Predictions in the National Football League can be kind, alright, or downright nasty. It's a tricky thing, but heck you might as well just in case you go picture perfect, then you can brag to your friends. That's what I'm attempting here folks, here's how it lays down.
AFC East Winner: New York Jets (12-4)
As much as I do hate the Jets, I love Rex Ryan and I think he's got this team where they need to be. Mark Sanchez is goingto have to step it up, and I think under a consistent offense and behind a blistering defense he will do so. The key is whether or not the media attention will get to the Jets' head. It hasn't the two past seasons, but if something blows up the team may as well.
AFC South Winner: Indiannapolis Colts (12-4)
If I've learned anything in life, it's to never doubt Peyton and Colts. Although I do believe Manning will sit out the season opener, he'll play 15 games and he will play them to perfection. Deep threats in Reggie Wayne and Blair White will mobilize the pass game, and Austin Collie is one of the smartest receivers in the league. And Indy finally has some options on the run, including Delone Carter. If their defense can keep it up, this will be a Super Bowl-contending team looking to play in the big game on their home turf.
AFC West Winner: San Diego Chargers (9-7)
This is a tough division to predict, but I think Phillip Rivers is going to have a break-out year and now that Vincent Jackson is healthy and Maurice Floyd under pen and paper, Rivers should excel. What the Chargers need to fix is their mental mistakes, which cost them the decision last season. But coupled with the fact that Chiefs' schedule is harder than the one they had last season, and the fact that neither Oakland nor Denver will contend for the playoffs, it's Diego's to lose.
AFC North Winner: Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
YAY!! No, this isn't a homer pick (questionable), but I think it's time for Harbaugh to rally his troops and grab the division this go around. Joe Flacco now can throw that ball down with Lee Evans and is becoming comfortable with his No.1 option Anquan Boldin. With a tantalizing defense and a great 1-2 punch on the run, put that together with a huge addition of Vonta Leach, this team is ready to take that next step. The only thing I'm worried about is if Flacco does go down (please no, do not let this happen), I'm not sure Taylor can step in to the big-time, and we don't even know if Taylor will be ready for the season. But either way, go team!
These are the obvious picks. New England is going to lose the division by a thread, but are still going to be one heck of a football team. A solid defense and some game-changing wide receivers to throw there, especially since I think Chad Ochocinco is going to excel in Foxboro, they're gonna challenge. Pittsburgh, I hate 'em, but they're good. Scary good. Baltimore needs to get this specific hump, and this is the year I think they do it. I'm not sure Pitts' offensive line can keep up, but they'll gladly take the No. 6 spot.
NFC East Winner: Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
There's no question it's Super Bowl or bust for the Iggles. I think they will be the best team in the NFL during the regular season, bar none. A lethal secondary and a solid pass rush is the formula to a great defense, and Mike Vick's mobility in the pocket is going to make this team hard to catch. But the question is whether that same Vick can stay healthy. If he can, this team is going to be great to watch.
NFC North Winner: Green Bay Packers (11-5)
They've got all the tools from their Super Bowl-winning season, and all the tools to repeat. Aaron Rodgers is a lethal QB, with lethal options to throw to. Ryan Grant (if healthy) and James Starks should make a formidable 1-2 punch on the run, and their defense against the pass is top-notch. I don't think they'll face a challenge at all this season in their division, although Detroit will offer one in the coming years.
NFC South Winner: Atlanta Falcons (12-4)
This a tough division, with the 09 Super Bowl winners Saints in it and an up-start team in the Bucaneers. However, I like the changes Atlanta made on their defense, and with Matty Ice in my eyes establishing himself as an elite QB in this league, this is a team that will seriously contend. Throw in Julio Jones, who's going to get fans off their seats and couches, we're gonna watch a possible winner here.
NFC West Winner: Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Meh. That's all I need to say here. Seriously, I could see any team here win the division, but if it is with a record of more than 8-8, I'll be shocked. I kind of chose the Cards out a hat, just because I think Kevin Kolb has something to prove, especially throwing to one of the best WR's in the league in Larry Fitzgerald. And also because I like Ken Whisenhunt as a coach. I would like to see Sam Bradford and the Rams win this division, but their brutal start to the schedule will prevent that.
Yeah, I think the 'Boys will have a bounce-back season. Tony Romo is starting to become a natural leader of that team, and the players seem to genuinely like Jason Garrett as their HC. They have a good defense and will be challenging to play against during the playoffs. The Saints will have a good season, unfortunately will be in a tough division but once again like the Steelers will have no problem to be the No.6 seed, unless it's against the Seahawks.
(3) Baltimore Ravens def. (6) Pittsburgh Steelers
(5) New England Patriots def. (4) San Diego Chargers
(1) New York Jets def. (5) New England Patriots
(3) Baltimore Ravens def. (2) Indiannapolis Colts
(1) New York Jets def. (3) Baltimore Ravens
(3) Green Bay Packers def. (6) New Orleans Saints
(5) Dallas Cowboys def. (4) Arizona Cardinals
(5) Dallas Cowboys def. (1) Philadelphia Eagles
(2) Atlanta Falcons def. (3) Green Bay Packers
(2) Atlanta Falcons def. (5) Dallas Cowboys
(2 NFC) Atlanta Falcons def. (1 AFC) New York Jets
So here's how my playoffs work out. I think the two teams that will dominate throughout the post-season are Rex's Jets and the Falcons, who play in a Super Bowl gutted out by the Falcons on a last-minute field goal. There's some surprises sprinkled throughout, including Baltimore finally getting past the two teams they can never beat in the playoffs, the Steelers and the Colts. I have Dallas upsetting Philly in the Divisional Playoffs, a gut feeling and the fact that I like Jason Garrett as a coach and the chemistry on the team. I don't get what the buzz on the Chargers is, it's a team that will make the playoffs, but as easily could not like last year. They're not going to contend for a Super Bowl, despite Phil Rivers' MVP season. In the end, the Falcons are deep on both sides of the ball. Matt Ryan is designed for the playoffs, and just like Aaron Rodgers last season, he will lead his team all the way.
There they are! Agree or disagree with 'em, hope you enjoyed 'em!