NFL Season Preview
It’s been a long seven months without the game us real sports fans love. With so much parity in the NFL, every fan can truly believe that this is the year that their team will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy. Let’s take a look at each division and who I believe will be in the playoffs this season.
AFC East – For over a decade, the New England Patriots have dominated the division. It appears that it will be no different this year. Even losing Wes Welker in free agency, Rob Gronkowski recovering from surgery, and the release of Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady will be able to adjust and will create new chemistry with Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson. The Miami Dolphins will be much improved with the new additions to both sides of the ball. Even with the improvement, it seems that they are still a year away for pushing for a playoff spot. The Buffalo Bills seem to finally be going in the right direction with the selection of EJ Manuel. Manuel has the opportunity to bring stability to the QB position for the first time in Buffalo since Jim Kelly. Then there is the New York Jets. Their only chance is to ground and proud but their personnel on offense don’t suggest that it will be successful.
AFC North – The Defending Super Bowl Champs the Baltimore Ravens will be looking to defend their crown but the core of that championship team is gone. The Ravens will find it very difficult to make it to the playoffs let alone repeat as champs. The Pittsburg Steelers will be looking at a bounce back year after missing the playoffs for the first time in recent memory. With Ben Roethlisberger in his second year in Todd Haley’s offense and the leadership of Head Coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are primed to be back in the hunt. Also their defense was top rated once again. The Cincinnati Bengals seem to be the favorite this year to win the division and with their recent draft that they picked TE Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard, it would be a disappointment if they didn’t. The Cleveland Browns are improving but will still be at the bottom of the division.
AFC South – This division will come down to the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans seem to be ready for the next level of making the Super Bowl. The recent disappoints in the playoffs will fuel this team to win this division but how will they match up against high power teams in the playoffs. The Colts will have a say in how the division is won but they are still in transition from the Manning years. They have the right piece in Andrew Luck to make a run. The Jags and Titans will be at the bottom of this division.
AFC West – To must fans, it’s the Broncos and then it’s everybody else. The Broncos are for sure the favorite. I can’t see a reason besides health that will stop the Denver Broncos from winning this division. The Kansas City Chiefs will be much improved with Andy Reid system and Alex Smith taking over at QB. The Chargers will be interesting to watch because I want to see if Phillip Rivers will reclaim his elite play or continue the regress. Then there are the Raiders. Good luck with the Terrell Pryor era.
NFC East – In recent memory, this division has come down to the last game whether it involved the Cowboys vs. Giants or the Cowboys vs. Redskins. This will be the year that the Cowboys get over the hump with the division title. With a new 4-3 Tampa 2 defense, Tony Romo being more involved in the offensive game plan, and Dez Bryant developing as one of the best WR in the game, it will finally be the Cowboys time to shine. RGIII and the Redskins will certainly make noise this year and are healthier at this point as they were last season. The Giants cannot say the same with their health. They are thin at OL, S, and RB. Chip Kelley and the Eagles new revamped offense will be interesting to see but their defense I believe will be a mess.
NFC North – This division will be a tight race until the last week of the season. Many would consider the Packers to be the favorites but with a new offense in Chicago, and Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, it will not be a cake walk. Same issues are there for each team. Can the Packers defense play at a championship level? Can the Bears protect Jay Culter? Can Christian Ponder carry some of the load off of Peterson’s back? Can the Lions defense play good enough for them to make a run?
NFC South – I believe that each team in this division are built to win now. The Falcons were less than ten yards away from going to the Super Bowl. Is Stephen Jackson enough to get the dirty birds over the hump. Will Sean Payton be the difference this year to put Drew Brees and the Saints back in contention? Bucs and Panthers will make this division very interesting with each team’s defenses. Still may not be enough to overtake the division.
NFC West – Maybe the best division in football, we all know that this division will come down to the 49ers and the Seahawks. The Defending NFC Champs and Russell Wilson’s Seahawks will go back and forth for that division title and a chance to have a to host a home game in the playoffs. Don’t sleep on the Rams and Cardinals this year as well. Will Tavon Austin be the target that Sam Bradford has been missing? Is Patrick Peterson primed for a breakout season offensively and defensively?
Predication for Playoffs AFC: 1. Denver Broncos 2. New England Patriots 3. Houston Texans 4. Cincinnati Bengals 5. Pittsburgh Steelers 6. Indianapolis Colts
Predication for Playoffs NFC: 1. Atlanta Falcons 2. San Francisco 49ers 3. Dallas Cowboys 4. Green Bay Packers 5. Seattle Seahawks 6. Washington Redskins