|Photo: Getty Images - Drew Hallowell|
Is it August yet?
One thing is certain in a sea of questions coming into the upcoming NFL season -- we want football. The Super Bowl between the Patriots and Giants was a good send-off, but the withdrawal of not seeing electrifying runs and jaw-dropping interceptions is starting to kick in.
So, we here at Beard and Stache are going to give you a quick NFL fix to tide you over until the pre-season! We did our best to balance it out and cover a wide range of topics, but feel free to comment with any other questions you may have for us! Or, if you totally disagree, we'd love to hear your feedback!
#10. Matt Flynn Will Succeed With the Seattle Seahawks
Troy: FACT - Analysts and fans have been really rough on Matt Flynn, and as a whole, there isn't much belief that he can succeed outside of the Packers' system. I think differently, and with the ever-dominating Marshawn Lynch providing support in the backfield, Flynn could take the NFC West by storm.
Adam: FICTION - They're no doubt paying him like they expect him to succeed. However, the talent discrepancy -- at least in the passing game -- between Flynn's former team (Green Bay) and Flynn's new team is off the charts. Will the oft-injured Sidney Rice and undrafted Doug Baldwin offer enough weapons for Flynn to succeed? Somehow, I doubt it.
#9. Michael Vick Will Take a Step Forward
Troy: FACT - Michael Vick sucked last season. He was careless with the ball, he scrambled more than he needed to, and his accuracy as a whole was totally off-line. But with a full off-season to work with, I fully expect Vick to come back guns-blazing and look more or less like his 2010 form.
Adam: FICTION - This really has nothing to with Michael Vick and everything to do with the loss of Jason Peters on the offensive line. Vick could still be great, but Philadelphia is going to have to use some gum and duct tape to repair the makeshift offensive line to give Vick time to do what he does best.
#8. The Green Bay Packers Will Win the NFC North
Troy: FICTION - It's always hard to bet against a team that only had one-loss in 2012, but that playoff loss to the Giants was flat out nasty. New York was able to expose every weakness that Green Bay had, and count on it -- the Chicago Bears were taking notes.
Adam: FACT - The Pack-Attack led by Aaron Rodgers is one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, even without the support of a running game. The Bears will be the biggest threat with the return of a healthy Jay Cutler and Matt Forte to add to new receiving weapons Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The battles at Lambeau and Soldier Field will be something to watch, but ultimately, I feel like A-Rod and co. are just too strong.
#7. Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford Will be the Best QB/WR Combo in the NFL
Troy: FACT - I've never been incredibly high on Matt Stafford, but that doesn't really matter when Calvin Johnson is the one catching the passes. Megatron is the best receiver in football, and it's as easy as just throwing the ball in his direction. Stafford won't have to do much to reach this milestone, but it's going to be Johnson making the plays.
Adam: FACT - In my opinion, there was no better duo last season, either. As long as @bigplaycj can avoid the Madden curse, look for this tandem to explode for another spectacular season. 2,000 receiving yards for Calvin, anyone?
#6. The New Orleans Saints Will Miss the Playoffs
Troy: FACT - Drew Brees still isn't under contract, Sean Payton and Jonathan Vilma are gone for the entire season, and New Orleans lost Carl Nicks in free agency. Did I forget to mention that the NFC South is the best division in football? The Saints could pull some magic, but I just don't see it happening.
Adam: FACT - Jonathan Vilma's out for the season pending an appeal that's likely to be unsuccessful. New Orleans will also be without head coach and offensive guru Sean Payton for the entire season. Oh, and to top it all off, Drew Brees still doesn't have his long term extension. The division is too deep. The Saints won't be marching into the playoffs in 2012.
#5. Tim Tebow Will Start Sometime Next Season
Troy: FICTION - As much as I love Tim Tebow and whatever it is he can do, I think the Jets are going to stick by Mark Sanchez. New York made the move for Tebow to be a special-formations type of guy, and of course to sell jerseys, but other than that, he will be holding a clipboard on the sideline. Sanchez just got paid those big bucks in that extension, and it would be puzzling to see him benched in favor of Tebow.
Adam: FICTION - I know, Tebow-mania fans are crushed. The only reason I don't see this happening is that Sanchez, unlike Tebow, doesn't have the versatility to help the Jets anywhere else other than under center. But you never know in New York. If Mark Sanchez doesn't rebound from his tumultuous 2011 season, No. 15, not No.6, could get his chance to lead the Jets.
#4. Peyton Manning Will Lead the Denver Broncos to the Playoffs
Troy: FACT - If Tebow could do it, Peyton Manning sure can. Not to mention that the AFC West really poses no serious threats other than (maybe) the Kansas City Chiefs -- this is practically a lock. If for some reason Manning and Denver miss the playoffs, it will easily be the biggest surprise of the year.
Adam: FACT - The best way to get into the playoffs is by winning your division. Luckily for Denver, they not only have The Sheriff under center for the foreseeable future, but I don't see the Raiders or Chargers contending for the division. The only team the Broncos will probably have to worry about is Kansas City. If the Chiefs can keep their stars on the field and out of the hospital, they'll be a team to watch. Still, in the end, I can't see Denver missing the playoffs. You don't sign Peyton Manning just to have a good showing in the regular season -- you sign him to help win a Super Bowl.
#3. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the Favorites to Win the AFC North
Troy: FICTION - The Steelers will once again come into the season as one of the top teams in the NFL, but an aging defense, a not-healthy Rashard Mendenhall, and the always turnover prone Ben Rothelisberger will end up being the demise of Pittsburgh. The Baltimore Ravens are only going to be better next season, and the Cleveland Browns could surprise as a sleeper team.
Adam: FACT - Ravens stud linebacker and Steelers nightmare Terrell Suggs has a torn Achilles'. The Bengals had a phenomenal draft but I don't realistically see them usurping the Steelers in the division just yet. The addition of David DeCastro and Mike Adams has likely solved the revolving door at offensive line and if Pittsburgh can keep Big Ben Roethlisberger upright, they should be in line to reclaim the AFC North crown.
#2. The Houston Texans Will Repeat AFC South Champions
Troy: FACT - The Texans were winning games, and by large margins at that, with most of the team on injured reserve. Losing Mario Williams won't sting as much as people expect, and the offense is going to be as deadly as ever. Not to mention, the Jags', Colts, and Titans are still a few years out from seriously competing.
Adam: FACT - The Titans are transition. The Jaguars have a championship-caliber defense but have uncertainty at the quarterback position. The Colts have the Andrew Luck to Coby Fleener connection, but that likely won't keep the Texans up at night, at least not in the immediate future. Houston lost stud pass-rusher Mario Williams to Buffalo but replaced him with Illinois' Whitney Mercilus. With a strong running game and stout defense and another great season from Andre Johnson, I have no doubt that the Texans will win their second consecutive division title.
#1. After a 10+ Season Hiatus, the Buffalo Bills Will Make the Playoffs
Troy: FACT - I still believe that if Fred Jackson would have stayed healthy and Stevie Johnson was just a tinge more consistent, the Bills could have snagged a wild card spot last season. With the addition of Stephon Gilmore into an already potent secondary, Buffalo is primed to make a playoff run, and for this season, I see it in the cards.
Adam: FICTION - If the AFC North didn't have three teams in the playoffs last season, I'd be more inclined to give the Bills a chance. Buffalo will undoubtedly be much improved with all the noise they made in the offseason, but the Patriots are still the favorites in that division. The Bills haven't made the playoffs since 1999. What's one more year?