With pre season officially kicking off tonight, I feel it is time to finalize my picks and get them out there. Personally, I have to say, I feel more optimistic about the Giants this year than I have in a while, I really feel they have the NFC East this year. I see a few teams that were in the playoffs last year not there this year, and maybe one or two new faces (or a former perennial playoff team back to form). Toughest Division this year will be either the NFC South or East, walk in division winners will be New England and Green Bay, I don't see much, if any competition in the AFC East and the Packers are so far above the mediocre competition. Cutler being in a contract year could mean something for the Bears but I still see GB winning the North by at least two games.
The Super Bowl in cold weather....won't be an issue for either Conference winner, and as I said before I see a rematch from years gone by, with possibly similar results. Let's get to it.
AFC East- I really like what Miami has done but their schedule in completely unfair, they could easily start 1-4 before getting into winnable games (Cle,Ind,Atl,NO, Balt) to start. The Jets could easily start as bad as 0-9 but there are a few winnable divisional games in there to start but first half has NO,NE(2) ,ATL,PITT, CIN. The Pats, as usual as a decently easy schedule and even with missing two TE's they will easily win the East.
New England Patriots 11-5 (3)
Miami Dolphins 8-8
New York Jets 5-11
Buffalo Bills 2-14
AFC North- Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati...all playoff teams? Maybe. The Steelers haven't really shown great improvement this offseason, the offensive line and pass protection remains an issue and Cincy and Baltimore carry a better defense. I don't think the Ravens are even close to the team they were last February and will be struggling to race the Bengals to a division win.
Baltimore Ravens 11-5 (4)
Cincinnati Bengals 10-6 (5)
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
Cleveland Browns 4-12
AFC South- This could be a tough division race, I like the Colts if Luck continues to develop quickly. Of all the young QBs in the league right now I still think Luck will be the most successful (although Kap is off to a quick start). The Texans are on the verge of being the new Chargers, a 12+ game winner that goes nowhere in the playoffs and I have no faith in them for January.
Houston Texans 13-3 (1)
Indianapolis Colts 10-6 (6)
Tennessee Titans 7-9
Jacksonville Jaguars 2-14
AFC West- Maybe the only division worse than the AFC East but with Alex Smith and Coach Reid in KC and a new start for the Chargers things could get tough. I really, really like big things to happen for Manning and the Broncos, I think this is their year.
Denver Broncos 12-4 (2)
Kansas City Chiefs 9-7
San Diego Chargers 7-9
Oakland Raiders 3-13
AFC Wild Card
(6) Indianapolis Colts at (3) New England Patriots Pats win
(5) Cincinnati Bengals at (4) Baltimore Ravens Bengals win
(5) Cincinnati Bengals at (1) Houston Texans Texans win
(3) New England Patriots at (2) Denver Broncos Broncos win
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans Broncos win the AFC
NFC East- Start every team in this division as 1-1 because this division of hard fought rivals are going to all split their games against each other. I love what the Giants have done in the draft and free agency, and have made more improvements than any other team in their division. They want to play the Super Bowl at home this year and have proved it to their fans. RG3? Down year, not as bad as Cam's sophomore effort but not as good as his rookie year. Big question mark in Dallas, they have the talent to be a 12 win team but can they play together for 16 games.
New York Giants 11-5 (4)
Washington Redskins 9-7
Dallas Cowboys 8-8
Philadelphia Eagles 5-11
NFC North- Green Bay all day. Sure, the Vikes have gotten a boost from a reborn AP but the Pack have Rodgers and that trumps all. I don't know what to think of the Lions and Bears, they could each win 6 or 10. To me, the only constant in the North is the Pack, everything else in a pure guess. The question for Green Bay is can they beat San Fran and NY? These teams have been an absolute thorn in the side the past few years and they have to pull them out. That LB crew has got to cover that middle and Rodgers needs better protection against these fast defensive fronts and LB's. They do that and January is their month to own.
Green Bay Packers 13-3 (1)
Chicago Bears 8-8
Minnesota Vikings 8-8
Detroit Lions 6-10
NFC South- Things are changing in the south, and number one is the Saints will be back to form this year, offensively anyway. I'm still not convinced on their defense to stop teams in their division like the Falcons and Panthers but they will return to the playoffs. The Falcons are a curious team, a winner that just can't get that one last step. Can they beat the Packers or 49ers in the playoffs? How about the Panthers? They hinge on the arm of Newton,if he can keep mistakes to a minimum this team can win 9 games. Tough, tough race...
Atlanta Falcons 12-4 (3)
New Orleans Saints 11-5 (5)
Carolina Panthers 8-8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-12
NFC West- The division of defense. I like the 49ers and the Seahawks...and I kind of like the Rams to be a real pain in the ass, even the Cards play good defense they just don't have a QB who can lead. The top teams are led by young QBs who looked great last year, but can they repeat that success? Can the 49ers climb to a third straight NFC Championship? Eh...not likely.
San Francisco 49ers 12-4 (2)
Seattle Seahawks 11-5 (6)
St.Louis Rams 7-9
Arizona Cardinals 3-13
(6) Seattle Seahawks at (3) Atlanta Falcons Seahawks win
(5) New Orleans Saints at (4) New York Giants Giants win
(6) Seattle Seahawks at (1) Green Bay Packers Packers win
(4) New York Giants at (2) San Francisco 49ers Giants win
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers win the NFC
Denver Broncos vs. Green Bay Packers
Once again the Broncos old man will take on the Packers young slinger....same results? I say, yes. I'm picking Peyton Manning to lead the Broncos back to glory over the Packers in as close as a match as Elway and Favre gave us in 1997.