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NFL Predictions
by John Canton (NFL)
Posted on September 8, 2006, 10:17 PM

I've waited a while on this because I don't know who my AFC pick was going to be for the longest time. I just don't know from there, so I went with an old reliable that I think is going to bounce back. No long predictions here; just some quickies.

1. Indianapolis 12-4
2. Cincinnati 11-5
3. New England 10-6
4. San Diego 9-7
5. Pittsburgh 10-6
6. Miami 9-7

Notes: I think Indy has the best record because their division just isn't that strong...Bengals should be able to continue what they started last year...I think the Pats start slow, but then they hit their groove in the final five or six games...AFC West is close between SD and Denver, but I don't like Denver's running game so much this year without a big back to get them TD's...Pitt's still very strong. It's just hard to repeat and to even win their division with a team like the Bengals...I think Miami will have a strong finish to the year just like last year while edging out Denver and Jacksonville for the last playoff spot...I know somebody is going to come out of nowhere to surprise. I just don't know who, so I went the safe route...

AFC Wildcard
Pats over Dolphins
Steelers over Chargers

AFC Semis
Steelers over Colts (sorry Indy)
Pats over Bengals

AFC Title
Pats over Steelers

Do I like the pick? Not really. Do I hope it's wrong? Yep. I just think the Pats are going to be so hungry this year, Brady is my pick for MVP and I have loved what I have seen from Maroney so far. I think he will emerge as a star by the end of the year because Dillon looks done to me. Last year they had too many injuries. This year if they can stay healthy they are going to go back to the dance.

Here's why I like Pittsburgh to make the AFC Title game. It's probably Cowher's last year. He'll probably tell the team before the playoffs start, they'll be so motivated to win one for coach and they'll play out of their minds for him. Plus, I think Cincy is like Indy Lite in that their defense isn't good enough. So I took the two teams with the better defenses.

1. Carolina 11-5
2. NY Giants 11-5
3. Seattle 10-6
4. Chicago 8-8
5. Philadelphia 9-7
6. Atlanta 9-7

Hard not to like the Panthers to do well. They're balanced, experienced and hungry...I like the Giants a lot this year (more later)...Seattle's still pretty good, but with the other teams in the division getting better they're not going to run the table again...I got the Bears at .500 winning the NFC North because I think the division blows and they won't win as much as last year due to a first place schedule...I think both the Iggles and Falcons are going to have bounce back years after injury riddled seasons last year. I just like their defenses too much not to pick them...In case you're wondering I got my Rams at 8-8. It's tough with a new offense and defense. I'm more optimistic about next year...I know trendy picks are Dallas and Arizona, but both have well below average offensive lines and immobile, aging QB's. That's not a good mix. Edge James is going to miss Indy...

NFC 1st Round
Seattle over Atlanta
Philly over Chicago

NFC Semis
NY Giants over Seattle
Carolina over Philly

NFC Championship
NY Giants over Carolina

I think the Giants and Panthers are very evenly matched, but I like the Giants running game more. I think Eli Manning will grow tremendously this season as a player and as a leader while his offensive teammates continue to put up sick numbers. What makes the Giants a championship team in my mind is the defensive line and linebackers. I think they're exceptional in those areas. You look at championship teams and most of the time that front seven is why they are where they are. The Panthers are strong there too. I just like the Giants offense more. Barber is the MVP of that team. All this Manning talk drives me nuts. Barber carries that team like Faulk carried the Rams or Terrell Davis carried the Broncos. It's not always about the QB.

New York Giants 27, New England Patriots 20
MVP: Tiki Barber

I'm probably wrong, so I apologize to Giants fans. That's just how I see it this year. Can't pick Indy every year, ya know?

MVP: Tom Brady (Runner Up: LT, Tiki Barber)
Offensive Player: LaDainian Tomlinson
Defensive Player: Troy Polamalu
Coach: Andy Reid (I have no idea since I didn't pick a crazy playoff team)

During the season look for a weekly predictions column (week one may be late, but it'll usually be a Thursday or Friday thing) and I will also do my best to provide commentary on the games throughout the year with a mid-week column of sorts. It's NFL time and it's time to write. I'm ready. Are you?

Let the games begin.

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