These picks might be temps. Because of injury, I reserve the right to adjust the numbers before the season begins. But if I do, they won’t change much.
On Sept. 6, the Atlanta Falcons play at the Philadelphia Eagles. Way to ease into the season, NFL. The Falcons and Eagles might be the two best teams in the NFC, although if the season plays out the way I anticipate, the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints will be better. I believe Minnesota and New Orleans played in the playoffs last season.
New England 13-3
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New York Jets 7-9
San Diego 9-7
Kansas City 8-8
New York Giants 7-9
Green Bay 10-6
New Orleans 12-4
Tampa Bay 3-13
Los Angeles Rams 11-5
San Francisco 10-6
Super Bowl, the Browns’ and Panthers’ outlooks
▪ My pick for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, if I have to make it now, is New Orleans. The Saints will beat New England 36-31. The game again will be good. Drew Brees will be MVP.
▪ Cleveland didn’t win a game last season. Some teams are supposed to be bad. The Browns are one of them. Some teams mangle their draft picks. The Browns are one of them. Some teams play as if they perpetually think about how long it will be before they punt. The Browns are one of them. But, you know, they’re due. So they improve from last season by six games.
▪ About the Panthers: I was optimistic a few weeks ago, and then I looked again at the schedule. If the Saints and Falcons are among the sport’s best teams, and win frequently as I think they will, somebody besides Tampa Bay has to lose.
I like Carolina’s defense and love the overall speed. I don’t trust Carolina’s secondary, especially at safety. The offensive line, while never outstanding, was sufficient before the injury epidemic. And they’ll undoubtedly supplement what they have after I write this.
But regardless of talent, drive and desire, you can’t send out new tackles and guards and expect them to fit, especially on the road, when fans are screaming, nobody can hear, and you have to trust the guy next to you.