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Dan Parr's 2011 NFL predictions

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

Leading up to the start of the regular season, PFW is posting 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 seventh of these predictions, PFW associate editor Dan Parr looks into his crystal ball.


AFC East

1. New England — Don't see any good reason to drop them from the top spot in the division. Not certain the defense will improve. I'll give Bill Belichick benefit of the doubt.

2. N.Y. Jets — Rex Ryan will have his team nipping at the Patriots' heels. Jets will compete for a third straight playoff appearance, but not sure they're ready to get over the hump if they get in.

3. Miami — Won't completely rule out a surprise push for second place. Don't think they did enough in offseason to make a jump.

4. Buffalo — This team will be pesky. The O-line is going to hold it back, though.


AFC North

1. Pittsburgh — Tempted to say they'll extend streak of missing playoffs in season after Super Bowl appearance, but only tempted. They're too solid, well-coached.

2. Baltimore — Division title is possible. They need Joe Flacco to go from good to very good/elite, and I'm not convinced it will happen.

3. Cleveland — Not enough on either side of the ball for them to compete against likes of Steelers, Ravens. Expect a trying debut for Pat Shurmur.

4. Cincinnati — The growing pains will be particularly tough for rookie QB Andy Dalton. A rough season awaits, Cincy.


AFC South

1. Houston — Additions/restructuring on defense will pay off. We know how good offense can be. 

2. Indianapolis — Peyton Manning isn't going to let the Texans end the Colts' streak of division titles without a tough fight, but it gets snapped this season.

3. Jacksonville — The nondescript David Garrard era will end with a whimper. Another finish somewhere around .500 seems likely.

4. Tennessee — They look pretty solid in most areas. There just aren't enough true difference makers for them to get out of last place, and I'm not expecting much from Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker.


AFC West

1. San Diego — Beneficiaries of being surrounded by mostly lackluster AFC West squads, Philip Rivers will lead them back to the postseason. Don't see them making much noise when they get there.

2. Kansas City — Need to see another good season before I buy in here. I think a small step backward is very possible.

3. Oakland — O-line is still bad, and wide receivers and tight ends don't inspire much confidence. Did Jason Campbell steal Al Davis' coleslaw or something?

4. Denver — They have a legitimate shot to start the season 3-0. Schedule gets tougher after that, and wins could be very hard to come by.


NFC East

1. Philadelphia — Plenty of talent. Keeping Michael Vick upright, getting by at linebacker will be tremendous challenges and could be their undoing.

2. Dallas — I like Tony Romo to bounce back, and Rob Ryan will be fun to watch, no matter what his defense is doing. They have playoff potential.

3. N.Y. Giants — They're good but not elite. They have to overcome injuries and get off to a good start because schedule is daunting after Week Seven bye.

4. Washington — Don't see how they can be better than just OK given the situation at quarterback.


NFC North

1. Green Bay — They could be even better than they were last season, so consider them a title contender. Guessing perils of trying to repeat will catch up to them, eventually.

2. Chicago — Jay Cutler is ready to have his best season as a Bear, but team hasn't given him the supporting cast he needs on offense. They will take a step back.

3. Detroit — Probably not quite ready to make the leap that fans are longing for. Give it another year.

4. Minnesota — Suffered some big losses in free agency and didn't adequately fill holes. A declining Donovan McNabb can keep them competitive, but "competitive" won't be good enough most of the time.


NFC South

1. Atlanta — Julio Jones and Ray Edwards give them two pieces they sorely lacked last season. They finally will taste playoff success and make a deep postseason run.

2. New Orleans — Restocked at RB and in the front seven on defense. A deep, talented team that tasted the ultimate success not too long ago will be a dangerous one.

3. Tampa Bay — Relying on youth will work again, but not as well as it did last season. Tougher schedule, growing pains will lead to fewer wins.

4. Carolina — They are not in same category as the other three teams in the division. Cam Newton will take his lumps in Year One, and defense has some very concerning holes.


NFC West

1. St. Louis — Improving Sam Bradford, defense will lead them to top of poor division. Not a threat in postseason yet.

2. Arizona — In the running to be the least impressive of the league's somewhat impressive teams. Probably will win about as many games as they lose.

3. Seattle — Story will be similar to Arizona's. Made some big changes in the offseason, but an average, or perhaps slightly below-average, team.

4. San Francisco — Franchise seems to have a sense of direction again, which is good, but it will take time for Jim Harbaugh to build.


Offensive MVP — Chargers QB Philip Rivers

Defensive MVP — Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware

Super Bowl XLVI — New England over Atlanta

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