Here is something new I’m trying this season (picking where each NFL team will finish in their respective division). I’m sure this will look embarrassingly bad by, say, early November, but here are my predictions for the final 2011 regular season standings, including playoff teams and seedings. (If you’re interested in my reasoning, check out my Week One Picks for brief evaluations of each team.)
New England Patriots (#1 Bye)
New York Jets (#5 Wild Card)
Not much change from last year, except the Dolphins got a bit worse and the Bills got a bit better.
Baltimore Ravens (#3 Seed)
Pittsburgh Steelers (#6 Wild Card)
The Ravens haven’t won the division since 2006, but I believe they will edge out the Steelers this year. The Bengals are going to be really bad.
Houston Texans (#4 Seed)
Starting the season without Peyton Manning (which seems likely) means no division title for the Colts. The Texans should be fun to watch this season.
San Diego Chargers (#2 Bye)
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers should own this division in 2011. I expect the Raiders to be fairly awful.
Dallas Cowboys (#3 Seed)
Philadelphia Eagles (#5 Wild Card)
New York Giants
It seems that nearly everyone else believes that Michael Vick and the Eagles will win the division, but I like the Cowboys with a healthy Tony Romo.
Green Bay Packers (#1 Bye)
Detroit Lions (#6 Wild Card)
The Packers will be extremely difficult to beat this year as the defending Super Bowl champs. The Lions should sneak into the postseason with 9 or 10 wins with its core of young talent on both sides of the ball.
Atlanta Falcons (#2 Bye)
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This division will have the same standings as last season, but with the Saints missing the playoffs this time around. The Panthers should be improved, but they are still the weakest team in the division.
St. Louis Rams (#4 Seed)
San Francisco 49ers
The Seahawks were mediocre last season with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. They will be terrible without him. The Rams are clearly the best team in the division, although the Cardinals could surprise the football world.