Training camp has officially started. Now is the time where teams and players are getting working out, and preparing for the regular season. There are still some free agents out there to be signed but nothing that will make a big impact for projections to change. If there are no injuries during training camp either, these projections shouldn't change by the time the season starts. I'll go division by division, talking about what I think of the division as a whole and how it will play out, I will talk about each team, and how they'll do this season. Then I'll do conference standings, playoff predictions, awards, and a couple other miscellaneous things. First lets start off with the AFC.
Usually one of the toughest divisions in football, but its seem to taken a step back the last couple years. Nothings changed at the top with New England, but past bottom dweller Buffalo has made moves to shoot them up to possible playoff contention. This a division where you know what you're getting at the top, and the rest is a toss up.
1. New England Patriots
Even without Wes Welker, the Patriots are easily the best team in this division. Their defense isn't the best, but their offense more than makes up for it. Whenever you have Tom Brady leading your team you can pretty much mark down your team in the playoffs. When you take a look at their schedule, it's not that tough. It starts out tough and ends sorta tough, but in between weeks 4 and 14 they only play 1 playoff team from last season (Baltimore). This season won't be a total walkthrough, nobody else in the division made enough of a difference in the offseason to knock off the Pats from the top.
Offensive MVP: Tom Brady
Defensive MVP: Vince Wilfork
Breakthrough Player: Steven Ridley
2. Buffalo Bills
Starting off, the Bills made a big jump up when they signed Mario Williams. Their defense is much improved, and the offense pretty much stayed the same, but it was key that they re-signed Steve Johnson. Fred Jackson is also coming back and if he stays healthy the Bills should be able to make a run at the playoffs. Also they have the 3rd easiest schedule in the league (based off opponents 2011 record), and former 2nd overall pick Marcell Dareus should be a huge impact this year. I'm not completely sold that they make the playoffs, but they will be in contention.
Offensive MVP: Fred Jackson
Defensive MVP: Marcell Dareus
Breakthrough Player: Marcell Dareus
3. New York Jets
This is hard because I like the Jets, I really do, and I want Mark Sanchez to finally have a good regular season to get his critics off his back, I want Tebow's presence to push Sanchez to becoming an elite QB in the league, but quite frankly, I don't think that will happen. Even before Tebow got there, Sanchez never stepped up to be a leader, he was always the main point of criticism of the team, even more than Rex Ryan, the guy who guaranteed super bowl titles before his 1st game as a head coach. Eventually I think Sanchez's confidence breaks and Tebow ends up stepping into the starting job, Sanchez could be gone next year. This is a make or break year for him and I hope he steps up to become a leader and a playmaker for the Jets. As for the rest of the team, the defense didn't make much changes, and the offense will be middle of the road at best. Jets miss the playoffs once again and puts Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez on the hot seat.
Offensive MVP: Shonn Greene
Defensive MVP: Darrelle Revis
Breakout Player: Shonn Greene
4. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins were one of the teams that took a huge step back this off-season. They traded away their best offensive player, and didn't get nearly enough for him, and their starting quarterback will be a guy who hasn't played an NFL game for over a year. Their defense hasn't changed much either from what I can see, and there's nothing that you can really get excited about other than Ryan Tannehill's development. Hopefully Reggie Bush continues his stellar play from last year. I see a near bottom AFC finish and a top 5 pick next year.
Offensive MVP: Reggie Bush
Defensive MVP: Vontae Davis
Breakout Player: Davone Bess
Look for this division to be one of the tightest division races once again this year. But this time with 3 teams competing for the division title. New to the conversation will be the Bengals as they gained much needed experience from being in the playoffs last year, they'll want to prove that last year was no fluke, and that Andy Dalton can be a great QB in this league. Baltimore wins it with Pitt, Cincy, and Cleveland following.
1. Baltimore Ravens
I do think the Ravens win the division once again. I love their team, and I do think that Joe Flacco can be an elite quarterback. He needs to prove he can win in the playoffs, but management has set him up very nicely to go very far this year.
Offensive MVP: Ray Rice
Defensive MVP: Ray Lewis
Breakout Player: Torrey Smith
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
No doubt this will be a close battle for the division title, but there are more questions for Pittsburgh than usual. 1. How will Isaac Redman preform now that he'll be the full-time back? 2. Will Roethlisberger's "partial" torn rotator cuff affect him? or will it get worse? 3. Is the offensive line ready to perform like they should? and 4. Will Mike Wallace sign his contract anytime soon? Don't get me wrong there's a lot to like about this team, but there's also a lot of doubt for me as well. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bengals finished ahead of them this year. One of the tightest division races this year will be the AFC North that's for sure. Also with the Todd Haley coming in, they want to get back to ground and pound football, and it's yet to be seen if Redman can carry a full load, and it's a big question to when Mendenhall will return this year (if he does at all), and how Dwyer will perform with more touches as the full fledged #2.
Offensive MVP: Ben Roethlisberger
Defensive MVP: Troy Polamalu
Breakout Player: Antonio Brown
3. Cincinnati Bengals
What can I say about the Bengals. They surprised a lot of people with the good play of rookies Andy Dalton, and AJ Green. Now the question is can they do it again in year 2? I think now that they brought in BGE and plan to have a balanced attack I think they have the potential to be even better this year. Mostly because I believe BGE is a much better running back than Cedric Benson. I'm concerned about the defense though. There's nobody that really jumps out at you, and there's a lot of guys that need to step up for them to fulfill their potential. They will be a borderline playoff team this year and 3rd in the division.
Offensive MVP: A.J. Green
Defensive MVP: Rey Maualuga
Breakout Player: Benjarvus Green-Ellis
4. Cleveland Browns
There's reasons to be excited about the Browns future, but there's a lot of reasons why they won't be successful. I love that they drafted Trent Richardson, but I hate that they drafted Weeden. I wouldn't have drafted Weeden in the until round 3 in the earliest. The Browns didn't need a different QB, Colt McCoy has the potential to be a very productive player, they needed more weapons for him. Richardson is a great start, but they needed to draft a good receiver that McCoy could throw to. Or even some more o-line help. I know they wanted Kendall Wright to drop to them, but they still could have gotten a guy with potential like Stephen Hill. Anyways they drafted Weeden, and I see the same situation they had with McCoy. No passing game, and defenses loading the box to stop Richardson. Another top 5 pick next year for the Browns.
Offensive MVP: Joe Thomas
Defensive MVP: Joe Haden
Breakout Player: Jabaal Sheard
What a difference one year makes. From Indy going from top to bottom with one injury, and then turning over almost their entire roster for complete rebuilding, to the Texans shooting up to be the consensus division champ. Look for Houston to run away with this division, as Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Indy come after.
1. Houston Texans
Not even a tough decision here for me. The Texans WILL run away with this division. I know Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson (their 2 best players) are both injury prone, but even T.J. Yates showed last year that he can step in and keep the team afloat if Schaub goes down. Foster has carried this team on offense the last 2 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Expect another huge year from him. As for the defense, much of the same. Sure they lost Mario Williams to the Bills, but he was hurt for most of the year last year anyways. Expect JJ Watt to have a big sophomore year, and Brian Cushing to continue his dominance.
Offensive MVP: Arian Foster
Defensive MVP: Brian Cushing
Breakout Player: JJ Watt
2. Tennessee Titans
This will be another year missing the playoffs for the Titans, just to get that out of the way. I think this will be the year they finally transition Jake Locker into the starting job. Chris Johnson will bounce back from his "off year" last season. The key to this team is if Kenny Britt will finally have a healthy season. The defense took a hit when Cortland Finnegan decided to bolt for St. Louis, but they should still be okay. Tennessee misses the playoffs, and Locker will be the starting quarterback by the end of the year.
Offensive MVP: Chris Johnson
Defensive MVP: Michael Griffin
Breakout Player: Jake Locker
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
The jags are lucky that the Colts are in transition mode. Even with that they're still the laughing stock of this division. I don't think this will be the "make or break" year for Blaine Gabbert, but he won't be successful. I wouldn't be surprised if Chad Henne takes over at some point during the year though. I have the Jags at 3 because I'm assuming MJD signs an extension by the start of the year. This will still be a loooonggg year for em.
Offensive MVP: Maurice Jones-Drew
Defensive MVP: Paul Posluzny
Breakout Player: Tyson Alualu
4. Indianapolis Colts
Big change in expectations for the Colts this year. All because of their almost complete roster change. Letting guys like Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clarke, and of course Peyton Manning go. They still kept some main pieces like Dwight Freeney, and Rashean Mathis, so at least they won't be as bad as they were last year. Lots of optimism ahead though with Andrew Luck taking over. A top pick for the Colts next year, but trust me when I say they won't be at the bottom for long.
Offensive MVP: Andrew Luck
Defensive MVP: Dwight Freeney
Breakout Player: Andrew Luck
As of now, I'd say that this will be the tightest division race from top to bottom. There might only be one playoff team coming out, but as their teams are constructed right now, any one of them could win the division. Assuming the teams stay healthy watch for this division race to be the closest.
1. Denver Broncos
Yes I'm drinking the Kool-Aid. Any team with Peyton Manning on it has a chance to go far. Obviously he's a HUGE upgrade over Tebow, and the offense will only get better. Don't forget that the addition of Manning will take a lot of pressure off of the defense. You could make the argument that the Manning doesn't really have good receivers to throw to, but remember that Manning made Austin Collie a household name, and you won't say who?? if i mention Blair White. Will be a close race for the division title with the Chargers but I'll take Manning in this battle.
Offensive MVP: Peyton Manning
Defensive MVP: Elvis Dumervil
Breakout Player: Eric Decker
2. San Diego Chargers
Very close division race, but the Chargers fall to the Broncos once again. And with another year of not winning the division, this is finally the year that the Chargers take Norv Turner off the hot seat and put him out of a job. They have a very talented roster, but Turner can't seem to get them to win. Rivers is hoping to have a bounceback year, and Ryan Mathews is trying to stay healthy for a full season. They should have a balanced attack on offense, and the defense will be good enough to carry them through the year. Chargers finish 2nd and are on the fringe of the playoffs. And if they miss the playoffs, expect coach Norv Turner to be fired.
Offensive MVP: Philip Rivers
Defensive MVP: Eric Weddle
Breakout Player: Robert Meachem
3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are one of those teams that can end up 1st, or end up last any year. With the team they have right now they could end up being one of the threats in the AFC, but I think there are to many questions for this team right now though. We don't know how well Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel, and Eric Berry are gonna play after their injuries last year, and Dwayne Bowe hasn't signed a long term deal, or his franchise tender. And we all know what happens to receivers after they hold out in camp. They end up having hamstring problems all year long. I like this team, but with the questions right now it's hard for me to predict them finishing ahead of the Chargers, or the Broncos.
Offensive MVP: Jamaal Charles
Defensive MVP: Eric Berry
Breakout Player: Tyson Jackson
4. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders could have easily one the division and made the playoffs last year, but they couldn't win their last game of the year even though Tebow pretty much handed them a playoff spot. The Raiders could be a good team this year, but I think the other teams in the division are better fit to do well. Raiders finish last, but don't have an embarrassing year.
Offensive MVP: Darren McFadden
Defensive MVP: Rolando McClain
Breakout Player: Darrius Heyward-Bey
This division could go any way. I could see anyone of these 3 teams winning the division: Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles.
1. New York Giants
The Giants are my pick to win the division this year. The defense still looks strong, and even though they lost Mario Manningham, and Brandon Jacobs to the 49ers in free agency, the offense should still be as good as they were last year. It'll be a tough season, but I think the Giants win the division.
Offensive MVP: Eli Manning
Defensive MVP: Jason Pierre-Paul
Breakout Player: Prince Amukamara
2. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles will have a much better season than they did last year. Like in every other sport once you bring in as many free agents as they did last year, especially the big names like they did, they need time to gel. And being in a lockout year doesn't help at all. I love how they traded for DeMeco Ryans and shored up their problems at the middle linebacker spot. Once again this team needs Mike Vick to play well to be successful.
Offensive MVP: LeSean McCoy
Defensive MVP: Nnamdi Asomugha
Breakout Player: Fletcher Cox
3. Dallas Cowboys
Another year, another missed playoffs for the Cowboys. The Cowboys have a lot of talent on offense, and a few good players on defense, but I don't think it will be enough this year. I also don't think Romo is the right fit for this team. Don't get me wrong Romo is a decent quarterback, but expectations are always too high for him. And Dez Bryant could prove this year that he's too much of a headcase for Dallas to handle. And I do think that the Cowboys finally find a legit running game with DeMarco Murray
Offensive MVP: DeMarco Murray
Defensive MVP: DeMarcus Ware
Breakout Player: Morris Claiborne
4. Washington Redskins
The Redskins made some great strides to becoming a better football team this off-season, but I don't think it will be enough to make a playoff push. I think in a year or two the Redskins will be in playoff contention. I think they need to make a couple more moves for their defense before they become a playoff team.
Offensive MVP: Robert Griffin III
Defensive MVP: London Fletcher
Breakout Player: Pierre Garcon
This will be a great division to watch this year. Not only do you have the Packers who went 15-1 last season, you have the Bears who made a huge move adding Brandon Marshall, and you have the Lions who broke out last year, and made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. And then you have the rebuilding Vikings. Watch for the Packers to once again win this division.
1. Green Bay Packers
The Packers could easily run away with this division. And I think they will. The Packers have the one of the deepest teams in the league, and they made big strides in improving that defense. Now that Nick Perry is there it will finally take off some pressure from Clay Matthews. The defense will be better this year, and the offense will be just as dangerous as they were last year if not more.
Offensive MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Defensive MVP: Clay Matthews
Breakout Player: Randall Cobb
2. Chicago Bears
I really like what the Bears did this off-season. Being able to get Brandon Marshall for cheap will be huge for them. The defense hasn't gotten a whole lot better, we should expect much of the same from that end this season. Resigning Forte was the real key to this off-season.
Offensive MVP: Matt Forte
Defensive MVP: Julius Peppers
Breakout Player: Kellen Davis
3. Detroit Lions
The Lions broke out last year and made the playoffs. They have a great chance to make it again, but there are a lot of problems for them. Too many off field issues for them this year. They had to cut their best player in the secondary to make a point. Their secondary is now one of the worst in the league and they'll get burned by teams like Green Bay and Chicago. I expect the Lions to miss the playoffs just because they lost so much on defense.
4. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are in rebuilding mode, and this will be a tough year for them. I think Ponder will make a lot of progress this year, and Peterson will bounce back after that ACL injury last season, but they won't be anywhere near the playoffs.
Offensive MVP: Adrian Peterson
Defensive MVP: Jared Allen
Breakout Player: Christian Ponder
Another one of those divisions that's gonna be really tight. All 4 of these teams are capable of making the playoffs.
1. New Orleans Saints
The Saints obviously took a huge blow with the suspensions laid down by the NFL. The defense will take a hit, but the offense should be the same as years before. Brees won't break his record he set last year, but he'll still have a big year as usual. Saints win it in a close division race
Offensive MVP: Drew Brees
Defensive MVP: Jabari Greer
Breakout Player: Nick Toon
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were knocked out of the playoffs early last year, and I expect them to finish the regular season about the same as they did last year. They didn't add much on offense, but I do like how they added Ray Edwards to play on the other side of John Abraham on defense.
Offensive MVP: Matt Ryan
Defensive MVP: John Abraham
Breakout Player: Jacquizz Rodgers
3. Carolina Panthers
Last year Cam Newton burst onto the scene setting records left and right. There's always a chance of a sophomore slump but Newton has been working really hard in the off-season and I think it'll pay off for him. Newton could potentially lead this team to a playoff berth his 2nd year in the league.
Offensive MVP: Cam Newton
Defensive MVP: Jon Beason
Breakout Player: Brandon LaFell
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Looking at the Bucs roster, there's a lot to like. Freeman is gonna be a good qb, and I like them drafting Doug Martin, and signing Vincent Jackson. The offense won't be a problem, but I think the defense won't be good enough to handle all the offenses in this division.
Offensive MVP: Josh Freeman
Defensive MVP: Gerald McCoy
Breakout Player: Adrian Clayborne
This division will be the easiest to predict. San-Fran on top by a landslide, and the rest of the teams missing the playoffs.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Jim Harbaugh last year proved that he deserves a spot in this league. He brought a team that went last in the division 2 years ago, to a play or two from being in a super bowl. He also proved that Alex Smith is the quarterback for this team. He doesn't need to do too much, just manage the game and make sure he doesn't make mistakes. Sort of a Trent Dilfer type QB. This team will be scary next year and will be right up there in super bowl contention.
Offensive MVP: Frank Gore
Defensive MVP: Patrick Willis
Breakout Player: Navorro Bowman
2. Seattle Seahawks
I don't think that the Seahawks are particularly a playoff team but they will be somewhat decent. Them signing Matt Flynn will turn out pretty good for them, and signing TO could end up being good. There isn't much of change on the defense, but in this division you don't need much to end up in the higher end.
Offensive MVP: Matt Flynn
Defensive MVP: Earl Thomas
Breakout Player: Richard Sherman
3. St Louis Rams
Having a 3rd new coach and system in 3 years won't be the best thing for Sam Bradford, but the Rams hiring of Jeff Fisher will be great in the long run. Might not happen right away, but in the next couple years the Rams will be good.
Offensive MVP: Steven Jackson
Defensive MVP: Chris Long
Breakout Player: Lance Kendricks
4. Arizona Cardinals
Very easy decision for me here. Doesn't matter who wins the starting quarterback job the Cardinals will finish last in this division. I know they have Larry Fitz, and they drafted Michael Floyd, but neither John Skelton or Kevin Kolb are quarterbacks capable of leading a team to the playoffs. I also think the defense isn't where it needs to be for the Cardinals to be a threat.
Offensive MVP: Larry Fitzgerald
Defensive MVP: Patrick Peterson
Breakout Player: Calais Campbell
1. New England Patriots
2. Houston Texans
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Denver Broncos
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. San Diego Chargers
1. Green Bay Packers
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New York Giants
5. Philadelphia Eagles
6. Atlanta Falcons
NFL Regular Season Awards
MVP: Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Offensive Player Of The Year: Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Defensive Player Of The Year: Patrick Willis (San Francisco 49ers)
Coach Of The Year: Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans)
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins)
Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys)
Comeback Player Of The Year: Randy Moss (San Francisco 49ers)
6) San Diego Chargers at 3) Baltimore Ravens
5) Pittsburgh Steelers at 4) Denver Broncos
5) Pittsburgh Steelers at 1) New England Patriots
3) Baltimore Ravens at 2) Houston Texans
3) Baltimore Ravens at 1) New England Patriots
6) Atlanta Falcons at 3) New Orleans Saints
5) Philadelphia Eagles at 4) New York Giants
5) Philadelphia Eagles at 1) Green Bay Packers
3) New Orleans Saints at 2) San Francisco 49ers
3) New Orleans Saints at 1) Green Bay Packers
Baltimore Ravens vs Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl Champs: Green Bay Packers