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Mike Wilkening's 2010 NFL predictions

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By Mike Wilkening

Leading up to the start of the regular season, PFW will post the NFL predictions of its editors/writers, who forecast the order of finish in each division, the outcome of Super Bowl XLV, and Offensive and Defensive MVPs. In the sixth of these predictions, PFW senior editor Mike Wilkening looks into his crystal ball.

AFC East

1. New England: In a close division race, I'll go with the team with the best quarterback.

2. N.Y. Jets: Elite defense makes Jets dangerous; will offense hold them back?

3. Miami: Bold move for Brandon Marshall gives Dolphins a chance to surprise.

4, Buffalo: Bills seem overmatched in tough division.

AFC North

1. Baltimore: Ravens are deep, balanced; if secondary holds up, look out.

2. Pittsburgh: Steelers are still formidable, but departure of Holmes, suspension of Roethlisberger and loss of Colon to season-ending injury weaken potent offense.

3. Cincinnati: Bengals' chances of repeating as division champs can't be discounted.

4. Cleveland: Browns are better than they were a season ago, but they still lag behind in this division.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis: Colts will be able to hold off their division rivals and capture another South title. 

2. Houston: Texans gave Colts all they could handle last season, but they must win more division games to have a chance at a playoff berth.

3. Tennessee: The overlooked playoff contender in this division, Titans were 8-2 in Vince Young's starts last season and will be dangerous if the defense is better.

4. Jacksonville: Jaguars hung around in playoff race until late last season, but they are up against it in this division.

AFC West

1. San Diego: Phillip Rivers will win an MVP award one day, perhaps this season. 

2. Denver: Broncos will exceed expectations again, but Chargers will probably be too tough to overcome in division-title race.

3. Oakland: The offense will be better, but the defense remains a major concern.

4  Kansas City: Chiefs have a favorable schedule; can they make the most of it? I'm not confident, but the opportunity is there.

NFC East

1.  Dallas: No NFC team allowed fewer points last season. Cowboys are talented and balanced and threats to win the conference.

2. Philadelphia: Eagles have a wealth of young talent and will be playoff contenders in Kevin Kolb's first season as starting quarterback.

3. N.Y. Giants: Defense must improve for Giants to make a push for the division title.

4. Washington: Addition of Donovan McNabb, hiring of Mike Shanahan set this team up to be more competitive, but have to think Redskins are another year or two away from being real threats in division.

NFC North

1.. Green Bay: Packers will be outstanding on offense, and don't forget that their defense allowed fewest yards in NFC last season. This is a team capable of living up to the hype.

2. Minnesota: Vikings are very talented, and they were sharp early last season even with Brett Favre joining team late in summer. If they can get through a tough October, another playoff berth is likely.

3. Chicago: The offense should be fun to watch, but have to wonder about defense's ability to get stops against division's best.

4. Detroit: The Matthew Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson connection will be thrilling to watch, but the defense still needs work.

NFC South

1. New Orleans: Saints' chances of repeating cannot be discounted. They are very strong at the most important position, and they have a clear edge on the rest of the division.

2. Atlanta: Gritty, well-coached team with a strong offense, but the defense remains a little too shaky.

3. Carolina: The Panthers are the mystery team in the division; if they get solid QB play, their playoff hopes cannot be discounted, for their running backs and offensive line are top-caliber.

4. Tampa Bay: Can't see how Buccaneers seriously factor in this division race.

NFC West

1. San Francisco: Market watch: The "sharp," or informed-bettor money, at Las Vegas casino chain has been on the 49ers winning more than 8½ games. Seems like the right move.

2. Seattle: Seahawks finished last season looking like one of NFL's worst teams, but they are better than that.

3. Arizona: The Cardinals' instability at quarterback is a major concern, as are the departures of WR Anquan Boldin and LB Karlos Dansby.

4 St. Louis: Rams will make strides in Steve Spagnuolo's second season as head coach, but much work must be done.

 

Offensive MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

Defensive MVP: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas

Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay over Indianapolis

 

For authoritative coverage and analysis of NFL news, free agency and fantasy football, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.

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