NFL predictions for the upcoming season:
The NFC has at least nine playoff caliber teams while it’s difficult to find six AFC teams you’re confident will go 10-6 or better.
NFC East: Philadelphia 10-6, Dallas 10-6, NY Giants 9-7, Washington 6-10: The Eagles are the team to beat but they always lay an egg or two and Michael Vick’s health is a factor. The Cowboys looked good enough in the opener to be a contender. The Giants won’t make the playoffs. Redskins a year away but getting closer.
NFC South: Atlanta 10-6, New Orleans 10-6, Carolina 6-10, Tampa Bay 5-11: The Saints’ coaching situation is a mess because of Bountygate but Drew Brees and the offense are simply too explosive. Falcons should be explosive, too. Carolina is improved but not enough. Bucs could go either way.
NFC North: Green Bay 12-4, Detroit 10-6, Chicago 10-6, Minnesota 4-12: The Packers were the best team in the league last year. Should be again. But can they win it all? Lions and Bears are quality teams capable of playoff runs. Vikings have too many questions.
NFC West: San Francisco 11-5, Seattle 8-8, Arizona 5-11, St. Louis 5-11: ’Niners won going away last year and should coast again. Seattle could surprise but will be hard with a rookie QB. Arizona has same ole problems (QB and O-line questions). Rams will be improved but still have a ways to go.
AFC East: New England 12-4, Buffalo 10-6, NY Jets 7-9, Miami 3-13: The Patriots are the favorites in the AFC. Buffalo upgraded its defense and could grab a wild-card berth. At least the Jets will be in the news. Miami could end up with No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
AFC North: Baltimore 12-4, Pittsburgh 9-7, Cincinnati 7-9, Cleveland 5-11: The Ravens, always a Super Bowl threat, always seem to fall short. The Steelers are slipping a little. Cincinnati comes back down to earth. Cleveland will be improved but still has a ways to go.
AFC South: Houston 11-5, Tennessee 7-9, Indianapolis 5-11, Jacksonville 4-12: The Texans could reach the Super Bowl for the first time and should romp in this division. The other three teams can call it a successful year if they get to .500.
AFC West: San Diego, 9-7, Kansas City 9-7, Denver 9-7, Oakland 7-9: Most balanced division without a dominant team. Any of the four could win it. San Diego underachieves, Peyton Manning has slipped a little, the Chiefs have potential but questions. The Raiders always to find a way to blow it.
Wild-card games: San Francisco over Dallas, Atlanta over New Orleans, Houston over Kansas City, San Diego over Buffalo.
Conference semifinals: Green Bay over San Francisco, Philadelphia over Atlanta, Houston over Baltimore, New England over Pittsburgh.
Conference title games: Green Bay over Philadelphia, Houston over New England
Super Bowl: Green Bay over Houston.