Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Road to the Superbowl (NFC)

Second part of my NFL  preview just before tonights big game: Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants. Please comment on what you think of my predictions to the forthcoming season.

NFC North:

Green Bay Packers:
Green Bay, alongwith New England, will the Superbowl favourites this year. This year will be no different than last year, the signing of Cedric Benson will help alleviate any pressure on Aaraon Rodgers to help the offense cause more mayhem for their opponents this season. The defense will be a lot better than what it was last year but I don't see the packers going 15-1 or better again.
My prediction ~ 13-3 (1st in NFC North)

Detroit Lions:
An improved defense means that the Lions will look to have a run at play offs this year and it is possible. Their passing-attack set up looks very effective, however, they can't just rely on that I think their passing game may be a struggle I do fancy their chances to get back to the post-season play offs, however, they will need to show significant improvements after being out-classed by the Saints last season.
My prediction ~ 8-8 (Tied 2nd in NFC North)

Chicago Bears:
I saw the Bears play Tampa Bay last year at Wembley for the International Series, and they outclassed that young side. With the return of Jay Cutler, it should provide an immediate impact to their season and if he stays healthy, they will have a chance at the play-offs.
My prediction ~ 8-8 (Tied 2nd in NFC North)

Minnesota Vikings:
Minnesota are the clear underdogs in such a strong division,  I don't see them getting further than the regular season knowing how well Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago play. Also, witht he much stiffer schedule compared to their 3 counterparts, I don't see them troubling. They tend to lack talent across the field which will be their downfall, especially on their defensive side.
My prediction ~ 3-13 (4th in NFC North)

NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons:
The Falcons have been on the cusp of success for a number of seasons but two recent humiliating defeats in the play-offs by the eventual Super Bowl winners certainly left a bitter taste in the mouth. The defense will be the main question mark, to see if it can handle th best offesive lines in the NFL this season in their schedule. I believe they can get to the play offs, however like the Lions that I mentioned before, will need to perform alot better.
My prediction ~ 9-7 (2nd in NFC South)

Carolina Panthers:
The Panthers pinned their hopes last year on top draft pick Cam Newton to be their quarterback of the future and he proceeded to smash all sorts of rookie records at the position. He showed tremendous ability to make plays with his feet (14 RTDs) but gradually learnt to remain more patient in the pocket and he can only improve further with a full pre-season under his belt. If the defense can recover from a speight of in juries to key personnel last season then there is every chance they can edge towards a better record still - but the playoffs could be just out of reach for another season.
My prediction ~ 6-10 (4th in NFC South)

New Orleans Saints:
The Saints still have Drew Brees at the helm after his contract situation was sorted out to the tune of $100m and his experience and leadership is going to be even more invaluable if they are going to enjoy another trip to the post-season. Brees set the new single-season record for passing yards and that is going to be a tough act to follow but his passing game remains his team's best way to win games. Brees has an array of talent at his disposal offensive-wise. The saints will be a play-off favourite for this season, depending on how healthy and powerful they can still be post-season.
My prediction ~ 12-4 (1st in NFC South)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
It is all change this season in Tampa after last season's shambles which saw them lose their final 10 games with head coach Raheem Morris axed. QB Josh Freeman still looks a strong prospect for the future with such a youthful team now, after a bad season last year with 16 TD's compared to 22 Interceptions, he will look to improve this season.
My prediction ~ 7-9 (3rd in NFC South)

NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys:
There is pressure on the management of the Cowboys this year to reach the play-offs this season. The early part of the schedule is unforgiving and the preseason injuries won't allow continuity to set in until it's too late. It is also a pivotal year for quarterback Tony Romo, who will have the dangerous receiving duo of Dez Bryant and Miles Austin to throw to. DeMarco Murray will look to carry over the momentum from his spectacular rookie year, while star pass rusher DeMarcus Ware will once again lead the defence.
My prediction ~ 8-8 (3rd in NFC East)

New York Giants:
No team has won back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2004 season, but the Giants will feel they are well equipped to end that run. The Giants are a team with pedigree and stability and must be considered one of the favourites to win it all again. They do have a relatively difficult second-half of the season, if they can get through that without too much complacency and injuries, then the Giants will look to be division champs this year.
My prediction ~ 10-6 (2nd in NFC East)

Philadelphia Eagles:
As an Eagles fan, I was disappointed with our flop of a 'Dream Team' last season missing out on the play-offs, but I'm very excited at the prospects to the forthcoming season with a successful unbeaten streak in pre-season. Michael Vick will look to improve on last years performance, with LeSean McCoy providing another sublime running performance, they have speed in all areas of the offense and certain players in the defense int he event of an interception.
My prediction ~ 11-5 (1st in NFC East)

Washington Redskins:
With new signing Robert  Griffin III, I don't see the Redskins heading to the post-season with a rookie, but he shows to be a future prospect with the Redskins threatening the playoff spots within the next 2/3 years. Griffin's ability to make plays with his legs as well as his arm is sure to provide plenty of excitement for their fans, who have not seen their team qualify for the play-offs since 2007. They have a difficult schedule comparing to Philly, NY  & Dallas. But this season will show what the prospect is for this team for the near future.
My prediction ~ 6-10 (4th in NFC East)

NFC West:

Arizona Cardinals:
The quarterback dilemma will play a major role in determining the success of the Cardinals. With a strong defense, they have a great chance at making a play at the pla-offs, they do have the potential to sneak past the 49ers and the Sseahawks for the division title, however, this will only happen if they play PERFECT in the important games. If Kevin Kolb is fit enough to be a starter after a footinjury and concussion suffered from last year, thereis potential for the Cradinals if they utilise it.
My prediction ~ 8-8 (2nd in NFC West)

San Francisco 49ers:
Jim Harbaugh quickly transformed the 49ers into a heavyweight behind a defense that bludgeons opponents with tenacity and physicality. If Alex Smith can get the offense to score a few more points in big games, it is hard to pick against the 49ers as the team to beat in the NFC. With talented receivers, and a superbowl-calibre defense - the 49ers will be a deadly team to come up against in the post-season.
My prediction ~ 13-3 (1st in NFC West)

Seattle Seahawks:
Pete Carroll’s decision at quarterback could make or break the Seahawks’ chances at the postseason. The Seahawks need to significantly improve their passing game from last year if they want to be in with a chance of getting into the playoffs, by defeating their main rivals in their division and hang on to their main opposition in the regular season then it's very likely to get a berth in the post-season. The offense will be another weakness, I don't see many weapons that can breakthrough for the Seahawks and that could make an impact later on.
My prediction ~ 7-9 (3rd in NFC West)

St. Louis Rams:
The new coach of the Rams does face an uphill task in rebuilding the Rams to a Superbowl-calibre team and winning on a more consistent basis, but like any rebuild project in the NFL it takes longer than 1 season to make it a success, so it's still learning curves for the Rams this season to maximise their future potential. If Sam Bradford is fully fit and the defense does better than average in the key games, then they could be an unsuspecting package and cause trouble for other teams.
My prediction ~ 5-11 (4th in NFC West)

Road to the Superbowl (AFC)

Doesn't seem that long ago that I was staying up until the early hours of the morning to watch the New York Giants triumphant over the popular favourites the New England Patriots.
But, another big season is upon us again and with what I've read about the pre-season games that this season it will be a more open season that it has been for a while.
In my first official post on this blog, I will be giving an overview of how I believe each team will do. First up: The AFC!

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills:
The Bills will want to forget the disappointment of their 4-12 season last year and will hope to make a significant improvement. One person to help the Bill's defence will be new DE Mario Williams, his addition to the team will hopefully stop the opponents run and prevent scoring. Their free-agent spree especially on their lack-lustre defence will help them alot this year, but as it's relatively new team - I'd give it another year or so before we see a team of Superbowl-calibre, the inconcsistency of Ryan Fitzpatrick during this pre-season will be of worry to the coach.
My prediction ~ 7-9 (3rd in AFC East)

Miami Dolphins:
The Dolphins are in re-development mode right now, creating a strong team around their star player Ryan Tannehill. Miami won't be in contention, in my opinion for the post-season tournament but it will be a learning curve for the team and coaches to see the direction they're going in and what to work on more to become a contender for the Superbowl in the future.
My prediction ~ 4-12 (4th in AFC East)

New England Patriots:
The Patriots are guaranteed contenders once again for the post-season and potential Superbowl finalists once again. Tom Brady and his fellow Patriots have a re-shaped defence from last year, but from what I've seen from the highlights in their games they look strong and are destined for another long run this coming season. The Patriots will be the class of the AFC in my opinion, the offensive line concerns will quickly disappear as they will show what they're made of.
My prediction  ~ 14-2 (1st in AFC East)

New York Jets:
The Jets have had a bad start from pre-season losing all 4 games against stiff competition. In my opinion, the poor pre-season won't affect their run this year, they have a relatively mellow schedule with several games that will be difficult to judge who will win. The main concern for the Jets this year, as they struggled to score big in their pre-season, the defense is not as strong as it was to support the lack-lustre offense it almost doesn't matter who the QB. They may be the surprise team this year.
My prediction ~ 8-8 (2nd in AFC East)

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens I see this year that they'll be a contender for another post-season run again, with legend Ray Lewis & upcoming stars Ray Rice & Joe Flacco, their offensive line is one of strongest in the league. Alongwith a strong defensive line, they will cause all kinds of problems for their oppositions QB throughout the season, which will no doubt work in their favour rushing their offense to release the ball quickly.
My prediction ~ 12-4 ( 1st in AFC North)

Cincinnati Bengals:
The Bengals looked an impressive team last year, and I think they were unlucky not to get a post-season berth, but with a strengthened team again this year, they can stand a chance, depending on how they perform in the big games of their season, for example, vs Ravens, Giants & Eagles will make the difference between a play off place and failure. Last years rookies Andy Dalton & AJ Green will be looking to improve on their great rookie seasons last year to help boost the Bengals chances this year.
My prediction ~ 9-7 ( 3rd in AFC North)

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns are the clear underdogs in this division, and in my opinion don't stand a chance of getting near a play off place with such stiff competition this year. Looking back on last year, the Browns were the worst team in my opinion in the NFL and need to find a way this year to right that wrong by improving significantly. However, with a tough schedule, it does look unlikely - I do hope to see a couple of upsets to show their worth.
My prediction ~ 2-14 ( 4th in AFC North)

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Ben Roethlisberger will be looked at to lead the Steelers again to another strong season run this year, however the clear problem will be the aging defensive line - if they can't keep clear of any injuries then Dick Lebleu will have some problems to overcome throughout the season and the Steelers will struggle to keep opponents from scoring. The Steelers' offensive line will help rack up alot of points p/game if Todd Haley is on his game throughout the season and expect them to be tough to beat if they reach the playoffs and manage to top their division.
My prediction ~ 10-6 ( 2nd in AFC North)

AFC South:

Houston Texans:
The Texans looked very impressive last season, and I don't see why (with the squad they've got) they can't repeat that same feat again this season. They face a tough schedule this year though, facing the likes of Green Bay, New England & Baltimore, but if their attacking defensive strategy works effectively, they could put up a decent fight at New England and produce a strong season performance. Their exciting combinations in both Attack & Defence do pose to be a new threat to the NFL teams.
My prediction ~ 13-3 (1st in AFC South)

Indianapolis Colts:
Getting first pick of the Draft this year has paid dividends for the Colts, new QB Andrew Luck looks the real deal from pre-season highlights and will hope to show his prowess by helping the Colts produce a better overall season performance compared to last year. I'm hoping for the Colts sake, that they look and perform competitively right from the beginning if they're to stand a chance to catch the likes of the Texans for a top seed berth. In my opinion, the Colts will improve in years to come, this season is just the beginning..
My prediction ~ 5-11 ( 3rd in AFC South)

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars will depend on Gabbert's surroundings. First off, their new receiver, Justin Blackmon has to shine in the passing game if they're to be a threat to their opposition and make consistent gains. Secondly, will be Jones-Drew behind Gabbert to help protect him from the sacks to help carry the offense forward. The team has showed promise in the pre-season, but bringing that into the regular season games will be difficult with the line up of opponents that they have. Have to wait and see which Jaguars team will turn up on the day.
My prediction ~ 4-12 ( 4th in AFC South)

Tennessee Titans:
Not much has been said about the Titans this pre-season, however from the results it shows that their defencse is promising for the forthcoming season after losing to Seattle. Chris Johnson will be the star player in my opinion for the team, as the new QB Jake Locker will be looking to cement his position in the team, the inconsistency of the wide receivers, could be the main issue for the team. I do still see the Titans coming through for a potential play off shot.
My prediction ~ 7-9 (2nd in AFC South)

AFC West:

Denver Broncos:
The Broncos have possibly the toughest start to the season than any other team in the NFL, and if they can survive that and get as much as they can from the main games then their season will look promising. It will depend on Peyton Manning and how well he is adapting to becoming a Bronco, but throughout the season the Broncos should be able to grab a play off berth and potentially, division champions like last year.
My prediction ~ 8-8 (2nd in AFC West)

Kansas City Chiefs:
After a disappointing 2011 campaign, Kansas City have looked good in the pre-season and with their current team set-up, they look favourites for a play off berth in this division. Last year, they hindered on injury-prone defensive players, but now they have returned and look back to their best, it will provide a decent threat to their opposition throughout the season.
My prediction ~ 9-7 (1st in AFC West)

Oakland Raiders:
After consecutive 8-8 seasons, the Raiders offense looks very dangerous this season if RB Darren McFadden can stay healthy for the 16 games. The defence is more of a worry. A unit that ranked fourth last in the entire league in 2011 has since lost defensive end Kamerion Wimbley and cornerback Stanford Routt via free agency. I personally don't see them getting through to the play-offs, but it is a close-knit division so we can expect a couple of surprises.
My prediction ~ 7-9 ( 3rd in AFC West)

San Diego Chargers:
The Chargers have not been to the play-offs since 2009 and last season wasted a 4-1 start with a six-game losing streak during October and November. The offense is an area of concern after the injury-enforced retirements of Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman, while running back Ryan Mathews broke his clavicle on the first carry of pre-season to live up to his fragile reputation. The once-feared defence was ranked 16th in the league last season but has been restocked through the draft. They'll be the underdogs in the division, but they can use that to their advantage as long as the rest of their roster stays healthy.
My prediction ~ 6-10 (4th in AFC West)