Well, we’ve finally reached that point, right? The National Football League kicks off its season tomorrow night. So, the training camp perspectives can now be translated into your outlook for the AFC, NFC and ultimately, the Super Bowl winner.
It’s easy to sit back and forecast the Ravens to hoist the Lombardi Trophy into the Dallas night, on February 6th. That’s what our hearts say – regardless, of whatever cautionary measures our minds consider. You wanna pick the Ravens, because it feels good to do so …..
Of course, choosing Joe Flacco and company is a logical consideration, as well. This team identified vulnerabilities during the offseason, and they did their best to address current injury-related weaknesses over the past month. Overall, it appears to be a very stellar squad.
This Ravens team is much more lethal on the offensive side of the ball, specifically in the passing game. And, the defense appears to be primed for another strong campaign, even when considering the woes in the secondary. As for special teams play, management chose the leg that boots the ball deeper on kickoffs, and that makes me happy.
Am I picking the Ravens? You’re damned right I’m picking them. I’m rewarding my heart and my mind. And, like I said, it’s a logical proposition. As for my overall views, I’ll spend the next few days dishing on them. Today, I’m providing my picks for the AFC:
1) Miami Dolphins (11-5) – I’ve just got a feeling this team finally reaches its potential. Much of the hope will rest upon Ronnie Brown’s health and I’m suspecting he’ll finally stay on his feet for an entire season. Combined with Ricky Williams in the backfield and the addition of Brandon Marshall in the passing game, I think the Dolphins realize that next step.
If you recall, they were that one team NOBODY wanted to play for a substantial stretch of the 2009 season. That said, they started the season poorly and seemed to be climbing uphill through December. This year, it’s a different story. They’ll finish 11-5 and win the AFC East.
2) New England Patriots (10-6)
3) New York Jets (10-6)
4) Buffalo Bills (3-13)
1) Baltimore Ravens (12-4) – Yeah, I’m drinking the purple kool-aid and it’s for good reason; they’re a solid freakin’ team. When I attended the Ravens ’09 season ending press conference, during the first week of February, I distinctly recall Steve Bisciotti’s words. He said the organization was committed to building around Joe Flacco, and he obviously wasn’t kidding.
Here we stand a mere seven months later and Ozzie Newsome has added receivers Anquan Boldin, Donte’ Stallworth and TJ Houshmandzadeh, as well as rookie tight ends Ed Dickson and Vince Pitta as legitimate options for Flacco’s arm. The defense, while still primarily intact will continue to play at a level Ray Lewis demands of himself. They’ll be fine and this will be a very enjoyable season.
2) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
3) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
4) Cleveland Browns (5-11)
1) Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – I would like nothing more than to predict doom and gloom for the Colts. But, they’ve still got a superior passing game with Peyton Manning continuing to make good receivers look great. This will be the season of a new favorite target for Manning, as Pierre Garcon will supplant Reggie Wayne as his favorite deep target.
I realize everyone is smitten with the Houston Texans passing game, as well. But, Matt Schaub and his stable of receiving targets will not be enough to overtake the Colts.
2) Houston Texans (10-6)
3) Tennessee Titans (10-6)
4) Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
1) San Diego Chargers (11-5) – Not a hard decision, huh? The Chargers, minus Vince Jackson and LaDanian Tomlinson are fairly intact as the unit that dominated the AFC WEST, last season. I think rookie Ryan Matthews is an upgrade over LT and the recently acquired Patrick Crayton should provide some support to the receiving corps.
Philip Rivers is really coming into his own as an elite NFL quarterback and in a similar fashion to Peyton Manning, his arm and intellect will make his targets look better than they would in a lesser system.
2) Kansas City Chiefs (8-8)
3) Oakland Raiders (7-9)
4) Denver Broncos (6-10)
Well, this is how I see the AFC shaping up. Tomorrow, I’ll give my predictions for the NFC and on Friday, I’ll post my postseason scenarios for both conferences, as well as pick my Super Bowl winner.