2011 was full of surprise and heartache, victory and defeat, shocking upsets and unlikely comebacks. With 2011 coming to a close, it's time to take a look ahead at what we can expect to witness in 2012. Here, we will take a look at complete championship forecasts, MVP winners across the field, early favorites and darkhorses and much, much more.
This is really a no-brainer. Alabama should have defeated LSU in their first matchup, after dominating the Tigers on the ground. Were it not for dropped passes, botched field goals and missed opportunities, we would be talking about 'Bama vs. Okie State. Expect big things from Trent Richardson, as he solidifies his spot as a top-three draft pick on the nation's biggest stage.
I know this one's bold, but Denver has every aspect of a team capable of making a deep postseason run.
Their defense is still strong. Even in the recent drudging by the Bills, the Denver defense only allowed one offensive touchdown.
The Broncos also have the number-one rushing attack in the league.
What Denver needs to really make this prediction materialize is smarter play from their quarterback. If he can cut back the turnovers and play the way he was during the six-game win streak, Denver will be a tough out.
First things first though, Von Miller and the Denver D must stop Kyle Orton this Sunday.
The Niners are possibly the most complete team in football. Their defense did not allow a rushing touchdown until this past Sunday against Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch. They are able to get to the opposing quarterback.
On offense, they have one of the NFC's best running backs and the most underrated quarterback in the league. They have the defense to slow down the Saints, the Packers, the Falcons and the Lions, and they have an offense good enough to exploit the suspect defenses of each of these teams.
This was tough. After examining the field, evaluating personnel and paths to Indy, I'm taking Cinci over the Niners in a close one.
Right now, no one seems to want the AFC. The Patriots may be playing with an injured Tom Brady, per rumor that he sustained a shoulder injury in Denver from Elvis Dumervil that was made worse Sunday in Miami, or without him entirely.
According to history, the third matchup between teams in a season always goes to the underdog. Players readily admit that it is hard to beat a team three times in one season, plus Baltimore seems to lay an egg when it matters most.
The Steelers have been the beneficiary of a weak schedule, and will struggle in Denver without Ryan Clark. The Texans are led by an inexperienced quarterback who will make too many mistakes down the stretch. Denver is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If they can fix their turnover issues, they are a dark horse in the race to Indy, but right now, there are too many questions.
And now, the Bengals. The Bengals have not even clinched a playoff spot yet, but are led by a young rookie gunslininger and outstanding rookie receiver, along with an underrated running back. The defense is young and improving.
This team is very similar to another team that was just 8-6, caught fire and shocked everyone to win the Superbowl last year.
Two predictions in one slide. Yes, LA will acquire Dwight Howard, and the Lakers will instantly be better for it. They will also sign free agent JR Smith to help bring in athleticism.
In the end, though, the Heat will prove to be too much. A completely-transformed LeBron James will lead the Heat to the promised land, and finally silence all his critics. Miami in six.
Kevin Durant is one of the game's rising stars. This year, he will show everyone he is an elite player and lead his team to the Western Conference Finals, and personally he will capture the scoring title.
Usain Bolt will treat viewers to a spectacular 200m dash in the Summer Olympics in London. However, a newcomer will slightly edge him out in the 100m dash.
Because, it's just time. The greatest golfer of our young millennium will get back to the top of his game, as he experiences a resurgence en route to capturing multiple open tournaments over the next three years.
With the return of outstanding QB Matt Barkley, the Trojans will be an early-season favorite to win it all. With the departure of Andrew Luck, the major threat to the Trojans is the Oregon Ducks, but at the very least, Matt Barkley will finally smell the roses.
It can be argued that were it not for Mark Sanchez, the Jets would be in the playoffs right now. Ryan will have no choice but to play Manning, and Sanchez would benefit to sit behind one of the greatest of all time for a couple seasons.
AL MVP: Jered Weaver
NL MVP: Troy Tulowitzki
World Series: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 2
AL Cy Young: Jered Weaver
NL Cy Young - Josh Johnson