2010 NFL Season Predictions

Aug. 12, 2010 - Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America - Aug 12, 2010: Baltimore Raven linebacker Ray Lewis ( ) enjoys the pregame introductions. The Ravens led the Carolina Panthers 10-3 at the half as the teams played their first preseason game at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.

2010 NFL Division Previews & Predictions: AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West | NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West | 2010 Question Marks Series

We’re just days away from the 2010 NFL season opener, which means there’s no better time to make playoff and Super Bowl predictions when no team has even taken a snap yet.

Who doesn’t love being illogical?

Click the links above if you want to read detailed previews for all 32 teams. In this article, you’ll get more prediction and less gab, although seriously, don’t shortchange me here – go check out the individual previews.

All right, I’ve already wasted enough time – let’s get nasty.

AFC East:

1. Patriots
2. Dolphins
3. Jets
4. Bills

Now that Darrelle Revis is back at practice for the Jets, I admit that a small part of me wants to flip the Dolphins and Jets. But I’m going to trust my gut and say that everybody’s chic pick in the NFL this year will take a step back because of Mark Sanchez. And while I have the Pats finishing first, their lack of a pass rush is a massive concern and I wouldn’t be shocked if they fizzled in the postseason again like last year (or miss the postseason altogether, for that matter). The Dolphins are my sleeper to make the postseason thanks to the additions of Brandon Marshall and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, while the Bills are rebuilding from the top down and it’s going to take awhile.

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2010 NFL Preview: AFC East Predictions

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady calls a play against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter of their NFL pre-season football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts August 12, 2010.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

2010 NFL Division Previews & Predictions: AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West | NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West | 2010 Question Marks Series

The AFC East is arguably the most difficult division to predict because the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins all have enough talent to claim the top spot but all three also have huge question marks that could hold them back.

The Bills, on the other hand…not so hard to predict. (Sorry Buffalo fans.)

Here’s how I see things shaking out in the AFC East this season. Be sure to check out the link entitled “2010 Question Mark” under each team’s preview, which is a breakdown of one or two potential weaknesses that could derail that squad’s hopes in 2010.

1. Patriots

What to Like: Wes Welker is apparently healthy, which is a great sign for Tom Brady and the rest of the Pats’ offense. Although they failed to recapture the magic they had in 2007, the offense ranked third in the NFL in yards per game, sixth in total points and eighth in third down percentage. Along with Welker and Randy Moss, Brady will also have talented rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez to throw to in the passing game and Julian Edelman proved when filling in for Welker last season that he can be productive as well.
What Not to Like: It appears that the pass rush, or lack thereof, will be a massive concern all season. It was a concern heading into the offseason, it’s been a concern thus far in preseason and it’s going to remain a concern unless guys step up. Granted, Tully Banta-Cain is coming off a career year and rookie Jermaine Cunningham has potential, but Derrick Burgess needs to stay motivated and be productive. If he doesn’t and Banta-Cain can’t put up the numbers he did last year then Bill Belichick’s defense could suffer at every level. There’s also the very real concern that starting left guard Logan Mankins will skip the entire season because of a contract despite, meaning promising but inexperienced tackle Sebastian Vollmer will be inserted into the starting lineup.
Keep an Eye On: Darius Butler
In five starts last season, Butler had three inceptions and although he was inconsistent in coverage and needs to cut down on penalties, he could blossom into a star this season. He has already become a leader in the locker room.
The Final Word: Even though the offense stalled in the second half of some games last season, it will still be tough to stop this team a weekly basis. Plus, after struggling to a 2-6 record on the road last season, the Pats will face only two 2009 playoff teams away from Foxboro this year. In fact, six of the 2009 playoff teams they face this year will have to come to New England, which is obviously a major advantage. I think given the problems that the rest of the teams have in the division, the Pats will once again come out on top, although this is far from a Super Bowl team in my eyes.

New England Patriots 2010 Question Mark: Pass Rush

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And your AFC East winner is…

Matt CasselThanks to Abram Elam, Shaun Ellis and a lot of J.P. Losman’s crap play, the Jets hung onto their first place grasp of the AFC East in Week 15. But the Dolphins also beat the 49ers (albeit in unconvincing fashion) and the Patriots topped the Raiders (in convincing fashion) to stay right in the mix. All three teams currently sit at 9-5 on the season.

Here’s what the three teams have left on their schedule:

Jets: at Seahawks, vs. Dolphins
Dolphins: at Chiefs, at Jets
Patriots: vs. Cardinals, at Bills

If you’re a Jets fan you can’t be feeling to good about things. Not only have the J.E.T.S dropped two of their last three games, but they’re also 0-3 on the West Coast this year and heading to Seattle on Sunday.

The Dolphins are in pretty good shape this week as they face a Chiefs team that is trying to run out the clock on the rest of the season, but their finale in New York is a doozy – especially if the Jets lose this weekend in Seattle. Miami has won just once in its last six trips to the Meadowlands. And while the Dolphin defense has been outstanding of late, the offense has struggled to put up points on against weaker opponents the past three weeks.

Which leads us to the Patriots. A little over a week ago I predicted New England to win the AFC East and I won’t back down now – especially not after they just gorilla-smacked the hapless Raiders in a rainstorm on Sunday. There’s no way Arizona goes into Foxboro this weekend and beats the Patriots. Zero chance. Will not happen. The Cardinals haven’t beaten a quality opponent on the road this year and their defense just allowed Tarvaris Jackson to throw four touchdowns on them at home last week. Believe it or not, Buffalo might turn out to be a tougher game than ‘Zona, only because of the elements. And considering the Pats will likely be playing for the division (and the Bills will still be starting J.P. Losman), I wouldn’t bet against them.

So here is my official prediction: Jets lose in Seattle, Dolphins beat the Chiefs, Patriots beat the Cardinals. Jets beat Miami, but Patriots beat the Bills and claim the AFC East.

Comment fodder: Who do you have winning the AFC East?

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