AFC North 2012 NFL Preview & Week 1 Picks – FootballSunday, September 9, 2012 10:00
2012 AFC North preview and predictions, and game picks and analysis for the 2012 NFL season Week 1.
NFL 2012 Preview
Yeah, babeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…football is back!!!…Labor strife, scab refs…Illegal hits…Idiot Commissioner…You gotta love it!!!!!!!
As usual, your humble and brilliant columnist will pick against Vegas odds makers and see if he can make some dinero, utilizing his unmatched insight and unique analytical skills….
Ahem…I can hear your derisive shrieking–or is that my neighbor having an orgasm? Know what? I don’t care…The leaves are turning technicolor, the cold winds of winter whisper through the trees–What the hell am I talking about? I live in Los Angeles, winter means carrying an extra sweatshirt in your trunk in case the temperature falls to a frigid 62 or, God forbid, the dreaded 59.
Before we get to my weekly prognostications, let’s complete our preview of the NFL’s eight divisions…
Divisional Record: 37 – 27
2011 RECORD 4 – 12
All four teams in the nasty AFC North fielded a Top Ten defense. The Brownies had the 10th ranked squad, and that’s no small feat considering the putrid offense they put on the field.
And every AFC North fan who does not live in Cleveland will be thrilled to know the Browns braintrust really sucks at drafting, too!
It is one of those drafts that could end up being so completely awful, the HOF committee won’t allow Mike Holmgren to even visit Canton, or, so utterly, inexplicably brilliant, Holmgren won’t just have a bust but a full blown statue of solid gold.
Holmgren GMs a team that ranked 31st in average yards per run, (3.7) and 31st in average yards per pass, (5.8). At least, they were consistent.
His team had the third pick of the draft. What would you do? Draft stud OT Matt Kalil to take pressure off your snake bitten quarterback or super speedy receiver Justin Blackmon to take the pressure off your banged up bull of a runner in Peyton Hillis?
Nope. The Browns let Hillis go, draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson, then–in the eternal search for a franchise quarterback they don’t yet need–the Browns select Brandon Weeden, the 28 year-old QB from OK State.
Instead of solidifying a weak offensive line for the next decade and then snagging A. J. Jenkins to loosen up the passing game–the Browns took what more than a few pundits saw as an overrated RB and another Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, or Colt McCoy.
Wouldn’t it be cool if Holmgren was right?
It would be cool if cows surfed, but you will never see a board that big.
Predicted Finish: 6 – 10
Major Story: Weeden performs as advertised, but injures his knee after his 11th sack in two games.
2011 Record: 12 – 4
This is how you draft, folks: http://www.nfl.com/draft/2012/tracker#dt-tabs:dt-by-team/dt-by-team-input:bal
You can look at this draft and see that Ozzie Newsome got superb value for just about every position of need on his team. He didn’t reach, either. Courtney Upshaw was picked by many to be the Steelers first rounder.
The Ravens have a consistent history of picking offensive linemen that they mold into solid performers; every once in a while one of them ends up being great.
Where the Ravens might not be as good is on defense. Ray Lewis might be the best there will ever be, but can he keep up that intensity? Ed Reed? The defensive line is superb enough to compensate if both Ravens legends lost a half-step–but a full step?
Joe Flacco needs to step up; his time for excuses is over–and the Ravens run might be winding down.
Predicted Finish: 9 – 7
Major story: The Ravens make the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.
2011 Record: 12 – 4
You can ditto the above commentary about great drafting for the Steelers.
The thing is, you can never account for at least two factors when it comes to NFL rookies’ “potential”: injuries and heart. The Steelers lost their first rounder, OL David Decastro, to an ugly knee injury, and he’ll miss most of the year.
They lost their second round ILB, Sean Spence, to an ACL tear, and their supposedly stout fourth-round nose tackle hasn’t shown much of motor.
The Steelers have Big Ben and the best receiving corps in the league; they are committed to running the ball more effectively.
Defensively, don’t believe the experts. The Steelers have a much younger defensive line, and they think Lawrence Timmons will have a breakout year at linebacker. Young corners Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis will take pressure off the safeties, and that’s good news for the game’s best tandem in Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.
Three teams in this division are capable of winning 12 games; they could end up beating each other up or the window may coldly slam down on Steeler Nation.
Predicted Finish: 10 – 6
Major Story: Big Ben becomes a dad and leads the league in passing.
2011 Record: 9 – 7
You have no idea how hard it is for a die-hard Steeler fan to write this, but after years of mocking Mike Brown for being stubborn and cheap, he has proven that he may be getting the whole “effective ownership” thing:
- He stuck with Marvin Lewis–like the Steelers did with Cowher–through a lot of lean years, when hacks like me called for Lewis’s head.
- No longer are draft picks determined by economics; the Bengals…cheap no more.
- Coach Lewis seems to have rid himself of the “social worker” approach to coaching and the Bengals have fewer criminals on their team.
- Mike Zimmer’s defense has a lot of talent even though they lost a couple linemen to free agency.
- Mike Brown flat out fleeced the Raiders in the Carson Palmer deal.
It won’t surprise me if the Steelers or Ravens reassert themselves as they usually do, but this Bengal squad has something they haven’t had since Kenny Anderson–leadership at the quarterback position.
In 2012 the AFC North will be led by the Striped Cats.
Although, I would be remiss if I didn’t publicly wish them a loss in every game…
Week 1 Picks
I’m going with most of the big number underdogs early in the season.
We start off the year in the hole as the Cowboys throttled the champs in the Big Apple.
GAME OF THE WEEK 0 – 1
LOCK OF THE WEEK Titans +5
The Patsies march down to Nashville to face the Titans and Chris Johnson. I don‘t like the vibe coming out of the Volunteer State. Johnson has an attitude I don’t get. He and his team had an awful 2011, and he’s talking about running a sub-4.3 forty?
On the other hand…The Patriots….Belichick…Brady…Please…
PATRIOTS 31, TITANS 12
UPSET SPECIAL Colts +10
It was between the Colts at Soldier Field and the Fish in Texas and I feel Lucky, punks…The Colts were not a team with nothing but Manning, they just played like it.
The Bears feel a little heat at the end, but pull it out.
DA BEARS 29, COLTS 21
The Ravens defense will not be as dominant this year. The Bengals have a scary good offense and a defense in transition.
Take the over.
BENGALS 28, RAVENS 24
As always, the rest of my picks are in italic below:
NFL Lines For Week 1 – NFL Line 9/9 – 9/10, 2012
|Date & Time||Favorite||Line||Underdog||Total|
|9/9 1:00 ET||At Chicago US||-10||Indianapolis||43.5|
|9/9 1:00 ET||Philadelphia||-9.5||At Cleveland||43|
|9/9 1:00 ET||At NY Jets||-3||Buffalo||38.5|
|9/9 1:00 ET||At New Orleans||-7.5||Washington||49.5|
|9/9 1:00 ET||New England LW||-5||At Tennessee||47|
|9/9 1:00 ET||At Minnesota||-3.5||Jacksonville||38|
|9/9 1:00 ET||At Houston||-13||Miami||42.5|
|9/9 1:00 ET||At Detroit||-8.5||St. Louis||45.5|
|9/9 1:00 ET||Atlanta||-2.5||At Kansas City||43.5|
|9/9 4:25 ET||At Green Bay||-4.5||San Francisco||46.5|
|9/9 4:25 ET||Carolina||-2.5||At Tampa Bay||47|
|9/9 4:25 ET||Seattle||-2.5||At Arizona||40.5|
|9/9 8:25 ET||At Denver||-1.5||Pittsburgh||46|
Monday Night Football Line
|9/10 7:00 ET||At Baltimore O/U||-7||Cincinnati||41.5|
|9/10 10:15 ET||At Oakland||-1||San Diego||46.5|
I’ll be posting Tuesdays to get my Thursday Night picks in on time. My usual weekend post will cover the Sunday slate.
In Tuesday’s Post, I’ll review my divisional picks and playoff predictions.
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