Jazz: It’s been a long time, my friends. A far, far, far too long period of darkness without NFL football, where we were stuck with only baseball, basketball or hockey. The drought of sports entertainment was so bad that, at least for a brief period, people began making up sports to make them sound interesting and pass the time. But the dark times have ended, the teams have made their final cuts and the NFL will get down to business and kick off this week.

As far as the AFC goes, I’m sure Ed and I are in agreement that the only real question is whether it will be the Jets or the Steelers who bring home the Lamar Hunt Trophy this year. The NFC picture is a bit more cloudy. But one thing to look forward to takes place on November 9th when, due to the vagaries of the NFL scheduling rules, we shall once again be treated to the Ed-Jazz Bowl, as the Jets host the Steelers in New Jersey. Also, just to add a bit more spice to the mix, Ed and I have joined a fantasy league with a group of mostly bloggers and politicos from across the political spectrum, so we’ll probably give you a peek at that as well.

Ed: This is the first fantasy league in which I’ve participated in a long time, and the draft was especially fun. However, now I have to start caring about what happens to the Saints, the Patriots, and the Broncos, so this should be seen as a full-disclosure statement of sorts for the season. It’s not like I’ll pick those teams to go 19-0 — I reserve that prediction for the Steelers, of course — but I will now have at least some interest in outcomes for those teams. I’d thank Jazz for inviting me to participate in the league, but I suspect they wanted a person of keen analysis who would provide stiff competition a sucker.

Jazz: So who will actually come out on top this year? The NFL Network assembled a group of nearly a dozen analysts to get their early predictions. As we all know, these vitally important bits of prognostication, along with a dollar, might get you a cup of coffee at McDonald’s, but they have a lot of experience so it’s worth seeing what they think.

In the AFC, every single one of their experts picked the Patriots to take the East division. (Shows what they know. The Jets will shock the world, baby.) For the North, Ed will probably be pleased to see that a plurality of them picked the Steelers, with most of the rest taking the Bengals. (Really?) The South and the West had unanimous calls, with the Colts and the Broncos being predicted to take those divisions respectively. I’d never trust the Steelers to lose when you need them to, so I’ll pick them. Indianapolis and Denver look like sound picks.

Ed: The Bengals will be tough this year, just as they were last year. Pittsburgh will obviously come out on top, but I’m not discounting the Bengals. What we all agree on is that Johnny Manziel is the future for the Cleveland Browns. Wait, what …?

Jazz: In the NFC East, all but one of the village elders took the Eagles, with a lone holdout giving the nod to the Cowboys. (I assume he was drunk on Saturday night.) The Packers were the pick for the North, with the exception of one pick for Da Bears. They pretty much all wanted New Orleans in the South and the Seahawks in the West. (Boy, there’s a brave pick.) I’d agree with all of those except for the West. I think San Francisco is ready for prime time.

Ed: I’d be watching out for San Francisco in the NFC West. They’re on the cusp of something big there, if Colin Kaepernick can stay healthy. In the NFC East, I’d love to see Washington win it just for the amusement of watching announcers choke on the name “Redskins.” Won’t happen — the Eagles are the best pick, and the Giants might surprise people this year — but it would be amusing.

Jazz: For the final victory, the consensus of the experts broke down entirely. They came up with 3 for the Packers, 3 for the Saints, 2 for the Broncos, 2 for the Patriots and one lone vote for the Seahawks to repeat. The only other team to get a vote for making it to the big game (and lose) was the Colts.

Of course, I’d give any of you an equally good chance of correctly picking the Superbowl winner as these professionals when the season hasn’t even started. (Providing you pick the Jets, of course.)

Ed: Pittsburgh will win the Super Bowl this year. Trust me.

Tags: NFL