2010 NFL Season Predictions
NFC North Champion: Minnesota Vikings - If Brett Favre comes back and plays as he did last year, which I believe he will, the Vikings will once again be the best team in the North. Adrian Peterson, who is perhaps the best running back in the NFC, will join Favre in the backfield as the focal points of one of the most balanced attacks in football. And wild and crazy Jared Allen leads one of the premier defenses in the NFC. Green Bay will contend as well, but the Packers haven't shown they can stop elite quarterbacks from picking them apart. Favre torched them twice last season. Big Ben Roethlisberger had his turn. And so did Kurt Warner in the playoffs.
NFC East Champion: Dallas Cowboys - Winning their first playoff game in 13 seasons does a lot for the confidence of the Cowboys as they enter the 2010 season. Led by Tony Romo on offense and DeMarcus Ware on defense, Dallas appears ready to contend for a trip to the Super Bowl. They wouldn't have to go far this season with the biggest game of the year scheduled to be played right at home in Jerry World.
NFC West Champion: San Francisco 49ers - Kurt Warner's retirement likely opens the door for another team to emerge as West champs. With star running back Frank Gore and star linebacker Patrick Willis leading the charge, the 49ers look like a promising pick. The key will be the play of quarterback Alex Smith. If he can do a good job of taking care of the football and managing the game, I like San Francisco's chances.
NFC South Champion: New Orleans Saints - Since realignment took place back in 2002, no team has won consecutive division titles in the NFC South. I expect that to change with the defending Super Bowl champion Saints this season. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints have an excellent opportunity to be the most explosive offensive team in the NFL again. A big play defense brings back the majority of its key performers, including Darren Sharper, who came up with nine interceptions last season.
AFC North Champion: Baltimore Ravens - I believe Cincy slightly overachieved last season, and Pittsburgh will have to deal with Ben Roethlisberger's suspension. Led by Joe Flacco and Ray Rice, the Ravens appear ready to bring their offense to elite status. The defensive side of the football has been Baltimore's staple, and 2009 was no exception when the Ravens allowed only 16.3 points per game.
AFC East Champion: New York Jets - Teams that can run the football and play defense are going to win a lot of football games. The Jets led the NFL is rushing offense and they were the No. 1 ranked defensive teams in the league last season, and it took them to the AFC title game. With some key additions, the defense could be even better in 2010. The offense figures to improve as well now that Mark Sanchez has a year of experience under his belt.
AFC West Champion: San Diego Chargers - The Bolts have rattled off four straight division titles, and it would be a big upset if they didn't make it five in a row. Led by Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers, the offense will be tough to tame. The defense will have the potential to be better if outside linebacker Shawne Merriman can return to his pre-knee injury form. If that is the case, the Chargers may finally be ready to make a Super Bowl trip.
AFC South Champion: Indianapolis Colts - Since Peyton Manning arrived in Indy, all the Colts have done is win. Nothing will change in 2010 as Manning and company show up hungry after falling short in the Super Bowl. If Bobby Sanders can stay healthy this season, the Colts will have an even better shot at getting back to the big game.