When did bold predictions stop becoming so bold?
A quick Google search reveals not only that Bleacher Report has written approximately 68,740,192 articles featuring a bold prediction, but also that we’re all starting to lose our creativity with these things. (Hint: Predicting the defending champion New York Giants to miss the playoffs has become cliche by now.)
So, without further adieu, it’s time to unveil our Five Bold Predictions for the 2012 NFL season. Feel free to laugh, mock, scorn, or just make fun of us on Twitter or at the BTB Sports Betting Forum.
Note: We also provided 5 Bold Predictions for the 2012 college football season.
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1. Calvin Johnson will defeat the Madden Curse
Based on the latest odds that were available at BetOnline, the chances of Calvin Johnson missing at least one game in the regular season are greater than him making it through all 16 games unscathed.
Last year, Peyton Hillis missed five games and rushed for only 587 yards a year after topping 1,100 yards with 11 touchdowns. The year before, Drew Brees played six games with a torn MCL and tossed 22 interceptions coming off a Super Bowl title. The year before that, Troy Polamalu sprained his MCL in the season-opener and missed the next four games.
And on and on it goes, all the way back to Garrison Hearst—the first Madden cover boy in 1999—who broke his ankle and sat out for two seasons.
That brings us to Megatron, who put up otherworldly stats (1,681 yards, 16 TD) in 2011, his fifth season in the league. In Johnson’s time in the NFL, he’s only missed four total games. But he’s only played a full 16 games twice.
In 2012, he’ll make it a third. Curse broken.
Bold Meter: 5/10
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2. The Seattle Seahawks (+400) will win the NFC West
The 49ers were a field goal away from the Super Bowl last year, and now they’re the runaway favorites (-245) to repeat as division champs. Last year, the Niners clinched the NFC West 12 games into the season in early December.
Quickly closing the gap, however, is Seattle.
The Seahawks finished with a sub-par 7-9 record in 2011 but strengthened their offense in the offseason, most notably by acquiring third-round pick Russell Wilson at quarterback, a guy whom many think could have a big rookie season.
On defense, Seattle ranked seventh in scoring in 2011 and has a number of guys—Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Kim Chancellor, to name a few—whom you haven’t heard of yet but will soon.
Seattle is a projected favorite in just three of its first eight games, meaning it’ll have to upset a team or two—like Carolina on the road in Week 5—to stay in contention early. The back half, though, features a lot of favorable matchups that will give the Seahawks a great chance of making a late-season push.
San Francisco should regress from last season’s 13-3 record, meaning nine or 10 wins from Seattle could be enough to claim the NFC West crown.
Bold Meter: 7/10
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3. No teams from the state of California will make the playoffs
Go ahead, count ‘em up quickly in your head. Yep, none of the 49ers, Chargers or Raiders will be playing in the postseason.
Oakland is obvious. They’re fighting an uphill battle in the AFC West and, with Michael Bush gone, the offense will be way too reliant on Darren McFadden, a guy who’s missed 17 games through his first four seasons in the NFL.
That leaves us with San Francisco and San Diego, two teams listed at +200 and -130, respectively, to miss the playoffs at 5Dimes.
We’ve already covered our thoughts on the Niners and the NFC West, and the Chargers should struggle in the AFC West. It’s not that San Diego got that much worse in the offseason; it’s just that they remained stagnant while other teams around them improved.
The loss of Vincent Jackson and injury to Vincent Brown won’t help Philip Rivers in the passing game, and this is a team that has continually underachieved under Norv Turner in recent years.
If the Chargers fall short again in 2012, Turner will be sent packing.
Bold Meter: 8/10
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4. Every team with a win total at 6 or less will go ‘over’ (or push)
This is admittedly very, very bold.
To be clear, it doesn’t mean that zero NFL teams will go worse than 5-11. That’d be insane. It just means that the teams projected to finish 6-10 or worse will exceed expectations.
Right now at YouWager, that list includes Cleveland (5.5), Indianapolis (5.5), Jacksonville (5), Minnesota (6), St. Louis (6) and Tampa Bay (6).
Last year, the Bengals (5.5; 9-7), Bills (5.5; 6-10), Broncos (5.5; 8-8), Panthers (4.5; 6-10) and Seahawks (6; 7-9) all surpassed their win total, while only the Redskins (6; 5-11) came up a game short.
Of the teams this year, the Browns make us the most nervous with such an intimidating schedule, as do the Jaguars with such uncertainty at quarterback.
But you can never discount the amount of year-to-year parity in the NFL.
Bold Meter: 10/10
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5. The Cowboys will beat the Giants in the season-opener on Wednesday
Doesn’t seem that bold to pick a 3.5-point underdog, does it?
Not at first glance, until you consider the following stat: Since 2004, when NBC started featuring the defending Super Bowl champions in the season-opener, those defending champs are a perfect 8-0.
Part of that is aided by playing at home, but these defending Super Bowl winners are also 6-1-1 against the spread and have won by an average of 10 points.
The Giants have taken five of the last six against the Cowboys and crushed them 31-14 in Week 17 last season to seal the NFC East crown, but Dallas improved its secondary in the offseason and still has the pass rush to give Eli Manning fits.
This crazy run for defending Super Bowl champions stops tomorrow.
Bold Meter: 4/10
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BONUS: At least one head coach will get fined for criticizing the replacement officials in the season’s first two weeks.