NFL Predictions : Predictably, another season defies prediction

NFL Predictions : Predictably, another season defies prediction

NFL Predictions, Not many people would have predicted that Sunday’s game between Miami and Detroit would be the kind of splashy matchup it is, between two erstwhile also-rans riding three-game winning streaks.

And who could have guessed San Francisco at New Orleans would be closer to must-win for those 4-4 teams than some kind of NFC title preview?

Week after week, NFL predictions falter. More of the fumbled forecasts, and the forehead-slapping realities:

Forecast — Denver’s Super Bowl meltdown was just a bad dream.

Forehead slap — If so, the Broncos had some nightmarish flashbacks in last Sunday’s 43-21 loss at New England. It was a complete Seahawking, with Denver breaking down on offense, defense and special teams. “I stunk,” Peyton Manning said. “We all stunk,” Coach John Fox said. Don’t bicker, guys, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Forecast — Don’t feel bad, you could be a Cleveland Browns fan.

Forehead slap — Check the scoreboard. The Browns are tied with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North and have won five of six. Cleveland could keep gathering momentum too, with games against Houston and Atlanta in the next two weeks. Quarterback Brian Hoyer has proven his strong performance last season was no fluke, and he’s one game away from getting All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon back from a shortened suspension.

Forecast — It won’t be long until Johnny Manziel is starting for the Browns.

Forehead slap — Johnny Clipboard, you mean? Hoyer has the starting job locked up. Manziel has fewer snaps than off-the-bench rookies Jimmy Garoppolo and Logan Thomas, let alone rookie starters Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Zach Mettenberger.

Forecast — Atlanta and Tampa Bay are a couple of Super Bowl sleepers.

Forehead slap — Quick! Somebody wake them up! Heading into today’s showdown of NFC South slouches, the Falcons and Buccaneers have combined for three wins.

Forecast — Speaking of Super Bowl teams, Cincinnati is ready for prime time.

Forehead slap — Well, maybe not. The Bengals are 0-2 in prime-time games this season, bringing Marvin Lewis’ record to 6-14 in nighttime games on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays since he took over as coach in 2003.

Forecast — As Rex Ryan said after his team won its opener, the New York Jets “are a work in progress.”

Forehead slap — The workers must have gone on strike. Since opening with a win over Oakland, the Jets have lost eight in a row, surely sealing Ryan’s fate.

Forecast —So long, Tom Brady era.

Forehead slap — Hard to believe now, but after the Patriots’ 41-14 loss to Kansas City in Week 4, there was talk-radio chatter in Boston that the team should trade Brady for one or maybe two first-rounders. Speculation swirled that he could wind up in Houston, reunited with Texans Coach Bill O’Brien, his old offensive coordinator. Now that Brady’s on fire again, that talk sounds absurd.

Forecast — The Buffalo Bills will wind up moving to Canada.

Forehead slap — Don’t count on it. And Toronto will be seeing less of the Bills at the Rogers Centre. The team’s new owners, Kim and Terry Pegula, plan to end the annual series of home games in Canada and say they’re committed to building a new stadium in Buffalo.

Forecast — St. Louis, which invested four first-round picks in its defensive line, has forgotten how to pressure the quarterback.

Forehead slap — Early on, yes. The Rams had one sack in their first five games, an NFL record for season-opening futility. But they have bounced back with 13 sacks in their last three, including eight against San Francisco last Sunday.

Forecast — Martavis Bryant? Ho-hum pick by Pittsburgh in the fourth round.

Forehead slap — Inactive for the first six games because he was having a hard time picking up the offense, the 6-foot-4 Bryant has caught five touchdown passes in the last two games. The Steelers think he has the speed, size and raw skills to be Plaxico-plus.

Forecast — This is the year the San Diego Chargers won’t dig themselves a hole.

Forehead slap — They sure looked good in winning five of their first six. But now they’re back to their old shoveling, losers of three in a row.

Forecast — Coming off last season’s horrendous performance, and having lost their three best players from that side of the ball, the Dallas Cowboys could have the worst defense in NFL history.

Forehead slap — Somebody tell the Cowboys they’re supposed to be bad. They lead the NFC in fewest first downs allowed, averaging 18.1 per game.

Forecast — With speed increasingly at a premium, receivers will keep getting younger.

Forehead slap — Tell that to Baltimore’s Steve Smith, 35, and San Diego tight end Antonio Gates, 34, both having tremendous seasons. No wonder 37-year-old Randy Moss told Fox he’d come back if Manning were throwing him passes.

Forecast — The Raiders won’t be very good.

Forehead slap — They’re more competitive than their record suggests. But at 0-8, that’s not saying much.