What to watch for in the AFC...
Division Winners and Wild Cards
East: New England (#1 seed)
No surprise here.
The Jets will be as good as last year (just not good enough), Buffalo will take another step forward (just not far enough), and while the Dolphins got more talented, they also got older (not a good thing).
Watch for the Patriots to lose a couple games early.
North: Pittsburgh (#4 seed)
Cincinnati is the AFC's version of the Saints (no defense), Baltimore will take a dramatic step back (losing Thomas hurts, while McNair and McGahee are both overrated), and Cleveland is, at best, two years away.
Tennessee is the AFC's version of the 49ers (one or two years away), Jacksonville chose the wrong QB (Garrard), and Houston gave over $40 million to a career backup (and Ahman Green doesn't solve everything).
Kansas City needs defensive consistency and help for L.J., Denver is vastly overrated on offense and has no D-line (except Simeon Rice), and Oakland may be starting Josh McCown at QB (need I say more?).
No way L.T. duplicates last year, but the Charger offense will still be phenomenal.
Wild Card #1: N.Y. Jets
Two games each with Buffalo and Miami means a playoff berth.
Wild Card #2: K.C.
The Patriots are simply too good this year—especially at home in the playoffs
AFC Dark Horse: Cincinnati
For a three- or four-game playoff stretch, the defense is good enough to allow the offense to outscore opponents.
Super Bowl Winner and NFL Awards
Super Bowl XLII: N.E. over Dallas
The Patriots are loaded in every facet of the game, and Tony Romo is too inexperienced against a veteran-laden N.E. defense. N.E. by at least a couple touchdowns.
MVP: Peyton Manning, QB - Indianapolis
Offensive POY: Stephen Jackson, RB - St. Louis (Yes, I'm picking two different players for MVP and OPOY.)
Defensive POY: DeMarcus Ware, OLB/DE - Dallas (just beating out Shawne Merriman)
Offensive ROY: Marshawn Lynch, RB - Buffalo (just beating out Brandon Jackson)
Defensive ROY: Reggie Nelson, DB - Jacksonville (just beating out Patrick Willis)
Breakout POY: Matt Jones, WR - Jacksonville
Those are my projections and I'm sticking to them...at least until midseason.