I read the NFL coverage everyday. This includes the offseason. Yes, this spring was slow, and summer was nothing but transactions and some pretraining camp camps. I read it all. So this isn't some ramblings of someone who just watched preseason games (in fact, I ignored most of them, cause you can't really know what an offense is going to do in 2 series. Especially a running team).
I hate the Patriots. I hate any team that is considered 'the top.' The last time I liked the Pats was when they were underdogs two years ago. Even then, I didn't really like them that much. So take my pats preview with a grain of salt if you are a pats fan.
I will put the teams in the order I think they'll finish in their division.
Patriots Just cause I hate them doesn't mean I don't think they'll not win. They are spelling the end of this (dare I use the term) dynasty with the signing of Corey Dillon. Not only is it a high profile player, but one that has a "me" attitude. I think this is the start of the end... next year they won't be the top of their division.
Jets I could almost say that I think the Jets will tie the Pats. They'll most likely score a postseason bid, regardless. The Jets have a great QB, two good wideouts (when healthy), good depth at RB (Curtis Martin is getting old, but still can handle the load), good special teams, and the defense has a new (but good) coordinator. I think they are the biggest threat to the Pats, right now. As long as Pennington stays healthy, this should be a good team.
Bills New head coach, great RBs, decent QB, good WRs, great D. The only thing they are missing is QB depth. If Bledsoe falters again, who do they turn to? Eric Moulds at QB??? With a healthy Moulds and a good streaky Bledsoe, they could be a powerhouse in the division. But last year showed that they aren't much without a healthy QB-WR duo. Give'm a year under Mularkey to be something special.
Dolphins You know the story. Ricky wants to toke, not to run. At least they still have that stingy defense, right? Wait, they traded a premier pass rusher for a decent WR? Dear lord! The only thing I fear from this team is people saying Wannsted got fired for the Ricky Williams debacle instead of the piss poor coach he is (if you think he's a good coach, ask Em what he thinks Wanny did to Chicago). Wonder if a RB will be worth a #1 pick next year? If not, I wonder if a QB is?
Bengals Yes, the Bengals on top of the north. STOP LAUGHING! Seriously, the Bengals have a fantastic ground game (if Rudi Johnson has even flashes from last years form, he's the lead rusher of the NFL). The D already had its one year (Marvin Lewis system is complicated and takes about a year to learn. Just watch.. the bengals will have a fabulous defense). The WR trio is top notch. The only question is Carson Palmer (QB). If he does better than Kyle Boller's first or second year (not very tough), I think they will not only make the postseason, but will do well in it! (Last QB I remember that redshirted a year, then came out strong his second year in the pros is Chad Pennington. Soemthing to think about).
Steelers Yeah, I'm a fan, but hey, I'm putting them #2! I think the defense will be renewed under LeBeau. The DBs are young, but fast. Usually the Steelers go with phyiscal DBs, but now they are switching to speedy ones. That usually means more turnovers. Anyhow, with a healthy line (only ? is RT), Duce Staley looked like a bruiser in preseason (yeah, going against the rules, but I thought he was just a scatback before the season), and the premier 3 WRs of the NFL (Burress, Ward, and Randel El), I think they will have a winning season. They'll just miss the post-season, though (no, Cowher won't be fired).
Ravens I honestly think people will start using the old Ryan 54 defense against the ravens. Boller can pass about as well as my son. They have hardly no WRs and are strictly a running team. With Lewis having troubles with the law (including court in the middle of the season), I think the Ravens are in for a rude awakening. 90% of the games they win this year will be because of the defense.
Browns Well, Stalin...errr... Butch Davis got all the power he could possibly imagine (eh, comrads?). Unfortunately his defense is either full of overpaid high draft picks, or inexperienced young players, his WRs are all about the same talent and argue over who starts, his QB is washed up and can't get order on the field, one RB is injured, the other gets daily stabs from his wife (when they aren't toking up together), their top draft pick thinks he's Jesus the Savior, himself, and the line is full of holes. Now, the question is... will Lerner fire Davis at the end of the year, or will his body turn up on Lake Erie?
Colts This is their year. They get an NFL ruling just for them (the 5 yard rule, I'm SURE, came from the Colts/Pats AFC Championship Game). Best QB in the league, best WR in the league, good RB (last year, he'll be in Miami next year), solid cover-2 D. Dungy has to do it this year. I'd hate to see such a good coach fall a second time for the same reason (fired, cause he couldn't get his team to 'the big game'). Too bad the Colts economy is poor (they may move outta Indy within the next 3 years).
Texans Dom Capers has this thing with taking expansion teams far early. Carr is definately coming into his own, has good WR and TE targets... the line is getting a little bit better each year, the defense is extremely good for the talent they have, and the running game is decent if not good.
Jags The Jags are on their way up. They haven't changed much from last year, except an infusion of young players on defense. Leftwich has to keep learning and doing well before I'll rank'm higher.
Titans It was really hard to rank the Titans this low, but I'm doing it simply because of their defense. They have a great O, though Brown is untested for a full game. Their D just has been ravished from free agent signings to injury. They'll be back on the rise next year.
Cheifs High powered O (though they have no WR... but they didn't last year, either), decent defense (Cunningham isn't a miracle worker that many think he is), fantastic special teams. They are still riding on mostly the same engine as last year. Vermeil is just a good coach.
Broncos The funniest thing in the world: "There's a question mark on the Bronc's RB!" No there isn't. I could run for 1000 yards in Shanahan's system. There only ? is Plummer. The Bronco's got a STEAL of a trade for Portis. Remember, Olandis Gary was a good RB for Denver... where is he now? 3rd stringer for Detroit. We'll see Portis do well (but no fantastic) for the Skins, and either Griffin do 'well' for the Broncs, or Tatum Bell do 'fantastic' for the Broncs (haven't gotten any real glimpses at bell cause of the finger injury). Good D, if Plummer does well, they have a shot at unseating the Chiefs.
Raiders I don't think Wheatley is a "Norv Turner RB" (though I do think Justin Fargas is), but they'll do well with the talent they have. The defense is a huge question. First, the coordinator is a Ryan. I've seen him coach in college. His dad taught'm well. Second, they have a SCARY defensive line. Simply massive. But the LBs are weak (and they are going 3-4?). The DBs are quality. I think the defense will win many games for Norv.
Chargers Many high first round draft picks does not a team make. Just ask the bengals a couple years ago. I think that once Rivers gets the hang of the NFL, he'll start and do terrible. But he'll get the experience to enter his second year as a decent QB. Now they just need to draft some decent WRs and an O-line, and don't get me started on the defensive line and LBs....
Post season: Chiefs, Colts, Bengals, Pats, and Jets. The Colts win the AFC.