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2010 NFL Preview

OK, maybe not really, but if the season were to start today, here’s what I’d predict happening in the standings:

AFC East
Patriots        12-4
Jets        11-5
Dolphins    6-10
Bills        3-13

AFC South
Colts        12-4
Texans        10-6
Titans        10-6
Jaguars        4-12

AFC West
Chargers    11-5
Chiefs        8-8
Broncos    5-11
Raiders        3-13

AFC North
Steelers    10-6
Browns        9-7
Ravens        8-8
Bengals        6-10

NFC East
Cowboys    11-5
Giants        7-9
Eagles        7-9
Redskins    3-13

NFC South
Falcons        12-4
Panthers    10-6
Saints        7-9
Buccaneers    3-13

NFC North
Packers    14-2
Bears        9-7
Vikings        8-8
Lions        6-10

NFC West
49ers        11-5
Seahawks    8-8
Cardinals    8-8
Rams        4-12

As you can see, I’m predicting next year that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and the stifling Packers’ defense improve to become the league’s pacesetters, and that Falcons QB Matt Ryan finally makes the jump from promising young quarterback to elite passer. Not only that, but the Lions will post a 6-10 record, their best since 2007. The Saints will not repeat their Super Bowl run or even have a winning season next year due to drastic improvement by the Falcons and Panthers. The 49ers will continue to be a defensive force while improving on defense, and win the NFC West for the first time since 2002. Dallas will repeat their 11-5 finish from last year and take the East. Carolina and Chicago will wrap up the Wild Cards.

Unlike most pundits, I’m not picking the Colts to steamroll their opposition again this year. QB Peyton Manning will be 34, the age that most quarterbacks start to see declines in production as age sets in. They’ll win the AFC South, sure, but the Texans are a tremendous up-and-comer in the conference and will give Indy all they can stand. The Steelers will reclaim the North. New England will take home the AFC East for the seventh time in eight years with the Jets close behind once again. The AFC West will be the Chargers’ division for the fifth straight year, while a decline by the Broncos leaves coach Josh McDaniels in the hot seat.

As for Super Bowl picks…wouldn’t it be amazing if we got to see Houston go to the Super Bowl in their first year in the playoffs as a Wild Card? Call them my pick, as their young defense improves to become top-flight and joins the prolific all-encompassing attack the Texans employ on offense. The Packers emerged from the regular season as the league’s hottest team, put up 45 points on the road against a decent Cardinals defense, and they’ll ride homefield advantage to a trip to Arlington. I’d like (and expect) to see the Packers take home another Lombardi, but anything goes in the big game.

Again, this is ridiculously early to be making in-depth picks like this, but I figure it’s a fun way to pass time. Let me hear your opinions in the comments!

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