So, its that exciting time of the year again when we are at the doorsteps of another NFL season (and the college football season). And this post is something that I have been planning to do, at the start of the season, for the last 2 years but just didn't get the time to do that. So, I am trying this one out now to see if I will be third time lucky.
What I am trying to do here is to just pick out the winners of each of the 8 divisions and also to pick the 2 wild cards for the 2 conferences and just stop at that. I am doing this based on the free agent acquisitions and the strength of the returning teams and not on the basis of their pre-season performances. Though I have been following the pre season games superficially, I do not think these carry any weightage once the actual season begins (the Lions were 4-0 in preseason last year and we all know how it went for them in the regular season) It is going to be too tough at this stage to predict the results of playoffs and thus ultimately who will make it to the Super Bowl & who will be holding the Vince Lombardi trophy at the end of it all. That is something I guess I can do at the end of the regular season. With that behind, let me get started with the division where the Seahawks are housed in.
I am a big Seahawks fan but I do think they are a long way from getting back to the good old days when winning the division was taken for granted, and thus I predict the Cardinals to retain the division. Boldin wasn't traded and that makes a huge difference bcos Fitzgerald will be double teamed by opposition defenses which should leave Boldin relatively uncovered. Kurt Warner has atleast 1 more good year left in him. The 49ers and the Rams are still in the very early stages of their rebuilding process and they will thus make sure that for the 2nd year in a row, the NFC West will remain as one of the weakest divisions in the league.
Now, this was a division which was one of the strongest in the league, couple of years back. Not so, anymore. I pick the Panthers to win this division again, inspite of Jake 'will-throw-5 Int-in-a-playoff game' Delhomme. As long as Bucs don't have a consistent QB, they are not going to be a factor. Saints still remain a middle-of-the-road team, inspite of Sean Payton & Drew Brees. I am not sure if Atlanta has it in them to repeat the season that they had last year, but they should still do decent as Matt Ryan is only bound to get better this year
This will be the most watched division this year, because of Favre's umpteenth unretirement and Jay Cutler's trade to the Bears. Adrian Peterson with that O-line with Favre to back it up, the Vikings are definitely my pick to win this division. Bears will do better than the Packers, mainly bcos of Jay Cutler & Matt Forte. And Lions will live the 'Rome was not built in a day' lesson.
This perennial powerhouse division has definitely lost some of its sheen because of TO's & Burress' departures. Giants suddenly do not look the potent team they once were. Redskins seem to be in perennial rebuilding mode, what with Jason Campbell at QB and an ageing Clinton Portis at RB. The Cowboys seem to be always 1 play/ game away form throwing it all away. So, the pick here becomes easier - Eagles. Though Jim Johnson's demise would be felt, the addition of Vick to their offense is going to make the defensive coordinators of their opponents scratching their heads.
NFC Wild cards - Atlanta, Cowboys
This is the division where picking the winner should be the easiest job. The Broncos fired Shannahan and then traded Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton (seriously, what was that all about). That should say it all. Chiefs are bound to muddle in obscurity for seasons & reasons aplenty. The less said about the Raiders, the better. Jamarcus Russel has never inspired confidence at the QB position while their best player, CB Asomugha got injured and experts predicting few more weeks for him to get back to full form. So, that leaves us with the Chargers who should run away with the division. This is a make or break year for many in the team, including Rivers and LT.
Tony Dungy & Marvin Harrison might have left but Peyton Manning is still there and that should be good enough for the Colts to win the division handily. The Texans might be everyone's favorite sleeper team of the season and I believe in that as well but that is not going to stop the Colts from winning the division. I predict a very pedestrian season for the Titans, one in which they might fail to make the playoffs. And the last team of the division, Jaguar's fall from glory of 2 years ago will be complete this year.
The division with the defending champs, the Ravens and 2 other wannabe teams, in the Bengals & the Browns. I am (or any other Seattle resident for that matter) not big fan of the Steelers but I just don't see them not winning the division. The Ravens should be good enough to make it to the playoffs as a wild card but not good enough to stop the Steelers from clinching the division. The Bengals could suprise everyone with a much improved performance but that won't take them into the playoffs.
Well, lets see what we have here, other than the Patriots. The Bills (even with TO, a decent team at best), the Jets (with a rookie QB and a new head coach, not expected to challenge the likes of Patriots) and the Dolphins (a resurgent team but with an offense still developing). That leaves us with the Patriots whom I expect to win this division rather easily. Tom Brady looks to be as hungry as ever and with Belichick determined to wipe away the bad memories of the last season when they didn't make the playoffs, the Patriots wrap up the division early on and then, expect them to go deep into the playoffs.
AFC Wild cards - Texans, Ravens
Labels: NFL, Sports