Last year I almost got things right as I picked the Steelers and Saints to meet in the Super Bowl but I had the Steelers winning. Whatever, I will take what I can get. If you want to see what I picked for last season you can hit the link here [http://threeriversburghblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/2010-nfl-predictions.html].
As I said last year and in 2009, these are just basic predictions. I go through here and pick the division winners in each of the four divisions in the NFC and AFC and then I pick the two wild cards and then tell you who is going to meet in the Super Bowl and who is going to win it. I might throw out vague win/loss records but I didn’t go through every team’s schedule, or even just the teams I give records for, and say “win, loss, win, win, win…” Hopefully you enjoy it. Let’s get after it.
North – I got to go with the Green Bay Packers here. They are probably the best team in the NFC but as Steelers fans we all know how repeating does, it isn’t that easy. The Packers came a game short of winning the division last year but were struck with a ton of injuries early in the season that really almost cost them a playoff spot. If the Packers can stay right they are going to be a really good team, again. The weakest part of their game is their special teams. It cost them some games last year but the offense and defense might be good enough to make up for lapses. I don’t think it will be all that easy for the Packers though with the Bears in the picture. I actually think that most people are discounting the Bears this year and they can make a legit run at the Packers in the North. I have a feeling Jay Cutler is going to have a huge year and if he does then this team can be really good. Detroit is the pick that everyone is going with. They have some talent now and will no longer be a pushover like they have been in the past. I can maybe see them going 8-8 but I think they are about a year away from making the playoff push. I have no idea about the Vikings. They should get six or seven wins.
South – This was a good division last season and what most people don’t realize is that they had three teams finish with 10 wins or more. Atlanta won the division by two games with 13 wins and I expect them to do the same this season, although not by two games. Matt Ryan is pretty good at what he does and with Roddy White and Julio Jones he has a couple of nice targets to throw to along with Mike Turner and Jason Snelling to hand the ball off to. The defense is decent and should do just enough to get the division. The Saints are going to be the same team we have seen for the past three or four years with a strong passing attack and an opportunistic defense. If they defense can force a ton of turnovers like they did two years ago then this might be the team to win the division, that is how tight this might be. I don’t think Tampa will get back to 10 wins, but Josh Freeman is a really solid quarterback. Carolina sucks.
East – Philadelphia is going to be picked by everyone and their mother to win the East and that is who I am going with. They have a really strong group of players and they went into the free agent market with a frenzy to get the players they wanted. It doesn’t hurt that those players are difference makers. Mike Vick got the fat $100M contract and he gets to hand the ball off to Pitt boy Shady McCoy and throw it to DeSean Jackson. Not too bad. I think the Cowboys turn it around this year. I hate the Cowboys more than almost any team but they have a pretty talented roster. The Giants will push the Cowboys for the second spot but I just don’t see it in Eli Manning and Washington is just Washington.
West – The NFC West is still a mess. Seattle won the division last year, by default, but they are a much, much, worse this year and wouldn’t be surprised if they finished third in this division. I have no idea who is going to win this division. I guess you can pick St. Louis but they are still young, but I think I like them. Bradford seems to have some decent weapons with him and if Steve Jackson can get it rolling they can win this division. Yea, I am going to go with St. Louis. Arizona should be better even if Kevin Kolb is not for real and San Francisco should be pretty bad and round out the division.
South – The South is really a tossup with the health of Peyton Manning. If Manning stays healthy the Colts can probably get 10 wins, without Manning healthy this is a non playoff team and might finish third in the division. That is pretty unlikely with how bad Houston and Tennessee are but that is really how important Peyton Manning is to the Colts.
East – The East, much like the South, is a two team race. The Patriots and Jets are the toast of the division and in the end the Patriots are just the better team. I have some concerns about their defense, because it is pretty bad and they can be gashed for huge yardage, but Tom Brady is the best in the game. Look at the receivers that Tom Brady has had to work in the past? Outside of Randy Moss it has been the likes of Dion Branch. However, since spygate the Patriots have been a good regular season team and a pretty bad playoff team, like not winning a playoff game since 2007 bad. I don’t think Mark Sanchez is that good and Rex Ryan’s antics are old and played out already, but they have talent and Miami and Buffalo just have no idea what its team is doing now, so there’s that.
West – San Diego should win this division running away. They have the best quarterback and best skill position players and as much as I hate to admit it they can put the fear into the team across the ball when they are on. The problem is that they are so hot and cold it is hard to pin them. That and their special teams are awful. Kansas City is the second best team in the division and Jamal Charles might be the best all around back in the league. Denver and Oakland are joke teams.
North – Ah, the North. Last year the Ravens and Steelers both finished with 12 wins but it was the Steelers that got the last laugh despite missing Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the season. The key was consistency. If you broke the season into four different four game segments the Steelers were 3-1 in each of them. I think the Steelers win this division this year but Baltimore is going to be really close. What is weird is that the Steelers and Ravens will conclude their regular season meet ups after week nine. Going to be different to not have a huge Baltimore Pittsburgh game down the stretch run for the division title. All-in-all I think that it comes down to the skill position players and the Steelers are just better. Ben Roethlisberger is better than Joe Flacco and receivers he has employed are much better (Ward, Brown, Sanders, Wallace). Both defenses are top notch and as we have seen in the past it is going to come down to the quarterbacks. Cleveland might be surprising this season if Colt McCoy can continue his strong play so maybe they can reach eight wins. If Cincinnati wins more than two games I will be shocked.
NFC Final Standings
NFC Champion: New Orleans
AFC Final Standings
AFC Champion: Pittsburgh
Super Bowl XLVI Winner: Pittsburgh
You didn’t think I would be homer on this? Shame on you.