Sunday, September 11, 2011

0 comments 2011 NFL Predictions

Thanks again to Jeremy for providing us with that two-part NFL preview on Friday and Saturday. It was good to read analysis that wasn't mine or Dylan's. I figured I had not gotten my predictions for the NFL season out to the public yet. Of course the outcry for my opinion and predictions on the 2011 NFL is overwhelming as usual. So I figured I would do a 2-3 sentence preview of each NFL team and then make a prediction as to the final record. It won't be as inclusive of a preview as I may have done in the past or in the future, but I wanted to get my opinion down so I could later make fun of myself. There will be no haikus, so don't worry.

(Note: I wrote this on Wednesday and Thursday with the intention of posting it today, so if Aaron Rodgers' head explodes or Drew Brees throws for 987 yards I wrote this before that occurred. Also, Peyton Manning's injury had very little of an effect on my prediction for the Colts season, other than to lower their season record)

Let's start with the NFC, with the NFC East first:

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Many people love the Rob Ryan hire. I feel like I should mention his defenses have statistically not done incredibly well. Of course he's coached for crappy teams, so that may be a part of it as well. I'm just saying there is an outside chance he's overrated because of his last name. It's a tough division and if the young-ish offensive line can protect Romo I see good things in the Cowboys future.

Record: 11-5

Philadelphia Eagles

I'm a pessimist, but where the Eagles see a dream team I see an offensive line I don't completely trust, a 50% chance Vince Young starts 2 or more games this year, and a linebacker group that needs to prove something to me before I get too excited about the Eagles defense. They look good on paper but if the front seven can't stop the run, it doesn't matter how good the corners and safeties are. Still, they are talented enough to make the playoffs.

Record: 10-6

Washington Redskins

John Beck or Rex Grossman. I've bashed Mike Shanahan in the past, but if he gets one of these guys to be a competent quarterback then the Redskins will see much progress. I'm amazed I have the Redskins winning 7 games, but I think they have a good defense and though I'm not impressed too much with the receivers I see them overachieving this year.

Record: 7-9

New York Giants

Much like other people, I've had a gut feeling for a few seasons that Tom Coughlin and the Giants are headed for a divorce. The Super Bowl win bought Coughlin a few more years and I think he is gone after this year. It's like fate has caused injuries to key Giants players this year and I am afraid Eli may try to do too much and have another tough year like he had in 2010. The Giants will win 6 games in 2011 and make the playoffs in 2012 with a new coach who will probably get more credit than he deserves to because this isn't a bad team.

Record: 6-10

NFC North

Green Bay

I hesitated to put Green Bay here because they seem to have everything going for them right now. Young quarterback, skilled receivers, and a tough defense. I wanted to be counter to popular opinion, but I can't do that. The Packers defense got hot last year and played very well, but I still don't know how I feel about the cornerback depth. If an injury happens in the secondary, it will prevent Dom Capers from being as aggressive as he wants to be and that would bring them down to the middle of the pack. That's all the negativity I have right now about them.

Record: 13-3

Detroit Lions

It makes me feel bad to go with the general consensus about the Lions in putting them second in the NFC North. Everyone preview says “IF” Matthew Stafford stays healthy, they will have a good season. that's because he won't be healthy, but I am stupidly assuming he will be. I’m still not a fan of his offensive line and if the running game isn’t what it needs to be with Jahvid Best getting 20 carries per game then I won’t like this prediction much. I still don’t think they make the playoffs.

Record: 9-7

Minnesota Vikings

Maybe I didn’t watch enough of Donovan McNabb last year, maybe I am counting too much on their defense to perform at a high level, or maybe I’m crazy. I think the Vikings are an 8-8 team. They have questions on the offensive line and all over the roster, but I don’t see this division as being as strong as hyped and they get to play teams like Arizona, Carolina, Oakland, Denver and Washington this year. Those teams are as good as the Vikings or worse. Plus, I like Leslie Frazier as a head coach.

Record: 8-8

Chicago Bears

The Bears strong defense and logic probably argue against them being fourth in the division, but I don’t believe Mike Martz will protect Cutler enough behind (an improved) the offensive line and the Bears had a lot of things go right last season. The defense isn’t deep and breaking in a couple new starters and I see them taking a step back.

Record: 6-10

NFC South

New Orleans Saints

The Saints seem to have done a good job in getting Mark Ingram in the draft, beefing up the defensive line and the team is deeper than in the past at several other positions. More than anything I like the changes to the defensive line that were made. I’m still not as sold on the offensive line as it may seem others are, but I trust Drew Brees to not get sacked too often and it will help to have a strong screening and running game. The Saints seem to have fixed their problems from last year.

Record: 12-4

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are this year’s Green Bay Packers. The Falcons have made changes to their defense and I think there may be a few growing pains when it comes to some of the injured defensive players and getting them back in the fold. The biggest part of the Julio Jones acquisition is Harry Douglas can now stay exclusively in the slot. I don’t see this team peaking until early December and then they will be a tough out in the playoffs.

Record: 10-6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs are on an upward trend, but I don’t know if there is far to go up with a tough schedule and a tough division. It’s great to rely on young players like the Bucs are doing, but the defense is very young up front and I think this may be a year of treading water for the Bucs. Much of the progress is going to be masked by the tough schedule, tough division and inconsistency of this young team.

Record: 9-7

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have essentially not improved the same positions that were problems last year. The defensive line can’t stop the run which puts pressure on their otherwise excellent linebacking unit, they have no #2 receiver, and they won’t have consistency at the quarterback position. They have hope, supposedly. We’ll see how that hope works out as Cam Newton tries to grow into an NFL starting quarterback. This team will completely develop at the rate he develops because the interior defensive line will drag down the defense.

Record: 4-12

NFC West


I think the schedule sets up well for the Cardinals. They lacked stability at the quarterback position last year and just having a competent quarterback will probably be worth 2-3 wins for them. I’m not really concerned about the lack of a running game because they have won without one before. Sadly, I think this is the best overall team in the NFC West.

Record: 10-6

St. Louis Rams

I really like the Rams offense, especially if the receivers end up being as useful as we have been told they are. I like Lance Kendricks as a tight end weapon and Sam Bradford will probably take a huge step forward in his second year. Still, the cornerbacks are just not very good and they have the Eagles, Ravens, Packers, Saints, and Steelers on their schedule. The Rams will be improved, but I’m not sure we will able to tell by their final record.

Record: 8-8

Seattle Seahawks

I have liked Tarvaris Jackson in the past and thought he got a raw deal in Seattle. I may look like an idiot for thinking that very soon. I like how the Seahawks attempted to upgrade their offensive line. This may not pay off this year, but should help in the future. Sidney Rice will be very helpful to the offense since he is a nice tall target for Jackson to throw to, as will the younger roster help the Seahawks in the long run. The problem is I don’t know if the Seahawks are better this year than they were last year and I think the Cardinals and Rams are better than they were last year.

Record: 6-10

San Francisco 49ers

We all know Jim Harbaugh is a genius based on his college coaching career. So hopefully his genius will rub off on Alex Smith because if he “gets it” then the 49ers could very well make the playoffs. I’m not sure that will happen this year. I don’t know if the team around Smith and the defense are going to be good enough to win 8 games or more, but I think it is clear the 49ers aren’t playing for just this season.

Record: 5-11

NFC Playoffs:

Atlanta over Dallas, Philadelphia over Arizona

Atlanta over Green Bay, New Orleans over Philadelphia

Atlanta over New Orleans

AFC East

New England Patriots

I see no reason why the Patriots aren’t going to be one of the best teams in the NFL this year. It seems like Chad Johnson has struggled a bit in the offense, but I don’t expect that to continue and Albert Haynesworth is a brilliant pick up if he works out. The Patriots have improved on defense and the offense looks as powerful as it did last year. They are the class of the AFC East and the AFC.

Record: 13-3

New York Jets

I don’t know if the Jets offense is really much better than it was last year. Obviously much of what they do on offense depends on Mark Sanchez. If he is able to take a leap forward and do more than manage the game, then I see the Jets possibly making the Super Bowl. I am a bit worried about the Jets defensive line and I am not sure I like their pass rush as much as I should. I'm having a hard time believing they will be better this year than they were last year.

Record: 10-6

Miami Dolphins

Relying on Reggie Bush to be a feature back seems to be a losing proposition. If they had managed to get Kyle Orton I would have liked their chances more, but I haven’t completely given up on Chad Henne. It is a tough haul for the Dolphins even if they have a great defense because they don’t have enough offense and defense to keep up with the Jets and Patriots. If the Dolphins were in another division I may choose them to win that division simply because I think they will have a tough defense.

Record: 8-8

Buffalo Bills

I like the Bills defense. I’ve been saying that for a few years straight now, but they seem to be building towards being able to stop the run, at least with the front four. Behind the line there aren’t too many players outside of Shawne Merriman who can rush the passer. I’m not even sure if Merriman can do that anymore. The good news is the Bills have a good group of running backs, but they really haven’t seemed dedicated to working on the offensive line, so that's bad news for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Either way, they will end up with Andrew Luck because the other teams that have the potential to be terrible, the Bengals, Panthers, and Jaguars, and all have their franchise quarterbacks on the roster…or hope they do.

Record: 3-13

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers

There were two reasons I couldn’t see the Steelers winning the AFC North. Their corners were exposed in the Super Bowl and their offensive line still doesn’t look up to where it should be. Still, the Steelers have a ton of offensive weapons and they have a great defense that can win games. I’m more sold on the Steelers than I am any other team in this division. If the Steelers can work in some of the young guys in on the defensive line with success then I see no reason they can’t win the division and go even further.

Record: 12-4

Baltimore Ravens

I know I am supposed to really like the Ravens this year. I see an offensive line that has struggled a bit and a group of receivers which is counting on unproven and young receivers to make an impact. The Ravens still have a great defense and they have improved their running game by picking up Ricky Williams. I believe the offense isn’t going to quite be good enough to be a top-tier team.

Record: 10-6

Cleveland Browns

Colt McCoy is becoming a better quarterback than I had anticipated he would be. As we all know, a very good quarterback is worth a lot to a team and if the Browns find a couple of receivers to make strides this could be a very interesting team. What concerns me is if Peyton Hillis goes down then the Browns are relying on Montario Hardesty. I liked Hardesty before he injured his knee last year, but it doesn't seem he has gotten a ton of work in the preseason. They can’t afford to lose their running game. The Browns are still another draft away from making a big impact and their young defense will need time to learn to play in the NFL, but the future looks less cloudy nowadays.

Record: 5-11

Cincinnati Bengals

I’ve been fairly impressed with Andy Dalton in the preseason. He hasn’t always looked great, but he seems to have an understanding of what is expected of him in the offense. The Bengals have taken a step back on both offense and defense. Offensively they are counting on AJ Green to play well, which is a lot of pressure for a rookie wide receiver, and there will be times this year I think the Bengals offense may actually look very good. The other times that will occur more often are what concern me and I don’t know how much the defense can be counted on.

Record: 4-12

AFC South

Houston Texans

I know, I know. Every year everyone thinks the Texans will make the playoffs. I really think it will happen this year though. Of course I probably said that last year. Gary Kubiak needs to save his job and Wade Phillips is a very good defensive coordinator, so putting the defense in his hands is not a bad idea. They have improved on defense and that leaves the Texans offense as actually having help in winning games this year. The Texans will not only make the playoffs but win the division as well.

Record: 11-5

Jacksonville Jaguars

I thought it was kind of crazy the Jags waited until less than a week before the regular season starts to waive David Garrard. So much for giving him a chance to get a starting job somewhere else and give the team a chance to get used to life without him. The Jags have an improved defense and while I am not comfortable with saying Luke McCown will make the Pro Bowl, I don’t know if the drop off from him to Garrard will be as drastic as some may believe.

Record: 7-9

Indianapolis Colts

I had mentally thought the Colts would have a down year and the injury to Peyton Manning only reinforced my thought. The Colts have worked hard to improve the offensive line, but the defense isn’t really improved. They rely totally on Manning for leadership and it has to be hard losing him. I don’t the Colts are good enough to make the playoffs with a schedule that includes the Texans (twice), the Steelers, the Ravens, the Patriots, Bucs, Saints, and Falcons. So put me down for counting the Colts out. Without Manning, who the hell knows what the Colts are? They have been very fortunate and haven't had to live without him for a while.

Record: 6-10 (I had the Colts at 9-7 when I assumed that Manning would play all 16 games this year)

Tennessee Titans

Matt Hasselbeck is a quarterback not well known for being able to throw the deep pass starting for a team that had trouble throwing deep last year. I’m afraid the lack of a vertical passing game may cause defenses to be able to key on Chris Johnson more, which won’t lead to success. I like the defense for the Titans, but this team isn’t where they need to be quite yet. Hasselbeck was a great choice to work with Jake Locker, but I think this may be a tough year in Tennessee. The arrow seems to be pointing up though.

Record: 6-10

AFC West

San Diego Chargers

Last year the Chargers had several disasters happen on special teams and they went 9-7. I don’t see the same thing happening this year. They are healthier on offense and I like the improvements to the defense as well. The linebackers are a bit of a question for me, but they have a franchise quarterback and an excellent defense. 2010 won’t happen again to the Chargers in 2011.

Record: 11-5

Denver Broncos

The Broncos seem to have problems up and down their roster, but the roster also has some talent on it. John Fox is a great head coach and I think he will be able to squeeze an average year out of this roster, even in the semi-tough AFC West. Orton won’t have nearly as great of a year in terms of passing yardage as he had in 2010, but the defense will be aggressive and will be able to keep the Broncos in games. Tebow may not start as much as Woody Paige would like, but the Broncos will be much improved.

Record: 8-8

Kansas City Chiefs

Many signs point upwards for the Chiefs. I believe a more difficult schedule is going to be a problem for them this year in the team’s development. The Chiefs did bring help in for Dwayne Bowe in the form of Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin, but this is still going to be a running team since that is where the strength lies. They are still a quality team but to make the playoffs they are going to have to beat the Patriots, Steelers, Jets, and Packers in a 5 week stretch. I am not sure they are good enough to do this and make the playoffs again this year.

Record: 8-8

Oakland Raiders

Darren McFadden has been slightly injured in the preseason and they need his running ability and for him to be at full health to be a good team this year. I know there is talent on this roster, but the corners are very inexperienced and the offensive line is as well. I’m cheering for Jason Campbell to have a good year, but even with a talented receiving group I don’t know if the Raiders are going to be able to get over the hump into the playoffs this year.

Record: 6-10

AFC Playoffs

Houston Texans over New York Jets, San Diego Chargers over Baltimore Ravens

New England Patriots over San Diego Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers over Houston Texans

New England Patriots over Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl

New England Patriots over Atlanta Falcons 31-20

There we go. All predictions will be wrong, but feel free to mock accordingly.