King Says, Benji Says (Season Predictions)


In this week’s MMQB Tuesday Edition, Peter King unveiled his season predictions. Let’s see how his picks match up with mine:

Editor’s Note: King inexplicably decided to begin his article with his Super Bowl pick and revealed his NFC and AFC Championship Game picks afterward. As I want to make an actual attempt at holding the reader’s interest, I will reverse King’s order and work my way up to the “Big Game.”

NFC Championship Game

King says:

“Keep talking about Dallas,” Justin Tuck of the Giants told me in camp. “We love it.” OK. Dallas has danger signs all over the place, with a rich quarterback and his richer, more famous girlfriend, and volcanic T.O., and whatever Adam Jones is now. Could they crash and burn? Of course. Any team can. But my feeling is they’ll put up enough points to make up for a just-OK pass rush, and Jones will be a top five corner by the end of the season. I like the Vikings a lot, I think, because I view Tarvaris Jackson as more of an asset than liability.

NFC title game: Dallas 23, Minnesota 17.

Benji says:

As King states at the beginning of his article, he is “boring, bland and predictable.” Dallas is a trendy pick by sportswriters around the country, despite the fact that its quarterback, Tony Romo, has yet to win a playoff game, and has been at his worst when it mattered most. Why are the Cowboys considered a safe pick to make it to the Super Bowl?!? Yes, they have one of the top receivers in the NFC (Terrell Owens), yes, they have a solid running game (led by Marion Barber and explosive rookie Felix Jones) and yes, they have a talented young quarterback in Tony Romo—but their defense, as King himself points out, is flawed. In his words, they have a “just-OK pass rush”; I would also add that they have a mediocre, overrated secondary, led by big-play, no substance safety Roy Williams and new acquisition Adam Jones whose previous team, the Titans, saw an improvement in its pass defense during the year he was suspended. I also worry about their depth at wide receiver; the team is talking about using tight end Jason Witten as a possession receiver. I am led to believe, then, that if Crayton or Owens get hurt, Romo will be throwing to guys that belong on the practice squad. And this team is a lock to make it to the Super Bowl? I’m not buying it.

As for the Vikings…King, I demand that you explain yourself. What is it exactly that makes Tarvaris Jackson “more of an asset than liability?” Yes, he has a strong arm, yes, he’s fast and, dare I say, “athletic”—but he’s the most maddeningly inconsistent quarterback this side of Rex Grossman. The Vikings have a strong running game (the combination of that line with Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson is about as good as it gets), and a solid defense, but Jackson has yet to prove that he is ready to be a starting quarterback in this league. There’s no reason for me to believe that this Vikings team will be significantly better than last year’s 7-9 team.

Let’s think back to last season. Which NFC team was the most balanced, and had the best combination of offensive and defensive players. The answer? The Green Bay Packers, who were second in the NFC in both points scored and points allowed, and a frigid OT loss away from the Super Bowl. The only significant player to leave the team during the off-season was legendary quarterback Brett Favre. For the Packers to send Favre packing when they have a Super Bowl-ready team in place leads me to believe that they are really excited about Aaron Rodgers and were unwilling to risk seeing him leave via free agency. I was impressed with Rodgers’s play in limited action last season against the Cowboys, but even more impressed with the poise that he handled himself with during the entire Favre fiasco this summer. I think this guy can pick up where number four left off. Without further ado, here is MY pick for the NFC Championship Game:

Green Bay 28, Dallas 17.

AFC Championship Game

King says:

Tom Brady’s going to be Tom Brady. Don’t fret. Randy Moss’ numbers won’t be as good, quite possibly, but he’ll once again be the most dangerous receiver in football. Brady has to get rid of the ball half a tick faster this year because defenses will be throwing the kitchen sink at him the way the Giants did in the Super Bowl. “Don’t forget what we did last year,” Brady told me this summer. “I sure haven’t.” Good advice. I pick the Jags to challenge them most seriously. Quentin Groves and, later in the year, Derrick Harvey, will give the Jags defensive energy they lacked last year.

AFC title game: New England 30, Jacksonville 27.

Benji says:

Oddly enough, I agree with most of what King has to say in this section. Brady should have another big year as long as he, Moss and Welker stay healthy. I do think the Patriots may run the ball a little more this year to counteract the “kitchen sink” that King suggests will be thrown at them. Their defense worries me though. Their linebackers are ancient and their secondary looks porous after the free agency departure of Asante Samuel. They should still have a pretty good pass rush but I don’t think that it will matter. This team will have to outscore its opponents to win, and, as a general rule, when a team obtains that distinction, its season does not end with a Super Bowl victory…

…Especially when there are teams in its conference with comparable offenses that also boast good defenses. The Colts, despite being without the services of Dwight Freeney, finished first in the AFC (and the NFL) in points allowed and, despite being without the services of Marvin Harrison for a good portion of the season, finished second (behind the Pats) in points scored. With both Harrison and Freeney back, this team has a chance to be better than it was last year. The Colts, can run, they can pass, they can defend both the run and the pass, and, just two years removed from a Super Bowl title and with basically every major contributor still on the team, they know what it will take to win it all again.

I never thought I’d say this, but I agree completely with King on the second team in the AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars were a better outside pass rush and a good receiver (i.e. one who doesn’t drop the ball) away from seriously competing with the Patriots in the second round of the playoffs. In the off-season, they addressed both of these needs by signing former Raider receiver Jerry Porter and (as King mentioned) drafting defensive ends Quentin Groves and Derrick Harvey. The Jags already had a solid defense, the best running game in the league and an emerging young quarterback in David Garrard, and, on paper, do not seem to have any glaring weaknesses after their off-season moves. I predict an all-AFC South Championship Game:

Indianapolis 24, Jacksonville 21.

Super Bowl

King says:

New England 30, Dallas 20.

Benji says:

It’s not very surprising that King has little in the way of analysis for how this match-up would turn out. After all, every other sportswriter and his/her mother are picking Pats over Cowboys—it’s all been said for him over the past month or so.

As for my match-up, I foresee a close game between two balanced teams. I see Colts safety Bob Sanders being the key player. When he is healthy, he plugs every hole and makes it very difficult for opposing teams to establish the run. Ryan Grant had a very good year in 2007 (averaging 5.1 yards per carry during the regular season), but was shut down by the Giants in the NFC Championship game (13 rushes for only 29 yards).  Also, there is the experience factor. The Colts have been there before, and will have the mental advantage.

Indianapolis 28, Green Bay 21.


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3 Responses to “King Says, Benji Says (Season Predictions)”

  1. King Says, Benji Says (Week 2) « Peter King = Doofus Says:

    […] Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury. While this injury had very little effect on my postseason predictions (it certainly affected King’s Super Bowl pick though!), it is sad to see arguably the league’s […]

  2. King Says, Benji Says (Week 7) « Peter King = Doofus Says:

    […] making for an exciting game that will come right down to the wire. For those of you who read my preseason predictions column, you will remember that I picked these two teams to represent their respective conferences in the […]

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    […] Note: To be fair, His Majesty and I (Benji) picked equally poorly last year—I had Green Bay and Indianapolis making it to the Super Bowl. Out of our four projected […]

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