The NFL resumes tonight with the defending champion Packers hosting the Saints. Unfortunately, work is going to keep me from watching the entire game or write a more detailed preview for the upcoming season. So here's my order of finish in each division with a brief synopsis following it.
1. New England- I'm with everyone else picking the Pats as the AFC East champs. Can't go wrong picking against Brady, plus a motivated Haynesworth is a scary one.
2. NY Jets- The only way they are better this year is if Sanchez improves. Defense didn't improve and the offensive weapons are older. It's on the Sanchise. Playoffs though.
3. Miami- Too much talent at other positions to finish in last. Of course, when Chad Henne's involved, you never know. 8-8 or 7-9 will be the record.
4. Buffalo- Long time without winning, and they're still not close to legitimate. Fitzpatrick will keep them at about 5 wins; really could use 2 wins and Andrew Luck.
1. Pittsburgh- Unlike their two Super Bowl wins with Roethlisberger, they lost and will be hungry this year. Steelers defense is still the same. AFC favorites.
2. Baltimore- Was tempted to shock everyone by having them 3rd, but couldn't pull the trigger. I think it's Ray Lewis last chance to win. Like the Jets, they go where Flacco does. Wild card.
3. Cleveland- They're getting better, let's see if the marriage of Colt McCoy and Pat Shurmur will lead to 8 wins for the Browns, maybe more. There's hope in Cleveland.
4. Cincinnati- Lost Johnathan Joseph and Ochocinco. The great QB battle between Bruce Gradkowski and Andy Dalton. Pencil in 3 wins.
1. Houston- No excuses Texans. Peyton Manning's missing time for the Colts. Wade Phillips is the DC, which he can handle. Gary Kubiak has to be fired if they lose again.
2. Tennessee- Because I think Peyton Manning misses a lot of time. Because Matt Hasselbeck will start more games than Jake Locker and put up 8 wins.
3. Indianapolis- Because Kerry Collins was going to retire. Manning's been the reason the Colts have stayed in the playoffs the last 3 years. No Manning=6 wins.
4. Jacksonville- Even if Blaine Gabbert is any good, Luke McCown isn't and could put the Jags into enough of a hole. The only way this team will is if they need head to a Canadian pharmacy and pick up some special stuff.
1. San Diego- Better special teams, going along with 1st ranked offense and defense. Full years for Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil. MVP=Philip Rivers.
2. Kansas City- This team gets a tougher schedule and falls back to 8-8. Kind of like the Dolphins after they won the AFC East in '08. Especially with Matt Cassel's injury status.
3. Denver- Broncos will still play good offense and now their defense is beginning to catch up. AFC West is about to be good again.
4. Oakland- The Raiders will slip. They can't help it after losing Asomugha to Philly. More troubles for the once proud franchise.
1. Dallas- Surprised? A healthy Tony Romo, another year for Dez Bryant and the Rob Ryan led defense. Also, they have no pressure this year, because of the Eagles.
2. NY Giants- I figure Eli Manning won't throw 25 INT's again. Despite the injuries on defense, Justin Tuck is still there. People will be surprised when they make the playoffs.
3. Philadelphia- And they'll be shocked when the Eagles miss them. Vick doesn't play as well as last year and their front seven weakness will show up at a key point. Gut feeling.
4. Washington- Rex Grossman beat out John Beck for the starting QB job. Add that their roster is average and another Andrew Luck sweepstakes team is compiled.
1. Green Bay- The champs get back Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant and do something they didn't do last year, win the division.
2. Minnesota- My surprise in the NFC because Adrian Peterson will run the ball and run all day like he's supposed to. Plus, McNabb has a better year with AP.
3. Detroit- Because I don't believe Matt Stafford stays healthy all season. If he does, Detroit will be 2nd, with Johnson, Suh and company. Also they make the playoffs with Stafford playing.
4. Chicago- Worst to first? Yes, because they could have easily have finished in last. Lucky team all last year, starting in Week 1. Luck always evens out in this league.
1. New Orleans- The year-after hangover is over. Brees will be his normal great self, the defense will return to '09 mode and with Mark Ingram, the running game improves as well.
2. Atlanta- Good team, not great. Suspect defense put more pressure on Matt Ryan and that offense. They can handle it in the regular season, but not in the playoffs.
3. Tampa Bay- They come back a bit, though I do think Josh Freeman gets better. I have to, he's my fantasy starting QB.
4. Carolina- Growing pains while we watch Cam Newton start from Day 1. Last again, but better, likely 6 wins.
1. St. Louis- Bradford leads the Rams to the playoffs, though being the NFC West, it doesn't say much. Big year for Steven Jackson will result as well.
2. Arizona- They have a QB in Kevin Kolb; and unlike in Philly, he'll have a chance to play without worried about a backup over his shoulder. Team needs more talent.
3. San Francisco- Enough talent to stay out of last, but too much Alex Smith to make a real run (we all know winning the NFC West doesn't count as a run).
4. Seattle- The team that proves the West means nothing. They won the division, and a playoff game, yet are still in rebuild mode. Qwest Field keeps Andrew Luck away.
AFC Title Game: San Diego over Pittsburgh
NFC Title Game: New Orleans over Green Bay
Super Bowl: New Orleans over San Diego