FanPost

2nd annual 2012 season forecast with 2013 NFL Draft position

As I try to mark time before enjoying the 2012 NFL opener on Wednesday evening in the New Meadowlands, I wrapped-up my 2012 NFL season projection. Last season, I had Dallas winning the Super Bowl in an obvious display of homerism. This season, I tried to keep the rankings realistic.

The ranking is according to 2013 NFL Draft position. The SOS rank pertains to the Strength of Schedule (1 is the weakest and 32 is the most difficult). Please let me know what you think:

2013 NFL Draft order

Team

Wins

Losses

SOS Rank

Notes

1

St. Louis Rams

2

14

27

Despite making a significant upgrade with a new head coach, the Rams have many needs. St. Louis needs weapons for Bradford, a dependable offensive line, and a stout defense. For the second consecutive year, the Rams will be able to trade their draft choice to a team looking for a franchise quarterback and fill some of the many holes through the draft.

2

Miami Dolphins

3

13

22

Tannehill will make plays in his rookie season, but his bad plays will outweigh his good plays. The defense is changing schemes and will struggle this season. Similar to the Rams, this team has too many holes to fill. If the team is lucky, another team may trade up to get a franchise quarterback.

3

Cleveland Browns

3

13

30

A rookie quarterback surrounded by sub-standard talent in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs in 2011 will be too much for the Browns to overcome. This team has some pieces in place, and may be better in a year or two.

4

Minnesota Vikings

4

12

28

Minnesota has the worst quarterback in the division, and has arguably the worst secondary in the NFL. That is not a good combination when the team will play eight games this season against Luck, Shaub, Cutler, Stafford, and Rodgers.

5

Jacksonville Jaguars

4

12

31

Gabbert should play better this season, but Robinson (a receiver that was cut twice last season before benefitting from Romo's ability) and Blackmon (a rookie, albeit a talented one) will not provide Blaine enough help in 2012. The second most difficult schedule this season is too much to overcome.

6

Washington Redskins

6

10

4

RG III will develop into a good quarterback in a few years, and a strong running game as well as a solid defense will help. Washington will benefit from a relatively easy schedule in 2012. Those factors, however, will not preclude the Redskins from assuming their customary position: the bottom of the NFC East.

7

Indianapolis Colts

6

10

10

Andrew Luck will muster more wins as a rookie than his predecessor, the incomparable Peyton Manning. The Colts are young and will compete for another Super Bowl in the not too distant future if Indianapolis can put together a top ten defense to help their franchise quarterback.

8

Arizona Cardinals

6

10

23

Should Skelton or Kolb start for the Cardinals? The fact that this team is struggling to find an answer to this question should explain their low ranking. Arizona has a decent defense, but the quarterback position holds this team hostage all season.

9

Kansas City Chiefs

6

10

29

If there was a better second string quarterback in Kansas City, the Chiefs would be the AFC version of the Cardinals. Matt Cassell has held this team down. Kansas City has good talent at almost every other position. Unfortunately, the QB position is the most important.

10

Cincinnati Bengals

7

9

2

Dalton will build upon a strong rookie season, but a below average secondary, an average pass rush, and trouble with the offensive line will make his sophomore season less successful. Cincinnati faces the second easiest schedule in the NFL.

11

Oakland Raiders

7

9

11

Considering that the Raiders are really rebuilding this season with a new General Manager, finishing just short of .500 should be considered a major step in the right direction. This league is better when the Cowboys and Raiders are good.

12

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7

9

7

New head coach, Greg Schiano will bring a new attitude to a team that appeared to quit on its coach a few games into 2011. There are still too many holes for this team to make the playoffs in 2012, and quarterback looks to be one of them.

13

Carolina Panthers

7

9

32

Besides Cam Newton running around, this team has nothing special to hang its hat on. The defense is below average, the offensive line is below average, and the team is below average.

14

Seattle Seahawks

8

8

8

Seattle will start off slowly this season while rookie quarterback Russell Wilson learns NFL defenses. The Seahawks have a strong, physical defense, a solid running game, and for the first time since Hasselbeck's prime, a quality quarterback, albeit a young one.

15

New York Jets

8

8

20

The Jets will eventually bench Sanchez in favor of Tebow (over/under is after week 8: with a week 9 bye). While New York will garner more attention than they merit, Tebow will lead the team to more wins than Sanchez and a late charge that comes up short in a tough division.

16

San Diego Chargers

8

8

17

Norv has the misfortune of working for one of the worst GM's in football, AJ Smith. A team that was once loaded with talent has disintegrated into Philip Rivers and JAG's. As has been the Chargers' way, a slow start in 2012 will be too much to overcome.

17

Tennessee Titans

8

8

24

Locker will have his share of gaffes this season as the starting quarterback. The Titans will lean heavily on Chris Johnson in the backfield, especially at the beginning of the season. With the exception of Kenny Britt (who will be suspended for one game), the rest of the roster is comprised of guys with middling talent. That explains why Tennessee will be in the middle of the league.

18

Philadelphia Eagles

9

7

5

Despite having a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball, Vick is not the quarterback this team needs. Vick's propensity for turnovers and inopportune scrambles will have the Eagles secure another spot on the couch, watching the playoffs. Philadelphia's defense will also have their share of meltdowns.

19

Detroit Lions

9

7

18

After a blistering start to the 2011 season where the Lions came from behind to win, Detroit will play more like the average team that finished 2011. The Lions will struggle to win when the offense is slowed by strong defenses like Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago.

20

New Orleans Saints

9

7

21

With all that this team has endured this off season, the bottom line is that the Saints are still a very talented franchise that has an elite quarterback. But suspended players and coaches, and a weak defense that looks worse than last season will doom this team this year.

21

Buffalo Bills

9

7

1

The Bills will be the only team to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East this season, but barely. The addition of Mario Williams will make a huge difference to an above average defense, and the easiest schedule in the NFL will put them over the top.

22

Pittsburgh Steelers

10

6

6

Roethlisberger will struggle to adapt to Haley's new offense. The running game will not be as reliable as Steelers' fans are used to. The defense is still the strength of this team. This team will compete with Baltimore to barely win a tough division before losing at home in the playoffs.

23

New York Giants

10

6

12

The Giants had a miraculous run to the Super Bowl last season, but concerns still exist along the offensive line and in the secondary. New York is still a good team, however, and will make the post season after repeating as the division winner. In a twist of fate, however, the Giants get eliminated from the playoffs by the Cowboys.

24

Atlanta Falcons

10

6

15

Ryan has the pocket mobility of Drew Bledsoe, yet the Falcons continue to provide him with a below average offensive line. Despite having a great 3-4 defensive coordinator, the Falcons continue to run a base 4-3. Atlanta's ascension will be more due to New Orleans falling, and Ryan will once again lose in the opening round of the playoffs.

25

Dallas Cowboys

9

7

19

A team that relied on its offense to win 8 games last season will realize improvements along the offensive line. The defense will also be significantly better because of huge improvements in the secondary. Entering the playoffs, the Cowboys will be the team few want to face. A win over the Giants in the New Meadowlands will be Romo's first road playoff win and may spark a Rodgers-type run to the Super Bowl.

26

Baltimore Ravens

10

6

25

The Ravens will come up just short in the AFC North, but make some noise in the playoffs. A lack of offense, however, will haunt them against potent offenses such as New England, Houston and Denver. Flacco is a good quarterback, but the level of talent on this team is a cut below the elite teams in the AFC this season.

27

Green Bay Packers

11

5

16

Green Bay is still a very one-dimensional team. Rodgers is an outstanding quarterback, but without a running game, and with a suspect pass defense, the Packers will not even win the NFC North. Green Bay will come close to returning to the NFC Championship game, though.

28

Houston Texans

12

4

13

Houston will make a run at getting to the Super Bowl despite the loss of Mario Williams in the off season. A strong defense coupled with a high-powered offense will prove to be too much for many teams to overcome during the regular season, but the post season is a different animal.

29

San Francisco 49ers

11

5

14

Alex Smith will be asked to make more plays this season: sometimes he will, but in January, he will not. The 49ers still are talented enough to win the NFC West and win a playoff game, but until the quarterback position is upgraded significantly, the Super Bowl will remain out of reach.

30

New England Patriots

13

3

9

The Patriots mirror the Packers: a strong quarterback, and little else. New England's easy schedule will provide few challenges along the way, but the team will stumble before reaching another Super Bowl. This team will only go as far as the offensive line can protect Tom Brady.

31

Chicago Bears

12

4

3

The Bears are the most complete team in the NFC. The defense is predicated on eliminating big plays and producing turnovers. The offense is guided by a strong armed quarterback that has receivers and backs that can be relied upon.

32

Denver Broncos

12

4

26

Manning will make this team a legitimate contender and match his little brother's ring total in his comeback. The defense had many lapses last season, but the pressure Peyton will apply to other teams to score will make opponents one-dimensional and permit Derek Wolfe, Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller to thrive. Champ Bailey still provides very strong coverage in the secondary.

I expect Dallas will be playing better towards the end of the season. The youth the team has acquired will need time to come together.

For those that suffer from high blood pressure or have a heart condition, this season may be harmful for your health. Dallas will need to win their last two games to win the tie-breakers with Detroit, Philadelphia, and New Orleans and make the playoffs.

My individual Dallas Cowboys game breakdown is:

Team / Game Win / Loss

@ New York Giants

Loss

@ Seattle Seahawks

Win

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Win

Chicago Bears

Loss

@ Baltimore Ravens

Loss

@ Carolina

Win

New York Giants

Win

@ Atlanta Falcons

Loss

@ Philadelphia Eagles

Loss

Cleveland Browns

Win

Washington Redskins (Thanks)

Win

Philadelphia Eagles

Win

@ Cincinnati Bengals

Loss

Pittsburgh Steelers

Loss

New Orleans Saints

Win

@ Washington Redskins

Win

Post season

@ New York Giants

Win

@ Chicago

Loss

On a draft related note, I am intrigued by Barrett Jones (75), the Alabama center that played left tackle last season. He would be my choice at 25 (or 32).

Excuse me while I book my trip to Vegas.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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