Since, as of 15 minutes ago, we are officially at Opening Day of the 2009 NFL season!
In honor of that, I will begin my predictions for the season with the division of the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'll be doing these all the way to Sunday, and hopefully even finish them in time.
The reigning champs mount a mighty title defense on the back of a surprisingly weak schedule. They see the Browns twice, while also tussling with the Raiders, Lions, Broncos, and Chiefs, so that's an automatic 6. I see 7 other very winnable games on that schedule, and the Steelers roll comfortably into the playoffs.
Baltimore puts a strong team on the field, but faces a slightly more daunting schedule, as they play the Patriots in Foxboro. The Ravens' secondary, aside from Ed Reed, makes me a little nervous, so they may struggle against top notch passing teams like Green Bay, Indy, New England, and even (dare I say it) the Bengals.
Cincinnati really has improved, and a healthy Carson Palmer is their biggest offseason acquisition. However, they have the misfortune of playing in a tough, top-heavy division, as well as squaring off against 3 good teams in the NFC North, and I just don't think Cincy is ready for that level of competition yet. Week 6 vs. Houston should have a ton of fireworks, though.
Sorry, Cleveland. Eric Mangini was fired for a reason. The only redeeming part of 2009 for the Browns is that they play the only teams as bad or worse than they are: Denver, Oakland, Detroit, and Buffalo. Amazingly, they won't win all 4 of those, and I say the Lions redeem themselves against this sorry outfit.
Tune in later today for the AFC South (in honor of tonight's Titans), and maybe one more division, if I have it in me.
Of course, disagree violently in the Comments.