Here are my predictions for the 2011 NFL season. I won’t project each team’s specific record, but I do project the Niners to go 9-7 and win the NFC West.
1. San Francisco 49ers
2. St. Louis Rams
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. Seattle Seahawks
Why: The Niners won six games last year with the worst coaching staff in the sport. The addition of Jim Harbaugh should be worth three wins and a division title.
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Detroit Lions*
3. Chicago Bears
4. Minnesota Vikings
Why: As long as Matt Stafford stays healthy, the Lions will be better than the Bears this year. I don’t believe Donovan McNabb will have a bounce-back year.
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Atlanta Falcons*
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Carolina Panthers
Why: The Saints and Falcons are two of the best teams in football, and the Bucs are very good too, but not as good as the Lions, so no Wild Card for Tampa Bay.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Dallas Cowboys
3. New York Giants
4. Washington Redskins
Why: I’m not concerned by the Eagles’ offensive line. Michael Vick gets away from pass rushers – it’s what he does. The Cowboys are slightly better than the Giants, but neither is a playoff team.
1. San Diego Chargers
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Oakland Raiders (7-9)
4. Denver Broncos
Why: The Chargers will have a monster regular season, with wide receiver Vincent Jackson back on the team. The Chiefs will still be good but not playoff good. And the Raiders offense will improve, but their defense will keep them under .500.
1. Baltimore Ravens
2. Pittsburgh Steelers*
3. Cleveland Browns
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Why: The Super Bowl losers will struggle in the regular season but make the playoffs as a Wild Card. The Ravens will be one of the top teams in football this year, and their head coach will finish 2011 as the most famous Harbaugh.
1. Houston Texans
2. Tennessee Titans
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Why: Even without Peyton Manning, the Colts aren’t as bad as the Jaguars. The Titans could surprise people with a .500 season, and the Texans will be the class of this division for once.
1. New England Patriots
2. New York Jets*
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Miami Dolphins
Why: The Patriots always look like the best team in football during October and November and this year will be no different.
Atlanta over 49ers; Philadelphia over Detroit
NY Jets over Houston ; Pittsburgh over San Diego
New Orleans over Atlanta; Green Bay over Philadelphia
NY Jets over New England; Baltimore over Pittsburgh
Green Bay over New Orleans
Baltimore over NY Jets
Green Bay over Baltimore
Why: Green Bay is still the best team in the NFL. They have the best player, Aaron Rodgers, and they have all their other key players back from last year, plus Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant. Baltimore will take the AFC this year, but they’re not good enough to beat Green Bay.
MVP and Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers
Why: The best quarterback in the NFL.
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis
Why: With Spikes in SD, Willis will have over 120 tackles this year, plus he could have close to ten sacks if Vic Fangio blitzes him like he says he will.
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Ingram
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Patrick Peterson
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