By. Rich in Centreville- guest blogger for Sportsyackontap, who can usually be heard on the phone pleading the Redskins case to the Sports Junkies.
Philadelphia- They won the off-season by signing Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, and trading for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. This is probably the most talent Andy Reid has had. It's do or die in Philly.
Washington- Mike Shanahan is finally starting to put his stamp on this team, 2 of last year's distractions are gone, and now the Redskins can focus on winning games. Soft schedule makes 9-10 wins possible.
NY Giants- The Giants were relatively quiet in free agency. The offensive line will take a step back which could be bad news for recently re-signed RB Ahmad Bradshaw. How long until Tom Coughlin is back on the hot seat?
Dallas- The Cowboys fired coach Wade Phillips in 2010, hired interim coach Jason Garrett full time, and cut ties with a ton of veterans. They did bring in Rob Ryan to coach the defense, but let's be honest, he isn't his brother. Dallas struggles.
Packers- Green Bay won the Super Bowl last season and for the most part, that team returns fully in tact. Ryan Grant is healthy and Greg Jennings is coming off a 12 TD season. Oh, and they have this guy named Aaron Rodgers.
Detroit- Yes, Detroit. Jim Schwartz has quietly turned things around in Detroit. If QB Matt Stafford can stay healthy, I believe Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson could form the best QB/WR tandem in the league. Defensive line is strong with Ndamakong and Nick Fairley anchoring the middle.
Chicago- I know Chicago was in the NFC title game, but I think this will be the team that goes backwards in 2011. The offensive line looks to be worse than last season and the WR corps still lacks a true #1 receiver.
Minnesota- The Vikings traded for QB Donovan McNabb, but lost WR Sidney Rice. The offensive line has aged tremendously in the last 2 seasons and could be the weak link of the team. They still have Adrian Peterson, but the Vikes will struggle.
New Orleans- 2 years removed from their first Super Bowl title, the Saints are poised to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy. Drew Brees is healthy and the backfield is revamped with Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram. Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers will anchor the defensive line. Tough division, but veteran team will make the run.
Atlanta- The Falcons won the division in 2010 and added a much needed playmaker opposite Roddy White in Julio Jones. The backfield is still lead by Michael Turner, but he is quickly approaching 30, the dreaded age for RBs. Matt Ryan is making his move towards the upper tier of QBs.
Tampa Bay- The Bucs were a great story last season, with young studs at QB (Josh Freeman) and RB (LeGarrette Blount), they are clearly headed in the right direction. However, they have to play the Saints and Falcons twice. Ouch.
Carolina- New Head Coach Ron Rivera was handed the #1 pick Cam Newton, and now it will be his job to decide when to start him. It won't matter. Carolina could be in line for the #1 pick in 2012.
St Louis- In just a few years, Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo has brought the Rams back to respectability. QB Sam Bradford should be improved, and he will have a couple of new toys to play with, after the additions of Mike Sims-Walker and Cadillac Williams. Donnie Avery is back from a knee injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. He should also help the offense.
Seattle- Seattle made the playoffs in 2010 and will be in the mix again in 2011. Head coach Pete Carroll said goodbye to longtime face of the franchise, Matt Hasselbeck, and signed QB Travaris Jackson to be his signal caller. Jackson takes the Seahawks down a notch.
Arizona- The off-season talk in Arizona was Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals pulled the trigger on a trade and landed themselves a young,talented signal caller in Kolb. Larry Fitzgerald should benefit from the upgrade, but the season ending injury to rookie Ryan Williams, will put extra pressure on Beanie Wells.
San Francisco- The 49ers looked like they were close a few years back with Mike Singletary, but that all came crashing down. The Niners are still trying to fix the QB situation, and it looks like they will crash and burn with Alex Smith. Again.
Jets- The Jets are loaded. They were one win from the Super Bowl in 2010, and the Jets appear poised to make another run. Mark Sanchez is still the question mark. Is he ready to take this team to the next level? The defense is solid, as Darrelle Revis still resides on Revis Island. The Jets will be the best team in the AFC.
Patriots- Tom Brady is still one of the best QBs in the league, but I think the years of the Patriots dominance is over. They will still be a very good team, but the days of 15,14 and 13 wins are behind them.
Miami- The Fins brought back Tony Sporano, but it wasn’t from a lack of trying. Coach Sporano wasn’t exactly given a vote of confidence. Chad Henne looks like he is a disaster, and Reggie Bush doesn’t have the workhouse back ability. Long season in South Beach.
Buffalo- The Bills could have taken a franchise QB in the draft, but chose to stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The RB position is solid with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, and the WR position is led by Stevie Johnson. Chan Gailey in his 2nd year could also be in his final year. Buffalo is awful.
Pittsburgh- The Super Bowl runner-ups are still the team to beat in the AFC. The Steelers will rely on Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall, and I like the emergence of WR Mike Wallace. The defense is solid again. Pittsburgh will find themselves in the middle of another Super Bowl run.
Baltimore- There are all sorts of questions in Charm City. No backup QB, no depth on the offensive line, and they're still thin in the secondary. All that being said, the Ravens still have Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, and their presence alone keeps this team competitive.
Cleveland- The Browns may have found their franchise QB in Colt McCoy, as the 2nd year man in Cleveland is the unquestioned starter. He needs some pieces around him, but Peyton Hillis is a good start. Browns are still young and need help.
Cincinnati- The Bengals will challenge for the #1 pick in the draft. I think the writing is on the wall for Marvin Lewis. Gone are Chad Ochocinco and Carson Palmer, in are Andy Dalton and AJ Green. Back to the drawing board in Cincy.
Houston- I think this is the year that Houston finally overtakes Indianapolis. Arian Foster finally gave Houston the ground game they have been lacking, and Jonathan Joseph upgrades the secondary that was desperate for a playmaker. I love the Texans in 2011.
Indianapolis- The Colts have been the dominant team in this division for years, most of that courtesy of Peyton Manning’s doing. Manning is coming off of neck surgery and might not be the same QB he has been. Reggie Wayne has a knee injury and is on the downside of his career. Indy will struggle.
Tennessee- The Titans went out and grabbed Matt Hasselbeck to lead them in 2011. Opposing defenses stacked the box on Chris Johnson, and made it tough for him last season. If Hasselbeck resembles half the player he was in Seattle, this could be a decent team.
Jacksonville- When will the reigns be given to rookie QB Blaine Gabbert? That is the question in Jacksonville. Maurice Jones-Drew is looking to rebound from a injury plagued season, but Jacksonville still has lots of holes. Last place finish for the Jags.
San Diego- I think San Diego’s slow start put them in too much of a hole to catch Kansas City last season. The Chargers are just as talented as ever and still have Philip Rivers. The Bolts will regain their place as AFC West champs.
Kansas City- The Chiefs made a trip to the playoffs for the first time in forever. The backfield of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones could be the best 1-2 punch in the league. The defense is solid with Eric Berry leading the secondary. The Chiefs will be good, but not good enough.
Oakland- Not sure what to make of the Raiders. They won 8 games in 2010 and then fired their head coach. Now it’s Hue Jackson’s turn to run the circus. Jason Campbell had a very up and down season, but with Bruce Gradkowski now in Cincinnati, there is no question as to who the starter is. Darren McFadden finally had the season everyone was waiting for and should continue that success again in 2011.
Denver- Josh McDaniels was a bust in Denver and the Broncos hope new Head Coach John Fox is the answer. Fox had tremendous success in Carolina and could have the Broncos back contending sooner rather than later. QB Kyle Orton leads the offense along with new RB Willis McGahee. An additional weapon is the league's leading WR, Brandon Lloyd. The defense will get help with the return of Elvis Dumervil.
Philadelphia- East Winner
Green Bay- North Winner
Saints- South Winner
Rams- West Winner
Jets- East Winner
Pittsburgh- North Winner
Houston- South Winner
San Diego- West Winner
Kansas City- Wildcard
Super Bowl XLVI
New Orleans Saints vs. New York Jets
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