What will happen in the NFL this year:

The Giants will win the Super Bowl.

The Broncos will lose it.

The Lions will be lucky to reach .500.

“Why?” you ask.

“Wait a second,” I say.

Eric Dickerson will lead the league in rushing. Kelvin Bryant will gain more than 1,000 yards. Lawrence Taylor will get mean again and eat the bench.

The Chicago Bears will drop an early season game, then another one, then a drug scandal will erupt, and Mike Ditka will call the players “sissies,” and then they will start to win again.

“Why?” you ask.

“Uno momento,” I say.

San Francisco will be better than people expect. Tampa Bay will be worse. The Eagles will improve, but Buddy Ryan will throw one player off the team each week and replace him with a farm animal. The Saints will stink. The Bills will stink. The Rams will discover Steve Bartkowski isn’t any better than the other stiffs they’ve used at quarterback, and he will be shot.

“Why?” you ask.

“Just a moment,” I say.

The Lions, like last year, will lose on the road. This year they will also lose at home. Eric Hipple will be up and down. Therefore, Joe Ferguson will be down and up. Chuck Long will be up and down, but only to hand someone the clipboard.

The Vikings will be better than last year. The Packers will be worse. The Colts will be the Colts. James Wilder will finally get tired of carrying the offense in Tampa Bay, and will tackle himself.

“Why?” you ask.

“Hold on,” I say.

Herschel Walker will start slowly for Dallas. Tony Dorsett will snicker. Then Dorsett will get hurt, and Walker will be called upon as the star running back, and he will bowl people over and take away all of Dorsett’s endorsement contracts.

Dallas will finish tied for second in the NFC East — alongside Washington, St. Louis and Philadelphia. Nobody will finish lower than second in that division.

Meanwhile, nobody will finish higher than second in the AFC Central. Cleveland will be the top runner-up, and Cincinnati will finish fourth and Pittsburgh and Houston will tie for eighth. “Why?” you ask.

“Patience . . . ” I say.

John Elway will have the season of his career. Dan Marino will be sacked, injured, sacked, injured. Ken O’Brien will have a decent season and the Jets’ personnel department will come out from under its desks and say, “See? We told you so.” Jim Plunkett will win his job back for the Raiders. Tony Eason will regain his confidence in New England. Jim Plunkett will lose his job for the Raiders. Bernie Kosar will establish himself in Cleveland, then buy an earring. Jim Kelly will throw for 3,000 yards and the Bills will lose every game.

Cincinnati will play San Diego and the score will be 99-97. The Giants will play the Rams and the score will be 1-0. Chicago will play Philadelphia and Ditka and Ryan will go four rounds at halftime. Everybody will ignore Kansas City and — who’s that other team? — oh, yeah, Seattle.

“Why, why, why?” you ask.

“Wait, wait, wait,” I say.

Defenses will dominate. Sacks will be the order of the week. The interception will be celebrated, the new end-zone dance will be The Slam. The Giants will cut their own video, Playboy will do a pictorial on the LA Raiders’ cheerleaders, and the season will be complete.

“W–,” you say.

“Ah, ah, ah . . . ” I say.

What about Pittsburgh? What about San Diego? What about Gary Hogeboom in Indianapolis? What about John Hannah retiring from the Patriots? What about the impending strike next year? What about the drug problem? What about the 46

defense, the 45-man roster, the instant-replay rule? What about all this?

What about it?

The Giants will win the Super Bowl.

The Broncos will lose it.

The Lions will be lucky to reach .500.

Those are my predictions. That is what will happen.

“BUT . . . WHHHHHHYYY?” you ask.

“Why not?” I say. CUTLINE John Elway will run and pass for the season of his career.

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