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NFL 2008 season preview

Welcome to our annual NFL season preview picks. We'll be the first to admit that we don't have a lot of confidence in many of these picks. How can we (or anyone else)? The NFL has become such a competitive league that the difference between 10-6 and a Super Bowl win, and 6-10 and a Top 10 draft pick, can be one missed field goal and one dropped interception.

It's no big surprise that we both pick our favorite team to win the Super Bowl. But, when your two favorite teams are the two best teams over the last 10 years, it's almost difficult not to.

AFC PREVIEW

Cyd's Picks Jim's Picks

AFC EAST
1) New England Patriots
2) Buffalo Bills
3) New York Jets
4) Miami Dolphins

AFC NORTH
1) Cleveland Browns
2) Cincinnati Bengals
3) Pittsburgh Steelers
4) Baltimore Ravens

AFC SOUTH
1) Jacksonville Jaguars
2) Indianapolis Colts
3) Tennessee Titans
4) Houston Texans

AFC WEST
1) San Diego Chargers
2) Denver Broncos
3) Oakland Raiders
4) Kansas City Chiefs

AFC EAST
1) New England Patriots
2) New York Jets
3) Buffalo Bills
4) Miami Dolphins

AFC NORTH
1) Cleveland Browns
2) Pittsburgh Steelers
3) Cincinnari
4) Baltimore Ravens

AFC SOUTH
1) Indianapolis Colts
2) Jacksonville Jaguars
3) Tennessee Titans
4) Houston Texans

AFC WEST
1) San Diego Chargers
2) Denver Broncos
3) Oakland Raiders
4) Kansas City Chiefs

The entire AFC South is the biggest toss-up to me, but let me add this caveat: If the Colts can all stay healthy this year, they will win the division. But with so many question marks on the team (and I don't count Manning's health as a question mark), I can see ANY of the other three teams winning the division. I give the Jags the nod because of their running game and their defense.

Potential surprise teams this year are the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders. I could see either of them making the playoffs. I just love the Raiders' pick of McFadden in the draft, and I think JaMarcus Russell could be heavy on the upswing this year.

My scientifically determined chance that the New England Patriots go 16-0 again: 3%.

I see the Colts and Patriots as Teams 1 and 1A and everyone else fighting for third. New England has an absurdly easy schedule and should win 12 games just by showing up.

The Colts are loaded on both sides of the ball and the defense has added some key rookies. The X factior is the health of Dwight Freeney -- with him the Colts can rush the passer, without him they can be one and done again in the playoffs.

San Diego wins the West by default, but I see slippage from last year. Cleveland has added enough new bodies on defense to get by the Steelers, who are rebuilding their offensive line.

I see the Jets being a wild card in keeping with tradition -- they have made the playoffs in 2002-04-06 and missed them in odd years. Brett Farve wears No. 4 and it is 2008, which is good enough for me.

Miami and Oakland will not be easy outs and will improve, but that's not saying a whole lot.


NFC Preview

Cyd's Picks Jim's Picks

NFC EAST
1) Philadelphia Eagles
2) Dallas Cowboys
3) Washington Redskins
4) New York Giants

NFC NORTH
1) Chicago Bears
2) Minnesota Vikings
3) Green Bay Packers
4) Detroit Lions

NFC SOUTH
1) New Orleans Saints
2) Carolina Panthers
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4) Atlanta Falcons

NFC WEST
1) Arizona Cardinals
2) Seattle Seahawks
3) St. Louis Rams
4) San Francisco 49ers

NFC EAST
1) Philadelphia Eagles
2) Dallas Cowboys
3) New York Giants
4) Washington Redskins

NFC NORTH
1) Green Bay Packers
2) Minnesota Vikings
3) Detroit Lions
4) Chicago Bears

NFC SOUTH
1) New Orleans Saints
2) Carolina Panthers
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4) Atlanta Falcons

NFC WEST
1) Seattle Seahawks
2) Arizona Cardinals
3) San Francisco 49ers
4) St. Louis Rams

I see a lot of weird stuff in the NFC this year. My ultimate "vibe" pick this year is the Chicago Bears sitting atop the NFC North. I just think the rest of the division is mediocre, they get a favorable schedule, and they still have some key pieces from their Super Bowl run. I see them going 6-2 at home and, with road games at Carolina, Atlanta, Detroit and St. Louis, eeking out a 9-7 record.

There's an addage about old football players: Drop them a year before it's too late. That's my feeling about the Seahawks. Their head coach is a lame duck and will be gone next year; their receivers are hurting (and weren't that good in the first place), Shaun Alexander is long gone, and their QB isn't 100%.

While everyone is high on the Cowboys, I can't get Wade Philips' befuddled sideline expressions out of my head. Plus, news from their camp is that it was like Club Med with few two-a-days and even less hitting. Are they ready for the season? I see some 21-20 losses in their future.

This is the Go Figure Conference, the land where the No. 5 seed Giants can get hot and make a playoff run for the ages. It's not a stretch to argue that the 2007 Giants would have missed the playoffs in the AFC. Hope springs eternal in the NFC, where a little luck can have you dreaming of still playing in February.

I see the Giants falling back this season, being in a tough division and suffering some key injuries (losing pass rusher Osi Umenyiora was a killer). The Cowboys have too many head cases and a quarterback in Tony Romo who has yet to prove he can win in December and January. This leaves the Eagles as my pick in the East, with a last hurrah for Donovan McNabb and a rising star in receiver DeSean Jackson.

I think Aaron Rodgers is good enough to carry the Packers over a weak NFC North lineup. The Vikings and Bears each need a quarterback and the Lions are, well, the Lions.

Somebody has to win the crapola West, so pencil in Seattle. In the South, the Saints have a terrific offense and an improved-enough defense to make a legit Super Bowl run.

How we see the Playoffs

Cyd's Picks Jim's Picks

AFC

Wild Card Round
San Diego over Buffalo
Cleveland over Indianapolis

Divisional Round
New England over San Diego
Jacksonville over Cleveland

Conference Championship
New England over Jacksonville

NFC

Wild Card Round
Carolina over Arizona
Dallas over Chicago

Divisional Round
Carolina over Philadelphia
Dallas over New Orleans

Conference Championship
Carolina over Dallas

SUPER BOWL

New England over Carolina

E-mail cyd

AFC

Wild Card Round
San Diego over New York
Jacksonville over Cleveland

Divisional Round
New England over Jacksonville
Indianapolis over San Diego

Conference Championship
Indianapolis over New England

NFC

Wild Card Round
Dallas over Seattle
Green Bay over Minnesota

Divisional Round
New Orleans over Green Bay
Philadelphia over Dallas

Conference Championship
New Orleans over Philadelphia

SUPER BOWL

Indianapolis over New Orleans

E-mail Jim