I have reposted my NFL preseason picks for each division below and added my post season assessments.
AFC East: New England. Here is what I wrote about the Patriots last year: Easy pick here. I don’t see any other team in AFC East challenging the Pat’s, with their high octane offense and a defense that should be improved.
I feel pretty much the same way about the Pat’s this year. Miami looks like a decent team and they could post a winning record, but I don’t think that the Dolphins are capable of overtaking New England this season.
Well, no problem here. The Patriots easily won this division despite the challenge to dealing with numerous injuries and the loss of key starters on both offense and defense. Bill Belichick and his coaching staff deserve enormous credit for achieving a record of 12-4.
AFC North: Cincinnati.Tough call between Cincy and Pittsburg. The Bengals are the up and coming team in this division.
The Bengals performed as I expected. They may rule the AFC North for next few years.
AFC South: Houston. No change from last year. The Texans will be strong on both sides of the ball and I don’t see any of their division rivals challenging them.
I was totally wrong here. I never expected Houston to blow up in the way they did. It may be a long time before the Texans win this division again, because Indy could very good for the next decade or so if Andrew Luck continues to improve. I should have recognized Indy as a potential threat to take the division this season. I was actually very impressed by Andrew Luck last year, but I thought the Colts were still a year or two from surpassing the Texans.
AFC West: Denver. Well, Peyton Manning eliminated all doubts about his ability to play at high level again last season. The Broncos are by far the best team in this division. I think the Chargers have a chance of winning a wild-card slot, but they won’t challenge Denver this season.
Well, the Broncos were indeed the best team in the division, but I bet they never expected KC to be serious division rival. I certainly didn’t see the 11-5 Chiefs making such a big improvement in one year. Kudos to HC Andy Reid. And a tip of the hat to Charger HC Mike McCoy for guiding San Diego back to playoffs for the first time since 2009. I thought the Chargers had potential that was untapped by former HC Norv Turner and that proved to be true.
NFC East: Washington. This division is a very tough call because all four teams could conceivably win it. I’m tempted to pick the Giants because they are one of my favorite teams and the team I rooted for growing up (I lived about 10 miles away from the Meadowlands). However, I think the Redskins have the potential to be the best team the division, if, and it is a big “if”, Robert Griffin III is fully recovered and remains healthy for the entire season. Philly and Dallas also seem to have the potential to be good, but will any team this division be great? I don’t think so. I think a record of 10-6 or 9-7 will win this division.
OK, I was wrong here, but in my defense I did make Washington a very qualified pick. I noted that Redskins success was dependent upon RG3 returning to pre-injury form and, unfortunately, he was far from 100%. However, I think my overall assessment of the division was pretty accurate. The division winner wasn’t decided until the last game and they were 9-7. Congrats to Chip Kelly and the Eagles.
NFC North: Green Bay. I picked the Packers last year and I’m picking them again this year and I feel more confident about that because they seem to have bolstered their running game and that will make Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense even more dangerous.
Winning this division was more of struggle for the Pack than I expected it to be due to the injury of QB Aaron Rodgers, but Rogers came back and GB prevailed in the last game of the season.
NFC South: Atlanta.The Falcons looked like an elite team last year and I don’t see any reason that they will not be very good again this season. Now that New Orleans has their head coach back they should very good too and they may threaten Atlanta, but I’ll stick with the Falcons.
I’ll admit it , I did not see the Falcons collapsing in the way they did. I did think the Saints would be there in the end, but I did not see Carolina coming on so strong and winning this division. The Panthers are another team that improved a lot faster than many expected, myself included. This division should be a real dogfight for the next few years be cause I expect the Falcons to bounce back next season.
NFC West: San Francisco. Last year I predicted that Seattle would be good, but not good enough to seriously challenge the 49ers. Of course, San Francisco did win the division, but Seattle, led by superstar rookie QB Russell Wilson, definitely posed a threat to them. The Seahawks will be a strong rival again this season, there isn’t much separating these two teams and I expect both to go to the playoffs and contend for the Superbowl. I think both of these teams are among a half dozen that could win it all.
Well, I did predict that San Francisco and Seattle would be very good this season and SB contenders, but it was the Seahawks that the came back even stronger this season, while the 49ers regressed a little bit and were set back by injuries to a few key players.
AFC Conference Champion: Denver
NFC Conference Champion: San Francisco
Superbowl Champion: Denver
I’m going to stick with my pick of Denver to win the AFC, although I can’t say that I’ll be shocked if the Broncos are upset. I think the Broncos defense is just average, especially after the recent loss of LB Von Miller, Denver’s best defensive player.
In the NFC I’ve got to go with the Seattle Seahawks. The Hawks have home field advantage and I don’t think any other NFC team will be able to go into Seattle and win. Not against Seattle #1 ranked defense and a very supportive 12th man, the highly animated Seattle fans.
I will address the Superbowl in a future post.