Mike Holbrook's 2012 NFL predictions

Posted Sept. 02, 2012 @ 11:02 a.m.
Posted By Mike Holbrook

AFC East

1. New England — Tom Brady has too many weapons and defense should be better. Still the class of the division.

2. Buffalo — If they sustain their exciting, high-scoring play from the first half of last season, they can contend for a playoff spot.

3. New York Jets — Too much dysfunction on this team, and if season goes as badly as it looks like it could, it means Rex Ryan could be back coordinating elsewhere in 2013.

4. Miami — Joe Philbin’s offense is proven but needs big-time playmakers and doesn’t have them yet. Defense will keep team competitive.

AFC North

1. Baltimore — Will miss Terrell Suggs on defense, but offense, led by motivated Joe Flacco, MVP candidate Ray Rice and deep-threat WR Torrey Smith, is ready to take forefront for first time in many years.

2. Cincinnati — Like what they did and like the young talent they have added in recent years. Andy Dalton-A.J.Green-Jermaine Gresham trio could be outstanding.

3. Pittsburgh — Not sold at all on porous O-line keeping Big Ben upright all season, and aging defense finally has to slow down, doesn’t it?

4. Cleveland — Has added some talent but not enough to overtake big boys in rugged division.

AFC South

1. Houston — Wade Phillips will keep defense among league’s best and Gary Kubiak/Rick Dennison will do same with offense. That adds up to another division title and a deep playoff run.

2. Tennessee — Jake Locker will have ups and downs at QB. Having Kenny Britt on the field more often than not could make their offense dangerous.

3. Jacksonville — Will believe Blaine Gabbert is much improved when I see him perform in regular season. If his confidence is back and steps up play, Jags can move up to second in division.

4. Indianapolis — Think Andrew Luck will do slightly better than Peyton Manning did in his rookie season (3-13 in 1998). How’s 4-12 sound Colts fans?

AFC West

1. Kansas City — Like what I saw of Chiefs late last season and counting on return of Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki to take Chiefs from worst to first.

2. Denver — As long as Peyton Manning is healthy, Broncos will be in thick of things for division title.

3. San Diego — Don’t think Ryan Mathews can stay healthy and Philip Rivers again will try to do too much, resulting in turnovers. I sense a trend with both.

4. Oakland — Overpaid for Carson Palmer and new regime will rue the day Hue Jackson signed off on that deal. This year is too soon in rebuilding process.

NFC East

1. New York Giants — Remember how good they were off their last Super Bowl title — and I don’t see a Plaxico-type distraction disrupting this team.

2. Philadelphia — Michael Vick can’t stay healthy, but if Howie Roseman says last year’s big free-agent splash was geared toward success this season, that means something to me.

3. Dallas — Too many injuries and question marks on offense, especially on the offensive line. That will prove to be this team’s downfall.

4. Washington — Will be improved and competitive but still not enough talent to overcome the Jints or Iggles. Could move ahead of Dallas if injuries rip apart Boys.

NFC North

1. Green Bay — Aaron Rodgers is top QB in the game and offense will win enough games to keep them on top of tough division.

2. Chicago — Will love to see Jay Cutler go to work now that he finally has top weapons around him. But will he make it through the entire season behind that subpar O-line?

3. Detroit — Had a lot of things go their way last year on way to playoffs. Have a feeling a few bounces will go against them and keep them home for postseason.

4. Minnesota — Needs more playmakers on defense, particularly in back seven. Offense could surprise.

NFC South

1. New Orleans — “Bountygate” suspensions have given them ultimate us-against-them fuel for their fire. Defense must be more opportunistic and Steve Spagnuolo will help that.

2. Atlanta — O-line woes will be their downfall. Matt Ryan only can do so much if he doesn’t have time to look for deep threats Julio Jones, Roddy White.

3. Carolina — Who will win in Year Two — Cam Newton or opposing defensive coordinators who had full offseason to figure out how to stop him? Betting his numbers drop quite a bit.

4. Tampa Bay — Davin Joseph injury a crusher. Greg Schiano doing things the right way, just needs young draft picks to play to potential.

NFC West

1. San Francisco — A couple special-teams gaffes away from Super Bowl last year. Jim Harbaugh will clean that up and have team ready for any and all comers on way to title.

2. Seattle — Think Pete Carroll’s crew will be best of also-rans in division behind Niners. Interested to see how Russell Wilson does.

3. Arizona — QB woes crushing considering there’s enough skill-position talent and defense to contend for division title — IF they had an above-average QB.

4. St. Louis — Jeff Fisher’s rebuilding process has begun with an infusion of youth. They’ll be competitive but looking at 4-5 wins maximum.

Offensive MVP — Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Defensive MVP — Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul

Super Bowl XLVII — San Francisco over Houston