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Predictions for the NFL season

Posted: August 31, 2014 - 11:08pm

How do you feel about “spoilers?”

For those living in a cave without cable TV, the Urban Dictionary defines “spoilers” as: “When someone reveals a previously unknown aspect of something which you likely would have rather learned on your own.”

For example, you haven’t read all the Harry Potter books when someone tells you that not only is Dumbledore gay but he’s dead, too.

Or you are about to see “The Usual Suspects” for the first time and some nerd says, “You’ll never guess that Kevin Spacey is really Keyser Soze.”

Or you’ve never seen “Psycho” and your strange cousin says the shower scene is his favorite part.

My worst public spoiler? Way back in 1982 I was fortunate enough to see a pre-release screening of “The Wrath of Khan,” aka “Star Trek II.” And I wrote about it on the morning it first appeared in Orlando theaters. My opening line to that column: “Spock dies.”

Sentinel switchboard operators hated me.

Just like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, I’ve learned my lesson via public reaction. That’s why this column did not start with the score of Super Bowl XLIX (49). Instead: Spoilers Alert! If you don’t want to know the record of every NFL team and the next Super Bowl champion, avert your eyes NOW!

Too late.

NFC South: New Orleans 13-3, Tampa Bay 8-8, Atlanta 8-8, Carolina 4-12. Saints QB Drew Brees and a host of receivers will be the NFC’s version of Denver. ... Bucs’ defense may be outstanding but do you really believe in QB Josh McCown in this division? ... Falcons will also have potent passing with WR Julio Jones’ return but bad running game and poor pass defense will hold them back. ... Panthers go from 12-4 to 4-12 due to massive losses in offensive line and receiving corps despite solid D.

NFC East: Philadelphia 10-6, East Rutherford Giants 9-7, Washington 8-8, Dallas 3-13. Eagles will be good but not as good as you suspect because the rest of league now respects Chip Kelly’s game. ... QB Eli Manning will just barely save coach Tom Coughlin’s job. ... Native Americans’ Jay Gruden proves he can coach offense but the jury stays out on if Bob Griffin can play it. ... Cowboys will be a fantasy delight by scoring a bunch and giving up historic points. (1966 Giants allowed 35.8 points.)

NFC North: Green Bay 11-5, Detroit 10-6, Chicago 9-7, Minnesota 6-10. Cheeseheads top NFL’s strongest division because offensive line finally protects QB Aaron Rodgers and creates openings for RB Eddie Lacy. ... Lions are minor surprise because QB Matthew Stafford reduces interceptions by half and secondary learns how to intercept the other side. ... Bears better than record with QB Jay Cutler having record year but defense still doesn’t make Mike Ditka proud. ... Vikings a load due to RB Adrian Peterson but no passing game and little pass defense makes it a long season.

NFC West: Seattle 10-6, San Francisco 9-7, Arizona 7-9, St. Louis 4-12. Seahawks partially derailed by first games vs. Green Bay, at San Diego, vs. Denver and at Washington. Also travel cross-country to Carolina and Philly. ... Niners’ inability to score in red zone will hurt them and create criticism about the riches given to QB Colin Kaepernick. ... Cardinals take backward step because of weakened defense even though the offensive-skill players are fantasy delight. ... Rams have no quarterback and no chance.

NFC playoff teams: New Orleans, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Seattle, (wild cards) Detroit and Chicago.

AFC South: Indianapolis 12-4, Houston 9-7, Tennessee 8-8, Jacksonville 4-12. Colts not as good as record implies but thrive on cupcake diet (after opening at Denver). ... Texans surprise because of comeback by RB Arian Foster and fierce defensive front seven. ... Titans also do relatively well because of offensive recharge from coach Ken Whisenhunt. ... Jaguars can say they didn’t get any worse, but woeful receivers betray both quarterbacks.

AFC East: New England 13-3, Miami 8-8, Buffalo 6-10, East Rutherford Jets 4-12. Patriots won a dozen last season despite numerous key injuries, so normal health should create improvement. ... Dolphins’ terrible offensive line gets better but record remains mediocre until coaching improves, too. ... Bills show some promise until they run into Denver, Green Bay and New England in three of last four weeks. ... As for Jets, come on. Geno Smith?

AFC North: Cincinnati 10-6, Baltimore 9-7, Pittsburgh 8-8, Cleveland 7-9. Bengals lead league’s best balanced division because QB Andy Dalton improves throwing motion and proves he is a worthy millionaire. ... Ravens use solid defensive front to remain contenders despite offensive mediocrity. ... Steelers don’t recover from early losses as running game struggles all season. ... Browns suffered through all the talk about quarterbacks when the real question was naming any decent receivers.

AFC West: Denver 14-2, San Diego 8-8, Kansas City 5-11, Oakland 2-14. Broncos’ only challenge during regular season is not falling asleep. ... Chargers improve attack led by QB Phil Rivers but poor secondary lets them down. ... Chiefs swear they have film that proves they won 11 games last year but nobody believes it. ... With the first pick in the 2015 draft, the Raiders select a quarterback or a receiver or maybe a running back.

AFC playoff teams: Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, (wild cards) Houston and Baltimore.

NFC championship: New Orleans 38, Green Bay 30.

AFC championship: Denver 36, New England 17.

(Tah-tah!)

Super Bowl XLIX: New Orleans 49, Denver 42.

So it is written, so shall it be.

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