My take:

East: believe in no one, but would take the Dolphins if you guaranteed me Tua would stay healthy the full year, and skeptic of the Bills.

West: same as you

South: same as you, but I believe Houston is the most underrated (they're bad, but not as bad as purported)

North: believe in everyone, skeptic of no one.

Expand full comment

If I had to take one team besides the Chiefs out of the whole conference to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, it would be the Bengals. Joe Burrow is a winner, we haven't seen the best of him; and the team around him is solid, if not quite complete. But if they were in the NFC, in any division, they'd probably be favored to win it.

Edited to add: *TRIGGER WARNING* the following has really nice things to say about Aaron Rodgers.

Hard knocks has me very intrigued about the Jets. And I find Aaron Rodgers quite affable and this confuses me. Was I just that dismissive of him? Was it the Seattle sports media I consume? Or was he a much more insufferable asshole then, than he is now? He was a top 5-10 player I "sports hated" on as soon as he became a starter in Green Bay. And it's not like the Jets are a team I care about one way or the other. But I find that I like Aaron Rodgers on that show. He's confident but light-hearted and good at banter with all the position coaches and teammates. And there's been at least a moment or two when he struck me as kind, when tutoring Zach Wilson or encouraging an undrafted rookie. He can be a surly prick, but I already knew that. In fact, I thought that was 80% of his personality, and I've watched hours of him on Pat MacAfee (holy shit, PatMac is so popular my spellcheck knew him!) and I really thought Rodgers was a self-aware, somewhat troubled guy, but too narcissistic to grow as a person; no matter how many shaman-guided acid trips or darkness retreats he goes on. I'm a cynic and I know that about myself. But if there's ever been a person that was in "that guy's a douchebag" territory that I changed my mind on like I did with Aaron, I can't remember who it might be. I'm not saying I'm buying his jersey or anything. But he either changed or I had him wrong all along. He's kind of like Philip Rivers -or dare I say, Matt Hasselbeck. He's competitive as shit, and that doesn't lend to being a fun to be around, laid-back person. But I get the feeling he's trying to live his best life, and I wish him success.

Until we beat them in the Super Bowl. Stranger things have happened.

Expand full comment

Aaron Rodgers strikes me as the type of guy who's an angel to his friends and a dick to everyone else. So that may explain your cognitive dissonance.

But don't compare him with Philip Rivers, one of the most loving people to ever play professional sports. I put him on a pedestal, and I think he deserves it, and his competitiveness is just a reflection of his almost superhuman work ethic. Just for instance, I found it lovely that once he retired, he went to volunteer to be a coach at his local, unimportant, high school. Just to give a good use to his talents.

Expand full comment

Would have been wild for AR to blow up everything in GB, draw all that focus and attention and controversy, to then rock up in NY, getting everything he wants, and then still be a dick. Right now he's got the keys to the kingdom and a franchise totally indebted to him and him alone, not even the owner has as much power as AR has right now. In that scenario it's easy to mentor Wilson, you know he'll never ever ever get the field over you, ever. It's easy to banter with your mates you made the franchise go and get especially for you (I spot a big lack of interactions between AR and the existing Jets players outside Wilson on Hard Knocks, yes he's clicking with Garett on the field but i don't feel there's much actual rapport betweeen them).

The issue i forsee with AR and the Jets is what happens when they do lose a few games, especially if that's early in the season. How much deep down care does he hold for that team to stick it out for a year two? How much chill and mentoring does he have if they open 0-2 against the Bills & Cowboys? Through Week 6 they could really be 2-4 (Wins vs Pats & Broncos, Losses to Bills, Boys, Chiefs, Eagles), which wouldn't eliminate them from the playoffs but really put that team and AR under a ton of pressure.

That's my skeptisism of the Jets. If they go 6-0, then yes it's all good, AR and the whole team is happy riding high towards a superbowl. But when that doesn't happen... hmm... remains to be seen how real the Jets are about battling.

Expand full comment
Sep 4, 2023·edited Sep 5, 2023

Aaron Rodgers is fun to hate on, but I do think he makes that offense significantly better. There is not much reason to doubt that the Jets' defense will be very good. I feel like they have the better overall and deeper roster than the Bills. What I'm trying to say is that I think the Jets are for real, and I hate myself for thinking that because a big, sick part of me wants to watch them (and all their hype) go down in flames. But, if we were all Jets fans, I'm pretty sure we'd have at least that same glimmer of super bowl optimism that we currently hold for our Seahawks. The Jets have to get past the Bills just like we have to get past the niners, but if you think we will do it, then I challenge you to find a reason why the Jets can't as well.

Note: Josh Allen is a perfectly good reason, but can you think of another one?

Expand full comment

Has Robert Saleh changed the Jets culture, or has the Jets culture changed Robert Saleh?

Expand full comment

The Jets culture can't change because they're stuck in that cesspool known as New York. The fans are viscous and unmerciful. I grew up in that world and could not escape fast enough.

Expand full comment

Would be a shame. Always respected the hell out of Saleh, wished they had gone with him rather than Kenny Norton back in the day.

Expand full comment

I agree on the AFC East. The Bills are as good as anyone in that division and the Dolphins worthy of skepticism.

For the AFC North, I go with the Bengals. I see Burrow really coming into his own this year. The Browns are worthy of more than skepticism, disdain. Sure they might surprise but I'll believe when (if) I see it.

I like the Jags in the AFC South because I like Lawrence a lot. I think this is the year he emerges as one of the very best. Right up there with Mahomes, Allen and Burrow. As for the Colts, I have both skepticism and disdain for any team owned by the Irsays. They operate under a huge handicap, similar to the Cardinals' handicap operating under the Bidwills. But I must say I was surprised to see flashes of something special in Richardson during the preseason. Sometimes he looked lost out there. He could be erratic. But in the last game, he made some great choices and threw some balls with touch and accuracy. So I can no longer say I'd be surprised if he emerged. He's of course a rookie and is going to have growth pains. But the Colts could surprise as an emergent team, perhaps even one that makes the playoffs.

I'm with you on the AFC West. How can anyone not choose the Chiefs? It would be almost a shock if they didn't finish first. As for Denver, it looks like Payton has the team back on track. He certainly has Wilson looking a lot more like his old self. I still think he's lost a step or two from when he was maybe the 6th best QB in the NFL. Then, he was capable of carrying his team on good days. Payton's staff will know how to use Wilson's strengths and hide his weaknesses so he can reemerge as one of maybe the ten best NFL QBs and allow his skills to erode slowly. So, while I don't see them winning the conference, making the playoffs wouldn't shock me. In this conference, I'm most skeptical of the Raiders. Garoppollo is a heck of a nice guy. Of all the QBs in the NFL, he's the one I'd be most likely to want as a friend. But he's also the least talented of all the starters in that conference. None are truly bad. I'd rate Jimmy as perhaps a notch above average. Which is good enough to own the bottom of that division unless the wheels spin off in Denver. I respect Herbert too much to say that about the Chargers.

Expand full comment

Bills Yay. Jets Ney - On paper it's all peaches and cream across the river, but I have a feeling they'll get off to a rough start and they'll implode as AR gets pissy, the young stars get pissy, and the all-in push blows up spectacularly. It can't work for everyone and the Jets are unfortunately lined up to be the big bust.

Bengals Yay. Browns Ney - What do you not llike about the Bengals? They continue to protect Burrow, have arguable the best WR1-3 in the league, with a usable run game. Defence is kept fresh and above average. They feel as slam dunk as the Bills, but with more recent success and less drama.

Jags Yay. Colts Ney - Hot damn is the AFC South a bit of a mess. But i think after a long time wandering, the Jags have something solid building. Still a few years away but there seems to be a project coming together, whilst the Texans rebuild we wait and see, and the Colts and Titans continue to drop like stones.

Chiefs Yay. Broncos Ney - Chargers are gonna Charger, that's a given. I don't buy into Peyton as the savior in Denver. RW3 is not Brees, and that team is not the Saints he built so well. Plus they can't seem to keep any WR healthy, so even if RW is throwing his choices are gonna be Fred & George drafted from the DQ down the road.

Expand full comment

I'm thinking this may be the year the Jets look pretty good. Superbowl good? Color me extremely skeptical. But playoff good, sure. I think they gave up too much in the Rogers trade and I think it will ultimately set the team back unless Rogers can get Zach Wilson on track. Hard to imagine though because Aaron doesn't seem like the big brother or avuncular mentoring type.

My guess is Wilson will emerge, if he emerges, with a team nowhere near New York. That city lacks the patience to mentor a young QB who doesn't come in ready to win. Even then, they'd shit all over him. That's just New York. It's where I grew up so I know it well. I was cursed, as a young man, to be a Jets fan. What a drag!

Expand full comment


Epic: Bills’ roster building. These guys know what they are doing

Brutal: The idea that a 40-year QB--no matter his credentials--can turn around a franchise with one winning season since 2010

Division Winner: Buffalo


Epic: Mike Tomlin’s track record--no losing seasons in 16 seasons, 22nd-best winning percentage ever, 16th-winningest coach ever

Brutal: Browns ownership. Jimmy Haslam can’t hide behind Daniel Snyder any more

Division Winner: Cincinnati


Epic: Derrick Henry is so dominating a RB that Ryan Tannehill became a winning QB in Tennessee

Brutal: Anthony Richardson’s rookie season

Division Winner: Jacksonville


Epic: Patrick Mahomes may well be on a path to supplant Tom Brady as GOAT

Brutal: The child-like faith in Sean Payton. Even if Russell returns to form, Denver is in the same division as Mahomes and Justin Herbert

Division Winner: KC


Epic: The population of the entire D.C. area singing “Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead” as one

Brutal: The Eagle scoring defense against good offenses. Look it up

Division Winner: Dallas


Epic: Um...

Brutal: Wayne Fontes (66-67) is the Lions all-time winningest coach

Division Winner: Detroit


Epic: The two leading candidates for OROTY (Bijan Robinson and Bryce Young) could come from this division

Brutal: The Falcons go all-in with Desmond Ridder

Division Winner: Carolina


Epic: Two teams will be vying for the conference’s best record

Brutal: Two teams will be vying for the league’s worst record

Division Winner: Seattle

Expand full comment

I agree with your calls, but, just for fun I would point out one small prior comp:

Brutal: The idea that a 40-year QB--no matter his credentials--can turn around a franchise

Epic: Tom Brady at 43 winning Super Bowl LV with the Bucs -- bad before, bad since.

Expand full comment

I’ll concede the point, although that Bucs did have a formidable pass rush and they also added Gronkowski. But I can’t make the point I made about the Jets without recognizing that 2020 Bucs had had one winning season since 2006.

Expand full comment

I'll add to your comment that AR is not Tom Brady.

Expand full comment

I'm with you other than the Ravens -- in admittedly the toughest conference in the league to call. But I don't think it's the Ravens, here's my rationale:

- Everything you've rightly said about Harbaugh notwithstanding, he's missed the playoffs 5 times including two yrs ago. Arguably there's a guy in his own division -- Mike Tomlin -- with an even more stellar resumé.

- Talk about a team built around its quarterback! What happens if Jackson goes down again, or with the new big paycheck is a little more "business-oriented".

- Compounding that, they've got a new offensive coordinator whose NFL resumé is the Jaguars, the Browns and the Bucs pre-Brady; and the '20-'22 Bulldogs, where he did get the most possible out of Stetson Bennett I guess, but with clearly lopsided benefits in terms of roster which he won't have in Baltimore...hard to see how he'll be better for Jackson than Greg Roman who got him an MVP, and who has done it twice with running QB's -- with Kaepernick also got to the Super Bowl. I'd be worried about their 1st yr together

- Lastly, there's this pesky little upstart team called the Bengals, with a QB on his rookie contract who seems to be at least the peer of Jackson overall, but with a better supporting cast.

Tough to call I agree, but I'm feeling Bengals - Steelers - Ravens - Browns (can't get myself to put them higher, esp with Watson who other than Russell, so far looks to be the worst trade of all time)

Expand full comment

This is a non-sequitur, relative to all of your recent thoughts about the Seahawks this year, but I have had this nagging feeling that the bulk of the defense will be too small, weight-wise, and that big running backs like Derrick Henry are going to shred us, especially with our plans to fill out the defense with defensive backs.

Just putting that out there.

Seems we'll be putting lots of pressure on the front 5 to contain.

Expand full comment

Do you mean, like the first play on this highlight reel where we see 247lb AJ Dillon burst through the line and then burst/crush/overrun/trample/destroy 198lb Cory Bryant?


To not be too depressed, go also to 1:48 ('Hawks can also burst through the line) and then just let it run to the next play at 2:00. At 2:00 is "slow" Jake Bobo on a crossing route with at least a Dodge Charger of separation all the way into the back of the end zone.

Expand full comment

Yeah, like that.

However, I am not at all worried about our offense's ability to put a thumping on opposing defenses.

This looks like it could be the best Seahawks O I have ever seen.

Expand full comment

Like last year, run defense remains a vulnerability. We all hope things will tighten up but we'll see. The offense appears to be the strength of this team, assuming Geno was for real. If not, we'll have to pray that Lock is the real deal. I could see a wide range of outcomes in Seattle this year. Anything from 15-2 to 6-11. I don't see our team being Cardinals/Rams/Texans bad. Perhaps Bucks/Raiders/Commies bad.

Expand full comment

Wagner’s return should be a big boost for the run defense. Check out the end of the most recent Seahawks Man2Man, where Mike Dugar explains Wagner’s near-supernatural ability to diagnose the run.

Expand full comment

Insha'llah, as people who speak Arabic say. God willing. Baruch Hashem if you prefer. Wagner is one of the greats but time ultimately has its way.

Expand full comment

I am guessing there is an "NFC" article coming so I will refrain from commenting on those teams. If for some reason KC should falter (the D misses Chris Jones too much? Mahomes loses his cape?) I think the Chargers would be the team to take advantage. They have to be good sometime, right? I also think Russ isn't disciplined enough to work within Payton's game plan and things will fall apart there, so call me a Denver skeptic.

The AFC Eaast is going to be very interesing and the Bills are the class of the division. Call me skeptical of the J-E-S-Ts, because Rodgers might actually melt in the NYC media spotlight especially if the team does not have early success. His R-E-L-A-X speech won't play well in that market.

Other than that, yeah, the A-R show in Indianapolis is going to be 'fun to watch'--for whoever the Colts play on Sunday.

Expand full comment

I think you’re right with Mahomes. He’s bound to ‘lose his cape’ this year for one simple reason - I have him in my a fantasy team this season.

Expand full comment


Expand full comment

I also would pick the Chargers if KC falters, but it's only by the process of elimination. The Raiders aren't good and the Broncos are worse.

Expand full comment

Remember just 12 months ago when the AFC West was the new division of death? The hype was so real! And now it's like, KC wins by default because two teams are amongst the worst in the league and the Chargers are gonna Charger it up all over the place.

Expand full comment



-duh. Reid + Mahomes


-Tomlin + defense + Pickett growth


-toss-up with TN


-Allen + solid D


-most solid QB, best offense + Pete


-most solid QB. D > Lions D


-better QB than ATL. Panthers not yet


-best all-around in NFC. Good coaching



-same reason as SSJ


-can they run? OL doubts. Def is just ok


-AR is not a good QB. Good athlete, only


-AARon's OLD buddies w/no OL <> hype


-mmmm, mint jelly....


-this is NOT fantasy football


-I can't pick the ENTIRE division?


-lost key defenders. Danny is meh

Expand full comment

You already jumped ahead to the NFC too!

Expand full comment

Yeah, I figured I'd just let my brain train keep going on the track instead of having to buy another ticket later.

Expand full comment

A brain is a terrible thing to waste 🤣

Expand full comment

Quite rightly, your teams to be most sceptical of in the East, North and South all have big question marks over their QBs, whether through injury (Tua), experience (AR) or has-he-still-got-it-ness (Watson).

By comparison, those we (probably all) believe in have some much certainty at QB they're hard to look past.

I want to overlook the importance of QB positionally, but it's so damn difficult!

Expand full comment

Some bold predictions:

(1) Buffalo does not make the playoffs.

(2) The Denver Broncos win more games than the Los Angeles Chargers

(3) The Houston Texans win more games than the Tennessee Titans.

Expand full comment

Appreciate the bold predictions. Right or wrong there’s no glory in tweaking the consensus a little.

Expand full comment

I would be very surprised if number 3 comes true

Expand full comment

That is why it is a BOLD prediction. But I believe it enough actually to put a bet (with good odds) on Houston to win the South. It will take a few JAX injuries for that even to be plausible, but that is why people give odds.

BTW, a few months ago I got a 45-1 on the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl, so I took it. I think the line is now in the mid-30s.

Expand full comment

Picking a team to win the AFC east is no easy task. I will agree, with the Bill's, because the culture has changed so dramatically since this regime took over and drafted Josh Alen. I could have chosen the Jets, but I think their offensive line will be a real problem. Their left tackle is said not fit enough to complete a game without coming off the field on numerous occasions.

You made a comparison of the Jaguars being like the Browns. Jacksonville has been a dumpster fire on and off for their existence. The key is they have had their high moments including winning a playoff game last year. I know they have been to atleast two AFC championship games. The Browns, oh my gosh could be the most consistently bad professional sports franchise in North America, when looking at the big four professional leagues. I am making a distinction in a turtle derby. What I would like to see is if Drew Lock moves on next year, we must pick up Nathan Rourke, the Jags third string QB. He is good enough to start for ten NFL teams and make them better. Rourke had a very good preseason, but as he is an unknown Canadian he ends up on the Jags practice squad. I watched him play two seasons with the BC Lions, and this preseason and he is special. He has all the tools plus the brains and toughness. A four year starter at Ohio University, so add on a great deal of experience. Side note his brother has been starting for Ohio U the last couple of seasons and he is also very good. Twenty NFL teams were interested interested in signing Rourke. I can't understand why he chose the Jags as he would never replaceTrevor Lawrence. Rourke also had the best play of the preseason and coach Peterson thinks he is very good. He impressed while getting third string snaps all summer. OK stepping off my soap box.

I agree the Chiefs are still the top dog in the NFL. I could say they will stay that way as long as Patrick Mahomes stays healthy. That is true, I will include as long as Andy Reid continues to lead the way. Andy Reids players, are like Pete Carroll's, both teams love playing for their coach

Expand full comment

I think it's worth noting that Richardson gets compared to Tim Tebow, a bit. He is big, has a big arm with low accuracy, and played at Florida. Tebow didn't make your under 50% list only because he was at exactly 50% completion over the 4 games he played in as a rookie. He was only right at 50% because in his 1st appearance he went 1-1 in passing. He was under 50% for the 3 games he started at the end of the 2010 season. In his 1st full season of being the starter, he had a 46.5% completion percentage.

This is important to note, not because I want to correct the factual record, but because I have also heard ARichardson compared to Tebow as "not as far along as a passer, yet." Now, my anecdotal "what I have heard"s may not be consensus, or be from sketchy sources, because I really don't remember who said what.

Expand full comment

One of the few live games I attended was in Denver when Tebow faced the Matt Stafford lead Lions. The difference between a Stafford pass and a Tebow pass was shocking to see live. You could hear the air moving around Stafford's ball. Tebow's ball looked like it was moving through water in comparison. It's one of those elements of the game that is lost to television audiences.

Expand full comment

The other reason Tebow didn't make the list is in the fine print -- minimum 300 attempts. Which in all of Tebow's career, he never reached. Good play calling? -- cuz there was a greater likelihood of an incompletion than of a completion, career completion average 47.9%.

Expand full comment

Tebow didn't make the list because he didn't have enough attempts, either, I don't think

Expand full comment

I think we will know what Richardson will become after a couple of seasons. The only comparison I can see between he and Tebow, is both are big enough to play tightend. The difference is Richardson is such a great athlete if he had to make a change to TE he could do it. The one season Timmy Tee had in Denver was unbelievable. I don't think I will ever see anything like it ever again.

Expand full comment

I've not written off Richardson yet. I'm doubtful but I think it possible he develops into a true NFL QB. Maybe even a good one.

Expand full comment

Or change to edge. Almost same exact size as Micah Parsons but a faster 10-yd split (1.53 vs 1.59) a higher vertical (40.5" vs 34") and a longer broad jump (10'9" vs 10.06"). And longer arms. Maybe he'll be a great QB but man, he could be a Parsons or a Von Miller too, and seems more likely. Either worth the #5 pick too.

Expand full comment

The only thing I remember about Tim Tebow is he completed a routine 5 yard pass over the middle on the last play of a tie game and Demaryius Thomas miraculously ran another 75 yards for a TD. And now, and forever into the future, Tim Tebow gets credit for completing an 80 yard TD pass and winning a playoff game.

Expand full comment

Credit from whom? Not from any NFL GM or coach. He's a great person and will always have supporters, but dispassionately he's not a NFL or MLB player. Almost though.

Expand full comment