Thursday, September 8, 2011

2012 NFL Season projections

With the first NFL game here, I thought I'd run through projections for the season. I know I haven't given much time to the blog lately, unfortunately life has gotten in the way rather heavily. It probably will be pretty sporadic posting over the next couple weeks.

Playoff teams AFC:

North: Baltimore Ravens (close call with Pittsburgh, but offense is improving for Ravens)

South: Tennessee Titans (Manning's hurt and Houston still scares me. I'm going with the Titans as they are left with the best player in the division and a savvy veteran QB)

East: New England Patriots (I don't bet against Tom Brady)

West: San Diego Chargers (last year was an aberration, this team is the most talented in the division and enough so that even Norv Turner can't screw it up too many years in a row.)

Wild card 1: New York Jets (2 bad teams in Miami and Buffalo mean the Jets get 4 easy games. Add in the fact that they've got a fair amount of talent and a whole lot of attitude and I like them for the wild card spot)

Wild card 2: Pittsburgh Steelers (see above for Jets, 2 bad teams in division in Cincinnati and Cleveland, make it much easier to be a wild card, although I think Cleveland will be improved )

Playoff teams NFC:

North: Green Bay Packers (this team at the start of the season is better then last year's team that won the Super Bowl.)

South: New Orleans Saints (Philly got the hype in the off season, but this team made some great moves. They are reloaded for another run at the Super Bowl)

East:Philadelphia Eagles (The Giants and Cowboys have a number of questions, I see no reason the Eagles can't repeat, even if Vick gets hurt, they have one of the better backups in the league at this point and if Andy Reid gets through to him, look out.)

West: Arizona Cardinals (The Rams will give them a run for their money, but this is the Cardinal's division to lose, with no quarterback last year, they still almost won the division.)

Wild card 1: Detroit Lions (Matt Stafford has to stay healthy, if he does, watch out)

Wild card 2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (I like this team more then the Falcons, based on what I saw last year when they played the Browns. The Falcons still have issues on defense in my opinion and a stronger schedule is going to show that. The Bucs are younger and I think have more room to grow, whereas the Falcons I think, already think they are there as a team.) (Besides Atlanta never makes the playoffs two years in a row, ever).

NFL MVP: I hate this award, at least they could separate it by conference. Oh well, I'll go with Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers0

NFL Offensive Player of the year: blah, see my comments on MVP. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals) with a qb that can throw him the ball again and settled on a contract, he puts up Jerry Rice style numbers in the prime of his career.

NFL Defensive Player of the year: Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions) just a monster at his position. He's going to hurt a lot of quarterbacks this year.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints) They didn't trade up to get him for no reason, and it's possibly the best offense in the league, he'll put up big numbers.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jabaal Sheard (Cleveland Browns) Why not, most pundits are going with Von Miller, a very solid choice, but sometimes its fun to just be different and Sheard's name continued to pop up on plays during the preseason, a very good sign.

Thoughts on the Cleveland Browns: The Browns are getting better, it appears they've had another successful draft and there is talent being accumulated on this team. Their big issue is that they have no depth. This has been a common problem in the 10 years they've been back. It's not unreasonable to think this team could get off to a 4-2 or 5-1 start especially with Peyton Manning likely to miss the Colt's game. That would be huge for this young team and give them a chance at 8 or 9 victories on the year. The second half of their schedule is harder, but as injuries pile up on teams, that belief could change very quickly.

The key for the season will be continuing to develop the offense. Since Bernie Kosar left in the early 90's this organization hasn't had a pro style offense (see Bill Belichick with Metcalf up the middle searches). In the years they've been back, they've only glimpsed a true pro style offense briefly during the 2007 season.

The defense is very much a work in progress. It will work if the offense puts up points, if they don't then it's going to be a long season. They have a couple of pieces, but very little depth and the 'special' talent they have is young and difficult to judge on how quickly they'll hit their ceiling. In my opinion it's being set up as a bend, don't break unit, which if the offense can take time off the clock, will be a good fit. Depth on defense is worse then offense in my opinion.

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