When they said "REPENT, REPENT!" I wonder what they meant. ~Leonard Cohen

Welcome to Week 1, bitches. Time to fuck up the script, make us some rules, and resume the glorious weekly ritual of sticking it to jerks. Sound like fun?

But before Travaris leads Our Heroes into battle Sunday afternoon (Think he'll bring a bat? Or is that gonna be Rafael Bush's job this season?) we here at moosedenied must Do Our Job™ as fully-credentialed members of the Illegitimate Media™ and pull a bunch of BOLD(!!!) league-wide predictions for the 2012 season out of our asses. All the cool kids are doing it.

 

Biggest Trainwreck: The New York Jets
Oh sure, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Minnesota are going to be pretty terrible. But nobody really gives a shit about them. But the Jets? The bottom is about to fall out. And it's going to be unbelievably amusing.

I'm calling it right now, the Jets are gonna go into their bye week at 0-8.

The Tim Tebow Experience™ Chapter II is going to commence after a demoralizing week 3 loss at Miami, just in time for two consecutive home games against San Francisco and Houston. Guh. After a third straight home loss in week 6 against Andrew Luck and the Colts, it'll be a full-blown dumpster fire and the Jets will unofficially throw their hats into the race for Matt Barkley. (Because they really are just that stupid.)

This team was already soaked in gasoline. And Tebow, through little fault of his own, is the match. It's gonna be a damn three ring circus all year. Apparently there's already a bunch of assholes in that locker room even when things are going good. Once they start taking sides on the quarterback issue, and then on top of that some of them start jumping off Rex's bandwagon, it's gonna be utter chaos. And it's gonna be big fun to watch. Imagine all the worst things about Jim Haslett's Saints… all crammed into one season… in New York City. How can you look away?

 

Rex Ryan will be the first head coach fired
…as the Jets go into their bye week at 0-8, and it'll be Tony Sparano Time. Tebow will lead them to a couple of wins in the second half of the season (St. Louis, Jacksonville) but in the end, it'll be one and done for Tebow in New York. He's gonna end up in Jacksonville one way or the other. It's God's Will.

In February, they'll flirt with Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher. Might even make a (largely media-manufactured) "play" for Nick Saban. Whatever's craziest and draws the most attention. It is the Jets, after all. But in the end, they'll end up "settling" for a guy like… *gulp*… Steve Spagnuolo.

Fortunately for us, Sean Payton should have a couple months to put the hard sell on Rex while he's in no way associated with the NFL, and get him down here for next season.

Sean Payton and Steve Spagnuolo… two ships passing in the night.

 

The Colts are gonna make the postseason
…and Andrew Luck is gonna be The Next Brett Favre Michael Vick Peyton Manning Tim Tebow. It's gonna be All Luck All The Time on ESPN, the NFL Network, etc. (When they're not gawking at the Jets, that is.)

This weekend, they're gonna march into Soldier Field and show the Bears just how overrated they are. Then after two home games against Minnesota and Jacksonville, they're gonna go into their bye week 3-0, and it's gonna make The Great Michael Vick Lovefest Of 2002 look like one of your standard-issue throwaway passing mentions of Drew Brees's very-goodness.

Then after a week 5 loss to Green Bay, their next five are the Jets, Cleveland, Tennessee, Miami and Jacksonville. Hello 8-1. Shit's gonna get really annoying at that point. Get used to hearing this: "Rodgers, Brady, Luck………. and Brees." Because you're gonna be hearing a lot of it. Guh.

3-4 down the stretch as they get New England, Detroit and Houston twice. But if you're scoring at home, that's 1-15 to 11-5. And it might very well be good enough to win the AFC South and maybe even land a 1 or 2 seed in the… playoffs??? Playoffs?!?

 

Second head coach to be fired: Jason Garrett
By Thanksgiving, the Cowboys are gonna be somewhere around 3-7. And Jerry Jones is crazy as a shithouse rat. Garrett might well survive the season, but he'll be a dead man walking by December and everybody will know it.

There will be Les Miles rumors. And they will be ridiculous. There will be Sean Payton rumors. They too will be ridiculous. Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Nick Saban, all the usual suspects. In the end, my money's on Rob Ryan getting the promotion from within. He seems like a Jerrah kinda guy.

Never one to do anything half-assed, Jerrah will tell Romo in no uncertain terms to go fuck himself, and he's gonna be jonesing (see what I did there?) to strike some of that Troy Aikman style gold once again. He probably already is. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and assume Jerrah's already sporting a huge throbbing (Viagra-assisted) boner over Tyler Wilson. Woo pig sooie!!!

And who better to coach coordinate him up than a humbled and reformed Bobby Petrino? Yee haw! Dallas, bitches! How 'bout them Cowboys?!? It may be a goddamn nuthouse, but it's never boring.

 

If Andy Reid isn't fired first, he'll be retiring at the end of the season
Fourteen years is a long, long time. It's gotten stale. The fans are already anxious to ride him out of town on a rail if the Eagles miss the playoffs again this season. And I'm not sure that Nick Foles is quite ready yet to get them there.

I'm not even sure Ron Mexico can get them there, not that that's all that relevant. Depending on when Vick goes down (let's set the over/under at week 4) they could very well end up somewhere around 2-7 by Thanksgiving. Even assuming Vick survives for a while, they could still very well go into their bye at 2-4. And Philly fans, well, they just don't handle things like 2-4 very well. (This just in: they've got a few issues.)

I don't think they'll fire Reid. Not after 14 years, 9 trips to the playoffs, 4 trips to the NFCCG and a Super Bowl appearance. He's the winningest coach in franchise history, for crying out loud. So I think they'll be nice about it and politely suggest that he retire after the season. He'll oblige, citing personal reasons, and the fans might even refrain from throwing batteries at him on the way out.

At which point, all eyes will be on Steve Spagnuolo, of course. But I'm guessing the Eagles will end up doing what they always do and going with the safe, boring choice. So my money's on Rich Kotite Ray Rhodes promoting Marty Mornhinweg from within.

 

"Rise Up?" Sit the fuck down.
Verily, the beginning of the end of the so-called Golden Age of Atlanta Falcons Football is nigh. And it will end without a single playoff win.

Offensive line: Hot mess.
Defensive front 7: Hot mess.
Michael Turner: Wrong side of 30 and overworked.
Jason Snelling: Declining.
Jacquizz Rodgers: Blows.
Antone Smith: Is from beautiful downtown Pahokee Florida, so he's got that going for him.
Matty Ice: Tony Romo, only with skidmarks on his pants and a stupid nickname instead of the celebrity girlfriends.
#RodneyWhite: Dumbass.
Mike Smith: Acute myocardial infarction waiting to happen.

7-9, third in the NFC South. And it's gonna get worse before it gets better. Have fun with all that, Atlanta.

 

The 49ers are a one-year-wonder… at least for the time being
Why? Because Alex Smith is still Alex Smith. As soon as he remembers that, the completion percentage will be back below 60, the interceptions will be back in double digits, the passer rating will be back down around 80, and on and on like that. Regression to the mean is a bitch. Hell, even last year they were 29th in the league in passing offense.

Oh sure, they still have a kickass running game and a really kickass defense. They still play in the NFC West, and they'll probably still win that division pretty much by default.

But 13-3 ain't gonna happen again, and I suspect that they're not gonna be regarded as legit Super Bowl contenders by the time January rolls around, even if they're the NFCW Champs. I think they're gonna have to go through a couple of 9-7/8-8 type seasons, much like the 2007-2008 Saints did. And there will be doubt as to whether or not they'll come through it intact.

Frank Gore has a lot of miles on him. And last year's playoff game against a Gregggg Williams defense notwithstanding, Vernon Davis has been regressing for the last two years since his "career year" in 2009. The Randy Moss Experiment is very unlikely to end well. Michael Crabtree might be poised for that "breakout year" or he might just be a 60-70 catch, 700-800 yard, 5 touchdown guy. And as long as Alex Smith remains Alex Smith, I know which one my money's on.

And I've got a hunch that Jim Harbaugh's schtick has a definite shelf life, much like Singletary's. I'm not sure yet whether or not he's got it in him to keep it from going off the rails when the answer to "Who's got it better than us?" becomes "Actually, all indications are that quite a few other teams do, coach. So now what?"

 

What's that you say? "Fuck you, Wang! We come here for Saints stuff!" Fair enough. Damn.

 

Jimmy Graham will be passing both his own self and that "Gronk" doosh this fall
Oh I know, I know. Not bloody likely, right? After all, it was the second most prolific receiving season for a tight end in NFL history. It was also just his second NFL season, his first as a starter, and only his third year of playing football at any level. The cumulative catches and yards were historic, and intuitively it stands to reason that it's damn near impossible to replicate an all-time great season-long performance, let alone surpass it.

But the per-game averages, for some reason, just "feel" a lot less insurmountable. 6.2 receptions for 81.9 yards per game. Is there a single one among us who thinks Graham can't easily post 7.2 receptions per game this fall? Just one more reception per game at his 2011 average of 13.2 yards per puts him at 115 receptions for 1520 yards. Add one yard per catch to his 2011 average on top of that, just one single yard per catch, and he's over 1600 yards. What about that strikes anyone as not doable?

Look, I'm not saying we just saw the tip of the iceberg last season, or anything like that. But seriously, the sky is the limit with this dude. He's probably not even done with "becoming a football player" yet, for crying out loud. He's still putting on weight and gaining strength. He's still learning after the catch moves, learning to run better routes, working to cut down on the drops, etc.

Not enough balls to go around? Maybe. It's a good point. But Meachem caught 40 balls last year. You think Adrian Arrington and Joe Morgan are gonna catch half that many combined?

 

Were you pleased with that 6th ranked rushing game last year? Because you ain't seen nothing yet.
That was just the start. Sure they were 6th in rushing yards, but they were only 20th in rushing attempts. For as much ass as Darren Sproles kicked last year, he only got 5.4 carries per game. Mark Ingram was a rookie, something a lot of Saints fans have chosen to ignore for some reason. And toward the end of last year before the injury, he was already starting to look like a whole different guy out there. Chris Ivory is healthy, for the time being anyway, and I'm assuming he'll be active more often than not this year.

The balance (60/40 pass to rush) last season served them well. Not to mention the time of possession factor. I've got a hunch that they're gonna try to build on that rushing success this season. I don't necessarily expect the 60/40 pass to rush ratio to tip significantly (if at all) toward rushing. But I can definitely see the Saints running more offensive plays overall over the course of the season, based largely on extending drives by way of more effective rushing, and the continued evolution of the passing game away from the Devery/Meachem-fueled bombs-away style and toward last year's more traditional "west coast" dink and dunk ball control passing game. And I can see that increased number of overall offensive plays leading to more rushing plays.

And don't even get me started on Travaris! REG-GIE! REG-GIE! REG-GIE!

 

But surely there's a limit to just how unstoppable this (or any) offense can possibly be, right?
Hell if I know. I'll let you know when we get there. Meantime, barring injuries, I'm not convinced we're gonna get there this year. You do know that this team posted more offensive yardage and scored more points when Pete Carmichael started calling the plays last year, right? Five games with 550+ yards of offense, including two games of 600+. Six games with 40+ points scored, including four straight. I'd call bullshit if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

I know it's counterintuitive, I know the "smart money" is on some kind of regression toward (if not necessarily to) the mean. Especially this season, what with the absence of Sean Payton and all the other bounty bullshit. It's a reasonable assumption. One I'm just not willing to make. Not yet, anyway. Crazy as it might be to contemplate, all indications to me are that this offense is still on the upswing.

 

The Saints are gonna kick the shit out of the Packers in their own house in week 4
It's gonna be this season's answer to the 2009 week 5 Giants game. The game when you really start to feel it in your bones. The game when you go all "This shit just got real."

Because it's not just gonna be a win, it's gonna be a goddamn righteous beatdown. The kind that'll have Pete Prisco shouting from the rooftops in a fit of rage about what a classless asshole Drew Brees is, while at the same time wishing aloud via Twitter for Clay Matthews to just go ahead and kill the head, affect the head, or possibly go for that outside ACL or something.

 

And it won't be long after that when the national media starts slinging mud
Oh, you know it's coming. Accusations will fly. Payton is cheating, Vitt is cheating, Loomis is cheating. It's the only logical explanation for how and why the Saints could be 4-0 after having just pimp-slapped the Mighty Packers, despite everything.

Smirkin' Skip and Screamin' A Smiff will be smirkin' and screamin' about how clearly Roger went too easy on 'em after all. John Barr will be slithering around once again trying to catch somebody in the act, or at least an unsubstantiated allegation or two upon which to launch yet another manufactured "scandal."

It's not gonna be enough to just (continue to belabor the old news in an effort to) "shame" us. Not once they realize we're not ashamed and are never gonna be ashamed, that is.

Not once they realize that maybe the full force of The Ginger Hammer's considerable wrath didn't amount to much more than a minor annoyance. That's when they really get confused and irritable. That's when they start scheming to "finish what Katrina Roger started."

And that's when the BIG fun begins. Am I right, Prisco? High five! Wait for it… wait for it…

 

And it won't be long after that when the question of "Is it really wise to fix what clearly ain't broke?" becomes a thing. A big, huge, excruciating thing.
Because after another win against the Chargers, the bye, and yet another win against the Bucs to improve to 6-0, Joe Vitt comes back. And unless Vitt himself decides otherwise (which he might very well do) it'll be as Head Coach.

But until it's official, and surely long after that, the issue will be picked over every which way. It'll be like "Do you sit your starters in week 17?" on steroids. Nobody will have the slightest fucking clue what the right answer is, not even Vitt and Kromer and the rest of the organization. Might as well flip a damn coin. I don't think it's even possible to know for sure what the right answer is. Uncharted territory and all. But that won't keep every single one of us from pulling an opinion out of our ass on the matter and defending it vociferously. Good times.

I suspect that Vitt will in fact retake the reins though. Why? Because it'll all come back around to "WWSPD?" And Payton chose Vitt.

Personally, I can't imagine I'll give a shit one way or the other. 6-0, bitches!

 

In closing, here's the part where you roll your eyes at my homer ass for the millionth time
Because, you know what? Sure, being the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl at home would be great. Winning it, and sticking it right up Roger's ass would be downright sublime.

But if you're not gonna dream big, why dream at all?

So fuck it. I'm going for it. 19-0. Why the hell not? It's not like this team hasn't been earning its living on the unprecedented for a good long time now. I don't see any reason it ought to stop now. Sue me.

Y'all can keep it real and curb your enthusiasm and temper your expectations and all that stuff all you want, if that's what does it for ya. Me? I'm all in.

ALL in. #wegotthis

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