Are you ready for some football??? I apologize that my official NFL preview is a tad late, but between Godzilla, NCAA previews, and my life not spent on this laptop I haven't had a lot of time. Also, due to the amount of time it takes for me to do weekly NCAA previews, do my homework, and all other responsibilities, I will not be able to do weekly NFL previews as well. I know, sadness. But hopefully this blog full of predictions will be enough to whet your appetites until playoff season! A lot has changed since I posted my pre-season power rankings in June. I just wanted to get this dadgum thing posted before Week 1 was completely over. Similar to my NCAA preseason blogs, the divisions will be listed in order of my predicted finish, plus I'll have some additional previews at the end. Now, without further ado, please excuse my lateness and let's get things underway!
1. Philadelphia Eagles-
Now that I'm done vomiting, let me say that it's hard not to pick the Eagles to win this division after all of their impressive offseason moves. That being said, I don't think that they'll run away with the East either. The defense should be great, but the offensive line is a bit of a question mark. The key will be if Mike Vick can stay healthy. If so, look out NFL, if not look out Philly.
2. Dallas Cowboys-
I'm a believer in the 'Boys this year for many reasons, the two biggest being Jason Garrett and Rob Ryan. They've energized this team and instilled so many positive qualities that simply weren't there during the Wade Phillips era, i.e. discipline and G.A.F. The defense will be much improved and all of the dead weight veterens have been cut, making room for talented and enthusiastic young players. Dallas is building for the future, and they won't be slouches this year either. I expect them to get progressively better as the season goes on and make the playoffs with lessened expectations than previous years (their secret weapon).
3. New York Giants-
4. Washington Redskins-
1. New Orleans Saints-
2. Atlanta Falcons-
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-
4. Carolina Panthers-
1. Green Bay Packers-
2. Detroit Lions-
3. Chicago Bears-
4. Minnesota Vikings:
1. Arizona Cardinals-
2. St. Louis Rams-
3. San Francisco 49ers-
4. Seattle Seahawks-
1. New England Patriots-
2. New York Jets-
3. Buffalo Bills-
4. Miami Dolphins-
1. Houston Texans-
2. Indianapolis Colts-
3. Jacksonville Jaguars-
4. Tennessee Titans-
1. Baltimore Ravens-
2. Pittsburgh Steelers-
3. Cleveland Browns-
4. Cincinnati Bengals-
1. San Diego Chargers-
2. Kansas City Chiefs-
3. Denver Broncos-
4. Oakland Raiders-
NFC Wild Card Teams:
AFC Wild Card Teams:
Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets
NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints-
Ironically, a rematch of the game that started the season. As good as this Green Bay roster looks, it's hard to imagine them not making it back to at least the NFC Championship. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack could have the makings of the next dynasty if they play their cards right. Meanwhile, the Saints are just as solid and even more hungry after last year's playoff exit. Should be another great game between two of the game's best QBs. I expect another Green Bay victory in a close game.
AFC Championship: Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Jets-
This isn't a popular pick based on what I've read, but I just have a gut feeling about both of these teams. Of course that probably means I'll be wrong. As I said before, I think there's a lot to like about this Ravens team. Enough that I see them making it this far in the playoffs given the right matchups. As for the Jets, this team just knows how to turn it on in the playoffs and a third straight AFC Championship isn't out of the question. Last year, the Jets were an awful first half away from playing in the Super Bowl. This team is wiser and full of talent and enthusiasm and I think they just might pull it off this year.
Super Bowl: Green Bay Packers vs. New York Jets-
Rex Ryan finally gets his team to the big dance, but I have a hard time believing Gang Green can best this Packers team. It's just so impressive. Aaron Rodgers wins a second consecutive title, Green Bay boasts about "Title-Town" more than you can possibly imagine, and the Packers are one step closer to being crowned the Dynasty of the 2010's.
NFL MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. Too many weapons and what a team. Likely Super Bowl Champs.
NFC Rookie of the Year: QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers. I have been Newton's biggest naysayer, but I was shocked after his opening day performance. I wouldn't be surprised.
AFC Rookie of the Year: LB Von Miller, Denver Broncos. This dude is a stud and will have immediate impact on Denver's defense. Potential running out his ears.
Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers. He'll turn the ship around.
Most Improved Team: Detroit Lions. The Lions will not be terrible for the first time in recent memory. In fact, their shot at the playoffs is extremely realistic and tangible.
7 Games to Watch
(since I'm a little late, this list excludes opening day)
1. Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons, Week 2
Vick's old home and two of the NFC's best teams. The mascots even create an intriguing matchup. Should be a shootout.
2. Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints, Week 3
Big time measuring stick game for the Texans to see what they're made of. Should be another offensive show. Also somewhat of a regional rivalry.
3. New York Jets @ Baltimore Ravens, Week 4
Preview of my pick for the AFC Championship. Two great defenses and improving offenses. Sure to be a fierce, smash-mouth game.
4. Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles, Week 8
Always an intense rivalry. Both teams will be racing for the division. Also Rob Ryan has established that he doesn't buy the whole "Dream Team" image of the Eagles. Should be as good as ever.
5. Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 9
Always intense rivalry. Can the Ravens smash the Steelers again or will it be more typically defensive?
6. New England Patriots @ Philadelphia Eagles, Week 12
Two playoff teams and a rematch of the 2004 Super Bowl. Has all the makings of a great game
7. Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints, Week 16
Great NFC South rivalry and two stellar offensive teams. We can only hope that neither team rests their starters.