Tomorrow marks the first Sunday of NFL action for 2013. I already laid out my picks for this week (a perfect 1-for-1 so far), but before the bulk of the games get underway, let’s throw a few big, bold predictions out there for the 2013 season.
1. Mike Vick plays 13+ games, finishes season with 60+% completion percentage
Only once since 2006 has Vick played 13 games in a single season (2011), and that’s including the two seasons he missed because of incarceration. And only once in his career has he completed more than 60 percent of his passes in a single season. Chip Kelly’s offense involves a lot of quick passes and screens which should play into Vick’s favor as far as the completion percentage goes. The man has a canon for an arm, but hasn’t been so accurate with it over the past couple of years—he completed just 24 percent of his passes thrown 21 yards or more in 2012, but that jumps to 58 percent when the pass was less than 20 yards. Dink and dunk is the way to go.
Durability has always always been a question with Vick, and that’s where the bolder portion of this prediction comes in. For the first time in Eagle’s green, Vick’s going to be allowed to roam freely with the ball in his hand. It’ll definitely be exciting to watch, but it also means (if he doesn’t make smart decisions, i.e. running out of bounds, sliding) he’s going to be taking more hits. He’s the perfect quarterback—at least out of the ones on the roster—for this system, but a lot is going to ride on his health this year.
2. Adrian Peterson breaks single season rushing record
Six players have broken the 2k mark for rushing yards in a single season. Not a one came close to matching that feat the following year. Barry Sanders had the best follow up season of the bunch, rushing for 1,491 in 1998, a season after he ran for 2,053.
AD is going to break the mold and set a new record. Here’s how:
Last year he ran all over the NFC North to the tune of 157 yards per game. That dominance is going to continue, and he’ll get a chance to set the tone for the season in week’s 1 and 2 against the Lions and Bears. Further, the Vikings schedule rotation has them going up against the AFC North this year, the division dominated the most by Peterson in his career, outside of his own. Then there’s the move
s the Purple People Eaters made to improve the receiving core. Peterson will still garner a great deal of attention from defenses, but if Christian Ponder can build some good chemistry with Greg Jennings, AD should benefit.
In games that Peterson had at least 20 touches the Vikings went 8-1. There’s no reason to believe that he’ll have less than 20 touches in any games.
3. Oakland Raiders go 0-16
It’s gonna be a long season for fans of the team on the other side of the bay, let alone the guys in Silver and Black that are going to have to trot out on the field every Sunday. Their best shots at W’s will come Week 2 (home against Jacksonville), Week 8 (first game after a bye, at home against Pittsburgh—they pulled off this upset last year with a 10 point comeback in the 4th quarter), Week 12 (at home against the Titans), and Week 14 (on the road against the Jets). That’s it. If everything were to go in their favor, 4-12 is the best they’ll do. If they do manage a win, do those Lions pop champagne like the ’72 Dolphins?
4. Falcons don’t win the NFC South
Atlanta is essentially the favorite to dominate in the NFC this season. Every expert analyst has them either winning the Super Bowl or at least being in the NFC title game. Well, I think these experts need to hold on for a moment and stop overlooking another team in that same division—the New Orleans Saints.
They might have one of the toughest schedules, but that’s only because they face the likes of Atlanta (twice) and the Pats. Outside of those teams, this schedule is essentially a cakewalk. Also, the Saints get back their head coach Sean Payton after a yearlong suspension for the Bountygate scandal, they brought in Rob Ryan to clean up a defense that was historically bad last year, and they still have one of the most potent offenses in the game (2nd in plays run, 3rd in points per game, and 2nd in yards per game) led by one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the game. Even if the defense improves just a little bit, it’ll be enough to turn that 7-9 record around. This will be a 10 win team (at worst) this year.
The race in the NFC South is going to be an extremely tight one, possibly coming down to a game or two, but when it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Saints came out on top.
5. Ben Roethlisberger enters top 10 single-season-sack-record list
It’s no secret that Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked a lot. He’s been among the league leaders the last several years. Since 2006 he’s been sacked 291 times, an average of 42 per season. Some blame it on the fact that he hold the ball too long, others on the offensive line (or lack thereof). Whatever the reason, it’s a problem.
This year, however, it’ll certainly be the offensive line that takes a lot of criticism. There’s question marks all over the place for the Steelers, but the biggest has to be the young, inexperience, and oft-injured unit.
The record for most sacks taken in a a single season is 76 by David Carr in 2002. I don’t know if he’ll touch that, but 58 doesn’t seem like too far of a stretch, and that would put him in the top-1o for a single season. If he does hit that mark, aside from possibly suing each member of the O-line, Roethlisberger would move into a tie for 10th on the all-time sacked list—he’s 23rd right now with 344 sacks taken, the most of any active quarterback.
Bonus bold prediction (since I know you all want to know):
Here’s my Super Bowl prediction for you.
AFC Championship: Denver over New England
NFC Championship: New York over San Francisco
Super Bowl: Denver over New York