After waiting seven months since the New Orleans Saints took down the Peyton Manning and the Colts, the NFL is finally back. 2010 is a bright season with a lot of story lines developing. NFL legend and 24 time retiree Brett Favre is back for another shot at a title, while the New York Jets used an uncapped year to acquire every big name free agent it could find. The season kicks off tonight as the defending champs and Drew Brees host Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, a rematch of the 2009 NFC championship game. I thought this one out long and hard and came up with my best interpretation of how the 2010 season will play out. Let’s have a look at the whole season.
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Most of the Thunder Treats authors are fans of a team from the AFC North so that division always sparks some good discussion. The defending champion Cincinnati Bengals will fall victim to a brutal schedule and while Batman and Robin are driving Carson Palmer nuts. The loaded Baltimore Ravens will cruise onto a division title with smash mouth defense and a much underrated offense. The only thing that could hurt Baltimore is the absence of injured Ed Reed for at least the first six games. The Pittsburgh Steelers return their entire defense from the 2008 Super Bowl season and will need very clutch performances out of this group to have a shot. They have to start the season with Dennis Dixon at QB since Big Ben likes to pull out little Ben. The Steelers close with 5 of 8 at home and a rejuvenated Big Ben will propel them to a wildcard spot. The Cleveland Browns will struggle this year but will make strides for the future. I think the Walrus is moving the team in the right direction and “Day light come and you gotta Delhomme” has looked impressive in the preseason. However, aside from Massaquoi, the WR corps is quite thin and untalented to say the least.
For the umpteenth time, Peyton Manning leads the Colts to a division title. It will be interesting to see how much the umpire moving to the backfield affects that fast paced offense. The Titans will turn in a good season but fall just short of a wildcard playoff spot. Houston is getting closer and closer but a few key losses will again have them on the outside looking in for a playoff spot. The Jaguars only shot at turning that franchise around was drafting Tim Tebow. By this, I mean all those lunatics from Gainsville driving there to see Jesus Christ suit up and salvaging a franchise that will be moved in five years if it doesn’t have a drastic turnaround and quick.
Along with the AFC North, the East will be a brutal division and provide some excellent inter-conference rivalries. Rex is running his mouth to no end coming off a 9-7 season by squeaking into the playoffs thanks to the Colts resting of starters. After playing in the AFC championship game Rex has guaranteed a Super Bowl win for the gang green. I am not sold yet nor can I bet against pretty boy Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. While I have the Jets winning the division, Brady will get the last laugh in the playoffs. The Dolphins will turn in a respectable season but fall short of the playoffs, where the Bills just flat out suck but watch out for CJ Spiller who will be lightning in a bottle and my pick as NFL rookie of the year.
The Chargers will be without Vincent Jackson for at least 6 games, if not more, so Phillip Rivers will rely on Malcolm Floyd to step up and provide production with Antonio Gates. Ryan Matthews will get the starting nod at RB and should be another legit candidate for offensive ROY. I went back and forth with Kansas City and Oakland and in my mind I could see either of them as a surprise team. Jason Campbell will provide an upgrade at QB from the purple drankin’ bust of the decade JaMarcus Russell. Denver will struggle mightily without all pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall and will be calling for Orton to be replaced by Jesus Christ at QB by week 5.
The North will continue to be a slugfest between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers versus old man rivers Brett Favre and the Vikings. Rodgers might emerge as the NFL MVP candidate and my pick as top fantasy QB for this season. The Packers and Vikings will both roll into the playoffs, while the Bears and Lions will bottom feed in the NFC Norris. Cutler has struggled but could have a career spark with the addition of Mike Martz as O-Coordinator. The Lions will still struggle but have made a few good additions and could steal a few more games than I have them winning.
Although the citizens of New Orleans have been in one big hangover since the Saints won the franchise’s first Super Bowl, the Saints will do none of the same. Drew Breezy F Baby will again dominate defenses and the Saints will roll into the playoffs and first round bye. The Falcons will turn in a good season and get back into the playoffs as the final wildcard spot. Carolina and Tampa Bay have way to many holes and question marks to have them anywhere else but bottom of the NFC and getting ready for a top 10 draft pick next season.
The NFC East will again be the juggernaut division of the NFC with a lot of firepower and potential amongst its teams. However, the Redskins will struggle along with the Giants and for the first time since 2004 have only one playoff team. That team being the Dallas Cowboys. As much as it pains me, the Cowboys will turn in a solid 2010 season and be in the running to host the Super bowl in Jerry’s World. The Eagles, for whatever idiotic reason, traded D-Mac in the division and will feel the ill effects of Kolb at the QB position. The best bet for the E-A-G-L-E-S is to give the ball to Mike Vick and let his athleticism win them some ball games.
This division in my mind is the weakest in football and will provide a three-pack of top 15 NFL draft teams. The 49ers show the most potential with the general Mike Singletary at the helm, along with a very stout defense. The Cardinals have all everything WR Larry Fitzgerald but unfortunately he cannot throw himself the football. The Seahawks have been in a downhill spiral since losing Super Bowl 40 and new Coach Pete Carroll has been cleaning house of starters for no apparent reason. Last, the St Louis Rams, just flat-out suck. Bradford is going to be on IR by week 6 and it will be another year of, “With the first pick in the NFL draft, the St Louis Rams select….”
With the season complete and January here, it is time for the NFL playoffs. Four weeks of intense football leading to the ultimate trip to Dallas to play in Super Bowl 45. 12 teams will enter but only one will come out with the Lombardi trophy and title of World Champions.
Wildcard weekend begins with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots hitting the road to take on the Baltimore Ravens and the San Diego Chargers. The Steelers and Ravens face-off for the third time this season after Pittsburgh dropped both games during the regular season. After rolling into the playoffs winning 7 of their last 8, the Steelers shock the Ravens at home with a 17 to 13 win. New England travels out to San Diego and squeaks by the Chargers 27 to 24 and Rivers continues his streak of playoff choke jobs.
The Falcons come down to Jerry’s world to receive a 34 to 17 spanking from the Cowboys. Romo and the Cowboys offense will be too much for the Falcons defense to handle. Meanwhile, Minnesota must travel out to San Francisco due to an obscure NFL rule ranking division winners ahead of wildcard teams, even if the wildcard team has the better record. The Vikings prove too much for the Niners and move onto the Divisional round for a date in Lambeau.
The Steelers travel to Indianapolis to take on the top seeded Indianapolis Colts and unlike 2005, Mike Vanderjagt will not be the kicker. The Colts roll to a 27-17 victory and move onto yet another AFC title game. Meanwhile the brewing rivalry between the Jets and Pats will get a third shot and this one will not be for the weak. I can just hear Rex Ryan and his mouth yapping all week. Tom Brady comes to town and shows Mark Sanchez who is the real Broadway Joe. The Patriots win a brutal, smash mouth game and will travel to Indy to meet Payton and the Colts.
Former Green Bay Packer Brett Favre returns to Lambeau with the Vikings to take on his understudy Aaron Rodgers. In a grind em out game the Packers score late and Brett Favre again ends the season on an interception. (Hey it would be pretty awesome for 4 straight year’s right?). Dallas heads down to the bayou to take on the defending champion New Orleans Saints. For the first time in his career, Tony Romo shows a clutch gene and leads the Cowboys to a 31 to 28 victory and a rematch with the Packers.
In a showdown of old school, Tom Brady and the Patriots take on Peyton Manning and the Colts. Just because of my utter hatred of Bill Bellicheat and the Patriots, I have the Colts moving onto Dallas in another hard fought game with the 34 to 28 victory. The Colts win back to back AFC titles and will try to avenge last year’s heart breaking loss to the Saints.
In a battle for the ages, the Cowboys look to avenge a week 9 loss in Green Bay. With the Cowboys in town again, much of the same happens. Rodgers dominates and Romo throws an interception driving the Cowboys to the potential game tying touchdown. The Packers move onto Dallas to take on the seemingly ageless Indianapolis Colts.
Super Bowl 45:
In what will guaranteed be the most overdone spectacle in sports, Jerry Jones will put on a show like we have never seen before. Jerry’s world will have every bell and whistle that it can fit inside of that monstrosity and distract us from the real reason we are here, to watch a football game. In a game that will pit two offensive arsenals against each other, the Packers look to get a 4th Super Bowl victory since their last in 1996. Peyton will look to lead the Colts to their 3rd Super Bowl, and second under his command. In a back and forth game, the game will come down to its final drive with the Colts trailing the Packers by 3. Payton leads the Colts on a stunning drive capped off by a Reggie Wayne touchdown to a 31 to 27 victory and another Lombardi trophy for owner Jim Irsay and the city of Indianapolis.