Sunday, September 6, 2009

NFL Playoff Picture Predictions

We originally wanted to do a full NFL preview on all 32 teams before the season started here, but there's been a lot of local stuff to talk about lately and we kind of ran out of time as far as being able to do a full preview of all teams. So instead, we're going to go ahead and pick how we believe the NFL playoff picture will look come January.


1. New England Patriots- With a healthy Brady returning, and all those offensive weapons still in-tact, the Pats should once again be the elite team in the AFC.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers- The reigning Super Bowl champs are in pretty good position to repeat, led by Roethlisberger and Ward on offense and Polamalu and James Harrison on defense.

3. San Diego Chargers-
LT is aging, but Darren Sproles is ready to help keep him fresh and Phil Rivers is primed for another breakout, 35+ TD, 4500 yard season. They also have a hungry defense that puts pressure on the QB.

4. Indianapolis Colts- Everyone is expecting Indy to slip a little this season, but they still have Peyton and Reggie Wayne, and a speedy, aggressive defense and should again win 10+ games in '09.

*5. Houston Texans- My pick for the surprise team in the AFC, the Texans are primed for a breakout year, and I expect Matt Shaub to be a Pro-bowler com February. They have the running attack and aerial game to keep up with anyone. They also have a pretty soft schedule most of the way.

*6. Miami Dolphins: If Tony Sporano smartens up and gives the ball to Ronnie Brown 25 times a week, he'll probably be a top-3 back. I like all the offensive weapons and mis-matches they throw at you and that defense should be one of the leagues better ones.

Wild Card Round: Dolphins over Chargers, Texans over Colts

Divisional Round:
Patriots over Dolphins, Texans over Steelers

AFC Championship: Patriots over Texans

NFC Playoff Picture

1. New York Giants: Even though they don't have the deepest receiving corps in the league, they have an improving quarterback and a dominant running game to go along with their NFC-best defense.

2. Chicago Bears: Led by new QB Jay Cutler, the Bears should turn an offense that was purely run-driven for most of the decade, into one that should be a perfectly balanced attack. Matt Forte is one of the leagues best all-around running backs, and Greg Olsen could emerge as a pro-bowl caliber tight-end this year. Oh yeah, they always seem to figure out a way to carry a stingy defense as well.

3. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons added Tony Gonzalez to an already potent offensive unit this spring, and he should help Matt Ryan expand on his impressive rookie campaign. Atlanta also features the NFC's second leading rusher from 2008 in Michael Turner and a defense which improved this offseason.

4. Arizona Cardinals: The NFC West is really a division that is up for grabs, as either the Cardinals, Seahawks, or an improved 49ers team could have a shot in. I think the Cards will ultimately take the division, led by that incredible passing attack, but I doubt Kurt Warner plays up to the level he did last year.

*5. Minnesota Vikings: Sure, the addition of Bret Favre makes them a playoff hopeful, but they were on the right track even before luring the soon to be 40 year-old out of retirement. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL and they have some bright young receivers (Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin) who should thrive with Favre at the helm.

*6. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys lost a big play receiver in Terrell Owens, but Roy Williams should help ease that loss in his first full year in Dallas. I really like the duo of Marion Barber and Felix Jones, along with the duo of Jason Whitten and Martellus Bennett at tight end. On Defense, Demarcus Were is a savage along with Bradie James as those guys could combine for 30 sacks in 2009.

NFC Wild Card Round:
Falcons over Cowboys, Vikings over Cardinals

NFC Divisional Round:
Vikings over Giants, Bears over Falcons

NFC Championship:
Bears over Vikings


New England Patriots over Chicago Bears, 27-19

* denotes wild card teams

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