NFL: Season Preview and Predictions

The NFL season gets underway Thursday night as the defending World Champion Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau field. As usual, the NFL is wide open and there are several potential Super Bowl Champions in the 32 team field. The NFL strives for parity, and the lockout which only concluded towards the end of July, will only bring the field closer together. I’ve made predictions for the season here; feel free to chip in and contribute with your own.

 

NFC

The NFC is loaded this season with at least 9 serious candidates for the 6 playoff spots – the NFC East and South are going to be particularly difficult to get out of.

NFC East

The Eagles have made some big-name acquisitions and their secondary will be particularly difficult to throw on. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie will be expected to make life difficult for Eli Manning and Tony Romo in divisional play; and potentially Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs. Credit the Eagles for going out and making the moves they believe will turn them from pretenders into contenders. However, despite the defensive additions, much will rest on whether Michael Vick can play at the same stellar level as he did last season. Dallas and New York will both be fighting for the keenly contested wildcard slots and the hunch here is that the Giants may just get one.

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. New York Giants

3. Dallas Cowboys

4. Washington Redskins

 

NFC North

The Green Bay Packers are coming off a Super Bowl win and there is no reason to suspect that they will be hit by the patented Super Bowl hangover. Indeed, with a young and hungry defence, coupled with the most explosive passing game in the NFL the Pack may just be the first team to repeat since the New England Patriots in 2004. The Bears and Lions will both be confident of securing playoff spots but will be hampered by a lack of offensive weaponry and a leaky secondary respectively.  Expect the Vikings to bring up the rear in this division – the acquisition of Donovan McNabb is a backwards step and Christian Ponder should be given the chance to show whether he has what it takes to play Quarterback in the NFL at the earliest possible opportunity.

1. Green Bay Packers

2. Chicago Bears

3. Detroit Lions

4. Minnesota Vikings

 

NFC South

This might be the most stacked division in the whole league. The Falcons were the best regular season team last year; the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010; and the Buccaneers made a surprising surge in the second half of a last season and young quarterback Josh Freeman looks like a potential star. New Orleans, motivated after a shocking wildcard loss to the Seattle Seahawks, will take the division – expect Drew Brees and the passing game to be more explosive than last season with rookie running back and 2010 Heisman winner Mark Ingram forcing defences to respect the run. The Falcons are a solid team and should take the final wildcard spot. However, they will be hoping that the secondary doesn’t fall apart as it did against an Aaron Rodgers assault in the Divisional Round last year. This season may just have come too early for the Buccaneers but an additional year of experience will be valuable for their young players and they will compete for the top honours in 2012.

1. New Orleans Saints

2. Atlanta Falcons

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4. Carolina Panthers

 

NFC West

This is still the worst division in the NFL, but at least now it has a bona fide star in Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. The former Oklahoma Sooner will be expected to light up the division and carry the Rams to their first playoff appearance in 7 years. The competition shouldn’t be too tough in the West with the inconsistent Seahawks, rebuilding Cardinals and permanently rebuilding 49ers as opponents. The Rams should take the division comfortably, but might not progress further than the Wildcard round come January.

1. St. Louis Rams

2. Arizona Cardinals

3. Seattle Seahawks

4. San Francisco 49ers

 

AFC

Not as stacked as the NFC but the AFC is still filled with perennial contenders – New England, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis representing the conference in the last 8 Super Bowls. However, this season there might just be another city raising the AFC championship pennant.

AFC East

The New York Jets will expect to win the East. Fronted by their coach Rex Ryan, the Jets talk a good game and for the last two seasons have matched the bravado with big performances on the field. However, they will have to progress from the Championship Game (where they have fallen the last two seasons) to the Super Bowl in order to satisfy the rabid support. Expect quarterback Mark Sanchez to make real strides this season, and possibly contend for the MVP. Factor in the league’s foremost defense, led by shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis, and nothing less than a Super Bowl will do for the Jets. The Patriots will contend as long as Tom Brady remains healthy, and should get one of the wildcard spots. The Bills and the Dolphins will battle to avoid the cellar, despite the optimistic noises emanating from both cities, neither will realistically contend for the playoffs.

1. New York Jets

2. New England Patriots

3. Buffalo Bills

4. Miami Dolphins

 

AFC North

Led by Ray Lewis, in possibly his final NFL season, the Ravens will be hoping to progress to the Super Bowl for the first time since winning Super Bowl XXXV in 2001. Joe Flacco must become a big-time quarterback in order for this to happen and helped by the Ray Rice inspired running game he should make the necessary steps this season. This is absolutely compulsory if the Ravens are to fend off the Pittsburgh Steelers for supremacy in the North. Expect the Steelers to make the playoffs through the wildcard but their ageing defense might be nearing the end of its reign near the top of the defensive charts.

1. Baltimore Ravens

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Cleveland Browns

4. Cincinnati Bengals

 

AFC South

With Peyton Manning out indefinitely due to a neck injury, Indianapolis might finally miss the playoffs this season. Manning is the Colts, and they are sunk without him. Houston should finally make their first playoff appearance since joining the league in 2002. Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster will run riot on offense and the new Defensive co-ordinator Wade Phillips will sort out one of the league’s poorest secondaries. The Titans and Jaguars will both give playing time to rookie quarterbacks at some point in the season, in reality building for 2012 already.

1. Houston Texans

2. Indianapolis Colts

3. Tennessee Titans

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

 

AFC West

The West is weak is the AFC too – with the rebuilding Broncos and perennially awful Raiders no threat to make the playoffs. If Philip Rivers plays like the top-5 quarterback that he is, then San Diego should win this division easily. They have far more offensive artillery than the Chiefs and also possess an underrated defense. If Rivers gets hot then the Chargers could roll through the payoffs much like the Packers did under the guidance of Rodgers hot-hand last year.

1. San Diego Chargers

2. Kansas City Chiefs

3. Denver Broncos

4. Oakland Raiders

 

Playoff predictions:

Wildcard Round: (NFC) Saints over Falcons; Giants over Rams. (AFC) Texans over Patriots; Chargers over Steelers.

Divisional Round: (NFC) Packers over Giants; Saints over Eagles. (AFC) Ravens over Texans; Chargers over Jets

Championship Game: (NFC) Packers over Saints. (AFC) Ravens over Chargers.

Super Bowl XLVI: Packers over Ravens

 

Player Predictions:

MVP: Aaron Rodgers (Packers)

OMVP: Ray Rice (Ravens)

DMVP: Clay Matthews (Packers)

OROTY: Julio Jones (Falcons)

DROTY: Patrick Peterson (Cardinals)

Comeback Player: Jermichael Finley (Packers)

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4 thoughts on “NFL: Season Preview and Predictions

  1. Andrew says:

    – I think you are overrating the Giants. The secondary is a mess right now following a slew of injuries so I think they miss the playoffs. I think it’s a toss up between CHI, DET & DAL. DET’s secondary is better & the DL is ferocious so that should ease the pressure on the DBs.

    – I’ll take ATL over NO for the NFC South

    – “permanently rebuilding 49ers” – So true!

    – Mark Sanchez in the mix for MVP!? Not on your nelly! He has worse stats than Henne does. He’s a game manager & nothing more. He’ll be the main reason NYJ don’t win it all. Heck, they won’t even win their division. NE will. They are lookin g fantastic.

    – Flacco is also a game manager. He won’t become a big time QB. There’s a reason why the city of Baltimore hates him! Far too hesitant in the pocket. PIT will take the division

    – Peyton is probably out for the year so the Colts will battle the Jaguars for the honour of bottom-dwellers. I do like HOU this year. The Wade Phillips acquisition looks to be a good one.

    – Chargers will sit atop the West but I think DEN finishes ahead of KC

    – Playoff preditions:

    NFC

    (3)PHI over (6)DET, (5)NO over (4)STL
    (1)ATL over NO, PHI over (2)GB
    ATL over GB

    AFC

    (3)PIT over (6)BAL, (5)NYJ over(4)HOU
    (1)SD over NYJ, PIT over (2)NE
    SD over PIT

    SB

    ATL over SD

    Player Predictions:

    I think a LB wins DROTY as per the norm & Jermichael Finley has never put up big numbers so I went elsewhere there too

    MVP: QB Phillip Rivers (SD)
    OPOY: QB Phillip Rivers (SD)
    DPOY: LB Clay Matthews (GB)
    OROTY: WR Julio Jones (ATL)
    DROTY: LB Casey Matthews (PHI)
    Comeback Player: WR Plaxico Burress (NYJ)

  2. Ally (Bones) says:

    NFC East: Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins
    NFC North: Packers, Lions, Bears, Vikings
    NFC South: Falcons, Saints, Buccs, Panthers
    NFC West: Rams, Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers
    AFC East: Patriots, Dolphins, Jets, Bills
    AFC North: Steelers, Ravens, Browns, Bengals
    AFC South: Texans, Titans, Colts, Jags
    AFC West: Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos

    SB: Patriots over Packers

    MVP: Aaron Rodgers
    OPOY: Tom Brady
    DPOY: Clay Matthews
    OROTY: Julio Jones
    DROTY: Cam Jordan
    Comebacl: Plaxico Burress

  3. Ally (Bones) says:

    And great article!

  4. Evening gents.

    Detroit do have a great defensive line but I’m not sure about the team as a whole. Reckon they’re a year away. And a lot depends on Matt Stafford’s health – he’s proven to be quite brittle so far in his career. There’s always a ‘trendy’ playoff pick who totally disappoint and I think that may just be the Lions this year. Suh is an absolute best though – Defensive MVP candidate.

    I’d like to see Sanchez do well this year despite despising the Jets. Heart over head anyway. He does have weapons though – Santonio, Plax and Dustin Keller should be tough for defenses to counter.

    Think you’re wrong on Flacco – we will see though

    Wouldn’t argue with any of your playoff predictions boys, although i do think Atlanta is slightly overrated. Julio Jones will be great though.

    And Jermichael Finley (only 24!) has the ability to be the best TE in history if he can stay fit. He put on a clinic in the 51-45 playoff defeat in Arizona a couple of years back – 6 for 159 and a TD if memory serves correctly. He would have been an absolute monster last year if it wasn’t for injury.

    Thanks for the contributions lads, hope you’ll keep reading.

    Cheers

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