2010 NFL Predictions: A Topsy Turvy League
by Jerbeek of Predictem.com
The NFL is unlike any other league in the fact that every year there are surprise teams. In 2008, the New Orleans Saints were a mediocre team compiling an 8-8 record but in 2009 they jumped to 13-3 and a Super Bowl Championship. In fact, of the 12 teams that made the 2009 NFL Playoffs, only 6 were repeats from 2008. This was not an anomaly as 2008 saw only 5 teams that made the playoff that were also participants in 2007. The 2007 playoffs were comprised of 6 teams that made the playoffs in 2006. For this reason, hope springs eternal for nearly every team as we start a new season. The Indianapolis Colts and the San Diego Chargers are the only teams that have made the playoffs in each of the last 4 seasons. Dallas, Philadelphia, the New York Giants, the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens have each made it to the playoffs in 3 of the past 4 seasons. With this in mind, let’s look ahead to the 2010 season and examine what lies ahead as we try to project what the 2010 NFL season will bring.
Arizona Cardinals - 2009 record (10-6) - The Cardinals will have a new look this year with Matt Leinart taking over for the retired Kurt Warner. The receiving corps has also been reduced with the loss of Anquan Boldin so we can assume that the offense will not be nearly as productive. Look for the Cardinals to use Beanie Wells a lot more with the running game. The defense was a little above average in 2009 and we assume they will continue to improve with a defensive minded coach in Ken Whisenhunt. The over/under is set at 7.5 and I like the over as I project a 9-7 season.
Atlanta Falcons - 2009 record (9-7) - The Falcons seem to have overcome the Michael Vick Era with a successful QB in Matt Ryan. The Falcons have assembled a lot of talent and they should continue to improve as this young talent gains experience. They also had a large of number of injuries in 2009 that cost them a few wins. The over/under is 9 and I will take the over with a 10-6 record.
Baltimore Ravens - 2009 record (9-7) - The Ravens are a trendy pick for 2010 and with good reason. They have a very effective back in Ray Rice , a young improving QB in Joe Flacco and they added Anquan Boldin to their receiving corps. The trademark of the Ravens is their defense and they should continue to be above average with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed leading the way despite the fact that they are getting to be an older unit. The over/under is listed at 10 and I am predicting an 11-5 season to go over the projected total.
Buffalo Bills - 2009 record (6-10) - The Bills do not appear to be headed in the right direction. The offense was dreadful in 2009 and now loses Terrell Owens so you can’t expect them to be better this year. The defense has problems in the line and is also a below average unit. The surprising thing is that they actually won 6 games last year. The over/under calls for 5 wins and that sounds about right to me as I predict a 5-11 season.
Carolina Panthers - 2009 (8-8) - The Panthers feature a potent rushing attack with Deangelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart but they had a hard time escaping the brutal QB play. The Panthers hope to improve the QB position with Matt Moore or the recently drafted Jimmy Clausen. It will be interesting to see if the conservative John Fox with trust his hot seat status on a rookie QB. The job of the QB is helped with the aforementioned great running game and a good defense; however, the NFL is increasingly becoming a QB driven league. For that reason I will go with under the projected total of 7 wins as I project a 6-10 record.
Chicago Bears - 2009 record (7-9) - The Bears fans were ecstatic when they thought they traded for a franchise QB in Jay Cutler but what they got was a reckless QB who continued to make bad decisions. The Bears are a long way removed from the days of a great defense as the 2009 defense did not perform well. The Bears are bringing in Mike Martz to try to solve the offensive woes but looks like a team that needs a change at the top. The projected total for the Bears is 8 and I am predicting an 8-8 season and another season of no playoffs for DA Bears!
Cincinnati Bengals - 2009 record (10-6) - The Bengals were a surprise in 2009 with an inspired defense that rallied around the personal tragedy of their defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer who lost his wife during the season. The Bengals seem to be the spot for the misfits of society as they have signed Pacman Jones and now add Terrell Owens to the mix. It will be interesting to see how Owens and Chad Ochocinco coexist but it should be fun. The Bengals had a run first mentality with Cedric Benson in 2009 who surprisingly was an effective back. The over/under is listed 8 and I see this team totally imploding and going far under the total as I project a 6-10 or worse season.
Cleveland Browns - 2009 record (5-11) - The Browns brought in Mike Holmgren as the new president to try to straighten their team out and he has a lot of work to do. The offense and defense were both in the bottom 10 of the league in 2009 and the prospects do not look a lot better for 2010. The lone bright spot in 2009 was Jerome Harrison who had some very productive games at the end of the season. The Browns will continue to struggle as they look to Jake Delhomme to solve their offensive woes. The over/under is set at 5.5 and that sounds good as I predict another 5-11 season.
Dallas Cowboys - 2009 record (11-5) - The Cowboys are the trendy NFC pick for the Super Bowl and with good reason. The emergence of Miles Austin as an elite receiver in 2009 and the continuing progress of Tony Romo are good signs. The Cowboys added WR Dez Bryant in the draft and by all accounts he should make a difference as well. The running game will be led by the explosive Felix Jones and the power of Marion Barber with a little Tashard Choice mixed in. The problem with the Cowboys is the offense line which has become old and not very effective. The defense is also only an average unit and I think these factors will combine for a disappointing 9-7 record and under the projected total of 10 wins.
Denver Broncos - 2009 record (8-8) - In 2009 the Broncos had a new coach in Josh McDaniels and they got off to a great start and looked to be playoff bound but limped to the finish line to finish at 8-8. The Broncos look to struggle again on offense in 2010 as they look to Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn or Tim Tebow to lead them at QB. It will be interesting to see how Tebow is used in this offense and whether his game can translate to the NFL. The projected total is 7.5 and that is about what I see as I predict an 8-8 record.
Detroit Lions - 2009 record (2-14) - The good news for Lions fans is that they made a 2 game improvement from the previous season. The Lions had possibly the worst offense and the worst defense in the NFL last year. That is a combination that makes for a long season. They have appeared to have drafted well but they still have a lot of work to do before they become a legitimate playoff team. The projected win total is 5 and I think the under is a good play as I predict another disappointing 3-13 campaign.
Green Bay Packers - 2009 record (11-5) - Here is a team that I thought was the best in the NFL last year in the playoffs but lost a heartbreaker to New Orleans. QB Aaron Rodgers is among the elite QBs in the league and may be the #1 guy as far as fantasy leagues go. The running game seems to have suffered a bit with Ryan Grant not being as effective as in previous seasons. The defense was also very good in 2009 and should continue to be a strong unit. The projected total for the Packers is 10.5 wins and I see Green Bay ending the season at 11-5.
Houston Texans - 2009 record (9-7) - The Texans had their first winning season in 2009 and many people expect them to make a run at the playoffs in 2010. I am not in that camp as many times a team will regress after making large improvements. I think the Texans will struggle to get to .500 and I am actually calling for a 7-9 record as they go under the projected total of 8 wins.
Indianapolis Colts - 2009 record (14-2) - The Colts had a run at perfection last year before giving up the last 2 games. A closer look at the results though would show that there were several games that they could have easily lost. Of course with Peyton Manning as your QB you will win your share of close games and that will probably continue again this year. Donald Brown should take over as the main workhorse back but the receiving corps seems to be getting less effective than in previous years. The projected win total is 11 and I say that is correct as I predict an 11-5 record.
Jacksonville Jaguars - 2009 record (7-9) - The Jaguars had significant problems on defense last year especially in stopping the run. It does not appear that the Jags have made in real improvements in that area and there are questions as to whether David Garrard can be an effective NFL QB. The projected total for the Jaguars is 7 wins and I predict them with a 5-11 record and a solid under play.
Kansas City - 2009 record (4-12) - The Chiefs have been disappointing Kansas City for a number of years but this might be the year that they turn that around. Previous coach Herm Edwards compiled a lot of young players and new GM Scott Pioli as added to those numbers. Jamaal Charles looks to be a capable NFL back and QB Matt Cassel should continue to improve. When you add in the fact that they have a very favorable (weak) schedule you can see that there is hope in Kansas City. The over/under is listed at 6.5 wins I think the Chiefs will win at least 8 games and may even get to 9 and be a surprise playoff contender.
Miami Dolphins - 2009 record (7-9) - The 2009 Dolphins took a step back last year after their surprising playoff appearance in 2008. The Dolphins feature a strong rushing attack with the Wildcat option and have added Brandon Marshall to the receiving corps. QB Chad Henne should continue to develop as a legitimate threat at QB. The defense needs to step up for the Dolphins to make the playoffs in 2010. The over/under for the Dolphins is set at 8.5 and that sounds about right as I predict a 9-7 record.
Minnesota Vikings - 2009 record (12-4) - The Vikings had a magical season with Brett Favre leading the way but with his recent retirement (or has he?), the Vikings will look to Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels to lead the way. The Vikings have one of the premier RBs with Adrian Peterson and deep threats with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. The defense was just a bit above average and will have to perform better with the loss of Favre. The over/under on the Vikings is 9 and I see them only winning 8 unless Favre changes his mind again.
New England Patriots - 2009 record (11-6) - The Patriots offense is still a unit to be feared as they were arguably the best in the NFL in 2009 despite not having a premier RB. QB Tom Brady will continue to lead the Patriots with weapons in Randy Moss and Wes Welker who is coming off of major knee surgery. The defense is only slightly above average but that is good enough when you have a powerful offense. The over/under on the Patriots in 9.5 and I predict a 10-6 record.
New Orleans Saints - 2009 record (13-3) - The Saints are led by Drew Brees and he has many weapons to operate with in RB Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and WRs Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem. The defense is also an aggressive unit that plays well into the Saints style. The Saints will have to deal with the Super Bowl hangover effect and the bullseye on their chest for opponents. This will be a new position for them and they have a difficult schedule. I look for the Saints to finish 9-7 which is well under the posted over/under of 10.5 wins.
New York Giants - 2009 record (8-8) - The Giants started out the year great for 5 games but then the defense struggled mightily and they limped to the finish line. Head Coach Tom Coughlin will feel the heat this year if the Giants fail to make the playoffs but in a very tough division it is hard to see them doing any better than another 8-8 record. The futures have their over/under win total at 8.5 and that sounds about right to me.
New York Jets - 2009 record (9-7) - Head Coach Rex Ryan is not afraid to proclaim his team’s greatness even though they only won 9 games last year. The Jets have a dominant defense and good running game but need QB Sanchez to continue to mature if they want to take the next step. The futures for the Jets have their over/under win total at 9.5. The Jets lost a lot of close games last year so I think they will make a move up and win 11 this year so the Jets are a good over play.
Oakland Raiders - 2009 record (5-11) - The Raiders improved by subtraction when they released #1 draft bust JaMarcus Russell. The Raiders brought in Jason Campbell who should improve this team with even mediocre play. The Raiders have made several interesting draft choices and most have them have not panned out well. There is just not enough talent on this team to think that they will make much of an improvement and the whole system seems to be dysfunctional. This even included a fight within the coaching staff that led to assault charges being filed against Head Coach Cable. The over/under for the Raiders is 6 wins and it seems unlikely that they will reach that. I project them to be a 5-11 team once again and looking for a new coaching staff in 2011.
Philadelphia Eagles - 2009 record (11-5) - What does an 11 win season get you in Philadelphia? If you are Donovan McNabb it gets you traded. After 10 years of a love/hate relationship with McNabb, the Eagles will have a new QB in Kevin Kolb. Head Coach Reid likes what he sees in Kolb but you never know how he will perform when the bright lights are on in an offense predicated to the pass. He has lots of weapons to work with as Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin return and RB LeSean McCoy should be improved in his 2nd year. The defense is always solid so the offense should have time to work the kinks out. The posted win total for the Eagles is 8 and I see them being good enough to get to 9-7 even though they play in the very difficult NFC East.
Pittsburgh Steelers - 2009 record (9-7) - The Steelers followed their Super Bowl Championship in Feb. 2009, with a 2009 regular season that was a disappointment as they missed out on the playoffs. The Steelers have gone from a tough, fundamentally sound team to a pass happy attack led by Big Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has had his share of off the field troubles and will miss at the first 4 games of the season. The Special teams also had difficulty, especially the kickoff coverage team. The over/under for the Steelers is 8.5 and I see the Steelers being able to go at least 2-2 on the games that Big Ben misses and then playing quite well after that and ending the season at 10-6. This looks like a good spot for an over play.
St. Louis Rams - 2009 record (1-15) - It can’t get much worse for the Rams in 2010. The Rams drafted Sam Bradford with the overall top draft pick and he will likely be the starter at some point during the season. The Rams have one of the top Running Backs with Stephen Jackson who will again be the workhorse of the offense. In 2009 the Rams struggled in the Red Zone, had lots of injuries and tons of turnovers. Hopefully their luck will turn around this year and with an over/under of 5 wins I will take the over and predict a 6-10 record.
San Diego Chargers - 2009 record (13-3) - The Chargers parted ways with aging Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson and will look to rookie Ryan Matthews to carry the load but the real linchpin to the offense is QB Phillip Rivers. The 2009 Chargers had a great record despite a below average defense thanks in large part to a poor division. With the new players adjusting on offense and a defense that should still be below average we will go with under the total of 11 wins as I predict a 9-7 record. The Chargers may find themselves on the outside of the playoffs for the first time in many years.
San Francisco 49ers - 2009 record (8-8) - Head Coach Mike Singletary brought back a hardnosed, fundamental approach to this team and it showed with a significant improvement in the defense. It is hard to know if the QB position will be enough to upgrade this team for a serious run at the post season but they do have additional weapons with a full season of Michael Crabtree who should help RB Frank Gore get some running room. However, many times after a head coach gets the bump in the defense his message goes stale and the team slides backwards. This factor, along with the concerns at QB lead me to an under the 8.5 win total as I predict a 7-9 finish.
Seattle Seahawks - 2009 record (5-11) - Head Coach Pete Carroll returns to the NFL to see if he can coach the big boys. His rah rah approach worked wonders at USC but it is up for debate as to how it will work in the NFL. It has been 10 years since he was fired in New England and a lot has changed in the NFL. The Seahawks brought in a lot of new faces but they still seem to be lacking in talent. The over/under on the Seahawks is 7.5 and I will go with the under as I predict a 6-10 finish.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 2009 record (3-13) - Tampa Bay seems to have an identity issue as they ran many of their old players off last year and suffered because of it. The changes include moving to QB Josh Freeman and it is not known if he can lead an NFL team. The defense has had a significant fall off from the days of Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffen and looks to be improved as they have added significant talent in the past 2 drafts especially on the defensive line. The over/under on Tampa Bay is 6 wins and with a schedule that appears to be very easy I will go with the over and predict them at 7-9.
Tennessee Titans - 2009 record (8-8) - The 2009 season started horribly for the Titans as they lost their first 6 games. Owner Bud Adams insisted that the Titans move to QB Vince Young after the bye week. The Titans went on to win 8 of their last 10 games thanks to an incredible year by Chris Johnson. The overlooked fact is that most of these games were against the bottom teams as the Titans were not able to defeat any teams that made the 2009 playoffs. The over/under for 2010 is 8 and I think that sounds about right as I will predict an 8-8 season again for the Titans.
Washington Redskins - 2009 record (4-12) - The Redskins brought in Head Coach Mike Shanahan to try to bring the franchise back to prominence. After several years of trying to buy all of the best free agents and failing miserably the Redskins will try a different approach. The Redskins will have a new look on offense with the trade they made for Donovan McNabb. This should be a significant upgrade from Jason Campbell. The Redskins have some talent but in the tough NFC East it is hard to see them being better than a .500 team. With and over/under of 8 wins I will call for them to go 8-8.