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Outsports 2009 NFL Predictions

As usual, we like the Patriots and the Colts

Welcome to our annual NFL season preview picks. We know we sound like a broken record, with Cyd picking New England and Jim Indianapolis, but it's hard not to. These are the two winningest franchises this decade and are always in the title hunt. For once, though, we have rare agreement in the NFC.


AFC PREVIEW

Cyd's Picks Jim's Picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EAST
Unless there's another major injury for the Patriots, I can't see them not winning this division. Given their schedule and their hunger, I can see them running off a 14-2 record. The Bills are a hot pick this year, but I don't like their mojo. Between Trent Edwards' injuries to T.O.'s age to Marshawn Lynch's suspension to an upended O'line, I don't like it.

NORTH
More O'line problems make me skiddish about picking the Bengals any better than third. If the offensive line can play well though, they could easily contend for the division title (yep). But I'm not bettin on it. I do see some malaise for the Steelers (it's so tough to repeat), but I just can't see anyone else knocking them off.

SOUTH
Who knows. I could see any of these teams winning the division, so I'm going with the team who's sucked the most the last few years: The Texans. I love a lot of what I see from them, particularly on offense. For the first time in Houston, they'll be able to put up points with the Colts: That's something that's killed them against their big brothers in Indy. Picking the Titans to fall from grace is popular, but I have underestimated the coaching of Jeff Fisher way too many times, so I'm putting them higher than I probably should. Plus, Kerry Collins looked pretty good in preseason, which I wasn't expecting.

WEST
I just don't believe in Norv Turner, but it's impossible for me to pick another team to win this division. Why am I picking the Raiders second? Their defense and their running game: I think they'll hang around in games, and 7-9 should be good enough for second. The Chiefs and Broncos lack leadership: We'll see who shows up to lead their team on the field.

EAST
If Tom Brady stays healthy, the Patriots offense will be hard to stop. On defense, they have lost a lot of leadership (Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel are gone). ... I still like T.O. to help the Bills, Miami will slide back and the Jets will struggle as Mark Sanchez takes his lumps as a rookie quarterback.

NORTH
The Steelers have a great shot to repeat as Super Bowl champs, but Ben Roethlisberger has to stay healthy, which means the offensive line has to do a better job of keeping him upright. The Steelers allowed 46 sacks a year ago, second-worst in the league. ... Baltimore has some defensive holes to fill, but the offense will improve with QB Joe Flacco entering his second year. ... I hope Carson Palmer can come back strong as the Bengals’ QB, or else they are looking at 3-13. ... Brady Quinn is the hottest man in the NFL, but that’s about all the Browns have going for them.

SOUTH
A new coach for the Colts, but with Peyton Manning there, the Ponies won’t miss a beat. I see their offensive line and running game rebounding and they’ll play just enough defense to win 12 games for the seventh year in a row. ... Tennessee will fall back to Earth after going 13-3 a year ago. ... I see Jacksonville and Houston battling for third, but I’m not sold on the Texans as are a lot of people.

WEST
What a garbage division, and San Diego will win it by default. The Chargers are loaded, but with Norv Turner as coach, expect underachievement. ... Oakland is dysfunctional, everything new Denver coach Josh McDaniels has touched has turned to crap and the Chiefs are the definition of “rebuilding.”

NFC Preview

Cyd's Picks Jim's Picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EAST
The only thing I know is that the Dallas Cowboys will have a new coach next year. While people point to their talent and schedule as proof that they'll make a legit run at the division: But their lack of leadership will undermine that. I like the Eagles over the Giants because I like their offense quite a bit more. The Redskins are a total wild card; If Jason Campbell from last season's first 8 weeks shows up, they could make a run.

NORTH
Everything is pointing the Packers' way this season. Aaron Rodgers is playing great. Their receivers are some of the best in the league. And I predict their defense to be a top-5 unit this season. While the Vikings have the defense and the running back, I see them as being a one-dimensional offense; teams will force Favre to throw, and he won't be able to execute what his mind remembers him executing years ago.

SOUTH
The Rams won a Super Bowl with an excellent offense and marginal defense; I think the Saints can make another run with the same. Their running game is a concern, and that gives the Falcons an open door.

WEST
I couldn't rip Mike Singletary enough last season. I thought he was joke. Now, I'm willing to admit I may have been wrong. May have been. He seems to have a hold on this team and has their ears. If Frank Gore can have the season I think he's going to have, they'll slide past Arizona with an improved defense and grind-it-out running game.

EAST
The Giants are solid and I think Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks will step up to provide Eli Manning with clutch receivers. ...The Michael Vick experiment won’t amount to much in Philly, and the Eagles have to stay healthier than they were in the preseason. ... No T.O. means less drama in Dallas, but Wade Phillips continues his streak of never winning a playoff game. ... The Redskins have a terrific defense but the offense is just pedestrian.

NORTH
Aaron Rodgers will quickly make Packer fans say, “Brett who?” Expect the defense to greatly improve and with the linebackers as a strength, moving to a 3-4 defense is smart. ... Jay Cutler is a punk, but the Bears finally have a passer. ... I hope and expect the Brett Favre Unretirement Tour to bomb, though the Vikings are stacked everywhere else. ... The Lions will win at least one game, which means 2009 will be an improvement.

SOUTH
The Saints can score 40 a game and if their defense can hold teams to under 40, the division will be theirs. ... I like the Falcons long-term, but see some regression from a year ago. ... The Panthers are getting older and I don’t see them having done anything in the offseason to improve themselves much. ... Tampa Bay has undergone massive changes and is the most nondescript team in the league.

WEST
Flip a coin in this division, but I see a healthy Matt Hasselbeck leading the Seahawks back to the playoffs. ... The Rams second? Am I high? Maybe, but if the Rams stay healthy they can go 8-8. ... The Cardinals will suffer a post-Super Bowl losers’ letdown and I don’t expect Kurt Warner to last 16 games again. ... If Coach Mike Singletary pulls his pants down again, the 49ers will be entertaining, but I don’t like their passing game.

How we see the Playoffs

Cyd's Picks Jim's Picks

AFC

Wild Card Round
Houston over Indianapolis
Pittsburgh over Tennessee

Divisional Round
New England over Pittsburgh
Houston over San Diego

Conference Championship
New England over Houston

NFC

Wild Card Round
New York Giants over New Orleans
Minnesota over San Francisco

Divisional Round
Green Bay over New York Giants
Philadelphia over Minnesota

Conference Championship
Green Bay over Philadelphia

SUPER BOWL

New England over Green Bay

E-mail cyd

AFC

Wild Card Round
Pittsburgh over Buffalo
San Diego over Baltimore

Divisional Round
New England over San Diego
Indianapolis over Pittsburgh

Conference Championship
Indianapolis over New England

NFC

Wild Card Round
Philadelphia over Seattle
New Orleans over Chicago

Divisional Round
Philadelphia over Giants
Green Bay over New Orleans

Conference Championship
Green Bay over Philadelphia

SUPER BOWL

Indianapolis over Green Bay

E-mail Jim