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NY Post
New York Post
21 Oct 2023

NextImg:Patriots firing Bill Belichick? Lions are legit? Some NFL locks for any given Sunday

Now that I’ve temporarily recovered from the hysteria surrounding Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce and the Tush Push and All Things Aaron Rodgers, this is as good a time to discuss how I viewed the NFL in the summer and how I view it now at Week 7.

First off, if you are still alive in your knockout pool, more power to you.

If you haven’t gone bankrupt wagering on NFL games, more power to you.

With each passing year, former commissioner Pete Rozelle’s parity dream keeps hope alive for virtually every one of the 32 NFL precincts. “On any given Sunday,” another former commissioner, Bert Bell, was quoted as saying, “any team can beat another.”

Ask the 49ers and Eagles about Any Given Sunday. Or Monday night. Or Thursday night. The 49ers can lose to the PJ Walker Browns. The Eagles can lose to the Zach Wilson Jets. The Cowboys can lose to the Joshua Dobbs Cardinals. Someone will lose to the Bryce Young Panthers. I think.

Heading into Week 18 of the 2022 season, only seven teams had been eliminated from the NFC playoff picture, and only six teams had been eliminated from the AFC playoff picture.

Bill Belichick is on the hot seat in New England.

The playoff derby this year will not include the Panthers or Bears, but can we be 100 percent sure that any of the 30 other teams won’t still be in the hunt with one game to play? Bill Belichick will think of something to revive the Patriots, right? Right? Right, Mr. Kraft? The Giants will score a touchdown, right? Right? Right, Mr. Mara?

It is easier to identify the Haves simply because the league is littered with so many Have-Nots. There are old-timers who mourn the rarity of the dynasty (they are cheering on Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid), but most of the overpaying public is all for widespread mediocrity as long as their team is still in the hunt after Thanksgiving.

Which brings us to the first …

Serby Says: Belichick may be the GOAT, but he is no longer the best coach in the NFL. That honor goes to Reid, the perfect partner for Mahomes. Tyreek Hill leaves and the show goes on. Eric Bienemy leaves and the show goes on. Elite play-caller Kyle Shanahan gets the silver medal. He might have won the Super Bowl last year if Brock Purdy hadn’t been knocked out of the NFC Championship game against the Eagles in the first quarter. I picked the 49ers this preseason to win it all and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. Sean McVay’s intelligence, creativity, energy and relatability gets him the bronze medal. Belichick comes in no better than fourth. He hasn’t forgotten how to coach; general manager Bill Belichick has done him dirty in recent years in the personnel department, and no one around Foxborough refers to Mac Jones as MJ, or MJ10. Drafting receiver K’Neal Harry instead of A.J. Brown or Deebo Samuel was a grievous mistake, as was drafting tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in the third round in 2020.

Belichick won’t be squeezing his way into any Fox booth alongside Tom Brady and Kevin Burkhardt. But given his love for what he does, and given his love for elite franchise quarterbacks, the Chargers and Justin Herbert would make for an appealing Last Hurrah, with Brandon Staley’s hot seat remaining hot.

Because it is time for him to go, it is time for him and the Patriots to “mutually” part ways at the end of the season. The Commanders, Bears and Chargers are among the betting favorites to lure The Goat as their 2024 head coach. HC of the NYJ? Off the board.

Belichick and the Patriots are in last place in the AFC East with a 1-5 record.
Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions (5-1) are in first place in the NFC North.

Serby Says: The Lions are for real. I’m sticking with them as NFC North champs and Dan Campbell as Coach of the Year. The Packers’ Jordan Love isn’t the young Aaron Rodgers — who is? — and the Vikings were paper tigers last year and lost Justin Jefferson. The Bears? They should draft Caleb Williams if they capture the first-overall pick (same goes for the Broncos, the Cardinals, the Giants and the Patriots), move on from Justin Fields and reset the QB clock.

Serby Says: More power to Rodgers if he is somehow able to write an elongated, inspirational Willis Reed football story and limp back into the huddle in time for a would-be playoffs berth. Call me skeptical, or Mr. Pfizer (Mr. Moderna, actually), knock yourself out.

Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is trying to return from a torn Achilles tendon before the end of this season.

“He should add Reiki to his protocol to speed up the healing process by weeks and remove any trauma from the injury and surgery,” says Reiki master and former Post reporter Karen Lazarovic, who has performed more than 6,000 Reiki treatments over 10 years at a local New Jersey hospital. Reiki speeds up the recovery time by rebalancing and enhancing the energy flow throughout the body.

I’m backing off my AFC Championship game prediction for the Jets, but with Breece Hall and that defense, they’ll be joining the Bills and Dolphins in the playoffs. Yup, the 12-year drought ends. A mea culpa: My uncertainty over whether Tua Tagovailoa could stay healthy led me to overlook Miami. Hill promised a 2,000-yard season, but not a future as a porn star, and he is unguardable. Greatest Team on Surf, I heard someone say. Tagovailoa is my MVP right now.

Daniel Jones is taking a pounding behind the Giants’ porous offensive line.

Serby Says: It has been painful watching the Giants, especially their watching-paint-dry offense, but I can’t pronounce them dead after the way their defense got after Josh Allen. But with that offensive line, and the glaring absence of a No. 1 receiver, Daniel Jones will continue to have Giants fans grumbling about his $40 Million Man contract, and I will rescind my playoff prediction. Can Seinfeld bulk up and help on the O-line? Brian Daboll nevertheless will become the first Giants head coach to start a third season since Tom Coughlin left.

Serby Says: The Eagles lost their offensive and defensive coordinators to head-coaching jobs, and it is always easier to achieve than it is to maintain, but in a big spot, I’ll trust Jalen Hurts more than Dak Prescott. Micah Parsons isn’t Lawrence Taylor yet, but he’ll help will the Cowboys into the postseason.

Jalen Hurts has the Eagles on track for another NFC Championship Game appearance.
Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (4-2) are in first place in the AFC North.

Serby Says: Lamar Jackson hasn’t been as dominant as I predicted he would be when I tapped him for MVP, but he has only had six games under new OC Todd Monken. Get ready for him to take off, so I won’t change my mind about the Ravens reaching the Super Bowl before losing to the 49ers. Don’t sleep on John Harbaugh, Justin Tucker and that ornery defense. Diontae Johnson’s return will be a godsend for Kenny Pickett, who has underwhelmed enough for me to second-guess my hunch call that Mike Tomlin’s Steelers would nose out the Bengals for a playoff berth. The Browns? Love the Jim Schwartz defense, but that unconscionable Deshaun Watson contract doesn’t look any better now than it did then.

Serby Says: Bryce Young will be a good NFL quarterback if he can stay healthy, but C.J. Stroud has a chance to be a great NFL quarterback. Anthony Richardson will need to learn that just because you are 6-foot-4, 244 pounds, it doesn’t mean you can’t get injured when you leave the pocket and try to make like Jim Brown.

Serby Says: The Chiefs have no serious challengers in the AFC West. Sean Payton will need more time than I thought he would in Denver. A somewhat better Russell Wilson still isn’t good enough, and Jerry Jeudy appears on his way out before the trade deadline. Davante Adams would do anything for a reunion with Rodgers after the season (Are you listening, Joe Douglas?) now that he’s saddled with catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer and Aidan O’Connell. The Chargers simply don’t know how to get over the hump.

Serby Says: The Saints will win the godawful NFC South with a 9-8 record, but Derek Carr will not win a playoff game for the first time. The Falcons have loaded up on offensive first-round picks (TE Kyle Pitts, WR Drake London, RB Bijan Robinson), but they’d be a team to be reckoned with had they not passed on Hurts in favor of defensive tackle Marlon Davidson in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Desmond Ridder is not Him.

Serby Says: If the Giants (1-5) don’t beat the Commanders on Sunday, the Oct. 29 game against the Jets will become their Army-Navy game.