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Mike Holbrook's 2011 NFL predictions

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Posted Aug. 30, 2011 @ 6:16 p.m. ET
By Mike Holbrook

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 XLVI, and Offensive and Defensive MVPs. In the second of these predictions, PFW managing editor Mike Holbrook looks into his crystal ball.

AFC East

1. N.Y. Jets — Rex Ryan continues to have Bill Belichick's/Tom Brady's number.

2. New England — The offense will be explosive, but will the defense be much better?

3. Buffalo — Their talent is improving, but it still lags far behind the Jets and Patriots.

4. Miami — There's too much pressure on QB Chad Henne, head coach Tony Sparano and GM Jeff Ireland.

 

AFC North

1. Baltimore — The addition of deep-threat WR Lee Evans is just what the Ravens needed.

2. Pittsburgh — Their aging defenders are a big-time injury concern.

3. Cleveland — Could get off to good start, but brutal schedule late will take its toll.

4. Cincinnati — Prepared to live with growing pains from rookie QB-WR combo.

 

AFC South

1. Houston — Having a proven D-coordinator like Wade Phillips finally puts them over the top.

2. Jacksonville — GM Gene Smith steadily has bolstered the talent on both sides of the ball.

3. Indianapolis — Peyton Manning's neck, O-line, defense are causes for concern.

4. Tennessee — This rebuilding team can't afford a long holdout from CJ2K.

 

AFC West

1. San Diego — Fewer turnovers and special-teams gaffes equals more wins.

2. Kansas City — Won't be able to overcome subpar O-line to best Chargers again.

3. Oakland — They just lost too much talent in a brutal offseason.

4. Denver — This rebuilding team seems to be on right path.

 

NFC East

1. Dallas — Tony Romo is finally ready to produce a deep playoff run.

2. Philadelphia — Did the league figure out Michael Vick late last season?

3. N.Y. Giants — Rash of injuries, bad karma surrounding this team this year.

4. Washington — Shanahan's crew should be improved but still has a long way to go.

 

NFC North

1. Green Bay — Defending champs possess too much talent, depth not to win division.

2. Detroit — Team on rise needs Matthew Stafford to stay healthy.

3. Chicago — Fragile LB corps is depending on aging Urlacher, Briggs to play full season.

4. Minnesota — How much does Donovan McNabb have left in the tank?

 

NFC South

1. Atlanta — I love the Thomas Dimitroff/Mike Smith combo and the team they have built.

2. New Orleans — Mark Ingram gives this powerhouse offense another weapon.

3. Tampa Bay — Josh Freeman's a stud, but the defense is a work in progress.

4. Carolina — Ron Rivera will get them on track, but it will take time.

 

NFC West

1. St. Louis — Quietly putting the pieces together to make a playoff run.

2. Arizona — Larry Fitzgerald is happy, but is there enough to help him?

3. Seattle — The QB mess will be the downfall of this team in 2011.

4. San Francisco — See Seahawks note above.

 

Offensive MVP — Chargers QB Philip Rivers

Defensive MVP — Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware

Super Bowl XLVI — Jets over Falcons

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