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Keith Schleiden's 2010 NFL predictions

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By Keith Schleiden

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 10th of these predictions, PFW editor-in-chief Keith Schleiden looks into his crystal ball.

AFC East

1. New England: Tom Brady's getting surly. Wes Welker's rehab defied the docs. Several intriguing rookies. Belichick. What's not to like?

2. N.Y. Jets: Enough talent to contend even before Darrelle Revis returned. But I got a feeling I will be sick of this team's bravado by the third quarter of Week One. 

3. Miami: Will Tony Sparano want to punt Brandon Marshall by midseason?

4. Buffalo: Still a quarterback away from contending for anything but the cellar.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati: Not real comfortable with this pick. Gambling on the offense catching up to Mike Zimmer's defense.

2. Baltimore: Passing game could be improved with addition of Anquan Boldin. But that defense isn't getting any younger.

3. Pittsburgh: If Steelers get through first quarter of season in good shape without Big Ben, don't count this team out.

4. Cleveland: Another losing season in Cleveland leads to Mike Holmgren returning to the sideline in 2011.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis: We'll learn a lot about these Colts in Weeks 11-13 (at New England, vs. Chargers, vs. Cowboys). Not 14-2 good, but good enough to get to title game in Dallas.

2. Houston: 1-15 all-time vs. the Colts. That's got to change if the Texans are finally ready to break through.

3. Tennessee: 8-2 record after the bye last season is a reason to believe. Two of the more intriguing personalities in the league (V.Y. and CJ2K) will be fun to watch.

4. Jacksonville: Only people watching this team on TV are the ones who have MJD in their fantasy lineups.

AFC West

1. San Diego: Ryan Mathews is being plugged into an offense that ranked 31st in rushing last season. I see 1,400 yards for L.T.'s heir, 10 wins and another division title in the weak AFC West.

2. Oakland: I know I'm not supposed to root for any teams, but there's a part of me that believes there's just something better about the NFL when the Raiders are good.

3. Denver: There's a lot of talk of what Tim Tebow brings to the table, and not enough about what the losses of Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil do.

4. Kansas City: At least Chiefs fans can look forward to the new and improved Arrowhead Stadium.

NFC East

1. Dallas: Ranked second in both overall offense and scoring defense last season. Preseason injuries are a minor concern, but this team is loaded. Expectations are nothing short of Super in "Big D."

2. N.Y. Giants: Jets seem to be getting all the headlines in New York. (Yes, I just began my Giants comment with the word "Jets.") I won't be surprised if the Giants are in the headlines come December not for their playoff potential, but for a potential head-coach search.

3. Philadelphia: Are they rebuilding or reloading? I'm on the fence. Could surprise or disappoint.

4. Washington: Again, sort of on the fence. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen will figure it out eventually, but Donovan McNabb addition won't vault this team into contention in Year One.

NFC North

1. Green Bay: Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers get the last laugh.

2. Minnesota: Dream season for Favre in 2009. Here's hoping he's not facing a nightmare campaign in 2010. But I fear it could be coming.

3. Chicago: Big-name talent at too many positions (QB, RB, TE, DL, LB, RS) to tolerate another underachieving season.

4. Detroit: This team is on the verge of turning it around — a year away from playoff contention.

NFC South

1. New Orleans: Super Bowl champs maintain control of the NFC South, winning back-to-back titles for the first time in division history.

2. Atlanta: Favorable early schedule in my estimation. A real threat to the Saints' repeat hopes.

3. Carolina: Productive running game and impressive preseason pass rush aside, give me a reason to believe the Panthers are playoff contenders.

4. Tampa Bay: I'll tune in to monitor the progress of Josh Freeman, Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, Kyle Moore, Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn.

NFC West

1. San Francisco: Some odd front-office and personnel transactions have taken place in the last several months, but talent is there to take the lackluster NFC West.

2. Arizona: I would have expected a call for Kurt Warner to return, but scheduled "Dancing With the Stars" appearance has dashed those hopes.

3. Seattle: Re-energized franchise will suffer some growing pains in the first year under Pete Carroll, but I'm intrigued by some of the veteran pickups.

4. St. Louis: New owner and franchise QB in 2010. New coach in 2011?

 

Offensive MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

Defensive MVP: Patrick Willis, San Francisco

Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay over Indianapolis

 

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

 

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

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