Everyone else is doing it, so why not me?
To be honest, I love reading these things, but I’ve never written them. So I wanted to dip my toe into the pool, so to speak. Many others have, so why not me?
Some quick thoughts before jumping into the predictions…for whatever reason, this season has a very unpredictable feel to me (so of course, I want to make some predictions!). Many new coaches, some old faces with new teams, a lot of emerging young talent..all culminating in the first NY Super Bowl in February. Certainly much to look forward to!
AFC East: Patriots
This ends up being probably my easiest pick. The Jets are a mess, the Bills are in the midst of change, and the Dolphins..well they are the Dolphins. I expect Miami to finish second in the division, but not likely to offer a challenge to the Patriots, in spite of all of New England’s new faces at WR.
AFC North: Ravens
I go from easy to hard. The black and blue division is a challenge to decide, as I could have gone with Baltimore, Pittsburgh or even Cincinnati. The Browns under new ownership are not quite ready to make some noise, but ought to begin to show signs of real improvement, which will only make this division that much more challenging. In the end, I give the nod to the defending Super Bowl champions.
AFC South: Texans
I really like the Texans, and have for a couple years. They are a young and exciting team, fun to watch. The Colts and Texans have a budding rivalry made all the better by the rising Andrew Luck. Apologies to Titans fans, but I see this as a tough season for them. As for the Jaguars? I will be very interested to see how Gus Bradley does, but those new uniforms will be painful to watch.
AFC West: Broncos
Denver, with Manning leading the charge, could be one of the most exciting offensive teams the NFL has seen in quite some time. With the talent they have, and how close they were just last season, I don’t see anyone else claiming the West. The Chiefs, with Andy Reid at the helm and Alex Smith under center, may not threaten for the division crown (yet), but a Wild Card spot could be in the cards. The Raiders have shown steady improvement of late, and should continue that trend this year, putting up a better challenge. The Chargers, another team with a new coaching staff but with talent on the field, will be worth watching but I don’t see them as a threat for the playoffs.
AFC Wild Cards: Colts and Steelers
Really think the Chiefs will be in the running for a Wild Card spot, perhaps until the final week of the season.
NFC East: Redskins
This division is going to be a mess this year, just because I feel it is going to be a very hard fought division overall. If the Redskins falter, I would not be at all surprised with the Giants taking the crown. The Cowboys, for all the money they’ve invested in Tony Romo, just don’t get into the discussion. The Eagles under new HC Chip Kelly will absolutely be entertaining to watch, but until they have their long-term answer in the offensive huddle, they will be exciting but nothing more. Since the Giants are a co-host of the Super Bowl, its worth mentioning that they have at least a reasonable shot at actually playing in and hosting the Championship game-however, the way I expect things to unfold, if they don’t take the division, I don’t see them taking one of the Wild Card spots.
NFC North: PackersIt is very hard to go against Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings and Adrian Peterson will be in the mix, and Chicago will be interesting to watch with yet another new HC, especially if their O-Line can protect Cutler. And, after taking what looked like a step forward, the Lions remembered they were…the Lions. They have a good deal of talent, I just don’t know if they can make it all work.
NFC South: Falcons
Considering how close they were last year, there’s not much reason to think they can’t improve upon it. I don’t expect the Saints to let them have an easy go of it, with Payton back on the sidelines. The Buccaneers will be a solid team, but not strong enough, and Carolina may be left wondering what to do next if this season goes badly for them.
NFC West: 49ers
I could go either way, between San Francisco or Seattle, and I do believe that there is a very real chance that one of these two teams represents the NFC in New York in February. While Arizona and St. Louis continue to change things up and are putting promising teams together, neither looks to have any realistic shot of knocking off either of the West’s top teams.
NFC Wild Cards: Seahawks, Saints.
AFC Champion: Broncos
NFC Champion: 49ers
Super Bowl Champion: Denver Broncos