Random News of the Day: 2010 NFL predictions

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Random News of the Day: 2010 NFL predictions

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010
12:27 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It is said that by the third NFL preseason, you should know a little bit about what you should expect from your favorite NFL team the rest of the season. The fourth game matters a lot less than the others-- look no further than tonight's Bears final preseason game. Jay Cutler won't even take a snap against the Browns. Granted, preseason games aren't completely meaningless, as they serve as slight fodder for wild NFL predictions. NFL predictions have to come from somewhere, right? Here's the bottom line on where each team stands in 2010:

Denotes Playoff Team

NFC EAST

Dallas (12-4): It's time for Romo to lead this team deep into the playoffs. Make the EIU fans proud!

N.Y. Giants (9-7): Perry Fewell-led defense the key to turnaround after a monumental letdown in 2009.

Philadelphia (8-8): Solid defense, but questionable offense and a gritty division scream .500 team.

Washington (7-9): Mike Shanahan looks to get the best out of a very average group, all things considered.

NFC NORTH

Green Bay (12-4): Tecmo Bowl-like offense looks to offset a questionable, sometimes-healthy defense.

Minnesota (10-6): Team AP and AARP, Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre. Can 4 bring it again?

Chicago (6-10): Too many question marks on offense. A tough schedule doesn't help, either.

Detroit (6-10): DT Ndamukong Suh forces other teams not to catnap. A Detroit renaissance: lurking?

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta (11-5): As Hawk would say, "Stretch!" Seriously, Falcons over Saints thanks to their offense and schedule.

New Orleans (11-5): They're the targets now. Look for more 38-35 kind of games. Can pass defense hold?

Carolina (7-9): Great RB tandem in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart try to keep these cats above water.

Tampa Bay (5-11): Swiss cheese run defense looks to improve under Raheem Morris, who turns 34 Friday.

NFC WEST

San Francisco (10-6): Time for perpetual trendy pick to shine; ditto Alex Smith. Samurai Mike gets 'em there.

Seattle (8-8): All eyes on Pete Carroll in the Pacific Northwest. Might even challenge 49ers for West title.

Arizona (8-8): No Warner and it's back to mediocrity for the Cards. WR Larry Fitzgerald keeps them going.

St. Louis (3-13): Always been a baseball town. That will not change this year. Check back in Fall 2011.

AFC EAST

N.Y. Jets (11-5): RB Shonn Greene and a still-tough defense look to put a hard knock on a tough division.

Miami (10-6): New WR Brandon Marshall adds to the attack. And if the defense makes a splash...look out.

New England (9-7): Less than 20 players remain from magical 18-1 team. Glory days over in New England?

Buffalo (4-12): New defensive scheme under Chan Gailey will need to work quickly. Play Bears in Toronto 117.

AFC NORTH

Baltimore (12-4): RB Ray Rice and another stout Ravens 'D has spirits high. 4 of first 6 on the road, though.

Cincinnati (10-6): Queen City could spontaneously combust with TO and Ochocinco looking for same spotlight.

Pittsburgh (8-8): If Big Ben can come back with his team still around the .500 mark, that'll be huge.

Cleveland (5-11): Browns, Indians and Cavs could all finish last this year. Cleveland rocks? Lite-rock, maybe.

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis (13-3): Peyton & Co. still truckin' along in Indy. Until Houston shows up, the South is theirs.

Houston (10-6): '09 passing leader Matt Schaub faces Colts and Cowboys in September. Time to step up.

Tennessee (8-8): RB Chris Johnson is a beast, but QB Vince Young and the defense still have a lot to prove.

Jacksonville (6-10): An average team, a hot-seat coach and a tough division leads to more weak gate numbers.

AFC WEST

San Diego (10-6): Chargers still the class of the division. But in the playoffs? We'll see.

Denver (8-8): Every team in this division could finish 8-8. Totally applies to the schizophrenic Broncos.

Oakland (6-10): Al Davis starring in Weekend At Bernies 3. Coming to a half-empty coliseum near you.

Kansas City (5-11): Still too many question marks for a young offense and a shaky defense.
NFC PLAYOFFS

Atlanta 27 Minnesota 24 (Wild-Card Game)

New Orleans 33 San Francisco 19 (Wild-Card Game)

Dallas 24 New Orleans 23 (Divisional Playoff)

Green Bay 24 Atlanta 21 (Divisional Playoff)

Dallas 20 Green Bay 16 (NFC Championship)

AFC PLAYOFFS

Cincinnati 31, New York Jets 27 (Wild-Card Game)

Miami 22, San Diego 20 (Wild-Card Game)

Indianapolis 38, Miami 17 (Divisional Playoff)

Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 14 (Divisional Playoff)

Baltimore 27, Indianapolis 24 (AFC Championship)

SUPER BOWL XLV

Dallas 31, Baltimore 20

That's right-- the first "home" team to win a Super Bowl in their own stadium! As you know, Cowboys Stadium will be the venue for Super Bowl XLV-- February 6, 2011. You're telling me Jerry Jones won't motivate his own organization into that Caesars Palace-like stadium with every eyeball in America watching? Go on now.

It's time for kickoff!

Or something like that.

Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness

Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness

Leonard Floyd provided a scare on the first day of practice at Bears training camp, but the first round pick appears fine.

Head coach John Fox said Floyd, who left Thursday's practice on a cart, is simply battling an illness and was not injured.

The Bears moved up in April's NFL Draft to select Floyd with the ninth overall pick. The outside linebacker tallied 17 sacks at Georgia and was projected to be in the mix as an outside rusher in the Bears' 3-4 defense.

Jay Cutler has answered doubters in Bears locker room, coaching staff

Jay Cutler has answered doubters in Bears locker room, coaching staff

When Jay Cutler came to the Bears in that 2009 trade with the Denver Broncos, he was “the new guy.” The locker room belonged to Olin Kreutz and Brian Urlacher on their respective sides of the football, and while the quarterback position by definition places its occupant in a necessarily leadership position, that wasn’t the Bears. They weren’t going to be “Cutler’s team,” not for a while.

But Matt Forte exited this past offseason and with him went the last position player – on either side of the ball – who had been here longer than Cutler now has. The reality wasn’t lost on Cutler.

“I was looking at the roster a couple of weeks ago and I feel like there’s been a major shift in experience — especially on the offensive side,” he said. “I’m at 11 [years] and then you look down, there’s a couple of nines, a couple of eights and mostly five and under, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think a new talent and new guys in the building, there’s new energy and new attitude. I’ve embraced it. I’ve enjoyed it. I think the coaching staff’s done a great job of getting all these young guys up to speed. It’s a good group right now.”

It is also a group that looks to Cutler perhaps in ways teammates haven’t. Where Forte was at least the template for an NFL professional for his position group, Cutler now becomes the go-to veteran for everything ranging from details on a play-call to how to behave as a rookie.

It is a role that at times Cutler did not always appear to fit into comfortably, particularly with established veterans and personas that were the Bears’ identity for, in cases like Kreutz and Urlacher, a decade or more. Now, a player once sometimes perceived by outsiders as poutish or petulant has become something of a standard-setter for teammates.

“Obviously Jay does a great job with the younger guys,” said guard Kyle Long. “He brought me along, and continues to bring me along. He can be a little honest and blunt with me from time to time, but beyond a shadow of a doubt it’s the right thing to do in his position, as the leader and vested player.

“The quarterback is the leader of our team. I think he’s done a great job. I see him with the defense a lot, which is something I didn’t see a lot the first few years. I don’t necessarily know if that’s on Jay, or if it’s a perception-of-Jay basis. He’s a great guy. People in that locker room love him. He’s tough as hell. He’s got a cannon. He can run. And he’s a competitor. We love him. He’s been great this offseason and we’re looking forward to seeing how he’ll be this season with this new O-line and with the defense getting us the ball back a lot.”

Tough love approach

Cutler has earned the respect of his teammates. But gaining the confidence of his head coach and general manager through last year were possibly career turning points.

Cutler had been given a contract extension six games into his first (2009) year with the Bears. He responded by leading the NFL in interceptions.

When Phil Emery arrived as general manager, he spoke from the outset of Cutler as a “franchise quarterback” and “elite.” Emery gave Cutler a seven-year contract after the 2013 season, whereupon Cutler again led the league in interceptions in a 5-11 season marked by friction with coordinator Aaron Kromer and coach Marc Trestman, whose staff was fired after that year.

Instead of fawning treatment, Fox, coordinator Adam Gase and GM Ryan Pace were decidedly noncommittal on Cutler through last offseason and into the year. Cutler produced the best statistical year of his career, still not as good as Aaron Rodgers’ poorest single season, but with an overall performance that settled the Bears’ quarterback situation for the foreseeable future.

"I had questions on everybody," Fox said. "You come in, you take a job, you evaluate and you have to make decisions oftentimes before you even meet somebody in Year 1 as a head coach or general manager. They could be robots for all you know. But the game is still about people and relationships.

“I will say this: At the conclusion of the whole season working with Jay, I was very impressed. So I feel way more confident about him."

Bears make front office changes

Bears make front office changes

The Bears announced in a press release on Wednesday that the team has made numerous changes in their front office this offseason.

One such move included the hiring of Brandon Faber as the VP of Communications. Faber was with the Blackhawks communications department since 2008, where his most recent position was Senior Director of Communications and Community relations. 

"The club created a new executive layer of SVP’s to better lead and develop various areas of business with a focus on innovation & strategy," the release detailed. "The club promoted Scott Hagel, Karen Murphy, Cliff Stein and Lee Twarling to the newly created SVP level. The Bears have also added three new members to the VP level, promoting Doug Carnahan to VP of Corporate Partnerships and Jake Jones to VP of Finance and hiring Brandon Faber as the VP of Communications."

Hagel has been promoted to SVP, Marketing and Communications after 20 years with the Bears. Murphy has been promoted to SVP, Business Strategy and CFO. She has been with the Bears for 17 years.

Stein has been with the Bears for 14 years and has been promoted to SVP and General Counsel. He is the legal advisor for all of the club.

Twarling, who has been with the club for 12 years, has been promoted to SVP, Sales and Customer Relations.