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Old 06-05-2012, 09:55 AM    (permalink
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Default Some Random Offseason Thoughts

It's the slowest time of the NFL year so I tried thinking of some ways to spice it up. Rather than just give my own thoughts on a few subjects, I've asked a few prominent forum members for their thoughts as well. You can find their answers under each question.

Thank you to those who responded.

1.) What order do you see the AFC North teams finishing in this season?

1. Steelers
2. Ravens
3. Bengals
4. Browns

1. Steelers (11-5)
2. Bengals (9-7)
3. Ravens (9-7)
4. Browns (2-14)

1. Steelers
2. Ravens
3. Bengals
4. Browns

1.) Bengals
2.) Steelers
3.) Ravens
4.) Browns

I'm going out on a limb here in a couple of ways. My dislike of the Ravens coaching staff, Flacco, his receivers on offense, Ray Rice possibly holding out and the Suggs injury on a defense that is going to become more conservative is well known. I could reasonably see a .500 season from them barring something miraculous.

The Steelers had a very solid draft, but they're going to have to rely on more young players than they're used to, especially on defense. A lot of people just assume they'll automatically be great because that is what the Steelers have gotten historically, but I'll believe it when I see it. I have them taking about half a step back and being a borderline playoff team with around 10 wins.

The Bengals now...I'm just guessing. They overachieved last year and failed to beat a single winning team all season, but their young talent is only going to grow up more and they had a hell of a draft. If they can avoid sophomore slumps and learn to play up to top level competition, I think they can sneak away with 11 wins.

The Browns. Good luck. They're still at least two steps back from every other team in the division. If you get to 4 wins, consider it a win.

2.) With both all but guaranteed to start rookie QBs, how many wins do you see the Colts and Redskins getting this year?

ATL: Colts 4, Redskins 7

TH: Indianapolis Colts: 4-12 Washington Redskins: 6-10

PF: Colts - 5 Redskins - 7

BB: Colts - 4 Redskins - 5

I don't love the Redskins as much as some others. I don't think they're going to beat the Giants twice again, and I just don't know where they're going to pick up the extra wins to get higher. Even the Panthers last year with Cam Newton playing one of the best rookie seasons ever for a QB only managed 6 wins. Griffin may be good, but I don't expect to see rookie QBs that good in back to back years.

Luck and the Colts...double their win total from last year. Win one more game than Peyton did as a rookie. I'd consider it a successful year.

3.) Over/Under 10 wins for the Giants this year?

ATL: Exactly 10

TH: Over

PF: Under

BB: I'd like to push and say 10, but I don't like pushing in an over/under question. So, I'll go with under. They were a 9-7 team last year that ran the gambit from Superbowl quality to outright lousy during the regular season. Yes, they turned it on in the playoffs, but they were so close to not even making them that it wasn't funny. I could see another year where complacency sets in and they miss the playoffs with 9 wins.

4.) Over/Under 10 wins for the Eagles this year?

ATL: Over, 11

TH: Under

PF: Over

BB: Over

They've had a great offseason to build on a strong finish to last season. They can easily be one of the most dangerous teams in the league if they turn everything on at once. Desean and Lesean should be happy with new deals, I look for Vick to rebound, and I look for that defense to play more like they did at the end of last season than the beginning. I'm going with over at 12 wins.

5.) Over/Under 13 wins for the Packers this year?

ATL: Under, 12

TH: I'd say right at 13 wins, but if I had to choose, under.

PF: Under

BB: Under

15 wins was damn impressive last year and it'll be next to impossible to duplicate that level of success. (I'm not sure that back to back 15 win seasons has ever happened to be honest.) They'll still be a dangerous Superbowl threat, obviously, but I don't think their win total will be quite as high. I'd like to push at 13 wins, but I'll go with under and say 12.

6.) Do you think that geography plays a role in the fact that many consider the two "West" divisions as the weakest in the sport?

ATL: No. Look at the QB position.

TH: There probably is a bit of an east coast bias, but I think a lot of it stems from the NFC West being weak outside of the division winner for the past decade, and the AFC West being so sporadic when it comes to a team consistently winning the division.

PF: I think the overall lack of quality competitiveness within the divisions is the greatest factor and geography adds into it

BB: There is a definite east coast bias in this country, and I think that whatever small part that has to play has an effect. Even if it's never directly cited as the reason that a team might miss out on a free agent or something, I think it plays a small part. It's not like there were teams in these divisions dominating regularly and it just went ignored in sports media. In recent years, we've seen more teams with under double digit wins (including one team with a losing record) win the western divisions than any other. The teams are also the most spread out, having to travel further for intra-division games than any others have to. I definitely think it plays a small factor.

7.) Speaking of the western divisions...who do you see winning the AFC West this year?

ATL: Denver. I think Manning will be pretty damn close to the same guy.

TH: If Peyton Manning is healthy, the Broncos. If he's not, then I like the Chiefs.

PF: Kansas City Chiefs

BB: I'm with some of the guys here in that it will come down to Peyton's health. If he's healthy, I have the Broncos. If he's not, it'll be between the Chargers and the Chiefs. The Chargers have a QB, but not much else worth mentioning. The Chiefs have plenty worth mentioning everyone but at QB. Regardless, I don't see any team in this division getting much beyond 10 wins, if that.

8.) Do you think the 49ers take a step back this year? Why or why not?

ATL: Yes. Will see a similar step back to Atlanta saw. Still very good, not quite as impressive though. Some of the things Harbaugh did to shield Smith will be exposed.

TH: I do. For one, repeating a 13-win season is a very difficult thing, even for teams who have an elite QB. It's difficult to consistently win season to season when you mainly rely on a strong defense and a running game. Especially when you consider how lopsided their turnover ratio was and the odds that they recreate that. I know they brought in better receivers, but I don't put money on that passing game becoming dynamic. I also think the division around them improved. They'll still win the division and likely hit a double-digit win total. No question.

PF: I believe not...the offense is equipped with more options than last year for Alex Smith to grow...the defense is a formidable force and I don't see them taking a step back in how much of a difference that they're able to make

BB: I think there will be a slight step back. 11 or 12 wins instead of 13 most likely. Yes, they've added offensive talent and have one of the best all around defenses in the league, but they won't sneak up on anyone this year and they have a tough out of division schedule. (NFC North with 3 playoff contenders, AFC East, Giants and Saints.)

9.) Who are your pre-training camp favorites to win the end of season awards?

- Offensive RotY: RG3
- Defensive RotY: Kuechly
- Offensive PotY: Stafford
- Defensive PotY: JPP
- Comeback PotY: Peyton Manning
- Coach of the Year: Gary Kubiak
- MVP: Rodgers

- Offensive RotY: Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS
- Defensive RotY: Luke Keuchly, MLB, CAR
- Offensive PotY: Drew Brees, QB, NO
- Defensive PotY: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NYG
- Comeback PotY: Peyton Manning, QB, DEN
- Coach of the Year: Joe Vitt, NO
- MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB

- Offensive RotY: Trent Richardson
- Defensive RotY: Luke Keuchly
- Offensive PotY: Calvin Johnson
- Defensive PotY: DeMarcus Ware
- Comeback PotY: Peyton Manning
- Coach of the Year: Gary Kubiak
- MVP: Tom Brady

- Offensive RotY: Trent Richardson
- Defensive RotY: Luke Kuechly
- Offensive PotY: Cam Newton
- Defensive PotY: Trent Cole/Jason Babin
- Comeback PotY: Peyton Manning (Mario Williams)
- Coach of the Year: Andy Reid
- MVP: Aaron Rodgers

Richardson - Safe pick barring injury. He'll get a ton of carries and be the focal point of that offense. If one of the rookie QBs has a decent year, they'll likely win it. But Richardson is the safe pick.

Kuechly - Another safe pick. Seems to go to a linebacker 9/10 and he'll be the most prominent one in the league. If a rookie pass rusher gets a lot of sacks or a rookie DB gets a lot of picks, they could take it, but like Richardson, I'm going with Kuechly as the safe option.

Newton - Gambling on this one a bit. He'll definitely repeat the success of his rushing TDs and if the Panthers approach/make the playoffs, I see this as a likely possibility. He'll be an offensive stat machine which is what this award tends to recognize most.

Cole/Babin - Basically, whichever Eagle pass rusher has more sacks. I think the Eagles will rebound next year and one of these two will lead the defensive charge.

Manning - Obvious choice. If he even has an average season by his standards, he'll win it for sure. If not him for some reason, Mario Williams is my #2 pick. I think he'll rebound and his presence will improve the Bills defense overall much like Peppers did for the Bears a few years back.

10.) Homer Corner: How many wins do you see your favorite team getting this year?

ATL: 11

TH: Really depends when Jake Locker starts, how healthy Kenny Britt comes back from injury, and if the pass-rush improves. For now, I'm expecting another 9-7 season. I'm definitely excited to see an offense of Locker, Britt, CJ, Cook, and Wright, along with the other pieces we have.

PF: 11

BB: 10 and a playoff sniff. I'm excited for this year, more than I've been the last two. Cutler finally has some big targets for his jumpball style and even with no real improvements to the o-line, we've overcome it before. 10 wins and maybe a wildcard spot is my guess.
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