Twenty bold predictions for 2012
September 2, 2012INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
Predictions time is a silly season of a whole 'nother sort in the NFL, but you've got to do it, knowing there will be plenty of misses among the occasional hit. Why, just last season, in this very column, I foresaw Jake Locker being the cream of the rookie crop of quarterbacks, opined that Rob Ryan would be more impactful as the new defensive coordinator in Dallas than Wade Phillips would be as the new defensive coordinator in Houston, and had Josh McDaniels coaching Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to a 4,000-yard season and the playoffs.
Then again, I did also forecast Nnamdi Asomugha's underwhelming first season in Philadelphia, Detroit's return to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and the Saints' third-down back Darren Sproles outperforming his predecessor in New Orleans, Reggie Bush. So there's that.
And now, here goes, another 20 bold predictions as we approach the start of the 2012 regular season. As always, your results may vary:
1. Peyton Manning's comeback in Denver remains a work in progress, but when the regular season comes to a close, he and his Broncos will be back in the playoffs while little brother Eli and his defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants will not. And that will make the G-Men the first NFC champion to not return to the playoffs the following year since the 2007 Bears missed the dance. A combination of key injuries, a killer schedule and a bit of post-Super Bowl syndrome will cost New York any shot to repeat.
2. With the handsomely paid pass rusher Mario Williams being as good as advertised, the Buffalo Bills' new 4-3 defense will take a significant step forward under new coordinator Dave Wannstedt, leading to the end of the team's NFL-worst 12-year playoff drought. The Bills will close enough of the gap that exists between them and the Patriots in the AFC East, leading to a 10-6 record and a wild-card berth.