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After Some Thought: 2013 NFL Predictions (Part 1)

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It's the start of a new NFL season and everyone is an expert.

Not really. But everyone does have an opinion.

Here are my selections for the 12 teams that will eventually vie for the Lombardi Trophy in 2013. While there may be a few surprises, there is nothing quite that shocking when it comes to the league these days.

As for Super Bowl XLVIII, the pick here are a pair of teams that have each yet to win an NFL title but have made at least one appearance in the Big Game.

Figure out who the two teams are? Why guess?

AFC:

East: New England Patriots: Bill Belichick's team has won four straight division titles and has been AFC East champions 10 of the last 12 seasons. Business as usual following an unusual offseason…

North: Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals won the AFC North in 2009 and if they reach the playoffs this season, it would be a team-record third-straight appearance. A young and talented team…

South: Houston Texans: Gary Kubiak's club has captured the AFC South two straight years only to eventually be ousted in the divisional playoffs. The Texans need to take the next step…

West: Denver Broncos: The team with the best record in the AFC last season has not had an enjoyable spring and summer. But Peyton Manning and company are still the best in this West…

Wild Card: Baltimore Ravens: The head coach/quarterback combo of John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco is 5-for-5 when it comes to the playoffs. Hail the defending Super Bowl champs…

Wild Card: Miami Dolphins: The last time the Dolphins had a winning record was in 2008, the last time they reached the playoffs. All of their offseason work will pay off in 2013…

NFC:

East: Dallas Cowboys: Stability in terms of play-calling and a revamped defense via coordinator Monte Kiffin adds up to an NFC East title for Tony Romo and the much-maligned Cowboys…

North: Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers will get some more support from a new-look running game and the team's young defensive players will gel just enough to hold off the Vikings…

South: Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback Matt Ryan and company are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back NFC South titles -- and they will get it done. As for the Super Bowl?...

West: Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll's team played the preseason like they did down the stretch in 2012. Power running and good defense adds up to very big things…

Wild Card: San Francisco 49ers: Winning the NFC West for the third straight year may not be in the cards, but a return to the Super Bowl is definitely not out of the question…

Wild Card: Carolina Panthers: If Ron Rivera's team can avoid a third-straight 2-8 start, they could challenge the Falcons in the NFC South. And the Carolina defense bears watching…

AFC champion: Cincinnati Bengals

NFC champion: Seattle Seahawks

Super Bowl XLVIII champion: Cincinnati Bengals

So what are your picks for 2013? Will we see the Bengals and Seahawks square off at MetLife Stadium in February? Enjoy the league's 94th season and the roller-coaster ride known as the National Football League.

Wednesday: Predictions for the NFL's individual awards in 2013

Russell S. Baxter has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on all platforms. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

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