Here we go! The 2012 NFL regular season kicks off this Wednesday night when the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants face the Dallas Cowboys in an already tough divisional game for both teams.
The anticipation of a new NFL season always brings hype, excitement and most of all hope for all 32 teams and their fans. Every team is once again 0-0 and has a shot at making a run at a Super Bowl title.
So who will it be this year?
Las Vegas odds makers have the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers as the early favorites, but every season always brings its share of surprises and disappointments.
Top three teams who will surprise in 2012:
1. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have been a let down in ‘Big D’ for years now. This is just a gut feeling, but I have them, gulp…winning the NFC East. It’s time for Tony Romo to become a leader.
2. Carolina Panthers: Can you say 2012 NFC South division winners? Okay, neither can I, but Cam Newton is everything people thought Mike Vick and Vince Young would be in the NFL, times 10! Young and Vick are both fast and strong, but Newton leaves them in the dust. The Falcons and Saints may be the Vegas favorites to win the NFC South, but watch out for Carolina. Newton is the real deal.
3. New York Giants/Kansas City Chiefs: How can the Super Bowl champions surprise? Easily, just play Giants football. Once again the ‘no respect’ Giants and QB Eli Manning are predicted by the experts to take a step backwards after winning the Super Bowl. My question is, why? Losing WR Mario Manningham and RB Brandon Jacobs are big, but somehow the Giants will be battling for a playoff spot in December.
Kansas City had high expectations last season until safety Eric Berry, running back Jamaal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki all sustained season-ending injuries before Week 3. Pro Bowl QB Matt Cassel missed the final seven with a hand injury, yet Kansas City had a shot at the division title! If these guys can overcome the injuries, K.C. will be one tough team this season.
Top three teams who won’t live up to the hype in 2012:
1. San Francisco 49ers: They are young, tough and strong, so why will they take a step back in 2012? They are no longer going to sneak up on teams like the Saints and Falcons. They are in a weak division so they should be playoff bound, but 5-1 odds to win the Super Bowl? No way.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: The ‘dream team’ was a nightmare last season. They are the Vegas favorites to win the NFC East and make a run at the Super Bowl. The Eagles put all their apples in one basket when they released Kevin Kolb a few seasons back and made Mike Vick the QB of the future. The problem is Vick gets hurt every season. If the Eagles can help keep Vick healthy and key players like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin focus on winning and not complaining about every little thing, they might finally live up to the hype.
3. Cincinnati Bengals/Baltimore Ravens: The Bengals squeaked into the 2011 postseason as the No. 6 seed last year and rookie QB Andy Dalton was impressive for a first year starter. They got rolled by the Houston Texans in the playoffs. This year will be a tough battle for Dalton and the Bengals.
The Baltimore Ravens window of opportunity may be closing. The once fierce defense is showing cracks and they only seem have bite at home. Last season they only beat the Texans in the AFC playoffs because, well the Texans beat themselves. The Ravens may be on the outside looking in come playoff time this year.
I love making predictions at the beginning of the season and looking back to see how things turned out. Of course many things can happen to change our predictions such as injuries, trades or players just not getting along, but that’s the beauty of the new season.
Who are your picks to click this season?
- NFC North: Green Bay Packers
- NFC East: Dallas Cowboys
- NFC West: S.F. 49ers
- NFC South: Atlanta Falcons
- Wild Cards: Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers
- AFC East: New England Patriots
- AFC West: Denver Broncos
- AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
- AFC South: Houston Texans
- Wild Cards: Kansas City, Buffalo