We have nine more days to kill before training camp starts, so let’s predict which 12 teams will make the playoffs and which team will win the Super Bowl. I’m not looking to start a fight, just a discussion. I reserve the right to change my predictions as many times as I want before the season starts.
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks. They won 11 games last season, and with the addition of Percy Harvin, they’ll win 12 or 13 games this season.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers still is the best quarterback in the NFL, and this season he’ll have a running game to complement him.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints. With the return of their head coach Sean Payton, the Saints once again will be a top team in the NFL.
NFC East: Dallas Cowboys. They’re the healthiest and most talented team in this division. With Bill Callahan calling the plays, the Cowboys finally should have a balanced offensive attack. In the past, the Cowboys have passed the ball roughly twice as often as they’ve run it.
Wildcards: San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons. Two very good teams that will fall just short of winning their respective divisions this season.
AFC West: Denver Broncos. The team to beat in the AFC.
AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals. The most talented team in the division even with a game manager, Andy Dalton, at quarterback.
AFC South: Houston Texans. The addition of WR DeAndre Hopkins will keep the Texans at the top of this division for at least one more season.
AFC East: New England Patriots. Even without Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker, the Patriots are the best team in this division.
Wildcards: Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have an injury prone running back, Ahmad Bradshaw, and a shaky offensive line. The Ravens still are dangerous but they are not as talented as the Bengals this season.
Super Bowl: Cowboys over Broncos. As good as Peyton Manning is, he’s 37 years old and he doesn’t throw as hard as he used to, especially in cold weather. In the playoffs last season, his passes started to look like ducks. This year’s Super Bowl will be played outdoors in New Jersey. Romo will outplay Manning in that cold, February game.
I think the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL as long as they have a healthy Harvin, but he’s never had an injury-free season. That’s why I’m picking the Cowboys.
Note about the Niners: Obviously, this is a 49ers blog, and I am not trying to alienate you, my readers. I have the greatest respect for the 49ers and what that coaching staff is trying to do. The 49ers and Seahawks are almost neck-and-neck. Going into pre-season, I have the gut feeling the Seahawks and Cowboys may have inched ahead, especially since the 49ers lost Micahel Crabtree. I’m sure you think I’m wrong. Feel free to tell me why.