One by one, the vaunted head infrastructures of the blogopolis are checking in with their carefully constructed early assessments of the 49ers likely ability to succeed or fail this coming season. The Outsider database grows fatter by the day, gathering up this info for the final reckoning at season’s end. Who will be FOSest? Who will be taking home the first annual Outsider Crystal Ball trophy for 2011?
We already know who won’t be winning any crystal ball trophies — the expert national media prognosticators. If there’s a group of hopelessly incorrect boobs anywhere else on the planet, show me to that room so I can fondle the evidence. And no, the halls of Congress are not allowed in this sports related search for the definition of ineptitude.
Some teams are close to locks in terms of predictability. The top tier winners and the bottom tier losers. In this year’s winner’s elite, teams that will have at least 10 wins or more, we have the Patriots, Steelers, Packers, Falcons, and Saints. I would normally put the Colts in here, but no one currently knows if or how many games Peyton Manning is going to miss. The Jets would seem a likely lock, but that team treads a very Singletaryish fine line between success and failure. There’s a point where players can go from trying hard to live up to their bombastic coach’s he-man bravado and entering the eyeball-rolling, yada yada yada zone.
On the under side of the sure thing card, we know Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Carolina will fail to win even six games. That leaves 24 teams in the gray area between six and ten wins. From that list, seven teams will emerge to join the elite five listed above and make the playoffs.
Early almost locks to emerge would be the Jets and Ravens, another team with a fine line separating victory and defeat. Of the remaining five playoff participants, one will come from the NFC West, one from the AFC West, one from the AFC South, and one from the NFC East. There’s only one spot left for a surprise entrant. Early candidates for this last wild card entry are the Bears and Tampa Bay, or maybe a rejuvenated Dallas team.
One thing we can be fairly sure of, the NFC West will not provide a wild card entry. Out here, it’s win the division or see you next year.
The Rams will no doubt be the national experts’ choice to win this division, which as I’ve noted, is a big so what. These so-called experts will probably add some snide remark to their prediction, suggesting no team out here is worth even bringing up in an NFL context. Haha. Still smarting over the twenty-year ass-whupping the Niners laid on the eastern boys that finally ended nine years ago.
If any clues about the season ahead can be gleaned at all from preseason games, those clues will be available this Saturday against the Texans. It will be the third game of the preseason, the starters will play into the third quarter, and it will be as serious an effort as you will get to see until the games actually begin for real.
So, get those brain committees gathered in the Central Processing Unit this weekend, guys, and hash out your final entries. Abstaining is not an option. After all, this is a 49ers blog, not a Raiders blog.