NFL 2010-2011 season preview

After one of the most entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory, the beginning of the NFL season is once again upon us. Throughout this football season the sports section staff for The Cynic will predict the five best games of each week. These picks will be put in the paper along with the cumulative record of each staff member. In other words, it is a season-long competition between the writers on our staff to see who has the best record at the end of the season. But for now, a season preview.

AFC Division

North

This is one of the most difficult divisions, made up of the Cincinatti Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, all of which are playoff contenders. Even the Cleveland Browns look to be better this season.

Baltimore finally acquired a big play wide receiver this offseason when they traded for former Arizona Cardinal Anquan Bolden. Add him to an offense led by the young strong-armed quarterback Joe Flacco and explosive running back Ray Rice and the Ravens finally have an offense that can match their vaunted defense.

Cincinnati aquired Terrell Owens this summer and seem to have a lot of momentum entering the season. Many people around the league predict them to win the division, but I am not sold.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens

 

South

Let’s see, the teams in this division are the Colts, Titans, Jaguars and Texans. Peyton Manning, Peyton Manning, Peyton Manning.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts

 

East

Perhaps one of the most intriguing divisions in football, the AFC East has no shortage of story lines entering the 2010 season. The last decade has been marked by the domination of the New England Patriots but the tide of change appears to be ushering in the New York Jets as the new dominant power in the division.

While the Jets reached the AFC title game last season, the Pats were the team who won the division, therefore making them, once again, the team to beat.

In the end, it will come down to the discipline and workmanlike approach of the Patriots against the smash mouth swagger of the Jets.

Prediction: New York Jets

 

West

It feels that at the start of each NFL season we say, “This is the year San Diego finally plays to their potential.” Well after losing to the Jets in the divisional playoffs last season, we once again are hearing the phrase that has been proved wrong so many times before.

The Chargers will compete against the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs and for that reason alone they are far and away the favorites in their division.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers

 

NFC Division

North

Once again Brett Favre is back, and once again the team he joins jumps from mere playoff hopefuls to Super Bowl contenders. Adrian Peterson will need to continue to be the best back in the NFC, and the wide receiver core must get healthy. But the defense is there and the talent on offense is undeniable.

The Packers will also be a formidable team this season with one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Aaron Rodgers, running the offense.

The Bears will make some noise but not enough to stifle the offensive fire works of the Packers and Vikings.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings/Green Bay Packers — Wild-Card berth

 

South

Similar to the AFC South, a quarterback is the reason this division will be won. Drew Brees enters this season at an all-time high after leading his team to an entertaining and emotional Super Bowl title. The champs are the champs, all roads run through them. Although they will not win the Super Bowl this year, New Orleans is one of the toughest teams to game plan against on defense.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints

 

East

The big story within this division was the trade of quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Eagles to the Redskins. The trade changed the entire dynamic of the division making the Redskins an automatic contender.

With McNabb at the helm the Redskins offense finally has a leader at position that has been so lacking over the last several years.  

On paper the best team in the division, and maybe the NFL, are the Dallas Cowboys. Everyone knows the firepower they possess on offense and defense including the best backfield in the NFL with Felix Jones, Marion Barber and the underrated Tashard Choice.

The Giants, Eagles and Redskins will beat each other up all year but the Cowboys will rise above the rest.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys/Washington Redskins — Wild-Card berth

 

West

This is just a god-awful division. The Cardinals are much worse without Kurt Warner at the quarterback position. The 49ers are unproven, the Seahawks are terrible and the Rams are, well, the Rams. I believe that in the end it will be a three-team race of mediocrity between the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks. Don’t be surprised if the division winner is 8-8.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals

 

AFC Title

The AFC title game will be played between the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts. It will be a similar game to the AFC championship of last year between the Colts and the Jets, as the Ravens play a smash-mouth style similar to that of the Jets. The Ravens will be able to muster more offense then the Jets did last year but, in the end, the aging defense isn’t good enough to stop Manning and the Colts.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts

 

NFC Title

This game will be between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints. This could be an extremely enticing game, as both offensives are beyond explosive. It’s hard to imagine Drew Brees allowing that team to fall one game short of another trip to the Super Bowl but, I think this is the year Tony Romo plays the way he is capable of playing in the postseason. In one of the best games of the last 10 years the Cowboys will inch out the Saints and earn a trip to the Super Bowl in the house Jerry built.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys

 

Super Bowl XLV

Two high-powered offenses will be matched up in the Super Bowl once again. At a neutral site, the Colts would beat the Cowboys but, lets not forget, the Super Bowl is being held in Dallas this season and, if the Cowboys make it there, it is the ultimate of home games. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, has been anticipating this season for many years and, if the Cowboys get into the Super Bowl, there is no way they will lose in front of 100,000 faithful.  

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys