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The Official* Sporting Nerds 2011 NFL Predictions

* Space doesn’t know I’m doing these. In fact, I think he may have forgotten the blog exists. Not that I blame him.

In my last doomed attempt at semi-regular blogging, the final post was a set of NFL predictions that didn’t really pan out too well. Still, whatever’s worth doing poorly once is worth doing poorly over and over again, right?

AFC EAST
Patriots
Jets (WC)
Dolphins
Bills

This is the one division that I got right top-to-bottom last year, and I’m picking the same finish in 2011. The Pats probably won’t finish 14-2 again, but at the same time I think they’re still the class of a top-heavy division. The Jets should have a fairly easy road to one of the two Wild Card spots, if for no other reason than the fact that they get to beat up on the Dolphins and Bills more than any of the other teams in the AFC.

AFC NORTH
Steelers
Ravens (WC)
Browns
Bengals

As the core of the Ravens’ defense continues to get older, I expect them to take a step back in 2011. The Browns may challenge them for the second spot in the division, but ultimately I think Cleveland will fall in at around 7-9 or 8-8. As for Cincy, well, Carson Palmer was by no means a great QB by the time of his departure, but I think Bengals fans will be pining for him after a few games.

AFC SOUTH
Indianapolis
Houston
Jacksonville
Tennessee

Whether or not Peyton Manning makes it back to the field in time to continue his starting streak, the Colts’ position as the best team in this division is unquestioned. Kerry Collins isn’t a terrible guy to have as your backup QB, and the rest of the division is lacking a true threat to the Colts’ crown. I may just be saying this because I have an irrational dislike for the Jaguars, though.

AFC WEST
San Diego
Kansas City
Oakland
Denver

I definitely underestimated the Chiefs last year, and I may well be doing it again. That said, the Chargers definitely have the most talent in this division, and in the end I think that will take them to the top. Denver has basically turned into a tire fire, which is funny to me, and the continued failure of Tim Tebow will be a joy to watch.

NFC EAST
Philadelphia
New York
Dallas
Washington

The Eagles added seemingly every big-name free agent on the market in the frenzied free agency period, and in addition they signed Michael Vick to a $100-million contract that will see him leading the Eagles’ offense for the foreseeable future. Vick’s resurgence is remarkable, and I don’t doubt that he’s capable of leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl, but he’s always one bad step away from becoming a giant albatross on the Eagles’ payroll. Dallas will be better with a full season of Tony Romo, but I still have them finishing third in what will probably be the toughest division in football.

NFC NORTH
Green Bay
Minnesota (WC)
Chicago
Detroit

I’m a Donovan McNabb fan. I’m more than willing to believe that his failure in Washington last year had as much or more to do with the fact that the Redskins are a joke of an organization than McNabb’s own declining talents. If I’m right about Minnesota, and the Lions continue to develop as expected, and the Bears find a way to repeat their success from last year, it could well be the North that strikes fear into opponents’ hearts.

NFC SOUTH
New Orleans
Atlanta (WC)
Tampa Bay
Carolina

This was the hardest division for me to pick a winner of; I can easily see the top three finishing in any order, or both of the runners-up being wild cards, or neither of them. The one constant, the one thing I’m absolutely certain of, is that Carolina is going to be terrible. This means they’re probably going to win the damn thing.

NFC WEST
St. Louis
Seattle
Arizona
San Francisco

This division was also very hard to pick, this time because all four of these teams could be absolutely dreadful. I’m not a Kevin Kolb believer; if I was, I’d probably have Arizona winning the division in a cakewalk. If he proves himself capable of leading the Cardinals’ offense, they could be alright. My hunch, though, is that the best option for Arizona at QB will be calling games from the broadcast booth, same as he was last year.

SUPER BOWL
San Diego over Atlanta

The Chargers always wind up as my official AFC champion pick for two reasons: 1) I’m paranoid about jinxing the Patriots; 2) I hate the Jets and Colts too much to pick them. Last year I picked the Bolts to lose to Green Bay, and I was half right; this year I’m picking them to beat the Falcons. Will I be half right again? Time will tell. But probably not.

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