Change or More of the Same?
Every year, experts predict the division champions from each division, and many times they try to make a division seem more competitive than it actually is.
After the first two weeks of the NFL season it has become clear that some divisions are heading toward "change” and others are going to continue to be “more of the same.”
If you don’t recognize the lingo, it is from the '08 presidential campaigns, which I will not get into as this time, other than to say I think change would be nice.
At the start of the season there was no doubt who the favorite was in this division, but after week one all bets were off.
The new popular pick to take this division was the “NY Bretts,” as "experts" overlooked the Buffalo Bills (who I picked to win a wild card spot before the season) and that team from New England; what’s their name again?
Oh yeah, the Patriots.
The Pats have been able to win five straight AFC East titles, and I think they are ready for a sixth.
You don’t win five straight titles without being able to deal with and overcome a major injury, which New England has been able to do better than any team in the NFL. That’s why they are considered a modern dynasty.
Now you may argue that they have not beaten anybody good so far this year, which is a valid argument. But if you look at their schedule, they don’t really have to beat anybody good to win the East with a 10-6 record.
Prediction: More of the same.
New England 10-6
Buffalo 9-7 wild card
This division has been Pittsburgh’s for the last few years, with the Steelers having won a division title four out of the last six years.
Before the season started, many people, including myself, felt that the Cleveland Browns were going to be able to steal the No. 1 spot away from the Steelers.
However, after the Browns only scored 16 points in their first two games at home, it doesn’t look like the Browns are going to be stealing anything this year except for a possible win against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Prediction: More of the same
Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5
To be honest, this division has me scratching my head through the first two weeks. Everybody thought that Jacksonville was going to take this South this year (and by “everybody” I mean myself and a couple of my friends).
If you're following the trend, I would have to say this division at the moment is due for change, because the Tennessee Titans are leading the pack with a record of 2-0.
However, I am not willing to admit to change yet and I still have not ruled out the Jaguars and the Colts. I think both teams are still the class of this division and will emerge by the end of the season.
Also, I’m not a fan of the offense in Tennessee with Collins or Young.
Prediction: Change or more of the same
Indianapolis Colts 11-5
Jacksonville Jaguars 10-6 wild card
My heart goes out to all you Chargers fans (not really) because you have no shot at the playoffs. In their first two games they were two plays away from being 2-0, but unfortunately the plays went the other way and they are 0-2.
If you look at the schedule, San Diego needed to win these two games. They still have to play New England, Buffalo, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, and Denver, all of which are toss up games.
Denver Broncos 10-6
The NFC East is arguably the deepest division in the NFL, with all four teams capable of making the playoffs this year.
I have to say this division is going to be more of the same for two reasons.
One: Dallas is still the top dog in this dog pound and they will most likely win the division for a third straight time (unless they lose Monday night to Philly).
Two: Since the league switched from six divisions to eight in 2002, the NFC East has put more teams into the playoffs than any other division. Over these six seasons they have been represented by 13 different teams.
I don’t think this year will be any different, and they will once again be the most represented division in the NFL.
Prediction: More of the same
NYG 10-6 wild card
PHI 10-6 wild card
Prior to this year this was a division that most experts felt were ready for a change. Not so fast, experts!
I don’t think anybody can argue that they're not the team to beat in the NFC North. The Minnesota Vikings were the trendy pick during the offseason, but after starting 0-2, and losing to Green Bay on MNF week one, there hasn’t been much talk coming from the Minnesota faithful.
I know that Green Bay (2-0) is currently tied with the Chicago Bears (2-0) for first place in the NFC North. But do you really want me to explain all the reasons why the Packers are better than the Bears? I don’t have enough time for all that writing.
I will say that there is only going to be one team in the playoffs from this division and it's not going to be the Lions, Bears, or Vikings.
At the end of the season that team will be the Green Bay Packers.
Prediction: More of the same
The South is a division where teams don’t win back-to-back titles. It just doesn’t happen.
And this year is going to be no exception. I am starting to believe that if you won the division the previous year you are excluded from the “lottery drawing” and the three remaining teams all put their names into a hat and whoever is picked gets to win the division title.
Tampa Bay was able to win the lottery last season, which means they have no chance at winning this season.
To be serious for a moment, after week one's last second win by the “cardiac cats,” I think they will be able to scratch their way to the top and secure a spot in the playoffs by a tiebreaker over New Orleans.
It seems like every year I look at the NFL standings the NFC West has had a very similar look.
The Seattle Seahawks were always flying high above the competition.
However, this year the Seahawks are currently in last place in the West and it is another bird that is flying high these days.
The Arizona Cardinals have looked good in their first two games with Kurt Warner as their starting QB. Now there were a few skeptics about Warner’s ability to play football at a high level, and I think he was able to show them that he definitely can still play.
As long as Leinart remains on the bench, the Cardinals will remain on top even with a tough schedule to deal with.
Arizona Cardinals 9-7
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