NFL 2011-2012 Season
This is an opinion article and should be taken as just that, one writer's opinion. I have gone through the entire NFL schedule and picked my winners. How I came up with those game results is by no means scientific, but rather just opinion.
Besides matching up the opponents, I also try inserting intangibles into my formula. Sometimes, it is a hunch, while other times, it is a coin toss as to who wins. I am not an NFL expert or mathematician, but a super anxious fan of the sport.
Each team, in their own divisions, is then ranked and postseason play is determined. I have gone through the entire postseason as I see it. This includes the eventual Superbowl teams and it's winner.
While I am a fan of the NFL, I do have a team allegiance. When going through the schedule, I try my best to keep my bias out of the equation. My allegiance, being from Wisconsin, is to the Super Bowl Champ Green Bay Packers.
The whole intent of this article is to show one, mine, fan's prediction of how the season will shape up. What will be more fun is seeing at the end of the season, how close those predictions are.
One never can factor in unknown injuries and circumstances. I could be soo far off or as close to perfect as one could get. No matter how the season actually goes, it is bound to be an exciting NFL season.
Are you ready for some football?
Aaron Rodgers with Lombardi Trophy
Because of the excitement for the NFL season to get started, I will provide my picks for Week 1.
NO at GB - Super Bowl Champs take care of business to open up their season at Lambeau
Cin at Cle - Given the confidence he deserves, Colt McCoy will prove the starting QB decision was correct.
Ten at Jax - Giving Jacksonville home-field advantage. They'd be wise not to take this game as a sign of things to come though
Phi at STL - While a good matchup, Philadelphia is going to want to prove doubters wrong from the start. Can they maintain that?
Det at TB - Two teams on the rise, however Tampa Bay was more consistent in their rise and is defending home turf
Buf at KC - Another young and talented team in the NFL, Kansas City handles their own.
Sea at SF - Not seeing any decent QB play from either team, a field goal goes Seattle's way
Car at Arz - Bottom dwellers. It will take rookie Cam Newton some time in the NFL, so I will give the advantage to Kevin Kolb.
Min at SD - With some more talent surrounding Phillip Rivers, he will show this year just how good, or great, he really is. Will SD learn lessons and be consistent though is the question.
NE at Mia - I expect Tom Brady to have a great year, and it has nothing to do with Ochocinco (will he be in NE at the end of the year?).
Oak at Den - Will Oakland ever do enough to be competitive on a consistent basis? Will Denver ever figure out what they are doing at the QB position? Slight edge given to the home team, emphasize slight however.
New England QB Tom Brady
AFC East Standings
1. New England Patriots 14-2. I am predicting (not a major prediction I know) that Tom Brady is going to have an excellent year. The Patriots can never be counted out. I think Ochocinco helps the team, but I also predict he will not be in a New England jersey at the end of the year. I just am not sold he and Bill Belichick can be on the same team and same page.
3. Buffalo Bills 5-11. Rookie head coach; team needs to start over. When you are in the same division as the Patriots and recently the Jets, your learning curve and comeback is that much more difficult.
Steelers QB Big Ben
1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4. They win both games against Baltimore. The determination having come off a Super Bowl defeat is immense. They will try to prove they really did belong (and they did) and should have won that game. Their defense is still stellar. And don't count out Big Ben.
2. Baltimore Ravens 13-3. But for losing to Pittsburgh twice, they will be dominant in their victories. No one will go undefeated. and they will have their minor setbacks. Their defense only rivals that of Pittsburgh in this division. Joe Flacco's status among quarterbacks keeps improving and rising.
3. Cleveland Browns 5-11. It has been the death of a quarterback's career in Cleveland for too long. Given the confidence and play time, Colt McCoy is going to do real well. How long it takes to get Cleveland to be real competitive and maybe go for division title remains to be seen, but they aren't going to be the laughing stock of the NFL.
4. Cincinnati Bengals 5-11. Speaking of laughing stock...well that is harsh. This team seems to be regressing, and I'm not sure this season will do them any favors.
Colts QB Peyton Manning
1. Indianapolis Colts 10-6. This is the division I could really bomb predicting. If Peyton Manning's outfit is the above picture for more than three games, he may as well keep the jeans on. The Colts aren't the same team as three or more years ago. Their defense will still carry them and they need that until Peyton returns healthy.
2. Houston Texans 8-8. Indianapolis may affect these standings, but I am sticking with my original predictions. The Texans still need to work on consistency. Winning early gives false sense of hope and winning late may just be, well, too late. I see some improvement with their consistency and breeding a culture of winning.
3. Tennessee Titans 5-11. While there may have been better quarterbacks out there, Matt Hasselback is not a bad choice. I think they still battle past years' demons and have to rebuild.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13. What gets fans interested in a team? Winning. This year won't bode well in that department for the Jaguars. The future does have a bright spot in Blaine Gabbert, but that won't take hold in just one year.
SD QB Philip Rivers
He now has some more talent surrounding him and can showcase exactly what he can do. I look for the Chargers to finally learn their lessons and be a force to be reckoned with in the AFC playoffs.
2. Kansas City Chiefs 8-8. I love the youth of this team. In part, I hope I am wrong, but I think they have a little learning yet to do. There may be a little step back. They need to win the games they aren't expected to win.
3. Denver Broncos 5-11. I honestly am at a loss to explain the drafting of Tim Tebow and then fall from grace. They are mismanaging their quarterback situation. Not only that, but they received a quarterback whose career Cleveland managed to stunt in Brady Quinn.
Is Kyle Orton really a starter? They need to figure out their roster before they can effectively play.
4. Oakland Raiders 4-12. What can be said of Oakland? Will they ever be dominant or relevant again? And no stranger to controversies or reputations, they maintain that edge. I see Terrelle Pryor having two good games and then being a thing of the past.
Eagles QB Michael Vick
1. Philadelphia Eagles 14-2. Are they a team of destiny? Are they favorites? Is their defense that much improved? I'm going to buy into those arguments and also put in some luck. Will, or is, Michael Vick regressing and going back to making poor decisions?
I can't see Andy Reid allowing for that. I think Vick will continue to prove doubters wrong. I see the team as a whole improving.
2. New York Giants 10-6. Eli Manning managed to put a bigger target on the backs of the Giants. Is he top 5 QB? Depends on the list and who he puts on that list. By any standard used, how could he be?
For every brilliant pass he makes and flash of a smile, he can manage to throw two inexcusable and indefensible interceptions. He gambles with borrowed money. And I am not sure everyone is on the same page with Tom Coughlin.
3. Dallas Cowboys 10-6. Dallas will improve. They can't stay down too long. And part of that improvement will be getting a healthy Tony Romo back. But like Eli, he isn't always the answer. And I actually would rate Romo slightly lower than Eli. Both have issues with decision making.
4. Washington Redskins 3-13. While there are two names of quarterbacks for the Redskins, they don't have a quarterback. Maybe Denver can do the Redskins a favor and provide one. Mike Shanahan is pretty optimistic with the team, but then, what coach isn't at the beginning of the season.
Superbowl Champion Green Bay Packers
1. Green Bay Packers 14-2. It is extremely hard to repeat and defend the Lombardi Trophy. But in this division, the Packers shouldn't have any more trouble than any other defending champion.
The team remains the same and gets better with returning injured players in Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley. The addition of Randall Cobbs will improve the return game and wide receiver position, as if that needed improving, The only two losses are in the division, but they overcome that obstacle.
2. Detroit Lions 9-7. This is only achieved with a healthy Matthew Stafford. It's obvious that he is the key component to their success. Often the quarterback is. And since his health was a reason for their setback last year, they will continue improving. That, and Chicago won't be lucky again this year against them.
3. Chicago Bears 6-10. The Bears won against the Lions on the minutia of a stupid rule. Everyone knew that was a catch except for the rulebook. The Bears rode on that luck all year long. They have a great defense. But you do need some offense.
I won't pile on Jay Cutler like I want to, but suffice it to say, he is not the answer to their offensive situation. He has a knack of completing more passes to cornerbacks than wide receivers. The Bears follow Cutler's pouting to a 6-10 season.
4. Minnesota Vikings 5-11. Tarvaris Jackson wasn't their answer to quarterback, and neither will Donovan McNabb. They can rely on Adrian Peterson as long as he doesn't lose focus and concentration. The defense is still very good
Falcons QB Matt Ryan
1. Atlanta Falcons 13-3. The only thing to improve Matt Ryan's stock as an NFL quarterback, is winning the big games. They need to shake off their loss to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs. Forget it happened. Ryan is a very good quarterback and leader. He has some potent offensive weapons to choose from.
2. New Orleans Saints 13-3. Never count out Drew Brees. He still has the edge over Ryan in efficiency. Rookie running back Mark Ingram may just be the better answer than Reggie Bush ever could have been in New Orleans. The battle between Atlanta and New Orleans will be a heavily fought one, relying of course on defense.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-7. Josh Freeman leads this team very well. They are up-and-coming. And they will continue to improve and show dominance at home. But playing in the NFL means you have to win the away games.
4. Carolina Panthers 3-13. Drafting Cam Newton first indicates and acknowledges the fact that there is no place but up for them. Newton is not the savior. But given the boost of confidence and having plays written to suit him will set him up for success. That success doesn't come right away. It builds.
The record of 3-13 doesn't indicate much improvement, but it is there. Going up against the three other teams in the division is a very tough task.
Rams QB Sam Bradford
2. Seattle Seahawks 6-10. And from No. 1 in this division, there is a drop-off. Tarvaris Jackson was not the answer to quarterback in Minnesota and won't be the answer in Seattle. I also am not sold on coach Pete Carroll.
3. Arizona Cardinals 4-12. Ted Wisenhut has a large task ahead of him in getting Arizona back to competing. Competing in this division shouldn't be hard but will be for him. Kevin Kolb is a decent addition and will add much improvement at the quarterback position for the team.
4. San Francisco 49ers 3-13. Here is another team with serious questions at the quarterback position. Not much else to write about the bottom team in the NFC West. This is the division that last year shouldn't have even had a team in the playoffs. Only St Louis saves the reputation of this division. To save the 49ers reputation, they'd be best served getting a quarterback.
Packers WR Greg Jennings
Since I am a Green Bay Packer fan, I'll provide my insight to each game. I'll be brief with them.
Week 1 NO at GB. Packers will showcase why they are the champs. The defense will step up and stop Drew Brees.
Week 2 GB at Car No game is easy and none should be overlooked. It will take time for Cam Newton to get control of his team, and having Aaron Rodgers visit won't help. He can take pointers though.
Week 3 GB at Chi. This will be the first stumble for the Packers. Playing at Soldier Field is always difficult and because it is within the division. Jay Cutler isn't going to help the Bears and Aaron Rodgers won't help the Packers. This comes down to the veteran defensive players of the Bears shutting down Greg Jennings.
Week 4 Den at GB. Kyle Orton and/or Brady Quinn might do well in Denver, but they won't enjoy success in Lambeau Field. Home-field advantage is just that, an advantage.
Week 5 GB at Atl. This is the Falcons chance to get revenge from last year. This will be an entertaining game to watch. Both Rodgers and Matt Ryan will let those balls soar in the air. I expect a high scoring game, with Green Bay escaping by a field goal at the end.
Week 6 STL at GB. While Sam Bradford is a good quarterback, his youth will not be able to overcome any blitz packaging Charles Woodson is a part of.
Week 7 GB at Min. this is a divison game but Donovan McNabb hasn't enjoyed the division and won't get the better of it. The defense of the Vikings won't be able to contain the Packers explosive offense.
Week 8 is BYE. Week 9 GB at SD. This is another game that could prove very interesting. Rodgers against Philip Rivers. I am going to give the edge to Packers in their defense. This is another game that comes down to a field goal
Week 10 Min at GB. It won' get better for Minnesota having to come into Lambeau Field. Green Bay dominates in this game.
Week 11 TB at GB. While young and improving, TB will fall short by a touchdown.
Week 12 GB at Det. Thanksgiving matchup in Detroit is always a struggle for the Packers. With a healthy Matthew Stafford and an improved season, Detroit will carve turkey out of the Packers. It will be a loss that stings. One where Rodgers struggles and Matt Flynn may have to come in to save face.
Week 13 GB at NYG. The Giants won't want to play the Packers after having been embarrassed in Detroit. Aaron Rodgers will have his way and the defense will embarrass Eli Manning, forcing him into misguided decisions and two interceptions.
Week 14 Oak at GB. This game should be an easy game for the Packers but won't be. They'll have to battle all game long but will pull away in the end.
Week 15 GB at KC. The Packers will be on a roll and will be too much for the young Cheifs to handle. The Chiefs will keep it close however and give the Packers all they have to win it.
Week 16 Chi at GB. As Soldier Field is difficult for the Packers to play in, so will Lambeau Field be for the Bears. Green Bay gets it's revenge on the Bears in a decisive manner. Jay Cutler will have wished he stayed pouting on the sidelines.
Week 17 Det at GB. Another revenge game. Green Bay needs to make it back to the Super Bowl. They have to correct the mistake of the mid-90s. So to prove that, they must protect their house. That they will do and will wipe away the embarrassment from Thanksgiving Day and defeat the Lions.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco
Here is how I have the postseason working out. Bolded teams win.
SD vs. NYJ - SD shows dominance from confidence they've gained this year and led by Philip Rivers. The New York Jets won't have a storybook ending this season.
Ind vs. Bal Baltimore takes advantage of Peyton Manning's late start to the season. The Ravens defense puts Joe Flacco in incredible field position all game long.
Atl vs. NYG. Matt Ryan makes all the right decisions and is accurate with his throws and moving the chains. On the other side, Eli Manning will be flustered and distracted and join the other New York team in an early dismissal.
NE vs. Bal Are you going to bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs? Baltimore will play a good game, but Brady and the Patriots can outlast them.
Pit vs. SD. Pittsburgh is going to dig deep down, and they won't allow anything, including Philip Rivers, to get in their way of getting back to the Superbowl.
Phi vs. NO Michael Vick and the Eagles defense are going to set out to prove they can be the dominant team they were set up to be. The Saints time may have come and gone.
GB vs. Atl. Here we are again in the same game as last year. The end result will be the same. Packers will win, but this will be guaranteed to be a much different game. It will go back and forth. Tramon Williams will again be the defensive savior when it matters the most in the fourth quarter.
NE vs. Pit. The Steelers defense will be immensely tested throughout this game going against Tom Brady. But my prediction is this year will be Brady's year. Brady will be too much for them to handle. Big Ben will have a great game up until the end.
Phi vs. GB. You want a defensive game? You got that. The Packers defense won postseason games last year with Sam Shields, Charles Woodson, BJ Raji, Clay Matthews and Tramon Williams. This is going to be a battle and will be won defensively.
I give the edge in quarterbacks and wide receivers and tight ends to Green Bay. But make no mistake about it, defense wins championships, and Green Bay will defend.
Packers CB Charles Woodson with Lombardi Trophy
My Super Bowl matchup will be between New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. This proves the spectacular year Tom Brady will have. At this point, Ochocinco will no longer be with the Patriots. Who will, remains to be seen of course.
For the Packers, the script could not have been written any better. They get to defend the championship in the Super Bowl again.
Both quarterbacks will do what they do best. They will both lead their offenses down the field effectively. I give the slight edge to the Packers' wide receivers, especially with their yard after catch abilities.
As for defense, the Packers have the advantage.
I see the Packers, as difficult a task this is, repeating. The score will also be close as it was last year. I wouldn't expect more than a field goal separating the scores.