Well here it is, what we all have been waiting for.
In just a few hours, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans will be kicking off the 2009-10 NFL season. After the offseason and the four long preseason games, not only are the NFL fans ready to get things started, the players are, too.
So, like everyone else out there who follows football and is able to get anyone to listen to them, I will be giving my NFL predictions for the up-coming season.
Sure they could be right and I could pat myself on the back (for the record, I picked the Steelers to win it all last season) or I could completely butcher all of the picks too (I picked the Packers to make it to the Super Bowl, the Ravens to finish dead last and the Bills to make the playoffs, yuck).
What is great about the new season is the parody the NFL brings. On any given Sunday, anything can happen. The start of the season gives everyone a fresh slate. It gives 32 cities the reason to hope that this is the year for their team.
Note: This was not suppose to be an in-depth look at teams, just a look at a few teams and divisions I thought that needed to be explained. Also the four division winners make the playoffs of course, and the * symbol is the Wild Card team).
1. New England Patriots: It comes to no shock that the Patriots are once again the front runners to win the Super Bowl this season. Getting Tom Brady back will do that to a team. Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker are teaming up to try to put together another season for the record books.
With the addition of veteran Fred Taylor and the return of underrated running back Laurence Maroney , the running game will certainly return to top form. The question mark on this team is the defense, as it has many new faces stepping into starting roles, but the offense will certainly help take the pressure off. This is a Super Bowl contender for sure.
2. Miami Dolphins: Last seasons defending AFC East's champion is getting no respect in the national media, but with Brady, T.O. and rookie Marc Sanchez all in the same division, there really isn't much coverage to go to the 'Phins.
The Dolphins are a solid team on both sides of the ball. The most interesting thing about the team coming into this season for this team is how are they going to improve their Wild-cat offense for the up-coming season. Chad Pennington, a MVP snub of last season, just completes passes and wins games.
The 'Phins should be in the thick of the Wild Card race all season.
3. Buffalo Bills: The offensive line needs to come together in order for this pick to hold any water. If they don't, the Bills could turn into one of the worst teams in the NFL. The weapons are all in place as the Bills have Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, speedster Roscoe Parrish, bruiser Marshawn Lynch (who serves a three-game suspension to start the season) and underrated Fred Jackson all on the offensive side of the ball.
Trent Edwards needs to play consistently as Bills fans saw flashes of greatness one week, and a J.P.Losman wannabe the next. This is his third year in the league, a year in which quarterbacks blossom. The defense is nothing to write home about, but they are a bend but not break unit who keep the team in the game for as long as possible.
A Wild Card contender if everything comes together, but will continue the playoff drought.
4. New York Jets: This is a team that is built to win now, however the quarterback isn't. I will not argue that the Jets have a top defense and one of the best offensive lines in the league, but they also have a rookie at QB with no targets to throw, too.
There will definitely be a learning curve for the rook as he will have big games with terrible games all season. Jets fans have a right to be optimistic, as the rest of their team is above average, however this is a quarterback run league.
If Sanchez can put it together, the Jets could be in the playoff race. I don't think he will, though.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Super Bowl champions will be headed on their way to try to defend their title. Ben Roethlisberger returns to lead the offense which includes Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward.
Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall missed 17 combined games last season, which led the Steelers to have the 23rd ranked rushing offense in the league. If they can stay healthy, they will form a dangerous combination. Expect another deep playoff run.
2. Baltimore Ravens*: The Ravens went on a playoff run last season, and should be in the same situation this year too. The running game is what carries this team, and they have a stable of running backs led by Ray Rice and Willis McGahee.
Joe Flacco is entering his second year in the league after a superb rookie campaign. If he can limit his mistakes there is no reason the Ravens won't be back in the playoffs.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning will help hide a lot of problems, but lets remember this is the first year he will be without long-time target Marvin Harrison, and the Colts do have a new head coach taking over the team.
Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez will help Peyton forget Harrison, as will tight end Dallas Clark. Rookie Donald Brown will help out Joseph Addai and the running game. If the defense improves slightly from last year, the Colts will be a Super Bowl favorite for sure.
2. Houston Texans*: Despite what the casual fan might think, the Texans have slowly been building a sleeping giant as they have finished 8-8 the last two season. This is the year the giant finally wakes up.
Matt Schaub is a pro bowl talent and as long as he can stay on the field, the Texans will be able to have a top rate passing attack. Andre Johnson is the best wide reciever in the league and Steve Slaton returns after almost a 1,300 yard season as a rookie last season to help lead the offense.
Mario Williams and star linebacker DeMeco Ryans will have some help on defense too, as Cato June and Brain Cushing join the squad. This is the year the Texans finally get over the .500 hump and jump into the post season.
3. Tennessee Titans: Even after the loss of Albert Haynesworth to Washington Redskins in free agency, the Titans still return a solid group of defenders. Veteran Kerry Collins will once again lead the offense, and Chris Johnson and LenDale White will show why they are one of the best running back tandems in the league.
The team will be knocking on the playoff doors, but I just don't think they have enough to make it through.
1. San Diego Chargers: This team is by far the best team in the division and everyone knows who is on the team. The only thing I need to address is that LT will return to top form.
2. Oakland Raiders
NFC EAST: Instead of going team by team because the division is so close, I will just let it be known that this was one of the hardest divisions to pick and seeing as it would be boring to read the small essays I could come up with each team, I will just let the prediction stand as is. No matter if I write something or not, it will spark debate.
2. New York Giants*
3. Dallas Cowboys
4. Washington Redskins
NFC NORTH: Same as the NFC East.
2. Green Bay Packers*
1. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons improved from last season with the addition of tight end Tony Gonzalez, and should be in the running for the Super Bowl as long as the defense can hold up.
3. New Orleans
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1. Seattle Seahawks: The team is healthy, which puts enough playmakers on both sides of the ball to give this team a chance to make the playoffs.
2. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are a decent team, but nothing spectacular. They will still put points up on the board but I don't think their defense is good enough to take them to the playoffs for the second year in a row.
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. St. Louis Rams
SUPER BOWL: VIKINGS VS. CHARGERS
And just because the NFL season starts today, let me get all of my picks in too (winners are in bold)
Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Miami at Atlanta
Denver at Cincinnati
Minnesota at Cleveland
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Detroit at New Orleans
Dallas at Tampa Bay
Philadelphia at Carolina
Kansas City at Baltimore
NY Jets at Houstion
Washington at NY Giants
San Francisco at Arizona
St. Louis at Seattle
Chicago at Green Bay
Buffalo at New England
San Diego at Oakland