1. ***New England*** (13-3) Brady to Moss. 12 to 81. Tom & Randy, just like Montana & Rice. Look for a healthy, rejuvenated Jerod Mayo combined with sophomores and rookies to step up, especially defensively. Don’t make Belichick mad, repeat of 2007?
2. Miami (8-8) Henne-Marshall, Ronnie-Ricky. Ok, offense is fine. Defense has two rock-solid corners that’ll only get better, add Karlos Dansby to the equation, two good 3-4 defenders via Draft…So, where do glaring weaknesses shine? Lack of complementary pair(s) of hands, not enough pass rushers.
3. New York (7-9) Fan of Mark Sanchez, yet I don’t think he’s quite there. Has “it” qualities but it’s going to take some time. Defense won’t be nearly as good. Kris Jenkins always hurt. LB corps getting up there in age. Safeties? Shonn Greene, next Ron Dayne?
4. Buffalo (6-10) C.J. Spiller, mix of Thurman Thomas/Marcus Allen. Hands down, best player in Draft. Where’s the support in passing department? Too much of a bend-but-don’t break defense when you need to make plays, get to QB, and get off field on 3rd down. Don’t sleep on secondary.
1. ***Cincinnati*** (12-4) How do you want it? Beat you with aerial display of fireworks? Chew you with ground game? Hold you to two scores? 31-17, 27-14, 24-10, 23-7, 20-6, 17-3. Dominance. Really good road club. Other than safety, where’s the big complaint? If they score first, watch out, it’s going to be that kind of year!
2. **Pittsburgh** (11-5) Troy Polamalu’s back. Best defense in NFL. Abundance of go-getters on that unit. Mike Wallace, next DeSean Jackson. Will lead AFC in receiving yards. Big Ben buys times to overcome OL. Rashard Mendenhall is super-talented.
3. Baltimore (9-7) Joe Flacco doesn’t impress me much. Secondary is in utter shambles, despite Wilson acquisition. Ed Reed: Will he ever be the same? Terrell Suggs isn’t getting to QB like he used to, Sergio Kindle injury hurts. Ray Lewis still there. Compared to years past, not enough firepower on D.
4. Cleveland (3-13) Where do I even begin? They shouldn’t be playing a 3-4. Who’s catching the ball? Jerome Harrison needs to be there Maurice Jones-Drew, and seems to look that way. Can you rely on him?
1. **Indianapolis** (13-3) Streak is alive. Pierre Garcon is going to make this offense scary. Can’t defend their 5-WR sets, especially when Dallas Clark creates mismatches. Dwight Freeney-Robert Mathis getting Jerry Hughes will help them out a lot. Rich get richer.
2. *Tennessee* (10-6) Chris Johnson. Vince Young can LEAD. Knows how to WIN. Hopefully receivers give him a hand. Defense isn’t good enough to challenge Indy yet.
3. Jacksonville (5-11) Quietly below-average except for MJD.
4. Houston (5-11) Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson…
1. *San Diego* (8-8) Offense still dynamic. Ryan Matthews is as advertised, and then some. Defense lacking.
2. Kansas City (7-9) Best Draft in 2010. Loaded with young playmakers. McCluster-Charles: Don’t Blink!!!
3. Denver (5-11) Offense is always banged up. Secondary can flat out do work, other than that? Dumervill out…
4. Oakland (5-11) Steak is alive. No down field threats whatsoever. Most boring pass game?
AFC Final Four: New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh.
1. ***Dallas*** (12-4) Romo-Jones-Austin-Witten. DeMarcus Ware-Anthony Spencer. Terrence Newman-Mike Jenkins. Jay Ratliff-Igor Ohslansky. Stacked. Big plays on both sides of ball.
2. *New York* (11-5) Hakeem Nicks, next Brandon Marshall. Front four is vicious. Secondary is really, really skilled. Defense just needs MLB to emerge. Don’t ruin it Eli…
3. Washington (8-8) Donovan-Shanahan. Offense will do wonders, I have no doubts. Defense good, but not good enough —too much of a bend-but-don’t-break mentality. Orakpo and Carter should thrive in 3-4. Still waiting for LaRon Landry to excel.
4. Philadelphia (7-9) At times, Kolb will struggle mightily, succumb under immense pressure because Reid doesn’t believe in running the football. However, I do like the young defense just as much as I like the young weapons on offense. First two Draft picks were gold, stellar rooks will contribute right away.
1. ***Minnesota*** (13-3) Offense, front four, Favre, Adrian, Percy. Adrian Peterson is going to tear it up. He breaks Eric Dickerson’s record. E.J. Henderson returning to action is big, yet secondary still banged up.
2. Green Bay (9-7) Offense plays the part. Defense looks the part. Only beat two “full” teams that finished with winning records in ’09. In all of their losses, gave up 30 or more points. Past Charles Woodson, secondary issues.
3. Detroit (9-7) Stafford-Johnson will put with best of ’em. Defense upgraded, however, still too many holes in secondary, especially with Louis Delmas nicked up a bit. Jahvid Best is going to fly.
4. Chicago (6-10) OL, health concerns on D, especially in secondary plague team all year long. Hit or miss. Boom or bust.
1. **New Orleans** (11-5) No way they can duplicate 2009 success? Drew Brees is out of his mind. Meachem is just starting to realize potential. I believe they’ll go out 34-31 OT, something like that, down-to-wire, this time on the other side.
2. *Carolina* (10-6) Stewart-Williams. By far, Jimmy Clausen best QB in Draft. Either him or Moore can lead ’em to above .500. Jon Beason is right on par with Patrick Willis as #1 MLB. Always good unit at covering pass. “Clicked” towards at end of last season. Steve Smith, one of best players in game.
3. Atlanta (6-10) Turner is burned out. Ryan is just Ryan —very average. Defense leaves much to be desired.
4. Tampa Bay (6-10) Loving their young talent. Team on rise. Playoffs next season?
1. **San Francisco** (12-4) Alex Smith can do more than enough, and he will. Vernon Davis is unstoppable. Add Gore, when healthy he’s Top-3 back, and Crabtree…you got makings of really good offense. Defense is tough, quick to pursuit. Singletary. Willis. This feels like a team of destiny, just not this year.
2. Arizona (4-12) Come back Kurt Warner! Wells should be getting more touches.
3. Seattle (4-12) Justin Forsett will keep them in games, really like this kid from Cal.
4. St.Louis (1-15) Not even close. Bradford, franchise QB?
NFC Final Four: Minnesota, Dallas, San Francisco, New Orleans.
Super Bowl XLV: New England Patriots over Minnesota Vikings.