NFC North Picks, Preview and Predictions
NFC North Division Winner: Green Bay Packers (-150 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Top to bottom, the NFC North is one of the most competitive divisions in football. All four teams have made the playoffs in the last three years, and there will be multiple teams competing for a spot again this season. The Green Bay Packers have the best player in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers, which will always give them an advantage in the division. They will look to add a little running game into the mix with two solid rookie RBs. A team to watch in the NFC North is the Chicago Bears who underwent a regime change, losing LB Brian Urlacher and long time coach Lovie Smith. They will do a better job utilizing Matt Forte and take some of the weight off their defensive line. The Detroit Lions could make a playoff push if they can limit the mental mistakes and Reggie Bush comes as advertised. Finally, the Minnesota Vikings, with Adrian Peterson, can never be ruled out of the playoff picture. They made the playoffs in 2012, losing to Green Bay in the Wild Card Round. There aren’t many divisions in football that can say they have four legitimate playoff contenders (NFC East perhaps) but this is one of them.
NFC North Final Standings Prediction
Green Bay Packers 12-4 (Odds to Win NFC North -150 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Chicago Bears 10-6 (Odds to Win NFC North +300 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Detroit Lions 9-7 (Odds to Win NFC North +500 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Minnesota Vikings 7-9 (Odds to Win NFC North +600 at Carbon Sportsbook)
NFC North Final Thoughts: We really like some of the changes this division made during the offseason. The Lions added secondary help they badly needed, Chicago should look rejuvenated with its new offensive-minded approach, and Green Bay is still a Super Bowl contender. Peterson can only put the Vikings on his back for so many games, making them the only team not fighting for playoff spots in the final weeks of the regular season.
NFC West Picks, Preview and Predictions
NFC West Division Winner: San Francisco 49ers (-110 at Carbon Sportsbook)
The NFC West looks to be horse race between two teams who won’t be happy with anything short of a Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. Both made huge moves to improve their chances of winning it all this year. San Francisco added Anquan Boldin from last year’s Super Bowl champs. Seattle bolstered its defensive front in hopes of containing Colin Kaepernick, and when these two play twice this year it will be must watch TV for the average NFL fan. While the Arizona Cardinals have little hope of doing anything this season we really think the St. Louis Rams will be one of the most improved teams in the league. With two shut down corners, defensive mastermind Jeff Fisher is setting up his defense to compete with the elite teams in this division, and while the Rams might not have the firepower to compete with San Fransisco, they will be much better in 2013.
NFC West Final Standings Prediction
San Francisco 49ers 12-4 (Odds to Win NFC West -110 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Seattle Seahawks 11-5 (Odds to Win NFC West +120 at Carbon Sportsbook)
St. Louis Rams 10-6 (Odds to Win NFC West +650 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Arizona Cardinals 4-12 (Odds to Win NFC West +2000 at Carbon Sportsbook)
NFC West Final Thoughts: The race between Seattle and San Francisco will be an important one heading into the playoffs because both of these teams like their home field advantage. Seattle plays great at home and terrible on the East Coast while San Francisco is almost unbeatable at home. The Rams will have the defense that has the most success against the high-powered offenses in San Fran and Seattle but their own lack of offense will keep them out of the division race.
NFC East Picks, Preview and Predictions
NFC East Division Winner: Dallas Cowboys (+200 at Carbon Sportsbook)
The NFC East will always be known as one of the toughest and grittiest in football, and this year will be no different. The Washington Redskins came out of nowhere with the addition of Robert Griffin III, who was one of the most electrifying players in the league when he was healthy. We think the extra offseason to help prepare for what RGIII brings to the table will help NFC East defenses learn to contain him. The New York Giants lost Usi Umenyiora to the Falcons and appear to be a team on the decline, star Hakeem Nicks is already banged up as well. The Philadelphia Eagles might be on to something with Michael Vick and coach Chip Kelly but they’re going to need to improve their offensive line to be effective; they’re a few good draft picks away from being successful. The Cowboys have the talent to win this division and will have yet another season to prove it on the field in a division that will undoubtedly come down to the last few weeks of the season.
NFC East Final Standings Prediction
Dallas Cowboys 10-6 (Odds to Win NFC East +200 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Washington Redskins 9-7 (Odds to Win NFC East +250 at Carbon Sportsbook)
New York Giants 7-9 (Odds to Win NFC East +200 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Philadelphia Eagles 6-10 (Odds to Win NFC East +400 at Carbon Sportsbook)
NFC East Final Thoughts: The success of the Redskins depends a lot on the health of RGIII, and we are anticipating him being at least banged up during the season. The Giants will continue to regress and Philadelphia’s high speed offense will need another season to develop. If the Cowboys can get out of their own way and win a clutch, close division game at the end of the season they will win this division.
NFC South Picks, Preview Predictions
NFC South Division Winner: New Orleans Saints (+160 at Carbon Sportsbook)
The New Orleans Saints finally got to have a normal offseason. With Sean Peyton back from suspension and Rob Ryan stepping in as the defensive coordinator, the Saints look to get back to dominance. The Atlanta Falcons will be right there with them. After a playoff push in 2012, they added star Steven Jackson to take over for an aging Michael Turner. The addition that will put the Saints over the top will be CB Keenan Lewis, who will take Falcons WR Julio Jones away in their interdivisional battles. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have a secondary that will slow down two of the most productive offenses in the NFL. Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson will help them compete against Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan. The Carolina Panthers (4.5 to 1 at Bovada) will go as Newton goes. He is a big play machine just as often as he is a turnover machine and he is going to have to be more consistent if they’re going to compete in this division.
NFC South Final Standings Prediction
New Orleans Saints 13-3 (Odds to Win NFC South +160 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Atlanta Falcons 11-5 (Odds to Win NFC South +130 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8 (Odds to Win NFC South +500 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Carolina Panthers 6-10 (Odds to Win NFC South +450 at Carbon Sportsbook)
NFC South Final Thought: NFL fans are lucky they get to see the Falcons and the Saints play twice this season. They will be two of the most productive offenses in the league this season. Tampa Bay’s defense will allow it to beat some teams and compete while Newton’s inconsistency at QB will keep Carolina from advancing to the next level.
AFC West Picks, Preview and Predictions
AFC West Division Winner: Denver Broncos (-300 at Carbon Sportsbook)
More than any other division in football, the AFC West has a clear favorite. The Denver Broncos are in Super Bowl or bust mode, and while the rest of the division might have improved, Denver is still the team with the highest aspirations. The combination of Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker with Peyton Manning throwing it to them will have this division decided well before Week 17. The Kansas City Chiefs are another team we are very high on this year with a new QB, Alex Smith, who should limit the turnovers and a defense that is coming back healthy. They will contend for a Wild Card spot in the AFC. The other two AFC West teams are hopeless. The San Diego Chargers are falling from grace quickly. Philip Rivers is deteriorating and has nobody to get the ball to, and their offensive line is one of the worst in the league. They will win a few games this year though, because they get to play the Oakland Raiders twice this season. Oakland has a legitimate shot to become the second 0-16 team in NFL history. Their lone bright spot, Darren McFadden has never played a full season and with nothing around him to take the load off his shoulders. We will be shocked if he is playing after Week 10. The Broncos are the clear favorites here, even without Von Miller for the first six games.
AFC West Final Standings Prediction
Denver Broncos 12-4 (Odds to Win AFC West -300 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Kansas City Chiefs 9-7 (Odds to Win AFC West +400 at Carbon Sportsbook)
San Diego Chargers 5-11 (Odds to Win AFC West +600 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Oakland Raiders 2-14 (Odds to Win AFC West +2800 at Carbon Sportsbook)
AFC West Final Thought: While the Chiefs are on the brink, it is clear who is the class of this division. The Broncos might not have what it takes to win a Super Bowl, but it is going to take a very serious injury to keep them from winning this division. San Diego and Oakland are falling apart quickly, and Kansas City is an elite quarterback away from competing with Denver. As long as Manning is healthy and starting the road through the AFC West goes through Denver.
AFC South Division Picks, Preview Predictions
AFC South Division Winner: Indianapolis Colts (+280 at Carbon Sportsbook)
The Houston Texans have won this division three years running and only have two playoff wins over Cincinnati to show for it. They’ve been on a slow climb to being Super Bowl contenders for the last five seasons, and this year we are jumping off the bandwagon. Matt Schaub isn’t an elite QB, aided by WR Andre Johnson and while they have a great defensive front seven their secondary is well below average. Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts made huge improvements on their biggest weakness – offensive line – and Andrew Luck has already looked sharp with a new offensive coordinator more taylored to his style of play. The Tennessee Titans are a franchise QB away from competing in this division. We don’t think Jake Locker is it, and neither do the Titans, which is why they spent all offseason bolstering their offensive line to clear the way for Chris Johnson and new addition Shonne Greene. The Jacksonville Jaguars went into full rebuilding mode this offseason and won’t compete for another few years. They did make some nice draft picks to help their secondary but their lack of pass rush, and Blaine Gabbert will keep them from being overly competetive.
AFC South Final Standings Prediction
Indianapolis Colts 10-6 (Odds to Win AFC South +280 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Houston Texans 10-6 (Odds to Win AFC South -250 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Tennessee Titans 6-10 (Odds to Win AFC South +800 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Oakland Raiders 4-12 (Odds to Win AFC South +2800 at Carbon Sportsbook)
AFC South Final Thought: There are arguments for both a Colts progression and regression, and we are anticipating the former. Luck has improvements up front, a second year with his receiving core, and Ahmad Bradshaw to help lighten his load. This added weaponry and experience will boost Indianapolis past Houston in the South this year. Tennessee will pound the rock and CJ2K will have a good year, but without a passing game they will come up short while Jacksonville does what it usually does – bring up the bottom of the AFC.
AFC North Picks, Preview and Predictions
AFC North Division Winner: Cincinnati Bengals (+200 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Last year’s Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens underwent some serious changes during the offseason, going away from what made them champions last year. The heart and soul of their defense, Ray Lewis retired. Their star safety Ed Reed left for Houston. Their best WR Anquan Boldin is in San Francisco. Combine that with the recent history of the defending champions struggles, and we think this is enough to keep them from making a run for a second year in a row. The Pittsburgh Steelers lost a veteran of their own in James Harrison. They did, however, make dramatic improvements to their offensive line that have needed to be made for years now. The problem? They had to let playmakers like Rashad Mendenhall and Mike Wallace leave in free agency to make room. With their lack of running game and playmakers for Ben Roethlisberger to throw the ball to, their offense will keep them from winning this division. The Cleveland Browns are still a few players away. That leaves the Cincinnati Bengals as AFC North winners. They snuck into the playoffs with a rookie QB, young receivers and a solid defense. If they can just improve marginally over what they had last season this division is there for the taking.
AFC North Final Standings Prediction
Cincinnati Bengals 10-6 (Odds to Win AFC North +200 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Baltimore Ravens 9-7 (Odds to Win AFC North +200 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8 (Odds to Win AFC North +200 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Cleveland Browns 6-10 (Odds to Win AFC North +600 at Carbon Sportsbook)
AFC North Final Thought: The Bengals made the most improvements in this division by not moving backwards. Many key players that made this one of the toughest divisions in football have gone their own ways. While Baltimore and Pittsburgh might still sneak into the Wild Card picture, Cincinnati has the best passing game in this division and should come out on top. Joe Flacco, though he is being paid elite QB money, isn’t as good as his deep playoff run in 2012 and he will come back to reality in 2013. Roethlisberger doesn’t have the weapons to get back into the playoffs.
AFC East Picks, Preview and Predictions
AFC East Division Winner: New England Patriots (-300 at Carbon Sportsbook)
We almost liked the Miami Dolphins enough to pick them to win this division, and if they can move forward this year while the New England Patriots take another step back, this division will start to see a swing in power. The addition of Mike Wallace is going to really help the Miami offense. Ryan Tannehill showed improvement throughout the season and the Dolphin organization is taking steps to build around him. Their defense was solid last year and they have high hopes for young RB tandem Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. New England is making the best out of a bad situation losing Wes Welker to Denver, Aaron Hernandez to the law, and Rob Gronkowski going though multiple surgeries this offseason. They should get the ground game more involved and focus more on defense in 2013, and they still have Tom Brady at quarterback, which should be enough to get them the playoff spot in this division again this year. Aside from Miami and New England, the AFC East is home to two other teams who will be in the talk for worst team in the NFL this season. The New York Jets are a train wreck with zero offensive depth to speak of, and the Buffalo Bills are an injury away from opening up their own hospital. They are the only team in the league that hasn’t declared their starter for Week 1.
AFC East Final Standings Prediction
New England Patriots 10-6 (Odds to Win AFC East -300 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Miami Dolphins 8-8 (Odds to Win AFC East +350 at Carbon Sportsbook)
Buffalo Bills 5-11 (Odds to Win AFC East +900 at Carbon Sportsbook)
New York Jets 4-12 (Odds to Win AFC East +1400 at Carbon Sportsbook)
AFC East Final Thought: There is a power shift on the horizon in this division similiar to the AFC South. The Patriot dynasty is heading to a close, and the Dolphins are knocking at their doorstep, though they’re not quite there yet. The Bills will see a solid season from CJ Spiller if he can keep himself on the field, but they have nothing else in the way of exciting players. The only way the Jets are going to win games this year is to have their defense score touchdowns, because we don’t see their offense scoring too many.
Other 2013 Regular Season Awards Futures Picks
2013 Most Valuable Player: Drew Brees (10 to 1 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2013 NFL Passing Leader: Drew Brees (4 to 1 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2013 NFL Rushing Leader: CJ Spiller (12 to 1 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2013 NFL Recieving Leader: AJ Green (10 to 1 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2013 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: EJ Manuel (10 to 1 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Ansah (6 to 1 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2013 Player with most Fantasy Points: Drew Brees (5 to 1 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2013 Playoff Picks, Preview, Predictions
2013 NFL Wild Card Round Picks and Predictions
Atlanta Falcons vs Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys will finally break through and win a playoff game this year. Their defensive front will slow down Atlanta’s quick passing attack and their corners can stay with the Atlanta receiving core, while Atlanta doesn’t have the secondary to cover the Dallas recievers. Dallas 27 – Atlanta 21
Seattle Seahawks vs Green Bay Packers
Unfortunately, Seattle will fall a game short of having home field advantage and a first round bye and will be forced to travel east to Lambeau Field, where they have had no luck. Aaron Rodgers at home in January proves too much for one of the best defenses in the league all season. Green Bay 24 – Atlanta 20
Indianapolis Colts vs Baltimore Ravens
The Colts will be this year’s shocker, beating the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens in the first round by attacking them vertically. Joe Flacco will have more turnovers down the stretch, and Indianapolis will hold the ball in the fourth quarter to ice this game. Indianapolis 31 – Baltimore 21
Cincinnati Bengals vs Houston Texans
Here, we have two teams heading in opposite directions in the final Wild Card round matchup. The Bengals are on the rise, with young playmakers. Giovani Bernard could become a Top 5 back in the NFL, while Houston comes to the sad realization that Matt Schaub can’t lead them to the Promised Land. Cincinnati 26 – Houston 17
Bye Week Teams: New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, San Fransisco 49ers
2013 Divisional Playoffs Picks & Predictions
Dallas Cowboys vs San Fransisco 49ers
While Dallas might have had the corners to beat Atlanta, it is lacking the front seven needed to stop San Fransisco. Tony Romo will get a playoff win, but that streak ends here. The 49ers lean heavily on Frank Gore and Vernon Davis to get to the NFC Championship Game. San Francisco 27 – Dallas 13
Green Bay Packers vs New Orleans Saints
The two highest scoring offenses meet in the Superdome in what will surely be a track meet. Drew Brees is able do outduel Aaron Rodgers in a game where whoever has the ball last wins. The rejuvinated Saints offense will set NFL records this year and they won’t be stopped by the Packers defense. New Orleans 37 – Green Bay 28
Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots
Here comes our big upset playoff pick. The most improved player in the league this year will be Andrew Luck, who will learn to love TY Hilton and put himself right next to Kaepernick and RGIII as the best new age quarterbacks. Tom Brady doesn’t have the offensive weapons he needs to get back to the Super Bowl and while the Patriots’ defense and running game got them this far, they come up short at home. Indianapolis 27 – New England 24
Cincinnati Bengals vs Denver Broncos
In years past, this would be where we would pick Peyton Manning’s season to end. He finds a way to lose these Divisional Round playoff games every season. This year, he will find comfort in the best wide receiver core in the NFL and a top notch defense. While Cincinnati will have something to build on going forwards, the Broncos have a team to win now. Denver 30 – Cincinnati 21
2013 Championship Game Picks & Predictions
San Fransisco 49ers vs New Orleans Saints
It won’t take long for the Saints offense to click again, and with Rob Ryan working the defense this year they should be one of the best teams in the NFL. The 49ers don’t capitalize on enough drives and settle for field goals while Drew Brees gets revenge for their 2011 playoff loss. New Orleans 31 – San Francisco 27
Indianapolis Colts vs Denver Broncos
If this truly is the AFC Championship game it will get no shortage of press coverage. The Peyton Manning vs. his old team angle will be exhausted. While the Indianapolis secondary could handle Tom Brady without any recievers, it won’t have as much success containing Peyton Manning. The combination of the deep passing attack, cold outdoor Mile High Stadium in January, and the experience in Denver puts the hosts over the top. Denver 24 – Indianapolis 14
Super Bowl 48 and Prediction
Denver Broncos vs New Orleans Saints
In a year where some of the best teams in the NFL only got better, while some of the bad teams only got worse, these are the two teams who made the biggest steps forward with their additions. People forget how good the Saints team was just two years ago before they lost coach Sean Peyton, but they will be rejuvinated and back to prove the league wrong as 2013 Super Bowl Champions. Drew Brees will be the Super Bowl MVP. New Orleans 34 – Denver 28