Who knows what will happen in football this year? The Dupe knows

Now I know what you’re thinking, “What does this guy know that I don’t?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I know that the NFL is the most unpredictable league in professional sports.

I’m not even going to bother telling you who is going to win the divisions or win the Super Bowl. Instead I’m going to give you 10 things that you as a fan can look forward to in the next NFL season.

1. The Pats are going to be good, real good. It is very rare in this age of free agency that a Super Bowl team manages to get better. Sure they lost Ted Washington and Damian Woody, but come on, they got Corey Dillon, which in terms of upgrade based on the Madden player rating scale, they jumped from a74 to an 85. Bg Jump. I see no way they won’t win the AFC East.

2. The Beast is back in the NFC East. The division had fallen a lot since the days of four straight Super Bowl champions but is not back to is rugged old self. Every team in the division has a chance to be good. The Eagles got better with T.O. and now Donovan finally has someone who can catch. The Skins got better with Clinton Portis, Mark Brunnel and the return of Coach Joe Gibbs. (When I heard on the radio that he was coming back to coach, I immediately thought, “Aw, man” and cracked a cold one.) The Cowboys upgraded at running back and quarterback with Eddie George and Vinny Testaverde. Even with Parcells’ history of second year improvement, this team could be better but could have a worse record than last year. Finally, the Giants are not as bad as everyone thinks. Remember, for the most part, this is the team that caught fire at the end of the ’02 season. If Warner or Manning can get protection, they could put up a good fight.

3. John Madden is still doing Monday Night Football, so you have plenty of chances to get new away-message material. Just look at what I’ve gotten from him over the years. “Hunting is the only sport where the other guy doesn’t know you’re playing.” And this one: “It’s always good to have a guy named Vinny returning punts. That way you can yell, ‘Hey Vinny! Over here, Vinny, this way.” And also, “There is nothing better than a Turkduckein.” (A Turkduckein is a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken.)

4. Steve McNair will finally fall apart. The guy has been a bionic commando for the past couple of years, carrying the Titans on a back that was being held together by screws. There is no way he can do all this again. He has to get hurt, doesn’t he?

5. Ray Lewis will beat Terrell Owens. I know, I know, it’s a pretty bold statement, but I believe it. When the Eagles and Ravens play each other on Halloween, Ray Lewis is going to absolutely destroy T.O. Ray Lewis is one of the few men who really scare me. Right up there with Mendel Dough at 4 a.m. and Jessie Ahern from my home town. (Trust me, he’s scary.) Let’s just say, if I were T.O., I’d make sure Donovan didn’t let one slip over the middle because if he does, T.O. won’t be making it back to the huddle.

6. Fantasy Football! Aside from betting on games which I am not allowed to promote in this piece, is there any better way to get excited about a San Diego-Arizona Cardinals game? Answer: no.

7. An infinite supply of Ricky Williams-being-high jokes. He’s set me up for at least a year with bad stoner jokes. The guy left a job in pro-football to go smoke marijuana. That’s like Maverick leaving the Navy to focus on his budding volleyball career. You just can’t make this stuff up.

8. Brett Farve. This may be the golden boy’s last year and I myself plan on soaking it all in. This guy is everything you could want in a quarterback: a good teammate, a great friend. In my mind he is one of the top five QBs of all time, hands down. If he stays longer, great. Heck, in my Madden franchise from Madden ’02, he played until 2007. I wouldn’t expect that, but I do expect another great year out of Brett. He’s my sentimental pick to have a great year this year.

9. NFL Films! Is there anything better than coming home around 2 p.m. from class and turning on ESPN and seeing Steve Sabol on television breaking out old film of the ’72 Raiders or the ’68 Packers and then hearing the old NFL Film voice say, “On the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field?” I got chills just writing that. There is nothing better than NFL Films, and I know that I will personally blame them for skipping class.

10. Finally, I’m telling you to expect the unexpected. You never know what will happen in the NFL season. Just look at last year. Did any of you really think the Giants would go 4-12? (Be honest.) Or that the Pats would go 14-2 or that the Bengals would actually be respectable? Strange things happen. Don’t be surprised when they do.