August 9, 2010

2010 NFL Predictions

Every year, I look at each NFL team's strengths and weaknesses. I then predict every NFL games winner and looser. From there, I put them in the division order based on record. Then predict the playoffs and player awards. 

(with predicted record)

AFC East

New York Jets 11-5 
Mark Sanchez will avoid the sophomore slump and have another great season. Thomas Jones is now with the Chiefs, and Leon Washington was traded to Seattle. But 2nd year man Shonn Greene, out of Iowa, was productive last year and should gain exposure as the starter. Greene will have the veteran and future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson to mentor him as well. The defense has arguably the best cornerback in the league right now in Darrelle Revis. 1st round pick Kyle Wilson has great potential to become a star as well. With new additions to the offense, such as Santonio Holmes, and the defense, with Antonio Cromarite, the Jets can cruise into the playoffs and the AFC East crown.

New England Patriots 10-6
The Patriots really have become old. All of the running backs besides Laurence Maroney are over 30 years of age. Tom Brady, the face of the franchise, is now 33. If Brady has another serious injury, un-drafted 2nd year man Brian Hoyer and rookie Zac Robinson are what is available. Receiver Randy Moss is also 33. If Wes Welker is not healthy, this team is not the same. And Torry Holt can not play #2 wide receiver. The left guard position is also a mess with Logan Mankins wanting a trade, and backup Dan Connolly has a serious back injury. The defense is younger then the offense, but not by much. With the aging Patriots playing in a stronger AFC East than we have seen in some time, the door may have shut on another Super Bowl run, and the dynasty may have come to a close.

Miami Dolphins 8-8
Can Chad Henne lead this team with a new #1 receiver in Brandon Marshall? And can Ronnie Brown recover from the injury and be effective in this offense? Rickey Williams is behind Brown, followed by Patrick Cobbs and Lex Hillard. Both need more experience. The defense lost Joey Porter and Jason Taylor. But the secondary seems fine. If Will Allan gets hurt, Vontae Davis and Sean Smith both played well last year as the two corner backs. All this determines if the Dolphins can make the playoffs.

Buffalo Bills 5-11
With no true QB, who will lead this team? Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brian Brohm are not good enough. The running back position is log jammed. Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, and rookie C.J. Spiller all are deserving. And controversy could arise as all want the fair share of carries. The division is too tough for the Bills to make a run for the playoffs. Fans need to look to the draft for a new QB next year, and the management has let them suffer long enough.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens 13-3
I expect Joe Flacco to become a more mature QB in his 3rd year. With the acquisition of Anquan Boldin, and if Donte Stallworth can be productive, Flacco will have more options. Ray Rice should also be a huge factor in the running game. I also expect big things from him this season. The one big question is how can the defense hold up with Ed Reed out on the PUP list until week 6 at least? Ken Hamlin is the backup, but how much can he contribute while Reed recovers. If the defense can still play hard, this team has a very good shot at reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since 2001.

Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
Ben Roethlisberger's suspension is a huge factor here. With him out until at least week 6, they will get off to a slow start. Bryon Leftwich should start. Dennis Dixon will back him up if there are any problems. When Roethlisberger gets back though, I expect the team to comeback and finish strong. The defense can also win games in the first 6 weeks if they play strong. Troy Polamalu is back and is the heart of the tough Pittsburgh defense. I see them starting 1-5, then finishing 7-3 (assuming Big Ben's suspension is not reduced).

Cincinnati Bengals 7-9
Cedric Benson became a very productive back last year with the Bengals. Doing what the Bears imagined he would when they drafted him 4th overall. If he puts up numbers like that again, the running game will be fine. They also have depth at wide receiver. Chad Ochocinco is the #1 receiver, with either the newly acquired Terrell Owens, or Antonio Bryant at #2. A dark horse to take that spot is is Andre Caldwell, or Jordon Shipley. Other receivers are Matt Jones, who will be interesting to see if he can be productive again. Carson Palmer also got a new TE in rookie Jermaine Gresham. This receiving core is deep. And if the defense can stay healthy, the Bengals could find themselves back in the playoffs.

Cleveland Browns 4-12
Colt McCoy is the future here. He will probably not play this year, and sit behind Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. If the coaches can give RB Jerome Harrison a chance, he will be explosive as we saw last year. He is a good running back but doesn't get the carries he deserves. However the receivers are weak this year and the defense didn't improve much besides drafting corner back Joe Haden. I also expect Shaun Rodgers to be traded before the deadline. The Browns are still a few years from contending in this tough division. But if McCoy can learn, he will flourish as a quarter back in the future.
AFC South

Tennessee Titans 12-4
Chris Johnson is the best RB in the league. He is faster then anyone, and is quick as lighting. The East Carolina vet will carry this offense to the playoffs, and hopefully the Super Bowl. Javon Ringer is also a solid backup at RB. Vince Young will need to play very well if he wants to help this team win. Kenny Britt was a very good target last year in his rookie year, and the coaches will hope to see the same productivity as they did last year. Derrick Morgan is also a great pickup in the draft at DE. Kyle Vanden Bosch went to Detroit, but Morgan should fill that gap. Keith Bullock, the heart of the defense for the last 9 years, was released and went to the Giants. Can they still play without the leader and can someone step up and take the role? This will be key too for a deep playoff run. 

Indianapolis Colts 11-5
The Colts will once again be Super Bowl contenders this year. Peyton Manning is still here. The reviving core only got stronger with Antony Gonzalez back from last year's injury. And Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie can hopefully remain stars as they were last year. The defense also improved by re-signing Gary Bracket, and drafting Jerry Hughes. They will be looking to get back to the playoffs, and win the Super Bowl after last year's crushing defeat. I can not imagine them missing the playoffs.

Houston Texans 9-7
If the Texans played in a weaker division, they most definitely would have made the playoffs. But this year seems like it will be another playoff-less season for Houston. The Colts and Titans are too good to let Houston take the division. But the time is coming. Andre Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL. And Matt Schaub is a top 10 QB. Kareem Jackson should be able to refill the spot left open by Dunta Robinson, who left for Atlanta. Houston should make the playoffs within the next two years, if not this year.

Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13
The Jaguars are on the way down. Despite having a great RB in Maurice Jones-Drew, David Garrard can not carry this team. And can Mike Sims-Walker play like he did last year? The defense is a mess. All they did to improve it was sign 31 year-old Aaron Kampman who is coming off ACL surgery. They wasted the 10th pick on Tyson Alualu out of Cal, who was a 3rd rounder at best. This team is not capable of winning more then 3-5 games unless Jones-Drew can carry this team by himself. I expect Garrard, and Jack Del Rio to be gone after this year, and the Jaguars to go into rebuilding mode. The team may even be gone after this year too, due to fan support. And a 3-13 year won't bring anyone out to the games. Expect this team to go into rebuilding mode, drafting a QB for the future to build around with Mauice Jones-Drew. Bottom line, the defense, and lack of offense will lead this team to the bottom. And the Jaguars will be looking for a new home this off season.
AFC West

San Diego Chargers 11-5
Phillip Rivers quietly continues to have outstanding years. The Chargers always win this division. And I expect nothing less this year. Ryan Mathews should start over Darren Sproles at RB. Both are great and San Diego should not miss a beat with Tomlinson gone. Donald Butler was also a sleeper pick in the 3rd round, but seems like he will miss his rookie year with an injury. The linebacker position was already weak, and watch for Kevin Burnett to become the starter. WR Vincent Jackson is suspended the first 4 games, but when he comes back, and he can play like he did last year, the Chargers could fine themselves in Arlington this postseason. 

Denver Broncos 9-7
I am intrigued to see how the QB position plays out for Denver this year. If Kyle Orton can play like he did last year. If he can't, Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow will be splitting snaps. Knowshon Moreno should have a breakout year and play well. However he hurt his hamstring and is out at least 3 weeks. Correll Buckhalter is also out of along time. Denver then signed troubled RB LenDale White, only for him to be injured. If the RB positions cant produce, we could see them pass more, or watch Tebow play a lot of RB.Which is something fans would love. The defense's only hole is at defensive end, where it is pivotal that 31 year old Jarvis Green plays at full strength. If not, this team is in trouble.

Kansas City Chiefs 6-10
Matt Cassel did not work out too well for KC last year. The quarterback position is weak and they will look to upgrade that in the draft. However Chris Chambers stepped up last year, while Dwayne Bowe did not. This year appears to be Bowe's last chance, before his is shopped for picks or other players. The running game should be used more with the emergence of Jamaal Charles, and the signing of Thomas Jones. The defense only got better, but still has work to be done. KC is still a few years away from re-entering the playoffs.

Oakland Raiders 4-12
Oakland is an interesting team this year. If Jason Campbell does well, this team could make a push for 8 wins. But if not, this team will drop to 4. I don't think much has changed for Campbell, as he has worse receivers here than in Washington. They are still waiting on WR Darrius Heyward-Bey to deliver, after passing on Michael Crabtree to get Heyward-Bey. But Heyward-Bey caught 39 less passes then Crabtree, and had a bust season. He needs to improve to help this team win. On defense, rookie Ronaldo Mclain is a possible candidate for ROY honors. Nnamdi Asomugha is also one of the best corners in the game, and the best player on this team. Still, I don't see Oakland in the playoffs, and they remain in the AFC West cellar.               
NFC East

Dallas Cowboys 11-5
Dallas would love to make the Super Bowl and play on their own field. And this team seems poised to do so. Romo is still at QB and playing consistently. This team is good in all areas. Running back is a strong point with Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choise. WR Miles Austin hopes to remain a top receiver in the NFL. 1st round pick Dez Bryant will be good and has a good chance at ROY honors, despite the high ankle sprain. I see him putting up numbers like Michael Crabtree did last year as a rookie. Just in more games. Roy Williams is for now the #3 guy. Dallas has a very legitimate chance at reaching the Super Bowl this year.

New York Giants 10-6
The Giants come into 2010 as a team that could very easily make or miss the playoffs. Eli Manning is still in his prime at QB. He has just come off one of his best statistical seasons. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw lead the running game for New York. According to players, the Giants will be more of a running team this year. Eli Manning should see his numbers go down this year, but only because of less pass attempts. The defense upgraded with the pickup of Jason Pierre-Paul. Keith Bullock was brought in at linebacker to replace retired Antonio Pierce. Corey Webb, Aaron Ross, Bruce Johnson and Terrell Thomas can play the four-corner defense as well as anyone. They also added Antrel Rolle from Arizona. The defense should be fine, and this team should make or just miss the wild card.

Washington Redskins 7-9
Donovan McNabb was brought in to fill a quarterback hole. The organization did not like Jason Campbell, even though he did put up decent numbers. Regardless, they did upgrade with McNabb. The running back position is now a mess. Clinton Portis, Willie Parker, and Larry Johnson all are backs that want the ball and won't be afraid to say it. Parker has been a #2 back, so he will be fine with his role. But Johnson will most likely complain plenty. He does not seem to match here. The WR core is maturing and should have good targets for McNabb. The run defense relies on Albert Haynesworth, who had been failing conditioning tests until August 7th. I see Washington missing the playoffs this year though.

Philadelphia Eagles 5-11
I see a drastic change for the Eagles this year... a bad one. Kevin Kolb will be unsuccessful and won't be the starter past week 5. Michael Vick should then take over, or maybe rookie Mike Kafka, out of Northwestern. They will most likely rely heavily on LeShaun McCoy and the running game, and maybe even re-sign Brian Westbrook during the season to help. The defense is solid, but not great. The Eagles fall this year due to the
bad QB play, and will look to address it this off season. 
NFC North

Green Bay Packers 12-4
Green Bay looks better then they have in a long time. Aaron Rodgers looks poised for a spectacular year, and maybe even MVP honors. If he does, this team will go far in the postseason. The receivers still consist of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. Donald Driver, although 35 years of age, can still make big plays. The defense will need to play consistently to help this team. B.J. Ragi needs to put up bigger numbers this year. Clay Mathews leads the linebacker core with A.J. Hawk. Defensive Player of Year Charles Woodson and Al Harris are getting old, but still can play. Green Bay looks like they have a good shot at bringing the Lombardi Trophy home.

Minnesota Vikings 9-7
The biggest concern is weather Brett Favre will play or not. Travaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfield are not good enough to lead this team. If Favre does return, I see this team winning more games and making the playoffs. But because I do not think he returns, Adrian Peterson and the defense lead them to a 9-7 record. Adrian Peterson also needs to get his fumbling problem under control. However, 9-7 is not enough for a wild card spot, so I see them missing the playoffs this year. But do not rule them out as a playoff contender. They can always surprise.
Chicago Bears 8-8
Jay Cutler and Matt Forte will need to play consistently and put up good numbers if the Bears want to go to the postseason. Forte had a sophomore slump last year and cannot let that happened again. Chester Taylor was brought in to help backup Forte. The defense improved greatly by winning the Julius Pepper's sweepstakes. Peppers should bring in 8-12 more sacks this year. Brian Urlacher will also be back after missing last season. He will help the defense stay focused and ready, as he is the defensive leader. The Bears still do not have much of a playoff chance this year, as I expect them to finish right at .500.
Detroit Lions 4-12
While the Lions have only gotten 2 wins in the last two seasons, I expect them to double that this year. Stafford will play better with a year under his belt. Calvin Johnson is the #1 receiver, and former Viking and Seahawk Nate Burleson is the #2. Rookie Jahavid Best and Kevin Smith are the top two running backs, while Maurice Morris is #3. The defense is greatly improved with the additions of Kyle Vanden Bosche, and Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle. Regardless of the great free agent haul, Detroit is still 3-5 years away from making the playoffs. But they are on the rise.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints 12-4
Coming off their first Super Bowl appearance, and win, in franchise history, the Saints are geared up and looking to defend their title this year. Drew Brees is still one of the best quarter backs in the NFL. Robert Meachem finally had a solid year, which is what the Saints have been waiting for since they drafted him in the first round in 2007. On defense, the Saints were 21st against the run. DE Alex Brown can help though. The 9-year veteran was brought in from Chicago. They were also 26th against the pass in 2009. Randall Gay and Jabari Greer are the top two corners. Patrick Robinson, Tracey Porter, and Malcolm Jenkins are all promising players, and they have played a combined 3 years in the league. The future looks good for the secondary. Darren Sharper, who had 9 interceptions last year, is also back at safety. The Saints don't appear to be a one-year wonder, and should have a great shot at the title this year.
Atlanta Falcons 11-5 
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco of the Ravens both had sophomore slumps you could say last season. I predict Flacco to come out of his slump. I do the samewith Matt Ryan. The Falcons will have a better running game if Michael Turner plays well. The secondary is the biggest concern. They finished 28th last year against the pass. They upgraded by bringing in former Texan corner Dunta Robinson. With an improved pass defense, I expect big things from this club in 2010. The Falcons can be serious contenders this year with improved play on both offense and defense.
Carolina Panthers 7-9
The Panthers are an interesting team this year. Jake Delhomme is gone, and Matt Moore is the starter. If Moore does poorly, 2nd round pick Jimmy Clausen will take over. Or Luke McCown if Moore is disappointing early in the season. Tony Pike, the quarterback taken in round six was a steal in my opinion, and could develop into a starter if given time. At receiver, Steve Smith insists he wants to be a #2 WR. Unfortunately, no other receivers on the team are worthy of a #1, or even #2 for that matter. After Smith, there is a huge drop off to Dwayne Jarret, the bust out of USC, at the #2 receiver. The rest are made up of little known names, and 4 rookies. Brandon LaFell out of LSU could make an impact though. Because the passing game is not strong, the Panthers will rely heavily on the two running backs of DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart. Both helped this team to have the 3rd best running attack last season. The defense lost a huge key at DE in Julius Peppers. Everette Brown was drafted in 2009 to replace Peppers. He had an awful rookie year though only coming up with 22 tackles. The run defense suffered last season, and shouldn't improve much. This team needs the defense to step up big if they wish to improve.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-12
Tampa Bay drafted Josh Freeman in the first round in 2009. After playing with 3 quarterbacks in 2009, Josh Freeman seems to be the starter. I don't expect him to improve a lot, but he will get better. He has a bright future. The receiving core has rookie Arrelious Benn, and Sammie Straughter who had a great year in 2009 and should be used more this year. Kellen Winslow quietly had one of the best years of his career last year and will be a target for sure. Donald Penn also singed an extension to stay at tackle. Cadillac Williams burst back on to the scene last year, rushing for a team high 823 yards. The defense against the run was awful. Last in the league. With the 3rd pick, they drafted to dominant DT Gerald McCoy. He will definitely help this team. Ronde Barber will probably play his last year on this team, and maybe in the NFL this year. He did not get one interception last year, the first time since his rookie  year. The Bucs must play hard at all positions to get out of the cellar, especially on defense.
NFC West

San Francisco 49ers 10-6
Time is ticking for this talented 49er's team to make the playoffs, and this year they should do so. Alex Smith played sometimes last year like they envisioned when they drafted him with the 1st pick in 2005. Frank Gore is still an outstanding running back. Vernon Davis became a star last year to. Michael Crabtree played excellent for the time he did last year, and should play even better this time around. Ted Ginn was also added as a #3 receiver  with Josh Morgan at #2. Ginn also helps special teams greatly. The defense is led by one of the best linebackers in the country, Patrick Willis. The offensive line became stronger with the draft pick of Mike Iupati out of Idaho. The 49ers are a great team at all positions, and its now or never for a playoff berth.
Seattle Seahawks 7-9
Pete Carrol is the biggest story in Seattle. I expect this energetic coach to get the players to play harder and win more games. Seattle had the best draft in my opinion with the best tackle in Russel Okung and best safety in Earl Thomas. They are in rebuilding mode, and will look for a quarter back in the draft as Matt Hasselbeck is old and Charlie Whitehurst is not the answer. Golden Tate is a great pick up at receiver, and T.J Houshmandzadeh can be a huge factor if he plays better. The defense lost Patrick Kerney, and didn't do much to replace him. Watch for defensive end Laurence Jackson to be a bigger play maker this year though. The Seahawks are not great at any positions except kicker and punter, but they may still win a few more games then last year.
Arizona Cardinals 6-10
Kurt Warner retired, and now a big gap must be filled by Matt Leinart. If he does well, the team will get more then six wins. But if he does poorly with Anquan Boldin gone, like I see him doing, the Cardinals will not win more then 6 games. Larry Fitzgerald is still a great receiver. Beanie Wells, if he can stay healthy, will be a big part of the team's success as more responsibility will be put on him to carry the running game. The defense lost key players like Karlos Dansby, and Antrel Rolle. The success of Arizona really comes down to how well Matt Leinart plays this year. There still is a shot at the NFC West crown if Leinart does play well.

St. Louis Rams 3-13
Teams in the past that have started a rookie quarterback immediately have ruined their careers (EX: JaMarcus Russel, Ryan Leaf, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Tim Couch, Akili Smith). Sam Bradford is now the starting quarterback in St. Louis. It will be very intriguing to see how he does this year with a weak offensive line. The only people backing him up are A.J Feely, and Keith Null. If Bradford falters, then little talent is available. The Rams don't have many options but to start Bradford, and must hope his career does not end up like JaMarcus Russel or Ryan Leaf. It very easily could happen. As for the rest of the Rams, Steven Jackson is a top-notch back and will be the number one option on the offense. The defense is still weak. Last years defense finished in the bottom 25 in passing and rush defense. I do not see the Rams improving much, and they should draft a wide receiver or offensive lineman next year in round one, to help Bradford develop.
Season Awards:
  • MVP: Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
  • Offensive Player: Ray Rice, Ravens
  • Defensive Player: Patrick Willis, LB, 49ers
  • Offensive Rookie: Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
  • Defensive Rookie: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions
  • Comeback Player: Troy Palamalu, S, Steelers
  • Coach: Mike Singeltary, 49ers

Wild Card
  • Colts over Chargers
  • Jets Over Patriots
  • 49ers over Falcons
  • Cowboys over Giants
Divisional Round
  • Ravens over Colts
  • Jets over Titans
  • Packers over 49ers
  • Cowboys over Saints
Divisional Championship
  • Ravens over Jets
  • Packers over Cowboys 
Super Bowl XLV

Ravens over Packers

Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XLV Champions


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