The season officially kicked off last night with the Thursday night season opener. But the real beginning to the season is Sunday - the first football Sunday of 2010. It's a day unlike most others; a time when fans of teams all across the country have that sense of hope - the feeling that anything can happen.
Of course, you don't have to wait to see how the season will unfold. I have the answers for you right now. In fact, I guarantee my predictions will be 100% accurate or your money back!
Last year, I guess you could say I had to give you all your money back. Though I wasn't horrible with my predictions, I was very disappointed in myself. This year I make up for it.
The truth is that trying to predict the NFL season is an exercise in futility. Typically there are at least five new teams reaching the playoffs every year - meaning at least five teams who were playoff teams last year will likely fail to reach the postseason this year. Still, that doesn't stop the "experts" from making their picks year after year - as irrelevant as they are.
So I'm going to cave into peer pressure and once again take part in the yearly (pointless) exercise of predicting the NFL season. Feel free to mock me below.
East: New England Patriots
North: Baltimore Ravens
South: Indianapolis Colts
West: San Diego Chargers
Wildcard: Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans
Just Missed: Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers
Possible Super-Sleeper: Oakland Raiders
-As much as I'd love to pick the Dolphins in the East, they have too many question marks. But I wasn't about to pick the Jets - I see them imploding as the season goes on. And I think that Mark Sanchez is going to prove to be a liability to that team. By default, that left New England. They still have Tom Brady. They still have Randy Moss. They still have Bill Belichick. Though they have a number off question marks on the defensive side of the ball, their offense will make up for it.
-The Colts remain a no-brainer. They remain the class of the AFC - though their defense does worry me.
-The Ravens are going to be a very dangerous team this year, too. Their defense has taken a step back. But this is going to be the best offense Baltimore has had in a long time.
-The Chargers win the West by default. That division stinks. But that's also why the Raiders could surprise. Jason Campbell gives them a legitimate quarterback. I really like Louis Murphy as a break-out player this year. Zach Miller is one of the most underrated tight ends in the league. And their defense is one of the better units in the AFC. I'm not saying they are going to reach the playoffs. I'm just saying they are going .500 - a huge feat for that franchise after some disappointing seasons.
East: Dallas Cowboys
North: Green Bay Packers
South: New Orleans Saints
West: San Francisco 49ers
Wildcard: Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons
Just Missed: Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers
Possible Super-Sleeper: Detroit Lions
-I was a year early in picking the Packers - my NFC pick a year ago. This is the year they get back to the Super Bowl. They are that good. Their only question mark is a leaky offensive line. But they seem like they have improved this year. Of course, that was only the preseason - so who really knows.
-I had the Niners as my sleeper team a year ago and they nearly clawed out a playoff spot. That division got even worse this year, with Arizona losing Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, and Antrel Rolle. The Seahawks will be improved this year, though. So I'm not 100% confident in picking SF. But I'm going to roll with them and see what happens. If Frank Gore stays healthy, they should be a playoff team.
-I love the Falcons to bounce back this year after a disappointing 2009. Michael Turner will be rejuvenated. That defense should be improved. And Matt Ryan should be more comfortable than ever as he enters year three.
-I know, I know. The Lions? Really? I'm not crazy. They are an improved football team. Matthew Stafford is the real deal and rookie RB Jahvid Best is going to be a good one. Defensively, though, is where they have really improved. I really like their front four of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams, Ndamukong Suh, and Cliff Avril. And safety Louis Delmas is a star in the making (if he can just stay healthy). They are in a tough division, though. But .500 is definitely within reach as the franchise looks to continue their climb up from the bottom of the league.
AFC Championship: Ravens defeat Colts
NFC Championship: Packers defeat Saints
Super Bowl: Packers defeat Ravens
2010 Season Awards
MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Offensive Player of the Year: Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis, LB, 49ers
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Eric Berry, S, Chiefs
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh, Ravens