This NFL Season's Worst Team in Every Division
Everyone knows how important it is to win your division. Achieving this guarantees you a spot in the Playoffs, where the Seattle Seahawks proved last year that anything can happen. Some divisions are tougher than others, of course. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won ten games last season, yet missed the Playoffs in the NFC South. The Seahawks had a losing record, yet had a home Playoff game after taking the NFC West.
There is nothing these teams can do about the divisions they are in, so you just have to go play hard every night. There are some divisions that should be relatively easy to predict, while others will not be decided until the final game of the season. We have a long way to go, but these teams can already start looking forward to next year's NFL Draft.
NFC North: Minnesota Vikings
It's hard to say that a team with Donovan McNabb and Adrian Peterson will be the worst team in their division. That's just how things are shaping up, though, in the feisty NFC North. The Packers are the clear favorites, but the other three teams will be battling it out for second place.
The Lions are the sexy pick this year (if they can keep Stafford in an upright position so he can get the ball to Calvin Johnson).The Bears will take a step back from last season, but they won't fall all the way to the bottom. However, the Vikings lost star receiver Sidney Rice, and pass rusher Ray Edwards, and don't have a lot of depth at the linebacker position.
NFC East: Washington Redskins
Don't tell Rex Grossman, but he is not Tom Brady, and he is not playing for the New England Patriots. When Sexy Rexy told reporters this week that he thought the Redskins would win the NFC East this year, he was either drunk, or someone on the team put him up to the challenge of saying that without cracking a smile.
The Eagles are everyone's darlings this year, and for good reason. They are loaded everywhere, but they still have to play the game. The Cowboys will be much improved this year, revamping their defense, and getting healthy, consistent players on offense. They should be able to sniff the post season this year. The Giants look like a train wreck right now, but they will recover and avoid finishing with a losing record.
NFC South: Carolina Panthers
This one was relatively easy to pick, as the Saints, Falcons, and Buccs will once again be the class of this division. This is not a crack on the Panthers, though. They will be one of the most improved teams this year. I believe Cam Newton is going to have success in his rookie year, and their ability to keep guys like DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Charles Johnson, and Jon Beason was huge. They could win this division in a couple of years.
There will definitely be two Playoff teams in this division. Deciding who the third wheel will be is going to be tough. The Saints, Falcons, and Buccs are all so evenly matched, and they all have similar playing styles. It's anyone's guess as to which one will win the division, but it is going to take a lot of wins to earn it this year.
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks will not only go from making the Playoffs last year to missing it this season, but they are going to be the worst team in the worst division in sports. Even though they added Sidney Rice, the switch from Matt Hasselbeck to Tarvaris Jackson is going to really hurt them. Marshawn Lynch is going to have to pretend he is someone else again this year, in order for them to have success. The real back breaker for this team is going to be the loss of Lofa Tatupu on defense.
The question here is not who is going to win the division, but will they have a winning record? The answer is, yes, and it will be the Arizona Cardinals. I'm not a huge believer in Kolb, but this is a team that was in the Super Bowl not too long ago. If Chris Wells can find his head, and Kolb gets the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Todd Heap, they will be fine with Patrick Peterson, Adrian Wilson, and Kerry Rhodes on defense. The mediocre 49ers and Rams will fight it out for second place, not that it matters.
AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals
The decision here is the same as it has always been; which Ohio team will suck more? The Bengals will have a rookie quarterback facing the defenses of Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each, and their best offensive player (A.J. Green) might never get the ball throw to him with all of that pressure on Andy Dalton. Being able to re-sign Cedric Benson was huge, because without him, this could be the worst team in football. The loss of underrated Johnathan Joseph at CB is also going to kill them.
Obviously the Steelers and Ravens are the top dogs in this division. The Browns will still have their problems this year, but an improved Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis could help them avoid disaster this year. Their defense will be better than the Bengals' as well.
AFC East: Buffalo Bills
I almost went with the Dolphins here, but with the breaking news of the Bills trading Lee Evans to Baltimore helped me make my decision. I think the Bills will have a much better defense this year, but they won't be able to stop the Patriots, and their offense won't be able to generate enough points to outscore the Jets. The Dolphins didn't do that much with the acquisition of Reggie Bush, but Daniel Thomas is going to be the real deal.
It think that the Patriots will crush Rex Ryan's puppets this year, just based on the moves each team made. The addition of Chad Ochocinco will give them a bigger down field target for Brady, even though Welker is still their best receiver. Having Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth on the line is going to help against the Jets' rushing attack. I'm not sure if the Jets got any better by replacing Braylon Edwards with an aging Derrick Mason and a guy that hasn't played football in two years. Either way, the Bills don't stand a chance, yet again.
AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars
The pick here is of course between the Jags and the Titans. I think having Hasselbeck under center will help out Chris Johnson a lot. I don't know how the quarterback situation in Jacksonville is going to go, and the surgery on Maurice Jones-Drew still concerns me quite a bit. Their defense did improve a little, but they still will not be able to outscore the Colts or the Texans. I give the slight edge to the Titans, but they will finish around .500 this year.
I actually think this is the year we will see the Houston Texans take the next step and win the division. The Colts have dominated the AFC South for so long, but they are another year older, and we saw last season how injury prone some of these guys are. Peyton Manning will likely miss the entire preseason, so that first game of the regular season in Houston will be very crucial.
We might not know exactly who will win it this year, but we do know that it will not be the Jaguars.
AFC West: Denver Broncos
After much debate, I finally decided that the distractions in Denver (see Tebow/Orton) will ultimately lead to this team's demise. I've never been one to beat a dead horse, but it really doesn't matter which Bronco that Denver decides to go with. Neither one of them will even be able to get this team above .500 on the season. They have a few nice little pieces here and there, but eventually, they will find their way to the bottom of the division.
I expect the Raiders and Chiefs to battle it out for the AFC West title this year—I can't wait for the two match ups between these rivals this year. The Chargers had the number one offense last year, and there is no reason that should change now that they will have Vincent Jackson and a healthy Antonio Gates. The defense in Kansas City is going to be one of the top five units in the league this year. They are loaded at almost every position on defense, and they have a couple of big play makers on offense as well. Darren McFadden will lead the Raiders to a third place finish.