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NFL Preview: Division breakdowns

Shinichi Inoue

Issue date: 9/3/10 Section: Sports
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NFC East: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has reestablished himself as team leader, and by re-signing wide receiver Miles Austin, Dallas looks to dominate the NFC East again with its talented run-offense combo of Miles and Roy Williams. However, the Giants should give Dallas a run for its money. With a safety-duo in Antrell Rolle and Kenny Phillips, the Giants are capable of defending against great passing teams. The only problem is in their linebackers, which surrendered an average of 26.7 points per game (third highest in NFL).

The Redskins made a steal during the offseason, nabbing Donovan McNabb from rival Eagles, but weak offensive talents and aging stars like Clinton Portis will have the Redskins scrambling to find some offense. The Eagles, without McNabb, will have a hard time adjusting to their new QB Kevin Kolb, especially when lack of experience and youth isn't a winning formula in the NFL. The Eagles will earn it painfully this season.

NFC West: San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams

Possibly the most unpredictable division last year, the NFC West will see the rise in one team and the start of a new era in another. The 49ers have talents at playmaking spots (Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree), improved a suspect defense over the offseason, and are the favorite to win the division. The retirement of a starting quarterback is never good for a franchise, and Arizona is feeling it. The departure of Kurt Warner left the Cardinals' offense a mess, struggling to put up points consistently. Both the Seahawks and the Rams are in rebuilding mode; the Hawks hope college football legend Pete Carroll can turn things around. As for the Rams, first overall pick Sam Bradford should get them more than three wins this year.

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions

Seriously, enough of Favre. The Vikings are a talented bunch; add Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin, and you have one of the best offenses in the NFL. And don't forget that the Vikings' defense had the most sacks (48). With that much talent, Minnesota should be able to repeat in NFC North. The "Apprentice" (aka Aaron Rogers) will look to lead his explosive Packers offense against the Vikings; however, as long as their soft defense doesn't improve, the Packers have no chance against the Vikings.

The Bears brought in Julius Peppers, Brandon Manumaleuna, and Chester Taylor to boost their offensive outlook; however, the team is still hoping QB Jay Cutler will return to form after a horrendous season. Detroit, fully absorbed in rebuilding mode, will look to young QB Matthew Stafford to lead them out of the slums of the NFC North.

NFC South: New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, , Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Orleans's chance to repeat is going to be a "Brees." Drew Brees established himself as a top-tier QB after his Super Bowl performance, and the Saints' young offense will only improve. Look for the Saints to repeat as NFC South champion until another team challenges them. Matt Ryan, entering his third season, looks comfortable as the Falcons' starting QB, and the addition of Dunta Robinson on the defensive end is a plus. However,the Falcons are still a ways away from the Saints.

Jake Delhomme's departure from Carolina to Cleveland means Matt Moore will be tabbed as the starting QB. Lack of experience and the loss of superstar Julius Peppers will weigh the Panthers down as they struggle to reinvent themselves this season. Tampa Bay is in rebuilding mode and relying on sophomore QB Josh Freeman to lead them; however, 2010 is not going to be a season to remember.

AFC East: New York Jets, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure." After the Chargers let go LaDanian Tomlinson, the Jets picked him up to be a backup to Shonn Greene. The arrival of Antonio Cromarite, along with Darrelle Revis, creates the best cornerback combo in the league. Look for the Jets to outduel the Patriots to win the AFC East. Tom Brady returns from injury, and you should never underestimate the Brady/Belichick duo, even if videotaping isn't involved. The Pats offense still has many holes to fill and right now, the Jets roster is simply more talented than theirs.

The Dolphins definitely improved last season, especially QB Chad Henne. However, their offense still needs more firepower to compete against the Jets and Patriots. The Bills? The team is in such a bad state that they don't even have faith in their own QB. Sorry, Trent Edwards.

AFC South: Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars

So what does the Super Bowl runner-up do to improve its team? Nothing, it's the Colts. Miley's just being Miley, and Manning's just being Manning. Colts will tear up this division as long as Manning is having another MVP-caliber season. Texans finally had a winning season in team history and QB Matt Schaub has an offensive unit that can challenge many teams.

But knocking off the Colts? Not so fast. Titans QB Vince Young looks like he finally arrived in the NFL and running back Chris Johnson is definitely a plus, but the defense needs more improvements, especially after surrendering 25.1 points per game (fifth highest in NFL). QB David Garrard had not been doing his job even after his long-term deal. One thing is for sure, the Jaguars need to begin rebuilding or else it's going to be in the cellar for quite a while.

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns,

The Ravens added Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth to help out QB Joe Flacco. With Ray Rice emerging as a top-tier running back, Baltimore finally has a balanced offensive unit.

A unit that the Steelers will have a hard time against this season is the jury. With QB Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Santonio Holmes, both dealing with legal issues, the Steelers offense is locked behind bars.

The Bengals began the season on a 9-3 tear, then burned out and finished with 1-4 record five games. Cincinnati hopes franchise QB Carson Palmer will rebound from his lackluster season. The Browns got rid of Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, but adding Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace doesn't inspire confidence. Maybe Colt McCoy will save the team, but for now, the Cleveland fans will endure another cold winter.

AFC West: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers

Just like its NFC brother, the AFC West is a mediocre division. The Chargers should rise from the mist, thanks to its offense and despite the fact that Phillip Rivers is on the decline. The Broncos traded away wide receiver Brandon Marshall, losing their offensive backbone; Denver will have a hard time finding ways to compete against the Chargers. Both the Chiefs and Raiders have added some pieces to improve their team. (K.C.signed running back Thomas Jones and the Raiders got QB Jason Campbell from the Redskins), Don't look for these teams to suddenly become playoff-caliber just yet.
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Issue Summary


  • Current SEC board coping with unfinished business
  • CWRU ranked in top 50 by U.S. News & World Report for 15th year
  • CWRU sees second highest amount of donations in history
  • Leutner Dining Café opens to pleasant reviews
  • RAM founder Stan Brock receives 2010 Inamori Prize
  • Student injured crossing Adelbert
  • Tense SEC open forum addresses internal SEC issues and upcoming Greek Life referendum
  • USG Brief


  • Gameday Preview: CWRU vs. JCU
  • Lady Spartans to face tough competition in Labor Day Tournament
  • NFL Preview: Division breakdowns
  • Spartans soundly defeat Hiram Terriers
  • When it rains, it pours


  • Bush who? What the 2003 tax cuts mean for your 2011 job outlook
  • Editorial: Permanent solutions necessary to protect student safety
  • Letter to the Editor: Proud to be Greek
  • Letter to the Editor: Stronger SEC commitment to accountability, their constitution needed before they take away Greek Life's money
  • Rough and tumble: the spirit of Cleveland
  • What's your favorite part of Leutner?


  • Distractions
  • Engineers Without Borders breaks cultural boundaries, builds wells in Cameroon
  • Expansive Ancient Galleries latest addition to Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Facebook nightmares
  • Friends and strangers combine forces to help Paul Paterson graduate
  • Going back to Those Gold Soundz: The Church of Andrew W.K.
  • Jesty Beatz brings fame to Zeta Psi house
  • MOCA makes big plans for move to University Circle
  • Modern music dominates new season for Cleveland Orchestra
  • Sex and Dating
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