As of Thursday night college football teams started playing games that actually meant something.
There were a few blowouts and a few close games, mostly between teams that really don’t have any business playing each other, but at least there were meaningful games being played.
This weekend sees a full schedule of games that continued through Friday night and will continue through Saturday leading into the start of the NFL regular season next weekend.
Much like every other sport, there are people out there who think they know what is going to happen throughout the season and make their predictions of who will finish where and who will be playing for the BCS National Championship and the Super Bowl.
I figure I may as well join in on the fun and make some predictions as well, even if some of them may end up being a bit out there.
Seems like every one has made Alabama the clear-cut favorite to make it three BCS National Championships in a row this season, and I have a hard time going against the “experts” seeing Alabama’s winning pedigree.
Every year the Tide lose numerous players to the NFL and every season they still end up putting championship caliber teams on the field.
It really is hard to pick against the Tide, but I am going to do it.
It is hard to say there is parity in college football since Alabama has won two straight titles and three of the last four, but in reality the talent levels of every other team are pretty solid everywhere you look.
That’s why the team I am picking to unseat Alabama as the BCS National Champion this season is the Stanford Cardinal.
For the past few years Stanford has really had a solid program and has just missed its chance at playing in huge games not named the Rose Bowl.
The best part about Stanford is they seem to do it rather quietly, too. They aren’t the flashiest team in the NCAA, and they don’t always get the primetime games. They have a hard enough time getting noticed because of playing on the West Coast, and the late start times here on the East Coast.
I still see Alabama making its way back into the championship game, but I see a huge upset taking place at the hands of the Cardinal.
On to the NFL and the craziness that always takes place each season.
Sometimes I think I would have a better chance of winning the lottery than being able to correctly predict the winners of football games. Every year there are a couple surprise teams that play extremely well and then a few teams expected to do well that play very poorly.
I give these predictions with the notion that I have no idea what to expect this season other than the unexpected.
I will start in the AFC North where I like the Cincinnati Bengals. They have a strong young group of players that have continually gotten better each year, and I think this is the year they take the next step to win the division.
In the South, the Texans are still the team to beat in the division. Sorry Colts fans, but I don’t think they are back there just yet.
In the East I like the Dolphins in a bit of a surprise. It’s hard to pick against Tom Brady, but I am skeptical at best about his receiving group this year not to mention his health behind his offensive line.
In the West, the Broncos will win the division by a closer margin than most think. Peyton Manning clearly has a lot of talent around him, but I see the Chiefs keeping things interesting. The division will come down to the two meetings between the two teams.
The two wild cards are the Chiefs and the Colts. As I said, I see Kansas City vastly improving with Andy Reid coaching and an underrated Alex Smith under center. The Colts and Andrew Luck, who I feel will have a bit of a sophomore slump, will do just enough to sneak into the playoffs.
I still like Manning and the Broncos to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
In the NFC I see a handful of teams that are going to be fighting until the end for the six playoffs spots.
Out East, I like the Giants mainly because they seem to be the most experienced team, and they always find a way to win. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if all four teams in the division are within two games of the division title at the end of the year.
Down South, the Falcons have been great during the regular season the last few years, and they narrowly beat out the Saints for the division.
The West will be just as close with the 49ers and the Seahawks fighting for the title. Home-field advantage is huge for both teams, and the 49ers travel a lot better, which is why I give them the edge for the title.
Up North is another division where anything can happen. Green Bay is always strong, but the rest of the division always seems to hang around until the end. My Chicago Bears should be much improved on offense behind new head coach Marc Trestman and the Vikings have the reigning MVP, Adrian Peterson. It’s going to be the team with the best division record winning the division, which is going to be the Bears.
Yes, I am being biased.
The two wild card teams will be the Seahawks and the Packers after both tie for their division leads but lose on tiebreakers.
The NFC representative in the Super Bowl will be the Falcons. I expect this year to be Matt Ryan’s playoff performance we have all been waiting for.
I am going with everybody’s favorite, the Denver Broncos, to win the Super Bowl in a game that will see snow falling in New York.
Kind of crazy to think there could be snow during the Super Bowl.
So sit down and buckle in for what is sure to be an exciting season of football.
Chris Barsotti contributes his column to the Journal Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.