A few months ago, we were talking about a season that may have not been. Now, we are back in action and talking about a season that will be. The NFL season for 2011 is up ahead and we are warming up, excited to watch this season kick off. This means that now is indeed the appropriate time to make predictions as to who is going to do what and how well each team will perform this season. I will be making predictions as to how well each team does with a record and a brief statement as to why they'll finish in this place with that record. Keep in mind that the numbers are not going to add up unless they magically do add up, as the standing will be a rough estimate. What will be accurate is the ranking in the division and how those numbers would signify their spot in the playoffs. Here are my predictions for the regular season...
New England Patriots (14-2)- While the team picked up some notable players such as Chad Ochocinco to say the least, this team surely still has the hype and energy to sweep the league and be a force to be reckoned with.
New York Jets (11-5)- Rex Ryan's mad science has been genius in the Meadowlands. His team remains fresh and will continue to remain fresh and shadow the head coach and mastermind himself.
Buffalo Bills (5-11)- There hasn't been a ton of new direction for this team, but they should be making some kind of improvement soon.
Miami Dolphins (5-11)- At the moment, this team has gone haywire in its infrastructure. Chad Henne is mediocre at best and the commotion at the quarterback position will cost them many valuable wins.
Houston Texans (10-6)- It's been eight seasons since the Texans joined the league and eight seasons without a trip to the playoffs. In a weakening AFC South and being a team on the rise, now may very well be their time to shine.
Indianapolis Colts (8-8)- Peyton Manning is coming into the season a bit rusty, the key talent is aging, the winning spirit is aging, and the last time a team whose stadium hosted the Super Bowl made it into the playoffs was during the 2000 season (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost in the wildcard). Things don't seem to be panning well for the Colts.
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)- The Jags look like their improving and they have some good players that are Fantasy Football stars at best. This team needs a new direction from Jack Del Rio's two playoff appearance career as head coach.
Tennessee Titans (3-13)- Unless Jake Locker is the overlooked quarterback of the century, the Titans have a long and bumpy road ahead of them.
Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)- The Steelers continue to be in shape and have a lot of steam from the season before. I believe they'll demonstrate major dominance like last season.
Baltimore Ravens (12-4)- The Ravens continue to be a major force to be reckoned with, and them and the Steelers have two of the best defenses in the league.
Cleveland Browns (7-9)- This team looks to be making major improvement. It's just going to take time until the Browns are back to good form.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-15)- This team will be the worst in the league and claim the #1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. They will need a few flagpoles if they want to reach the bottom of the barrel.
San Diego Chargers (13-3)- While this team didn't stand out last season, they'll be back in form and dominate a mediocre division.
Oakland Raiders (8-8)- The Raiders are finally warming up again. What cost them a spot in the playoffs for this year was that Al Davis let Tom Cable go. Had he kept Cable, the team would have been able to remain consistent with the current plan and build on their success.
Denver Broncos (6-10)- While this team will see small improvement, the big concern is going to be the quarterback games going on between Orton and Tebow. Both are starter worthy, especially Tebow, who will most definitely make his big break elsewhere if things don't work out in Denver.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)- This team had a good year last year and I just do see anything special coming from them this time around.
Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)- If this "dream team" that struck a gold rush through free agency forms a chemistry, they'll be a threat in the league. If they crumble, they will just crumble. There is a variety of talent, though.
New York Giants (10-6)- The first part of the season will be smooth sailing, but the second part will determine their place. The Giants will contend in a three-way heat along with the Eagles and Cowboys, and will have to do it with some key losses (WR Steve Smith and TE Kevin Boss to free agency, CB Terrell Thomas to injury).
Dallas Cowboys (9-7)- If the Cowboys struck best in the offseason, I felt they would be the division winner. They'll contend, but warming back up will be the most they do, and I have no idea how Tony Romo is going to be after spending the majority of last season benched with an injury.
Washington Redskins (3-13)- This team is still messy and will have to rely on some big miracles to win games, let alone make the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)- This team will be the dark horse team of the season. You have young and underestimated talent all around, including a young and underestimated leader in QB Josh Freeman.
New Orleans Saints (11-5)- The Saints remain nice and fresh, and Drew Brees is still a quarterback that is a force to be reckoned with. While they lost some talent to free agency, it won't frazzle them too much.
Atlanta Falcons (9-7)- Things tend to go back and forth in Atlanta. Not much has changed in the structure of the team, but the division has become mighty aggressive, which may cause them to fall short in the games that matter most.
Carolina Panthers (3-13)- The Panthers improve... by one game. This team is still not complete, and while they have Cam Newton as their QB, there isn't much else that stands out and proves to be fresh material.
Green Bay Packers (13-3)- This team is just on fire! From Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, to their reliable receiving core and aggressive defense, this may very well be the dream team of the decade. I can very much believe that the Packers will be the dynasty team of the 2010's, just like they were when the Super Bowl started.
Detroit Lions (8-8)- There has been a mighty climb for Detroit since Jeff Schwartz took over as coach, but the pieces are starting to come together and this team is warming up to become a threat in the league. It may take time with the talent currently in the league.
Chicago Bears (6-10)- The Bears are on and off all of the time and it doesn't look like they have much going for them this time around. Jay Cutler is not reliable at the starter position and is great on some occasions and not great in others. When he's not great, it means disaster, and the Bears don't look like they'll be battling against the Packers soon.
Minnesota Vikings (4-12)- The Vikings now face the aftermath of dome woes and Brett Favre and I don't know which is worse.
St. Louis Rams (9-7)- The Rams missed the playoffs last season by the skin of their teeth, and with the weak division they are in and the rising talent they have, the Rams will most likely be the team that qualifies to represent their division going into the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers (7-9)- The Niners have made the effort to head into a new direction with new head coach Jim Harbaugh. The next thing they need to do is find themselves a quarterback that will lead them into the new and improved direction and call it quits with Alex Smith, who has done nothing to help the team make it big since being drafted in 2005.
Seattle Seahawks (5-11)- This team made it into the playoffs with a negative record and a mediocre team. This team doesn't really stand out so much and will falter to the rising Rams and Niners. Tavaris Jackson is not a franchise quarterback and Charlie Whitehurst is most definitely not one either.
Arizona Cardinals (5-11)- Perhaps, Kevin Kolb may do something to lead the team in the right direction since Kurt Warner retired, but it's going to take a lot to get this team out of the frazzling situation they are in.
(6) New York Jets defeat (3) San Diego Chargers, 21-14
(5) Baltimore Ravens defeat (4) Houston Texans, 17-7
(3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat (6) New York Giants, 28-17
(4) St. Louis Rams defeat (5) New Orleans Saints, 38-23
(1) New England Patriots defeat (6) New York Jets, 24-21
(2) Pittsburgh Steelers defeat (5) Baltimore Ravens, 20-14
(1) Green Bay Packers defeat (4) St. Louis Rams, 41-6
(3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat (2) Philadelphia Eagles, 35-17
(1) New England Patriots defeat (2) Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-24
(1) Green Bay Packers defeat (3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 35-20
Super Bowl XLVI
Green Bay Packers defeat New England Patriots, 45-31
...and so that's how I think the 2011 NFL season is going to turn out. The Packers are the hottest team in the league (ironic, since they're from Green Bay, Wisconsin) and they will create the dynasty that the 2010's most definitely needs. They look as if they're still warm from last season and they will dominate even more on their way to reclaiming the Lombardi Trophy, as it very appropriate remains with the team that originally won the big game and named for the coach that originally coached them to that victory.
I look forward to the upcoming season and all I can do now is sit back and enjoy the games. As Hank Williams Jr. says on Monday Nights, "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL???"