2011 NFL Season Preview

We review what we love about the upcoming season, what we hate, and what we are dying to see.  Plus, we include bold predictions for each and every team. It’s amazing that this single page can even contain all of this information and excitement – but it does.

What We Love about the Upcoming 2011 NFL Season

We won’t say that its quite like meeting up with an ex-gf, because we never officially broke up with the NFL, but it is a lot like seeing your long-distance girlfriend for the first time in months.  Sure, she isn’t the same girl you dropped off at the airport 5 months ago when the NFL first locked out, but that’s the excitement – getting to rediscover someone all over again.

The NFL came back in late July, and it came back in style.  Free agents were zooming across the country like owls out of Hogwarts and a lot of players ended up in some unexpected places.  Nearly every one of the 32 teams in the NFL has a major new face on it, giving you the fans a new jersey to buy (or one to burn if you live in or around the Cincinnati area).

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Fantasy Football. No matter how your league is configured, you know you’re gonna have a blast.  In case you were wondering if we have any tips for fantasy football players, we do.

The great thing about the 2011 NFL season is this…no matter how  much time we spent apart, no matter how many bitter things we said, it all got washed away the day the lockout ended and we are just happy to have a full season.

What We Hate about the Upcoming 2011 NFL Season

Nothing – Welcome Back NFL!

What We Are Dying to See in the Upcoming 2011 NFL Season

We know it would never happen, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my desire to see a reality TV show based on the New England Patriots.  It would be a cross between America’s Next Top Model (Tom Brady), the Biggest Loser (Albert Haynesworth), and The Real World (Chad Ochocinco).  It is nice to see some personality coming out of New England again, despite the Hoodie’s best efforts to quell any sort of fun and happiness in the locker room.

We are also dying to see the Washington Redskins try and back up Rex Grossman’s statements and win the NFC East.  I mean, honestly, was he not paying attention to free agent news at all?  Even if the Eagles only send out 8 guys on offense and defense every play, they still have a better chance to win the NFC East than the Redskins do.  I would love to be a fly on the wall in the ‘skins locker room after that statement went public.

How about another losing team making the playoffs?  The Seahawks had their admission into the playoffs mocked and chided and used as an example about everything that’s wrong with the current playoff system – then they went out and put the boots to the New Orleans Saints, proving that records might not be a good indicator of heart and ability.  So what if someone plays in a weak division, all you can do is play the games that are on your schedule and try to do enough to make the playoffs.  If you really didn’t belong there – it’s up for your first round opponent to decide that by beating you.

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Team by Team Bold Predictions

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

  • The Bills fix their shoddy run defense (32nd in league for 2010) and actually finish 3rd in the AFC East.

Miami Dolphins

  • More interceptions than last year (21 picks in 2010). Why? Because they don’t have any running backs to help carry the load.

New England Patriots

  • 18-1. But unlike in 2007, that “1” won’t be in the Super Bowl.

New York Jets

  • They will finish in the top 5 in every major defensive category, but won’t crack the top 10 for any major offensive stat.

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NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

  • Jason Garrett will have the Cowboys bouncing back after a tough year, but it will be overshadowed by the Eagles. Playoffs as a wildcard though.

New York Giants

  • This will be Coughlin’s last year as the Giants struggle to have a winning season. No playoffs = no job for Tom next year.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • They take the concept of the “Big 3” to the next level, but still produce same results.  A lot of talent on the team, but only so many offensive possessions. Stars become underutilized and grumblings stir from within the Linc.

Washington Redskins

  • Despite what Rex Grossman says, this team will not finish in first place – they probably won’t even make it out of the cellar.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

  • Tebow will be the starter by week 5, but for all the wrong reasons.  If only he could play on defense – which is where the Broncos need the most help.

Kansas City Chiefs

  • The 2010 Chiefs boasted the #1 rushing attack, but the 30th ranked passing offense. Look for those numbers to drift a little closer towards the middle in 2011, but still good enough to take the division with a little luck.

Oakland Raiders

  • The loss of Nnamdi Asomugha is going to hurt, especially since the Raiders boasted the 2nd ranked passing defense in the entire league last year. Very low shot at playoffs this year.

San Diego Chargers

  • Having Vincent Jackson for the whole year will give the Chargers as good a shot as anyone to win the AFC West. Their scary-good passing offense just got even scarier.

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NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

  • There’s only one direction to go from last year, and that’s up. Still the climb will be hard with their third opening day starting QB in as many seasons. Finishing better than 3rd will be a miracle.

San Francisco 49ers

  • A new coach could be all this team needs to take a relatively weak division.  in fact, if Harbaugh goes just 8-8 in his first year, he could be playoff bound.

Seattle Seahawks

  • The bright side of making the playoffs with a losing record is that nobody expects much out of you the next year.  Good, because Tarvaris Jackson ain’t ready.

St. Louis Rams

  • Sadly, the lockout probably put a damper on the development of a young Sam Bradford.  The missed practices and film time with the coaches might mean a noticeable sophomore slump for Bradford.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

  • The fans love him, but it’s time to sit down and make a tough decision on whether Joe Flacco can ever lead this team to the Super Bowl.  Should be a two team race in the division though, which makes things easier.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • The epitome of a poorly run franchise, this team won’t recover for at least 4 years. That covers my bold predictions for the Bengals until 2015.

Cleveland Browns

  • This team overachieved last year which is saying something because they only had a 5-11 record.  Please don’t expect Peyton Hillis to have another monster year, especially when Colt McCoy is zero threat to anyone.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • If they can keep their off-field issues where they belong, this team could contend for another Super Bowl trip. “If” and “Contend” being the operative words in that sentence.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

  • The Bears needed to fix their dismal offense. That was apparent to everyone except for the front office because almost no positive moves were made (unless you count getting rid of Greg Olsen and picking up Marion Barber).

Detroit Lions

  • This is the year when we find out if the Lions really made a step in the right direction or if that was just an anomaly. They aren’t too far removed from their 0-16 season, so it won’t take much for the fans to get excited.

Green Bay Packers

  • Despite all of the injuries, this team actually accomplished what everyone thought they would last year, which is winning the Super Bowl.  I would hardly expect a repeat performance, especially with all the upgrades teams in the NFC made.

Minnesota Vikings

  • Replacing one washed-up vet with another is hardly a recipe for success.  Still, McNabb has more talent in Minnesota than he did in Washington.  They will be too far behind the division lead to even smell it by week 5.

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AFC South

Houston Texans

  • This team was a few last minute disasters away from having a winning record. Look for them to learn from their mistakes and finally finish a season above .500 (unfortunately still below the Colts).

Indianapolis Colts

  • Peyton Manning unselfishly took less money so the Colts could sign a couple vital pieces.  That move will likely pay off with a playoff berth.  Peyton’s health, however, and not his generosity will determine how far they wind up this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Probably missed their chance last year to win the division. Don’t expect them to get anywhere near that goal again – especially until they get a new QB.

Tennessee Titans

  • This team lost 8/9 to close out the season. To start this season, their top player is holding out.  Even if an agreement is reached, it won’t matter as this team is on a downturn.  Hasselbeck won’t be enough to help the Titans

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

  • They will use their embarrassing loss in the Playoffs as motivation to tear through this division like tissue paper.  The NFC South is not the division it was just 2 years ago, and the Falcons have the most momentum.

Carolina Panthers

  • Cam Newton will be using his legs almost as much as his arm, as he tries to make positive plays for this offense.  Not only is he a rookie, but he had a shortened preseason thanks to the lockout.  He likely won’t come out of the gate firing on all cylinders.

New Orleans Saints

  • They used to be the toast of the NFC South, but lately they look confused and out of sync.  Making the playoffs will be a struggle, as they might not even be the second best team in the division.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Freeman.  That’s all you need to know about the Bucs this year, because everything is riding on his shoulders.  If he shows even ½ the progress this year as he made last year, they should make the playoffs.