Despite the fact that my picks were an absolute abomination, at least I can say that I correctly predicted dominance from the Denver defense in one of the greatest all-time defensive performances I have ever seen in a Super Bowl.
That was then. The Broncos have tried about a full cast of characters at quarterback since Manning retired in March, and Cam Newton will have his opportunity for revenge kicking off what should be yet another thrilling 2016 NFL season.
Locally, the Jets and the Giants are in the best spot they’ve been collectively in almost five years.
For the first time since the 2011 season, I think you can legitimately go into this 2016 season with the realistic chance that both the Jets and Giants qualify for the postseason.
The Giants wasted two of Eli Manning’s most prolific statistical seasons because the talent level, especially defensively, did not compare to the great championship teams of 2007 and 2011, respectively.
This year in free agency, Giants general manager Jerry Reese spent close to $200 million in the offseason with the mission of correcting a defense that consistently collapsed in the fourth quarter last season.
I expect a defense that added defensive end Oliver Vernon, defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison and cornerback Janoris Jenkins will be drastically improved
It’s no secret that the Giants have been at their very best over the years when they generate a consistent pass rush. They haven’t done that over the last few seasons, so it shouldn’t surprise you that they haven’t been a playoff team since they’ve had that elite-level pass rush unit.
The defense will be better. For almost $200 million, it better be.
Offensively, there’s no questions about Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his favorite target Odell Beckham, who has turned himself into one of the premiere wide receivers in all of football.
The question for the Giants offensively is can they keep the quarterback upright?
The offensive line was very unimpressive in the preseason, but it was a unit that played well for most of 2015.
If the Giants stay healthy, protect Manning and figure out how to close games in the fourth quarter, they’ll be back in the postseason.
For the New York Jets, the 2016 season should be about settling the unfinished business of Week 17 in Buffalo.
The Jets had the playoffs within their grasp. Win and in. All they needed to do is beat the Buffalo Bills, a team that had been eliminated from the postseason with their old coach Rex Ryan at the helm, and they couldn’t do it.
A lot went wrong in that final game of the year, but the biggest issue for the Jets was that their quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was stupendous in his first season in green and white, turned into a pumpkin.
The veteran quarterback who had a career season in 2015 picked a bad time to have his worst game of the year.
However, that concern about Ryan Fitzpatrick is the elephant in the room when you try to decide whether or not the Jets will be playoff caliber.
Everything around the quarterback seems to fit.
The Jets have one of the best wide receiver duos in the sport, a solid running game led by veteran Matt Forte, and a terrific defense that should be one of the best in all of football.
The pieces are there to go on a run, assuming the quarterback can hold up his end of the bargain.
It’s no given that Ryan Fitzpatrick will be able to duplicate 2015, but he’s the Jets best hope for a postseason birth.
If the Jets can survive a brutal eight-week stretch to start the season and get similar results from Ryan Fitzpatrick, they’ll find themselves playing wild card weekend for the first time in six seasons.
Yes New York, for the first time since 2007, you will have a January that features the Jets and Giants playing in the postseason.
To many Sunday’s on the couch that feature your favorite team, winning wagers, winning fantasy weeks and, yeah, with a cold one in hand!
Enjoy the season
JJ's 2016 Picks
• AFC East: Patriots, Jets(WC), Dolphins, Bills
• AFC North: Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns
• AFC South Colts, Texans, Jaguars, Titans
• AFC West: Chiefs, Raiders(WC), Broncos, Chargers
• NFC East: Giants, Cowboys(WC), Redskins, Eagles
• NFC North: Packers, Bears, Vikings, Lions
• NFC South: Panthers, Bucs, Saints, Falcons
• NFC West: Seahawks, Cardinals (WC), Rams, 49ers
• SB 51 Prediction: Seahawks over Steelers
JJ’s NFL Unlocks of the Week
• Broncos +3
• Jets +2.5
• Ravens -3
• Colts -4
• Chargers +7
You can listen to me Sunday from 1 to 6 a.m. on WFAN Sports Radio 660/1019 FM and watch me on SNY on Geico Sports Night following the Mets postgame this Friday.