Jul 032012
 

I will start the ball rolling on the staff predictions from our writers. Call me a homer, but I think that a team that is returning nearly all of its explosive offense from last season, was one play away from winning the Super Bowl, and then spent its off-season vastly improving the defense is a pretty good bet to return to the Super Bowl again this year. This time however, I see the Patriots taking the crown and tallying their fourth Lombardi Trophy in twelve years.

Outside of New England, the AFC is shaping up as a battle of flawed teams. Baltimore, so close to getting back to the Super Bowl last season, is aging defensively, hurt by the loss of Terrell Suggs, and is facing a holdout from Ray Rice. Pittsburgh vastly improved its offensive line, but the rookies can not be expected to contend with better defenses, and the Steelers’ defense is going through a transformation that is not guaranteed to be a success. Houston is a fashionable early favorite, but this team has yet to win consistently and the defense is still a work in progress. While the Texans look like my dark horse candidate, I don’t see them having enough to yet compete with the Patriots, particularly on the road in January. The Broncos are banking on a full recovery by Peyton Manning and early signs are good, but unless he plays really great defense this team simply cannot keep the Broncos in the game against top tier teams. The Bills are up and coming and are my favorite for a wildcard spot, but offensive inconsistency and a mediocre secondary likely doom any playoff run.

In the NFC, the 49ers and Packers are likely to fight for supremacy this year, with the Giants and Saints following behind. The Eagles and Bears are my early wildcard favorites, as I am anticipating a step back from the Lions this season. Dallas will continue to tease their fans with a playoff berth and Tony Romo will have a great season, until he screws up a couple of games with bonehead plays, a la 2011. Don’t be surprised if Jerry Jones loses his patience and there is a big house cleaning after the season. Despite the Saints being ripe for the picking, I expect the Falcons to falter, while the Panthers take another step towards relevance this season.

Feel free to heckle these comments; just remember to post your own predictions if you think you are better at this than I am!  :-)

NFL REGULAR SEASON

AFC EAST
New England

14

2

#1 Seed
Buffalo

10

6

#5 Seed
New York Jets

8

8

 
Miami Dolphins

6

10

 
AFC NORTH
Baltimore

11

5

#3 Seed
Pittsburgh

8

8

 
Cincinnati

7

9

 
Cleveland

5

11

 
AFC SOUTH
Houston

11

5

#4 Seed
Tennessee

9

7

#6 Seed
Jacksonville

4

12

 
Indianapolis

3

13

 
AFC WEST
Denver

11

5

#2 Seed
San Diego

8

8

 
Kansas City

7

9

 
Oakland

4

12

 
NFC EAST
New York Giants

11

5

#3 Seed
Philadelphia

10

6

#6 Seed
Dallas

9

7

 
Washington

6

10

 
NFC NORTH
Green Bay

13

3

#2 Seed
Chicago

11

5

#5 Seed
Detroit

7

9

 
Minnesota

3

13

 
NFC SOUTH
New Orleans

10

6

#4 Seed
Atlanta

8

8

 
Carolina

8

8

 
Tampa Bay

5

11

 
NFC WEST
San Francisco

14

2

#1 Seed
Seattle

6

10

 
Arizona

6

10

 
St. Louis

3

13

 
 
NFL POST-SEASON
 
AFC Wildcard Round

Baltimore over Tennessee

Houston over Buffalo

 
NFC Wildcard Round

Philadelphia over New Orleans

New York Giants over Chicago

 
AFC Divisional Round

New England over Houston

Baltimore over Denver

 
NFC Divisional Round

San Francisco over Philadelphia

Green Bay over New York Giants

 
AFC Championship

New England over Baltimore

 
NFC Championship

San Francisco over Green Bay

 
Super Bowl

New England over San Francisco

 
POST-SEASON AWARDS
 
Most Valuable Player – Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Offensive Player of the Year – Ray Rice, Baltimore
Defensive Player of the Year – Patrick Willis, San Francisco
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Robert Griffin III, Washington
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Luke Kuechly, Carolina
Comeback Player of the Year – Peyton Manning, Denver
Coach of the Year – Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco

Ghost Rat

Football fan and longtime follower of the New England Patriots. Happily married father, professional, and author.

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