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Jay Castro’s NFL Predictions For 2012

Oh no, the boy’s at it again! I’ve had a few too many beers tonight…enough to make me about as clairvoyant as Nostradamus and Cayce. And so, I present to you my NFL picks for 2012.

DISCLAIMER: Do not exhaust your bank account, mortgage your home, or sell your children over my prophecies; if they were that accurate, I’d keep them to myself while the money rolls in. Besides, the Fantasy Football Gods enjoy tormenting you…so please, merely enjoy my rants, and consider them somewhat entertaining, kind of as you might Bubbles and Bunny from the Nudie Bar…

 

nfc east 2012

The NFC East

NFC EAST

  1. New York Giants: 11-5
  2. Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
  3. Dallas Cowboys: 8-8
  4. Washington Redskins: 5-11

New York Giants: Skill Positions: QB: Eli Manning, WR: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, RB: Ahmad Bradshaw, TE: Bear Pascoe (?), Notable DEF/ST: Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora

I will start this thing off by admitting my bias. I am, have forever been, and will forever be, a fan of the New York Football Giants. There. That felt good…especially considering that we are the DEFENDING CHAMPS…okay, I’m done with the caps (and the boasts). In truth, my Giants are always full of surprises (I figured 6-10 last year), but I would never have guessed, let alone put money on, our good fortune last year. For those of you uninitiated, I’ll fill in the blanks—Eli(te) Manning gave us a career year that saw him set the single season record for 4th Quarter TD passes (take that, Peyton), and Victor Cruz went from walk-on preseason curiosity to Fantasy Football darling in sixteen weeks. That’s without the insane postseason that saw unlikely heroes like Steve Weatherford, Devin Thomas and Mario Manningham take center stage.

I don’t expect us to repeat, but we’re going to be in the mix as long as we stay healthy. Eli is, in my opinion, the most underrated QB in football…sure, he throws off his back foot a lot, and makes questionable decisions, but lets face it—the guy has led two Super Bowl champion offenses. He’s going to the Hall of Fame, whether you like it or not…and as long as he’s healthy, the Giants are going to be in contention. But assuming the worst on offense, JPP, Tuck and Umenyiora are scary men to have to deal with if you’re sitting in the opposing pocket. I have my reservations about the secondary, but Antrel Rolle and Corey Webster did come up gamer-big when we needed it most. I think this team has what it takes to win the division.

Philadelphia Eagles: Skill Positions: QB: Michael Vick, WR: Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant RB: LeSean McCoy, TE: Brent Celek, Notable DEF/ST: Trent Cole, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DeMeco Ryans, Jason Babin

Ever since I can remember, these guys have been a thorn in my ass. The Eagles can always find a way to beat the Giants…but then again, the Andy Reid coached teams don’t necessarily gear up for anyone outside the division. It seems they always come out of the gate like horses in the Derby, struggle between weeks 3-8, and spend the rest of the season in search of their identity. When they find it, they’re as deadly as napalm. When they can’t (and it usually stems from a major injury someplace, likely at the QB position, but also to the receiving corps or on the ground), they can lose to the Raiders. The QB face has changed (McNabb, Kolb, Vick) but this scenario has not.

So, how can these guys change their fortunes around? By staying away from the three I’s (injury, illness, issues off the field). They have one of the more talented receiving corps in the game; getting DeSean Jackson back on the page can produce major dividends now that both he and Vick are paid up. LeSean McCoy is young and brutal, and will be an Eagle through 2017. Cole and Babin combined for as many sacks as four other NFL teams in 2011, and for more than Tennessee’s and Tampa Bay’s entire units. An 8-8 record would be an accomplishment in St. Louis or Buffalo; for the Eagles, it might as well be a funeral dirge. We’ll see if adding guys like DeMeco Ryans and Oshiomogho Atogwe to the defense has positive impact. I think they make the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys: Skill Positions: QB: Tony Romo, WR: Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, RB: DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, TE: Jason Witten, Notable DEF/ST: DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Morris Claiborne

Dallas. That was one heck of a TV drama back in the 70’s and 80’s. That episode, the one where they were trying to figure out who shot Jerry Jones, was an instant TV classic—oh wait, Jerry Jones wasn’t shot? Nevermind then.

In all seriousness, this is a talented squad with extraordinarily high expectations. My respect for Tony Romo has grown over the last year (he earns my thanks for almost singlehandedly dropping a Fantasy Football championship in a competitive fourteen team format on my lap—damn you, Matthew Stafford). This is a guy who would be deified in Jacksonville or Buffalo. If they could keep guys like Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones on the field at the same time, they would be a danger to everyone they play. But they can’t, and even if they could right now, they’re probably still at least a year away from serious contention. While their defensive front was no slouch, the secondary was horrific. They’ve taken a few steps in the right direction through free agency and the draft (moving up to grab Morris Claiborne was aggressive and solid), but will have to become stingy towards the big play before I’ll take them seriously. No playoffs for America’s Team this time around.

Washington Redskins: Skill Positions: QB: Robert Griffin III (?), WR: Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon, RB: Tim Hightowner, Roy Helu, TE: Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, Notable DEF/ST: London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo, DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson

There will come a time, one day, when the sun won’t shine on the earth anymore. Perhaps the trees will cease to bloom, and the waters will dry up and take with it the nutrients so desperately needed to sustain life. But one thing will remain constant—the Washington Redskins are still gonna suck.

It’s not that I have anything against the Redskins (okay, I have plenty against the Redskins), but this is a franchise filled with bad players, currently coached by bad coaches and overseen by bad executives hired by bad owners. I’ll start at the top—Daniel Snyder has gone through seven head coaches in thirteen years without earning the championships that would earn him forgiveness (see Steinbrenner, George), Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowl titles on the back of John Elway and has done little since, and the roster itself has recently featured such proud, unselfish team players such as Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall and LaVar Arrington. Sure, they have made some nice moves in the offseason (some college dude named Robert Griffin III comes to mind, maybe you’ve heard of him), but I’m far from sold. Their approach to the draft was like purchasing a Picasso, but putting such talent in the hands of Satan Shanahan is like asking the cast of Jackass to keep an eye on said artwork. The comparisons might be to Cam Newton, but the reality could be JaMarcus Russell…and the price was legendary (think Ricky Williams or Herschel Walker).

In truth, the Redskins have things going for them. A rabid and devoted fan base that deserves better than they get year after year. A few standouts on both sides of the ball. And potentially, one of the more exciting quarterbacks to come along in a while. But this ever-rebuilding organization has left their future to a dice roll, and another dance with Rex Grossman could be the consequence. Until I see otherwise, I’m guessing tango.

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About Jason E. Castro
Jason E. Castro isn’t here to govern your Caribbean island, sell your convertible furniture or sing you a top 40 hit. He is a writer from New York City and you can find more of his work online at literary websites such as Danse Macabre or Mediavirus Magazine. And while you're at it, feel free to check out his full length novel, "Rowdies", or his on-line novella, "Cricket for Souls"; both are available from Amazon.

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