After a nice long weekend and reading that the private sector is creating jobs while good ole big government is not perhaps the man in charge will realize his economic philosophy is not working. That being said the NFL starts another season on Thursday when the Minnesota Vikings travel to New Orleans to take on the defending Super Bowl champs. So what do people think?
Let's start over in the AFC East where Owens bolted from the Bills for greener pastures in Cincinnati. Tom Brady will try to make it a go this year and Randy Moss is hungry for a Super Bowl ring. With all that said, no sophomore slump will take place in New York as the Jets will roar and win the AFC East.
Pittsburgh Steelers will have a tough time this year taking the division let alone making the playoffs but having Big Ben's suspension reduced by 2 games could help. The loss of Leftwhich will really hurt them. The Cleveland Browns will be the doormat of the league this year especially after losing their rookie running-back to ACL tear. The division will come down to a re-vamped Ravens O and Bengals. Carson Palmer has the weapons to have a Peyton Manning style season but is he the same quarterback before the knee injury suffered in the playoffs? Even with Ed Reed out the Ravens will take the division as the O will get the D 20-24 pts a game.
AFC South will continue to be dominated by the Colts. The Jags will fair well as they always play the Colts tough but it won't be enough to overcome Manning. The Texans could make things interesting if Foster can improve on Slaton's numbers and Walter and Owens come back in prime form from season ending injuries. The Titans may figure out a way to get into the playoffs as a Wild Card team but losing some keep members on D may prevent that.
The AFC West had a clear cut winner in the Chargers before Vincent Jackson held out. Without Jackson the Chargers offense may struggle this season as they will have a rookie running back carrying the load for the first time in 10 seasons. The Raiders showed promise in the pre-season but a lot of answers were still left unanswered. If the O can get on track then they may break .500 for the first time since their Super Bowl appearance. The Broncos are not going anywhere this year and may be the doormat of this division.
Divisional Winners – Chargers, Colts, Ravens, and Jets with the Titans and Bengals making the Wild Card. The Ravens will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
The NFC won't be so much a crap shoot as each division has a clear winner with few dark horses.
The Cowboys are the class of the NFC East with the Giants a close second. McNabb going to an aging Redskins team will do little but get them a high draft pick next season. The Eagles are in rebuilding mold with a young QB and a second-year back.
The NFC North goes to the Packers. Rodgers has looked near MVP like this pre-season and with another year under his belt in the O; watch out. The Vikings will go as far as Favre goes which may be only until Thursday. The Bears could be the most interesting as Martz takes over the O. The Lions are one year away from actually competing for the division.
New Orleans Saints won't experience the Super Bowl hangover that so many previous winners have. Brees comes out slinging with 4 TD's against the Vikings on Thursday night. The Falcons will give them a run for their money but in the end the Saints D wins out. Panthers and Buccaneers are both in re-building mode and will not factor this year.
With the changes in the desert and Alex Smith finally getting back to back years with the same O Coordinator, the 49ers are the front runner in the NFC West. The Rams will rely on overused Jackson to shoulder the load as the rookie attempts to learn under fire. The Seahawks will battle the Browns all season for the overall number one pick.
NFC Divisional Winners – 49ers, Saints, Packers, and Cowboys with the Vikings (if Favre holds up) and the Giants rounding out the playoff picture.
It will be the Packers going to the Super Bowl. Once at the Super Bowl the Ravens will eke out a last second win as Ed Reed picks off Rodgers bringing back memories of the INT return for a TD by the Raiders when they defeated the Vikings in Super Bowl XI.