We can all only hope that the NFL lockout will end soon, as it has already been 117 days since the NFL has locked out the players.
I am optimistic that the lockout will end very soon and that is why I compiled my 2011-12 NFL preseason predictions:
1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)- The Eagles had a very strong, surprising season last year. Between the strong, explosive offensive play by MIchael Vick, LeSean McCoy, Desean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin and the dependable defense led by Trent Cole, Asante Samuel, and Brandon Graham, the Eagles should be in for another stellar season.
2. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)- Last year, at 6-10, was a disappointing season for Dallas. When they fired Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett took over, they were 5-3 with Garrett as coach. Also, with DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, and Miles Austin leading the charge, Dallas seems to be in good hands.
3. New York Giants (8-8)- I don’t expect too much of the Giants this year. Eli Manning is not yet an elite quarterback to lead this team, and I think until he can blossom, the Giants won’t blossom, even with their stellar defense.
4. Washington Redskins (4-12)- I don’t think Redskins fans have much to be excited about this year. Whether Rex Grossman, John Beck, or Donovan McNabb starts at quarterback, the Redskins will struggle. Their defense it well below par, as well as not a good offensive supporting cast for whichever quarterback starts this season.
1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)- The defending Super Bowl champions come to next season with a loaded lineup. With Rodgers leading the crew, and now with Ryan Grant back from injury, the Packers should dominate the rest of the league. In addition, their stingy defense led by Clay Mathews can be the #1 defense in the NFL.
2. Chicago Bears (10-6)- The Bears had a surprising season last year, winning the division. With the Packers strong as ever though, it will be hard for the Bears to win the division title. Until they get improvements at wide receiver, the Bears can not, and will not contend.
3. Detroit Lions (9-7)- This should be the breakout season for the Lions. Last year, all of the games they lost were very close and they could have easily won. With a stingy defensive line including Ndamakong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Kyle Vanden Bosch. That mixed with a strong offense, the Lions can be above .500 for the first time in what seems like forever.
4. Minnesota Vikings (5-11)- Christian Ponder was not a great draft pick for quarterback, a position they need improvement on. They have a great running game, recieving game, and defense, but this team needs a stronger quarterback than Ponder or Joe Webb, and this just isn’t their year. They are too predictable.
1. New Orleans Saints (14-2)- This will be an unbelievable year for the Who Dat Nation. I think this will be the year that Marques Colston takes that leap from star to bona fide superstar. Also, I think Mark Ingram has all the tools to become the next Emmit Smith and bring the Saints the stellar running game that they haven’t had. Let’s not forget about Drew Brees leading the team, too, any team with Brees taking the snaps has great potential. The forecast in New Orleans is looking fantastic.
2. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)- The Falcons can be great. With Matt Ryan turning into a star, Roddy White molding into the best receiver in the NFL, and Michael Turner running strong, I think the Falcons can soar high in 2011-12. I don’t think that the defense will be enough to carry them to another division crown, though. New Orleans’ offense is just too good for a mediocre Falcons defense.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)- If Josh Freeman can have another great year, the Bucs will be in good hands. Also, with a blossoming running game, I think the Bucs can do well in 2011-12.
4. Carolina Panthers (3-13)- Cam Newton will be a total bust. I do not even think that he will even start the whole season. The Panthers will still struggle mightily like they did last season.
1. Saint Louis Rams (10-6)- Sam Bradford will be the next Peyton Manning, and with his strong play mixed with Steven Jackson taking hand-offs, the Rams will have a winning season next year.
2. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)- Frank Gore’s great play mixed with a terrific defense won’t be enough for the 49ers to make up for a lacking at quarterback, and finish over .500. In this well below par division, though, it will be enough for second place.
3. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)- Patrick Peterson was a fantastic draft pick for the Cardinals, and their defense may start to thrive. Larry Fitzgerald needs a better quarterback than Derek Anderson or John Skelton, though. Until then, the Cardinals will struggle.
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-12)- Uncertainty at the quarterback position, and a lacking in both the running back and wide receiver department leaves the Seahawks looking for answers. Maybe Pete Carroll will be able to string them together eventually, but this year is just not their year.
1. New England Patriots (12-4)- Let’s just put it this way: any team with Tom Brady will contend. No matter how poor the Patriots may look at the running back or wide receiver department, we all know to well how Tom Brady can work wonders. I predict that he will have another outstanding season, and lead the Patriots to another division title.
2. New York Jets (11-5)- With one of the best defenses in the AFC, led by Darrelle Revis, the Jets are sure to make noise this year. Also, Mark Sanchez keeps improving, and look for him to take the next step this year.
3. Miami Dolphins (7-9)- Ronnie Brown had a rough year last season, and that will most likely repeat this year behind a weak offensive line. They need a primetime quarterback in order to succeed and until they do, the Dolphins won’t be a worthy team.
4. Buffalo Bills (7-9)- Their first round draft pick, Marcell Dareus, is a strong defensive tackle that can, and will lead this defense. The Bills also have potential in C.J. Spiller, who can bring it on the running game. The Bills have struggles in putting it all together and I predict mediocrity this year.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)- Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, this defense is just too good. In addition, they have Big Ben, Rashard Mendenhall, and big play man- Mike Wallace. The Steelers are more than ready for prime time.
2. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)- Many people think Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are too old to lead the Ravens. They are not, they can still lead these Ravens right into the playoffs. Also, with Joe Flacco leading the offense, the Ravens have big play ability.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)- It is rebuilding time for the Bengals. With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the offense should be in good hands if they put the right attitude forward. The defense may hold them back, though.
4. Cleveland Browns (5-11)– The Browns didn’t do too good in the draft this year. That is a major issue for a team that has extreme struggles on both offense and defense.
1. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)- Like Brady, any team led by Peyton Manning is sure to thrive. With Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark to throw to, expect great things from the Colts this year.
2. Houston Texans (10-6)- This may be the year that the Texans get over the bump. With the Matt Schaub-Andre Johnson combination working as good as ever, the Texans can be amazing. A terrible defense is sure to hold them back though.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)- Expect Maurice Jones-Drew to continue his monster tear he started last year. David Garrard may not be good enough to lead the Jaguars into the playoffs, though.
4. Tennessee Titans (5-11)- The Titans didn’t get a good deal last year when they lost both Vince Young and Jeff Fisher. Chris Johnson will continue to struggle, so the only thing keeping the Titans from going 0-16 will be a terrific defense.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)- With offensive weapons such as Dwayne Bowe, Matt Cassel, and Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs have offensive firepower. Inconsistency may keep them from going deep in the playoffs.
2. San Diego Chargers (10-6)- By now, we all know about the excellence of Phillip Rivers. A lack of a supporting cast will most likely keep the Chargers out of the playoffs. Rivers alone should be enough to get the Chargers to a good 10-6 record, though.
3. Denver Broncos (7-9)- Von Miller was an excellent 1st round pick for the Broncos. Between him, and John Fox the Broncos should be able to turn this terrible defense around. Tim Tebow should start at quarterback, as he gives Denver more of a chance to win than Kyle Orton because Tebow can burn a defense passing or running the ball,
4. Oakland Raiders (3-13)- I just don’t see what Oakland has to be optimistic about. They didn’t have a 1st round draft pick. They have an offense that struggles to score, and an inconsistent defense. The only thing that may get them some wins is their running game with Darren McFadden.
Regular Season Awards-
MVP: Drew Brees
Defensive Player of the Year: Darrelle Revis
Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Von Miller
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Ingram
NFC PLAYOFFS: (Winners in bold)
Wild Card Round:
(6) Chicago Bears 21 vs. (3) Philadelphia Eagles 27
(5) Atlanta Falcons 30 vs. (4) Saint Louis Rams 17
(5) Atlanta Falcons 17 vs. (1) New Orleans Saints 35
(3) Philadelphia Eagles 20 vs. (2) Green Bay Packers 28
NFC Championship Game:
(2) Green Bay Packers 23 vs. (1) New Orleans Saints 27
AFC PLAYOFFS: (Winners in bold)
Wild Card Round:
(6) Baltimore Ravens 7 vs. (3) Pittsburgh Steelers 20
(5) New York Jets 17 vs. (4) Kansas City Chiefs 10
(5) New York Jets 31 vs. (1) New England Patriots 28
(3) Pittsburgh Steelers 13 vs. (2) Indianapolis Colts 17
AFC Championship Game:
(5) New York Jets 23 vs. (2) Indianapolis Colts 20
Super Bowl XLVI:
(5) New York Jets 21 vs. (1) New Orleans Saints 24
SUPER BOWL XLVI CHAMPION: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
MVP: DREW BREES
3 Bold, Daring Predictions:
1. The Saints will have the best offense in the history of the NFL this season.
2. After the season is over, the Giants will fire Tom Coughlin.
3. Cam Newton will be a major bust for the Panthers.
Well, we definitely have another great season of football to look forward to. The lockout is still in place, though. We will just have to hope that it will be lifted, and no games are missed.
No matter what happens with the lockout, we do know one thing for sure:
Next season is sure to be one heck of a ride.
By Sam Brief