Only one day away from kickoff, fans can not wait for the 2013 regular season to start. The stage is set, and an (almost) clean slate has been set for all 32 NFL teams. So who will take home the Lombardi? It’s too early to tell, but we have some predictions about the best teams from each division.
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
Between the rising Bengals, the timely Ravens, and the consistent Steelers, I had to go with the Steelers on this one. Why? It’s not a matter of Pittsburgh blowing all the other teams out of the water; it’s a matter of the other teams in the conference not playing up to par. Joe Flacco may have flashes of excellence but his team isn’t the most consistent in the world. AJ Green and the Bengals look to be serious contenders this year, but can their offense really outperform others this year? And the Cleveland Browns still have much room for improvement. With Ben Roethlisberger back, the Steelers can ease past the other teams in their division to claim the top spot. It’s gonna be close, but Pittsburgh should be able to pull it off.
AFC East: New England Patriots
This one should be extremely obvious, but the hype has made it cloudy for most. Once the Dolphins acquired Mike Wallace, the media has been pushing Ryan Tannehill as a proven elite quarterback. Well have I got news for you. Ryan Tannehill is neither elite nor proven. In the 2012 season, he threw for 3,294 yards and 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. I don’t think that’s elite by any means. So with the Dolphins being the 2nd best in the division, the Bills and Jets are only looking for moderate improvement this year after acquiring new quarterbacks. Tom “Terrific” Brady has showed that he can still be spectacular with new wide receivers, and he’ll show it again this year.
AFC West: Denver Broncos
This one’s a given. Not just because Peyton Manning and the Broncos are a force to be dealt with, but also because there isn’t that much competition for them in the division. The Chargers are lackluster behind turnover-prone Philip Rivers. The Chiefs are set to improve with Alex Smith at the helm, but he still isn’t the best quarterback in the world. The Raiders are a washed up team that has little to no chance at a winning season. Overall, this division makes for an easy playoff spot for the taking for Denver.
AFC South: Houston Texans
This one’s a close one. Between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans, the Texans win out only because of their (improved) monster defense. With Ed Reed, JJ Watt, and with Brian Cushing back, this defense will be a headache for offenses around the league. The Colts’ offense does outmatch the Texans offense by a little, but Houston has great weapons in Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and DeAndre Hopkins.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
The Packers will have closer competition for the division title this year. Detroit has an improved defense and Calvin Johnson, the Vikings have Adrian Peterson and new weapons for Christian Ponder, and the Bears have new head coach Marc Trestman to make Jay Cutler great. But, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and have many weapons for him to throw to in Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones. Plus, to make up for their lackluster defense, Eddie Lacy will boost the ground game for the Packers.
NFC East: Washington Redskins
This is one close division. It may even be the second closest division in football. The Washington Redskins have all the tools to win the division again this year and claim a playoff spot, but it will be close. The Philadelphia Eagles have a rejuvenated offense led by Head Coach Chip Kelly and Michael Vick. The Dallas Cowboys have a goal in mind with Dez Bryant and Tony Romo looking sharper than ever. And finally, the New York Giants look to bounce back from a down season and make the playoffs again. It won’t be easy for the Redskins, but they certainly have what it takes to clinch the division.
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
Not only is this the closest division in football, but it is the best division in football. The Seahawks, led by Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, look to contend for the division title against Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. Both teams have strong offenses with sharp, mobile quarterbacks and great defenses. What gives the Seahawks the edge is Russell Wilson’s decision making and leadership, plus the major home field advantage that the Seahawks get.
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons
Last but not least, the Atlanta Falcons are set to win this division. Sure, they have a serious contender in Drew Brees and the Saints, but Matt Ryan has so many weapons to utilize that it would be surprising if he didn’t put up big numbers. The Falcons have Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and newly added Steven Jackson. Though Brees has the skill to make his offense one of the best, the Falcons offense just beats them out for the spot.