2003 NFL Predictions
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 8/29/03

  On to the nitty-gritty. Last year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their 1st Super Bowl by routing the Oakland Raiders. Will the Bucs repeat? I tend to doubt it- but they could. Let’s, however, do as I did in my essay on baseball predictions & get the regular season & playoff predictions going. Then I’ll do a team-by-team capsule, focusing less on players & fantasy league type stuff & more on trends & what will probably happen. 








NY Giants  12-4
Philadelphia  9-7 *
Washington  9-7
Dallas  6-10

Green Bay  10-6
Detroit  8-8
Chicago  7-9
Minnesota  5-11

Tampa Bay 11-5
Atlanta  8-8
New Orleans  8-8
Carolina  6-10

Seattle  10-6
St. Louis  10-6 *
San Francisco 8-8
Arizona  3-13









New England  11-5
Miami  9-7
Buffalo  9-7
NY Jets  6-10

Cleveland  9-7
Baltimore  9-7
Pittsburgh  8-8
Cincinnati  4-12

Indianapolis  12-4
Tennessee  11-5 *
Jacksonville  6-10
Houston  3-13

Kansas City  9-7
Denver  9-7  *
Oakland  7-9
San Diego  4-12





Green Bay over Philadelphia
St. Louis over Seattle
NY Giants over St. Louis
Tampa Bay over Green Bay
NFC Title Game
NY Giants over Tampa Bay

Cleveland over Denver
Tennessee over Kansas City
Tennessee over Indianapolis
New England over Cleveland
AFC Title Game
New England over Tennessee

Super Bowl  NY Giants over New England

  OK, I admit it. I’m a homer & the Giants are my team. But they really have a shot this year to win it all- they’re an up & coming team in a league with no dominant team. More in the capsule views:

NFC East

1)      NY Giants- This season reminds me a little of the ‘86 & ’90 Super Bowl years, especially the ’86 squad. The team has recent playoff experience with some success, a good defense & better-than average offense led by a great tight end (then Mark Bavaro, now Jeremy Shockey), but coming off a bitter playoff loss. In 1985 the 10-6 Giants were crushed by the Super Bowl champion Bears 20-0, & last year the Jints blew a 24 point lead, & then were robbed by bad officiating in a 39-38 loss to a palpably inferior San Francisco 49ers squad. The Eagles have crested, & the other 2 teams are not yet good enough. This is the Giants chance to rise up & grab the ring.

2)      Philadelphia- Losing at home in the NFC Title Game was as good as it gets for the Eagles. They’ve lost too much on defense & QB Donovan McNabb is injury-prone. But, they should still sneak in to the playoffs from a crowded field.

3)      Washington- Steve Spurrier is maybe a year away- or this could be a regressive disaster, even with the addition of WR Lavernues Coles.

4)      Dallas- Bill Parcells should’ve stayed retired. I give him 3 years without a winning record & permanent retirement. The Cowboys may actually be worse than their 3 straight 5-11 seasons, but look for a deceptive 1 game improvement.

 NFC North

1)      Green Bay- Last year the Packers waltzed to a 6 game division romp. That won’t occur again, but they will cruise- until their thinness shows come playoff time.

2)      Detroit- Steve Mariucci is a damned good coach- & on a mission after San Fran screwed him. The Lions will hit .500 in a weak division- they’ve played under their talent level the last few years, + they’re young & hungry.

3)      Chicago- Not as good as in ’01 & not as bad as in ’02. Split the difference with a decent defense & they escape the cellar.

4)      Minnesota- Mike Tice is a bad coach. Forget their 3 game winning streak last year to crest at 6-10. This year they hit rock-bottom.

NFC South

1)      Tampa Bay- Champs are still solid & well-coached. Until they’re beaten they’re the class of this field.

2)      Atlanta- Had Michael Vick not been injured in preseason they might’ve pushed the Bucs & returned to the playoffs. Now look for a slow start & roaring 2nd ˝ to get back to .500.

3)      New Orleans- They could win 11 games, or just 5. Look for another middling campaign.

4)      Carolina- John Fox’s squad over-achieved last year. This year they settle back to normality.

NFC West

1)      Seattle- After a quarter-century out of the NFC the Seahawks’ return was mediocre, as has been the Mike Holmgren tenure. Just a gut feeling, but I think this is the year they break through.

2)      St. Louis- The Rams’ season all depends on their 1st ˝ because their 2nd ˝ schedule is cheesecake. I look for a mediocre start but roaring return to the playoffs after last year’s collapse.

3)      San Francisco- They were not as good as their record the last 2 years, but Steve Mariucci is a good coach. Dennis Erickson is a retread. Look for the Niners to wallow around .500. They may even finish with a worse record than Mariucci’s new team.

4)      Arizona- Is there any hope? At least the Cincinnati Bengals have a good new coach.

AFC East

1)      New England- I sense a return to their Super Bowl strength. They are the best balanced team in the division, & conference. They mirror the Giants & Bill Belichick will go against his old team in the Big Game.

2)      Miami- Treading water. A good team- but their flaws will keep them out of the playoffs.

3)      Buffalo- A year away. Young & loaded, the Bills could return to the Super Bowl by 2004.

4)      NY Jets- Already QB Chad Pennington could be done for the year. Is there a reason for pre-season games? After 2 straight playoff years under Herman Edwards the Jets crash & burn.

AFC North

1)      Cleveland Browns- They tasted success last year & this year they win the division. The Steelers are fading & the Ravens are a year away. They’ll even beat the Broncos in the playoffs- albeit a decade & a ˝ too late.

2)      Baltimore- This may be the year the Browns-ex-Browns rivalry takes off & rivals the 1 with the Steelers.

3)      Pittsburgh- Much like their cross-state rivals the Steelers have crested & need to retool, even with their ferocious defense.

4)      Cincinnati- Hope with Marvin Lewis? After a decade of disaster it can only get better.

AFC South

1)      Indianapolis- An underachieving team over the last decade, now in year 2 with an underachieving coach (Tony Dungy). I say both trends end, & the Colts win the division.

2)      Tennessee- The Titans barely lose out on the division title, but they get even & knock the Colts out of the playoffs before another heartbreaker in the AFC Title Game.

3)      Jacksonville- The late ‘90s glory days seem like eons ago- don’t they?

4)      Houston- Don’t expect much in year 2 from the Texans.

AFC West

1)      Kansas City- As with Seattle in the NFC West, it’s a hunch that this is KC’s year to return to the top of the division. Not quite the Schottenheimer glory days of the 90s, but Dick Vermeil is a very good coach.

2)      Denver- The last few years have seen tarnish accrue to Mike Shanahan’s image. This year he gets back to the playoffs but QB Jake the Snake Plummer implodes in the Wild Card round.

3)      Oakland- Last year was their last hurrah. It’ll start getting ugly in Raiderland again.

4)      San Diego- Another case of not as bad as ’01, & not as good as ’02. Split the difference, but there’s alot of work for Marty Schottenheimer to do.

  I admit my biases, but the Giants have a good shot. Check back with me in a little over 5 months & hold my feet to the fire.

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