NFL: Whitaker's 2011-12 NFL Preview and Predictions

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NFL: Whitaker's 2011-12 NFL Preview and Predictions
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AFC

 

AFC East

1. New England Patriots - 13-3

Talent wise this is the best Patriot team since the infamous 18-1 season. The scary thing is they have the best head coach in the game (so even if there is a better team talent wise out there this season, Bill will have a few things up his sleeve to counter-act that).

Offensive MVP - Tom Brady - He's already a first ballot Hall of Famer. But of late, in the Playoffs, he's been average.  Or by Brady's standards, he's been bad when it's counts the most. If the Patriots want to win another Super Bowl, Tom has to step it up and take control, when it's money time.

Defensive MVP - Jarod Mayo - One of the many young and talented Patriots, Mayo has become a star on the defensive side of the ball. He racked up a ridiculous 175 tackles in 2010, and isn't a slouch in pass coverage either (he knocked down five passes last season as well).

2. New York Jets - 11-5 (Wild-Card)

Unlike the 2010 offseason, this offseason for the Jets wasn't about bringing in big money talents.  It was about keeping them.  For example they missed out on future Hall of Famer Nnamdi Asomugha, but kept Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie. 

That being said they did lose two Pro Bowlers, one to their most hated rivals (DE/DT Shaun Ellis going to the Pats), and RT Damien Woody to retirement. The Jets drafted young talent Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round to replace Ellis, but stayed in house to replace Woody (going with the slow footed, yet Rex Ryan approved former swing tackle Wayne Hunter). 

Wilkerson will have to have a solid rookie season, especially since the Jets still do not have a consistent pass rush or a man to create double teams off the edge. And Mark Sanchez will have to take another step or two if the Jets want to make it three years in row: finishing ahead of the Pats and getting to the AFC Title game.  Let alone getting to and winning Super Bowl 46.

Offensive MVP: Nick Mangold - There is not a better center in the NFL.  He makes up for LG Matt Slauson's short comings and continues to deal with premier NT after premier, NT week after week.

Defensive MVP - Darrelle Revis - Can you imagine if this guy actually gets better? I mean hey, he's only 26.

3. Miami Dolphins - 6-10

GM Jeff Ireland is sticking with QB Chad Henne because he didn't want to overpay for Kyle Orton and he's sticking with HC Tony Sparano, because Jim Harbaugh wanted to stay in the Bay area.  The GM has so little confidence in his QB and HC that he tried to replace his QB with a guy who's never made a Pro Bowl and his HC with a man who's never coached a game in the NFL.  If those aren't bad signs for the 2011 Dolphins season, I don't know what are.

Offensive MVP - Jake Long - The one weakness he has had early in his career was dealing with speed rushes. Now he's still not great at stopping them, but it's not a weakness anymore.

Defensive MVP - Cameron Wake - The former CFL player has exploded on the NFL scene. He's tallied 19.5 sacks (including 14.5 sacks last season) in his first two NFL seasons along with four forced fumbles. He's become one of the best pass rushers in all of football.

4. Buffalo Bills - 5-11

Now the Bills are still a bad team.  But they are better.  Like a little better.  Like it's barely noticeable.

Offensive MVP - Steve Johnson - Since when did Kentucky become a hot bed for talented WR's? First Johnson now Randall Cobb? Well alrighty then.

Defensive MVP - Kyle Williams - One of the most underrated players in the NFL (143 tackles & 9.5 sacks in his last two seasons) just became one of the highest paid players in the NFL (six-year $39 million/$17 million guaranteed).

 

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers - 13-3

It's pretty much the same Steeler team from last year: A multi-dimensional offense with a bad offensive line; a defense that has arguably the best pass rush in the NFL, with the best run D in the game, & a bad set of corners.  Will all that being said, it's not a stretch to say they aren't getting back to the Super Bowl this year.

Offensive MVP - Ben Roethlisberger - Say what you want about Big Ben the man, but Big Ben the football player is wonderful... well except in the Super Bowl (unless he's playing the Cardinals).

Defensive MVP - Troy Polamalu - The best safety in the game has battled back from a couple injuries in recent years with flying colors. Critics (including myself) say he wasn't his usual brilliant self in Super Bowl 45 (I'm sure he still has nightmares about losing Greg Jennings on the sideline).

2. Baltimore Ravens - 12-4 (Wild-Card)

WR Lee Evans will open up an offense who has been starved for a deep threat since the infamous Qadry Ismail was in Baltimore, but the Ravens still lack that killer instinct they had back when Ismail helped them win Super Bowl 35. They also lack continuity in the secondary.  The Ravens have the same good, but not great look they've had since the 2000 season was over.

Offensive MVP - Ray Rice - He's one of the few backs in the NFL who can is a complete back you can give the ball to 25 plus times a game. With Marshall Yanda, back at his natural position of RG, Rice's yards per carry will be on the rise from last year. Which should make OC Cam Cameron be comfortable with giving Ray Rice the ball that much once again in 2011.

Defensive MVP - Ed Reed - Now don't get me wrong Troy Polamalu is the best safety in the game, he just wasn't last season.  Reed missed the first 6 games of the season, but still picked off 8 balls and knocked down 16 of them.

3. Cleveland Browns - 8-8

The Brownies still don't have any receiving threats that scare anyone and they still don't have a pass rush that scares anyone (especially with Matt Roth and Shaun Rogers gone), but they do have something something that can keep them in a lot of games a QB who knows how to win.  People have doubted and still doubt Colt McCoy, but he plays good football and wins games (just ask Tom Brady & Drew Brees, who Colt & the Browns beat last year).

Offensive MVP - Peyton Hillis - So the question is ladies and gentleman: Do you believe in the Madden Curse?

Defensive MVP - D'Qwell Jackson - I struggled with this one a bit.  But the fact remains if the Browns want to make any noise this season D'Qwell Jackson needs to be their MVP on defense.  In other words he has to stay healthy and play a full season.  Because when he does he one of the best middle backers in the game (he's missed 26 games over the last 2 seasons, in the previous 2 seasons he racked up over 250 tackles and 4 interceptions).

4. Cincinnati Bengals - 3-13

If your a Bengals fan you can take comfort in this: this is Marvin Lewis' last season with Cinci (I think?).

Offensive MVP - Andrew Whitworth - Whitworth is one of the rare and successful cases in the NFL, where a guard is moved to left tackle (and it works). He provides great power and enough agility to be one of the better O-Lineman in football.

Defensive MVP - Leon Hall - Hall is going to have to take his game up another notch this season to avoid a drop-off in the Bengal secondary. Since his buddy Jonathan Joseph is now in Houston (no offense to Nate Clements the new No. 2 corner in Cinci, but Joseph could be the No. 1 corner for about half the teams in the League, you can't say that about Nate anymore).

 

AFC South

1. Houston Texans - 8-8

And you thought the NFC West was bad last year? To quote a Legend of the NFL, Ed Sabol "You ain't seen nothin' yet." Texans quality control checklist for 2011: A big time offense: check... A capable defensive coordinator to help fix a long struggling defense (Wade Phillips): check...  A legit nose tackle for Phillips' 3-4 defense... D'oh!

Offensive MVP - Andre Johnson - He's the best WR in football for some time now. And he's never been in the Playoffs. I'm not a Texans fan, but based on that fact I hope the Texans do finally make into the Playoffs this year.

Defensive MVP - Mario Williams - Williams played with a bad hip for most of 2010, and still racked up 8.5 sacks. He'll have to overcome more adversity in 2011, as he does something he's never had to do on a football field... play outside linebacker.

2. Indianapolis Colts - 6-10

Do I really need to say it?  I mean really?  That guy is gonna miss too many games for the Colts to be the Colts we're used to seeing over the last decade. You know the guy, Eli is his name, no wait it's Archie right?  No wait Cooper?  I'll get it just give me a minute...

Offensive MVP - Peyton  (I told you I'd get it!) ... Oh wait he's not playing so um...  That Jeff Saturday guy is pretty good I'll go with him. Side note, Jeff should change his name to Jeff Sunday because he plays in the NFL. And they play on Sunday (most of the time). 

Defensive MVP - Dwight Freeney - The man has more spin moves than Charlie Sheen has catch-phrases.

3. Tennessee Titans - 6-10

CJ2K might be slow out of the gate.  And even if he's not this team does not have enough fire power to be a contending team this year. Former D-Line coach Jim Washburn (not to mention double didget sacker from 2010 Jason Babin) are now in Philly, and that means also ran (such as DE Dave Ball & DT/DE Jason Jones) will have a lower production rate this season. 

Which is really bad news because, ever since Albert Haynesworth that defense has been average at that.  Not to mention the offense lacks any consistent playmaking firepower outside of CJ2K (if Kenny Britt has less than 3 arrests and his hamstring doesn't flare up again then we can add to CJ2K).

Offensive MVP - Chris Johnson - He got his money, but he'll have to use some of it if he wants a ring if he wants want anytime soon.

Defensive MVP - Barrett Rudd - I still can't get the fact the Bucs let this guy walk right out the door in the off-season. Even though he's a great player. The Bucs weren't magically 10-6 last year out of nowhere. Rudd has nearly 600 tackles to go along with, 20 pass deflections, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and six picks in his first six NFL seasons, and he didn't start a game his rookie season (and only five in his second season).  The Titans are very lucky to have this ultra-talented middle backer.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars - 2-14

So Luke McCown or a rookie who can't throw down the field (Blaine Gabbert threw for around 30 percent on throws of more than 15 his last year in college), these are the options for a team who haven't really done anything since Mark Brunell and Tony Boselli were leading the Jagz offense.  Good luck with that Jacksonville.

Offensive MVP - Maurice Jones-Drew - Pocket Hercules is coming off a knee surgery that have some people questioning if he's still an elite back.  He's a 26-year-old RB with a limited injury history, who is coming off back to back 1,300 yard seasons.  I'm going to give MJD the benefit of the doubt.

Defensive MVP - Paul Posluszny - The only reason the Bills let this guy go (well not counting the fact they're the Bills), is that Posluszny is injury prone.  He's missed 19 games in his first four seasons.  If you want to knock this guy on the field, you can pick at the fact he's not the fastest guy so he does struggle somewhat in pass coverage.  If you want to talk about his overall game you have to say he's a pretty good player who may be one injury free/16-game season away from being an elite ball player.

 

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers - 12-4

I've lived in Southern California all my life.  I have to admit I have a soft spot for the Chargers.  And yet I don't understand why people continue to predict this team year after year, to have mounds of success. Such as winning the Super Bowl.  Folks these are the San Diego Super Chargers. 

In other words they could have the most talent in the NFL during a season (which they don't this year), which they actually did in the 2006 season.  Just like in '06, and countless other years the Chargers always find a way to not win. So hey, they'll get back to the Playoffs, win more than 10 games and do what they do in the Playoffs... which is come up short.

Offensive MVP - Phillip Rivers - There have been people in the Chargers organization who have been the cause for San Diego's continuous shortcomings. Mr. Rivers is certainly not of one of those people.

Defensive MVP - Shaun Phillips - Phillips used to get overshadowed by Shawne Merriman, but in recent years (including Merriman's last 2 with the Chargers), Phillips has been the unquestioned No.1 player on the Charger defense.

2. Kansas City Chiefs - 6-10

The Chiefs as a team have enough talent to get back to the Playoffs, but the problem is in the NFL you have to have a QB.  And if last year's Playoff game vs. the Ravens or this preseason is any evidence, KC doesn't have one.  And if that isn't enough for you how about the fact that Matt Cassel can only function in spread formations, and he currently quarterbacks a run first offense.

Offensive MVP - Jamaal Charles - How this guy ran for over six yards a carry last season, let alone over six yards a carry with Matt Cassel at QB, is beyond my comprehension.  He's one of the few guys in NFL history that is an everydown back even though he's less than 200 pounds.

Defensive MVP - Eric Berry - Berry played every snap for KC last season as a rookie. As good as he already is, I don't see how that's a bad thing.

3. Oakland Raiders - 6-10

The Raiders lost their Franchise player.  They were 8-8, the best record they've had in a while, with Nnamdi, and now he's gone.  Six wins sounds about right.

Offensive MVP - Darren McFadden - If Run DMC is healthy and doesn't make his first Pro Bowl in 2011, I will be shocked.

Defensive MVP - Richard Seymour - Seymour's over 30 years old, but as of now he still plays like a young man.

4. Denver Broncos - 6-10

Owner Pat Bowlen just fired a HC who ran a franchise into the ground in Josh McDaniels. And now Bowlen hires another HC who ran another franchise (Carolina) into the ground.  Youch.

Offensive MVP - Ryan Clady - Watching Clady move his feet in pass protection is art in motion. Hey big man can be graceful too!

Defensive MVP - Elvis Dumervil - I know he's coming off a bad injury, but he's back to 100 percent. In other words the Broncos have a pass rush again.

AFC Playoffs -

Wild-Card Round

Jets @ Chargers -

Chargers 20, Jets 14

Ravens @ Texans -

Ravens 41, Texans 21

Divisional Round

Ravens @ Pats -

Pats 16, Ravens 10

Chargers @ Steelers -

Chargers 24, Steelers 21

AFC Championship Game

Chargers @ Pats -

Pats 34, Chargers 14

 

NFC

 

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles - 12-4

If you melted down the collective talent of this team vs. the other 31 teams, the Eagles would probably come the winner.  Of course, didn't we just go through a 'Dream Team' scenario in the NBA, that didn't turn out too well.  Let the Casey Matthews (the Eagles new starting MLB even though he's a fourth round rookie)/Mike Bibby - Jason Kelce (the Eagles new starting center even though he's a sixth round rookie)/Joel Anthony comparisons commence!

Offensive MVP - Michael Vick - The man is the greatest running QB of all time.  And hey he can (and always could) throw pretty well too (granted he's improved throwing the ball since the ATL, but it helps if your best option is DeSean Jackson and not Alge Crumpler).

Defensive MVP - Nnamdi Asomugha - One of the good guys of the NFL and sports in general, finally gets a chance to win.

 

2. Dallas Cowboys - 8-8

Jon Kitna better be ready to step in again for Tony Romo this season. The Cowboys have three new starters on the offensive line. And we aren't talking about an Eagles type of coup of off-season moves either (for the most part).  The new LG is a seventh round rookie named Bill Nagy, the new center is Phil Costa who was an un-drafted rookie in 2010 (with only one start under his belt), and the new RT is top-10 pick Tyron Smith (who unlike Nagy and Costa, on the surface looks like a sure-fire starter). 

The cast-offs from 2010, as a whole, while they we're overrated (especially Leonard Davis), provided holes in the run game. Not only with whoever the QB is this season, have minimal time in the pocket, the run game may take a step back. The defense is pretty much the same with a little more aggression, added one less talented Ryan twin (Rob Ryan the new defensive coordinator), and subtracted was a viable interior pass rush threat in Stephen Bowen (who's now in Washington/who had 4.5 sacks in only 11 starts the last two seasons).  Dallas has a lot of talented players, they just don't have a very good team.

Offensive MVP - Tony Romo - He's got a pretty face, and his game ain't bad to look at either.

Defensive MVP - Demarcus Ware - Even with the Cowboys struggles last season Ware held his head above water, to the tune of 15.5 sacks.

 

3. New York Giants - 6-10

The G-Men have 10 starters gone from opening day of last year, most of them have something to do with an injury.  Tom Coughlin might lose his job after this year, to no fault of his own.

Offensive MVP - Chris Snee - Snee is one of the best guards in the game, he's also married to his HC's daughter.

Defensive MVP - Justin Tuck - He's the leader of a defense that has been have been subject to serious change over since Super Bowl 42. 

4. Washington - 5-11

All we heard this offseason we heard about the QB situation in DC from Mike Shanahan, was John Beck this and John Beck that.  Which was sounded crazy enough in and of itself.  Now after all that talk Shanny is starting Rex Grossman in Week 1?

This whole Shanahan era in DC will turn out in one or two ways:  either Shanahan has lost that magic he had in Denver and he's lost his mind, or this is all an elaborate magic proving once again you can never doubt Mike Shanahan... No matter how crazy his plan looks.

Offensive MVP - Chris Cooley - The best player on the offense is a TE (and granted Cooley is a balla, he's not a Vernon Davis or Antonio Gates type either), that shows you how weak this offense really is.

Defensive MVP - Brian Orakpo - Orakpo had a down year going under double didget sacks in 2010, because of more double teams.  Washington drafted Purdue star Ryan Kerrigan in the first round.  For Brian's sake hopefully Ryan can successfully convert from a DE to a 3-4 OLB.

 

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers - 13-3

The Champs got better on offense, a lot better. Re-Enter two-time 1,000 yard rusher Ryan Grant and soon to be superstar TE Jermichael Finley.  Not to mention agile rookie tackle  first round rookie Derek Sherrod and second round rookie explosive WR Randall Cobb. 

The only key loss and on the defense is interior pass rusher extraordinaire Cullen Jenkins (who is now on the alleged 'Dream Team').  The loss of Jenkins pass rushing ability may hurt the Packers pass rush and defense a bit.  And though I am not picking them to re-peat, I'm not going to argue with anyone who does.

Offensive MVP - Aaron Rodgers - In my opinion he's the best QB in the free world. That game he had against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, was about as good as it gets.

Defensive MVP - Clay Matthews - He's made a pretty big jump, from being a walk on at USC.  A pretty big jump indeed.

 

2. Detroit Lions - 11-5 (Wild-Card)

Alert the presses, the Lions are watchable (if LT Jeff Backus can keep QB Matthew Stafford healthy for 16 games the Lions aren't just watchable they actually good)! This Thanksgiving I won't waste time spending time with my family to avoid watching the Lions game.

Offensive MVP - Calvin Johnson - I was watching TV this summer and I saw him in a commercial.  A Detroit Lion in a commercial, I couldn't believe it.

Defensive MVP - Ndamukong Suh - Later this summer I was watching TV and this guy was in a commercial too. Two Detroit Lions in national TV commercials (Has that ever happened before?  Maybe there was a Herman Moore and/or Barry Sanders commercial(s) on at the same time I was too young to notice).  That just shows you, these aren't the same old Lions.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings - 6-10

The Vikes are in re-building mode. Pro Bowlers NT Pat Williams and WR Sidney Rice are gone, talented pass rusher Ray Edwards is gone, future HOF Steve Hutchinson is declining, and the Brad Childress era is over. HC Leslie Fraizer has the look of NFL HC, but he's going to need to work a miracle to get this team back to the Playoffs this season.

Offensive MVP - Adrian Peterson - AP is an unbelievable player, who needs to work on his skills out of the backfield.  He's unbelievable he's just not perfect.

Defensive MVP - Jared Allen - Allen had a slow start to 2010 (as did most of the Vikings), but had a strong finish.  Allen went over 10 sacks for the fifth time in the last 6 years.

 

4. Chicago Bears - 5-11

If the Bears make the Playoffs let alone make any noise, Offensive-Line Coach Mike Tice needs to be put in the HOF.  Chicago is moving 2010 7th rounder Ja'Marcus Webb who had a horrible rookie at right tackle (which is supposed to be easier than playing left tackle) to Jay Cutler's blind side. 

And the only half way decent member of the Bears 2010 O-Line is now in New Orleans (long time Bear Olin Kruetz).  Heck if Jay Cutler plays 16 games this season it will be a small victory for a team that overachieved in 2010.

Offensive MVP - Matt Forte - How Forte gets 60 yards rushing in some games running behind that awful Bear line, amazes me.  When he goes over 100, I lose my natural mind. Forte would probably go for 1,500 yards rushing if he had at least a decent line to run behind.

Defensive MVP - Julius Peppers - Not all of GM Jerry Angelo's 2010 free agent signings worked out.  This one sure did.

 

NFC South

1 New Orleans Saints - 13-3

T.he Saints have the offensive fire power to hang with anyone.  The Saints don't have the defensive firepower to stop high powered offenses. Pro Bowl DE Will Smith (who is coming off an down year with only 5.5 sacks in 2010) is suspended for the first 2 games of 2011.  And Smith has his problems with getting a consistent pass rush and attracting double teams. 

The Saints have nobody else off the edge who can create any kind of double teams.  And in the middle of the defense (minus Pro Bowler Jonathan Vilma) their LBs struggle in man coverage, and don't attack in vs. the run.  New Orleans probably won't have another historic faceplant in the first round of the Playoffs, but another Super Bowl seems out of the question.

 

2. Atlanta Falcons - 13-3 (Wild-Card)

The Falcons are going to throw the ball more which is smart, because they lost their best offensive lineman in Harvey Dahl, and they drafted a stud WR in Julio Jones. Not to mention Michael Turner probably only has one to two years left of lead back ability left in him. What will probably end up killing any Super Bowl dreams the Falcons have this year is their secondary. 

The corners are good enough if your just talking about them as a group, but the safeties have problems covering deep and controlling the back end (if you don't believe me re-watch Falcons at Philly game from last year, where the alleged average armed Kevin Kolb looked like Dan Marino throwing it up and down the field/ and re-watch the Packers at Atlanta Playoff game where A-Rod made safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore look like pee-wee players). DeCoud and Moore are decent ball players, but they do their damage closer to the line of scrimmage. The Falcons are still a young team, who just aren't quite there yet.

 

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 7-9

I already mentioned Barrett Rudd. So I'll mention the guy who's replacing him, a three-round rookie out of Washington by the name of Mason Foster. Foster runs a 4.75 - 40 yard dash, but had 175 tackles in 13 games as a senior. Basically he's a two-down thumper.  And he's not a seasoned vet who has produced and captained this Bucs defense. In other words, the Bucs are getting a serious enough downgrade at MLB (who is the QB of the defense).

That major subtraction, coupled with the fact this Buc team plays the Saints and Falcons twice a piece, might push Tampa's win total down.  Which would be a definite disappointment for such a talented up and coming franchise.

Offensive MVP - Josh Freeman - He's not only the offensive MVP of this team, he has enough talent to one day be the MVP of the entire League.

Defensive MVP - Gerald McCoy - McCoy's stats were up and down last year, because the opposing offensive-line paid so much attention him, at times even triple teaming him. Fellow second year player DT Brian Price will need to fully recover from a gruesome pelvis injury and step up to take the pressure off McCoy.

 

4. Carolina Panthers - 4-12

The Panthers spent over $150 million dollars re-signing their own players this off-season.  And they spent a fraction of that figure on other team's free agents this off-season. The Panthers haven't won a Playoff game since Jake Delhomme threw them out of the NFC Championship in Seattle in 2006. At least you can say Owner Jerry Richardson is helping North Carolina's economy.

Offensive MVP - DeAngelo Williams - I'm sure DeAngelo is quietly thrilled John Fox is gone.  Because if it wasn't for him, Williams would have a couple more Pro Bowls under his belt (not to mention a lot more carries).

Defensive MVP - Jon Beason - Beason is a heck of a player.  He just plays in the same conference as Patrick Willis.  Beason will be hard pressed to start for the NFC Pro Bowl team over the next decade.

 

 

NFC West

1. St. Louis Rams - 10-6

The Rams did what a young and talented team is supposed to do this offseason. They improved and made quality signings in free agency: Mauling guard Harvey Dahl, run stoppers Zac Diles and Daniel Muir, to name a few. HC Steve Spagnuolo's staff also got an upgrade, with offensive wizard Josh McDaniels stepping in as the new offensive coordinator (McDaniels was the OC for New England the season Tom Brady threw for 50 touchdown passes).

The only boo-boo on GM's Bill Devaney's part is letting go of talented safety OJ Atogwe. Granted new safety Quintin Mikell is a solid player in his own right, he cannot play deep coverage (Atogwe can). All in all however, the St. Louis Rams are heading in the right direction, as they look to take a strangle hold of this division for years to come.

Offensive MVP - Steven Jackson - For years it was just Jackson on the Rams offense. Now he can breathe a huge sigh of relief, as all-around stud QB Sam Bradford has and will continue to shoulder some of the load with Jackson.

Defensive MVP - James Laurinaitis - He dropped to the second round coming out of college, because he looked like a slow white guy from the Big Ten.  The reality is he a football player who plays like a football-seeking missile (234 tackles and five sacks in his first two seasons).  He has good enough instincts (three interceptions and 10 pass deflections in two-year career) where he isn't a liability in coverage (his coverage skills or lack there of scared a lot of teams off in the Draft). He'll be competing wit Jon Beason for the back-up ILB Pro Bowl spot for long while.

2. Seattle Seahawks - 7-9

I expected Seattle to have a good chance at signing some high profile free agents this off-season because of their shocking Playoff defeat, of the then Super Bowl Champion Saints. And low and behold they sure got some big time free agents. But they let one of their own free agents go which will probably costs them this division.  The Seahawks for whatever reason thought they didn't need Matt Hasselbeck anymore.

Well guess what Seattle if you sign Tavaris Jackson to be your starting QB, you do need a guy who's led your offense through thick and thin (including a Super Bowl appearance). Jackson proved in Minnesota he's not a capable NFL starter (most notably in 2008 Playoff game where he could not move the ball down the field even though RB Adrian Peterson was dominating the Eagles, and in the end Jackson through a pick six where he ended up getting blasted (ironically by current Seahawk/then Eagle Chris Clemons), trying to stop Asante Samuel from getting in the endzone). Seattle looks to join KC this season, by having their QB hold their team and season hostage.

Offensive MVP - Zach Miller - Miller's another guy, who you wonder why his former team let him get away.  Miller when healthy last season played great football at TE for the Raiders (and was stellar in his four years in Oakland with over 2,700 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns, along with being a capable blocker), but Al Davis let him go.  Seattle's is yet another team, that is thankful to shell out the big bucks to get a big time player, this off-season.

Defensive MVP - Earl Thomas - Thomas has amazing range and corner skills.  The one knock on him coming out of Texas was he was too small to be a factor as a tackler and against the run.  Thomas disproved that notion by making 76 tackles in his rookie season.  The sky is the limit for this young one.

 

3. San Francisco 49ers - 6-10

The legit excuse and handicap for the 49ers, ever since they arguably made the worst draft selection in NFL history, has been they haven't had a QB.  The last three seasons the 49ers have had a Playoff roster minus the QB.  And yet again the inept bust Alex Smith is back, but something different from the last three seasons. 

The overall talent level of this team has dropped off. The biggest lost is Aubrayo Franklin, who was a great force and space eater against the run.  Now the 49ers will roll with in-house replacement former starter at DE Isaac Soapaga (who was tried at NT for the Niners years ago with average results). 

The 49ers also lost David Baas who was a mauling blocker for Frank Gore company, as well as a versatile lineman able to play center and guard.  The rumor/joke around the Bay Area is new HC Jim Harbaugh is trying to tank the season to get the QB he coached at Standford (Andrew Luck).  Looking at the results of the Niners off-season, doesn't do anything to dispel that.

Offensive MVP - Frank Gore - Gore is probably the best RB in 49er history which is saying a lot considering the rotating door of talented backs this franchise has had over their history.

Defensive MVP - Patrick Willis - The best LB and arguably the best player in the NFL, just gets better and better, and better.

 

4. Arizona Cardinals - 5-11

The Cardinals have improved from last season, for one reason. They go from an awful QB situation, to trading for a possible franchise QB in Kevin Kolb.  Even if Kolb has a good year, the team that has been put around him is below average (especially his, slow and un-athletic offensive line). 

Corners that include, rookie Patrick Peterson and veteran Richard Marshall will help improve a core of corners that have been some of the worst in the League for years.  So there is a little hope for this franchise for the future, just not for the present.

Offensive MVP - Larry Fitzgerald - After Fitz insane talent was wasted in 2010, his 2011 off-season campaign for Kolb worked.  So numbers wise and highlight wise Fitz will be back to normal in 2011.

Defensive MVP - Darnell Dockett - At 290 pounds playing at the 5-technique, Dockett isn't the best run stopper around, but he's not slouch, but if you know Dockett he makes his money disrupting the pocket making life miserable for the opposing teams QB and passing game (31 sacks in his  seven year career).

 

NFC Playoffs

Wild-Card Round

Lions @ Eagles -

Eagles 45, Lions 6

 

Falcons @ Rams -

Falcons 31, Rams 27

 

Divisional Round

Falcons @ Packers -

Packers 31, Falcons 13

 

Eagles @ Saints -

Saints 27, Eagles 21

 

NFC Championship Game

Saints @ Packers -

Packers 38, Saints 24

 

Super Bowl 46 -

Green Bay Packers VS. New England Patriots -

Patriots 25, Packers 20

Your Super Bowl 46 Champions The New England Patriots

Super Bowl 46 MVP - Aaron Hernandez

 

Awards -

NFL MVP - Aaron Rodgers

NFL DPOY - Jerod Mayo

NFL COY - Jim Schwartz

NFL OROY - Mark Ingram

NFL DPOY - Von Miller

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