- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2008

With a half-dozen weeks remaining in the regular season, a six-pack of predictions of what will transpire between now and Dec. 30:

1. The Titans will finish 15-1.

Tennessee has a great chance to start 14-0 by beating the Jets, Detroit, Cleveland and Houston. But the last two games are tricky - home to Pittsburgh and at Indianapolis.

Both teams will likely be in playoff contention. The Steelers will be trying to wrap up the AFC North or battling for a wild card spot; the Colts will be playing to get that valuable fifth seed, which means a road game against the AFC West winner.

But the Titans won’t make the Super Bowl. They’ll trip up at home to the Colts in the AFC title game.

2. Drew Brees will make history.

The Saints are a last-place team, but Brees is having a historical passing season. With 3,251 yards through 10 games, Brees needs to average 305.7 yards in the last six games to break Dan Marino’s single-season record of 5,084 yards.

But it shouldn’t merit Brees being named league MVP. New Orleans won’t make the playoffs because it stinks on the road and will lose at home to Green Bay this week.

It’s hard to pick against Kurt Warner if Arizona wins the NFC West - its first division title in 33 years.

3. A ton of jobs will be open.

Last year was quiet on the head coaching front, with only the Redskins, Ravens and Falcons having vacancies.

But this year could be a feeding frenzy, good news for coordinators like New England’s Josh McDaniels and Tennessee’s Jim Schwartz and former head coaches like Brian Billick and, maybe just maybe, old friend Jim Fassel (though he is going after the Toronto job in the CFL).

Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland, St. Louis, San Francisco, Detroit, Dallas and Minnesota all could make changes. Seattle has already tabbed Jim Mora as Mike Holmgren’s successor, and Jason Garrett is the likely choice if Wade Phillips doesn’t survive.

The best situation from that group? Minnesota, which has Adrian Peterson and a good defensive line.

4. Joey Porter will set the sack record.

The Dolphins’ Porter has 13.5 sacks through 10 games and needs nine to tie Michael Strahan’s mark of 22.5, set in 2001.

The schedule sets up great for Porter. None of the remaining opponents rank in the top 14 in sacks prevented.

Porter faces New England (26th), St. Louis (27th), Buffalo (24th), San Francisco (32nd), Kansas City (22nd) and the Jets (15th). Specifically against the 49ers, Porter should clean up.

Although Tennessee’s Albert Haynesworth is worthy of defensive player of the year honors, if Porter helps the Dolphins go from 1-15 to the playoffs, he should get the award.

5. The NFC North champ will be 9-7.

Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago all enter the stretch run with 5-5 records, an impressive display of mediocre parity.

There are only two head-to-head games among the teams - Chicago-Minnesota on Nov. 30 and Green Bay-Chicago on Dec. 22. Just because of the schedule, the Bears control their own deal.

How they’ll finish: Chicago 9-7, Minnesota 9-7 and Green Bay 8-8. The Bears and Vikings will both be 4-2 in the division. The third tiebreaker is best record in “common games.” Best as I could tell, that would give Chicago the edge by a game to win the division.

6. Three NFC East teams will make the playoffs.

AFC: 1. Tennessee; 2. Pittsburgh; 3. Miami; 4. Denver; 5. Indianapolis; 6. New York Jets.

NFC: 1. New York Giants; 2. Carolina; 3. Arizona; 4. Chicago; 5. Dallas; 6. Washington.

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