1. The Saints will not repeat
Last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls? The New England Dynasty that spanned from 2001-2005. And unfortunately for the Saints, they do not have the talent, coaching, or video taping equipment of that great Patriots squad. Sure they have guys like Brees, Colston, Thomas, and Sharper, but they are no where near as balanced as the Pats' dynasty. I'm not saying that a team has to be better or exceed them (Patriots), but it is much tougher to pull off repeats now-a-days. Let's face it, the New Orleans defense will not chalk up as many turnovers as they did last year. Even if they do, you still have a defense that ranked 25th in yards allowed and finished in the lower of the league in poins allowed. Sure they one of the best, if the not best, offenses in the league--but you're going to have to stop teams such as the Vikings, Cowboys, Bengals, Ravens,Cardinals, Falcons (twice), and Panthers (twice). All of which have more than legitimate offenses. They will end up winning the division, but they will falter against a high-profile offense on their path back to the Super Bowl.
2. Only one team in the NFC East will make the playoffs
Sorry, but the NFC East is no longer "the division in football". Besides Dallas, I cannot see any other team having much success this season. Let's start with Philadelphia. They are losing Donovan McNabb, ho led the team to five NFC title games and a lone Super Bowl appearance. Although the Eagles did not pick up the Lombardi Trophy during his reign, McNabb's ability and leadership was the key to Philly's success in the past decade. Now they will have to wait for key players such as Kevin Kolb and LeSean McCoy to develop into superstars and revive their now diminished offense.
Now for the team that has McNabb, the Washington Redskins. Some fans and even analysts have said this team could grab a WIldcard spot, however, I just don't see it. Even with the addition of Mr. Campbell's Chunky Soup, I do not see their offense doing much of anything. Almost every key player on offense is can easily be lost due to their injury history. McNabb, Portis, Parker, and Johnson have all missed significant time over recent seasons due to nagging injuries. Shanahan can count on his defense to keep his team in games, but the offense is very questionable in a number of ways.
And then come the New York Football Giants. My apologies to my fellow New Yorkers, but there is nothing appealing about this team. In fact, they will finish last in the division this year winning anywhere from five to seven games. Their defense, which was their identity from the 2008 team, is not even close to what it was. I was pretty convinced this team would hit a snag in the road after their embarassing home loss to Carolina last season. (Embarassing is a bit kind) Even though it was their last game at Giants Stadium, they came out flat and remained flat as J-Stew and the Panthers rolled to a 41-9 romping. It was a team with no pride or no care in what was supposed to be a celebratory day. In short, the running game is medicore, the defense is almost passable, and it may be time for a coaching change.
3. The AFC South becomes the new NFC East
The South is going to be more than interesting this season. You already know the Colts pretty well, so let me introduce you to the rest of the pack.
Tennessee Titans- How good is this team? Very good. They are 31-17 over the past three seasons and were nearly unbeatable at 8-2 afer Vince Young took over at QB. They are well-balanced on both sides of the ball with Chris Johnson, last year's leading rusher, heading the offense and Cortland Finnegan leading an always intimidating defense.
Houston Texans- It's like watching Jiffy-Pop. The popcorn is trying so hard to burst through the top but seems to fail most of the time. Well, that top may very well pop this season. How can you not look at this team without being impressed? Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, just to name a few. That's pure talent. And with the potential of runningback Arian Foster and wideout Jacoby Jones possibly breaking through this season, the NFL fans may be looking at one of the league's deadliest offenses. This Texans squad is sniffing for postseason, they just need to taste it.
Jacksonville Jaguars (stop laughing)- How would you feel if your parents did not show up for your talent show? You worked so hard to make up your routine, and although it was not the best act, you know you put in effort. You go out to perform and there is no one watching. Would be mad? The Jaguars certainly are. Last year, the Jags received close to no support during last year's home games despite having a decent roster. I feel this team is more than motivated to prove to their fans and to the rest of the NFL that they do exsist and they are legit. Expect big seasons from he multi-talented Maurice Jones-Drew and wideout Mike Sims-Walker. (By the way, what's up with the double names?)
4. More Albert Haynesworth problems
You know it's going to happen. So it's not even worth explaining.
5. Steve Smith (CAR) will be the NFL's top wideout
The only thing I'm more sick of than Brett Favre is having to refer to Steve Smith as Carolina's Steve Smith. Someone tell that other Steve Smith to change his name to Steven because Smitty was here first. Anyway, back to my point. The Real Steve Smitty will stand up. Does anyone remember 2005? When Smitty caught 103 balls, scored 12 times, and racked up 1563 yards while grabbing the NFL's Wideout version of the triple crown. I believe this Steve Smith is still there and perhaps more determined than ever. (Even though it's hard to be more determined than Steve Smith already.) He has something to prove. His numbers have taken a dip in recent seasons and has been getting crap for breaking his arm while playing football, both actual and flag. All the elements are there. For one, Matt Moore is Smitty's best friend. In four games with Moore last season, Smith averaged 94.5 yards per game and reached the endzone three times. With Moose gone from Carolina, Smith and Moore will be the team's second most important tandem next to D-Will and J-Stew.
6. The Jets will put their money where their mouths are (in the regular season)
Wish I could predict otherwise but the Jets will be very good this regular season. How can you not expect a team stacked with so much talent from end to end not to chalk at least 11 wins? Yes, they talk a big game and yes, they have a second year coach and QB, but this team has attitude. This may very well be the toughest team in the NFL. In 2009, they were a solid team and ended up suprising many fans during their shocking postseason run. In 2010, they have a much more talented roster only losing Thomas Jones to Kansas City and Darelle Revis to a temporary contract dispute. They should and will be a better team. But that's where its stops. The Jets will not go very far in the postseason. Mark Sanchez, their most important player, is not ready for the Super Bowl quite yet as he displayed more of his rookie side than his talented side in 2009. Besides Trent Diler with the Ravens, every Super Bowl team has had a top QB and the Sanchize is not there yet. I mean if you tell me a team added LaDanian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Antonio Cromartie, I would be amazed. If it was three years ago. But regardless, the Jets will back up their talk to a certain extent and will once again begin their journey for a title in 2011-2012.
7. Brett Favre will be on Sportscenter more than any other single athlete
Duh. (You didn't think a post about the NFL would go without Brett Favre?)
8. Baltimore will win the AFC
I have no idea why they have not been covered so much on ESPN and other sports networks. This team is flat-out scary. Let's start with what they're known for, defense. Just as it has always been, Baltimore's defense is one of the league's best. Last season, the defense ranked third in the league in fewest yards allowed and have maintained top five status in that statistic since 2005. Terrell Suggs is a force, Haloti Ngata is unbreakable, Ray Lewis still has some left in the tank, and Ed Reed, one of the greatest to ever lace them up, will return much sonner than expected. Simply put, watch out as always.
With the addition of Anquan Boldin, Baltimore's offense has become quite appealing. Their offensive game now becomes even more dimensional. Quarterback Joe Flacco now has the option to either hand it off to emerging star back Ray Rice, pass it to Boldin, pass it to Derrick Mason, or pass it off to Todd Heap. Options galore for Joe Flacco, who I project will be one of the league's premier quarterbacks by year's end.
9. Green Bay will win the NFC
I'll be a bit straight foward on this one. The Green Bay Packers have the most talented team in the NFL. Why do I say that so boldly? Well for starters, they have Aaron Rodgers taking snaps. Rodgers, who threw for 30 TD's while only giving up seven picks last season, is the defintion of a young stud. Next, there's Ryan Grant. With his three seasons with the Pack, the runningback has averaged 1137.3 rushing yards per season while hitting the endzone 23 times. Then to round out the offense is Rodger's fantastic group of weapons which features Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Donald Lee, and Jermichael Finley.
Now to the other side of the ball, defense. Green Bay is putting out a stingy team out on defense. In 2009, the team allowed the fewest yards on the ground, the fifth fewest through the air, and the second fewest overall. They have the best linebacking core in the NFL with Clay Matthews, AJ Hawk, and Nick Bartnett and are led by last year's Denfensive Player of the Year in Charles Woodson. A top five offense plus a top five defense equals great success. So this is it Green Bay. This will be the greatest season in franchise history. I say that because............................
10. The Packers will defeat the Ravens in Super Bowl XLV
Under the gigantic screen of Cowboys Stadium, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will hoist up the Lombardi Trophy. This will be a low scoring, but thrilling Super Bowl as the Packers will edge out Baltimore by the tune of 17-13. Rodgers will supply a game winning drive with under two minutes left in the game and will take home the MVP honors. And best of all, the Packers, the fans, and the rest of Green Bay will get to stick it to Brett Favre.
Standings and Awards
2. NE (WILDCARD)
2. TEN (WILDCARD)
2. CAR (WILDCARD)
2. MIN (WILDCARD)
MVP- Aaron Rodgers
OFF- Chris Johnson
DEF- DeMarcus Ware
Off ROY- CJ Spiller
Def ROY- Gerald McCoy
Coach- John Fox