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2012 NFL Predictions
2012 NFL Predictions
It is that time of year again. Time for some football. I almost can't believe it. The fact that the season is starting on a Wednesday might be why it doesn't seem real. But it is. Tonight the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants open the season against division rival Dallas Cowboys. It should be a good one even though Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is not expected to play. In honor of the season kicking off here are my predictions as to who we will see in this years playoffs. Let's revisit this in a few months to bask in my genius shall we?
East ~ Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants came out of the NFC East last year and won it all. Like their last run four years ago they got hot at the right time. I don't see that happening this year and have the Giants out of the playoffs.The Eagles had a lot of expectations last year and started out 4-8. Then it seemed to click. The defense started to gel under new coordinator Juan Castillo and they finished strong. This may be head coach Andy Reid's last year and I think the Eagles will play up to expectations this time around. The Cowboys are the darkhorse in this division. They have the talent but can't seem to put it together for a full season. In Washington it will be the RGIII show. If he can produce at a level half of what Cam Newton put up last years I think the Skins will be pleased.
South ~ Atlanta Falcons
The New Orleans Saints have a lot of drama to deal with this year which I believe opens the door for the Falcons. I expect this to be the year Matt Ryan puts his name up there with the elite in the league. Newton and the Panthers will be improved but I see them as more of an 8-8 team than a threat for the playoffs. At least this year. As for Tampa Bay, they should be an improved team but they just aren't there yet. That said this division could be really, really good next year.
West ~ San Francisco 49ers
This was probably the easiest choice of the four divisions. And that is only because the Niners took off last year. They were done in by their special teams last year in the playoffs when they lost Ted Ginn Jr. to an injury. It may very well have cost them a trip to the Super Bowl. They won't sneak up on anyone this year but they are the class of the NFC West. Seattle may be better, or at least that is what the experts are saying. I just don't see it. The Cardinals are going with John Skelton behind center and he gets the luxury of throwing to Larry Fitzgerald. Not a bad gig to have. The St.Louis Rams might finish with the worst record in the league. They need big strides from Sam Bradford this year to avoid that.
North ~ Green Bay Packers
The Packers won it all two years ago and went 15-1 last year. To think they won't win the division would be foolish. It is theirs until someone takes it from them. The Chicago Bears just might be that team. I expect huge things this year from Jay Cutler as he is reunited with former teammate Brandon Marshall. Those two make some sweet, sweet music together. Detroit ended a long playoff drought last year but I don't see the playoffs in their future this year. That is more due to the strength of their division rather than a knock on them. They are a good football team but it won't be enough this year. That brings us to the Minnesota Vikings. They will go as far as Adrian Peterson can carry them. Coming off of surgery, I don't think it will be very far.
Wild Cards ~ Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints
As I mentioned above I am a big believer in the Bears. If they didn't share a division with the Packers I would pick them to win their division title. That being said they will be playing in January this year. The Saints should also make it. They may be facing a lot of adversity due to bountygate but Drew Brees is too good to not lead this team to at least a wild card spot.
East ~ New England Patriots
In the AFC this is the easiest pick to make. New England has owned the division for the past decade and is showing no signs of stopping. The Jets have regressed and for all the hype Time Tebow is NOT their savior. He could, however, make life interesting for Mark Sanchez if he struggles early on. Buffalo was a trendy pick last year and that didn't turn out too well. They are a semi-sexy pick again this year to end the league's longest playoff drought (12 years) but I don't see it happening. That brings us to the Dolphins. There really isn't a whole lot of optimism down in Miami and I can't blame them. At least the Heat will be opening their season shortly.
South ~ Houston Texans
This is by default really. I like the Texans and if they were in a better division I might pick them but honestly there isn't a whole lot else here. They made it to their first playoff appearance last year without Matt Schaub and Mario Williams along with injuries to Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. Aside from the Texans who is the next best team here? The Colts are starting fresh and coming off a 2-14 season. The Jaguars just got Maurice Jones-Drew back from his holdout but they shouldn't scare anyone. That leaves the Titans. Maybe if Matt Haselbeck was starting I would give them a shot but they are going with the young gun in Jake Locker. He will have some growing pains this year. So, as you can see, unless something catastrophic happens here it should be the Texans. They can pad their record by beating up on their division opponents as well.
West ~ San Diego Chargers
This is the toughest division to call. I am going to stick with the Chargers because I think they have too much talent to have another subpar year. Philip Rivers should bounce back from his interception-laden 2011. If Ryan Matthews can be the player the Chargers thought he could be when they drafted him they should be fine. The Broncos might make a run for it with Peyton Manning but I think he will need some time to adjust to a new system, new division and to playing not only outside, but in the altitude in Denver. They should still lock up a wild card though. The Chiefs were ravaged by injuries last year but I just don't seem them as a serious contender. Romeo Crennell should keep them competitive but I think 8-8 is where they will wind up. Oakland has been better lately and will have a full season from Carson Palmer which will help. What they need most though, is a full season from Darren McFadden who was on his way to an MVP-calibur season before a foot injury last year.
North ~ Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore was a Lee Evans sure TD catch away from the Super Bowl last year. I think they will be just as good this season. They will have to play without defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs for awhile as he recovers from surgery but they still have Ray Lewis and Ed Reed for one more run. Ray Rice will be a legit MVP candidate this year. The Steelers will challenge the Ravens for the top spot but I think they will fall a bit short. Their run game has me concerned due to the injured Rashard Mendenhall. Cincinnati is a fun one. They made the playoffs last year under rookie signal-caller Andy Dalton and should be good this year too. I just think their division is too tough for them to make the dance this year. Cleveland.....well, they have a rookie QB and a rookie RB which might make some Browns' fans optimistic about this year. They shouldn't be. They will challenge for the worst record in the NFL this year.
Wild Cards ~ Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers
Peyton Manning is all I need to hear to believe Denver will secure a playoff spot. If they did it with Tebow taking the snaps for most of the year they can certainly do it with one of the games best. The Steelers are, well, the Steelers. They get a nod simply on tradition alone.
Well, that is how I see it all playing out this year. Disagree? Agree? Tell me all about it below in the comments section. Seriously. Do it. And enjoy the game tonight and the rest this weekend.