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NFC West Predictions

The final division, and the one that for so long was such a push over, but no longer… okay, maybe a few more years.

4. 49ers.  I like the 9ers, and I like what Harbaugh is going to do to this team, but last night I had the realization that perhaps the reason that he is starting Alex Smith is so that he can coast into last place and get Andrew Luck, and bring their glory days at Stanford to San Fran.

3. Seahawks.  OMG they got a bunch of other teams rejects and the injury prone Sidney Rice who minus Brett Favre has had an average career.  They’re gonna be the best team ever.  Wrong.  T-Jack will show us how to play like, well, T-Jack.  Him starting to me might be just another sign from another coach (this time, Pete Carroll) that they’re trying to coast right into that 1st round pick to try to have Luck turn their fortunes around (note: I am not sure I’m on board yet with Luck, look what happened to Locker (granted I still think Locker is going to be the best QB from this draft, but that’s another story)).

2. Cardinals.  Zona is doing all the right things to be competitive in a relatively weak division.  The signed Larry Fitzgerald to a long-term deal, beyond that everything else is gravy.  Which bring me to Kevin Kolb, the most delicious gravy that Zona has had at QB since Kurt Warner left.  They two seem to make a great tandem, and they will be very competitive in the West this year.

1. Rams.  STL has the best QB in the division by far.  Sam Bradford the last #1 overall pick before the lockout rules changed their salary rules still seems to be worth it after his first season.  If he can keep up those kinds of numbers the rams will win this division.  Also, too many people are counting Steven Jackson down and out, don’t think that’s necessarily the case, he’s still a good back and should help the Rams.

NFC South Predictions

To catch up before the season starts I’ll write two today and finish off with the final division on the opening day of the season.  The NFC South is another tough division to predict especially with players capable of so many drastic performances, in particular at QB.  The worst QB in the division (in my opinion) is Cam Newton.  That doesn’t mean that he won’t show that same out right ability to win like he did in college.  Now the predictions.

4. Panthers.  Well duh, they were the worst team last year, this is such an easy prediction–or is it?  The panthers will most likely be the worst team in this division, but don’t expect them to be the push overs they were last year.  Expect them to win some games and expect them to upset a lot of teams.  They will be a fierce competitor and no where as bad as they were last year.

3. Buccaneers.  They are a good young team of the future, and Josh Freeman is a great up and coming QB that could will this team to a few extra wins, but again this division is going to be tough and they could be much higher in this division.  I predict them to finish 3rd mostly based on their inexperience and the talent on the other two teams ahead of them.

2. Saints.  The Saints offense is potent with the pass game.  Drew Brees has shown many people that he’s a great QB (take that San Diego).  Now with the addition of Mark Ingram, I feel the saints have an all around offense capable of putting up lots of points as well as possible running out games now with Ingram.  The Saints will be back in top form, and watch for them not to lose to the NFC West winners again.

1. Falcons.  Atlanta has made some big moves this offseason.  Julio Jones and Ray Edwards being two of the bigger names (although I disagree with Ray Edwards, Jared Allen, Pat Williams, and Kevin Williams would make me look like a pretty awesome DE especially only a few years removed from the roids).  Their Offense looks to be over powering for most defenses, so it will be interesting to see if the Falcons of 2010 can keep their magic going and be the first team to win the NFC South in consecutive seasons.

NFC North Predictions

Sorry folks for the delay.  I don’t tend to right on the weekend, and I was ill yesterday.  So after my return from the IR (migraine) I think it appropriate to talk about the NFC North where migraines have slowed the Vikings star reciever Percy Harvin a fair share of times.

The NFC North is the hardest to predict in my opinion.  I think that with the exception of the Packers finishing last, I could see anyone finishing in any position in this division.  That being said, here’s how I feel that it will end, but I won’t be shocked if I’m completely wrong.

4. Bears.  That’s right, I said Bears.  Falling from 1st to 4th.  The Vikings are familiar with that story line, so why won’t that trend continue in the NFC North.  The Bears did little to help their team, their players are mad at them for not getting contract extensions, and Jay Cutler has no one (talented) to throw the ball to.  Despite what a large number of people think, this is exactly where I predict the Bears to finish.

3. Vikings.  The Vikings had their collapse of a season last year, and started their rebuild in week 11.  New coach (Leslie Frazier), they broke the Iron man (Brett Favre), and they woke up the sack master (Jared Allen). Watch for the Vikings to return to 2009 form.  That being said, don’t expect them to finish just a FG away from the Superbowl, but also don’t expect the catastrophic breakdown they had last year.

2. Lions.  The Lions are a much improved team.  I was always onboard with Stafford being one of the best QBs in the league.  He definitely looked the part in the preseason, but whether or not he’ll hold onto it will be how the Lions fair.  I think that he will barring another injury, which would almost certainly end his career as a Lions glass QB.  I don’t think he’ll be injured, and the Lions will be a far better team.

1. Packers.  I said the Packers would surprise me to finish 4th.  So naturally I predict them to finish first.  The Packers will be the reverse of last year in my opinion.  The will have a strong crushing regular season, I’m thinking in the ball park of 14-2.  I think that flame (slash) other teams’ desire to be them to be the Packers undoing, and have a finish to the 2011 season much like the Falcons and Patriots did last year (Perhaps even at the hand of the Falcons).

NFC East Predictions

Day 5 of the predictions has led us squarely to the NFC East.  A division that for oh so long had been the great division, but now has had seasons here and there where it struggles. 

4. Redskins.  Let’s face it, Shanahan wants to build his team the way he wants to build it, a very respectable thing.  That being sad, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will the Redskins.  They will be at the bottom of the East, possible the bottom of the NFC, and darn near the bottom of the NFL.

3. NY Giants.  It’s tough for me to predict this (not that I like the Giants).  The Giants are nowhere near a 3rd in the division team, but the top of this division is very good.  That being said, it’s not all that unlikely that the Giants sneak into second, but that seems unlikely.  Eli Manning will have to carry this team if that is to happen, and Manning isn’t know for his ability to career 300+ pound players.

2. Cowboys.  “America’s team” hated by almost everybody north of Oklahoma City, looks to return to their winning ways after a dreadful 2010 season (slash dreadful coach).  Garrett should lead the Cowboys offense far better, and Ryan looks to improve the defense by leaps and bounds.  Expect Dallas to compete and very likely be a playoff contender.

1. Eagles.  The Eagles looked good last year until they got beat by the Packers.  Although once the playoffs started, didn’t most teams look ugly because of the Packers.  People say that Vick struggled against blitzing but watch for that not to be the case this year.  Vick has matured drastically since his stay in the big house, and he will learn from his mistakes based on his new maturity.  Eagles expected to be the most dominant team, but I don’t think that will be the case.  If they can all come together, watch for them to be the best in the NFC and the Patriots to be the best in the league.

AFC West Predictions

The final remaining division in the AFC brings us out West to a division that was a joke a few years back, but it quickly turning out some good teams. 

4. Raiders.  Let’s face it, the Raiders are trying to do the right things to build a good team, but it’s just not happening.  Jason Campbell has been 3 times the QB that JaMarcus Russel was, but that doesn’t mean he alone can change around this franchise.  The drafting of Tyrelle Pryor just shows that while Oakland is trying to do somethings right, they’re still stuck in their old ways.  Oakland will be at the bottom of this division, but don’t expect them to roll over and die like most teams at the bottom, if a few bounces go their way, they could easily be higher up in this division.

3. Chiefs.  I’m going a little bit bold in this division, but I like what Kansas City has done, and I feel that they will be an under-appreciated team (even by me).  The Chiefs acquisition of Steve Breaston alongside Dwayne Bowe, mixed with the impressive Jamaal Charles gives KC a chance to be very competitive and again could be higher in this division; however, if Matt Cassell doesn’t step up and be the free agent pick up that he was 2 years back, then watch for KC to possibly slide even further down to the bottom of the division and possibly league.

2. Broncos.  I’m a huge Broncos fan and a huge Kyle Orton fan.  That’s not why I have them up to 2nd in the division when they finished 2-14 last year.  John Fox (who I’m not a huge fan of) and the change back to a 4-3 D will make the Broncos vastly more competitive this year.  I think that Orton continues his dominance throwing the football (for most of the early part of the season Orton was on pace to 5,000 yards passing).  If they continue to have the defensive problems they had last year, they could remain in the league’s cellar, but don’t count on that.  Expect the Broncos to have a good season and potentially push for a Wild Card spot.

1. Chargers.  Phillip Rivers will carry this team once again.  With all of the other teams incapable of prying Malcolm Floyd away from SD, Rivers looks to have all his weapons back.  The Chargers will be a forced to be reckoned with.  I think the Chargers easily win this division, bringing the real question to be, will they start to win some playoff games against some of the super powers in the AFC.

AFC South Predictions

Now on to the South Division where the Constant Colts are starting to run into trouble with their defense and QB’s neck.  The other three teams have all been very interesting to watch, sometime they show signs of greatness, at others, they show why the Colts have been atop this division oh so often.

4. Jaguars.  The Jaguars have many problems, but the biggest problems they have are having to play the Colts, Texans, and Titans twice every year.  MJD will not be the back that he once was, and I feel that Garrard will lose his starting job, however, that could be solely based on the O-line.  The Jags will fall to the bottom of this division where they could stay for a while unless Gabbert shows that he can be a pro-style QB.

3. Titans.  The Tennessee Titans are looking for a rough year ahead.  Even if they get Chris Johnson signed soon, it will be awhile until he gets back into the flow of the offense.  Expect that both he and the Titans to have a rough and ugly year.  That said, perhaps when Johnson does sign, Jake Locker will be making his first NFL appearances and the franchise can start yet another turn around (but maybe this one will stick unlike the Kerry Collins/Vince Young led turn arounds).

2. Texans.  The Houston Texans offense seems to be complete.  They can run, they can throw, at times their down right scary.  What will be scary to the Texans fans is their Defense.  It will be very disappointing and when they need them to come through, don’t expect it always to happen.  The 3-4 defenses of Wade Phillips always tend to be a disappointment to its fans.  They will have some growing pains at first, but perhaps the Phillips of old will get them back on track and win some games, but it’s tough to win this division.

1. Colts.  Sure the Colts are the easy pick, and I could see them falling back if the two big ifs from the Texans and Titans happen (Texans D and CJ2K).  I on the other hand don’t like to play with ifs.  I think that Peyton will play from Day one, and lead the Colts well enough to lead this division.  Sure you could say Peyton is an if, but I don’t see a guy with the 2nd longest start streak in NFL history as an if to play and play well.

AFC North Predictions

Day 2 of Big Z’s NFL predictions brings us to the NFC North, a division that bounces around a lot in the last couple of years.  The Bengals and their former glory, the Ravens who won a Superbowl (now seemingly forever ago), the Steelers and their dominance as of late, and the Browns… yeah, them.

4. Bengals.  The Bengals have been on a crashing course with their destiny lately to be at the bottom of the division, and in my opinion the bottom of the leauge.  I agree with Carson Palmer that this team is mis-managed.  I also agree with management that Palmer needs to play out the rest of his contract.  I thought the Eagles should have let Terrell Owens sit and rot at the bottom of their roster, but they didn’t do that.  Either way, Palmer gave them their best shot to win any time since he was drafted by the Bengals.  By not dealing him they ruin a small part of their future too.  Even still, their short term future looks awfully bleak–wait, just awful.

3. Browns.  Despite my burn on Cleveland Browns, I think they’re doing the right things lately to help their organization.  The trading away of Brady Quinn (after the mistake of taking him), the drafting of Colt McCoy (and not stupidly trading up to take him too early), and the way they use Joshua Cribbs is terrific.  It shows that this organization is trying to be competitive (unlike the Bengals who are rolling over and dying).  Holmgren started this team down a solid path, and it appears that they’re still heading down it.  The division at the top is too much to overcome, but watch for the Browns to at least reamain competitive.

2. Ravens.  The Baltimore Ravens are a team to fear in the AFC.  Their defense is always dominant, and for the last couple of years their offense is getting more dangerous.  Flacco, Rice, Boldin, I’m a little upset to see what their doing with their offensive line, losing Gaither and acquiring McKinnie, but other than that they are looking for another solid year.  Flacco has a bit of a chip on his shoulder with all the talk about how he has to win big games inorder to be considered an elite player, so watch for him to have a big year.

1. Steelers.  Unfortunately for the Ravens they have to share a division with the Steelers.  I am not a Steelers fan, and I would love to see them crash and burn.  Last year without Rapist-berger I thought for sure it would be their downfall.  But the team just found ways to win.  Expect them to do the same this year.  Roethlisberger and Mendenhall will have another strong season and continue to power the Steelers deep into the playoffs.

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