After 213 long nights of waiting, professional football is finally back. To prepare for the upcoming 2010 NFL season, we at Shutdown Corner have made a bunch of predictions that we'll undoubtedly be disowning by Thanksgiving:
Doug Farrar: New England Patriots. The Jets have the far better running game and defense, but this is a quarterback-driven league above all, and I'm not totally on board with the whole Mark Sanchez(notes) Idea just yet. Randy Moss(notes) will have a monster year as he tries to re-establish his value on the open market, and that will be enough
Chris Chase: New England Patriots. In every season since 2001, the Patriots have had the best or tied for the best record in the AFC East. No amount of contract squabbling or defensive worries is making me think this year is any different.
Farrar: Baltimore Ravens. Their front seven is the deciding factor in this division. I think they've done enough to make the offense work at a 25-points-per-game level, and that's fine; this isn't a team that will need to win a lot of shootouts.
Chase: Pittsburgh Steelers. Last year the bounces didn't go the way of the Steelers. Things in the NFL have a way of evening out.
Farrar: Houston Texans. They've been like the Arizona Cardinals before they finally broke through -- the little team that could (and should). This is the year I think they do. They will have to at least split with the Colts, and they'll do that, and this will give them the confidence they need to overcome their red-zone woes and finally break through.
Chase: Indianapolis Colts. Somehow, I don't think the Super Bowl loser curse is going to haunt the greatest quarterback of our generation.
Farrar: San Diego Chargers. Honestly, not one team in this division impressed me, and Oakland may actually have more talent from 1-53 than San Diego does at this point. But the Chargers still have Philip Rivers(notes), and enough receiver talent to make it without Vincent Jackson(notes). However, a series of iffy moves by general manager A.J. Smith will have this team's window closing ... fast.
Chase: Oakland Raiders. There's going to be at least one crazy division winner (see 2008 Miami Dolphins) so why not Oakland? A solid defense and a competent quarterback can go a long way in a division like the West.
Farrar: New York Giants. Logic tells the prognosticators that the Eagles will take this thing, but I'm not drinking the Kevin Kolb(notes) Kool-Aid yet. And the Cowboys' offensive line is just asking for trouble. The Redskins are in radical rehaul mode, so I have to give this division to the Giants by default.
Chase: New York Giants. The Eagles' offense is about as intimidating as the French army. The Cowboys still have Wade Phillips as coach. And the Redskins? Don't get me started on the Redskins.
Farrar: Green Bay Packers. Last year, the Vikings spanked the Packers all over the place in their two meetings. This year, Aaron Rodgers(notes) gets his revenge on all the goobers who won't let him forget that he's not Brett Favre(notes) by taking the division and leading his team to the Super Bowl.
Chase: Green Bay Packers. Up until three seconds ago, I had completely forgotten about that 51-45 wild-card game the Packers lost to the Cardinals last year. With the Vikings' collapse as imminent as tomorrow's sunrise, Aaron Rodgers and the Pack should cruise in the North.
Farrar: New Orleans Saints. People seem to be acting as if this team was a fluke last year, and the ones who aren't doing that seem to discount them because they're angry that the Saints denied Pope Brett I the Super Bowl that was apparently his birthright. But Sean Payton is still the best coach in football, and that will be worth a game's lead over the Atlanta Falcons when the division's story is told.
Chase: New Orleans Saints. The Saints were the best team in football last year and not just because they won the Super Bowl. Remember that 13-0 start? Run out all the stats you want about post-Super Bowl malaise, but New Orleans is still the king until another team proves otherwise.
Farrar: San Francisco 49ers. Both Western Division winners will be so by default, but I do like what Mike Singletary has going on defense and in the running game. I'm just a bit too concerned about Alex Smith and a slight defensive regression to mark them as a deep postseason contender.
Chase: Seattle Seahawks. Imagine what Pete Carroll can do when players get paid over the table.
AFC Wild Card
Farrar: New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts
Chase: Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens
NFC Wild Card
Farrar: Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings
Farrar: Baltimore Ravens over Green Bay Packers
Chase: Indianapolis Colts over Dallas Cowboys
Farrar: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Farrar: San Francisco 49ers
Chase: Chicago Bears
Chase: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Farrar: Arizona Cardinals
Chase: Philadelphia Eagles
Story We're Tired of Hearing About
Farrar: Favre and Haynesworth -- take your pick.
Chase: Anybody's contract
Story We Haven't Heard Enough About
Farrar: How the owners are trying to use the 18-game season to increase their profits and lowball the players at the same time.
Chase: That 366 days from now we might not have a season to preview.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Chase: RB Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Offensive Player of the Year
Farrar: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Defensive Player of the Year
Chase: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders
Comeback Player of the Year