NFL season preview and prediction pieces are often boring due to the fact that some authors refrain from taking any real chances out of fear that they will be made to look foolish when all is said and done. Nobody gets everything right, so I decided to think outside of the box and go with three predictions that are at least go somewhat against conventional wisdom. For reference, I've ordered my predictions in order from most-likely (the “hey, it could happen” section) to least-likely (or “you're really going out on a limb, here").
3 bold 2013 NFL predictions: The New York Giants will win the NFC East
The story of the NFC East remains the same every year. Everybody is going to beat up on everybody, and even the Philadelphia Eagles, picked to finish last in the division in most previews I've read, will likely earn at least two total noteworthy victories against NFC East opponents. Nobody is running away with the division, not unless something goes terrible wrong for three of its four teams.
So why not the Giants, then? They have the offensive weapons and the division's most reliable quarterback in Eli Manning. Their defense isn't going to be nearly as shaky as some have predicted. Big Blue will likely hover around nine total wins in 2013, which could be good enough to win the NFC East depending on the teams New York defeats along the way.
The Dallas Cowboys remain an unproven team that's more pretender than contender until they show otherwise. Robert Griffin III may not be concerned about his knee, but he also hasn't played a down of meaningful football in nine months. There's bound to be some rust.
Let's say, just for argument's sake, that the Eagles go on to be as bad as some believe they'll be, and that the Cowboys do slip up or suffer significant injuries that derail their season. Such a scenario could result in the Redskins and Giants playing for the division title at MetLife Stadium on December 29, a “home playoff game” for New York. I'll go with Easy Eli every time in that situation.
3 bold 2013 NFL predictions: The Denver Broncos will not make the Super Bowl
The football world is buzzing after Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos lit up the defending Super Bowl champs on the first Thursday night of the season. Denver is the sexy pick to easily win the AFC West, and for good reason. No team in that division will be able to hang with the Broncos as long as the older Manning remains healthy.
It's the postseason that worries me.
If Thursday night was just a glimpse of what is to come, Manning is going to be a fantasy football monster in 2013. That's great and all, but I can't help but reflect back on December and January of last season, when Manning's arm was clearly somewhere between fatigued and dead. The 37-year old future Hall of Fame quarterback looked better than ever against a new-look Baltimore Ravens defense that never saw the onslaught coming. Manning may have to play just as well in Denver in late January in order to lead the Broncos back to the Super Bowl. I have my doubts.