2006 NFL Predictions
Season Team Previews and Over/Under Picks
Last Year: 75% in 2005
In 2005, my NFL team win predictionswent 4-1 with official picks and 5-2 with the leans. Overall that's a 9-3 mark. So, this year I am going to expand the number of official picks to include the leans.
2006 NFL Predictions
Here are my 2006 NFL Team Totals Predictions. They are based on the NFL futures lines/oddshere.
3-stars: Green Bay OVER 6.5 Wins
Those of you who've been with me for a while know that my approach to the NFL is a contrarian approach. I love going against the grain. That's why I usually pick underdogs in the NFL. So it's no surprise that my biggest season total pick is an OVER on a team that had a horrible 2005 campaign. The Pack went 4-12 straight up (SU) and 5-10-1 against the spread (ATS). Lots of bettors got burned by them, believing that Brett Favre would do better than he did. The season cost Mike Sherman his job. While I am not a Sherman-hater, I think this is a good thing for the Packers. They had gotten into a rut and they need a new face. Mike McCarthy takes over and word has it he is dramatically simplifying the playbook for Favre. The desired result: keep him out of situations where he has to think too much and force balls in where they shouldn't be thrown. Favre knows this is his last dance and we all know what a competitor he is. He is preparing with one goal in mind: end his career on a winning note. Coming off the 2005 disaster, he will be as focused as he has ever been in my opinion. Jevon Walker is gone and with him a potentially explosive receiver. But, he was not happy and not helping things. Favre still has Donald Driver (1200+ yards each of the past two seasons) and Robert Ferguson. While many are writing off Favre as well past his prime, I think they are letting one bad year carry too much weight. This guy is a winner - one of the best ever. And, in 2004 he put up great numbers (4,000 uyards with 30 TD and 17 INT). Ahman Green was a non-factor last year following his 2005 injury. But like Favre, this guy was awesome in 2004 (1,163 yards and 7 TD). If he can return to that kind of form, Green Bay blows through this season win total. This team probably should have won six games last year and this year they'll be better. I think they manage 7 or 8 wins with an outside chance at 9, giving Favre his wish.
2-stars: Miami UNDER 8 Wins
Miami won nine games last year when Vegas predicted six. Huge surprise and as a result we have an over-correction in this line for 2006. Yes, the Fish were better than a six-win team last year. But I don't think they get to 8 wins in 2006. You see, I am not a believer in Daunte Culpepper. Was 2004 (4700 yards, 39 TD and 11 INT) the "real" Daunte? Or was 2005 the real Culpepper? Probably something in-between. But, without Randy Moss, I think this guy is average at best. Look how he did last year without Moss running under 40 yard bombs. He was awful. If Culpepper struggles as I believe he will, the Dolphins have Joey Harrington waiting in the wings - another average-at-best QB. Miami opens the season at Pittsburgh - very likely a loss. They then get a few relatively easy games against Buffalo, Tennessee and Houston. So they likely start 3-1. But it goes downhill quickly after that. They face New England in week five. The following week they head to New York to face the Jets - a game I think they could lose as well (the Jets won't be as bad as you think this year). The last game before their week 8 bye is against Green Bay and I think they could lose that one as well (see writeup above). Coming out of their bye they travel to Chicago followed by a meeting with Kansas City. This team could be 3-6 entering week 11 folks. The remaining six games include Jacksonville, New England and Indianapolis. Three more likely losses. The bottom line? After their gimme wins against Buffalo (twice), Tennessee, Houston and Detroit, they need to find a way to win at least three games against New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Chicago, Kansas City, Green Bay and the Jets to get over eight wins. Don't think that's gonna happen.
2-stars: New England UNDER 10.5 Wins
Everyone loves the Pats. But, they were overrated in 2005 and I think again they are overrated in 2006. They were SO dominant in 2003-2004 that people still have a hard time believing they are not the crem de la crem. But I personally think their glory days have passed. Don't get me wrong. This is a solid team with an awesome coach and great quarterback. But do they win 11 games this season? I think not. Belichick and Brady can help pull snatch victory from the jaws of defeat one or two times but this is a team game. They won 10 in the regular season last year which I think was a bit of an overachievement. This is a 9-10 win team. Their running game is weak and getting weaker as Corey Dillon has very little steam left in him. They've continued to lose some key players. Gone now are DE Willie McGinest and Adam Vinatieri. If a kicker ever made a difference on an NFL team, Vinatieri is that kicker. They Pats, a team that played in a lot of close games last year, could lose 1 or 2 games this season due directly to the loss of this clutch kicker. The Pats defense - so stellar in their Super Bowl winning seasons, was downright bad last season - ranked 5th worst in the entire league. Their secondary was 31st. It will be better this year for sure. But, with an average running game, average defense and loss of a key scorer (Vinatieri), I think asking for 11 wins is way too much.
1-star: Arizona UNDER 8 Wins
Arizona was probably better than their 5 wins in 2005 suggested - but not much. They produced lots of yards on offense and didn't give up a lot on defense, but they just found ways to lose. QB Kurt Warner, when not pressured, can do very well moving the ball. When Warner is pressured, he is not very good (he'll struggle against Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and San Diego). This team has one of the best set of wide receivers in the league and they've added Edgerrin James to tote the rock. He'll have an impact but don't be surprised if it isn't a huge one. In Indy he clearly he benefited from a great offensive line and two guys who can stake the claim to one of the best EVER at their positions (Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison). In contrast, Arizona's offensive line is not very good. The Cardinals won just one game on the road last year. They will be improved but they still have a LONG way to go. Will they get 80% more wins this season vs. last (9 vs. 5)? I don't think so. I think they get more like 6 or 7 wins.
1-star: Baltimore OVER 8 Wins
Kyle Boller is done! Kyle Boller is done! Sing and dance in the streets. I was a big critic of Boller last year and the Ravens did the most important thing they could have in the offseason in bagging him for a proven vet. It's something they should have done a long time ago. They wasted 1-2 years of a great defense and good running game, miring this team in dissapointing seasons. They now bring in tough-as-nails Steve McNair who has at least one good season left in him. I think the defense will play even harder for this guy knowing he is going to do some damage when they are on the sidelines. This team won six games last year even with Boller and without him they would have won 8 or more. The Boller-lead offense managed just 12 points per game on the road in 2005. McNair will fair much better as he is reunited with his favorite target, Derrick Mason, who had over 1,000 yards last year. And, McNair should have a field day with Todd Heap - one of the best TEs in the game. Throw in an always tough defense (ranked #5 last year) that added Trevor Pryce from Denver and we have a formula for a surprisingly good season for the Ravens.
1-star: Cincinnati UNDER 9 Wins
Cincinnati comes off a very succesful season - one in which they overachieved. They are a very good team with a healthy Carson Palmer. But they won a couple of games last year that they might have lost. With Palmer in there throwing the Chad Johnson and Rudi Johnson running the ball, they are very tough to stop. But, they have a lot of work to do on defense as they were bottom 4 in the league last year. The combination of an overperforming 2005 and the big question mark in Palmer spells disappointment in 2006.
1-star: Detroit OVER 7 Wins
This is one of the most improved teams. The Lions changed their starting quarterback, getting rid of dissapointment Joey Harrington and his 18-37 record. They also replaced the entire coaching staff with new head coach Rod Marinelli getting new assistants in Donnie Henderson on offense and Mike Martz on offense. I never liked Martz as a head coach but he does find ways to make offenses potent. As a head coach, he made key coaching mistakes that cost his team wins. His defense was weak. But, with just offense to focus on, I think he'll have a positive overall impact on an offense that was ranked 27th in the league last season. John Kitna takes over at QB and this guy has lots of potential. Prior to going with Carson Palmer, Kitna showed signs of brilliance at Cincinnati. He'll have support from Kevin Jones (1100 yards in 2004), Shawn Bryson and rookie Brian Calhoun (from Wisconsin) at running back. If WR Mike Williams, Charles Rodgers and/or Roy Williams live up to their billing, this could be a very potent offense. Look for the Lions to vie for most-improved and get 8+ wins in 2006.
1-star: Houston UNDER 5.5 Wins
It really can't get worse for Houston who comes off a 2-win season. But I'm not sure it's going to get much better either. We should probably be talking about Reggie Bush this year but the Texans let him go in favor of Mario Williams. Mistake? Not sure but likely. Only time will tell. The Texans new coach, Gary Kubiak, is untested. He has an offense that was 30th in the league last year and his offensive experience in Denver will likely have an impact there. But will he be able to help a defense that was ranked dead last in the league? He'll have a positive impact but asking them to jump to six wins in his first year is too much.
1-star: Minnesota UNDER 8 Wins
Minnesota managed 9 wins last year despite having Mike Tice as their coach (he was bad). This offense has changed dramatically over the past two years as both Randy Moss and Duante Culpepper are now gone. With a new head coach in Brad Childress, this is another team with a whole new identity. They have issues. Their running game was ranked 27th in the league last year and they start a 38-year old journeyman at quarterback. Their defense was ranked 21st and was pourous in many ways. Too many question marks and changes to see this team winning nine games.
1-star: New Orleans UNDER 6.5 Wins
New Orleans is bad folks. They won three games last year and I can't see how they don't get to seven this year. Sure, part of their issues had to do with Katrina but not all of them. There are some positive changes in Reggie Bush and Drew Brees. But, Bush will have more of an impact in subsequent years in my opinion. There's still a dysfunctional undertone to this team and Sean Payton has a lot of work to do. His offense will be much improved in 2006 but the defense that was ranked 27th in the league in 2005 will still be a big problem. There are just too many holes in this team to expect them to win seven games. They'll improve but still struggle in 2006.
1-star: New York Giants UNDER 9 Wins
New York made strides last year and at times looked like a great team. Their offense was very potent. But, at other times they looked bad. They took an absolutely beating by Carolina to end their season. Players and coaches were bickering and pointing fingers in public following that loss. It was a VERY hard loss for a team with a fragile ego. It exposed them as true pretenders last year and I am not sure they have gotten over it. I think their ego is still fragile. They just couldn't beat good teams and the Carolina game demonstrated that. If they take a big whopping in week one vs. Indianapolis, they may go right into a tailspin. Their defense, eighth worst in the league was terrible against the pass in particular. I think they will be good in 2006 but not 10-win good.
1-star: New York Jets OVER 6 Wins
The media's favorite whipping boys right now are the New York Jets. Why? Because they fell apart last year and have issues at QB. How can a team be expected to compete coming off a season like that, having lost their head coach and without a starting QB solidified? Thus, low expectations for New York this season. But the changes should be good for the Jets. Unlike many rookies, lineman can make an immediate impact. D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold will bolster the offensive line. The QB position could go to Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey or Kellen Clemens. Whoever it is should be able to improve upon the play of Jets QBs last season. On the road the Jets were 0-8 scoring 8 points per game. With Laverneous Coles and Curtis Martin in the lineup, I expect this offense to improve markedly. On defense they acquired impact free agents Kimo Von Oehoffen and Andre Dyson. Von Oehoffen, from Pittsburgh and Dyson, from Seattle, know how to win. I expect a lot of improvement from the Jets and 7+ wins.
1-star: Tampa Bay UNDER 8 Wins
Eleven wins in 2005? Yes they pulled that off. They got there by playing great defense (#1 in the league). Unlike many other teams discussed here, this team hasn't made much change from 2005. Why do I like the UNDER here? I think they got more wins than should come from their level of play last year. Based on their stats and talent, I think they played to about a 9 win total last season but notched 11. As things return more to normal this season, I feel the Bucs will play 9-win ball again in 2006. But, they face a tougher schedule this season thanks to their 11 wins last season. They face a stiff test from an improved Baltimore team in week one and a strong Carolina team in week 3. Sandwidched between there they need to travel to Atlanta which will be a tough game. They also get Cincinnati, Carolina again, Dallas, Pittsburgh Chicago and Seattle. Until Chris Simms proves he can be a good quarterback for a full season, I have my doubts about the Bucs.
The remaining teams(Atlanta, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, Tennessee, Washington) - I think Vegas has it about right with these guys.
FINAL RESULTS: 9-4 (3-0 with 2+ star picks and 6-4 with 1 star picks)