So, not entirely unexpectedly, in today's SN column, I am picking the Pats to win the Super Bowl. I have done this almost every year since 2001, mainly as a defense mechanism.
If they do win, I have prepared myself. (And, to be reasonable, in any given year, I'll bet on Belichick.) If they don't win, I am as thrilled to be wrong as I am about anything.
Cynical? Kind of. Reasonable? Mostly.
I am unimpressed by the rest of the AFC: Steelers? That karmic bank is nearly empty. Chargers? Yeah: Norv Turner, sure. Titans? Nope. Colts? I don't even think they'll make the playoffs. One of these nouveau picks like Houston or Jacksonville? Not beating NE in the playoffs.
The bigger intrigue is in the NFC. Most folks are picking the Giants. You could make a pretty good case for the Falcons. I'm not quite sure why anyone thinks Dallas will be a contender. I foreshadowed this when Vick came back, but I'm picking the Eagles.
Yes, I know I picked the Eagles to win the NFC last year -- at least when the playoffs started. And they should have! This year, I really do believe that Mike Vick will be the X-factor -- if only for the dramatic value.
So it's Patriots over Eagles in the Super Bowl. As for the rest of the league, I am most focused on the various incarnations of the Wildcat (or single-wing) that pop up as the strategy moves from Miami novelty to league-wide tool. This is not some fad; I think that this is nothing less than the realignment of NFL offense -- that is, if coaches are innovative enough to use it. (That's a big "if," one that I have no confidence in, actually.)
I've got more shallow thoughts in today's SN column leading with my NFL preview (or "preview"), but there's a lot more in there, too:
*Picking the Steelers over the Titans.
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*Keep an eye on Georgia Tech tonight.
*AI to Memphis: He makes them must-see.
*Oudin ousted: Let the endorsements begin!
*Derek Jeter: Luckiest man... oh, wait.
*Gabe Feldman! Adam Wainwright!
There's a ton more. See the whole column here. More later.