As we ready ourselves for another exciting season of NFL football, I have spent countless hours working through fantasy drafts, rosters, pre-season games etc. to try and get a pulse on what to expect this season.
Yes not all of my NFL predictions last year were flawless, but in all reality who really is perfect every year? This year I’m back with my bold (and some obvious) guesses on what I believe will go down this season. So first we will look at the NFC, then part 2 will cover the AFC. So as always, sit back read and relax and let’s get ready for another great season of football!
This year the popular pick is the Dallas Cowboys going into this season. The Cowboys certainly have the weapons on offense with 3 good running backs, and at WR they added first round pick Dez Bryant to the mix. If the defense plays up to potential, and Tony Romo can shed the label of “choker” the Cowboys stand to have a great year.
The rest of the East is anybody’s guess. The Philadelphia Eagles have started a new chapter and have done away with QB Donovan McNabb, RB Brian Westbrook, and the brothers Andrews, who were a mess on that offensive line. The Eagles have to find an identity fast or can struggle and find themselves out of playoff contention. They did make some nice additions to the defense, but we have to wait and see if it will be enough.
The Washington Redskins are interesting with new coach Mike Shanahan, new QB Donovan McNabb, and RB Larry Johnson now in the mix. The Redskins made no improvements on a brutal offensive line however, and did not add depth at WR, which could hurt new QB McNabb. The defense still brings a decent squad on the field, and it will be needed early in the year to keep this club in games.
1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Washington Redskins
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. New York Giants
Wild Card expected: None
Last year the Central was a wild 2 horse race between 2 very good football teams, and this year should be pretty much the same.
The Minnesota Vikings still boast an excellent defense, the veteran QB Brett Favre and an exciting offense filled with play makers. They will have to go without top receiver Sydney Rice for the first half of the season but still feel they have the weapons to contend. This was a team that just missed the Super Bowl last season.
The Green Bay Packers are many peoples choice to be the darlings in the conference this year. QB Aaron Rodgers has become a top-notch QB, and RB Ryan Grant had a big year last year. There is a lot to get excited about with great depth at WR, TE and a defense that came together well in learning the new 3-4 scheme the second half of the season.
The Chicago Bears are becoming a whole new team. A squad that once was totally about defense now brings in offensive coordinator Mike Martz, and loads of speed at WR. Free-agent signing RB Chester Taylor should also help improve the ground game. The defense however is not what it once was, and cannot do much to save the Bears here.
The Detroit Lions are still the Lions, but learning and growing. WR Calvin Johnson is thought by many to be one of the better players in the NFL, and they have added some nice pieces to the offense. However this is still a work in progress on defense, but they will win some games.
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Chicago Bears
4. Detroit Lions
Wild Card expected: Vikings
The New Orleans Saints still look like the best team here. QB Drew Brees is in his prime and has good WR and RB around him. The ground game will lean heavier on Pierre Thomas this season, which I don’t see as a problem. Last season the Saints showed signs of life on defense too, and are one of the more complete teams in the NFL.
The Atlanta Falcons are a good looking young club, but need to stay healthy to compete. Last season injuries at QB and RB hurt them during the year. They made some moves at CB to help sure up a rough pass defense, and if they can stop the opposition from big pass days, they have a ground attack that can play great ball control and clock games.
The Carolina Panthers are working with young QBs but still have a great 2 back system. They will lean very heavily on DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart to carry them on offense. On defense they made some changes, but some think it is a unit that has gotten weaker. Long time coach John Fox may be seeing his last season in Carolina.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be one of the worst teams in the league, but all for the sake of rebuilding. They are young at most positions, have a second year head coach and little left from a once great defense.
1.New Orleans Saints
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Carolina Panthers
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wild Card expected: Falcons
The NFC West:
Any team that can play .500 football should be able to walk away from the rest of a soft pack here. The San Francisco 49ers is my favorite team to take the West. They have a very complete club, filled with good leadership, ball hawking defense and a talented offense. Head coach Mike Singletree has this team playing with sheer attitude and they are rough and tough enough to back it up on the field. The only thing I see stopping this team this year is the team itself.
The Arizona Cardinals have made quite a change. QBs Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart are gone as is WR Anquan Boldin. This year they are expected to rely more on the ground game and keep it simple for new QB Derek Anderson. The defense is still fast, but may lack the size to handle tough running teams like San Fran.
The Seattle Seahawks won’t thrill Pete Carroll with his decision to leave college ball this year. QB Matt Hasselbeck is a pass away from breaking down and his back-up Charlie Whitehurst has never thrown a pass in the NFL. They recently released WR T.J. Houshmanzedah, and that leaves them thin there as well. Seattle looks to be very much in rebuilding mode.
The St. Louis Rams have already let it be known they are not contenders. They will go to rookie QB Sam Bradford, who despite being a rookie will show some good signs, but they have little else on either side of the ball to matter.
1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. Seattle Seahawks
4. St. Louis Rams
Wild Card expected: None
Of course with injuries and under-achieving we really do not know who can come out where. It is my feeling going into this year that offense seems to be more powerful than in years past with the NFC, and in my opinion it will come down to the 2 very best offenses in this conference which to me is Green Bay and Dallas.
Conference Winner: Dallas Cowboys
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]
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