The NFL season is slowly coming, with the draft being complete and teams starting their OTA sessions.
Last year's Super Bowl champions plowed through the season and were one of the final undefeated teams in the league.
In 2008 the Saints were not even a playoff team, finishing with an 8-8 record. As a matter of fact, only half of the teams that made the playoffs in 2008 made it again in 2009.
The NFL is getting more competitive, and teams that didn't make the playoffs in 2009 should feel they can make a push in 2010.
Here is a look at my 2010 playoff predictions.
The Cowboys won their first playoff game last season since Bill Clinton was the President of the United States. Wade Phillips will return as their head coach, and the Cowboys offense is loaded.
The Cowboys could have the most talent on the offensive side of the ball in the league. They have the perfect storm of three talented running backs, a solid wide receiving crew, dependable tight ends, and Jessica Simpson's restraining order from Cowboys Stadium.
The key to the Cowboys' run into the playoffs will be their defense, which is very underrated. The secondary is getting better, and they have a very dangerous pass rush.
The Eagles, Giants, and Redskins will all be there in a tight race but will not be able to beat out Big D.
The road to the playoffs won't be easy to get through in the NFC Beast, but the Cowboys will win the division title in a close race.
The NFC North will challenge the NFC East for the strongest division in the NFC. The Packers, Vikings, and Bears will all compete for a playoff spot, and the Lions will be better.
That said, it's hard to bet against the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is becoming the quarterback the Packers hoped he would, and their offensive line got better in the draft.
Brett Favre may be on his way back to the Vikings, but at 67 years old you can only expect so much.
Perhaps the surprising team will be the Bears. Jay Cutler should improve in his second year with the team, and Mike Martz should get more out of that offense. If the Bears defense can improve and stay healthy, you have a three-horse race for the NFC North division title.
Packers win the NFC North.
The Saints enjoyed their moment at the top, but it will be hard to repeat in the NFC South and against the Madden Curse.
Since 2007 every team has won the division but the Falcons. I'll go ahead and follow this pattern and give the title to the Falcons in 2010. Matt Ryan is entering his third year and should have a solid season.
Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez are solid weapons, and Atlanta's wide receiving group is stronger than they get credit for.
This will be a competitive division, but the Madden Curse will stop the Saints from reaching the playoffs after a Super Bowl title.
The Panthers will be better, and the Bucs will look like the Bucs of old—way old.
Falcons win the NFC South.
The 49ers are slowly climbing up the ranks in the NFC West. The Cardinals lost Kurt Warner, and that will change the look of the offense dramatically.
The 49ers offense is starting to take shape, but they just need someone to step up at quarterback. They improved their offensive line and picked up a big-name safety in the draft as well.
The Seahawks may do better but are not going to the playoffs with their new head coach. The Cardinals will struggle without Warner, and their offense will focus more on the running game.
The Rams are still the Rams.
49ers will win the NFC West.
The Redskins and Vikings will make the Wild Card Round in 2010.
The Vikings will battle for the division title against the Packers but will lose by one game.
The Redskins will finish two games back in the NFC East and will edge out Jay Cutler and the Bears for the final playoff spot.
This should make for an interesting playoff in the NFC.
Let's take a look at the AFC now.
While the Jets coach is doing all the talking, it will be the Patriots doing all of the winning in the AFC East. The Patriots' window of opportunity is closing for another title, and this should be another solid season for them.
The Jets will play themselves into an 8-8 record and will not have the playoffs given to them on a silver platter again.
The Bills will struggle again this year, perhaps finishing worse than 7-9, which seems to be their target record every year.
The Dolphins will finish 9-7, but will miss out on the division title.
The Ravens will be hard to beat for the AFC North title in 2010.
Joe Flacco has some new toys in Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth. Their defense will be solid once again as well, as they have injected some promising youth from the draft.
The Bengals will not be able to duplicate the success that they had in 2009, and the Cleveland Browns will still be looking for answers and will not be ready to make the next step.
The Steelers will be a tough team to play, but Big Ben Roethlisberger will have a hard time beating the Ravens. The Ravens aren't easy like the girls he meets in bathroom stalls (ouch).
Ravens win the AFC North.
The Houston Texans will win the AFC South in 2010. They are a very talented team that has fallen short in recent years. It's tough playing in a division where you play second fiddle to Peyton Manning and the Colts.
The Texans will enjoy a close race against the Colts for the division title but will pull out the title in the final weeks of the season.
The Titans will not start the season 0-6, but Vince Young will have to play consistently if they plan to make the playoffs.
The Jags will be better, but not good enough.
Houston wins the AFC South.
The AFC West title has been the Chargers' for a while and should be the Chargers' again in 2010.
It won't come as easily to them as it has in the past because the AFC West is slowly starting to look like an NFL division.
The Raiders should be more respectable and could hit the nine win mark in a best case scenario for them.
The Chiefs also look to be more solid with a great running game and solid coaching. They may not be ready to make a playoff run, but seven or eight wins are not out of the question.
The Broncos are still scratching their heads and wondering what happened last year. Tim Tebow will lead the team in "Thank Yous" and smiles in 2010, but that won't win them enough games to make the playoffs, ever.
The Chargers win the AFC West.
The Colts and Dolphins will make the Wild Card Round in 2010.
As long as the Colts have Peyton Manning, it's hard to see them not going to the playoffs. They may not win their division in 2010, but they will be there to try to reach the big game once again.
The Dolphins will ride their running game and defense to the playoffs in a tight race that puts a lot of teams with winning records out of the playoffs. Brandon Marshall and the Wildcat offense will be hard to stop in 2010.
These are your 2010 Playoff Predictions.
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