Sports analysts are prone to making predictions. It's a strange fetish they've developed that probably stems from some deeply-buried childhood incident involving clumsy pubescent exploration and Miss Cleo's sexy, sexy late-night infomercials.
But I digress, disturbingly so.
Anyway, writers throughout the sports sphere love them some predictions, from the obvious and boring (like picking the Super Bowl winner) to the obscure and questionable (like the most seemingly hygienic player likely to develop a hideous, out-of-control jock rash that becomes self-aware and ultimately kills its host).
Sports guys get bored and like to pretend they control the future of others, because they were obviously unable to control their own, given that they're writing for (usually) little-to-no money about the athletic accomplishments of strangers, dissecting their strengths and flaws as if they had actually been able to play a sport earlier in life and could reasonably relate or talk from a position of authority.
And because I'm one of those guys who tried sports, failed, and took up other less lucrative and movement-oriented ventures, I'm going to make some predictions for the coming NFL season... one for each team. And unlike many other ridiculous prognostications, these will be perfectly reasonable and achievable ones.
Arizona Cardinals: Matt Leinart will take a fateful team-building camping trip, wherein during one night sleeping under the peaceful desert skies, his left arm will be devoured by scorpions planted by Mike Singletary. Kurt Warner will heroically volunteer to donate his left arm and, though atrophied from countless pinochle games, the arm will still possess enough inhuman passing potency for Matt to lead the Cardinals to their third NFC West title.
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan will - to begin yet another season leading the Falcons as the trendy pick to do something besides barely make the playoffs - trip on the way to his first in-game huddle and break his femur in 143 places. The team will trade to get Michael Vick back, who will be found to have started an illegal newt-fighting ring in Georgia's dark criminal underworld. He will be tried in court, but the jury will realize that they don't know or care what a newt is and let Vick walk.
Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco, touched by the story of offensive lineman Michael Oher and Sandra Bullock's Oscar-winning performance in The Blind Side, will retire from football and devote his life to finding random inner-city children to force into playing football for his alma mater, leading the University of Delaware to 16 straight NCAA championships before Flacco is assassinated by the heads of once-relevant college football powerhouses. Meanwhile, Anquan Boldin will miss Kurt Warner dearly, often falling asleep to quiet tears of regret.
Buffalo Bills: It will snow in Buffalo during the season and the Bills will play some football games, which they will probably lose until they realize Trent Edwards is not someone who should play much in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers: Realizing that Matt Moore is a back-up and Jimmy Clausen is a punk, the Panthers will run the ball 100% of the time. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will render the quarterback position in Carolina obsolete, to be replaced by Sir Snaps-a-Lot, a simple cyborg with pre-programmed "hut" calls and a limited range of motion allowing it only to receive a snap and deliver the ball to a running back. This move will, oddly enough, actually net the Panthers the Lombardi Trophy, but set the game of football back decades in terms of excitement and offensive innovation.
Cincinnati Bengals: In their quest to re-create The Longest Yard in real life, Cincinnati will scour penal institutions and questionable street corners around the world for criminals and knuckleheads to fill out their roster. Players with clean characters and backgrounds will be released mercilessly. The number of shiv-related incidents in the NFL will dramatically increase from zero to 63. Bengals players will be involved in approximately all 63 incidents.
Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler will set records as the most accurate passer ever to members of the opposing team. His 5,367 interceptions on the season will create a league-wide trend among quarterbacks, resulting in more defensive touchdowns than offensive ones on the whole and create a world in which the functions of offenses and defenses are at first indistinguishable and then eventually inverted, creating a cosmic paradox that temporarily ceases all existence until Cutler is benched by Lovie Smith for throwing an infant-esque tantrum that's just embarrassing for all involved.
Cleveland Browns: Mike Holmgren will be discovered, shockingly, to not be a messiah. As a result, the Browns will continue to lose a lot of football games. LeBron James will sneak into town and personally de-pants everyone in attendance during a nationally-televised Browns game. He and Maverick Carter will then throw empty Cristal bottles at fans as they exit the stadium. Once said fans make it out of the bottle gauntlet, they will find that James has pooped on the hoods of all their cars.
Dallas Cowboys: The Busty Celebrity Girlfriend Curse (embodied by a floating pair of giant translucent boobies) will take leave of Hank Baskett and haunt Miles Austin instead. In the NFC Championship game against the Carolina Panthers, Miles will drop a momentum-changing touchdown pass that ultimately costs them the game and a chance at the Super Bowl. In anger, Austin will attack and kill Sir Snaps-a-Lot and will be arrested and arraigned on serious charges of cybernetic homicide. John Connor, meanwhile, will celebrate from a distant future in which Skynet is finally eradicated.
Denver Broncos: Tim Tebow, powered by Jesus, will try valiantly to be an NFL quarterback, but will still fail. The words "I told you so" will trend on Twitter for two years, three months, 16 days, and an hour.
Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh will realize he's a defensive tackle and not an elite quarterback that single-handedly changed the fortunes of a marquee team, finally sign his rookie contract, and proceed to get the Lions to five wins on the season, which will sadly be considered a success.
Green Bay Packers: Seriously, guys, this will be the year Aaron Rodgers breaks out and the Packers make some postseason noise. No, really. Am I a betting man? Yes, I would bet on it if only I had some cash... shucks, I don't. But seriously: Dave Grohl + intern Ryan from The Office (US version) + El Andy from Weeds = Aaron Rodgers. It's pretty uncanny.
Houston Texans: QB Matt Schaub and coach Gary Kubiak will lead the Texans to another nondescript playoff-free season, after which they'll both still keep their jobs. Everyone that's a fan of or otherwise involved with the team will continue to ignore how stupid the team's name is.
Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning will be awarded a sixteen-year, $894 million contract extension from the Colts, and will host Saturday Night Live eight times during the season. We'll all watch him chuck footballs at little kids again in the name of comedy, but won't watch him win another Super Bowl.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The team will remain in Jacksonville despite having only 14 season ticket holders. David Garrard will be forced to wear a fake Tebow jersey and play in whiteface, severely offending seven of the season ticket holders and thoroughly deceiving the other seven. The stunt will create such a strange diversion that another 24 people will come to a game once to see what the big deal is. All 24 will decline to attend another game.
Kansas City Chiefs: The NFL and its fans will once again fail to realize the Chiefs exist and do indeed play professional football.
Miami Dolphins: Coach Tony Sparano will have multiple story arcs to resolve this season, including Uncle Junior's senility, Christopher's Hollywood dreams and increasing drug problems, and how to handle Phil and his New York gang. Tony's story will end ambiguously and frustratingly while Journey plays in the background. HBO will try to find a suitable replacement, but ultimately Showtime will overtake the network in quality scripted programming.
Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre Brett Favre Favre Brett Favre Favre Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Brett Brett Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Favre Favre Favre Favre Tarvaris Jackson. Wait, who the hell is that? He's a character from Lords of the Rings, right? He's their quarterback if Favre retires for reals? Oh boy.
New England Patriots: Bill Belichick will lose his lucky homeless-chic gray hoodie and his abilities to coach will quickly fade. In a bout of frustration, Bill will accost a vagrant and steal his clothing. Despite the familiar stench of old garbage and used hygiene products, the magic is missing. The Patriots will miss the playoffs and the dynasty will be over. Tom Brady will move to Las Vegas, or perhaps an Indian casino, and fulfill his lifelong dream of impersonating Justin Bieber.
New Orleans Saints: Still hung over from their Super Bowl victory celebrations, the Saints will realize they're not up for the whole practice-game-practice-game shenanigans and will get back at it next season after they've had a muffuletta, some Tylenol and a nice long nap.
New York Giants/Jets: Confused by both New York teams playing at the same stadium, Eli Manning will spend all season accidentally showing up for Jets practices. Being maniacally though lovably insane, Jets coach Rex Ryan will not know the difference. Mark Sanchez, like totally bummed but still upbeat, man, will eat a lot of hot dogs on the bench while watching Manning lead the Jets to a Super Bowl loss against the Panthers and Sir Snaps-a-Lot the Second. The New York Giants will briefly wonder what happened to Eli, but then decide to almost exclusively run the Wildcat through Antrel Rolle, thus missing the playoffs again. Tom Coughlin will get another contract extension from the team for some reason, and get offered the chance to reprise his role as Vince Vaughn's dad in the sequel to Four Christmases.
Oakland Raiders: HBO will approach owner Al Davis about resurrecting Tales from the Crypt, but he will decline with a long cackle and a terrible pun, one in which an everyday word is replaced with a similar sounding one that's more morbid. The team will strike a partnership with the makers of Purple Drank to bring the public Black Drank, a mixture of motor oil and cheap cough syrup, which will be endorsed by an obviously intoxicated and homeless JaMarcus Russell, now weighing 649 pounds and whose chins are innumerable. The product will make Al Davis a lot of money, which he will further neglect to use towards improving the team in any meaningful way.
Philadelphia Eagles: With Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid's marriage officially over, Reid will spend a number of long, lonely hours staring forlornly out his bedroom window, the salty kiss of a tear bracing his cherubesque cheeks every evening, just before sleep. Dreams of tender embraces after finally winning an NFC championship game again will be all that steers Reid away from the crushing cold of a future without his quarterback, his love. But alas... when the day breaks, they will be only dreams, Andy... only dreams.
Pittsburgh Steelers: There will probably be an incident involving Ben Roethlisberger and college-aged females again. Also, Troy Polamalu's hair will finally overtake him, enclosing him in a follicular cocoon from which he will emerge a beautiful butterfly. While visually stunning, Troy will no longer be able to play football and, as a result, the Steelers will lose a lot of games.
St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford will be exactly the player the franchise has been looking for since Kurt Warner left: a hyper-intelligent player with an extraordinarily strong and laser-accurate arm that can quickly and efficiently eviscerate any kind of defensive scheme. The Rams will win 14 games and fight hard through the playoffs before losing in the first round, vowing that all they need is more experience to get back to the postseason and cause real damage. Just kidding. Bradford will be only okay and they'll still lose a lot.
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers will fall 3.3 yards short on a lot of touchdown attempts this season, realizing far too late that LaDainian Tomlinson's profoundly declining talents were still needed for the team to ultimately make the playoffs and disappoint all the experts again by flaming out in the second round.
San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary's tough guy act will lose effectiveness once the players realize it's hard to take barking orders from a nerd wearing glasses and holding a clipboard. Frank Gore will realize how awesome his last name is and will take it too far, placing a bull's horn on his helmet and disemboweling a lot of defensive tackles who will regret passing on Bullfighting 101 as an undergraduate desperately in need of a Fine Arts credit.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks will have a strong offensive line this season, geared to provide top-notch protection to the quarterback. Sadly, they'll discover what they really needed was Benjamin Button. Matt Hasselbeck will continue to age, as several scientists and time experts have predicted, and by season's end, he will be yelling at children to stop doing all manner of things old folks don't approve of.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: There will be stuff that happens with the Bucs, probably, but eh... forget it.
Tennessee Titans: Running back Chris Johnson will continue to be mistaken for Lil' Jon until what started as a mildly humorous inconvenience takes an unfortunate turn: Johnson will discover Jon is heavily indebted to black market grill salesmen who stop at nothing to get what's owed them. Everyone will have a solid laugh once the mix-up is cleared, though Johnson will require a lengthy hospital stay and painful rehabilitation that will ultimately make the run-in much less humorous upon retrospect. On a lighter note, Vince Young will go back to sucking. Football fans everywhere will sigh in relief and know all is right in the universe once more.
Washington Redskins: Albert Haynesworth's insatiable hunger will lead to a rather horrifying incident involving the rabid and messy cannibalization of a number of his teammates. Unfortunately, this feast will have occurred after midnight, leaving coach Mike Shanahan to deal with a handful of mischievous and reptilian Albert Haynesworths, all of which fail their conditioning tests and attempt to ruin Christmas.