Let The NFL Predictions Begin

Almost every NFL fan has a prediction for 2004, so you can add ours to the list. Whether it's better than the average fan's or not, here it is for all to see already in late June.

It may be a bit early to speculate on how successful (or unsuccessful) teams will be in 2004. After all, who figured the Panthers would go from 1-15 in 2002 to the NFC Championship two years later, or the Raiders and Bucs would go from Super Bowl to sub-.500 in one year. Yet, it's happened. Undaunted, here is VU's early (and subject to change in August) predictions on the NFL for 2004.

PHILADELPHIA – The fourth time will have to be the charm.
DALLAS – If Tuna had grabbed a veteran QB in free agency, they'd be the favorite.
WASHINGTON – Joe Gibbs won't bring them to the playoffs, but they'll improve.
NEW YORK – Kurt Warner collapses, Tom Coughlin screams. What's unusual?

MINNESOTA – Vikings may only need nine wins this year to take title.
GREEN BAY – The Packers are the only team in division that's in decline.
DETROIT – By 2005, their offensive weapons could make them the favorite.
CHICAGO – An ugly team that will improve when Lovie Smith brings the D back.

CAROLINA – Their defense looks a lot like Tampa's used to.
TAMPA BAY – The old crew is gone, so now this is finally Gruden's team.
ATLANTA – Any time you have Mike Vick, you have a chance to win
NEW ORLEANS – Offense is solid, but defense gets you to the playoffs.

SEATTLE – All the stars are still young, which bodes well for the future.
ST. LOUIS – Their best days may be behind them, but they're still good.
ARIZONA – Denny Green may help, but this team needs a lot of help.
SAN FRANCISCO – Already preparing for the first pick in the 2005 draft.

NEW ENGLAND – They went 17-2 without a running game. That's scary. MIAMI – Wannstedt may be making his last ride if they don't go 10-6 (they won't).
NEW YORK – A healthy Chad Pennington could keep them in playoff contention.
BUFFALO – They've given up two first-rounders for Bledsoe and Losman. Ouch.

BALTIMORE – Until Ray Lewis or Jamal Lewis is gone, they're the favorite.
CINCINNATI – Won't surprise like last year, but still not over the hump.
PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger may start by the end of September.
CLEVELAND – Jeff Garcia may be on I.R. by the end of September.

INDIANAPOLIS – Does Manning finally get to a Super Bowl?
TENNESSEE – They're always close, but McNair is ready to break down.
JACKSONVILLE – Perhaps the sleeper team of the league this year.
HOUSTON – Could finish 8-8 this year…and still finish last.

DENVER – If Broncos can replace Portis, they'll win.
KANSAS CITY – Offense is too good to finish 8-8, D is too bad to finish 11-5.
OAKLAND – The dismantling of the over-the-hill gang begins in earnest.
SAN DIEGO – Get ready for another high draft pick…again!

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