Thursday, September 6, 2012
Count On It
1. Peyton Manning will not play at a Pro Bowl level … and will make the Pro Bowl anyway.
Let me preface this by saying unequivocally that Manning is already a first ballot Hall-of-Famer — Peyton Manning has always largely been a product of the perfect system, a system built to make him successful. He had two Canton-bound WRs, an elite tight end, and one of the best offensive line groups in the league. It's not that he's not impressive on paper, it's just that Tom Brady doing better with Deion Branch and Troy Brown is more impressive.
Given all that, it seems all too obvious that Manning is due to see a steep regression is system that lacks the pieces that made him successful before. But there's more than that working against him this year.
Neck surgeries are serious — three neck surgeries are even more serious. Add to this that he hasn't played a regular season game in almost two years, and it's hard to see why anyone would think that he'll surpass a total of about 3,500 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns.
In today's NFL, those aren't Pro Bowl numbers for a QB. In an almost maddeningly Peyton-centric offseason, however, I've seen that no amount of logic or facts will keep Manning from the Pro Bowl this year.
2. The Kansas City Chiefs will win the AFC West … and have a top-five defense.
If you're smart enough to have seen past the lie that Peyton Manning will be the best QB in the league again this year, you've probably realized that the AFC West is wide open this year. If you've paid enough attention to the Chiefs roster, you've probably seen the deepest and arguably best roster in the division.
I don't see a way for the Chiefs to miss out on winning the division this year — honestly, someone name one player not named Matt Cassel that will start for the Chiefs this year that you wouldn't want playing for your team. The defense will shock anyone who hasn't been watching closely, and may just earn Romeo Crennel Coach of the Year honors in 2012.
Besides all of this, the Chiefs have put together enough offensive pieces that even Matt Cassel can't possibly fail this year. A strong group of receivers and tight ends, two elite running backs, and a stout offensive line will allow the Chiefs to score plenty of points. Couple this together with the elite defense, and the Chiefs look to be a force in the AFC this year.
3. The San Diego Chargers will get back to double-digit wins … and make the playoffs again.
This one is pretty simple. The Chargers are a talented team, with a coach who knows his job his on the line and a QB who knows his reputation is, as well.
Add to this that they'll enjoy a season free from the burden of expectations for the first time on a long time, and the formula for success is right there. If not for the loaded roster in Kansas City, they'd take the division. Either way, they'll be playing postseason football once again this year.