I usually do this every year and they always feel really unorganized, but here they are, my personal predictions for each NFL team in regards to their record and playoff status.
1. Miami- Now before people start calling me crazy and writing me off right now, Miami is the most improved team in this division. No matter what you say, Brandon Marshall makes teams have to respect the passing game each and every down. Ginn was so drop heavy that this wasn't the case last year. Add in that dynamic running game and what I expect to be a very young scrappy defense, and maybe this team has a chance. Side Note: I don't think Henne is that great a QB, but he is good enough to win the division.
2. New York- Ugh, this team is getting way too much love. Both the defense and offense are WORSE in my opinion. They relied so heavily on that great ground game and still will, but it just isn't so great now. Shonn Greene is overrated and has injury issues, and Tomlinson is much the same. Defensively, Antonio Cromartie is a guy who got lucky one year in his career and has been average ever since. Plus, losing Kerry Rhodes was huge. You can't find safeties like him very often.
Record: 9-7 Wild Card
3. New England- Tom Brady still seems very off, and the O-Line in front of him is very much a question mark. If New England can't back off the pass rush with a running game, then Brady will be in trouble. Meanwhile, the defense is a mixture of too old and too young. They put up a good ranking (11th. best I think), but always give up just enough to lose. Secondary is very suspect.
4. Buffalo- This is obvious. QB sucks, O-Line is awful, and the defense is not ready for 3-4.
1. Baltimore- Injuries in the secondary, Ed Reed out six weeks, but yet this defense is still a top-10 unit to me. If Terrell Suggs really does get his pass rush back, then that's just a big load of icing on the big Baltimore cake. Meanwhile, wow did this offense just get amazing. Ravens will still be that great running team with the great O-Line, you know, like every other year. But now add in Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, and TJ notevengoingtobotherspelling and Baltimore finds itself with a team that'll never drop a pass. Joe Flacco will have a great year, and I think Ray Rice becomes a top-5 back this year.
2. Cincinnati- This team is going to struggle mightily with both Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens on roster. Ah, it'll be such an entertaining trainwreck of an experiment. Oh wait, Tank Johnson and Pacman Jones are there as well? Thank you Cincinnati, and here I was thinking there was no more soap opera teams in the NFL. But in all seriousness, this is still a team with amazing defense and a solid running game (despite the fact I think Cedric Benson is a one year wonder).
3. Pittsburgh- I'm not buying what everyone is saying. Pittsburgh Super Bowl talk? Not for quite a while. The O-Line is awful and probably got worse with Flozell Adams in the fold. Hello holding and false starts. Santonio Holmes is departed, yet Mike Wallace is already proclamined his equal? Does Pittsburgh forget that Holmes was well on his way to elite? The defense is starting to decline steadily and Roethlisberger's suspension automatically hurts the team. Luckily Ben comes back for the Raiders game, he is 0-2 against us after all.
4. Cleveland- I don't know what to think of this team. A good O-Line, a QB who looks much better than he did last year, a good running game, and a stout run defense. Really, this team should be competing in the division, but it's Cleveland. So, it is already doomed to fail. They'll be a better team, but it won't show much in the win-loss column.
1. San Diego- Ah the whale's vagina (love Anchorman), San Diego's championship window has effectively been slammed shut (thank you Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill). Like there ever was one anyway. The defense will be ailing with Merriman on decline and no more Jamal Williams (top-10 DT in this league despite injury last year). Phillip Rivers though can still make any receiver look golden, but I doubt the running game gets anywhere with this O-Line. I doubt this team holds the division for another year.
2. Oakland- It all revolves around Jason Campbell, the O-Line, and the development of the wide receivers. This Raiders team is improved, most notably on the defensive side of the ball. The pass rush is mean, and the secondary looks to be great, but the linebackers are still being caught out of position. The problem should get fixed as the year goes on, but it is a definite concern. Russell's absence already makes this team two wins better, let alone improved defense and wide receivers.
3. Denver- Ugh, this team is a disaster waiting to happen. The wide receivers are in question, the team is getting hit hard by injuries before the regular season, at least they still should have a decent defense. Kyle Orton is a good QB and is in my opinion the second best QB in the division. A great O-Line in front of him, and maybe he will have enough time for the receivers to get open. Maybe.
4. Kansas City- This team is improved, with Thomas Jones in the fold the Chiefs have a great 1-2 combo with Jamaal Charles. But teams who have only running games and no pass attack never last. Right Carolina and Tennessee? KC still has O-Line struggles, the defense is very much average, and Cassel is still showing that he's a scheme product. They're getting there but it will still be a while.
1. Indianapolis- Does this really need explanation? Colts are the best team in this division and possibly the conference....again.
2. Houston- Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, need I say more? And with a 1-2 running attack of Foster and Slaton, Houston's offense may have gotten even better. The defense still needs some work, but it is definitely getting there. Houston is a legitimate AFC competitor.
Record: 10-6 Wild Card
3. Tennessee- Chris Johnson will once again just not be enough for this team to make the playoffs. Vince Young still hasn't convinced me, and the defense, while improved, still has question marks. Like how you go from 3 Pro Bowl players in the secondary to zero. Kenny Britt might start to really soar this year, but only if someone takes attention off him. Justin Gage? I don't think so.
4. Jacksonville- I really love the style this team goes with. Mobile QB, a do-it-all back, and a die-hard commitment to running the ball and stopping the run. Sadly, the NFL is becoming the league of spread offenses. Jacksonville's passing attack is still iffy to me even with Mike Sims-Walker and the defense is still a question mark. They're rebuilding with some very nice players on that side, but it'll take a while for them to really get there.
1. Dallas- Two of the last three years my Super Bowl prediction had the Cowboys in it, and I almost considered them again. But sadly the O-Line seems to have regressed and something about their defense feels off. Tony Romo will get hit a lot and I'm not sold on either the running game or Miles Austin. If Dallas can't get a good running game going, then I doubt they go far in the playoffs. But with the division down a bit, Dallas still wins it.
2. New York- For a long time I was proclaiming that the Eagles wouldn't fall far and would still be a Wild Card team. I still believe they can be, but the Giants look and feel like something good. Eli Manning has really built a connection with his receivers, Kevin Boss looks like a better blocking Jeremy Shockey, and the running game appears to be back on track. The defense has regained a fearsome D-Line rotation, and the linebackers look fierce with Keith Bulluck. I have a strange distaste for the Giants, but it's hard to go against them making progress.
3. Philadelphia- I'm tired of hearing people proclaiming Redskins as division contenders. Sorry folks, Philly, even with no McNabb, still have the edge. Kevin Kolb will have a smooth transition, already with plenty of playing time and plenty of weapons. I really think LeSean McCoy is the real deal, and DeSean Jackson is still a receiver on the rise. Add in Jermey Maclin, Brent Celek, and a deep receiver unit and this offense looks primed to win. The O-Line is iffy, and the defense has some weak areas, but the Eagles have not fallen too far.
4. Washington- Donovan McNabb is already getting banged up and the O-Line looks very mildly improved. The running game is basically a collection of past-their-prime backs (sans one Willie Parker). A thin receiving unit and all this offense really has to work with is Chris Cooley. Defensively, the shift to 3-4 will go horribly with or without Haynesworthless on the field. The Redskins actually got worse this year.
1. Green Bay- I have been saying since the Super Bowl, that Favre would return and the Vikings would make Super Bowl. Now I'm skeptical (more on that later). I don't even think they're the best in the division anymore. Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, and now a fully gelled O-Line. Oh and let's not forget that great secondary and pass rush now in the second year of the 3-4. Green Bay looks incredible this year and may even sweep Minnesota this year.
2. Minnesota- WR injuries and a defense that will still struggle when Antoine Winfield gets injured (not if). Let's also not forget that the right side of the O-Line is very iffy. Favre won't be putting up his amazing numbers this year, I'm actually thinking he may revert back to near-Jets form. This Vikings team will rely much more on Adrian Peterson and the new Toby Gearhart. Good thing? Well it's a rookie and a fumble-prone runner, Vikings fans should worry.
Record: 10-6 Wild Card
3. Detroit- What can I say? I really like where this offense is going and think this a legitimate NFL team. The defense, especially the secondary, is iffy. But that offense reminds me much of the Falcons. Good young leader of a QB who can make tremendous plays, a good ground game, a playmaking wideout, only missing piece is the O-Line. Luckily Matthew Stafford has shown he can do some good things behind a bad O-Line. Also, the impact rookie for Detroit is not Suh, but Jahvid Best. Watch a legitimate 1-2 punch of Kevin Smith and Best to open up things for this pass attack.
4. Chicago- The team still lacks a good wideout (Knox is okay but nothing great), the O-Line looks very below average, and the running game still lacks consistency. Jay Cutler, and this entire offense's success relies on whether or not Matt Forte gets it going again. My guess, probably not. The defense did add Julius Peppers, but the secondary can't contain anyone.
1. San Francisco- There's some people putting the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Sorry but Alex Smith and the secondary make me say no thank you. No doubt, this running game looks phenomenal and the O-Line looks miles better. The defense is old school smashmouth, but that might be the problem more than the solution. This team just doesn't have an intimidating pass rusher and the secondary is very iffy. They'll win the division for sure, but playoff success is doubtful.
2. Arizona- I changed my prediction for this team while I was typing this article. I had them third in the division solely because Derek Anderson is their QB. But the running game should be a real factor in Arizona for the first time in a long time, and the defense look like a very stout unit. Arizona still has some bite left in them, and that's why I changed them to second in the division.
3. Seattle- The Seahawks look a bit better this year. I really think this team might be getting somewhere. The offense looks pretty good and the defense seems to be getting back to respectability. However, I thought similar things last year. Matt Hasselbeck is still a good QB, and for those few games that he'll actually play, I think this team will be very competitive. But after he gets injured, look for a very similar team to last year.
4. St. Louis- They looked to be making progress and then wham! Donnie Avery out for the year. For the 6 or 7 games that Sam Bradford will be upright, he'll have few legitimate targets to pass to. The defense still seems questionable to me and the offense can't operate off Steven Jackson alone. I would really like to see St. Louis rise again, but it won't be for a long time.
1. New Orleans- It's been back-and-forth for me. New Orleans, Atlanta, New Orleans, Atlanta, etc. But ultimately I gotta with the team with the better defense and deeper running back corps. I despise New Orleans and all the stupid media feel-good crap, but they admittedly are still a strong team. Successful as last year, no. Plain and simple. I just can't buy them.
2. Atlanta- The lesser of two evils, Atlanta should regain playoff brilliance with Michael Turner and Matt Ryan back in the black and red. The defense looks improved and the youth on the unit should continue to develop. No matter how you look at this team, it's hard to think they can't be a wild card team, or maybe even a division winner. They weren't far off last year, and look even better than their 10-6 year in 08.
Record: 10-6 Wild Card
3. Carolina- I want to say this team is better with Matt Moore. I really want to buy the Wild Card contender hype. But in reality, this team is still got a ways to go. Moore has to bring consistency to this team, the O-Line needs to do a better job keeping pressure off, and someone has to step at the #2 wide receiver position. Defensively, injury to Thomas Davis really hurts and severely lessens the talent of what was a top-5 linebacker corps. The key to Carolina, consistency. Maybe they find it, maybe they don't.
4. Tampa Bay- Tampa might be getting somewhere, slowly but surely. The offense is getting some nice pieces in, and the O-Line is really starting to gel. Josh Freeman might actually put up some pretty good numbers. Emphasis on might. The defense is looking pretty good coming into this season and at the very least will be one hell of a pass rush. And pass rush is always good in this NFL.
KA1Z3R's Super Bowl Prediction
WINNER: GREEN BAY PACKERS
It's weird to say that the Packers will be the Super Bowl champions, but really there's no other team with so great an offense and so great a defense as the Packers in the entirety of the NFL. But over the Colts? Well think of it this way. Few team in the NFL can not only pressure the Colts, but cover their receivers as well. Green bay is one of those teams. Few teams have an offense that can not only match the Colts point-for-point, but score more than the Colts. Green Bay is one of those teams. The Packers have better defense, and better offense.
You heard it here from KA1Z3R's mouth.....well maybe not motuh, more like fingers. Green Bay will hoist the Lombardi Trophy, maybe. My psychic octopus had a sick day so couldn't really help me. But don't let me speak for you, who do you think will win the Super Bowl? What teams will get what record? Leave your thoughts in the comments. I excitedly wait to hear your thoughts.