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NFL Season Preview

In Sports on August 8, 2011 at 5:24 pm

by:  Eric Buenning

Everybody does one, so why not me?

NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers (13-3)

This would have been a little worse of a record if Philadelphia didn’t make their moves and then anoint themselves “the dream team”.  Suddenly, the defending champs go back to being the hunters instead of the hunted.  That’s a incredibly dangerous motive to give an already accomplished team.

Detroit Lions (10-6)

Finally, Detroit will climb out of the bottom of this division with a breakout season.  With a healthy Matthew Stafford an a terrifying defensive line, Detroit will finally reach their full potential.

Minnesota Vikings (7-9)

Donovan McNabb was an upgrade at the team’s quarterback spot, but he isn’t a godsend.  The Vikings will be relatively competitive, but just won’t have enough to win the close games that separate good and bad teams.

Chicago Bears (6-10)

The addition of Roy Williams? Good.  The loss of Greg Olsen? Not so good.  The Bears are basically the same team.  So what will lead them to their down year?  Their already porous offensive line got worse with the departure of Olin Kruetz and their road schedule is much more difficult than the pillow-soft one they had last year.  They’ll be okay, but they just won’t be able to put much together this season.

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints (12-4)

The Saints finally have the “defending champs” target off their backs, so they should feel no pressure to do anything spectacular this season.  I also feel like those off-season workouts during the lockout has to give them some sort of advantage over the other teams in their division.

Atlanta Falcons (11-5)

I think Atlanta got their wake-up call in last year’s playoffs when Green Bay obliterated them.  They’ll come back hungry and re-loaded with new deep threat Julio Jones.  It will no longer be Roddy White or bust for this passing offense, which will in turn lead to a even better season for running back Michael Turner.  Look out for this offense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)

I anticipate a little bit of a step back for Tampa this year.  They surprised everyone last year, and I would be shocked if they surprised them again this  year.  Josh Freeman is a hell of a leader, but he is a few quality pieces away from turning this team into a powerhouse.

Carolina Panthers (5-11)

Cam Newton will be exciting to watch, and the team added some quality players in the off-season, but this rebuilding process is a couple years away from really paying off again.

NFC EAST

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

The “dream team” won’t be as great as everyone expects them to be.  Michael Vick just can’t have another superhuman season like he did last year.  If he can, the Eagles will be a very strong threat to win the NFC.  Donovan McNabb also might have been right when he made these comments.  We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.

Dallas Cowboys (9-7)

The Cowboys will get some their confidence back, but I just don’t believe that they are good enough to compete with the upper-echelon of teams in the NFC quite yet.

New York Giants (7-9)

There will be chaos in New York if this comes true, and I think it will.  The Giants didn’t really get a whole lot better, and they have way too many holes to fill and not enough time to do it.  At least their will be some spirited radio and television discussions in New York all season…

Washington Redskins (4-12)

There just isn’t anything to believe in (for me) about the Washington Redskins.  Nothing about their team suggests that they will bounce back after a year of turmoil with McNabb and Coach Shanahan.  There will be some tough times in D.C. this fall.

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals (9-7)

Maybe Kevin Kolb and someone like Todd Heap are the answer in Arizona.  In this division, even the slightest upgrade can catapult you the division crown, which is exactly what those trades will do.

San Francisco 49ers (8-8)

This team will get better under the guidance of Jim Harbaugh.  Once they realize that Alex Smith is not the answer, they will improve.  But, they just signed him to a one-year deal, so their ceiling is right about here.

Seattle Seahawks (6-10)

Tavaris Jackson is not Matt Hasselbeck.  Not for a while, at least.  The off-season additions will seem all fine and good at first, but when the team needs Tavaris to make a big, late-season play, he will fall short.  Without decent quarterback contributions, this team just doesn’t have enough to remain competitive.

St. Louis Rams (4-12)

Although I do believe the Rams are better than this, I have a strange feeling that Sam Bradford will get hurt at some point and have to miss the rest of the season.  That will crush any chances that the Rams had coming into the season and will force them to salvage anything they can for 2012.

NFC Playoff Picture: #1: Green Bay Packers, #2 New Orleans Saints, #3 Philadelphia Eagles, #4 Arizona Cardinals, #5 Atlanta Falcons, #6 Detroit Lions

 

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens (11-5)

I think that Baltimore’s offense will finally breakthrough and become relatively potent.  Joe Flacco will also finally have a very solid season.  Partner that with a re-energized defense after a down year, and you have your division champs.

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)

The Steelers have had down years after their last two Super Bowl appearances, and this year will be no different.  (Random, not realistic hope for the Steelers: James Harrison become the first player ever to get a multi-million dollar fine for threatening to kill Roger Goodell).

Cleveland Browns (6-10)

Just another ho-hum losing season for Cleveland.  Nothing special.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-14)

These two wins will be squeakers, too.  This team will just flat out stink.  They are a mess, and it will be painful to watch all season long.

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans (10-6)

This will be the year!!! The Colts finally won’t win the division!! Houston got just enough help this off-season to propel themselves to champions of this division.

Indianapolis Colts (9-7)

A down year, by Colts standards.  I don’t believe that Peyton Manning will be entirely healthy all season, and somebody will figure out how to stop that offense eventually.

Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)

Jacksonville needs a breakthrough season to ensure that Jack Del Rio keeps his job, and they will not be able to do that this season.  David Garrard is suffering from a back injury, and I don’t think the defense has what it takes to cover for the offense.

Tennessee Titans (7-9)

Matt Hasselbeck is good, but not great.  I think Kenny Britt doesn’t do much this season due to legal trouble, and Chris Johnson can not carry an otherwise static offense.

AFC EAST

New York Jets (12-4)

The Jets are finally going to win something and make Rex Ryan look smart.  Plaxico will be a more valued weapon than most would imagine, and they should finally escape the Patriots’ shadow.

New England Patriots (11-5)

The Patriots will still be explosive, but not as unpredictable as last year.  Chad Johnson will have a really solid season, but being swept by the Jets this season will be too much to overcome in the division

Buffalo Bills (7-9)

Maybe there is some hope in a Ryan Fitzpatrick-CJ Spiller/Fred Jackson/Stevie Johnson combination.  Buffalo will improve slowly, but not be a threat to anyone.

Miami Dolpins (5-11)

Chad Henne is not the answer.  The Dolphins made a mistake by not getting someone to replace him.  They will struggle mightily offensively this year, especially when their entire backfield just left through free agency.

AFC WEST

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)

Nobody can stop that running game.  It’s fantastic.  They are so dynamic on offense it’s frightening.  They’ll be repeat division champs.

San Diego Chargers (10-6)

The Chargers will become a threat again to take the division crown, but they will just fall short the Chiefs’ pace.  Their offense will be ready to go with Vincent Jackson back for a full year, and the secondary is improved with the addition of Bob Sanders, but they won’t get their division crown back.

Oakland Raiders (8-8)

This will be a very exciting and competitive team…but it’s also Oakland.  They’re close to being dangerous, but somehow Al Davis seems to screw them over each year.  2011 will be no different.

Denver Broncos (7-9)

Denver just isn’t good enough.  Kyle Orton isn’t good enough.  Their defense won’t be able to handle the explosive offenses in Kansas City and San Diego, and I think that the growing support of Tim Tebow will become too much for Kyle Orton, who will be benched at some point for SuperTim.

Playoff Picture: #1 New York Jets, #2 Baltimore Ravens, #3 Kansas City Chiefs, #4 Houston Texans, #5 New England Patriots, #6 San Diego Chargers

Well, there you have it.  Hopefully I’m not too terribly inaccurate.  Hey, at least we have football to speculate about, right?

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