Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Crystal Ball of the NFL

Composed by The Phanatic Staff

The NFL season gets underway tonight where the Three Rivers meet, as defending Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh begins its defense of the title without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against the Miami Dolphins.

The 2006 season kicks off with many questions...Will Carson Palmer be fully recovered from a torn ACL? Which team will separate itself in the blood bath that is the NFC East? Is the Deion Branch fiasco a sign that New England's reign as a year-to-year title contender has come to an end?

Answers to those questions and more can be found below as The Phanatic picks division winners, wild-card entries and crowns a Super Bowl champion.


Jared Trexler

AFC East
1. New England (11-5)
2. Miami (10-6)
3. Buffalo (5-11)
4. New York Jets (3-13)

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh (11-5)
2. Cincinnati (10-6)
3. Baltimore (9-7)
4. Cleveland (6-10)

AFC South
1. Indianapolis (12-4)
2. Jacksonville (8-8)
3. Tennessee (5-11)
4. Houston (4-12)

AFC West
1. Denver (11-5)
2. San Diego (9-7)
3. Kansas City (9-7)
4. Oakland (3-13)

Wild Cards: Miami, Cincinnati
1st round Playoffs: New England over Cincinnati; Miami over Denver
Divisional Playoffs: Pittsburgh over Miami; New England over Indy
AFCG: Pittsburgh over New England


NFC East
1. Dallas (11-5)
2. New York Giants (9-7)
3. Philadelphia (8-8)
4. Washington (7-9)

NFC North
1. Minnesota (9-7)
2. Chicago (8-8)
3. Detroit (6-10)
4. Green Bay (4-12)

NFC South
1. Carolina (12-4)
2. Atlanta (9-7)
3. Tampa Bay (7-9)
4. New Orleans (5-11)

NFC West
1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
2. Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
3. St. Louis (6-10)
4. San Francisco (4-12)

Wild Cards: Atlanta, NY Giants
1st Round Playoffs: NY Giants over Minnesota; Dallas over Atlanta
Divisional Playoffs: Dallas over Carolina; Seattle over NY Giants
NFCG: Dallas over Seattle


SUPER BOWL: Dallas 24, Pittsburgh 20

Synopsis: The Steelers fall one step short in their quest to repeat. The Cowboys have more weapons on the perimeter and a very similar defense. The game will come down to a short yardage situation late in the game for Pittsburgh, which hands the ball to undersized Willie Parker on 4-and-1 in Cowboys territory. Parker is stacked up at the line...giving Parcells another ring. Both coaches retire after the season -- Parcells back to ESPN and Cowher into retirement for one season before taking over at North Carolina State.

Tim McManus

AFC East
1. New England (11-5)
2. Miami (10-6)
3. Buffalo (8-8)
4. New York Jets (4-12)

AFC North
1. Cincinnati (12-4)
2. Pittsburgh (9-7)
3. Baltimore (8-8)
4. Cleveland (7-9)

AFC South
1. Indianapolis (11-5)
2. Jacksonville (9-7)
3. Houston (6-10)
4. Tennessee (5-11)

AFC West
1. San Diego (12-4)
2. Denver (10-6)
3. Kansas City (7-9)
4. Oakland (3-13)

Wild Cards: Miami, Denver
1st round Playoffs: New England over Denver; Indianapolis over Miami
Divisional Playoffs: New England over San Diego; Cincinnati over Indianapolis
AFCG: New England over Cincinnati

NFC East
1) New York Giants (11-5)
2) Philadelphia (10-6)
3) Dallas (9-7)
4) Washington (7-9)

NFC North
1) Chicago (11-5)
2) Minnesota (9-7)
3) Detroit (7-9)
4) Green Bay (3-13)

NFC South
1) Tampa Bay (12-4)
2) Carolina (10-6)
3) Atlanta (10-6)
4) New Orleans (5-11)

NFC West
1) St. Louis (10-6)
2) Seattle (8-8)
3) Arizona (8-8)
4) San Francisco (6-10)

Wild Cards: Carolina, Philadelphia
1st round Playoffs: Philadelphia over St. Louis; Carolina over Chicago
Divisional Playoffs: Tampa Bay over Carolina; Philadelphia over NY Giants
NFCG: Tampa Bay over Philadelphia

SUPER BOWL: New England 17, Tampa Bay 10

Synopsis: Jon Gruden reminds the world that he is still one of the best coaches in the league, but Bill Belichek proves once again that he is in a class of his own. Tom Brady, fully recovered from a sports hernia that hampered him late last season, puts up a career year and caps it with his fourth Lombardi Trophy.

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