1) Philadelphia Eagles (9-7): I don't see any team in this division capable of going 12-4. Can Sam Bradford actually start sixteen games? I don't see that, either. I also don't see Chip Kelly keeping the attention of this team over that stretch, either. But they're the best team in a mediocre division.
2) Dallas Cowboys (8-8): If they can't run the football (thanks for taking Darren McFadden!!), we're back to 400 yard passing days for Romo, with a key interception along the way to kill comebacks or allow another team to steal a win.
3) New York Giants (6-10): Eli Manning's shelf life will be shorter than his brother. The Manning dynasty's best days are behind them. Teams should be able to score at will on the G-Men this year.
4) Washington Redskins (3-13): With the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft......
1) Green Bay Packers (12-4): This division has the potential to be the best in the league. Note the word potential. Aaron Rodgers makes receivers better. One player won't replace Jordy Nelson's numbers, he'll spread the love. Pack fans have nothing to worry about. NOTE: MUST beat Seattle next Sunday for home-field advantage in January.
2) Detroit Lions (9-7): On the cusp playoff team here. They desperately need a legitimate second wideout to free up Johnson to only double teams (!) and, of course, they need someone to replace Suh up the defensive middle. I think they'll be okay.
3) Minnesota Vikings (9-7): Also on the cusp. It's all about Bridgewater and who steps up to be his go-to weapon. If Peterson even has a decent season, the Vikes will be in it. But they have to go to Green Bay week 17 while Detroit gets....
4) Chicago Bears (5-11): John Fox won't be able to keep this dysfunctional bunch moving in the wrong direction. Will probably go 1-5 within the division, maybe 2-4 if they can beat Minnesota and Detroit at home.
1) Atlanta Falcons (11-5): I can't see Ryan, Jones, White, etc. missing the playoffs again. I can see Dan Quinn immediately bringing improvement to the defense, first by confidence, second by using schemes to take advantage of the talent they do have. But I won't be surprised if they win a lot of 34-31 games, something Quinn's not used to.
2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): My surprise team of the NFC. Not a playoff team, but Winston gets them a couple of wins, and a healthy Doug Martin can be very dangerous.
3) New Orleans Saints (7-9): Where is the defense? The loss of Jimmy Graham isn't the issue.
4) Carolina Panthers (5-11): It will be a struggle this year for Cam Newton and the Panthers. Their defense takes a step back, and losing Kelvin Benjamin was 10 times worse for them than Green Bay losing Jordy Nelson.
1) Seattle Seahawks (12-4): Even without Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks find good players for that defense, which certainly proved me wrong in 2014. Russell Wilson doesn't strike me as a player who goes complacent now that he has the big contract, and if Fred Jackson stays healthy....he and Beast Mode are very good friends from their Buffalo days. Could easily be the best running combo in the league.
2) San Francisco 49ers (9-7): Everyone is writing off the 49ers. I think Jim Tomsula uses this a la Harbaugh (but not as ingratiating) and takes the "underdog" team to a better than expected season. Obviously, multiple players must step up defensively, but Torrey Smith is a good pickup and I'm hoping Tomsula allows Kaepernick to be himself. Run the read-option. Let him run. It got you to the Super Bowl three years ago, remember?
3) St. Louis Rams (6-10): Is this the last year for Jeff Fisher? Is this the last year in St. Louis, period? This season could end up like "Cleveland 1995" if ownership isn't careful. Foles must stay healthy, and there's no one in the backfield healthy enough to scare me if I'm a DC.
4) Arizona Cardinals (4-12): Collapse. Carson Palmer becomes Carson Palmer again, Larry Fitzgerald is another year older. Changes on the defensive side don't help.
NFC EAST: Philadelphia
NFC NORTH: Green Bay
NFC SOUTH: Atlanta
NFC WEST: Seattle
WILD CARDS: Detroit, San Francisco
BYES: Green Bay, Seattle
WILD CARD ROUND:
Atlanta over San Francisco
Detroit over Philadelphia
Green Bay over Detroit
Seattle over Atlanta
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Green Bay over Seattle (payback....)
1) New England Patriots (11-5): They won't be as dominant as they were down the stretch last year, but they're certainly in the Super Bowl conversation. Until we see a definitive slip in Tom Brady, don't bet against him. How much do they miss Vince Wilfork?
2) Buffalo Bills (10-6): I think this is the year they return to the postseason. Tyrod Taylor manages the game, and if McCoy and Spiller stay healthy, they could run the ball down your throat, then let their defense do the rest. Time of possession is huge. Now, if the oft-injured aforementioned go out, flip the record. Or worse.
3) Miami Dolphins (7-9): They start well, and, as usual, nosedive after the leaves fall. Brief MVP talk for Tannehill in late September, followed by "bench him!" by early December. And that's it for Philbin....
4) New York Jets (4-12): I really like Todd Bowles. But this is just a mess. In fact, if the Redskins didn't exist, the Jets would be "team dysfunctional". I'm sorry, Jets fans.
1) Baltimore Ravens (10-6): A good final year for Steve Smith, another good season for Forsett, as he may be about to turn 30, but he has plenty of wear left on his tires. Add the always tough defense, and the Ravens survive the wars of the AFC North the best.
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7): Big Ben isn't as big as last year, but he'll have a good season. It's all about the defense at Heinz Field this season. They rise and fall on their fortunes, or lack thereof.
3) Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): This is it for Marvin Lewis. Four playoff "one and dones" followed by missing the playoffs this year, and there's simply no justification to keep him after all these years, and chances. They need to sign AJ Green to eliminate distractions. And, as much as I like the guy, there will be calls to replace Andy Dalton before the year is out. Good news? Jeremy Hill will be a beast and become an elite NFL running back.
4) Cleveland Browns (6-10): Quick, name five important players! I said important, so that eliminates Manziel. :)
1) Indianapolis Colts (13-3): Winner by default, sweep the division, best record in the NFL. They get Brady, Brees, and Peyton Manning all at home, only tough December game is at Pittsburgh.
2) Houston Texans (8-8): Bryan Hoyer will do reasonably well. Would've done better with Arian Foster starting Week 1. JJ Watt equals at least two wins on his own. They'll sweep Jacksonville and Tennessee.
3) Tennessee Titans (4-12): Rough first season for Marcus Mariota. Very few weapons. Gonna be a tough season.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13): They tie Washington for the worst record in the league, and still can't get the #1 pick in the draft. More coaching changes coming in 2016. Here's hoping Josh Wells gets healthy soon!! I do like TJ Yeldon at running back. They need him desperately, as Julius Thomas could be the biggest free agent bust of the year.
1) Kansas City Chiefs (10-6): Jamaal Charles wins the rushing title, Alex Smith continues to be somewhat underrated, and actually throws a TD pass to a wide receiver. I really like their defense. They need to win 20-17 games. They'll lose games that are 31-27.
2) San Diego Chargers (9-7): Circle October 12th. A win over Pittsburgh that night could clinch the #6 seed in the playoffs. Rivers is fine, Woodhead is fine, Melvin Gordon could compete for Rookie of The Year. But again, they'll be a team that needs to score 30 a game because their defense may allow 25 per game....
3) Denver Broncos (6-10): It finally happens. The quick decline of Peyton Manning is in 2015. Hate to see it, because history will judge him harshly for going 1-2 in Super Bowls while his rival, Tom Brady, went 4-2. No running game to speak of, and he can't chuck the ball 50 times a game anymore.
4) Oakland Raiders (5-11): Improvement for my favorite team, but if you can't win a few games in your division, it makes it hard to go 8-8. Carr was better than I thought, I was wrong about Mack, and I love Amari Cooper. But teams will double team him and dare Carr to go elsewhere, and we don't have a good second option.
AFC EAST: New England
AFC NORTH: Baltimore
AFC SOUTH: Indianapolis
AFC WEST: Kansas City
WILD CARDS: Buffalo, San Diego
BYES: Indianapolis, New England
WILD CARD ROUND:
San Diego over Baltimore
Kansas City over Buffalo
San Diego over Indianapolis
New England over Kansas City
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: New England over San Diego
SUPER BOWL 50: Green Bay 30, New England 24: Ha-Ha Clinton Dix deflects the game-winning touchdown in the final minute in a classic case of role reversal, and Aaron Rodgers holds Lombardi for the second time. Appropriate that the winner of Super Bowl I will take #50.
Enjoy the season! You now know, since I said this, it likely won't happen. :) :)