|SI.com's NFL Season Predictions|
|NFL analysts Peter King, Don Banks, Jim Trotter, Damon Hack, Jerome Bettis, Tim Layden, Kerry J. Byrne, Andrew Perloff & Dominic Bonvissuto provide their 2010 predictions. (Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)|
|Best Team That Won't Make the Playoffs|
Things aren't starting out well with no Sidney Rice, Brett Favre's ankle a worry and Percy Harvin week-to-week regarding his availability.
Houston will again be in the conversation in the AFC South, but I'm still not convinced it can beat the Colts when it matters most.
The Bengals swept the AFC North last season and have the talent to repeat, but they'll fail because Baltimore has upgraded its offense and Pittsburgh will be refocused after missing the playoffs last season.
They're going to be good, but they don't have enough offensive firepower yet to be on the elite stage. Unfortunately, they're stuck in the same division as the Jets and Patriots.
Brett's ankle, Sidney Rice's hip, and a killer month of October (at Jets, v. Cowboys, at Packers, at Patriots) will be too much for this drama troupe to overcome.
Pittsburgh suffers losing seasons about once every presidency -- just seven sub-.500 campaigns since 1972. So this consistent power will find a way to be competitive. But it won't be enough to overcome the early struggles without Ben Roethlisberger.
This is a dynasty on the downside. Belichick's defense is mediocre at best. As good as Wes Welker has looked in the preseason, he's still only eight months out from knee reconstruction and now Randy Moss says he's unhappy. Plus the Jets and Dolphins might both be better.troupe to overcome.
The Bengals face a brutal schedule, which includes trips to Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the final four weeks of the season, and that could cost Cincy a trip to the postseason.
I expect growing pains from Kevin Kolb and the offense, but the defense is strong enough to keep them in playoff contention until the bitter end.
|Team With the Worst Record|
I actually would be hopeful if I were a Bucs fan because the front office is not trying to scotch tape this team together, but rather build it for 2012.
This has the makings of a 2-14 debacle in Bills-land, and it would be no surprise to see Buffalo winless until its Week 9 "home" game against the Bears in Toronto.
I hate this prediction, from the standpoint that the Rams organization has had enough misery to last a decade after going 6-42 the past three seasons. But with a rookie QB and no proven No. 1 receiver, it's going to take time to get back to respectability.
They don't have a quarterback. When you don't have a quarterback in the NFL, you're not going to be a really good football team.
Even in a soft NFC West, it will be a year of rough adjustments for rookie quarterback Sam Bradford -- and that's even on the slight chance his offensive line holds up.
Their offensive line might be the worst in football, quarterback Trent Edwards continues to look like a B-minus player and there's no big play wide receiver. Even if the defense is better (which it will be) and rookie running back C.J. Spiller is dynamic (which he looks to be), this could be a 2-14 team.
The NFL is all about quarterbacking. So when the coach announces in the offseason that the QB job is "Jake Delhomme's to lose," your organization is in a world of hurt.
No team with this many rookies playing key roles and a second-year starter at quarterback could win, especially in a tough NFC South.
I spy two winnable games on their schedule -- Oct. 10 at Lions, Dec. 19 vs. Chiefs -- and a whole mess of teaching moments in the other 14 for Sam Bradford.
|Star Who Has A Subpar Season|
|Donovan McNabb :: Getty Images|
Donovan McNabb, Redskins: He has a good chance to struggle learning a new offense with poor weapons at wide receiver.
Donovan McNabb, Redskins: The ex-Eagle will upgrade the QB position in Washington, but by the standards he's accustomed to in the NFC East, 2010 will feel like a failure.
Albert Haynesworth, Redskins: The massive defensive tackle has been feuding with coach Mike Shanahan, and the bad blood will continue into the regular season. That means two possibilities: limited reps for Haynesworth, or limited interest by Haynesworth.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Because Sidney Rice is gone, teams are going to force Brett Favre to beat them without his No. 1 target, which means Peterson is going to catch the brunt of defenses.
Mark Sanchez, Jets: While we were sleeping, he became the face of the franchise and surpassed Eli Manning as the quarterback of New York. I feel a tough sophomore season coming.Layden
Brett Favre, Vikings: Clearly last season, the best of Favre's career, was sent from the heavens. But that only happens once. Favre is already physically compromised and Sidney Rice is out. Vikings fans will paper the stadium with No. 4 jerseys, but they're likely to witness an all-time great who stayed one dance too long.Byrne
Brett Favre, Vikings: OK, maybe I'm just playing the odds here. But is it humanly possible to piece together another epic season after turning 40? I say no.Perloff
Chris Johnson, Titans: The five other running backs who ran for 2,000 yards in a season took a major step back the following year. Johnson vows to be different, but wear and tear and defenses keying on him will take a toll. Bonvissuto
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: Anquan Boldin is gone. So is Kurt Warner. With a question mark at quarterback, expect Arizona to run more and Fitzgerald's production to suffer.
|Non-Star Who Has Breakout Season|
Matt Moore, Panthers: In the five games as a starter last year, he beat the Vikings and Giants, among others, and convinced John Fox -- and me -- that he was the real thing.Banks
Shonn Greene, Jets: He's got headline names lining up all around him, but the second-year running back will be the most important cog in the ground-pounding Jets offense.Trotter
Jermichael Finley, Packers: The third-year tight end will become a household name this year. He'll not only play on the league's top-scoring offense, but also lead all players at his position in touchdown catches.Bettis
Alex Smith, 49ers">49ers: The weapons around him are getting better, the offensive line is getting better, and I think he also has got a better understanding of what it takes to play quarterback in this league. Hack
Ryan Mathews, Chargers: In an offensive system that has been kind to running backs, the San Diego rookie will have the ball in his hands often and make the most of it.Layden
Jake Long, Dolphins: Long was a Pro Bowl left tackle last year, but in 2010 develops into one of the premier left tackles in the NFL, protecting Chad Henne's blind side and leading the Dolphins' punishing ground game, conventional and Wildcat versions.Byrne
Dennis Dixon, Steelers: The QB was destined for stardom and a possible Heisman Trophy before blowing out his knee at the end of his senior year (2007) at Oregon. Big Ben's suspension gives him a window to shine. Perloff
Zack Bowman, Bears: The third-year cornerback out of Nebraska has a nose for the ball and should improve on his six interceptions last season.Bonvissuto
Arian Foster, Texans: Provided he can hold onto the football, he will benefit from defenses spreading out to contain the Texans' vaunted passing attack.
|Coach Who Won't Be Back in 2011|
|Jack Del Rio :: Getty Images|
John Fox, Panthers: The Panthers don't want a coach with a top 5 or 8 salary, so Fox, whose contract expires after this season, will look elsewhere and be an intriguing free agent in 2011.Banks
John Fox, Panthers: He's working in the final year of his contract, and he'll have plenty of suitors other than the cost-conscious Panthers when he hits the open market next year.Trotter
Jack Del Rio, Jaguars: Eight consecutive years in one place is a lifetime for an NFL head coach. Combine that with three straight losing seasons (including this year) and that's usually a recipe for change.Bettis
John Fox, Panthers: I don't care for Fox's quarterback situation. Instead of going for a veteran to be a backup, they went for a rookie. I like Clausen, but you've got to have somebody there in case Moore isn't the guy at your most important position.Hack
Tom Cable, Raiders: The team had one of its best offseasons in years with solid draft picks and free agent moves, but another losing campaign won't be enough to save Cable.Layden
Brad Childress, Vikings: The Vikings are a train wreck waiting to happen. The early schedule is tough, Favre is already getting his ankle juiced and the season hasn't started yet. Easy to imagine a public spat between the QB and the coach by November, right in the middle of a three-game losing streak that drops the Vikings to wild-card status and then a quick exit from the playoffs.Byrne
Jack Del Rio, Jaguars: Jacksonville should find itself on the bottom end of a very tough AFC South in 2010, which would mean three straight losing seasons for Del Rio. Perloff
Jack Del Rio, Jaguars: This franchise is in a malaise and they have to start over if they fail to make the playoffs.Bonvissuto
Lovie Smith, Bears: While I think Chicago will be an improved bunch this season, they won't make the playoffs and that will mark the end of Smith's roller-coaster era as Bears coach.
|Player Who Won't Be Back in 2011|
|Brett Favre :: John Biever/SI|
Darren Sharper, Saints: He might be lucky to squeeze 2010 out of his veteran body.Banks
Ed Reed, Ravens: I wish I could take the easy way out and pick Brett Favre for a second year in a row, but alas that would be weak-willed. Give me Reed because even though he'll only turn 32 next month, his body has taken more than its share of abuse and may be close to the breaking point. Trotter
Brett Favre, Vikings: For the first time, I believe the aging QB when he says this is it. A body can take only so much punishment.Bettis
Derrick Mason, Ravens: Football demands that it's No. 1 in your life. As you get older, football becomes less of a priority. I think Mason is at that stage.Hack
Brett Favre, Vikings: He has stalled and dilly-dallied for the final offseason. Soon to be 41 with a balky ankle, the future Hall of Famer and serial waffler will call it a career.Layden
Jason Taylor, Jets: Rex Ryan brought him into Jets' camp as insurance and now he's been forced into an every-down role that will prove too much for Taylor's 36-year-old body. Look for Taylor to be sitting next to Chris Berman next fall at ESPN.Byrne
Brett Favre, Vikings: Maybe that's wishful thinking. My fear is that Favre will be back in 2065, when fans of one desperate NFC North team dig up his bones and put them under center. At least one Brett Favre worshipper in the media will effuse, "He looks just like a kid out there!"Perloff
Brian Westrbrook, 49ers: Westbrook is proof how disposable running backs are in today's NFL and will have trouble staying healthy enough to stick around.Bonvissuto
Derrick Mason, Ravens: Second straight year I've picked the aging Baltimore wideout. Take it as a compliment, D-Mase. Just don't think that 36-year-old body can continue to take the weekly poundings in the AFC North.
|Game I'm Looking Forward To Most|
Vikings at Saints, Sept. 9: Because it's the first one of 256 in the regular season -- and because I can't wait to see what New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has up his sleeve for Brett Favre. Banks
Patriots at Jets, Sept. 19: New England gets its first look at the Jets' new $1.6 billion digs, and its first of two chances to shut up brash-talking Rex and his all-star cast of characters.Trotter
Vikings at Packers, Oct. 24: Favre stuck it to his former team twice last season, but the Packers and their fans get payback in this primetime showdown. My guess is we'll hear Lambeau Field like we've never heard it.Bettis
Redskins at Eagles, Oct. 3: How are the Philly fans going to receive Donovan McNabb? He rejuvenated that franchise and brought it to elite status. Hack
Ravens at Jets, Sept. 13: Rex Ryan has told his players, the eastern seaboard, and anyone with HBO that the Jets are the best team in football. The proving ground begins under the lights at New Meadowlands Stadium, where Ray Lewis will be offering a different opinion.Layden
Patriots at Jets, Sept. 19: The big-talk, big-hype Jets might already be 0-1 by the time Tom ("I hate the Jets'') Brady and the fading Patriots come to the New Swamp. That should only intensify the emotions, as the Patriots try to hang onto their past and the Jets try to justify their noisy future.Byrne
Colts at Patriots, Nov. 21: The winner of the regular-season meeting between these two powers led by future Hall of Fame quarterbacks has won the AFC crown six times in nine years (2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009).Perloff
Vikings at Saints, Sept. 9: No need to overthink this. Saints return home triumphantly. We'll see what Brett Favre has left. Should put up record TV numbers.Bonvissuto
Chargers at Chiefs, Sept. 13: Need to check Arrowhead Stadium off your bucket list? Go for this Monday night matchup. A juiced-up crowd with all the optimism of a new season, and I smell a Chiefs' upset of the distracted Chargers.
|Season Predictions Part 2: SI experts weigh in with playoff and Super Bowl picks and player awards|