NFL Predictions: Predicting the Division Winners as the Season Takes Shape
The NFL season has been as exciting as possible ever since the owners and players agreed to a deal that would allow a season to take place, and there a plenty of teams that couldn't be happier to be playing right now.
Other teams, such as the Philadelphia Eagles may be wishing the lockout never ended, but it's time for them to turn things around and get back to doing the things the football world knows they have the ability to do.
Five weeks into the season, the divisions are starting to take shape, and there are a handful of teams, for whatever reasons, who are getting farther and farther away from chances at a postseason appearance. However, there are others that improve their chances as each week passes. Some teams have been a disappointment, and others have simply shocked the United States of America. But it's a matter of who can do what it takes to win for the next three months of the NFL season.
Here are my predictions for each division winner now that we are starting to see the true colors of each team.
AFC East: New England Patriots
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As if you didn't know already, the Patriots, led by "Terrific" Tom Brady, are an offensive juggernaut. They've put up 30 points or more each of the first five weeks of the regular season, and only one of the team's games have been decided by one score or less.
Yes, the Pats' lone loss was to their divisional foe the Buffalo Bills, but it's hard for me to convince myself that the Bills will be able to keep up with the Patriots for much longer. Buffalo's dual-threat offense with Ryan Fitzpatrick's passing game and Fred Jackson's ability to move the ball on the ground provide the team with a chance to win double-digit games, but again, they won't be able to keep up with Tom Brady and the Patriots' lethal offense.
The Bills may very well take one of the two AFC Wild Card spots, but they will not win the AFC East. Rex Ryan's club is one last team that can make a run at a playoff spot, but at the rate they're going, they'll be lucky to have a chance at the Wild Card. The Jets are on a three-game losing streak, and Buffalo and New England don't seem like they're showing any sympathy week after week.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens
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It seems like this is going to finally be the year the Baltimore Ravens will surpass the Pittsburgh Steelers and claim the division crown. For one, Baltimore embarrassed Pittsburgh Week 1, and all things have been clicking on both sides of the ball for the Ravens.
Pittsburgh's holes in the offensive line have been exposed early in the season because of injuries, and now James Harrison is out for a number of weeks with a broken orbital bone. Health has definitely been an issue for the Steelers, but that's a part of the game and Baltimore is capitalizing on Pittburgh's setbacks.
This division is tight up and down with the Steelers sitting in last place with a record of 2-2, but I find it hard to believe that the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are going to keep pace with the Ravens for much longer.
AFC South: Houston Texans
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With Peyton Manning being out for the season, the AFC South is the Houston Texans' division to win. Arian Foster is healthy after missing a good portion of the first two weeks with a hamstring issue, but now Andre Johnson is out. Matt Schaub is going to have to make due with what he has, and be thankful he doesn't have to match Peyton Manning week after week.
The Tennessee Titans seem to be revitalized with new veteran quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck, but they haven't had the toughest schedule thus far. Yes, they beat the Ravens, but they also lost to the Jaguars, and they barely squeezed by a bad Denver Broncos team that at the time was led by Kyle Orton.
If Houston does not take advantage of the loss of Peyton Manning and proceed to miss out on the playoffs, it doesn't matter what the circumstances are, head coach Gary Kubiak will be looking for employment in March.
AFC West: San Diego Chargers
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The San Diego Chargers don't really have an excuse to not win the AFC South, unless Raiders' running back Darren McFadden runs for a MVP season, which arguably, he has done thus far. But San Diego, led by quarterback Phillip Rivers, is another one of the league's best offenses.
Vincent Jackson is set to play a full season after missing most of the last, and the Chargers' running game is very dangerous with the bowling ball Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews in his second year after, what some may say, a disappointing rookie season.
And don't even mention the pathetic Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Broncos, because they both look awful.
The AFC South title should be claimed by the Chargers at season's end.
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles
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This may be a bold call being that the Philadelphia Eagles, or the self-proclaimed "Dream Team," are sitting at the bottom of the NFC East standings with a record of 1-4, but I'm still riding the Eagles to win this division.
The NFC East is tight every year. Redskins' quarterback Rex Grossman is bound to lead his team no where, and we've all seen the New York Giants collapse in the past. Because of that, the Eagles will have the opportunity to put together a string of wins here and there and not disappoint the Philly fandom.
There was too much hype after Philly's free-agent signings, and there's too much talent on both sides of the ball for the Eagles to not make the playoffs.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
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Heading into the season I thought the NFC North was potentially the best division, up and down, in the NFL. Slowly but surely, I have begun to think otherwise due to the Vikings failure to win with quarterback Donovan McNabb and the Bears failure to, well, do just about anything right.
The NFC North has become a two-team race with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions both sitting at 5-0. But, it's hard to pick against the defending Super Bowl champions even if Matthew Stafford can just throw the ball up the Megatron when the Lions are in the red zone and know he's coming down with it.
Even though the Lions are freakishly good on offense, and they have a dangerous defense, especially when rookie DT Nick Fairley makes his NFL debut, I think the Packers are going to win the NFC North behind another MVP-esque season from Aaron Rodgers.
Besides, it's only a matter of time until Stafford hurts something, and then Detroit is back to reality.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints
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The NFC South hasn't had too many positives things happen thus far. Cam Newton has done just about everything possible, but the Carolina Panthers are still, once again, sitting at the bottom of the division with a 1-4 record. The Bucs have been are in second with a 3-2 record, but after last week's showing against the San Francisco 49ers, there doesn't seem to be much promise going forward, especially now that LeGarrette Blount went down with an injury.
I strongly believe that the NFC South is the New Orleans Saints' division to lose. Drew Brees has led his team to four straight wins, and the team's next four games don't seem to be too difficult before they enter their bye week.
The Atlanta Falcons have the potential to compete for the division, and they most likely will, but it comes down to the fact that the Saints are a better football team. Don't get me wrong, Atlanta will grab one of the two NFC Wild Card positions, but they won't have the opportunity to be crowned NFC South champions at the end of the regular season.
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
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Just like last year, the NFC West is one of the worst divisions in football, and the division title is going to come to down the last couple of weeks of the season.
It's only a matter of time until Alex Smith does his best Rex Grossman impression and leads his team to another missed playoff appearance. The 4-1 49ers are lucky to have the record they do because of Philly's monumental collapse in the second half of Week 4.
The Arizona Cardinals are disappointing thus far after the high hopes that were created when Kevin Kolb was signed to be the team's QB. It doesn't seem like there's much of a difference between him or Derek Anderson. The Cardinals still stink.
The Seattle Seahawks will, once again, win this division at the end of the season behind their highly motivated head coach Pete Carroll. Even if the Seahawks have to switch off between Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson at QB, it seems as if Pete Carroll always finds a way to win when his teams need it the most.