Football is back!!
It’s only July and it’s early. Anything can happen between now and February. Listed below are predictions for the 2013 NFL season:
AFC East (predicted order of finish):
The New England Patriots still have Tom Brady. With him at the helm they will win the division. Their strength on offense, the tight end position, has taken a major hit. With injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in jail, the New England Patriots will be competitive but not as good as last year. The Miami Dolphins will challenge them for the division but they will fall short. If Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill can continue to progress like he did last year, the Miami Dolphins will win their share of AFC East titles.
It’s going to be a bad year for the Jets. I have no faith in Mark Sanchez and what little running game they had in the past is now gone. Rex Ryan will be the first head coach fired.
This is the year the Cincinnati Bengals get over the hump and win a playoff game (maybe two). They’re sound at almost every position and have the right pieces surrounding quarterback Andy Dalton to make a strong playoff run.
The Baltimore Ravens simply lost (or let go) too many players in key positions. They drafted well but GM extraordinaire, Ozzie Newsome, will not be able to replace all that this team lost in the offseason.
The Houston Texans can win it all this year. They were among the best in the NFL last year and will continue2013 as one of the NFL’s elite teams. Quarterback Matt Schaub will continue to provide a strong winning presence for years to come. He has really matured and will only get better.
The Indianapolis Colts, more than any other team, surprised me the most last year. Led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, this revamped Indianapolis Colts played hard week in and week out. That attitude will carry over to 2013. They will be tough to beat.
The Denver Broncos are the sexy pick to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII. They are also my pick to win it all. They’ve added Wes Welker to an already high powered offense. This Bronco team will not get caught sleeping in the playoffs two years in a row. Peyton Manning won’t let that happen again.
I’m picking the Dallas Cowboys simply because they won’t let Redskin QB Robert Griffin III run up and down the field on them like he did in 2012. They will be ready for the read-run option. If they can’t stop RG3 and the Redskins, the Giants will win the division. It is now or never (for real this time) for the Dallas Cowboys.
The NFC North division race will be close. Only one or two games will separate first and last place in this division. All four teams have a realistic chance at making the playoffs. Division games will be and should be treated like playoff games this season.
The Atlanta Falcons came close to winning the NFC Championship game last year. This year they win the NFC. They are strong and have the talent. They have the playoff experience and have worked out all of the bugs. Beating the Seattle Seahawks the way they did in the playoffs in 2012 provided confidence and helped to shake loose the playoff bug-a-boo hanging over this franchise for the last several years.
The division winner will be decided when the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks play each other week two and week fourteen. These games will be absolute battles. It wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Seattle Seahawks win the division. Only one team from the NFC West will make the playoffs.
Super Bowl XLVIII Prediction: Denver Broncos vs Atlanta Falcons
If both teams do make it to the big dance this could be one for the ages. I will lean toward experience here and predict that Peyton Manning and company will win a close one against a very good Falcon team. The Denver Broncos are the best team going in to the 2013 season and by far the most talented. They will weather the storm of injuries and all other hoopla Super Bowl winning teams endure and will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.