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Dan Arkush's 2010 NFL predictions

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

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 eighth of these predictions, PFW executive editor Dan Arkush looks into his crystal ball.

AFC East

1. N.Y. Jets: After the last episode of "Hard Knocks" ends with star CB Darrelle Revis signing a new deal with a major assist from Rex Ryan, the Jets get off to a fast start and — just like the 2009 "Hard Knocks" Bengals — end up winning a division title.

2. New England:  I had major concerns about the defense before it lost Ty Warren. But hungry offense will keep Pats in the hunt.
3. Miami: Brandon Marshall and Karlos Dansby will be fun to watch on offense and defense, respectively. But Dolphins will be lucky if they finish .500.
4. Buffalo: With key players already dropping like flies, Bills look like lock for first pick in draft next season — if there is a season.

AFC North

1. Baltimore: Underrated head coach John Harbaugh should get Ravens into the playoffs for a third straight season. Offense has been upgraded, and defense will somehow find a way to overcome early key injuries in the secondary.

2. Cincinnati: Sorry. Just don't see them being as good as they were last season, but I could be wrong. Will the offense be run-oriented again or more pass-oriented with T.O. on board? I don't even think they know yet.

3. Pittsburgh: It won't matter that Ben Roethlisberger's suspension has been shortened; both the Ravens and Bengals look better than Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball.

4. Cleveland: I've always liked Jake Delhomme, but Browns just don't measure up to competition.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis: Uncertainty on the offensive line scares me, but Peyton Manning is raving over his loaded receiving corps, and healthy Bob Sanders improves an already very solid defense.

2. Houston: Texans were my long-shot pick to click last year. I smell a playoff berth, even though they have a really tough schedule and have lost good-looking rookie RB Ben Tate.

3. Tennessee: Defense has lost a lot of leadership (DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, LB Keith Bulluck). So, .500 sounds about right, without last season's wild fluctuations.
4. Jacksonville: Too many questions on defense, especially the pass rush. Jack Del Rio could be the first head coach to walk the plank in 2010.

AFC West

1. San Diego: I have a lot of concerns about them, but they are still the best team by far in what looks like a pretty weak division. Ryan Mathews is my pick for top rookie.

2. Kansas City: Watch out for "Patriots Midwest." The Jamaal Charles-Thomas Jones running game just might spearhead a surprise playoff run.
3. Oakland: On the right track with Jason Campbell under center, but problems up front on both sides of the ball will weigh Raiders down.
4. Denver: I'm a big Kyle Orton believer, but I wonder about his weapons. As for the defense, losing Elvis Dumervil was a devastating blow.

NFC East

1. Dallas: Most talented team in the league sails into the playoffs — but not quite far enough for Jerry Jones' liking.

2. Philadelphia: The Eagles have done nothing to show me that Dallas won't have their number again when it counts most, as was the case last year.

3. Washington: Mike Shanahan will shake things up for the better, but not nearly enough. Albert Haynesworth looks like he could be a season-long headache.
4. N.Y. Giants: I still haven't gotten over how huge a disappointment the Giants turned out to be last year after a blazing 5-0 start. Tom Coughlin could be nearing the end of the line.

NFC North

1. Green Bay: With Aaron Rodgers continuing to masterfully direct a loaded offense, and Dom Capers making whatever defensive adjustments are necessary, the Packers could be packing a Super Bowl punch.
2. Minnesota: Strong front lines keep Vikings in the hunt, but I just don't see Brett Favre doing anywhere near as well as he did last season. Last year the Vikes swept Packers. This year, a sweep by the Pack will be Minnesota's ultimate undoing.

3. Chicago: Mike Martz will liven up milquetoast offense, and Julius Peppers will improve pass rush, but the Packers and Vikings both look a lot better than the Bears, who will be very lucky to win nine games.

4. Detroit: Lions could be the most improved team in the league in 2010, but I see six wins tops.

NFC South

1. Carolina: Hooked on a feeling. The NFC South top dog changes every year, and John Fox is a great coach when his back is against the wall. Lack of receivers, aside from Steve Smith, and loss of Julius Peppers present big challenge, though.
2. New Orleans: Offense should again sparkle enough to make Saints a playoff factor, but I doubt the defense will be nearly as opportunistic as it was last season.
3. Atlanta: There are a lot of things I like about the Falcons, but I like a lot more things about the Panthers and Saints.

4. Tampa Bay: Abundance of youth will not be served any time soon. I still think Raheem Morris is in over his head.

NFC West

1. San Francisco: Strong defense and just enough offense enable Niners to dethrone Cardinals, but it won't be easy.

2. Arizona: Ken Whisenhunt will make sure the Cardinals remain competitive, but they just lost too many horses on both sides of the ball this offseason, especially on defense.
3. Seattle: Pete Carroll has added a lot of energy, but offensive line is on shaky ground with Russell Okung getting injured, and the lack of a decent pass rush looks like it could again be a big problem.
4. St. Louis: Sam Bradford will not disappoint. But lack of established weapons aside from Steven Jackson and concerns at defensive tackle and cornerback on defense keep Rams in NFC West cellar, with a few more wins than in '09.

Offensive MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

Defensive MVP: Patrick Willis, San Francisco

Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay over Baltimore


Other predictions: Eric Edholm | Mike Wilkening | Dan Parr | Michael Blunda | Arthur Arkush | Kevin Fishbain | Eli Kaberon


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