It's fun to make these predictions in September, because then it gives you something to laugh at in February.
New York Jets (11-5)
I'm not sure the offense is that much better with Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason instead of Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. It's just impossible to know what either guy has left in the tank. But the defense is still one of the best in the NFL, as is the O-line. I expect a lot of low-scoring, ugly wins... but they will be wins.
New England Patriots (10-6)
I'm not sure why everyone is just handing the AFC East to the Patriots this year; just out of habit, I suppose? The Patriots signed 34-year-old Shaun Ellis, 30-year-old Albert Haynesworth and 32-year-old Andre Carter for the defense, and 33-year-old Chad Ochocinco for offense. Everyone is praising them for those signings. If any other team signed those four, would they be called smart, or desperate? Tom Brady is coming off an unbelievable year, but his offensive line isn't the stone wall it used to be. I think they will be good, but not good enough to hold off the Jets and win the division.
Buffalo Bills (6-10)
When do they actually start trying to rebuild? Or do they really think they can build a playoff team around Ryan Fitzpatrick? They are just good enough to be almost mediocre.
Miami Dolphins (5-11)
They still have a good defense, but what's going to happen with the offense? Will they pretend Reggie Bush is a real running back, or will they use him as a slot receiver/scatback/pain in the ass? That would probably play to Chad Henne's strengths, assuming he has any. Will Tony Sparano be the first coach fired in 2011?
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
The Steelers are like Knish in Rounders. They just grind it out, week after week, year after year. Nothing flashy, but it earns enough to buy you a delivery truck. Or something.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
It must be frustrating to be in the same division as the Steelers. And the Browns are catching up.
Cleveland Browns (7-9)
Creeping toward respectability.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-13)
Yeah... Andy Dalton is the quarterback now. Who dey! Who dey! Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals? Anybody!
Tennessee Titans (10-6)
What the hell, I'll go out on a limb and pick an upset. The offense will be better and the defense is still pretty good. They definitely don't win the division if #18 is healthy in Indy or #23 is healthy in Houston. But they're not. So, yeah! Write it down, Titans are the AFC South champs! Man, this will be hilarious in February.
Houston Texans (9-7)
I know Arian Foster says he's healthy, and maybe he plays in all 16 games this year, but I just keep thinking about Darrelle Revis last year when he tried to come back from that hammy. It takes awhile to get back to 100%. The offense is good, but not good enough to make up for this horrible defense.
Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
If Peyton Manning was 100%, what would you predict... another 10-win season? So let's say he misses the first month of the season, and the Colts go 0-3. Then he comes back on Oct. 3 (conveniently, for the Monday Night game against Tampa Bay). 8-5 seems like a reasonable prediction the rest of the way.
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
It would have been fun to predict everyone in this division at 8-8, but why oh why did the Jags have to their quarterback a week before the season starts -- especially when his replacement is Luke McCown?
San Diego Chargers (11-5)
Remember all those games last season when you had to figure out how to spell Legedu Naanee and Seyi Ajirotutu to sign them as free agents for your fantasy football team? A full season of Vincent Jackson will help.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
The Chiefs had an easy schedule last year; this year is a lot tougher.
Oakland Raiders (6-10)
They should be fun to watch, anyway.
Denver Broncos (6-10)
They won't be fun to watch. They're not really a six win team, but their home field advantage gives them a couple extra wins every season.
Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
Yeah, I guess I'm buying the hype. The defense should be very good. Michael Vick, assuming he doesn't miss half the season, can just take over a football game. His O-line isn't very good, but then again, forcing Vick to scramble is just a bad idea anyway.
Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
Getting rid of Wade Phillips is worth three wins.
New York Giants (6-10)
The injuries are already piling up. I think this will be Tom Coughlin's last season, finally.
Washington Redskins (3-13)
Daniel Snyder is supposedly a huge fan of John Beck. Somehow I don't think that will stop him from drafting Andrew Luck.
Green Bay Packers (12-4)
Yes, I am a big homer. But they won the Super Bowl last year even after losing all those players to injuries. Now they're back at full strength. And the rest of this division just isn't very good.
Chicago Bears (8-8)
Am I the only one who saw the Bears play last year? They went 11-5, yeah... but they had four wins against third-string quarterbacks and one win gifted by the refs on the so-called Calvin Johnson Rule. They're good on defense and great on special teams, but their offense is awful.
Detroit Lions (8-8)
So many people think the Lions are underrated, they're now overrated. Their defense is good and getting better, but their offense is still Calvin Johnson, an injury prone quarterback and no running game.
Minnesota Vikings (6-10)
The Vikings, even post-Favre, were an old team... then they went and traded for Donovan McNabb. They lost Sidney Rice and Ray Edwards and Pat Williams. Last year they won 6 games. We'll see if they can do it again.
Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
It looked like the run-n-shoot was back this preseason as Matt Ryan was airing it out. The offense should be able to put up lots of points; even if the defense is just mediocre, that should be enough to win some shoot-outs. Yee haw!
New Orleans Saints (10-6)
The Drew Brees Show is still fun to watch, but it is getting a little predictable, no?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
I'm still not quite sure how they got to 10 wins last year.
Carolina Panthers (5-11)
Well, watching Cam Newton should be fun...
Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Hey, when you're in the NFC West, anything can happen. The Cards have a better quarterback in Kevin Kolb, which is good news for Larry Fitzgerald's fantasy owners. But they still seem to have no idea what to do at running back. Still, .500 should be good enough to win what continues to be the worst division in the NFL.
St. Louis Rams (7-9)
Hey, good running back, developing quarterback... even if they wind up with the same record as last year, they're still moving in the right direction. And since this is the NFC West, one lucky break could make them the division champions.
San Francisco 49ers (7-9)
Like the Bills, the 49ers don't seem to have a particular rebuilding plan. Once again, it's Alex Smith running the show... for the first five or six games, anyway. But once again... you never know what's going to happen in the NFC West.
Seattle Seahawks (5-11)
Um, OK. Yes, this is the NFC West, but we probably know the Seahawks aren't going to win the division behind Tarvaris Jackson.
Playoffs Round 1:
Baltimore @ San Diego: San Diego
New England @ Tennessee: Patriots
Dallas @ Atlanta: Falcons
New Orleans @ Arizona: Saints
Playoffs Round 2:
San Diego @ New York: Jets
New England @ Pittsburgh: Steelers
Atlanta @ Philadelphia: Falcons
New Orleans @ Green Bay: Packers
Playoffs Round 3:
New York @ Pittsburgh: Jets
Atlanta @ Green Bay: Packers
Packers 24, Jets 13
See you in February!