I'm really eager for the season to start. I'm running out of things to predict. In going through every team one by one, I've covered just about everything I have to say about this NFL season.
This one's more like an elaboration on a previous prediction, or rather, an old prediction with a new twist. Here it is-
Today's absurd prediction:
Peyton Manning will lead the league in only one major category: TD's.
How is this an elaboration of a previous prediction? 2 months ago, (http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/19250) I predicted that Drew Brees would edge out Tom Brady, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Manning for the league MVP award. I figured the QBs would be about equal in passing stats, Brady and Brees would both have claim to "best player on the best team" consideration, and Brees would get it for being more of an underdog.
Now I'm changing my tune: after seeing Brees' stats from his last two preseason games, I think he'll get the best percentage, yardage, and QB rating in the NFL. And others will top Manning in the other categories. For those of you who didn't notice, he completed 6 of 6 against the Bengals, then 17 of 19 against the Chiefs, and if it weren't for a David Patten drop on a perfect throw, he'd have been 18 of 19. He's got the playbook down, has another year with his receivers (who, being young, also benefit from another year's overall experience), and should be absolutely amazing here in 2007.
Here are last season's leaders among those who started 12 games or more:
QB rating: Manning
Passing %: David Carr (why isn't this brought up more often - it's fascinating!)
Y/A: Brees (behind Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb, who didn't start 12)
INTs: Marc Bulger
Sacked: Manning/Steve McNair (tied)
Completions: Jon Kitna
Attempts: Brett Favre (not really a positive thing, but it's here anyway)
Fumbles (not lost, total fumbles): Manning (also led qualified starters in FumL)
And here's how I see each category going down this year:
QB rating: Brees - his 96.2 finished second among my qualified starters, third if Damon Huard is thrown into the mix, in 2006. I think he'll do what he needs to get over the 100 hump this year. Manning will probably break 100 as well, but he'll just barely be edged by Brees.
Passing %: Brees - In front of Brees last year were Carr, Romo (if he qualified), Manning, and Chad Pennington. Carr doesn't have a starting job, people began to figure Romo out at the end of last year, Manning will be under more pressure due to the loss of Tarik Glenn, and Pennington only barely beat Brees in 2006 (by 0.2%). Once again, Brees is 23 of 25 in his last two preseason games. He'll be better this year.
Yards: Brees - he got it last year, and I don't think anyone's going to improve enough to challenge this year.
TDs: Manning - I'm pretty sure no QB in the league gets as many red zone pass attempts as Manning, which is part of the reason Edgerrin James didn't mind leaving. It's also the reason I don't recommend drafting Joseph Addai before the 9th pick in fantasy drafts.
Y/A: Brees - McNabb has lost Donte Stallworth, who helped his numbers here a lot. Romo has a good shot, if Terrell Owens doesn't drop as many deep balls. But I'm going with Brees again, thanks to the huge yards-after-the-catch available thanks to Reggie Bush.
INTs: Bulger - I think he'll get it again. The guy has sure-handed receivers and is one of the best at throwing the ball away when no one's open.
Sacked: McNair - Manning has lost Tarik Glenn, and McNair has not lost Jonathan Ogden. It's possible that age to both McNair and Ogden will cost him the league lead, but I think Brees and Jason Campbell will also finish ahead of Manning (Campbell and Mark Brunell combined for 17 times sacked last year, just three more than McNair/Manning).
Completions: Kitna - Mike Martz is still his coordinator, and Calvin Johnson has been added to the arsenal. The only way this gets taken away from Kitna is if Drew Stanton starts later in the season. And even then, Bulger finished ahead of Manning in this category and might do so again.
Attempts: Kitna - Kitna will edge Favre this time around. Bulger also finished ahead of Manning last year. Eli Manning may beat his brother in this category too; I imagine the Giants will be playing from behind more this season, which means more pass plays.
Fumbles: Campbell - It's probably the least likely of my predictions. Manning owns this category; he had 2 last year, 1 lost, and the closest qualified starter was Bulger with 5, 3 lost. Campbell didn't lose any fumbles in his seven games, and only dropped the ball once, so he's most likely in my mind to beat Manning here. I find it surprising that Carson Palmer and Tom Brady were both in the bottom 5 in fumbles-joining Carr, J.P. Losman, and Andrew Walter.
So that leaves Manning with only the TD crown, which I don't expect will be taken away from him until maybe 2012. And Drew Brees is confirmed as my choice for MVP.