NFL 2012 Predictions
These should all be 100% correct, provided these guys don’t mess it up….
(Listed in order of predicted finish)
New England– The Patriots were the best team in the NFL last season, unfortunately for Bellick’s squad, for one night the Giants were a better. This year Tom Brady will be reunited with Josh McDaniels and will get Brandon Lloyd as an extra toy to play with. The only question mark offensively will be the offensive line’s health with RT Sebastian Volmer and LG Logan Mankins coming into the season nursing injuries and C Dan Koppen coming back from an ankle injury last season. The defense will be average at best this season and will need help from rookies linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive end Chander Jones in order to improve on last season’s defense that allowed the second most yards in the NFL last season. The good news is if the Patriots were able to get away with a subpar defense last year, they should be able to again this season.
Buffalo– They were everyone’s favorite story in the beginning of the 2011 season when they got off to a hot 5-2 start. However their Cinderella season struck midnight after their first 7 games, going 1-8 in their final 9 contests. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s play had a lot to do with the Bills slide as he appeared to be the victim of the classic “just signed a new contract and now trying to do too much” syndrome. Now that he’s had the offseason to relax he should be back to his normal self. During the offseason the Bills acquired arguably the best defensive free agent in Mario Williams who will be back in his comfort zone as a 4-3 DE in Dave Wannstedt’s defense. Look for the Bills to bounce back from last season’s collapse with the help softest schedule in 2012 of all their AFC East counterparts.
Miami– They showed some serious heart last season, coming back from 0-7 to finish 6-10. The no-nonsence Joe Philbin is a great hire for this team filled with young players trying to prove themselves. There will be some growing pains with Ryan Tennehill which may limit the offense. Even with a young quarterback, as long as Reggie Bush continues to commit himself to being an every down back this offense should be ok. in 2011 the Dolphins were sixth in the league in points allowed, they will switch to a 4-3 this season which they hope will better fit their personnel. As long as the defense keeps keeping points off the board, Miami will be competitive in most games they play.
New York– The Rex Ryan circus has grown with the addition of Tim Tebow. There is no way that a team in a city like New York can get away with all of the chaotic, disruptive stories that will be finding their way into newspapers all season. To make matters worse, almost every skill position on offense is a question mark. Rex Ryan will lose this team half way though the season, and lose his job shortly after.
Houston– This team could have been a serious Super Bowl contenders if not for the injury to Matt Schaub. Even if always injured Andre Johnson is in and out of the lineup, Schaub and Arian Foster will be enough to keep the offense rolling. Defensively they will be in their second year in Wade Philips’ defense and could be better than last year’s team that was fourth in the NFL in points allowed, and second in yards allowed.
Indianapolis– Andrew Luck is not Peyton Manning yet, but he will be good enough in his rookie season to lead the Colts to a respectable season. The Colt offense was 15th in the AFC in total first downs last season, look for that number to rise this season which will help give the defense a rest and should result in better play on the defensive side of the ball.
Tennessee– Is Jake Locker ready? Who is the real Chris Johnson? Who wants to catch a pass? The offense is filled with questions marks. Defensively they will have to replace corner Courtland Finnegan and will start five players who are entering their second season in the NFL.
Jacksonville– While the Titians have too many questions, the only question for the Jags is can they get to Los Angeles before the Chargers?
Pittsburgh– With this defense who cares if Roethlisberger is nursing an injury and a new offense has to be installed.
Cincinnati– The Bengals’ young offensive stars will bring this team back to playoff contention. Their 3rd place finish also gives them arguably the two easiest match-ups in their slotted out of division games (Jacksonville and Miami.) They re-signed Adam (the artist formally known as Pac-Man) Jones, signed Jason Allen, and drafted Dre Kirkpatrick to improve the secondary in anticipation of some shoot outs due to their now, fertile offense.
Baltimore– Terrell Suggs will be on the shelf for the time being, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed aren’t getting any younger, and Joe Flacco will always be a question mark. This may be the first time in a while were the Ravens are out of the playoff picture 3/4 of the way through the season.
Cleveland– The only way that new owner Jim Haslam could have ensured himself a winning season in 2012 was to buy a different team. The LeBron haters better pray that Brandon Weedon is ready and that Trent Richardson is health, other wise it’ll be another sad year in the dog pound.
San Diego– This is a team that shines when everyone turns their back on them. They are tied for first in the NFL in margin of victory in games they are the underdog since 2008. This will be the first time since 2007 that San Diego is not favored to win the division. Look for Rivers, and the Chargers to get back to their normal selves this season as the rest of the NFL focuses their attention on Denver.
Denver– Peyton Manning will make a world of a difference for the Broncos, however his durability is still a major issue. If Willis McGahee starts to slow down with age nothing will be stopping defenses from pinning their ears back and testing Peyton Manning’s neck.
Oakland– Dennis Allen comes to Oakland with a strong defensive game plan, and success within the AFC West when he was with Denver which should help a Raiders defense that was 29th in the league last year in yards allowed. Carson Palmer will now have a full off-season to prepare, but he still has a lack of weapons to work with.
Kansas City– This is Matt Cassel’s last chance to prove that he’s a franchise quarterback, unfortunately for Kansas City, he won’t. Kansas City should still be an improvement from last season with the returns of Jammal Charles and Eric Berry, and the addition of Peyton Hillis.
New York– Coming off of a Super Bowl season is always tough, but this will be the Giants second go-around as defending champions. Expect the Giants to pick up where they left off, and expect Victor Cruz’s sharp route running to help him avoid having a sophomore (technically junior) slump.
Washington– Believe in RGIII. RGIII is not a running quarterback, he’s a quarterback who can run. The offense also features two burners in Anthony Armstrong and Brandon Banks, good receiving tight ends in Fred Davis and Chris Cooley, and the always dependable Santana Moss. The glaring weakness for Washington is in the defensive secondary. If the defense can figure it out, Washington may find themselves pushing for a post season spot.
Philadelphia– The Eagles need to find something to divert attention away from DeSean Jackson in the passing game. Fortunately they do have one of the best pass catching runningbacks in the NFL with LeSean McCoy, but how many times can they get away with screen passes and check downs?
Dallas– It doesn’t matter who’s on the team, if they can’t block, they can’t win. Dallas’s offensive line is shaky at best and is already dealing with injury issues in the preseason. Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray are going to have to find a way to get it done no matter which five guys are put in front of them to block. The other empty spot on the Dallas depth chart is at wide receiver. It’s going to be too easy for defenses to pressure Romo and the run game and cover man to man without consequences.
New Orleans– Who’s the coach? Who cares. Drew Brees runs this team and as long as he’s there, the Saints are contenders. This team should coast to twelve wins with a schedule that only features five teams with winning records last season.
Atlanta– Even though Michael Turner is on the downswing, Matt Ryan is ready to put this team on his shoulders. He will have one of the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL with Julio Jones and Roddy White, as well as the ageless Tony Gonzalez to work with in the passing game. Defensively they will be strong on the corners with the newly acquired Asante Samuels and the franchise tagged Brent Grimes on each side. Their biggest struggle on defense this season will be a shaky linebacking corps that will rely on the second year former Georgia Bulldog Akeem Dent to fill in for least year’s leading tackler Curtis Lofton.
Carolina– This will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season, unfortunately that doesn’t mean they’ll be the most successful. They will be fun to watch because of all the scoring both ways. Their offense scored the fifth most frequently in the NFL last season, averaging .406 points per play last season. However the defense gave up points even more frequently, allowing the second most points per play in NFL last season with .441.
Tampa Bay– Disciplinarian college coaches don’t make good NFL coaches. Why? Because in college the coach has leverage, he is the only one on salary, and has the right to not play a player, or cut a player whenever he pleases. Star players in the NFL make more money then coaches which gives them more leverage then the coaches in the eyes of the front office. Greg Schiano is going to have to find a way to relax a few of his rules and learn to interact with paid professionals. This process will hurt the Bucs this season.
Detroit– The only thing that can stop this passing offense is the Madden Curse. The Lions were second in the NFL last season in passing attempts per game. With Stafford’s cannon and Madden cover boy Calvin Johnson’s big play ability this team looks on paper much like the Culpepper/Moss Vikings teams. Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew will be able to rack up easy catches with the attention Johnson requires in the secondary. As long as Ndomukong Suh can stay out of the commissioner’s office the defense should be good enough to slow down other teams in a shootout. Their secondary will start three players with less then four years of NFL experience in Alphonso Smith, Amiri Spievey, and Louis Delmas. If these guys continue to progress as they should, this team will win a very competitive NFC North.
Green Bay– It’s hard to pick against Aaron Rodgers and a group of receivers so deep that even their fourth and fifth guys would start on most rosters. It is easy to pick against a defense that allowed the most yards per game in the NFL last season. While they will cruise into a wild card spot easily, the Packers won’t have what it takes to pile up more wins then the Lions with a defense that porous.
Chicago– This team would make the playoffs if it were in any other division. Four games against Detroit and Green Bay make the schedule a little too difficult for the Bears to get a Wild Card spot. They will be another fun offense to watch now that Cutler is reunited with Brandon Marshall, Forte is back in the backfield, and who doesn’t like watching Devin Hester make plays? If the defensive front, lead by two aging vets Julius Pepper and Brian Urlacher, cannot apply pressure Chicago’s pedestrian secondary will be exposed.
Minnesota– Realistically no one knows how Adrian Peterson will look coming off of a severe knee injury and Christian Ponder is in no way ready (and my never be ready) to take on the responsibility of providing offense for the Vikings.
San Francisco – This is the only team in the NFL West that should have a winning record. The defense almost went the whole season without allowing a rushing touchdown last year, which works well with Harbaugh’s safety first offense that helped the Niners lead the league in Turnover margin. The only thing that could hold San Francisco back is the memory of the painful way their season ended last year carrying over into this season. Fortunately they have Harbaugh, and Harbaugh would never let that happen.
Seattle– Seattle’s secondary will be this team’s only bright spot. Corner Richard Sherman had a stellar rookie season in ’11. He will be joined in the secondary by three ’11 Pro-Bowlers; former CFL star Brandon Browner, and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. New Seahawk, Matt Flynn, will solve the problem at quarterback. However there are other offensive issues. Marshawn Lynch is back but he has a history of not performing after his finances are taken care of as they were this offseason. The offense also lacks any true threats in the passing game with the exception of Sindey Rice and Kellen Windslow who both seem to live in the training room (Terrell Owens is NOT a threat.)
Arizona– Larry Fitzgerald can’t throw the ball to himself. And until he figures out a way to play eleven positions on offense this team will struggle on that side of the ball. The defense is a different story. They have playmakers all over the field in Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson and the eye catching Patrick Peterson. The defense should be able to win enough games for this team to keep them out of the cellar.
Saint Louis– Stephen Jackson cannot do all the work on offense, it’s time for Sam Bradford to step up and improve the Rams passing offense that was 30th in the NFL in passing offense in ’11. Unfortunately he will have a group of no-name receivers to throw to. The defense only returns two starters in the front seven (James Laurenitis and Chris Long) and will have to rely on a secondary featuring Cortland Finnegan who is coming off a down year last season and rookie Jenoris Jenkins. It’s going to take a while for this team to mesh and become competitors.
AFC Wild Cards:
NFC Wild Cards:
Super Bowl Champions:
San Diego Chargers