I think this coming season will show a changing of the guard, so to speek in several divisions around the league. Some teams that have been cellar dwellers in recent years will finally step up and begin to be competitive in the division. I believe the Chiefs are one of these teams. However, there are some other teams around the league who should be looking at a great future.
Ah, the perennial failures of the NFL. Detroit has only ever won one playoffs game since the AFL-NFL merger all those years ago. A change of fortune is in store for Lions fans, however. Gone is Matt Millen and his failings. Now begins the Matt Stafford era. Stafford has all the attributes to be a great NFL QB. While the state of his offensive line is suspect, you cannot argue with the talent around him on offense. Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew are two young, talented players who should be great targets for Stafford. The running game now has a competent RB in Jahvid Best. Granted he has an injury history, but you cannot deny he is talented. Teamed with Kevin Smith, he could be very successful. On defense, they drafted the Warren Sapp clone in Ndamukong Suh. Suh should be a stud in the NFL and I feel he will be productive right away. I am aware of the fact defensive lineman take longer to develop, but I feel he will be the exception to the rule.
Outlook: There are still some areas of concern for the Lions, but good times are ahead. They won't go to the playoffs this year but look for marked improvement offensively. They should finish 3rd in the NFC North(4th will be the Bears) with a record of 6-10.
One word, WIN. That is what Mike Singletary has drummed into the heads of his 49ers. And that is exactly what they will do in the NFC West. Being in one of the weakest divisions in the league helps the 49ers, but that isn't the only thing going for them. Like Detroit, the 49ers have some key pieces on offense that should be hitting there strides this season. How they differ to the Lions is that those pieces are about a year ahead in there development. Alex Smith has so much talent offensively that there is no way he could not succeed; Two first round offensive linemen, a pro bowl TE, a pro bowl RB, an extremely young and talented WR in Michael Crabtree. Yes things are looking good offensively for San Francisco. But a star like Patrick Willis on defense also makes this defense look pretty good.
Outlook: All it comes down now to is Alex Smith and whether he can live up to his 1st draft pick expectations. My money is on him to lift the 49ers to the top of the NFC West, with a 9-7 record.
Another team with a very promising, young offense. Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White should make for a highly potent offense. After going 11-5 as a rookie in 2008, Ryan came back to earth with a sophomore slump in 2009. Not too much to be concerned with for Atlanta fans; lots of QBs seem to have them. Having a full and healthy Michael Turner this year will help Matt Ryan become better. While this defense is a little suspect, Dunta Robinson and rookie Sean Weatherspoon should help improve the defense to being a respectable one.
Outlook: I'm going to come out and say it, I think this team will challenge the New Orleans Saints for the NFC South title. A lot of power on offense should keep them in games though there defense may restrict them come the playoffs. I'm saying a 10-6 record and 2nd in the NFC South. A possible wildcard is on the table as well
Now that Andre Johnson is being paid what he deserves he will reward the Texans with another ‘best WR in the league' performance. I feel he went about the process of getting a new contract very well and made it clear he didn't want to hinder the rest of the team with his action but was also committed to getting paid what he deserves. Matt Schaub and Johnson will prove to be a deadly combination. Their running game left much to be desired last season. They did pick a promising rookie in Ben Tate who should push Steve Slaton for the starters job. The defense is incredibly talented at this point; Mario Williams, Demeco Ryan and Brian Cushing are three great defensive players to build around. The secondary could prove to be an issue but Kareem Jackson is a talented player that could turn out to be a real find.
Outlook: It's tough to win a division when you're competing against a team that has Peyton Manning as a QB. I think there offense has the ability to keep them in games, but the secondary probably won't be able to compete against Peyton Manning. Look for the Texans to have a 10-6 season, finish 2nd in the AFC South and earn a wildcard in the process.
10 wins in three seasons is an epic failure by the Chiefs, Considering for some of that time they had pro bowlers like Jarred Allen, Brian Waters, Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson. So how was it that during those years and those years just before that when the Chiefs boasted one of the most dominant offenses in the league, but still could never manage to win playoff games. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. The Chiefs organization looked to the past and figured that a bad defense cost the Chiefs a chance at a championship in 2003. That is why the chiefs have invested a lot of money into 5 first round picks that occupy their defense. Some pieces are in place on offense with star RB Jamaal Charles and a pretty solid WR in Dwayne Bowe.
Outlook: This season will determine a lot in terms of where the chiefs are headed. Lots of 1st round picks have yet to play to their full potential and if a lot of them start to step up, the Chiefs could really turn a corner this season. I predict a 9-7 record and 2nd place in the AFC West. A wildcard would be hard to get though with Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston and New York all being potential wildcard teams.