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    The NFL season is scheduled to start next week, so in short it's about time to post my predictions for the year.  This past off-season there were several headlines that will play a big part in the standings this year.  We saw Peyton Manning take his act (and repaired neck/shoulders) to Denver.  RG3 and Andrew Luck were all of the hype at this years draft and could pay major dividends to their respective teams.  We saw the Bills defense beef up, Josh McDaniels reunite with Brandon Lloyd and bring in Greg Salas to New England.  Jahvid Best is already injured, Chad Johnson and T.O. have already been cut from their teams, and Tebow is in the Big Apple. 
     It's hard to pick any other teams than the Patriots, Texans, and 49ers in their divisions.  The AFC South is looking like a college football division.  The Patriots have brought in some outstanding pieces to add to their lethal offense, and their D has been beefed up as well.  The 9ers don't have too much competition in the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams, but you never know who will surprise.
    Without further ado, I will provide my outlook on the season, as well as some sleeper teams, teams on the rise, and teams on the decline.
    Call me crazy, but one team that I think will take it to another level this season is the Buffalo Bills.  Fitzpatrick is an amazingly smart quarterback, who knows how to manage a clock.  He has some very solid WR's in Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, and David Nelson is a great possession receiver.  Spiller and Fast Freddy are good backs.  I think with their revamped D (Kyle Williams, Mario Williams) and Chan Gailey finally getting comfortable with this team, they will surprise.  I also like the Cheifs, Redskins, Buccaneers to all improve with new coaching, new players or both.  I think Peyton Hillis makes a bid for comeback player of the year, and Cam Newton settles down and bit and we see some sophomore struggles.  The Broncos, even with Peyton Manning could be the worst team in the playoffs, simply because of the division they are in and I think Manning slows down toward the end of the season.  Robert Griffin III outplays Andrew Luck in their first years, only because of the better team that he is taking over the helm for.  Give the Colts a couple more years to get back on their feet, and they will be laughing all the way to the bank as the Broncos pay Peyton Manning and cringe with each hit on him. 
    I think this is the year that the Eagles finally play the way they are supposed to have been all along, and I think that Aaron Rodgers finally shows that he is human, as he can't carry the Packers by himself.  They are getting old on D, and they have no running game to speak of. 
    I think that Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin, and Alshon Jeffery have the best chance at winning the Offensive ROY this year, as they both step into great situations: Cutler will look Jefferey's way often as Marshall is double teamed.  I think Alshon is a All-Pro in the making.  Griffin III as I said earlier, is a great bet to transition the smoothest of this draft class, but Shanahan has a way of tangling an offense up.  Doug Martin is in an unbelievable situation in Tampa Bay, as he is running behind one of the best lines in football, and has been given the keys to the Tampa Bay hypothetical car.
    My favorite two players for Defensive ROY this year has to be Chandler Jones in New England and Luke Keuchly in Carolina.  Jones is rushing the quarterback on an unbelievably talented NE front seven.  Jerod Mayo, Wilfork, Hightower, Cunningham etc. will all lead the way, leaving single coverage for the 6'5" 270 speedster on the edge.  Look for 10+ sacks from Jones.  And I'm not joking.  The kid is for real.  Keuchly is an extraordinary linebacker coming out of Boston College in this years draft.  He had more than 190 tackles last year, and should crack 100 in the NFL level.  He has a great mentor back in Carolina in Jon Beason, who should clear space for Keuchly to roam free.  Keuchly could single-handedly help carry Carolina to a playoff spot in his rookie season.
    This is the year the Patriots bring the trophy to New England.

AFC East:
1. NE Patriots 12-4
2. Buffalo Bills 10-6
3. NY Jets 8-8
4. Miami Dolphins 5-11
   
    The Pats should have no trouble putting this division away.  They have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL.  The Bills finally contend this year and secure a wild card spot.  Tebow is not the answer in NY with an awful Jets offense.

AFC North
1. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
2. Baltimore Ravens 9-7
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
4. Cleveland Browns 6-10

    This division is going to be gritty, for sure.  The Ravens and Steelers should be a lock for the playoffs, but the Bengals could seriously surprise if their cards are played right.  I think the Bengals edge out the Steelers for the W.C. spot.  The Browns improve with a new qb and lawfirm carrying the ball.

AFC South
1. Houston Texans 12-4
2. Tennessee Titans 8-8
3. Indianapolis Colts 6-10
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12

    This could be the softest division in football.  Unless the Titans play strong, the Texans should be one a few sure-fire locks to make the playoffs.  They need AJ and Schaub to stay healthy though.  The Jags and Colts will struggle to find wins this year, but Luck is a champion at QB.

AFC West
1. Denver Broncos 10-6
2. Kansas City Chiefs 9-7
3. Oakland Raiders 7-9
4. San Diego Chargers 6-10

    The AFC West could be a very tricky division this year.  Peyton has a great situation in Denver this year, but I don't think he will necessarily work wonders.  The Chiefs have a solid D, and I think this is a great landing spot for Peyton Hillis.  Oakland and the Chargers should cancel each other out, and I think inexperience and injuries could affect these teams.

NFC East
1. Philadelphia Eagles 12-4
2. NY Giants 11-5
3. Washington Redskins 9-7
4. Dallas Cowboys 7-9

    The NFC East is probably the most competitive division, and I don't think any of these teams will have a losing season.  The Eagles have one of the best D-Lines and secondaries in football, and the Giants and Tom Coughlin know how to win.  The Cowboys seem to be in a tailspin and the Skins will continue to improve as RG3 learns the NFL game.


NFC North
1. Green Bay Packers 11-5
2. Chicago Bears 11-5
3. Detroit Lions 9-7
4. Minnesota Vikings 5-11

    Another very tough division, I liken this one to the AFC North - cold, gritty, muddy, defense first football.  The Bears and Packers could tie in this division because I am not sold on the Packers running game, and the Bears have only slightly improved their O-Line.  The Lions cannot continue to rely on solely Stafford and Megatron.  They need to continue to shore up the D and running game very soon.

NFC South
1. Atlanta Falcons 12-4
2. New Orleans Saints 10-6
3. Carolina Panthers 9-7
4. Tampa Bay Bucs 8-8

    I like the Bucs more than this if they played in most other divisions.  The Falcons are just about unstoppable with that offense.  I think the Saints take a step back this season but they could play somewhat inspired after the scandal last season.  Cam Newton is good, but not good enough to carry this team to the playoffs.  Steve Smith is getting old.


NFC West
1. San Fransisco 49ers 10-6
2. Seattle Seahawks 7-9
3. Arizona Cardinals 6-10
4. St. Louis Rams 5-11

    The 9ers are not the best team in the league on paper, but they play inspired football and are coached very well.  They have a very touch schedule, too.  The rest of this division is a jumbled mess of problems and question marks.  Seattle is a tough place to play and that should be the saving grace for the Seahawks this year.  This division has the toughest schedules in football in my opinion.

AFC:
Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Bills over Denver Broncos

NE Patriots over Buffalo Bills
Cincinnati Bengals over Houston Texans

Patriots over Bengals


NFC:
Chicago Bears over NY Giants
Green Bay Packers over San Fransisco 49ers

Atlanta Falcons over Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears over Philadelphia Eagles

Falcons over Bears

SUPER BOWL:
Patriots 31
Falcons 27





Kyle Culley
9/23/2012

I live in San Diego, but have been a Colts/Niners fan aloooong time. I agree with most of your predictions, however,Atlanta playing Better than Frisco---No way!!

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