like what's behind Ben Roethlisberger and the offensive line has always had a hard time keeping him upright. I also love getting hate mail from Steelers fans.
|Team With the Worst Record|
No quarterback they can trust, no breakaway offensive threat, no pass-rusher, no defensive player an offensive coordinator fears. Other than that, they're fine.
I've actually got four different teams pegged to go 4-12 this season, but the Browns will be the worst of them among the Lions, Rams, and Bucs.
They're very young in certain spots, they plan on starting a rookie quarterback at some point and they have a brutal early schedule. That's a recipe for a long year.
The talent base is way down on this roster from recent years, Leftwich will give way to a green Josh Freeman early in the season, and the recent firing of their offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski proves all is not well in Tampa. They may be picking first in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Tough to shake the muscle memory of an 0-16 season, even with a new head coach.
The Raiders play in the AFC West, so they are bound to pick up a few wins. The Lions will be more competitive, but in the NFC North, they get no gimmes.
Lions winless, or thereabouts -- a tradition unlike any other.
A truly remarkable feat considering they play in the worst division in football. Name one playmaker beyond Darren McFadden.
A team in transition has some playmakers (Gaines Adams, Barrett Ruud, Kellen Winslow) but nowhere near the depth needed to be successful.
|Star Who Has A Subpar Season|
Anquan Boldin, Cardinals: Not sure I trust his health, and not sure I trust him to be a good soldier without a new contract either.Banks
Kurt Warner, Cardinals: There won't be a suitable follow-up act from Warner after his renaissance Super Bowl season of 2008. Lasting 16 games as a healthy, productive starter is an iffy proposition.Trotter
Brett Favre, Vikings: Age and being on his third team in as many years is going to catch up to him. He'll start fast, but finish slow, just like in New York.Tucker
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: His legal situation is a distraction no matter how it unfolds and it is incredibly difficult these days for teams to repeat. Offensive line already taking a hit with placement of Darnell Stapleton on IR.Hack
Brett Favre, Vikings: A cracked rib? A divided locker room? The karma doesn't seem right for a big year.Jenkins
Michael Turner, Falcons: After rushing for 1,699 yards last season, Turner won't be able to sneak up on anybody and neither will his team.Lopez
Brett Favre, Vikings: Sooner or later, Favre will learn that as much as tries to beat the clock, time is undefeated.Duerson
Terrell Owens, Bills: Remind me again: Where are all of these balls supposed to come from? Trent Edwards?Bonvissuto
Matt Ryan, Falcons: A more difficult schedule plus the weight of expectations will cause this second-year man to stumble.
|Non-Star Who Has Breakout Season|
Greg Olsen, Bears: He and Jay Cutler have bonded from the moment the ex-Bronco got to Chicago. I say Olsen catches 90 balls and battles Tony Gonzales for all-pro TE nod.Banks
Jermichael Finley, Packers: Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers is going to roll up a ton of passing yards, and plenty of them are going to go to Finley, a second-year talent who has receiver skills trapped in his tight end-like frame.Trotter
Chris Henry, Bengals: Chad Ochocinco will draw his share of double coverage and Henry is too good not to exploit the one-on-one matchups.Tucker
Ray Rice, Ravens: Rice is outstanding catching passes out of the backfield and will be the main offensive threat for the Ravens. Could be Baltimore's version of Brian Westbrook.Hack
Anthony Gonzalez, Colts: Went from 37 catches in 2007 to 57 last year. This season,with Marvin Harrison gone, Gonzalez could catch 80 or more.Jenkins
Greg Olsen, Bears: A former first-round pick who will be starting for the first time, Olsen is playing with a QB who likes utilizing his tight end (see Tony Scheffler in Denver).Lopez
Pierre Thomas, Saints: The missing piece to an overwhelming Saints offense finally is in place. Reggie Bush becomes a role player.Duerson
Greg Jennings, Packers: He's on the brink now; he'll be a titan by year's end. In fantasy-speak, I value this guy above both Calvin and Andre Johnson and very close to Larry Fitzgerald.Bonvissuto
Pierre Thomas, Saints: He'll reap the benefits of being the feature running back on the team with the NFL's best quarterback.
|Coach Who Won't Be Back in 2010|
Jim Zorn, Redskins: You have to ask? It's playoffs or bust for the Redskins, and I think Zorn and Jason Campbell will be a package deal if it doesn't go well.Banks
Dick Jauron, Bills: Wade Phillips shouldn't be signing any long-term leases in Dallas, but nothing shy of a playoff trip is likely to save Jauron's job with the Bills, who haven't been to the postseason in 10 years. Alas, Buffalo once again doesn't look like it'll be playing meaningful games in January. Trotter
Tom Cable, Raiders: Owner Al Davis hasn't shown much patience in recent years and the team isn't very good. Not a good combination for job security.Tucker
Jim Zorn, Redskins: Gruden. Holmgren. Cowher. Shanahan. Too many big names for Skins owner Dan Snyder to not go out and get one unless Zorn wins a playoff game or two, which is highly unlikely.Hack
Dick Jauron, Bills: He kept his job despite Buffalo's late-season meltdown. One more sub-.500 season will do him in.Jenkins
Wade Phillips, Cowboys: Phillips has not won a playoff game yet for the Cowboys, and if he is not able to deliver one in Jerry Jones's new palace, it's hard to imagine him returning. Lopez
Wade Phillips, Cowboys: Jerry Jones is itching to find a reason to replace Phillips with a Super Bowl-proven coach. Phillips gives him plenty.Duerson
Wade Phillips, Cowboys: The way I have it, Dallas get bounced in the Wildcard round, which ain't enough for Phillips to keep his job. If it looks like they won't make it that far, however, he could be gone by December.Bonvissuto
Josh McDaniels, Broncos: Because the Broncos won't win six games and Pat Bowlen will have a shot at free agent Jon Gruden, who'd love the chance to pound the Raiders twice a year.
|Player Who Won't Be Back in 2010|
|Brett Favre :: John Biever/SI|
Javon Walker, Raiders: Heck, he might not make it to October the way the Raiders roil their roster.Banks
Brett Favre, Vikings: Do I really need to explain myself on this one?Trotter
Brett Favre, Vikings: If he can't make this situation in Minnesota work, then he won't find a better opportunity next year.Tucker
Brett Favre, Vikings: Because I don't think any of us can take this roller-coaster anymore. Probably wishful thinking on my part.Hack
Brett Favre, Vikings: Whether the season ends with Minnesota in the postseason or with a sub. 500 record, the Vikings wouldn't possibly go through the headaches and mystery of another "will he or won't he" offseason. Would they?Jenkins
Fred Taylor, Patriots: At 33, with plenty of injuries in his past and miles on his odometer, Taylor is near the end of the line. But one of the NFL's good guys could go out with a championship.Lopez
Edgerrin James, Seahawks: One last run, so to speak, and then Edgerrin James will realize it's time. Duerson
Brett Favre, Vikings: Same pick I made last year. They win it all: he leaves a happy (and vindicated) man. Anything less: he gets chased out of the Midwest for eternity.Bonvissuto
Derrick Mason, Ravens: All the aches and pains almost caught up to the 35-year-old wideout this offseason. Another year of carrying the load as the only respectable Ravens WR will do him in.
|Game I'm Looking Forward To Most|
|Trevor Pryce and Willie Parker :: John Biever/SI|
Ravens at Steelers, Dec. 27: With due respect to Manning-Brady on Nov. 15, Baltimore-Pittsburgh's the best rivalry game in football right now, and a game in Week 16 with the two will have almost certain major playoff implications.Banks
Vikings at Packers, Nov. 1: For drama, this may be a one-of-a-kind game in NFL history. Favre at Lambeau, wearing Vikings horns on his helmet. Has there ever been a bigger role reversal?Trotter
Titans at Steelers, Sept. 10: Because, to quote the Bill Belichicks of the world, it's the next game. Plus, this was supposed to be the AFC championship game last season, and the Steelers haven't forgotten how the Titans treated the Terrible Towel in their victory late last season. It will set the tone for the season.Tucker
Vikings at Packers, Nov. 1: Seriously? If you don't know why you shouldn't even be reading this because you really haven't been paying attention.Hack
Patriots at Colts, Nov. 15: It's not exactly Magic and Bird, but watching Tom Brady and Peyton Manning throwing spirals on the same field is as good as it gets. Can't wait for these heavyweights to get it on.Jenkins
Patriots at Colts, Nov. 15: The Patriots and Colts played last season, but without Tom Brady, the rivalry took a one-year hiatus. It should return in force.Lopez
Vikings at Packers, Nov. 1: Admit it. No matter how fed up you (and I) got over the whole Brett Favre will-he-or-won't-he thing, you're going to watch his return to Green Bay.Duerson
Bears at Packers, Sept. 13: Why look past Week 1? Bears-Packers sets the tone in the best division in football, featuring two of the most exciting gunslingers in the game. A must-win for the Bears, who could potentially be 1-4 after opening with Packers, Steelers, Seahawks, Lions and Falcons.Bonvissuto
Ravens at Packers, Dec. 7: A Monday night game at Lambeau Field in December between what could be the AFC's best defense vs. the NFC's best offense? Sign me up.
|Season Predictions Part 2: SI experts weigh in with playoff and Super Bowl picks and player awards|