NFL Picks: Everyone Is Forgetting The Colts
It seems to be the trendy thing to do heading into a new NFL season.
Pick anybody but the Colts.
The Ravens are the flavor of the moment in the AFC. Others like the Hard Knocking Jets, or the always entertaining Chargers. Tom Brady and the rebuilding Patriots still have their supporters, and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, apparently striving to be different, somehow comes up with the Steelers as his selection.
So what, Peyton Manning is now chopped liver? I don’t get it. All he and the Colts have done is win 12 games or more for seven consecutive seasons. Bill Polian, who runs the organization, is the best football guy in the business. Bob Sanders, the finest safety in the league on the rare occasions he is healthy, is back.
Most of all, though, there is Manning, whose raw ability at quarterback is surpassed only by a) his remarkable work ethic and b) his inexorable list of TV commercials. At times last year, I thought he was playing at a higher level than anyone I’d seen play quarterback. And I’ve seen a few.
Manning did it while breaking in two new receivers, Pierre Gargon and Austin Collie. Not exactly household names, right? But with Manning throwing, they looked like all-stars. Now Anthony Gonzalez returns, along with Pro Bowlers Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. This is the best and deepest receiving corp in the league.
That’s enough for me. I like the Colts, who can basically cruise in the AFC South, then rest their starters (again) heading into the playoffs, to make it back to the Super Bowl.
In the NFC, the Packers appear to be the team of the hour. Aaron Rodgers is now an elite quarterback, the Green Bay offense is the most balanced and explosive in the conference, and the defense is certainly solid enough. My advice: Look into getting yourself a cheesehead concession at the Super Bowl.
Brett Favre makes the Vikings major contenders again, but at age 40, Mr. Maybe-I-Will or Maybe-I-Won’t will have a difficult time staying healthy. Opposing defenses will be coming hard after him, beginning in tonight’s opener when the defending Super Bowl champ Saints get another crack at him.
The Saints and Cowboys seem to be the two other bigtime contenders in the NFC. New Orleans could be stronger than a year ago, and Drew Brees belongs in the Manning-Brady conversation. But winning back-to-back Super Bowls is something that just doesn’t happen very often, and I don’t see it happening this time. As for the Cowboys, well, Tony Romo still has to prove he can win big in the playoffs.
Otherwise, here are some of my assorted preseason picks:
NFL MVP — Aaron Rodgers, Packers. Peyton can’t win every year, can he?
AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year — Ryan Mathews, Chargers. L.T. Who?
AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year — Eric Barry, Chiefs. Save him a safety berth in the Pro Bowl.
NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year — Dez Bryant, Cowboys. He is the real deal, folks.
NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year — Ndamukong Suh, Lions. It’s tough to pronounce his name but easy to see his talent. He could do for Detroit what Lawrence Taylor once did for New York.
Coach of the Year — Mike Singletary, 49ers. He’s found a way to make his players almost as intense as he used to be.
Super Bowl — Make it the Colts over the Packers, with You-Know-Who taking home the MVP trophy.
— STEVE BISHEFF