2012 NFL Preview
New York Giants 10-6
Don’t ever count out the Giants, that is the lesson that came from last year’s Super Bowl run. Eli Manning may not be the best quarterback in the NFL, but when the game is on the line he is one of the most clutch quaterbacks in the league. Add to the fact the Giants have a strong defense that makes life miserable on quarterbacks and you have to give the Giants an honest chance to repeat. The only question is can they overcome their defenicies in the running game.
Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
There is no question the Eagles are loaded, and if they could stay healthy and focused for the entire season, they could bring home the Lombardi Trophy. However, in both pre-season games in which he played, Quarterback Michael Vick left with a rib injury. Vick’s ability to stay healthy will be the key for the Eagles season as there is not much depth in the quarterback position. In the end it will be more disappointment as the Eagles fall short of making the playoffs again.
Dallas Cowboys 7-9
The Dallas Cowboys are the true definition of a paper tiger, who have a roster of familiar names who never quite manage to play up to expectations. Fans patience meanwhile is wearing thin especially with Quarterback who has the habit of making the big mistake when the game is on the line. Add to this questions surrounding the health of Jason Whitten and the off field troubles of Dez Bryant and together you have a long season in Dallas, followed by what will surely be wholesale changes for the Cowboys.
Washington Redskins 6-10
One of five teams that are putting their fate in the hands of a rookie quarterback, the Redskins are hoping that Hesiman winner Robert Griffin III, is the franchise QB they have been seeking for two decades. In their wildest dreams the Redskins hope RGIII can duplicate the first year success of Cam Newton, but seasons like that are once in a lifetime, and a more realistic expectation would be for some growing pains as the Redskins endure another ten loss season in the competitive NFC East.
Green Bay Packers 12-4
For most of the season last year the Packers were the best team in the NFL, as they started 13-0 and only lost once in the regular season before being stunned by the Giants in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. One can expect them to be just as tough, as they still have one of the best offenses in the NFL led by Quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The only question is on defense, where at times the Packers were exposed, and upon going against teams that are able to rush the QB like the Giants did they are in trouble, and come playoff time they could get exposed again.
Chicago Bears 11-5*
After missing the playoffs last season, the Bears did a good job addressing some of their problems on offense as Running Back Matt Forte was finally given a long-term contract, while the team added an Pro Bowl caliber receiver in Brandon Marshall who has worked well with QB Jay Cutler in the past. The Bears also have a strong defense, and at any time Devin Hester can make something happen on special teams, giving the Bears a solid team all around that can go far this season as they battle the Packers for NFC North supremacy.
Detroit Lions 10-6*
The Black and Blue Division is back, as the Packers, Bears and Lions each have a team capable of winning the Super Bowl if all things break right. The Lions weakness in the running game could be an obstacle, as they have nobody that carries the ball consistently. The Lions also need to get the undisciplined play under control. It is good to have a bruising defense led by Ndamukong Suh, but they need to show some maturity if the Lions are to take the next step.
Minnesota Vikings 4-12
The Vikings future is hazy as they play in the decrepit Metrodome, which just two years ago had the roof cave in on them. The Vikings will need Running Back Adrian Peterson to comeback fast from a serious knee injury if they have any chance to even compete, as Quarterback Christian Ponder barely looks like a NFL quarterback, expect talks of Los Angeles to become a major distraction as the Vikings continue to seek a new stadium while getting swallowed up in the NFC North.
Atlanta Falcons 10-6
The Falcons have proven they are a playoff team, but they need to make the next step and actually win a game in the postseason if they are to move forward in the Matt Ryan era. The Falcons have a solid offense and a decent defense but when they come up against a team that is just as good it seems they are always lacking in some key areas of decision making from Coach Mike Smith. With the Saints problems, the Falcons should take the NFC South, but if they can’t win a playoff game change will be in the air in Atlanta.
New Orleans Saints 9-7
For a lesser team, losing a key defensive leader and your head coach for an entire season would be a mortal wound, but the Saints still have a fighting chance thanks to Quarterback Drew Brees, who despite a long protracted contract fight is locked up to be the face of the Saints franchise for years to come. Expect a dog fight for the entire season with the Falcons for NFC South supremacy. However, in the end the uncertainty and lack of a true head coach will be too much to overcome as the Saints just miss out on the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers 8-8
Last year Quarterback Cam Newton had a rookie season for the record books, passing for 4,051 yards with 21 touchdown passes, while rushing for 706 yards with 14 touchdowns. It would be hard for Newton to repeat such gaudy numbers, but if the Panthers are to make the playoffs he is going to have to at least come close, as there is not much there on defense. Ultimately it would be the lack of a strong defense that keeps the Panthers from making it into the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-11
Worse than the Buccaneers disappointing 4-12 season, was the fact that the Buccaneers appeared to quit on the season, and mail in more than half of the season. The lack of effort quickly cost Coach Raheem Morris his job. Hoping to rebound under new Coach Greg Schiano, the Bucs will need QB Josh Freeman to bounce back and prove he is capable of being a NFL quarterback, while finding a true leader in the running game as they are nearly starting from scratch again.
San Francisco 49ers 12-4
How do the 49ers improve off a season in which they posted a 13-3 record and made it to the NFC Championship Game? First you add more weapons on offense and by signing Marion Manningham from the Giants and bringing in Randy Moss, QB Alex Smith now has a pair of proven pass catchers, add a Brandon Jacobs who could give Frank Gore a few plays off and suddenly the 49ers are the team to beat in the NFC and with their hard hitting defense, getting beat will happen rarely.
Seattle Seahawks 7-9
Of all the rookie quarterbacks who will begin the season, nobody was a bigger surprise than Russell Wilson, who won the starting spot in Seattle with a strong pre-season, after being picked in the third round by the Seahawks. The Seahawks strength is their secondary led by corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. If the Seahawks are going to make the playoffs they will need to be carried by RB Marshawn Lynch, as Wilson is surely to have his struggles as all rookie quarterbacks do.
Arizona Cardinals 6-10
An old saying is that if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have any quarterbacks, and for the Cardinals that adage seems true as John Skelton was named the starter despite not having distinguished himself from Kevin Kolb. While WR Larry Fitzgerald can make any quarterback look good, the Cardinals will need to get a consistent starter if they are to challenge for the playoffs. They also don’t have a very strong defense which means another year wandering the desert without the postseason.
St. Louis Rams 5-11
The Rams cannot get much worse than the 2-14 season they posted last year. They have a good Quarterback in Sam Bradford, a solid yet aging Running Back in Stephen Jackson, but they have little else as their receivers last could not catch a cold. Meanwhile their defense left a lot to be desired as the Rams have been the worst team in the NFL over the last five years. They will show some signs of a life, but to get from 2-14 to the playoffs will take more than one season.
New England Patriots 12-4
Once again the Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East, and it is not because of how good they are, but how bad the rest of the division is. The Patriots are capable of returning to the Super Bowl, but they have several flaws, including weaknesses at defense, and the lack of a reliable running back. However, with Tom Brady under center and their devastating 1-2 Tight End punch of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez it should another strong year in Foxboro.
Buffalo Bills 8-8
In the 1990’s the Buffalo Bills played the role of annual bride’s made losing four straight Super Bowls. However, now they would just like to get back into the reception as they are the only team in the NFL not to have made the playoffs in the 21st Century. They had a good start last year but quickly deflated after losing RB Fred Jackson. This year with the addition of Mario Williams on defense the Bills hope to revive the old Bills pass rush, but until QB Ryan Fitzpatrick can get things done for a full 16 game season they will continue to be on the oustide looking in.
New York Jets 5-11
If there is one thing comes to mind when looking ahead to the 2012 New York Jets, it the phrase train wreck. Their offensive line can’t block anybody and QB Mark Sanchez has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sanchez is a decent quarterback if you had a good running back, but the best ball carrier is the Jets other QB Tim Tebow, who will be hanging over Sanchez head at every fumble, three and out and interception. This is an unworkable situation and by the end of the season the Jets will be making decisions about their direction as the Rex and wild boys act has worn as thin as the Jets line.
Miami Dolphins 4-12
The Dolphins training camp could not have gone worse as they had the distractions surrounding Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson who quickly got 86ed after being arrested for head butting his wife. They also needed to trade CB Vonte Davis who was not developing into the game stopping back they drafted in 2009. All of this while working with a rookie quarterback and the spotlight of HBO’s Hard Knocks. The Dolphins can only hope to get better with Ryan Tannehill as the season goes on because right now they can’t look any worse.
Baltimore Ravens 12-4
This could be the last chance at the dance for the Ravens, whose aging defense creates an air of urgency in Baltimore. Last year they were a dropped pass and a Field Goal away from the Super Bowl. If they are to return to that point they must stay healthy and hope at some point during the season Terrell Suggs is able to return from an off-season knee injury. With or without Suggs they are the best team in the AFC North the question is can they get over the hump in the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals 9-7*
The Bengals are team on the rise, coming off a season in which rookie QB Andy Dalton and rookie WR A.J. Green led them into the playoffs. Now the expectations are that in their second season they will be even better. However, that is not always the case as defenses are able to adjust to your schemes. The Bengals also benefited from an easy schedule last year, and this year they will find things a bit tougher, but they should be up to the task and in the hunt for the playoffs the entire season as they again win nine games.
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
As the season begins, the Steelers already have injury issues as RB Rashard Marshall will miss the start of the season recovering from knee surgery, while QB Ben Roethlisberger is playing with a torn rotator cuff. Big Ben has showed his toughness before and will play as long as he can tolerate the pain. However, with his aggressive style it is more than likely the pain will grow and if any point he is lost the Steelers will be toast. With these injury issues in September it’s hard to imagine they last until the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns 3-13
The Cleveland Browns have had a cruel hoax played on them as they enter another season in which they will play the role of McNeese State easy win for the contenders. Ever since returning as an expansion team in 1999 the Browns have experienced nothing but futility. Nowhere has the futility been more glaring than Quarterback, where once again they are trying somebody new in Rookie Brandon Weeden. However, as luck would have RB Trent Richardson who was expected to be their big star is hurt before the season even started.
Houston Texans 12-4
Last year the Texans could not stay healthy as they lost their top RB Arian Foster, WR Andre Johnson and QB Matt Schaub at some point during the season. Despite it all they not only made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history they won a playoff game. The reason for their success was a top notch defense, which despite the loss of Mario Williams may be even better this season. The AFC South is overall a weak division and the Texans will win it easily, as they will be in the race for home field.
Tennessee Titans 7-9
For the sake of the future, starting Jake Locker at quarterback is a good idea. However, it will make getting to the playoffs difficult this season. While there is plenty of talent on offense with RB Chris Johnson and WR Kenny Britt, a tough stretch in September has the potential to bury the Titans before the season even starts. If they can survive September in one piece the Titans will indeed by a good dark horse in the AFC field.
Indianapolis Colts 5-11
Last season with Peyton Manning on the sideline, the Colts were left totally exposed as they suffered through a 2-14 nightmare season. Now they hope to catch lightning again with number one pick Andrew Luck who now carries the burden and expectations of replacing the most popular player in the history of Indianapolis Colts football. Luck eventually will fill both roles very well but the problem is there is still a bare cupboard in Indy and the Colts will be need lots of luck to win five games.
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
Another team banking their hopes on a rookie quarterback the Jaguars begin the season with a new owner and a new coach and what they hope is a brighter future. However, they are off on the wrong foot as RB Maurice Jones-Drew who led the league in rushing last year held out of preseason. The worse news is so far QB Blaine Gabbert has looked lost in space and if MJD can’t get it going right away the Jaguars will be one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Denver Broncos 11-5
Lost in Tebowmania last season was the fact the Broncos had a strong defense that enabled them to stay in games for Tim Tebow to pull off those miracle fourth quarter comebacks. Acquiring Peyton Manning makes the Broncos a certified Super Bowl contender if he is able to return to form after missing last season with a neck injury. Manning was able to make a mediocre Colts team look like one of the best teams in the NFL, if healthy he should have no problem doing the same in Denver.
Kansas City Chiefs 10-6*
Last season as the year began the Chiefs lost two key players in RB Jamaal Charles and Safety Eric Berry. Without them they struggled all season, as they turned against Coach Todd Haley. As Romeo Crennel took over at the end of the season, the Chiefs had a coach they liked as they handed the Packers their only regular season loss. With Crennel at the helm all season expect the Chiefs to be one of the best defenses in the NFL as they battle the Broncos in the AFC West.
San Diego Chargers 8-8
No team frustrates their fans more than the San Diego Chargers as they have failed to live up to fan’s expectations with one of the most talented rosters in the league. The talent has begun to disappear, but the anger is still in the air, as the Chargers are flirting with Los Angeles, while holding on to the hated Coach Norv Turner who would never be confused with Vince Lombardi, after another 8-8 season at least Turner will be gone.
Oakland Raiders 7-9
Despite the passing of Al Davis the Raiders continue to run a team from the land of confusion as they again begin the season with a new coach. They should get a boost as RB Darren McFadden returns, but they will go only as far as his achy knees can carry them. Meanwhile it is a put up or shut up year from QB Carson Palmer who joined the Raiders in the middle of the season and must return to the player the Bengals drafted number one overall ten years ago if the Raiders are to see the playoffs.
- Coach of the Year
- Comeback Player of the Year
- Defensive Rookie of the Year
- Offensive Rookie of the Year
- Defensive Player of the Year
- Offensive Player of the Year
- NFL MVP
- Romeo Crennel
- Peyton Manning
- Bruce Irvin
- Andrew Luck
- Patrick Willis
- Aaron Rodgers
- Aaron Rodgers
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Denver Broncos
- Seattle Seahawks
- Indianapolis Colts
- San Francisco 49ers
- Green Bay Packers
- Green Bay Packers
- Coach of the YearRomeo Crennel
- Comeback Player of the YearPeyton Manning
- Defensive Rookie of the YearBruce Irvin
- Offensive Rookie of the YearAndrew Luck
- Defensive Player of the YearPatrick Willis
- Offensive Player of the YearAaron Rodgers
- NFL MVPAaron Rodgers
- Kansas City ChiefsRomeo Crennel
- Denver BroncosPeyton Manning
- Seattle SeahawksBruce Irvin
- Indianapolis ColtsAndrew Luck
- San Francisco 49ersPatrick Willis
- Green Bay PackersAaron Rodgers
- Green Bay PackersAaron Rodgers
FIRING SQAUDCoaches who will be looking for work after the season
- Dennis Allen-Oakland Raiders
- Leslie Frazier-Minnesota Vikings
- Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys
- Andy Reid-Philadelphia Eagles
- Rex Ryan-New York Jets
- Pat Shurmur-Clevleand Browns
- Mike Smith-Atlanta Falcons
- Norv Turner-San Diego Chargers