Deace’s 2011 NFL Predictions
By Steve Deace
1. Patriots…Still have the best quarterback and the best coach, but they also still have some issues on defense to iron out.
2. Jets…This is the year they need Mark Sanchez to assume more control of the offense, but is he ready?
3. Dolphins…One of the many teams that will be taking advantage of the bumper crop of quarterbacks coming out in the 2012 NFL draft.
4. Bills…Speaking of which, Buffalo is the early favorite to win the coveted Andrew Luck sweepstakes next April.
1. Ravens…They’ve been knocking at the door, and this could finally be the year Joe Flacco and Ray Rice crash through it.
2. Steelers…Always a perennial Super Bowl favorite, and they have proven they don’t need home-field advantage in the playoffs to make a Super Bowl run.
3. Browns…Always a perennial team in flux since they rejoined the NFL back in 1999, but at least they may finally have their franchise quarterback.
4. Bengals…The “retirement” of Carson Palmer, and the ensuing damage the lockout will do to rookie quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, makes this a lost season.
1. Texans…Given what they have back and the uncertainty surrounding Peyton Manning, if they don’t do it this year they should all be fired.
2. Colts…Speaking of lost seasons, this is shaping up to be one for what has been one of the league’s most stable franchises since drafting Manning.
3. Titans…New quarterback and new coaching staff usually means rebuilding season, but they still have Chris Johnson.
4. Jaguars…Let’s be honest, Jack Del Rio is coaching out the string after getting rid of David Garrard for Luke McCown.
1. Chargers…Maybe the biggest divisional favorite heading into the season, but is this the year they finally put it together?
2. Raiders…It’s hard to go undefeated in your division and still not make the playoffs, but that’s just what Oakland did last year.
3. Chiefs…All the breaks went their way last season, but that never happens two years in a row and Matt Cassel is already battling an injury.
4. Broncos…Could be on the verge of drafting a quarterback in the first round for the second time in three years.
AFC Offensive Player of the Year: Phillip Rivers, Chargers
AFC Defensive Player of the Year: Ed Reed, Ravens
AFC Rookie of the Year: Von Miller, Broncos
AFC Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh, Ravens
AFC Wildcard Playoffs: Steelers over Texans, Ravens over Jets
AFC Divisional Playoffs: Patriots over Steelers, Ravens over Chargers
AFC Championship: Ravens over Patriots
1. Eagles…They lassoed plenty of free agent talent, but why am I the only one concerned about Michael Vick sustaining last season’s Cinderella story?
2. Cowboys…Still have plenty of issues on the offensive line and in the secondary, but perhaps they’ll thrive minus the high expectations.
3. Giants…Suffered through an absolutely disastrous preseason with the loss of several key defensive playmakers.
4. Redskins…Another team that will definitely be evaluating which quarterback to take in the first round of next year’s draft.
1. Packers…People forget the defending Super Bowl champs didn’t win this division a year ago, but there’s no doubt they’re loaded.
2. Lions…Finally figured out you build teams from the inside-out in the NFL, and might have the league’s most feared defensive front.
3. Bears…People forget they actually hosted the NFC Championship Game last year, but that’s because they’re not as good as their record.
4. Vikings…A team in transition with a new quarterback (a past his prime veteran and a rookie) and several aging and expensive veterans.
1. Saints…Loved their offseason additions, and they’re also bringing back nearly every key player from their past two playoff runs.
2. Falcons…Julio Jones is a great prospect, but my experience as a Lions fan teaches me you don’t trade your draft away for a wide receiver.
3. Buccaneers…Like the AFC counterpart the Chiefs, a surprising young team from a year ago that with a tougher schedule will take a step back this year.
4. Panthers…New coach, rookie quarterback, and Carolina is in the toughest division in pro football–uh oh.
1. Cardinals…Kevin Kolb will take a while to learn the new offense without an offseason to prepare, but in this sorry division he’s got the time.
2. Rams…They’re building their franchise the right way, but they still need more playmakers on defense and to assist Sam Bradford.
3. 49ers…Has some of the best playmakers in the division, but unfortunately still has Alex Smith at quarterback.
4. Seahawks…On paper it’s just not there, but Pete Carroll did a nice job with this team last year so maybe he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
NFC Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees, Saints
NFC Defensive Player of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, Lions
NFC Rookie of the Year: Robert Quinn, Rams
NFC Coach of the Year: Jim Schwartz, Lions
NFC Wildcard Playoffs: Lions over Cardinals, Saints over Falcons
NFC Divisional Playoffs: Eagles over Lions, Saints over Packers
NFC Championship: Saints over Eagles
Super Bowl 46: Ravens over Saints