SANTA CLARA -- I give full credit to 49ers defensive back Carlos Rogers. The other day after practice, he didn't try to play the too-cool card. He was man enough to admit it: When he's off the clock, he consumes NFL games just like any other fan.

"I've grown up playing the game, since I was eight years old," Rogers said. "I've always loved to watch football. When I get done with everything here on Thursday, I'll go home and probably catch the second half."

Thursday is the season opener, Baltimore vs. Denver. Rogers will view it on the 50-inch television set at his local townhouse. His 49ers teammate, fullback Bruce Miller, will trump that by sitting down in front of the 65-inch screen at his residence. Miller still drives his 2003 Ford pickup truck from college. But he forked over one of his first pro paychecks for some maxi-maxi-pixels.

"I love to watch movies -- but also football, yeah," Miller said. "College football, the games on Thursday night, Monday night."

Well, why not? These days, the drama and intrigue (and crime and punishment) of the NFL is as good as any feature film or reality show. Thus, in predicting the 2013 season outcome for the 49ers and Raiders as well as the entire league, I have decided to play up the drama and intrigue rather than break down the mundane X's and O's. Sue me.

For example, I normally am not a conspiracy guy. In general, I believe far more weird stuff happens because of incompetence (see Rex Ryan) rather than espionage (see Bill Belichick). But from this point forward, in terms of alleged scheming machinations, I'm buying everything. If Ray Lewis says there was a secret plot to sabotage the stadium lights in the Super Bowl, I'm so there. If Brian Urlacher says the Chicago Bears faked injuries to slow down other team's offenses, I'm in. If the Raiders claim they tarped the upper deck as a fan convenience to cut down on game-day traffic jams ... well, I might draw the line there. But the Raiders haven't made that claim. Yet.

But as I anticipate the next four months and discerning my Super Bowl selection (which I will reveal in the last paragraph), I am making my forecast based on my own conspiracy theories.

For example:

  • The 49ers have a tough road in front of them because few Super Bowl losers return to the game a year later. But the real reason they will go 10-6 with a second-place NFC West finish is that someone slipped into the training room last spring and covertly snipped Michael Crabtree's Achilles tendon, then hypnotized him into believing it had happened naturally. We never saw him actually sustain the injury, did we? Crabtree's absence will haunt the team's offense all season because the receiving corps is talent top-heavy with Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, then falls off the table. Good defensive coordinators will bracket both Boldin and Davis, then dare Colin Kaepernick to find other hands or take off downfield and be vulnerable to contact. If so, look out.

  • The Raiders have no hope of escaping a double-digit number of defeats (or frequent double-digit losses) and most people blame a non-skilled and substandard roster. I choose to believe there are large magnets buried beneath the turf at O.co Coliseum and they influence the flight of magnet-embedded footballs that are tossed into the game (by double-agent ball boys) only when the Raiders are on offense. Just watch some of the ridiculous off-target passes thrown by quarterback Terrelle Pryor this season, then tell me I'm wrong. Thankfully, there are no buried magnets on the road. So the Raiders will win five games and finish last in the AFC West.

  • Everybody seems to believe that the 49ers and Seattle will battle it out for supremacy in the NFC and a Super Bowl trip. My belief is, the two teams will inflict so much wrath upon each other -- twice in the regular season, again in the postseason -- that by the time either one reaches the conference final, that team will be spent and done. Maybe that's not technically a conspiracy theory. But I ask: Why did the NFL schedule-makers pair up the teams in Week Two? Clearly, it was so they'd throttle each other early and be banged up the entire season.

  • In the NFC, with the 49ers and Seattle eliminating each other, the champion will be the New York Giants. Why? Easy. The Super Bowl this season is being held in New Jersey, in the Giants' home stadium. The league offices are located in nearby Manhattan, home of the biggest advertising agencies, full of Giants fans. What would drive up commercial rates even higher than the Giants playing a home Super Bowl? Of course, it helps to have a quarterback and coach who've already won championships, plus a great defensive line to disturb opposing passers. So I see the Giants making a late-season push to glory, with or without league manipulation. (Pay no attention to the commissioner behind the curtain.)

  • The AFC, however, will produce the ultimate Super Bowl champion in the Houston Texans. Last season, they produced the league's most under-the-radar excellence. On good days, when quarterback Matt Schaub and receiver Andre Johnson are in total sync, the Texans can be flat-out scary. So what will be the scurrilous conspiracy that wins Houston the Vince Lombardi Trophy? Frankly, I don't have one yet. But give me until February. I'll come up with something, perhaps involving UFOs. Until then, just like the players themselves, you can sit back and enjoy the unpredictable reality.

    Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.