Maybe it's a little too late in the preseason to be doing NFL predictions, but better late then never. At any rate, here are my predictions for the 2012 NFL season.
I just don't see any other team winning the division other than the Patriots.
Buffalo's defense is on the rise, but they are about a year or two away from seriously contending. It all depends on Ryan Fitzpatrick, although the recent trade for Tarvaris Jackson could end up causing a QB controversy.
The Jets' offense is too weak to really contend, and not even Tebowmania will save them. They'll at least beat out the rebuilding Dolphins.
The Ravens are slowly running out of time. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are aging. I think the defense will be fine even without the injured Terrell Suggs, and their explosive offense will end up helping them hold off the Bengals.
Andy Dalton and AJ Green emerged as a premier QB-WR duo. The Bengals are certainly on the rise, but who will be their reunning back.
Pittsburgh will miss the playoffs not only because of their age, but also Ben Roethlisberger's torn rotator cuff.
Cleveland is rebuilding, and they're not expected to really contend.
I expect Houston to win the division. Unless Tennessee shocks the world, or the Texans get major injuries, I highly doubt they'll have much competition.
If Chris Johnson can bounce back after his poor season last year, the Titans should make the playoffs.
Andrew Luck should have a good rookie season, and the Colts definitely have a shot of at least finishing in third.
Without MJD and a real passing game, the Jaguars will fall to last in the division.
The worst division in the conference will once again be a tight battle, but in the end, if the Chiefs stay healthy, they will win the division.
It's hard to ever count out a Peyton Manning team, but the Broncos will fall just short of the playoffs.
Give the Raiders another season, and they may make the playoffs.
As for San Diego, they will once again underachieve as usual, and Norv Turner will be gone.
Michael Vick has been hurt twice in the preseason. If he can get over his injury bug, the Eagles will fly. If not, they will crash and burn as they did last season.
New York has looked impressive this offseason, but will it be enough for them to make a return trip to the Super Bowl?
Washington will surprise people this season. Look for a good year from RGIII, and the defense will be destructive.
With Felix Jones unable to pass a fitness test, and Dez Bryant allegedly beating his mother (allegedly the key term), Dallas is a total mess right now, and I don't expect much from them this year.
To be the man, you gotta beat the man. In the NFC North, the Packers are "the man." Will Aaron Rodgers and Co. bounce back from that disheartening playoff loss to New York?
I am somewhat of a superstitious person, so I think Calvin Johnson may have a down year due to the Madden Curse.
As for the Vikings, give Christian Ponder one or two more seasons, and the Vikings should legitimately contend.
Suspensions aside, the Saints still have one explosive offense. Having four guys who can run the football (Pierre Thomas, Marc Ingram, Darren Sproles, Chris Ivory/Tavaris Cadet) really takes the pressure off Drew Brees. They'll miss Jonathan Vilma, but they should be fine.
If the Panthers' defense can step up, they might have a shot at making the playoffs behind Cam Newton.
The Falcons are as overrated as a team can get. Sure, they have a good passing game, but Matt Ryan is inconsistent. The Falcons will miss the playoffs, and Mike Smith might end up getting fired.
Greg Schiano's Buccaneers are rebuilding. I think they'll end up having the worst record in the league this season. Give them a year or two.
It's really hard to imagine anyone beating the 49ers out for the division. They are explosive all over the field, and definitely Super Bowl contenders.
Seattle is on the rise, but will rookie Russell Wilson be good enough to lead them to the playoffs? Maybe not this season, but based on his preseason performances, he has the potential to a be a solid quarterback.
With new head coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams will finally get out of the cellar of the NFC West, but don't expect too much out of them, especially if Sam Bradford can't stay healthy.
With an uncertain QB situation, the Cardinals may end up having a poor season this year, meaning the end of Ken Whisenhunt's tenure in Arizona.
Coach Of The Year: Romeo Crennel, Chiefs
I don't know how good the Chiefs' record will be this year, but Crennel has them going in the right direction.
Offensive ROTY: Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
He has more weapons than RGIII, and I expect the Colts to pass the ball a lot more than the Redskins will.
Defensive ROTY: Melvin Ingram, OLB, Chargers
He suffered an injury against Minnesota this past week, but he should be ready to play come the season opener. He'll have a monstrous year for this Chargers defense.
Comeback Player Of The Year: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
Come on, who else could it possibly be, considering all that Manning went through last season.
Offensive Player Of The Year: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
People can say that anyone can run the Packers' offense based on Matt Flynn's huge season finale last year, but that was one game against the Lions, who got torched the next week against New Orleans.
Besides, this is the Offensive Player of the Year Award, not the MVP award. Rodgers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, if not the best.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers
Willis may just be the best defensive player in the league right now, let alone linebacker.
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
This isn't just about offensive production. This is about value to a team. Tom Brady is the most valuable player to this Patriots offense. If he gets hurt this year, they will suffer. If not, he'll have yet another huge season.
Texans over Bengals
Titans over Chiefs
Eagles over Giants
Saints over Bears
Patriots over Titans
Ravens over Texans
Packers over Eagles
49ers over Saints
Ravens over Patriots
49ers over Packers
SUPER BOWL XLVII A.K.A. THE HARBAUGH BOWL
49ers 24, Ravens 21
Alex Smith finally proves his worth by leading the 49ers to a game-winning drive, and their first Super Bowl since 1994. Smith will be the MVP, of course.
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