- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2012

When predictions are made, they’re usually referred to as bold. But most predictions never come true, and there’s no risk in getting them wrong. That’s the opposite of bold.

What is the opposite of bold in this context? Unbold? Timid? Italic (that’s for the journalists)? In any case, here are five potentially ridiculous declarative statements designed to get your attention in hopes that at least one will come true and I can use it to remind everyone how smart I am the rest of the season. The others will be ignored.

Broncos QB Peyton Manning will finish the season in the top five in TD passes.

Multiple neck surgeries, including something called spinal fusion, can’t be that hard to come back from, right? In all seriousness, if Manning stays healthy, why can’t he throw 30-plus TDs? He’s not going to keep pace with Rodgers, Brees and Brady, but with two good, young receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker and a sneaky-good veteran runner in Willis McGahee, he’s got the firepower to have a great season.

Vikings RB Toby Gerhart will gain more yards than Adrian Peterson.

Not only do I not think Peterson will come back at full strength, I have an ominous feeling about him even attempting to return from major knee surgery after barely more than eight months. Unfortunate as it would be for Peterson to struggle, be shelved or reinjure the knee, I think his situation ultimately will present the versatile third-year back from Stanford with a great opportunity.

Jets RB Shonn Greene will exceed 1,500 total yards.

I don’t say this with any extra confidence in a guy who has been a fantasy disappointment the past two seasons, or even as wishful thinking because he’s on two of my fantasy teams. I say this because New York has nowhere else to turn. Tim Tebow is a mess; Mark Sanchez is likely to be replaced by that mess; and if either could complete passes, there’s no one to catch them. Santonio Holmes is more than one toke over the line at this point in his career, and I can’t even name another New York receiver without the help of Google. Same thing with Greene’s backup, which leaves him with the potential to have a career year on a really bad team.

Patriots WR Wes Welker will be the odd man out in New England.

I won’t go so far as to say he’ll be a bust, but the bad year that started with him dropping what could have been the winning TD pass in the Super Bowl will continue as the team’s offense moves away from its relative dependence on the slot receiver. With TE Aaron Hernandez being signed to a new deal, it’s clear that he and fellow TE Rob Gronkowski will be the focal point of the offense moving forward. And unlike last year when Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson was a no-show, this year’s free agent WR addition, Brandon Lloyd, will cut into Welker’s catches. I’m guessing Welker, who had 122 receptions last season but is playing on a one-year tender after the Patriots declined to sign him to a long-term contract, will be lucky to finish with 80 catches.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will account for more TDs than Robert Griffin III.

If you haven’t thrown down the paper in disgust, hear me out. I’m not saying Wilson will necessarily have a better season. In fact, I think RG3 will win more games than any of the five rookie starters (Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden being the other three). But I think Seattle coach Pete Carroll will turn his surprise starter loose beginning in Week 1. After all, what does he have to lose? Wilson is a third-round pick, and it’s the Seahawks. On the other hand, I suspect coach Mike Shanahan and the Redskins are going to bring along their investment at a slower pace. I think you’ll see Wilson make a lot of plays with his feet when things break down, whereas I believe offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will call a more traditional, conservative game initially while RG3 develops better timing and pocket awareness.