5. Detroit Lions
The Lions are on both of my lists because the Lions can be both a surprise and an upset.
This team really hasn't done anything this offseason other than picking up the prodigy kid, Matthew Stafford.
But everyone should kind of expect much of the same this year. I did give them a break and predict a 3-13 season, but still that's an upset.
4. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens had a great last season, going 11-5 and making it to the AFC Conference Championship game, before losing to division rival and eventual Super Bowl winner Pittsburgh.
Flacco, Flacco. Yes this kid had an amazing rookie season. I got a chance to go down and watch him play the Bengals last season and this kid has a rocket launcher, really.
But history shows that there's a good chance that either Flacco or Matt Ryan will fall of this year. I'm taking Flacco to slide down. And he really doesn't have any elite offensive weapons.
That defense, WOW! But these guys aren't going to be hitting forever. This defense is really, really aging. They're starting to become the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL.
They had a chance to pick up a great LB for the future after Ray Lewis, in USC LBs Clay Matthews or Rey Maualuga. Instead, they traded up and picked up Michael Oher. He's not a bad choice—I love the kid—but that might come back to bite them.
The AFC North has a much easier schedule than last. They have the fifth-easiest schedule this season, which could really help. But I believe that they will finish third in their division behind the Steelers and the Bengals and will miss the playoffs.
3. Miami Dolphins
After having one of the best turnaround seasons last year, jumping from 1-15 in 2007 to 11-5 and making the playoffs, I think the honeymoon to the great last season is over.
I have a feeling that Chad Pennington's agenda is complete. He stuck it to the Jets. He is going to be a placing stone in helping Chad Henne develop for the future, because apparently Pat White isn't qualified.
Which is beyond me. You would think the only QB in NCAA history to lead his team to Bowl game wins in every season he played, might have a slight chance—nope, you're a wideout now.
The only upside is the Wildcat offense. Picture this: Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Pat White, throwing to Ted Ginn. Oh my gosh, how do you stop that? Well, teams will find a way eventually. The Wildcat just won't be enough to really make a difference.
I think if the Jets can turn up the heat this year, the Dolphins have a chance to finish last in their division. Also, the Dolphins are going up against the toughest schedule in the NFL this season. That never helps.
2. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts have been maybe the best team this entire decade, making 9 out of 10 playoffs. 2001 was the last time the Indianapolis missed the playoffs.
This offseason has been pretty rough for the Colts. They've lost Tony Dungy, Tom Moore, and Marvin Harrison.
I think the loss of Tony Dungy is going to haunt this franchise for a while. They still have Manning, but he also lost his biggest and best target. I really just don't see it going well for the Colts.
I predicted Tennessee Titans to win the division and the Houston Texans to get a Wild Card spot, which puts the Colts third in their division. I don't think they're going to be completely awful, but a 8-8 or 7-9 season sounds about right to me.
1. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys—America's Team!—are going to have another "off" season.
If Tony Romo can stay healthy, which could be a big "if," it would really help this team, even if they do have Jon Kitna now to back him up.
They lost Terrell Owens, which will be good in the locker room but bad on the field. They lost Roy Williams, Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, and Zach Thomas from the defense. And the NFC East will see that weakness on that side of the ball and just pound at it.
The Cowboys will battle with the Redskins for third in their division, while the Eagle will win the division, and the Giants will gain a Wild Card spot. The Cowboys will again miss the playoffs with a losing record.
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