Four bold predictions I'd like to see come true this season ...
Connor Barwin proves to be an X factor: The Texans need more pass rush and having one could really help the secondary play better. Even if Mario Williams is getting into the backfield, the pass rush isn't where it needs to be if there is no one else getting back there. Second-year man Barwin, who wasn’t exclusively a defensive end in college at Cincinnati, emerges to be that second rusher in his second season, when Antonio Smith kicks inside in clear pass situations.
Bob Sanders plays in 13 games, plus the playoffs: Despite his recent, lengthy injury history, strong safety Bob Sanders is back. Fans and people around the league are setting over-unders for how many games he’ll actually play in. I hate to predict bad health, even for those who always seem to find it. The guy’s playing style simply leads to troubles. But it’s a far better league with him on the highlight reels and he takes the Colts' defense to a new level.
Tyson Alualu plays well from the start: It’ll be a good development for the Jaguars for two reasons -- they need interior line push as part of revamping a broken pass rush and they’d love critics to realize GM Gene Smith knew full well what he was doing when they selected the defensive tackle out of Cal with the No. 10 pick. The guy has an exceptionally quick first step for a man his size.
Mike Heimerdinger is in his last year as offensive coordinator: Vince Young and the Titans fare well enough this season that when things go poorly in Chicago and the Bears look for a fresh start with a new coach, they look to a Chicago-area native who’s got great experience from Denver with Jay Cutler. Heimerdinger likes to joke about how teams are looking for big names, not long names. But he’d be a great fit for the Bears if they look to maximize Cutler’s chances at success.