So far we have previewed six of the eight divisions in our countdown to the 2012 NFL season, and today we move onto lucky number seven: the NFC North.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC South)
The Bears made a big splash this offseason, adding problematic wide receiver Brandon Marshall to an offense that had a serious lack of weapons for QB Jay Cutler. Now, the former Broncos teammates are back together again, and fans in the "Windy City" have high expectations for the two. The problem is, Cutler has had trouble staying away from injuries and Marshall has had trouble staying away from, well, trouble.
Projection: If Cutler can stay healthy, the Bears could be a real threat to dethrone the Packers at the top of the NFC North. Some experts view Chicago as a sleeper pick to go to the Super Bowl.
One week from today, the Giants and Cowboys kick off the 2012 NFL season. Seven days. Seven! Needless to say, I, along with millions of other NFL fans, cannot wait. We continue our countdown to the football season by continuing our preview of the NFL's eight divisions; today we take a look at the NFC South.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East)
Top Falcons Games of 2012
The 2011 season was marked by inconsistencies for the Falcons, but it was strong enough for the team to finish 10-6 and secure a spot in the playoffs. It was the team's second straight year in the postseason. Much of Atlanta's roster is identical to last year's, so the main core of talent, including QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner, will need to step up if the Falcons hope to win the division.
Projection: With the Saints likely to take a step back in 2012, the Falcons are in prime position to capture the AFC South crown.
The NFL season is now less than ten days away and, speaking for myself, I could not be any more excited. Sitting around on Sundays eating way too much food and watching hours of football is now right around the corner. Over the past couple weeks we have been previewing the NFL divisions, and we wrapped up the AFC last Friday. Now we move to the NFC, starting with the NFC East.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West)
Top Cowboys Games of 2012
No team beat themselves more than the Dallas Cowboys did in 2011; always making a key mistake that cost them the game. QB Tony Romo will have to cut down on his miscues and become the elite quarterback everyone expects him to be. Dallas does have one thing going for them: they still have DE DeMarcus Ware on their team. Ware had 19.5 sacks last year and will likely be among the league leaders in the category in 2012 as well.
Projection: The Cowboys are deep in talent, but I don't think that's good enough in the tough NFC East. Finishing around 8-8 is a safe bet for Dallas, which is probably just outside of the postseason.
Over the past week or so, we have been previewing the upcoming NFL season by taking a look at the league divisions. Today we wrap up our previews of the AFC divisions by going over the wide-open AFC West. (To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South)
Top Broncos Games of 2012
No team changed its identity as much as the Denver Broncos did this offseason. Gone is quarterback Tim Tebow, who dominated the headlines all of last season; he has been replaced by future Hall of Famer — and arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time — Peyton Manning. Tebow led the Broncos with his rushing, but now with Manning at the helm, Denver will feature one of the league's best passing attacks. Look for a Bronco wide receiver to have a breakout season.
Projection: The Broncos won the AFC West with an 8-8 record last year. They should improve by a few games in 2012 and narrowly beat out the Chargers for the division crown.
Football is now officially just two weeks away, and as the season gets closer, we have been previewing each of the NFL's eight divisions. So far, we have covered the AFC East (Click here to view) and the AFC South (Click here to view); today we shift to the AFC North, perhaps the league's toughest division.
For more than a decade now, the Baltimore Ravens have been known for their defensive prowess, and during that time, they have seemingly had the same cast of characters, and 2012 is no different. Linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed are back again, and the team's defense should continue to be one of the league's best. The offense will be relying on running back Ray Rice as well as quarterback Joe Flacco, who needs to continue to improve if the Ravens want to find postseason success.
Projection: The AFC North is one of the most difficult to predict, but with their great defense and All-Pro running back Ray Rice, the Ravens should be in the postseason and should be favorites to win the division title.