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    Don's Crystal Ball 2012 Season Predictions


    By TheDon
    Staff Writer for


    *** Sparty from ***
    *** BrrsColts from ***

    Preseason is finally over. We had to endure four weeks of the idiocy of replacement referees and for the looks of it, because of the foolishness of both the NFL and the NFLRA, it now looks we'll have to bite our tongues for at least one more week, unbelievable! Last year I predicted seven out of the 12 teams that made the playoffs. I correctly predicted five exact team records and came close by one game to another eight teams. My biggest mistakes came in not believing in Tebow! To be fair nobody did. Thinking Cincinnati couldn't rely in their young offense, inside the though NFC North and not trusting Jim Harbaugh could turn the 49ers franchise in year one.

    Now to the good part, not only I was right in predicting that Peyton Manning will not play and lose his consecutive starting streak but also predicted the Indianapolis Colts would miss the playoffs for the first time in 10 years and with that, allowing the Houston Texans their first Division championship in the history of the franchise.

    Some Quick Hits to get us started.
    • For the Past 16 years at least four new teams have got into the playoffs each year. For the past seven, at least five new teams have got into the playoffs. Last year we had six new teams
    • For the past 12 years at least two teams with losing records the prior year has made the playoffs. Last year five teams did it (Cincinnati, Houston, Denver, Detroit and San Francisco)
    • Since 1986 only seven teams have been able to go back and play in a Super Bowl. Since 2000 only one team has done it. This Trend Continues
    • Since 2001 only one NFC champion has been to a Super Bowl twice -The New York Giants. In the same time only four AFC teams have reached the Super Bowl. This Trend Continues
    • Next to the 2011 Record you’ll see "correct " for all the records I got right from last year’s projection.

    2011 Record: 6-10
    2012 Projection: 11-5 (wildcard)
    Key 2012 matchups: @NYJ,@SF,TEN,@HOU,@NE, NYJ

    Last year the Buffalo Bills started strong, surprising many with a 5-2 start and early looked like a team that could push for a playoffs spot. Just to fade away, on the second part of the season and finish 1-8 the rest of the way. Chan Gailey has made the right moves this offseason, starting with switching the team to a 4-3 base scheme. One that's more suited to their personnel and also going after the number one free agent on defense in Mario Williams. The Bills focused in fixing their two biggest issues this offseason defense getting guys like Williams and Mark Anderson to help improve the pass rush and drafting Stephon Gilmore to upgrade the secondary. They also focused in their other big need and that was improving the offensive line by drafting Georgia's Cordy Glenn. This is a young team heading into the right direction, that could surprise many this season, maybe even this time, they do get to sneak into the postseason.

    2011 Record: 6-10
    2012 Projection: 4-12
    Key 2012 matchups: @HOU, @NYJ, TEN, @BUF, NE, @SF

    We all know that at the end of this season, the best thing we will remember about the 2012 Miami Dolphins will be Hard Knocks. John Philbin was brought to rebuild this team and put some order into it. I personally don't feel he will succeed at it, he strikes me as the typical coach that has been a coordinator way too long, time will tell. I felt that the Ryan Tannehill was forced, but I've been surprised of what I've seen this preseason. This kid needs time to develop but could turn up nice if he doesn't get rattle by the early start. This team is changing their personality, starting with moving back to a 4-3 defense and with that saying goodbye to Bill Parcell's way. Is no secret that they have problems in the offense especially at wide receiver and offensive line but that defense will win them some games? Still don't expect too much from them this year.

    2011 Record: 13-3
    2012 Projection: 14-2 (1st Place Home Field Advantage)
    Key 2012 matchups: @BAL, @BUF, DEN, @NYJ, HOU, SF

    I don't get how Bill Belichick does it every year, I'm pretty sure he either has a deal with the Devil. You got a team that not only every year has multiple picks in the top rounds of the draft but for some reason top draft prospects fall to them. Take this draft for example Chandler Jones (1st), Dont'a Hightower (1st) Tavon Wilson (2nd) and Alfonzo Dennard (7th). If that wasn't enough, even if everybody knows almost who's going to play who each year. The Patriots find a way not only making it to the playoffs each year but have a low strength of schedule. This year they got the easiest schedule based on last year results, .453 winning percentage and will only face four teams that made the playoffs last year.

    If you look at their draft, you can easily see Bill Bellichick knows his defense let him down and was the reason he doesn't have a fourth Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots went all on defense in their draft, trying to fix the pas rushing and coverage that hurt them. Looking at their draft, free agency moves like Brandon Lloyd and schedule it's pretty easy to say that we will see this team again playing in January.

    2011 Record: 8-8
    2012 Projection: 7-9
    Key 2012 matchups: @PIT, SF, HOU, @NE, @TEN, @BUF

    The Rex Ryan honeymoon period is apparently over with the Jets. It became pretty clear once the team had a complete locker room breakdown late last season. For Ryan who considers himself a player’s coach, to completely lose control of his team was a sign that the "Rah-Rah" and "It's my entire fault" speeches didn't work anymore and the team needed a change. Ryan has shut up this season and stopped with the silly predictions and focused on the team. I don't like the Tim Tebow trade because it comes with the whole entourage of media coverage that this team didn't need. The addition of Aaron Maybin last year was a good one and he looks better this year and the drafting of Quinton Coples should improve this team biggest issue on defense which was the pass rush. The biggest problem of this team and what ultimately will be the downfall of this team is the offense. When you need to bring a player, to help with trick plays just to score or move the ball, you know you're going to have a rough year.

    2011 Record: 12-4 Correct
    2012 Projection: 13-3 (3rd Place)
    Key 2012 matchups: @PHI, NE, @KC, DAL, @HOU, @PIT, NYG

    The Baltimore Ravens were one dropped touchdown pass or, a miss chip shot field goal away of making it into their second Super Bowl. This is a very complete team with not many big holes. Their biggest concerns are the age of some of their key defensive players and the loss of Terrell Suggs for at least half the season. I believe Joe Flacco will succeed in the new hurry-up offense or "sugar" huddle like they call it, will help him take better decision and see what the defense is giving to them. They have a tough schedule, playing nine games against teams that made the playoffs last year and also facing improved opponents like the Eagles, Cowboys and Chiefs. It's going to be a grueling season but, expect this team to play in January.

    2011 Record: 9-7
    2012 Projection: 7-9
    Key 2012 matchups: @BAL, NYG, @SD, DAL, PHI, @PIT

    For the second year in a row I believe the Bengals had one of the best drafts in the NFL. This team is rebuilding the right way finding good young talent to lay the foundation for the next decade. BenJarvus Green-Ellis hasn't look good as the limited time he saw this preseason. The Bengals need him to take a larger role to take pressure off Andy Dalton. Their defense is much underrated for a unit that finished in the top ten inside the run. I'm worried about how the offense closed the season, going 3-5 in their final eight games and their only wins came against bad teams. I don't know if this team will get back into the playoffs this season, their final five games could determine their whole season but, they sure look like they will be competitive.

    2011 Record: 4-12
    2012 Projection: 3-13
    Key 2012 matchups: @CIN, @BAL, @NYG, @DAL, PIT, KC

    Only in the National Football League, can an owner destroy their franchise for 12 years, not even do a real job of making it a successful team and still make a profit on the sale. This is a team that has been rebuilding since they were welcomed back to the NFL. I like their move in going after Trent Richardson but felt they made a huge reach on a 28 year old rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden. This is going to be another rough year for Browns fans but with new Ownership, new hope should come on the future of this team.

    2011 Record: 12-4
    2012 Projection: 10-6 (wildcard)
    Key 2012 matchups: @DEN, PHI, @TEN, @NYG, @BAL, @DAL

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a pretty rough offseason. Rashard Mendenhall will miss the start of the season; they went after two top offensive linemen in the first two rounds of the draft, to fix their offensive line but, Mike Adams hasn't looked good and David DeCastro suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) and could be sidelined at least halfway through the season. Their defense is getting old and Mike Wallace hold out didn't help. For a team characterized by tradition and stability, this hasn't been a good offseason.

    2011 Record: 10-6
    2012 Projection: 13-3 (2nd Place, bye week)
    Key 2012 matchups: @DEN, GB, BAL, @CHI, @DET, @NE

    One of my surprise teams picks of 2011. This team finally reached their potential, after being in the shadows of the Indianapolis Colts for many years. Injuries cost this team a shot at the big game but I expect them to be one of the contenders for the Super Bowl this year. This team has one of the premier defenses in the league, like I predicted last year free agent pickup Jonathan Joseph and draft picks J.J Watt and Brooks Reed would make a big impact on this defense. If we add this year first round pick Whitney Marcilus this unit has gotten scarier. Their offense is a beast starting with the number one running back in the league; if this team can stay healthy few teams will match them.

    2011 Record: 2-14
    2012 Projection: 2-14
    Key 2012 matchups: MIN, CLE, @JAX

    I don't know how a franchise get so lucky, to have one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game for 13 seasons, them have a bad season exactly the same year the next best expected quarterback is going to get drafted, unbelievable. Andrew Luck looks like a sure thing out there. Look if someone expects this team to pull a surprise from worst to best season this year, they're begin delusional. This team is going through a complete overhaul. Defense is old and changing schemes, most of the offensive weapons have left. This team is rebuilding, but it's also doing it at the right time. Think how different the Colts looked from Peyton Manning year one to year two. The Key games for this season are against the teams they will most likely be competing, for one of the top spots at the 2013 draft.

    2011 Record: 5-11
    2012 Projection: 7-9
    Key 2012 matchups: CHI, @GB, DET, @HOU, NYJ, NE

    The first year of Mike Mularkey tenure started with some bumps, not only top free agent acquisition Laurent Robinson has had a rough, almost nonexistent preseason but, Maurice Jones-Drew holdout that lasted until this past Sunday, will most likely have this team struggle early in the season. On the bright side Blaine Gabbert showed a better pocket presence and first round top pick, Justin Blackmon looks like the number one receiver on the team. The addition of Aaron Ross will help the secondary and second round draft pick Andre Branch will add up to the pass rush. This team doesn't look like one that could contend for the playoffs, but they're improving.

    2011 Record: 9-7
    2012 Projection: 7-9
    Key 2012 matchups: NE, DET, @HOU, PIT, CHI, @GB

    The Jake Locker era starts this week. It's a move the Titans needed to make or else why they even bother drafting the kid last year. Chris Johnson the biggest weapon this team has still hasn't look like the young version of himself, which will hurt this team chances if it doesn't get fixed. Their defense is still their bread and butter; even with the departure of Cortland Finnegan and Jason Jones expect this unit to pull their weight. I haven't seen enough of Locker to feel confident he could lead this team in his first year as a starter, so expect this team to struggle.

    2011 Record: 8-8
    2012 Projection: 7-9
    Key 2012 matchups: PIT,@ATL, HOU, @NE, NO, @BAL

    I stated this before, I don't believe or expect Peyton Manning to ever be the same quarterback he was coming back from his injury. At the same time I don't believe he needs to be, for this team to have a successful year. This team made it to the playoffs last year based on a killer defense and some what just happened moment from Tim Tebow. Manning has shown trouble throwing at the right sight and don't know how much he can put on the deep ball anymore still, 50% of Manning is ten times better than 100% of Tebow. I don't know if this team could make the playoffs in another division but I like their chances in the west. My biggest concern is can Manning last the full season. If he can survive the first three games of the season fans could feel optimistic.

    2011 Record: 7-9 Correct
    2012 Projection: 9-7 (4th Place)
    Key 2012 matchups: ATL, @BUF, @NO, BAL, @PIT, @DEN

    The 2011 season for the Chiefs was hampered by injuries and disagreements with former head coach Todd Haley and general manager Scott Pioli. With the replacement of Haley for former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, the Chiefs expect this team can reach its full potential this season. They spent their offseason fortifying a weak offensive line, they signed Eric Winston and drafting Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson in the second and third round respectively. First round pick Dontari Poe will solidify the nose tackle position and getting a healthy Eric Berry, Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki, could launch this team back into the playoffs. Denver and Kansas City could eventually be playing for that playoff spot in week 17.

    2011 Record: 8-8
    2012 Projection: 2-14
    Key 2012 matchups: PIT, @DEN, @ATL, KC, @BAL, NO

    I said it last year that the Raiders overpaid for Carson Palmer, if the preseason is a sign of things to come, I say they got robbed. I liked the move Mark Davis (Al's son) did on hiring long-time Packers personnel man Reggie McKenzie as the new general manager. It was weird to see an Oakland draft where players were picked based on talent and not speed. Even more impressive was his strong decision of releasing both of last year disappointing defensive backs DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa drafted solely for their 40's speed. Shows you that he not only has control of this team but isn't afraid of making the tough calls. This team is not rebuilding but completely changing the whole mentality of the organization. Don't expect a lot of this team this season but, be confident they're headed into the right direction.

    2011 Record: 8-8
    2012 Projection: 7-9
    Key 2012 matchups: ATL, @KC, @NO, @DEN, BAL, @PIT

    This team is a shell, of the highly talented team that everyone expected should win a Super Bowl a few years ago. The Loss of both Marcus McNeil and Kris Dielman to career ending injuries has hurt what once was a really strong offensive line. The injuries of Ryan Mathews and Vincent Brown during the preseason will further affect this team in first half of the season. They did a good job during the draft on trying to improve the defense that was the worst in the NFL on third downs. Taking Melvin Ingram (love this pick), Kendall Reyes and Brandon Taylor with their first three picks, should improve the unit. I don't expect team president Dean Spanos show a second vote of confidence after the Chargers miss the offseason again this year.
    Last edited by DonCanabis; 09-06-2012 at 11:33 AM.

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