I can't help it. I'm sorry, guys...
This is the first of probably a great amount of NFL blogs. I couldn't help myself but with baseball coming to an end for high school, my focus immediately goes towards the NFL, especially with training camp starting this past week.
Being a die-hard Chicago fan, I'll get this bit out of the way first.
I honestly expect the Bears to be respectable this season. Yes, I know how bad the defense was last season, but I truly think that with John Fox at the helm, and Jay Cutler returning with as many weapons as he had last season, this will be the surprise team in the NFL. I'm not talking immediate Super Bowl contention, but I do think that a Wild Card birth isn't absurd. Call me crazy, but I think now that everyone has truly given up on Jay Cutler, he'll finally show his full potential.
Staying in the division, I expect the Packers to be back to their usual self, dominating the NFC North. Most likely Green Bay will be making it back to the NFC championship game. I don't expect the Pack to steam-roll the competition though. I expect Minnesota to fight with Chicago for a Wild Card spot but I think that the Lions will regress to a disappointing 4-12.
Around the NFC, I think that the Cardinals will win the NFC West. Yep, I said it. I don't think that Seattle will take the division. I think the golden boy, Russell Wilson, will have a terrible year. Bad enough that many might question whether he should be starting. Again, I'm being bold with this but I think that the Cardinals defense continues to dominate and you see a rookie of the year come out of the Cards backfield...a young Iowan by the name of David Johnson will take the starting role mid-season due to an injured Andre Ellington and Johnson dominates.
In the East, I bet the Cowboys pull a... well, Dallas move. After surprising everyone with an absolute shock of a turn around defense, I bet the offense struggles and the 'Boys fall to a shockingly reminiscent 8-8. Look for the mad wizard, Chip Kelly, to take an Eagles team and make an MVP out of the former Heisman winner (Sam Bradford).
On the other side of the league, I think that the Patriots finally do what we've all wanted since the beginning of the century, I bet the Pats finish below .500 this year. No real reason behind this pick, but I do think that the Dolphins win this division and that the Bills and Jets put up much better fights against the Patriots than in the past four years.
I bet the Cotls win the AFC, like many expect them too, but not because Andrew Luck continues to be the greatest thing since Peyton Manning, but because that defense shocks the world and looks better than division rival Houston.
Opposing the Colts, I'd like to think that the Steelers return to the fold as cream of the crop in the AFC North. I like the improvements on the defense. A relatively young core along the front seven and a receiving corp for Big Ben that isn't full of rookies should push this team past Baltimore and Houston and into the AFC Championship.
Just because I am in the creative mood, here are my WAY too early NFL guesses.
AFC Division Winners: Colts, Steelers, Dolphins, San Diego
AFC Wild Card: Broncos and Bengals
NFC Division Winners: Packers, Eagles, New Orleans, Cardinals
NFC Wild Card: Vikings and (Falcons or Panthers)
Feel free to comment!