A new NFL season is nearly upon us. In five days, the regular season kicks off so I figured this would be the perfect time to go division by division and offer my prediction of the winners.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens
The AFC North is year in and year out one of the best divisions in all of football. This year should be no different with the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals all having a shot at the crown. But the winner will be the Ravens for the second consecutive season. As long as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are lining up on Sundays, Baltimore will have a stingy defense. Pair the best running back in the game in Ray Rice with an improving Joe Flacco and the Ravens could be Super Bowl bound.
AFC South: Houston Texans
The Texans are clearly the class of the AFC South. After years of domination by Peyton Manning and the Colts, Houston should have little trouble winning what may be one of the worst divisions in football as the Jaguars, Titans and Colts should pose little threat to the Texans. Arian Foster, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson should provide plenty of offense for Houston’s improving defense.
AFC West: Denver Broncos
The Broncos were able to win this division a season ago with Tim Tebow as their quarterback. Add a healthy Manning, who is still one of the five best QB’s in the game, and the Broncos should repeat as champions. The Chargers are the only other team who has a chance to unseat the Broncos.
AFC East: New England Patriots
Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Bill Belichick. Enough said. No one has a prayer of taking this division from the Patriots, not even Tebow, Rex Ryan and the circus that is the New York Jets.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
Sorry Bears fans, but you’d have to be off your rocker to think you’re challenging for anything but second. The Packers will once again win 14 or 15 games and be the class of the NFL. Offense is king in the regular season and Aaron Rogers will provide plenty of it. The question will be if Green Bay can get it done in the playoffs when defense matters the most.
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons
Of all the divisions, this was the toughest to pick. Will the Saints be as good as they have been the last few years despite the bounty scandal? Is Cam Newton ready to lead the Panthers to the playoffs? Can a talented Buccaneers team rebound from a disappointing season a year ago? In the end, I think the Falcons with an improved offensive line should score plenty of points and win NFC South. Quarterback Matt Ryan is due for a huge year.
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers
We’ve now come to the who cares portion of the column (Is there a more boring division? Seriously). The Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams will all be lucky to finish above .500. The 49ers will likely sweep their division foes and win a second consecutive title. San Francisco has one of the best defenses in football and the offseason additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham should not be overlooked. Don’t be surprised if the 49ers are in the Super Bowl in February.
NFC East: New York Giants
Who really knows in this division? The Giants usually find a way to underachieve before getting hot at the end of the season and finding a way to sneak into the playoffs. The Cowboys are always overrated and the dream team. The Eagles, have a quarterback who is injured every other play. When in doubt, pick the team with the best quarterback. And that’s the Giants’ Eli Manning.