2010 NFL Season Predictions: The Color(s) Purple-REVISED AFC EAST EDITION

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst IAugust 30, 2010





I had my doubts on the Dolphins due to Chad Henne's inexperience. But after seeing what he has done in the preseason, along with the fact that the Dolphins finished so strong down the stretch and still with so many injuries, I have to go with them, especially after the lack of production from the Jets (see below).




Like many, I thought the Jets would back up their talk and win this division. But after seeing how inept their offense has been, including Rex Ryan's disgust with his team to the point that he put the starters BACK IN against the Eagles in a preseason game shows that even he is having doubts. He might be the most confident one on the team, but unfortunately he doesn't get to play (granted he is big enough to take on pretty much ANY linemen and eat any quarterback for an appetizer before his six course dinner, but I digress). Plus, I still have to go with history against the Jets.Whenever there's expectations, there's disappointments.


Remember when Gang Green stood 8-3 with Brett Favre as their quarterback two years ago? Yeah, Jets fans would probably like to forget about that. The last time the Jets reached (and lost) the AFC Championship game was in 1998, and the next year, injuries and a slow start squashed any Super Bowl aspirations, and Bill Parcells left the sideline.





The Patriots are hard to figure. In 2008, they missed the playoffs with an 11-5 record, yet last year clinched their division with a 10-6 record. In the tough AFC, winning your division may be the only sure way to get a postseason berth. And the Patriots have maintained the status quo during the offseason with nothing done to better it.




It may sound stupid, but it seems like out of all the critics and cynical fans, the ones who doubt the Bills the most are the Bills. Going back to the first game when they had a chance to upset the Patriots on Monday Night Football until they fumbled that upset away, it looks like the Bills don't even believe in themselves. They were also the only team to lose the Browns (6-3 no less) before Cleveland won its last four.


Another stunning fact: Their playoff drought is just as long as the Lions (1999).






Other than age, there really seems to be no Achilles heel to the Baltimore Ravens. Always fielding a strong defense, they now have the offensive firepower to match it. As long as they can avoid injury, as well as age, they will be tough to beat.




Okay, I've already brought the up the Steelers Super Bowl defense history. But, after missing the playoffs both times the season after winning the Super Bowl, I should point out that they did make the playoffs the year AFTER that debacle, and the pattern would follow them once again going the postseason.


But this year, they have teams in Baltimore and Cincinnati to contend with, as well as a Browns team that shocked them late in the year.


Pittsburgh has the talent, and Big Ben will be ready once his suspension is over. But the Steelers must find a way to finish games and beat the teams they're supposed to beat, which they didn't do last year.




Terrell Owens AND Chad Ochocinco on the same team! Somehow, someway, the Bengals will screw this up. As soon as one of them drops a ball or Carson Palmer overlooks one of them in the end zone, get ready for their reality shows to do dramatic, "Law & Order" style crossovers.




Could the Browns late season surge carry over? The answer is no.







The Colts have been a lock for the playoffs every year since Tony Dungy was named head coach. But this year, they face a daunting task. They are the losers of the previous season's Super Bowl. Only the teams that lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl of 2005 and 2008 (Seahawks and Cardinals) have returned the playoffs the next season. and that includes the 16-0 Patriots of 2007.


Sure, they have Peyton Manning at quarterback. But at head coach, they have...well, Peyton Manning. Coaching is what did them in during the Super Bowl. Coach Jim Caldwell has shown he's nothing more than just Dungy's replacement who pretty much just has to tell Peyton when to throw. I see the Colts going back to the playoffs, but Peyton cannot do it ALL by himself even though he almost does every season.



The Houston Texans SHOULD have made the playoffs last year. I say should because they lost at least two games due to poor placekicking, showing once again that although good placekicking may not be able to win you too much, having a poor placekicker can help you lose a lot. Matt Schaub was the MVP of the Pro Bowl without even being voted to the Pro Bowl initially. They’ve been a few people’s sleepers (myself included) the last two years, and after finishing with their first winning season last year, hopefully three times will be a charm.




Take a step backwards so you can take two or three forwards. That seems to be the route Vince Young has taken with the Tennessee Titans. After entering last season as Super Bowl hopefuls, the team lost its first six before Young stepped in and led them to a 7-3 finish. They have the best running back in the league, and if their defense can recover from a horrible season last year, they could get back to their playoff days.




You can’t help but feel bad for Jacksonville. They’re a solid team, yet the worst in this division, and they have to play their division twice each year. Jack Del Rio may not have taken the USC head coaching job, but he might need a head coaching job elsewhere soon.






Hard to believe a coach winning three division titles in three consecutive years could be on the hot seat, but that's exactly what Norv Turner is. Even without Ladanian Tomlinsonm the Chargers still have more talent than pretty much any other team. But somehow they find a way to choke in big playoff games. Last year it was Nate Kaeding missing three field goals. You have to wonder who will be the goat this year.


Not only that, but the team had to watch Drew Brees, the quarterback that former coach Marty Schottenheimer wanted to keep instead of Rivers, win a Super Bowl with his new team. It really is put up or shut up time in San Diego this season. Being that there is no divisional threat, winning the division is not necessarily the biggest accomplishment, and another home playoff loss and we might see the return of Marty Ball to San Diego...or at least any other type of Ball that does not involve Norv Turner.





So which of the three bottom dwelling teams gets the prestigious second place position? Since I can't really find anything special about any of them, I'm going to go out on a limb and go with the Oakland Raiders. Jason Campbell might finally show what he never really got the chance to show in Washington. Plus, the Raiders did have some bright moments and big victories over winning teams (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati).





The only way the Broncos and head coach Josh McDaniels could shock the football world with the way they started was the way they finished. At 6-0, McDaniels looked like a genius for letting Jay Cutler throw a temper tantrum all the way to Chicago. But after finishing 2-8 down the stretch, this team is a total mystery.





The Kansas City Chiefs seem to play the same every year since 2007, and every time, they’ve finished in last place. I don’t see too much evidence to support any improvement this year, but I do think Coach Todd Haley does have them on the right path for change. Just not this year.






The Super Bowl will be played this season at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, but will this be the first time a team has played home in a Super Bowl? No, it will not.


A lot of people like to look at the fact that Terrell Owens was the cause for the team’s disappointment the last few years, and with him gone now, Tony Romo is now free to prosper. But the other side of the facts are that Owens wasn’t even there when Romo fumbled the snap on that field goal attempt in Seattle or when he was demolished at the hands of the Purple People Eaters in Minnesota.


Sure, Dallas will get back to the playoffs. But they should still make plans for other places to go on Super Bowl Sunday.






Before picking the Giants to win this division last year, the last time I picked the Giants to even make the playoffs was in 2003, which was the year the players quit on Coach Jim Fassel, and then Fassel quit on the team. And of course, last year saw the defense quit on coordinator Bill Sheridan. The gentler Tom Coughlin was a way the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007. However, that also might have added to the Giants collapse last season.






With all that Donovan McNabb had to put up with in Terrell Owens, even he would say that at least Owens could pass a conditioning test. That cannot be said about McNabb’s last teammate troublemaker Albert Haynesworth. It looks like Daniel Snyder finally has a head coach he respects enough to let run his team. But even Shanahan ended his tenure in Denver with three straight non playoff seasons.





With so many players gone from the Eagles, fans really have no player's jersey to wear at games. Kevin Kolb might eventually bring with him that effect, but not this season. Andy Reid might have lasted longer than Donovan in Philly. But the end result may only be by a year.




A lot of people are doting on the Green Bay Packers. Sure they have talent, but they did give up 51 points in the playoffs and had trouble protecting Aaron Rodgers. They’ve looked great in the preseason, and their offense has been unstoppable. But this division still goes through Minnesota and Brett Favre. 



Things went too perfect for the Vikings last year. It seemed like everything was in place and that they shot themselves in the foot in the NFC Championship game. I don’t think they’ll be as successful in the win columns, but once the playoffs start, everybody’s at 0-0.





The Bears gave up the farm for Jay Cutler, including draft picks, meaning that their biggest additions had to come in free agency. Julius Peppers should form a good combination with a returning Brian Urlacher.


But as usual in Chicago, offensive play could do them in. Especially when you add the fact that two egomaniac divas in Cutler and new offensive coordinator Mike Martz will be anchoring the ship.





Detroit, Detroit, the only team that would call a two win season an improvement. I would like to thank the Lions for providing so much fodder and great material for us to make jokes with. The problem with that is that they’ve been bad for so long that a lot of us have run out of jokes.


But not to worry. The Lions will find new ways of entertaining us and inspiring us with phrases to describe them.






Although the Falcons did not reach the playoffs last season, they did accomplish a rare feat in that they had back to back winning seasons for the first time ever. Matt Ryan will continue his development, and Michael Turner will continue to make San Diego kick themselves for letting him go.





Sure, the Saints won the Super Bowl, and since they're not a team called the Steelers, they should be safe to at least go back to the playoffs, right? Not so fast.


An even harsher statistic is the number of NFC South Division winners that returned to the playoffs the next year. And the answer to that is none. The Saints pretty much had a magical season last year. Not everything can go as right for them this year as last.





How the Panthers accomplished a .500 season after such a horrendous start is, well, an accomplishment. Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore should provide better quarterback play than Jake no longer (del)Home, but the heart of this team is in their running game.


But without a solid passer and the loss of Julius Peppers, I see John Fox as getting the ax after this season.




The Yucs are back! Point out one solid area on this team because I cannot find one anywhere. Jon Gruden should probably send management a Christmas card every year for firing him from this sinking ship.






Default. The word that Homer Simpson once said is the greatest in the English language will also be quoted by Mike Singletary and the 49ers. Quarterback is definitely a position of concern, but with no real contenders, it shouldn't take much more than a 9-7 record to wrap this division up.





The incumbent division winner will find they'll miss Kurt Warner for what he does off the field even more than on it. He was able to bring that offense out of hibernation while new starter Matt Leinart sat and pouted. Talent can only go so far, especially for a signal caller. Lack of maturity will do them in.





Escaping NCAA fines and suspensions has to be the only motivation for Pete Carroll signing on in Seattle. I don't want to get into that whole issue here, but given Carroll's track record of NFL coaching versus his collegiate success, his taking this job comes down to that fact. Sure, injuries have plagued the team in recent memory, but even when their starters were in full swing they had trouble. Only avoid the cellar because of the Rams.





The Rams are 3-29 the past two seasons, the only victory of last year coming at the hands of Detroit.




Baltimore over San Diego


These are the two best teams in the conference. As long as the seeding doesn’t match them against each other earlier in the playoffs, this will be the matchup.




Minnesota over Green Bay


Just to add the drama of the Brett Favre soap opera, I’m going to go with the Minnesota Vikings going in to Green Bay in January and defeating the Packers. If you thought you saw Favre hating before, and assumed the two sides would make up eventually, this will put the nail in the coffin.


Any Packers fans still with Favre jerseys will have themselves a new item to add to the firewood for that long ten month winter in Wisconsin, however they will be able to take comfort in…





Baltimore over Minnesota


…Brett Favre will join Craig Morton and Kurt Warner as the only quarterbacks to lose Super Bowls for multiple teams.


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