First of all, record predictions are more a result of best-case scenarios, not built around actual weekly prediction beakdowns. The win/loss ratio will not add up correctly, so don’t expect it to. This is just based on what teams SHOULD be able to do, while trying to stick to who finishes where in their divisions as well.
New York Jets – The Jets are an improved team this season, as long as Sanchez protects the ball. He’s got an array of weapons (namely LT who I believe still has plenty left in the tank) at his disposal. The run-game shouldn’t fall off at all, and the defense should be noticeably improved from their first-overall last season.
New England Patriots – The Patriots return Wes Welker, and Julian Edelman is good enough to mimic Welker as well. Randy Moss is in a contract year, so he’s expected to play big and play well. Don’t expect him to top 20 TD’s, but 15 is plausible. Questions along the defense are many and more. The secondary is shaky and the linebackers aren’t exactly primed outside of Mayo to play big.
Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins could be good for 1 or 2 games +/- on this prediction, depending on the production of the receivers outside of Brandon Marshall, the health of Ronnie Brown, and the play of the linebackers on the pass rush. Will Allen was placed on Injured Reserve, so Sean Smith and the other young corners really need to step up.
Buffalo Bills – I’m highly infatuated with the play of CJ Spiller. This kid is good for 5 wins on his own, even as a rookie. He’s benefitting greatly from the injuries to Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch ahead of him, and will get his chance to dazzle defenses week-after-week. He’s very well on his way to being the next Chris Johnson. Outside of Spiller though, the Bills may have
one of the three worst teams in all of football, and need to put their hopes on next year’s draft.
Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are in position to go all the way. Joe Flacco has more weapons at his disposal, with
Donte’ Stallworth, Anquan Boldin, and as of today, TJ Houshmandzadeh. Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, and Ray Rice will have incredibly huge years. Defensively, the backs are a bit of a security breach, with Ed Reed not expected to play for several weeks. The front seven look as good as ever though, and the Ravens should be fine. Offense will probably outscore every opposing offense anyways.
Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are better than last year, with plenty to give Carson Palmer in the passing game. Cedric Benson surprised everyone last year, playing like the man everyone said he was coming out of college, and not like the man he was in Chicago. TO should help make it easier for Chad OchoCinco to destroy defenses. Speaking of defenses, I still like their corners better than any other tandem in the league, and the return of Odom to the D-Line really improves what turned into a weakness for them in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers – I don’t expect to see Pittsburgh trample anyone. I don’t like their receivers outside of Hines Ward, nor do I like their running game outside of Mendenhall (who won’t see many carries anyways). Defensively, they should be fine… but they need Troy Polamalu to remain healthy (as evidenced last season).
Cleveland Browns – I like some of the Browns skill-position players, and think Josh Cribbs will make huge strides as a receiver this season. Jerome Harrison is an incredible talent as well. I don’t like Delhomme, but I don’t figure he plays too many games. I see
McCoy or Wallace earning the starting position sooner, rather than later. Defensively, I dislike almost the entire front seven (Rogers included), but love the corners.
Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are better all over the board.
The offensive line could be a question, but I truly believe the respect you need for Manning negates any weaknesses along the line. The young receivers (Garcon and Collie) from last year have proven to be worthy of playing anywhere in this league, and the addition of Gonzalez really helps the Colts. Addai will be a huge factor this year as well. Defensively, they’ve shored up a bit of depth, and the health of the line is improved.
Tennessee Titans – Chris Johnson is the best player in the league outside of the top few quarterbacks, and even then, he may be football smarter than a few of them. Vince Young, if healthy, should be enough to make Johnson all the much better, and his receivers should play big for him yet again. The growth of the defensive line should really help the corners, and Safety Griffin is among one of my personal favorites in the league.
Houston Texans – The situation of the Cushing suspension really hinders their progress, and a couple other injuries don’t make matters any better. I strongly dislike their group of corners, and don’t believe they’ve got much to offer. Offensively, they shouldn’t be worse, but I think the mind of Kyle Shanahan is a bit underappreciated in Houston.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Maurice Jones Drew is the heart of this team. I expect Mike Sims-Walker to have an incredible season as well, but I don’t know what to think of anyone else on this offense. Defensively, Kirk Morrison is by far one of my favorite linebackers in the league and should play strong for the Jaguars, but I don’t know what to expect in front of or behind him.
Oakland Raiders – This Raiders team is much better than the team who won some big games last year without Jamarcus Russell. Jason Campbell is in a scheme that suits his strengths, and the Raiders run-game should be much improved. At receiver, Louis Murphy may very well be a true #1 on most teams, and Heyward-Bey apparently has shown signs of growth this offseason. Still like the TE. Defensively, McClain makes them really good, and the line is very solid. I expect to see the Safety play really improve with its youth.
San Diego Chargers – I don’t like the Chargers
without McNeil and Jackson. I think they really stumble on offense without those two. I do like Mathews though, and Rivers is a good regular-season talent. Defensively, Merriman doesn’t seem like the stud he was before, and outside of the linebackers, I really don’t like what they field. DB’s are suspect even without the coward “tackling” of Cromartie.
Denver Broncos – Kyle Orton can win games, as he’s always done… but I don’t know what to think of their offense. Moreno is good, as is Royal, but the rest of the team really boggles my mind. Defensively, no Dumervil really hurts them. I can’t see much of anything in Denver this season.
Kansas City Chiefs – I honestly see bigger things for this team, but I don’t know that this is the year they do it. Jamaal Charles is a good, fast runner and should post big numbers. Dwayne Bowe should have a good year, and Matt Cassel isn’t a bad quarterback at all. Defensively, I like Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers and that’s about it.
Dallas Cowboys – Dallas is a very talented team
all over… they might have the best depth in the league outside of the offensive line. What worries me is they’re a passing team with a run-blocking line, and they don’t like to run, which is what breaks them down late in the year. Felix Jones is an explosive player, and should excel this season. Miles Austin is a stud at receiver, and Dez Bryant will be talented. Witten will have a big year. Defensively, questions at safety and that’s it.
Washington Redskins – I don’t like the receivers too much, but the verdict is still out on them. McNabb automatically makes the team better, Portis is in great shape, and Cooley & Davis are without a doubt the best Tight End tandem in the league. Defensively, the 3-4 conversion should only improve a perennial top-10 defense, and takeaways should come often. Should win against a tougher opponent or two.
New York Giants – I don’t like the run-game at all. I don’t think Bradshaw is ready for as many carries as they tried to give him last year, and Jacobs just isn’t as hard a runner as he should be. Eli will still struggle passing the ball in the wind, but should still have a big year regardless. Defensively, I like Safety all over, especially Rolle. I don’t like the linebackers at all. Line is still deep.
Philadelphia Eagles – Kevin Kolb is not Aaron Rodgers, and the Eagles will find that out fast. McCoy might be ready to take over at running back, but the Eagles won’t run more than they have in the past. There will be a learning curve. Defensively, they’re improved at linebacker and along the line, defensive backs outside of Samuel still worry me.
Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers is a top 5 quarterback, believe that. This kid is amazing, and will continue to be amazing this season. The run-game is still suspect, but the Packers expect the line to be improved. The defense is better than what they were against better QB’s last year but still have some questions. Like the young safety back there and Clay Matthews is an animal.
Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings will be good this year, with
and without Sidney Rice. Favre’s got the option of handing the ball off, so that lack of a true #1 option at receiver isn’t of concern. Last year, he knew he could pass, and it gave Peterson a huge break from his ultra-physical style, this year, they can pound the ball and throw off playaction. Defensively, I’m worried about the backs, but the front seven they have could make any DB’s look good. Jared Allen is probably the best defensive end in all of football right now.
Chicago Bears – The Bears have a
good chance at being decent this year, if they focus. Forte should have a strong campaign, and the receivers should be improved in Mike Martz’s offense. I still question the defense, and whether Urlacher will ever be healthy. Briggs should have a big year, but the DB’s are a question mark.
Detroit Lions – They’ll lose the division to the Bears, but they’ll still perform well enough to be competitive. Stafford is a really good QB, and now he’s got options left and right at TE and WR. Megatron should have a huge year. I really like Jahvid Best at running back, he’s in the same mold as Spiller, though not as fast downfield. Defensively, Schwartz is building a real competitor, some young talent at LB and decent DB’s, and Suh is a monster.
New Orleans Saints – They’re better than last year, in every facet… which is scary to imagine. What makes them really scary is everyone thinks they have that hangover, and with Sean Payton’s teams… you can’t doubt them. The defense is much improved and should be stingy, on top of being able to cause more turnovers. The Saints are here to stay.
Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons could be a real good team this year, and it all lies on Michael Turner. If Turner is healthy, this prediction stands true. If he finds himself injured, I’m not big on Atlanta at all. I do like Ryan, but think he’s overrated. Defensively, they’ve got some real good pieces with a fast front seven, so they could wind up with a lot of interceptions.
Carolina Panthers – Not a fan of the defense, especially without Peppers. DB’s not adequate enough to stop high-powered offenses. I expect Clausen to end up starting soon, which is where the bulk of their wins occur. Still like Williams and Stewart in the backfield, and the team hopes to have talent outside of Steve Smith at receiver now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I like the way
they’re starting to rebuild, but that’s the problem, they’re rebuilding. Good talent on the lines, but outside of the lines, not much going on. Really love Cadillac Williams still, he rejuvenated his career last year and stayed healthy. He should be better this year and find some big production. Outside of that, nothing of note in Tampa.
San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers have an incredibly talented offense, but I’m still skeptical about Smith. Frank Gore will have an incredibly productive year, and Michael Crabtree will step into his own. Davis is a great pass-catching Tight End and should have a big year again. Defensively, they’re a rock. Really like Patrick Willis’ ability to make things happen for his entire defense.
Arizona Cardinals – Without Kurt Warner, I worry for this offense. I also don’t believe they’re better without Boldin there, and will surely stumble regardless. Do like the running back situation though. Defensively, Dockett is still a beast, and will create havoc. They have the biggest safety tandem perhaps ever seen in Wilson and Rhodes. Rodgers-Cromartie will definitely find himself benefitting from the intimidating safeties. Porter provides a solid pass-rush from linebacker, but I still think they downgraded without Dansby.
Seattle Seahawks – Don’t like their squad at all, but apparently Pete Carroll knows how to bring the best out of Mike Williams at receiver. Defensively, I like Trufant still… and Earl Thomas is a beast. Don’t really know what to think about the front seven though.
St. Louis Rams – I really like Sam Bradford, and I believe he’s going to be as good as any in a few years. He’ll struggle
without Avery and needs a receiver. Jackson should still play hard, but surgery could have an effect on him. Defensively, they’ll hit hard and rush intense like Spagnuolo likes, but behind the line I don’t see anything of note. Rebuilding as well.
Playoff predictions after the jump.
- Indianapolis Colts 14-2
- Baltimore Ravens 13-3
- New York Jets 11-5
- Oakland Raiders 9-7
- Cincinnati Bengals 11-5
- Tennessee Titans 10-6
- New Orleans Saints 14-2
- Green Bay Packers 13-3
- Dallas Cowboys 12-4
- San Francisco 49ers 10-6
- Minnesota Vikings 11-5
- Atlanta Falcons 10-6
(6) Tennessee Titans vs. (3) New York Jets
(5) Cincinnati Bengals vs. (4) Oakland Raiders
(6) Atlanta Falcons vs. (3) Dallas Cowboys
(5) Minnesota Vikings vs. (4) San Francisco 49ers
(3) New York Jets vs. (2) Baltimore Ravens
(5) Cincinnati Bengals vs. (1) Indianapolis Colts
(3) Dallas Cowboys vs. (2) Green Bay Packers
(5) Minnesota Vikings vs. (1) New Orleans Saints
(2) Baltimore Ravens vs. (1) Indianapolis Colts
(2) Green Bay Packers vs. (1) New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl XLV:
Baltimore Ravens vs. New Orleans Saints
Winner: New Orleans Saints