August 10, 2011

My Vision For The 2011 NFL Season

AFC East
New England (12-4, 1st seed)
New York Jets (8-8)
Miami (5-11)
Buffalo (4-12)

     The Patriots have picked up a bunch of interesting pieces, and while that may turn out to be disastrous, I think they'll have a pretty good season.  This is a team that 14-2 last year, and I'm pretty sure they got better.  As for the Jets, I hear about all the guys they lost and only one guy they picked up (Plaxico).  At some point, their string of AFC championship appearances has to end, and I think this is the year.  Miami will be terrible after losing Ronnie Brown, and Buffalo is a long way from contending for anything.

AFC North
Baltimore (11-5, 3rd seed)
Pittsburgh (11-5, 5th seed)
Cleveland (6-10)
Cincinnati (4-12)

     I tend to overrate Baltimore, but I really like that team.  Pittsburgh remains relatively unchanged after last year's Super Bowl loss.  The Browns are somewhere between decent and bad, and one of the Bengals' best players would rather retire than play for that team, so that can't end well.  Nothing new to see in the AFC North.

AFC South
Indianapolis (10-6, 4th seed)
Houston (9-7, 6th seed)
Tennessee (8-8)
Jacksonville (5-11)

     I don't believe that the Colts can keep overacheiving the way they have in previous years.  This is not a great team, but with Peyton they'll still win the division.  The Texans may have lost out on Nnamdi Asomugha, but they've been considered one of the most talented teams for the last few years now.  They have to make the playoffs soon.  Tennessee has Chris Johnson, some good defensive players, and a solid veteran quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck.  I see them doing better than most people would expect.  The Jaguars, on the other hand, are still boring and fanless, and should suffer again this year.

AFC West
San Diego (11-5, 2nd seed)
Oakland (7-9)
Denver (6-10)
Kansas City (5-11)

     I can tell that the first thing you noticed is me putting the Chiefs last in the division.  I don't trust any team that has an unexplainable jump in wins from one year to the next.  I don't think the Chiefs really got that much better; they just played very well last year.  Expect them to go back to a pre-2010 level of production.  San Diego seems to always do well in the regular season, so there's no reason to mess with that.  Oakland is talented, though slightly less so without Asomugha.  Denver isn't great but should be alright with Tebow.

NFC East
Philadelphia (13-3, 1st seed)
Dallas (10-6, 6th seed)
New York Giants (8-8)
Washington (4-12)

     I can't get past the fact that the Eagles are loaded.  That doesn't always help come playoff time, but it should be really beneficial in the regular season.  Dallas played really well with Jon Kitna and Jason Garrett last year, so I don't think it's too much to expect them to make the playoffs with Tony Romo and Jason Garrett.  Maybe I've just been listening to Colin Cowherd too much.  The Giants have Osi issues and aren't that great anyway.  Washington has a mess at the QB position, little talent across the board, and an egotistical, annoying coach.  They should thank me for giving them 4 wins.

NFC North
Green Bay (12-4, 2nd seed)
Minnesota (10-6)
Detroit (9-7)
Chicago (7-9)

     Minnesota?  10-6?  What?  Hear me out on this one.  I love Minnesota's roster as a whole.  They have Adrian Peterson, a great run blocking O-line, the Williams Wall, Jared Allen, and some good linebackers.  Add in Donovan McNabb trying to prove himself, and the Vikings could do great things.  I see the Packers as the Giants of 2008, coming off a Super Bowl win as a wild card, winning a bunch of games in the regular season, but not quite getting it done in the playoffs.  I'm unsure about their chemistry with so many "new" guys coming off the IR.  Detroit is becoming really good, but the playoffs are still out of reach for them.  And Chicago overperformed a lot last year.  There's no way they go 11-5 again.

NFC South
Atlanta (12-4, 3rd seed)
New Orleans (11-5, 5th seed)
Tampa Bay (7-9)
Carolina (5-11)

     The Julio Jones move was awesome in my opinion.  The Falcons' offense will be as close to unstoppable as you can get.  New Orleans has most of their players coming back, so they'll be fine.  The Bucs' record last year was way too good in so many ways, but I like them enough to only drop 3 of those wins.  And Carolina is just not that good.

NFC West
San Francisco (8-8, 4th seed)
Arizona (7-9)
St. Louis (6-10)
Seattle (5-11)

     And you thought the Minnesota thing was the weirdest prediction I'd make.  Originally, I gave Seattle 4 wins (a mess at QB), St. Louis 5 wins (they improved by 6 wins last year and should come back down a little), Arizona 6 wins (I don't hate Kolb but I don't think he'll do as much as everyone thinks), and the 49ers 6 wins (a mess at QB but good pieces everywhere else).  Then I realized playing against NFC West opponents would help each team's record, so I added one win to each team.  Still, another 7-9 division winner didn't make sense.  Needing to put one more win somewhere to get a league total of 256, I went with a complete hunch and gave it to the Niners.  They do have Frank Gore and Patrick Willis.

Playoffs

AFC
3 Ravens defeat 6 Texans
5 Steelers defeat 4 Colts

2 Chargers defeat 3 Ravens
1 Patriots defeat 5 Steelers

2 Chargers defeat 1 Patriots

     I seem to do this every year.  But at some point the Chargers will win playoff games.  It's not like they've lost all of them by a lot.  They're just not catching the breaks, and I think they can catch those breaks this year.

NFC
3 Falcons defeat 6 Cowboys
5 Saints defeat 4 49ers

3 Falcons defeat 2 Packers
5 Saints defeat 1 Eagles

3 Falcons defeat 5 Saints

     This played out as a series of redemptions.  The Falcons become motivated by their timid playoff performance last year, and return the favor the Packers gave them in 2010, by beating them at their own stadium.  The Saints know not to take the NFC West winner lightly this time around, and not only defeat the Niners soundly but also beat the top-seeded Eagles.  The Saints come close to the NFC title but can't quite pull it off.

Super Bowl:  Falcons defeat Chargers, 20-15


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