AFC East: New England Patriots
The Patriots had a major scare last week when Tom Brady had to leave practice after being hit in the knee, but it turned out to be nothing major. Even though the Patriots continue to remake their roster in an attempt to get younger, the organization continues to put the right pieces in place to make New England one of the best teams in the league. They also benefit from playing in one of the weaker divisions in the league.
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
If the Steelers can stay healthy, I think they have a great chance to get back to another Super Bowl. Unfortunately, guys like Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger seem to spend most of every season nursing injuries and missing practice. I like what the Steelers did in the draft this year and I think Jarvis Jones will be a great fit for the defense. I also expect the Ravens to take a step back after losing so much leadership from last season.
AFC South: Houston Texans
The Texans were the best team in football for much of last season. Arian Foster's health is certainly a major concern, but I'm always a big fan of teams that are built from the inside-out, which is exactly what Houston has done. They feature an offensive and defensive line that control the line of scrimmage and J.J. Watt could be the most dominant player in football. I also think Ed Reed is an excellent addition to that locker room.
AFC West: Denver Broncos
Well...someone has to win the AFC West. I expect Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense to have another great season and Montee Ball should be a sleeper pick for those that play fantasy football. The big question mark for Denver will be on the defensive side of the ball, particularly with the six game suspension for Von Miller. But even with Miller missing some time, I doubt any other team in the division will be good enough to keep up with the Broncos.
AFC Champion: Houston Texans
I'm still waiting for the Texans to show they can handle the big moment, but I think they have the most complete team in the AFC. It's time for Matt Schaub to deliver in the games that matter most.
I basically drew this pick out of a hat. There's so much up in the air with this division that I have no idea how things will play out. Will RGIII be effective with the Redskins? How will Chip Kelly's offense work with the Eagles? Does Jason Garrett last the entire season in Dallas? I went with the Giants because I think they have the least amount of questions entering the season.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
I think the Packers are the most consistent team in this division and they also have the best quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. I also expect the running game to show significant improvement this season. It will be difficult for the Vikings to repeat their success from last season and the success of the Bears is dependent on Jay Cutler, which is always dangerous. And the Lions...well...watching Matt Stafford throw to Calvin Johnson sure is fun to watch.
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons
Same old story for Atlanta. I expect them to have an outstanding regular season where Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White put up huge numbers and probably enter the playoffs as the top seed in the NFC. Unfortunately, I expect them to encounter the same problem again in the playoffs. They can't stop anybody! This team's inability to acquire quality talent and depth on the defensive side of the ball is so frustrating.
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks appear to be everyone's sexy pick to win this year's Super Bowl. I'll jump on the bandwagon along with everyone else. I've been a huge fan of Russell Wilson since watching him play at N.C. State and I think he continues to grow and emerge as a star in his second season in the league. Seattle is a team that can beat you in a variety of ways. If the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC has to go through Seattle, it will be very difficult for any other team to get there.
NFC Champion: Seattle Seahawks
Like the Texans in the AFC, I think the Seahawks are the most complete team in the NFC. They have a great defense, explosive playmakers, and an outstanding quarterback who can be counted on to make the right decisions.
Super Bowl Champion: Seahawks
I love the idea of the Seahawks and Texas facing off in the Super Bowl. The possibility of some collisions between J.J. Watt and Marshawn Lynch should have everyone concerned about player safety. I'll take the Seahawks in what would be a very exciting game between two extremely physical teams.
MVP: Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning will put up video-game numbers this season and the Broncos will have great success in the regular season. I don't expect it to translate to more playoff success, but the MVP is a regular season award.