2011 NFL Season: 10 Bold Predictions for the Rest of the Year
Even though we sit 10 weeks through the NFL season, more than 20 teams in the league are still viable playoff contenders.
With the NFC seemingly grouped in classes, beginning with the Packers in a league of their own, and with the AFC jumbled each week, the season has yet to produce several clear-cut favorites to take home the Lombardi Trophy.
That said, here are 10 bold predictions for what could happen the rest of the way.
Dallas Cowboys Will Win the NFC East
The Dallas Cowboys have been one of the league's most inconsistent teams through 10 weeks, but they still possess incredible talent on both sides of the ball. With Tony Romo's game rapidly improving, as well as the numerous offensive weapons, the Cowboys boast one of the most balanced attacks in football.
The defense, led by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and All-Pro DeMarcus Ware, has shut-down ability, as well as a ferocious pass-rush.
With the division-leading Giants possessing an extremely difficult schedule, and with Big D boasting a cake walk schedule for most of the year, Dallas should be able to sneak into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Indianapolis Colts Will Win a Game
The Indianapolis Colts are dreadful. Jim Caldwell and company have began the season at 0-10, and have the "suck" potential to finish the year winless.
Curtis Painter is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, and the Indy defense seems to get worst with every game. Offensive juggernauts of yesteryear such as Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne have vanished from the Colts attack, and defensive stars like Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are insignificant on such a bad team.
However, Indianapolis possesses a relatively soft schedule, with a pair of matchups against the inconsistent Titans, as well as a rematch with the awful Jacksonville Jaguars. The Colts will avoid infamy, and grind out a late season win to finish 1-15.
Houston Texans Won't Miss Matt Schaub
After a season-ending injury to star quarterback Matt Schaub, many believe that the Texans playoff hopes are dead, and the team is sure to collapse.
Despite the injury, Houston will cruise to a divisional title through the tremendous play of dynamic running back Arian Foster, as well as the return of elite wide receiver Andre Johnson. The Texans defense is the most improved unit in the league, as they have managed to establish themselves as one of the best scoring defensive units in the NFL.
Although backup quarterback Matt Leinart will struggle at times, the Texans boast a soft enough schedule, as well as a terrible divisional rivals, to clinch a postseason berth for the first time in franchise history.
New England Patriots Won't Lose Another Game in the Regular Season
Bill Belichick and company are back in form, and the struggling defense seems to be finally gelling. Tom Brady and his numerous offensive weapons will dominate opposing defenses and will not be challenged for the rest of the calender year,
With an easy schedule ahead, New England will enter the postseason with another divisional title under their belt, as well as significant momentum. Although this time, the Patriots will be ready for whoever steps into Gillette Stadium this January.
San Diego Chargers Have a Late Season Surge
The San Diego Chargers are losers of four straight and are quickly dropping out of playoff contention.
Philip Rivers has been awful so far, and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns through nine games. Norv Turner continues to be a liability as head coach, as he makes poor decisions on play-calling and game strategy.
However, the Bolts still possess one of the most talented teams in football, on both sides of the ball. If Rivers gets back on track, the Chargers many offensive weapons will prove unstoppable for any opposing defense.
The defense will benefit from improved offensive play, and thus will pick up the slack. With a generally favorable schedule on tap, as well as a below-average division, San Diego will be able to sneak into the postseason with a record of 9-7.
Detroit Lions Miss the Playoffs
A month ago, this prediction was unthinkable, as the Detroit Lions had jumped out to a 5-0 start and looked like one of the best teams in football. But with the team reeling, many have leaped off the Lions bandwagon.
Matthew Stafford has made crucial mistakes at significant times, and the lack of a consistent running game has doomed the Motor City offense. Defensively, the Lions have one of the worst rushing defenses in the league, as elite runners have rushed at will on them.
Detroit is undeniably talented, but with an extremely tough division and a group of inexperienced, young players, they will quickly become just an afterthought in the postseason race.
San Francisco 49ers Lose First Playoff Game
The San Francisco 49ers look like Super Bowl contenders through 10 weeks. With a stingy defense led by a dynamic linebacker corp, the Northern Californian powerhouse has shut down some of the league's best offenses.
On the other side of the ball, The 49ers have finally found consistency at the quarterback position. Alex Smith has been terrific in his contract year, and with an explosive group of wide receivers, as well as an unstoppable running back in Frank Gore, San Francisco is hard to challenge.
Although they may look like a complete team, the passing offense and defense of the NFC West division leader can be weak at times, and this could cost them in January.
Eventually, weak areas, as well as inexperience in postseason games, will cost the 49ers, and prevent them from making a Super Bowl run.
New York Jets and Chicago Bears Lose in the Conference Championship Games Again
The New York Jets and the Chicago Bears are two of the most talented teams in football and are capable of making a Super Bowl run again this year.
Both teams possess inconsistent passing attacks, but are led by terrific running games. The defenses of Gang Green and the Monsters of Midway are arguably the most feared in football, as they force untimely turnovers and deliver constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Jets and the Bears also both possess two of the best special teams in the league, with Chicago boasting the ridiculous Devin Hester and New York owning speedy kickoff returner Joe McKnight, as well as a great special teams coverage unit.
Both these franchises will not only make the postseason, but will win multiple road games against tough opponents. However, the two historic organizations will once again experience heartbreak and fall a game short of the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
Green Bay Packers Will Finish 16-1
The Green Bay Packers appear unbeatable, as they have marched out to an undefeated record through ten weeks.
Aaron Rodgers looks like the best quarterback to ever step on the field and is almost a lock for MVP. The Super Bowl MVP is on pace to shatter every single record known to man. With stars littered across the field on both sides of the ball, the team looks destined to repeat.
However, it will be the Packers biggest weakness—pass defense—that will end up costing them a second consecutive divisional title. This weakness could prove costly in playoff games, and it will be exposed in the Divisional Round, by their arch-rival Chicago Bears.
This may shock some of you, but these teams know each other very well, and the games between the two are usually decided in the last few minutes. Rodgers' unbelievable season will end with disappointment in Lambeau.
New Orleans Saints Beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl
The New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots will meet in this season's Super Bowl, as both teams will go on miraculous runs at the end of the year.
Both franchises possess explosive offenses led by Hall of Fame quarterbacks, but are inconsistent on defense. The Saints and the Patriots are two of the league's biggest powerhouses, and will combine to form one of the most entertaining Super Bowl's in NFL history.
In the end, it will be the New Orleans incredible offense, led by amazing quarterback Drew Brees, that comes out on top. It will be the Saints second Super Bowl in three years.
AFC/NFC Playoff Prediction
Wild Card Round
6 Jets (10-6) defeat 3 Texans (11-5)
5 Ravens (11-5) defeat 4 Chargers (9-7)
3 Saints (11-5) defeat 6 Falcons (10-6)
5 Bears (11-5) defeat 4 Cowboys (10-6)
6 Jets defeat 1 Steelers (13-3)
2 Patriots (13-3) defeat 5 Ravens
5 Bears defeat 1 Packers (16-0)
3 Saints defeat 2 49ers (12-4)
2 Patriots defeat 6 Jets
3 Saints defeat 5 Bears