With the NFL regular season starting in one week, CV Weekly sports writer Brandon Hensley recently exchanged emails with Brock Hendricks, a 2010 Crescenta Valley High School graduate currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah. There was too much to discuss; the two didn’t even get into Tim Tebow, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your view.
Brandon: Brock, welcome to the pages of CV Weekly. Talking football with me will make up for the time you made me babysit your cat you affectionately refer to as “Mr. Claws.” Let’s start with your team, or one of your teams – you have a lot for some reason – The Denver Broncos. They’re supposed to win the Super Bowl this year, right? Linebacker Von Miller is out for six games due to PED use. Could this make them just a wild card team rather than a No.1 seed?
Brock: Brandon, Mr. Claws is my only friend. Don’t judge me. Thanks for the chance to talk about America’s game. For the record, I only have two teams: Denver and Philadelphia have been my teams since childhood. Denver is still absolutely a major contender for Super Bowl 48. The suspension of Von Miller hurts the defense’s ability to rush the passer, but it won’t make enough of an impact to drop the entire team out of favoritism. The Broncos have a rarity in today’s game of a top-five overall offense and a top-five overall defense. No need to worry about a significant downfall.
Brandon: Can we say the Patriots’ chances have effectively been … shot down? (What, too soon?) Without Aaron Hernandez and basically no Rob Gronkowski, can the Dolphins take the AFC East? Heck, maybe Mark Sanchez will pull it together and have a great year and prove all his doubters wrong and lead the Jets to the … hahahahahaha sorry I can’t keep that up.
Brock: There is no doubt the Patriots lost some key players on offense, but many casual NFL fans are forgetting one simple thing: this quarterback you may have heard of. His name is Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., and he’s pretty impressive. Brady has been known in the past to lead teams that lack experience; this year will be another case of that.
Brandon: What do you see with the San Francisco 49ers? Patrick Willis is really awful in that Visa commercial this summer, and Colin Kaepernick is walking around in a Dolphins hat. WHERE ARE THERE PRIORITIES, BROCK?
Brock: I’ve seen a lot of people this offseason predicting Seattle to be the best team in the NFC. While there’s a lot to be excited about there, in my mind the team to beat in the entire league is San Francisco. The Niners now have their quarterback of the future (regardless of what hat he wears on the 4th of July) and they have the most dominant defense in the NFL. My early-season picks still have San Fran in the Super Bowl.
Green Bay is always in contention. Heading into the year the Packers are being looked at as about the fourth best team in the NFC behind Atlanta, Seattle and my pick San Francisco.
Brandon: You can’t possibly be serious about Atlanta. The Falcons are perennial chokers. Jamal Anderson and the Dirty Bird ain’t walking through that door anytime soon. I’m excited for Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck’s futures, but I’m not a fan of Kaepernick. Sorry, can’t endorse him, not when we’ve got a possible future president playing professional sports. Move over Shane Battier, Robert Griffin III is our new future contender! I love how he carries himself on and off the field. He’s a winner in the game of life.
Brock: I’m absolutely serious about Atlanta. They aren’t necessarily “choke artists” as much as they just end up a little short every year, but they’re contenders. Russell Wilson is here to stay. He threw more touchdowns last year than Griffin or Luck, and he’s also in the best situation of the three rookies. He has a better team around him and more tools for success. Having that said, I believe all four of the young guns are off to big things, including Kaepernick. The haters can say what they want, but Kaepernick has the strongest arm and best physical build of all four guys. I love everything about Griffin, I just hope he learns how to play smarter. He needs to learn the art of killing plays by throwing the ball away, throwing shorter passes, etc. Of all four, Andrew Luck is the best individually. He’s the smartest and he’s already proven he can make something out of nothing.
Brandon: Alright, it’s prediction time. I’m going with the Redskins in the NFC. I believe the football gods will do humanity right and keep Griffin’s knee healthy. Their schedule is tough, but they won their division last year. They’re ready for the next step. Redskins vs. Broncos for the title, and I think Denver wins. Peyton Manning needs multiple championships or his critics will never go away. But I’m rooting for him. I don’t like the Broncos, but I’ve always admired Peyton for many reasons. And there are still people out there who think Eli is the better brother because he has two rings. Ugh. Go, Peyton. Also, Adrian Peterson will rush for 4,000 yards. That’s only a slightly exaggerated prediction.
Brock: Washington is an interesting prediction. It’s definitely the first time I’ve heard someone pick them thus far. So if they pull it off I’ll come back and tell the world that you heard it from Brandon Hensley first. In the NFC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Green Bay and the New York Giants are my picks for division winners. I’m taking Seattle and New Orleans as my picks for the wild cards. AFC, I’ll take Denver, Houston, New England and Cincinnati as your division winners with Indianapolis and Baltimore as the wild cards. Denver over New England in the AFC championship, San Francisco over Atlanta in the NFC. Broncos 28, 49ers 20 in Super Bowl 48.
Adrian Peterson will need to gain 4,000 yards or Minnesota won’t be going very far. And for the record, Eli will never be close to Peyton.
You can follow Brock on Twitter. His handle is @BrockLHendricks. He is also the creator of the Facebook Group “Sports Discussions.”