Well, due to a combination of poor time management and school starting back up for me, I won’t be able to finish my ambitious rankings series of all the NFC East. With that being said, I was still able to make my predictions for the NFC East (and NFL) this season.
Tonight’s game: take the Giants at -4. Jason Witten and Jay Ratliff are injured, the Giants are the defending champs, and the champs tend to do well opening night. Combined with the hellacious Giants pass rush being unleashed on the terrible Cowboys OL, I see a good start to the season for the defending champs. Giants (-4) 27, Cowboys 17.
My projected standings:
1) New York Giants 11-5
2) Philadelphia Eagles 10-6
3) Dallas Cowboys 8-8
4) Washington Redskins 6-10
My reasoning: I think the Giants are going to play more like the team that showed up from Week 16 through the end of their Super Bowl run than the team that was 7-7 through the first 14 games of last season. Remember, they had their best regular season in their recent run the year after they won their first Super Bowl title. That team jumped out to a dominant start before falling into disarray after Plaxico Burress shot himself in the thigh at a nightclub, causing the team to fall into a tailspin. That team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in a Wild Card game in New York. I think the Eagles have more talent on paper than any team in the division (and maybe in the NFL), but I’m expecting Michael Vick to miss at least 4 games this year, which will put a serious dent in their win total. When healthy, though, this Eagles team will be very tough to beat. I think Dallas is weak on both the offensive and defensive line, and the lack of depth behind their skill position players will come back to haunt them because Demarco Murray, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant all have injury histories. The Redskins will be much improved this season with Robert Griffin III at QB, but it’s tough for a rookie to lead his team into the playoffs, especially in a difficult division and with a questionable secondary and offensive line.
Here are the rest of my NFL predictions:
My thinking: The Packers are arguably the best team in the NFL despite a step back on defense last year, and the Bears are greatly improved with Brandon Marshall and a healthy Jay Cutler. Detroit’s defense is shaky and Minnesota is not good.
My thinking: The Saints will struggle somewhat in the wake of Bountygate and the Falcons and their new passing attack will benefit. The Panthers still need more defense to contend and the Bucs are a couple pieces away.
My thinking: The Rams and Cardinals are both terrible and Russell Wilson is a 3rd-round rookie QB. The 49ers will regress from last year but it will still be enough to capture a weak division.
NFC Playoff Seeding:
NFC Playoff Results:
Wild Card Round:
Eagles (6) defeat Giants (3) 27-23
Bears (5) defeat 49ers (4) 20-10
Packers (1) defeat Eagles (6) 38-31
Bears (5) defeat Falcons (2) 31-17
Packers (1) defeat Bears (5) 30-24
My thinking: a healthy Eagles team is too much for the Giants and the Bears match the Niners on D and surpass them on offense. The Eagles D can’t keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, however, and the Bears benefit as Atlanta flounders in the postseason again. The Packers win the 2010 NFC title game rematch and advance to the Super Bowl again after a 1-year hiatus.
My thinking: The Patriots and Bills both have incredibly easy schedules, and both made serious offseason additions (Brandon Lloyd, Chandler Jones, and Dont’a Hightower in New England, Mario Williams in Buffalo). The Jets offense looked abysmal in the preseason and I have a strong feeling that the best part of Miami’s season will have been “Hard Knocks” when it’s all said and done.
My thinking: Terrell Suggs being out for most of the year with a torn Achilles pushes the Steelers just past the Ravens in the division this year, but both are dangerous teams that are tough to beat. The Bengals will fall back to Earth a bit this year with a harder schedule, and the Browns are terrible.
My thinking: The Texans are far and away the best team in the division, and will play like it. Tennessee has a QB controversy and a difficult early slate of games. The Colts are set to dramatically improve with new QB Andrew Luck and new HC Chuck Pagano, and I saw enough of Blaine Gabbert last year to vault the Colts over them.
My thinking: The Chiefs have an awesome roster but struggled with injuries (Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Matt Cassel) and consistently awful QB play last year. With Cassel healthy, I expect him to rebound to his decidedly mediocre self and it’s enough to win a weak division. The Chargers are consistent underachievers and lost their #1 WR Vincent Jackson to free agency, while the Broncos have question marks surrounding their defense. It also remains to be seen whether Peyton Manning’s neck is 100% healthy or not. The Raiders are entering a rebuilding period.
AFC Playoff Seeding:
AFC Playoff Results:
Wild Card Round:
Steelers (3) defeat Bills (6) 27-13
Ravens (5) defeat Chiefs (4) 24-16
Ravens (5) defeat Patriots (1) 27-21
Texans (2) defeat Steelers (3) 23-20
Texans (2) defeat Ravens (5), 20-17
My thinking: The Steelers’ physical play at home overwhelms the Bills and the Ravens do the same to the Chiefs on the road. The Patriots struggled with the Ravens last year (and really should have lost, but eked out a win thanks to the un-heroics of Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff-neither of whom are with the team this year) and will lose to them this year, while the Texans match the Steelers on offense and defense and use home field advantage to earn a win. The Texans only lost to the Ravens by a TD in the playoffs last year on the road with backup TJ Yates at QB, and Schaub’s return and home-field advantage are the difference this year.
Packers 28, Texans 20.
The Packers’ high-powered offense does enough to put up points on the stout Texans defense and the Packers’ D forces a couple turnovers to seal a victory.