So here ya go sports fans. The first (after a 2 year hiatus dating back to my previous blog, Parsonage Life) of my divisional predictions concerning the upcoming NFL season. First, let me remind you that these predictions are neither scientific nor theological. That is, I have done little more than go on my hunches and those hunches have not been divinely inspired in any way.
First up, God's Division...the AFC East (from worst to best)
Buffalo Bills: It hurts to write these words. It really does. The Bills are awful. They have a new coach, which is good...I guess. However they are still suffering from the odd management practices during the early years of the decade-now-ending. As far as I can tell they thought that they ran a baseball team and so acquired the best darn athletes they could with no real sense of how they might work together. Some of them are great people, of course, but their skills didn't mesh. Nor did they mess with the coachs' plan. Now it is clean-up time. Hopefully they will fix things before the franchise moves to Toronto.
There are however three real football teams in the division. Each of these gets a bonus of two wins donated by the Bills...
New York Jets: Yeah, I said it. The Jets in third. They have a great--if somewhat batty--coach in Rex Ryan. They have an up and coming quarterback named Mark Sanchez. They are finding their way through the chaos and making a lot of noise. They will be very good, putting in a winning season that would get them into the playoffs in any other division. Too bad they won't anticipate the quiet strength of the AFC Wild Card...
Miami Dolphins: They are better than the Jets. Coach Sparano is better than Ryan and so is his staff. They have proven to be the sort of coaches whose game plans get copied by others a season or two too late. The addition of Mike Nolan on defense will bring that unit the sort of dynamism that the offense has seen under Dan Henning. QB Chad Henne is better than Sanchez. He just is. Parcells is the best at his job. Again, this is just a hunch but I say they steal a few wins while the Jets are swaggering around. Fact is, things seem really, really quiet in Miami right now. That usually means that all is as planned and right with the world.
New England Patriots: This is a close one, actually. The Dolphins could win the division and the Jets could too if the wheels don't come off. This is not the Pats team that played in four Super Bowls. They are young and the few who remain from the glory days are older than they once were. Yes, there is Brady. But mainstay RB Kevin Faulk may the the only other Pat with all three rings. At least the only one who is crucial to this year's game plan.
There will be moments of pain (like when the Lions embarrass them on Turkey Day). That said, the Pats--like the Dolphins--are quiet. They are smart. They fit together well. Not every team does (see Buffalo Bills). They will pull it off in the final week.
Division Winner: New England
Most Interesting Team: Miami