First and foremost, I'd like to get an important admission out of the way: I'm a sick, sick pup.
Every year, after the completion of the fourth and final week of the preseason, I print out every NFL team's regular-season schedule, go game by game and pick the outcome for all 256 regular-season contests. This maniacal practice, in my twisted mind, is the only way to accurately predict division champions, sleeper teams and underachievers.
In running through all 32 teams' entire seasons, game by game, you can properly identify the tough December stretches that will keep teams from making the playoffs (Cleveland finishes its season with four games against the Ravens and Steelers in the final five weeks, with a cross-country trip to Arizona sandwiched in between, so . . .); the cupcake starts to a year (the Giants face only two 2010 postseason qualifiers before November, and one of them is lowly Seattle); and those squads with schedules simply too difficult to replicate the previous year's success (cough, hello, "youngry" Buccaneers, cough).
Well, the results are in. And you know what? There are some good surprises headed our way in 2011.
With that, here are my official 20 Bold and Beautiful Predictions for the 2011 NFL season, as well as the exactly right -- to the game -- records for all 32 NFL teams in 2011. Bengals and Seahawks fans? Hide your eyes.
Schrager's 20 Bold and Beautiful Predictions for the 2011 season
1. This is the year the Houston Texans finally make the playoffs: No, really, I mean it. Though it's something I probably wouldn't voluntarily share at dinner parties, in my calculations of the 2011 season, I was forced past the first (head to head), second (record vs. division), third (record vs. common opponents), and even the fourth tiebreaker (record vs. conference) to decide the AFC South champion this season.