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NFL Picks.

Well, the NFL preseason is entering its last week. Just a few short days until the real season gets underway. Granted, I am MORE interested in the NFL ever since I started playing fantasy football, but there is a reason it is the #1 sport in the US. Here are my picks for each division, as well as my Super Bowl pick:

AFC East:

1. New England Patriots: Definitely one of the most successful franchises the past 10 years, the Patriots look to make the playoffs once again. Problem lately though, they have lost their last three playoff games.  Made big additions (name wise) with Ocho Cinco and Haynesworth, but its Tom Brady that makes this thing run. Watch for rookie Stevan Ridley to have a solid first year.

2. New York Jets: Although they have looked good against the Patriots, the Jets will fall just short of winning the East. The defense is one of the best in the league, but the offense still has a few questions. Can Mark Sanchez become an elite NFL QB? Is the defense getting old?

3. Miami Dolphins: The addition of Reggie Bush has excited Miami fans, but he is not missing part for this team. Can Chad Henne lead the Dolphins or is their QB of the future somewhere else right now? Brandon Marshall is a great weapon for Henne, and he should have a bounce back year.  Defense will keep the games close.

4. Buffalo Bills: The Bills were a competitive team last year, but they just didn’t have the talent to compete in the East. Marcell Dareus, their #1 draft pick will make a difference right away. Steve Johnson is an under-appreciated, very good wide receiver.

AFC North:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Love this division, and think it will be one of the most competitive in all of football. The Steelers are once again my pick to win it, but it will be a battle. Ben Roethlisberger is the most over looked super star in the league, and he has tons of weapons. Antonio Brown is a smooth receiver who can make big plays and will have a breakout year. The key, as always this team, is defense. They will be great again.

2. Baltimore Ravens: I really like the Ravens, and struggled to put the Steelers as #1. If Joe Flacco can do more than just manage games, they have a shot at taking this division. The defense is getting a little older, but they are still a top 5 unit. Sergio Kindle, first year guy (not a rookie) from Texas could make a HUGE impact on the pass rush this season. Ray Rice looks to bounce back from a “sub par” year in 2010.

3. Cleveland Browns: As tough as this division is going to be, the decision to put Cleveland 3rd was tougher. I like this team, I like them a lot. They may be 1-2 years away, but they will be a playoff team soon. Colt McCoy is smart, athletic and easy to coach. If he had more weapons, they would be a very serious contender in this division.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: This team could be first, they could be last. You never know what Marvin Lewis’ team is going to do. Rookie QB Andy Dalton hasn’t been great in the pre-season, but it could be his team to lead. I like Cedric Benson at the running back position, and think he will have a solid year, even though he is spending the rest of pre-season in jail.

AFC South:

1. Houston Texans: Surprise pick? Maybe, but this team is DUE. The offense has GREAT weapons, and the defense has a new leader in coordinator Wade Phillips. I don’t think Arian Foster has quite the same season as he did last year (led the league in rushing), but he will be a huge part of this offense once again.  The defense is ranked #1 in pre-season, which means nothing.

2. Indianapolis Colts: Unfamiliar territory for the Colts. Ever since Peyton Manning took over, you just assumed they would win this division. Well, Peyton’s neck still isn’t 100% and the Colts defense is a little shaky, ranking #20 in total defense last year. True, they still have Dwight Freeney, but I think we will see a slip by the Colts this year. Huge first week matchup against the Texans.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: David Garrard was quite the surprise last year, and so were the Jags. That being said, some people are suggesting that that rookie QB Blaine Gabbert might get the starting nod. I think that would be a mistake. Maurice Jones Drew needs to stay healthy to give this team an outside shot at competing for the division crown.

4. Tennessee Titans: Added Matt Hasslebeck after letting Vince Young and Kerry Collins go, but the fans love rookie Jake Locker. The biggest question is whether or not Chris Johnson will ever sign a deal and suit up for this team again. I think he does. Rookie Akeem Ayers will be a stud in a very short time.

AFC West:

1. Kansas City Chiefs: I am buying the hype, again. I know the Chargers are a good team, but I like the youth of this Chiefs team. If the defense can stop teams from putting up too many points, this team will be dangerous. But again, the defense is key, the offense will be just fine.

2. San Diego Chargers: Another slow start would hurt this team. They have all the pieces to make a big run this season, but I think the Chiefs will surprise everyone. This could be one of the Wild Card teams.

3. Denver Broncos: Rookie Von Miller is a pass rushing stud. I think he makes plays right away and could be named NFL Rookie of the Year. Tim Tebow will not make the field this year, at least not as a QB. Kyle Orton will play well enough to win some games they shouldn’t.

4. Oakland Raiders: Last years surprise team does the complete opposite this year, and finishes last in the division. I like Darren McFadden at running back, but the QB situation in Oakland is awful. They could be a front runner in the “top pick of next years draft” race.

NFC East:

1. Dallas Cowboys: Oh my gosh, did I just type that? I think I did, and I am not really sure why. Is it because I am a fan? Maybe. I just think these guys are DUE. That is a big word this season. Romo is back, he has decent weapons, and Jason Garrett is now the man in charge. Rob Ryan’s defense will play better than last year.

2. Philadelphia Eagles: I bought into the hype earlier this summer, but I think they have a few slip ups this season. Mike Vick won’t play every game (he gets hurt, a lot) and the defense is not as good as you think.

3. Washington Redskins: Yes, a 3rd place finish for the ‘Skins. Either John Beck or Rex Grossman will take advantage of the Kyle Shanahan offense, and play way better than expected. Ryan Torain, Tim Hightower and Roy Helu make quite a three headed monster at running back. Oh, and the defense is going to be ok. Brian Orakpo is a superstar, and Deangelo Hall still can make plays.

4. New York Giants: I don’t really know why I have them last, but its my pick. Eli won’t throw as many picks this year, but he also won’t throw as many TD’s.

NFC North:

1. Green Bay Packers: Kind of like when Neo finds out he is the One on The Matrix, the Packers will be playing with an unbelievable amount of confidence and swagger. While the division is one of the toughest in football, the Packers will fly into the playoffs atop their division. No Wild Card sneak in this year.

2. Detroit Lions: THE hot pick for everyone from New York to Seattle. The Lions have been a good team in the pre-season (uh oh) and they had a great draft. The defense is young, athletic and tough, and the offense has some big time playmakers. If Matt Stafford can stay on his feet, this team WILL fulfill the high expectations.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Donovan McNabb is a great pick up for these guys. He will work well with Peterson and Harvin to make a pretty good offense.

4. Chicago Bears: Magical run last season, but it won’t work out the same this year. The tough division matchups will take their toll on the Bears. The offense just doesn’t do it for me.

NFC South:

1. Atlanta Falcons: One of the best teams in the league last year, that no one really paid attention to. Losing badly to the Packers didn’t help, but this team is good. Rookie Julio Jones will be a fun one to watch, and QB Matt Ryan is becoming an elite NFL leader. This race will be a fun one to watch.

2. New Orleans Saints: The Saints want to rebound after last years embarrassing first round loss to the 7-9 Seahawks. I think Mark Ingram adds a lot to an already dynamic offensive attack.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Another surprise team last year, the Bucs will take a step back this year.

4. Carolina Panthers: A team that made some great moves in the off-season, but they are still a few years away from being competitive. I think. If Cam Newton starts, they will have some major headaches. Of course, that goes for Jimmy Clausen as well. Hey, where’s Chris Weinke when you need him?

NFC West:

1. St. Louis Rams: This team was almost a playoff team last year, and Sam Bradford was just a rookie. The Rams added some nice parts including Jerious Norwood, Mike Sims Walker and rookies Austin Pettis and Lance Kendricks that should help out quick.

2. Arizona Cardinals: There’s no doubt that the West is a wide open league, with just about every team in the playoff hunt. The Cardinals had the biggest signing in the division, signing Kevin Kolb in the short offseason. The offense lost some key contributors, including Steve Breaston and Tim Hightower, which won’t help Kolb.

3. San Francisco 49ers: New head coach Jim Harbaugh seems to have his hands full, but again, you never know what will happen out west. The offense was putrid last year, and it may not get much better. Braylon Edwards was signed, which gives Smith one more viable option.

4. Seattle Seahawks: The first team to make the playoffs with a losing record last year, the Seahawks will do more of the same this year. Well, have a losing record at least. Tarvaris Jackson is not a #1 NFL QB, and it will show again this year. Seahawks may actually use the 12th man to play QB at some point this season.

AFC Division Winners: New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Houston
Wildcard Teams: Ravens, Chargers

NFC Division Winners: Dallas, Green Bay, Atlanta, St Louis
Wildcard Teams: New Orleans, Philadelphia

Super Bowl Pick:  San Diego over Green Bay- I honestly have no idea, but I think we will see another Wild Card team (Chargers) make a run to win it all.

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