- Aaron Rodger's Packers have only failed to make the playoffs once with him at the helm (his first year starting). Maybe they're due for a down year, but I doubt it.
- The Pats with the golden boy are in again by a mile. Tom Brady is more responsible for the last decade of Patriot success than Bill Belichick. I'm not saying Belichick wouldn't have won in New England but I feel fairly confident in saying that he wouldn't still be there today without the Hall of Famer at QB. He doesn't have the personality to weather the lean years. A couple of down years (a certainty with a mediocre QB) and the combination of surliness and non-cooperative attitude would have gotten him fired for sure.
Here's who I'm picking for Division winners.
AFC East: Patriots...they play with the Bills, Dolphins, & Jets.(sigh). Next to the fact that the Patriots are a very well run organization (from owner to coach...to probably the janitors), you can't underestimate the significance of playing against cupcakes in your division for a decade. Think about that. How would it be to totally discount your entire division year in and year out when you evaluate potential obstacles for a Super Bowl run. It's probably the most overlooked aspect of Patriot success during the Belichick era.
AFC North: Bengals. Maybe too trendy here. The Steelers and Ravens are sure to contend too. Andy Dalton has to progress this year for it to happen but he's got a receiver in A.J. Green that rivals Calvin Johnson in talent. And I really liked the Cincy defense last year. They more than anything carried the team down the stretch and into the playoffs.
AFC South: Colts. I want to say the Texans but the potential of Andrew Luck is tantalizing.
AFC West: Broncos. Maning, if healthy is the difference between the Broncos making the playoffs or not. His 2012 season, especially after sitting a year, is in my opinion one of the most incredible QB seasons of all time. And that's saying something considering what we're seeing at the position now.
NFC East: Giants. What crap shoot. This division has the potential to be the best in the league. A Chip Kelly Eagle offense is something that is a must see for me early in the season. The Redskin's Griffin III could be both better and worse at the same time if he limits his running. Dallas is always hanging around (for better or worse). But overall NY seems to me like they may get back on top this year.
NFC North: Packers. Detroit, Chicago & Minnesota have potential to win this thing but I see more question marks in terms of inconsistency with all of them compared to Green Bay.
NFC South: Saints. Rebound year. I may be crazy since the Falcons are on paper the better team (and by better team I mean they actually have a defense). But who knows, maybe Sean Payton really is that valuable.
NFC West: 49ers. Should be a battle between the 49ers and Hawks. Too bad Harbough and Caroll can't engage in single combat for division supremacy ......(for you Game of Thrones nerds).
Super Bowl: I would have never picked the Ravens last year so I figure my pick is as good or bad as anyone else's pick (please don't tell me you saw Joe Flacco's 2012 brillance in the playoff coming....I won't believe you if you do). I would love to see the Rams seriously compete (doubtful with the brutal division they are in) and I wouldn't mind seeing the Broncos, Colts, Saints or Packers win it all, but I'll say it will be a battle of wildcards, the Seahawks over the Steelers.