AFC West This division were the bottom feeders last season suffering under Tebow Mania for the majority of the time. Now they have Peyton Manning coming back from 4 neck surgeries, Carson Palmer trying to turn the Raiders around and my favorite goat Philip Rivers playing for Norv Turner’s job.
Denver Broncos: 2011 finish 8-8 The Broncos seriously upgraded at quarterback winning the Peyton Manning sweepstakes and dumping Tebow in New York. But can Manning put together a winning season on a brand new team with a brand new system playing outdoors for the majority of the season for the first time in his career? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, with Manning they get better. 2012 Prediction 11-5
Kansas City Chiefs: 2011 finish 7-9 Kyle Orton and the Chiefs will try to rally around Romeo Crennel and stay competitive in a division that just might turn into the AFC South where as long as Peyton is playing, no one else has a shot. 2012 Prediction 6-10
San Diego Chargers: 2011 finish 8-8 Norv Turner has the kind of job security that most people dream about. No matter how crappy and underwhelming his team performs, he doesn’t get fired. You could say that this is the year that Turner has to change it around or he’s getting the ax but didn’t we say that last year? 2012 Prediction 6-10
AFC South Now that Peyton is gone for good the Texans, if they can stay healthy, should be able to take this division without even breaking a sweat. Andrew Luck will draw a whole lot of attention but the Colts are definitely in a rebuilding phase.
Houston Texans: 2011 finish 10-6 The Texans were able to make it to the playoffs for the first time in the team’s history but couldn’t get the win against the Ravens last year. With a healthy Matt Shaub, Andre Johnson and Aarian Foster, this team could be dangerous in the AFC this year. 2012 Prediction 12-4
Indianapolis Colts: 2011 finish 2-14 The Colts have plenty of rebuilding to do with a new head coach and new, ahem, offensive coordinator leading the #1 draft pick Andrew Luck in the Peytonless era in Indy. I’ll say they’ll improve from a 2 win season, but not by much. 2012 Prediction 5-11
Jacksonville Jaguars: 2011 finish 5-11 With Maurice Jones-Drew still holding out the Jags are looking for the combo of Blaine Gabbert and Justin Blackmon to lead the offense. If I were MJD, I wouldn’t report either. Jacksonville is a hole. 2012 Prediction 3-13
Tennessee Titans: 2011 finish 9-7 With a mildly successful regular season last year the titans turn to Jake Locker to take over the offense from the start this season. Here’s hoping Chris Johnson can improve on his seriously disappointing season after signing his giant contract. 2012 Prediction 6-10
AFC East This division is a train wreck just because of the Jets. I can’t express how disgusted I’ve been with the constant coverage of all things Jets this offseason and preseason. The Patriots are getting their usual consideration as the team to beat in the AFC despite being exposed as beatable yet again by Manning and the Giants in the Super Bowl.
Buffalo Bills: 2011 finish 6-10 The Bills ran out of the gates last season to surprise everyone only to run out of gas and finish miserably. They’ve upgraded the defense with the addition of Mario Williams but do they have enough talent to put together a complete season? I have them improving, but only slightly. 2012 Prediction 7-9
Miami Dolphins: 2011 finish 6-10 The Dolphins had a horrible start thanks to their horrible ownership and their horrible pursuit of another head coach while neglecting to fire the current head coach. Well Sporano is gone and the Chad Johnson experiment didn’t even last to the second preseason game. What to Dolphins fans have to look forward to this season? The Dolphins always have a way of sucking just enough to disappoint the fans but not enough to move up in the draft. 2012 Prediction 8-8
New England Patriots: 2011 finish 13-3 The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl thanks to Billy Cundiff and his wide left kick only to receive another beat down from Peyton’s little brother. They’ve retained Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski but still have a suspect defense and a shoddy offensive line. I say they’ve exposed themselves as beatable and Belichick will be the last to admit it. 2012 Prediction 10-6
NY Jets: 2011 finish 8-8 I don’t even want to talk about them because it makes me sick to my stomach to contribute to the madness. Their quarterbacks aren’t very good, their wide receivers aren’t very good, and their defense is average. How bad do they have to suck before the national media stops using “Well Tebow going to the biggest media market in the country means they get so much coverage” excuse to cover them ad nauseam? 2012 Prediction 7-9
AFC North Now the Steelers aren’t getting a whole lot of respect this year and maybe that’s what they get for failing to clinch the division last year. With a new offensive coordinator and these voids in leadership everyone likes to harp on, the Steelers are predicted to miss the show and finish 3rd behind the Ravens and Bengals.
Baltimore Ravens: 2011 finish 12-4 Ratbird fans are always trying to justify Flacco being a good quarterback as if they’re still trying to convince themselves. Ray Rice just inked his deal so he could very well go the way of Chris Johnson and put the brakes on this season. As far as the Ravens defense, if the Steelers last year were “old, slow, and done” than the Ratbirds D this year is Older, Slower, and Doner. Playing without the reigning DPOY Terrell (I was born with big gums, sir) Suggs most of the year to an Achilles’ injury, they will have to rely on senior citizens Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to pick up the slack. 2012 Prediction 11-5
Cleveland Browns: 2011 finish 4-12 The other most depressing team in the NFL has got to be the Browns. They were sold to a Steelers fan for God’s sake. They’ve kicked Colt McCoy to the curb and decided to go with Brandon Weeden. Good luck with that boys. 2012 Prediction 3-13
Cincinnati Bengals: 2011 finish 9-7 The Bengals actually made it to the playoffs last year under rookie Andy Dalton, who suffered an arm injury in the Bungles final preseason game. The Bengals still have the longest postseason drought without a win in the NFL. I’m not giving them a whole lot of credit this season. Might be those deep rooted biases working again though. 2012 Prediction 4-12
Pittsburgh Steelers: 2011 finish 12-4 Ah, saved the best for last. So we all know what we’re dealing with here. The Steelers barely survived the preseason without half the draft class headed to IR and finally have welcomed Mike Wallace back into the fold. The aging defense is pretty thin at ILB but is younger on the line. The O-line will continue to play what Dom calls “Roster Tetris” as players have gone down and will continue to go down throughout the season. In spite of all this I’m very positive about this season. Our schedule is winnable and I think the offense is going to be better than we even expected this year. I think Polamalu is on track to have a standout year and if LaMarr Woodley stays healthy I’m predicting he can break the single season sack record. Could be that I’m an incurable homer for the Steelers, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 2012 Prediction 13-3
Well there you have it. I have the Steelers taking down the Packers in the Super Bowl 38-33 and I’m sticking by it. I have no reason to think the Steelers can’t have a successful year as long as Ben is under center; I’m picking them to win. It will be a cold day in Hell, or a rebuilding season before I’d pick the Steelers to lose. I’m so ready for kick off I can’t friggin stand it. How about you Steeler Nation? What are your predictions for the 2012 season?
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