NFL Bracketology: Who Gets the Top Seeds in the League's Imaginary Field of 32?
Fans everywhere are going to be super disappointed when they realize that this NFL lockout is going to last all season long.
With that said, football has to return some time, so we might as well predict as much as possible while they're on "vacation".
The NCAA Tournament is the best stuff on television at the moment, and the best part of March Madness is examining the brackets. Here's how the NFL would look if they adopted a bracket ranking system.
North Region: No.1. Green Bay Packers Vs. No. 8. Carolina Panthers
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The Packers earn the number one overall seed in the tournament after a great Super Bowl victory.
With Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley coming back from injury, Green Bay has a great chance to make a run at a second championship title.
Carolina will have the top pick in the draft, if there still is one, but probably won't be that much of a better team. They still have a long way to go.
East Region: No. 1. Baltimore Ravens Vs. No. 8. Buffalo Bills
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Baltimore lost to Pittsburgh in the divisional playoffs last season, but they definitely have as much talent as anyone in the league.
Joe Flacco is slowly turning into a veteran before our eyes, and his combination with Ray Rice make the Ravens a very dangerous team.
Buffalo will have a hard time every season as long as they play in the AFC East, and Ryan Fitzpatrick just isn't a franchise quarterback.
South Region: No. 1. Atlanta Falcons Vs. No. 8 Cincinnati Bengals
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Matt Ryan, who was drafted in the same class as Flacco, has also become a veteran in this league.
"Matty Ice" has one of the best home records of all-time, and the Falcons proved that they are good enough to hang in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints.
Cincinnati was a division winner only two years ago, and then they acquired Terrell Owens. So what happened since then?
Well, its quite hard to say. Somehow, for some reason, football just doesn't work in Cincinnati. That team needs to rebuild and rethink its plans for the future, starting at quarterback.
West Region: No. 1. New England Patriots Vs. No. 8. Denver Broncos
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New England finished last season as the best team in the AFC.
They failed to make it to the Super Bowl, but they still have a good team, and will always be able to contend with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick leading the way.
Denver plummeted last season in the AFC after a great start in the season before. Tim Tebow looks like he's the future quarterback in Denver, and will hopefully change their luck around once he takes over the starting job.
North Region: No. 2. Indianapolis Colts Vs. No. 7. Washington Redskins
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Peyton Manning seems to still be the great quarterback he was 10 years ago.
The only issue arises when his entire squad of receivers get injured, like they did last season. If the Colts can stay healthy, they will be a serious contender for the Super Bowl every single year.
Washington played well at times last year, but were also very inconsistent. Quarterback troubles between Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan probably affected their play on the field.
East Region: No. 2. Philadelphia Eagles Vs. No. 7. Detroit Lions
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Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles played outstanding last year, and still have the capability to win a championship.
The Eagles placed a franchise tag on Vick during the off-season, which means they hope to have him as their quarterback for a long time to come.
Detroit is getting better every year, and I think they will continue to do so once the football season resumes. I just don't think they're ready yet to get over that hump and be a real contender in the NFC.
South Region: No. 2. New Orleans Saints Vs. No. 7. Cleveland Browns
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The New Orleans Saints failed to repeat as World Champions, but still made it to the playoffs with a Wildcard spot.
Drew Brees and co. are one of the most talented teams in the NFL, and will probably make the playoffs every year unless a team like Tampa Bay can really step up.
Cleveland lived and died by Peyton Hillis last season, and will probably do so again this season. Hillis was a monster, but I doubt that he is an elite running back in the NFL, just because of one good season. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Browns drop down to four wins or less once again.
West Region: No. 2. Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. No. 7. Arizona Cardinals
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The Pittsburgh Steelers made it all the way to the Super Bowl last season, even with Ben Roethlisberger missing the first four games of the season.
Next year should be no different, as the Steelers have one of the best defense in the NFL, and have a pretty young and talented squad on the offensive side as well.
Arizona needs to figure out their quarterback situation immediately. Whether it is acquiring Kevin Kolb, or drafting a player like Cam Newton, they need to do something. Derek Anderson or Max Hall is not the answer.
North Region: No. 3. New York Jets Vs. No. 6. San Francisco 49ers
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Rex Ryan guarantees every year that the Jets will win a Super Bowl, but the players have failed him each time.
I don't think next year, or any year in the near future will be the year of the Jets, but they are still a decent team. Especially with the amazing defense that they currently have.
The 49ers are another team who need to figure out their quarterback situation. Alex Smith is not the answer. Kevin Kolb, or Vince Young, or another rookie need to be on that roster to take the job away from Smith.
East Region: No. 3. New York Giants Vs. No. 6. Seattle Seahawks
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Eli Manning isn't an elite quarterback in the NFL, even if he tries to be.
He simply cannot lead a team like his brother, or many others. The Giants need to figure out how to not blow games, because they've screwed themselves over in the past couple seasons.
Seattle won a playoff game against the Saints in Pete Carroll's first season as head coach. That was great for the franchise, who hadn't been good since Shaun Alexander left. Plus, they play in the NFC West, which means they'll be able to compete every year, no matter how bad their team is.
South Region: No. 3. San Diego Chargers Vs. No. 6. Minnesota Vikings
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Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers barely made the playoffs last year.
With Oakland winning both its games against San Diego, and the surprising Chiefs winning games against everyone, the Chargers cannot run over that division now like they used to.
Minnesota probably has a rough road ahead. With the third retirement of Brett Favre, they are left with Joe Webb at quarterback, who is a long shot to be spectacular. Still, any team with Adrian Peterson can probably win a game or two on his skills alone.
West Region: No. 3. Chicago Bears Vs. No. 6. Dallas Cowboys
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Chicago looked great last season, until Jay Cutler hurt himself in the NFC Championship.
After that blew over, Cutler, and a lot of other folks, were left with a bad taste in their mouths. I don't think they can be as good as they were last year, but it will be interesting to watch.
Dallas played horribly last year, plain and simple. Once Romo got hurt, everything started to go even further downhill. If Romo isn't fully healthy, or has a nagging injury, the Cowboys will probably not have too much of a better season this year.
North Region: No. 4. Oakland Raiders Vs. No. 5. Houston Texans
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Hue Jackson signed to be the new Raiders head coach for whenever football starts again.
The Raiders looked better then they had in years last season, winning all six games in their division, and finishing with a record of 8-8. The future looks bright for once in Oakland.
Houston was a favorite to contend in the AFC South last season, but really struggled somewhere along the way. They had a horrible defense, and will need to address that in the draft, because teams will just continue to run through them if they don't.
East Region: No. 4. Jacksonville Jaguars Vs. No. 5. Tennessee Titans
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David Garrard and Mike Thomas hooked up last season on a Hail Mary that was one of the best plays in football.
Maurice Jones-Drew continued to prove he is one of the best running backs in the NFL, and the Jaguars will be a tough team to beat if they play to their potential.
Tennessee had issues on and off the field, especially with Vince Young. Now that he is gone, the Titans can focus solely on football.
South Region: No. 4. Kansas City Chiefs Vs. No. 5. Miami Dolphins
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Kansas City came out of nowhere last season to win the AFC West.
Jamal Charles has emerged as an all-star running back, and if he can continue to play at an elite level, the Chiefs will have a chance to win that division every year.
Miami struggled with injuries last season at the quarterback spot, and I think they'll be better next year. They had one of the best road records, which shows that they have the talent to compete, but that they just aren't performing to their potential every game.
West Region: No. 4. Tampa Bay Bucaneers Vs. No. 5. St. Louis Rams
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Tampa Bay finished the year at 10-6, but failed to make the playoffs.
Getting that record in the same division as the Saints and the Falcons is very impressive, and Josh Freeman is maturing as a quarterback with every game he plays. The Bucs may be a dangerous competitor very soon.
St. Louis was saved by Sam Bradford. They were absolutely horrible two seasons ago, but Bradford led them to a second place record in the NFC West in his rookie season. It won't be long before Bradford is considered an elite quarterback in this league.