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Dan Parr's 2012 NFL predictions

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Arthur Arkush's 2012 NFL predictions

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Arthur Arkush's 2012 NFL predictions

AFC East

1. New England — They still have as good a chance as any team of making it to the Super Bowl. Their schedule looks awfully favorable.

2. Buffalo — They are better than they were last season, but I think the playoff drought continues.

3. N.Y. Jets — Defense is still very good, but not impressed with the offense. I don’t see them getting back to the postseason.

4. Miami — They are not strong enough in other areas to make up for their lack of firepower in the passing game.

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh — The Steelers won’t make it look pretty most weeks, but the passing game and defense both could be among the league’s best.

2. Baltimore — They are at worst a wild-card team. I don’t see them finally breaking through and getting back to the Super Bowl, though.

3. Cincinnati — Still a decent-sized gap between the Bengals and the perennial powers in the division.

4. Cleveland — There might be some moderate improvement on offense, but they are not yet equipped to get out of the cellar in a tough division.

AFC South

1. Houston — One of a handful of AFC teams that are capable of dethroning the Patriots. This could be a special season for them.

2. Tennessee — Looks like a tough club that will battle hard and probably finish in the middle of the AFC pack.

3. Jacksonville — Should be better than last season, but it will not be enough improvement to put them in the conversation for a playoff spot.

4. Indianapolis — They will be in the running for the first overall pick once again as they struggle through a rebuilding year.

AFC West

1. Denver — I can’t find more than nine games I expect them to win, but I think that will be enough to make them the champions of a division lacking a dominant club. 

2. Kansas City — With several key players returning from injury, they should be improved enough to secure a wild-card spot.

3. San Diego — The mediocrity continues for the Chargers. I expect another .500 or so finish.

4. Oakland — If Darren McFadden stays healthy, they will have a shot to surprise. That is a huge "if" for a team that lacks quality depth in too many areas.

NFC East

1. N.Y. Giants — Didn’t pick them to repeat, but it will be far from a surprise if they find a way to do it.

2. Philadelphia — Few teams can match their talent. I expect at worst a playoff berth as a wild-card team.

3. Dallas — A lot of good talent here. They just don’t seem to be on the same level as Giants and Eagles.

4. Washington — I’m sleeping on the potential sleeper. They will make strides, but not the huge ones they need to surpass division rivals.

NFC North

1. Green Bay — As long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, they have a chance to be dominant. 

2. Chicago — Deeper and more potent on offense than they were a year ago. If Brian Urlacher is close to his usual self, they should be a wild-card team.

3. Detroit — Playoffs are a possibility again, but the pass rush has to be great to help conceal some of the secondary’s flaws.

4. Minnesota — Clearly the worst team in a stacked division. They will be more competitive than some of the most pessimistic about their chances expect, though.

NFC South

1. New Orleans — The Saints are the NFC South’s most talented team and I still consider them a title contender, despite Sean Payton’s absence.

2. Atlanta — As much as I like the arsenal of skill-position players, their line play on offense and defense are two major concerns.

3. Carolina — There is not enough at wide receiver or on the defensive line/secondary. I like where they are headed, but I don’t see a postseason bid for them this season.

4. Tampa Bay — This could be the most improved team in the division, but it’s still the one with the most holes/question marks.

NFC West

1. San Francisco — With an intimidating defense and a good but not great offense, the 49ers should win the division comfortably.

2. Seattle — It seems like they leave me scratching my head more often than not. The Seahawks might be one of the league’s most exciting 8-8 teams.

3. St. Louis — Wins for them could be few and far between, but there will be signs of improvement in Jeff Fisher’s first year at the helm.

4. Arizona — Quarterback questions, offensive-line issues are the recipe for a long, disappointing season.

Offensive MVP — Saints QB Drew Brees

Defensive MVP — Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware

Super Bowl XLVII — Packers over Texans

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