Sports Illustrated, the premier sports magazine in America, has made its pro football predictions public. The immediate reaction is: who's smokin' the funny stuff in the staff offices?
Conceptually, The Monk has no problem with the prediction SI makes that his beloved New York Giants will make the playoffs and pull off two road wins before honking the NFC Championship Game (a la the 2005 Panthers), but there are some picks that only a bunch of journos sitting around a table asking "wouldn't it be cool if ______ happened" would pick.
Exhibit A -- predicting all four NFC East teams to go 9-7. That's ludicrous. The Monk agrees with Tuesday Morning Quarterback columnist Gregg Easterbrook that the Redskins took on dead weight in free agency that should hurt them. The Monk also agrees with the locals that Dallas has a top-notch defense. And The Monk agrees with his better judgment that says Dallas is likely the best team in the lot (which Dallas was for the first 10 games last year before honking four of the last six to fall out of the playoffs). The Monk thinks the Giants should be at worst second-best and wild card caliber.
Exhibit B -- picking the three blind mice who will follow the Bears in the NFC Central standings to all go 6-10; sorry, but there's more than a dime's worth of difference between them, Green Bay is pretty awful, and the Vikes should reach 8 wins.
Exhibit C -- picking the Dolphins to win the AFC. I'll regret this in January if I honk, but I don't see it. Still too many questions regarding Culpepper's effectiveness, Ronnie Brown as a full-time back and the ability of the Patriots to beat the tar out of anyone in a given week.
Exhibit D -- picking the Bills to win 8. That means Buffalo needs to go 8-4 in games where New England and Miami don't whip its a**. It's possible because the AFC East plays the two worst divisions in football (AFC South, NFC North), but with Indy, Jacksonville, Chicago and San Diego on the schedule, it's unlikely.
Exhibit E -- picking the Bengals to win 8. The kitties have a tough schedule (AFC West, NFC South), but SI went to press after Carson Palmer showed he's at full health. I think another division title challenge is in the offing.
More to come later (I hope).