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.

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

If the Lions beat the Bears in Detroit, it'd be a recent rarity. No, not the Bears losing, but in this long series that reaches 175 games Sunday. One team or the other has swept the season series 11 of the last 12 years (the lone exception being 2011). The 17-14 Bears win Oct. 2 ended a string of six consecutive losses to their division rivals. At that point, both clubs were 1-3. The Bears have remained at that pace since, while the Lions have taken off, winning seven of eight.

It was Brian Hoyer's steady hand that guided that win, while a Vic Fangio defense missing Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevathan forced Matthew Stafford into easily his worst game of the season.

1. STAY COMMITTED

That first meeting was Jordan Howard's first start, and his first 100-yard game, and the rook ran it 23 times for the first of five 100-yard rushing efforts (113). And since the two Bears touchdowns were scored by a couple of players who won't suit up Sunday (Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, from a quarterback who also won't be suiting up), keep feeding the beast. He's 117 yards from reaching the 1,000-yard mark (after just a dozen carries the first three games), and another 100-yard effort would give him the most for a rookie in Bears franchise history.

2. A FASTER START FOR MATT

...meaning Barkley, not Stafford. The Bears want to avoid a faster start by Stafford and the home offense, which was held to just one first down and 14 total plays on their first four possessions back in October. As Barkley makes his first NFL road start in a dome, he and his offensive teammates need to get out of the gate quicker than they have the last two home games. Before they got things rolling on the final drive of the first half against the San Francisco 49ers, they had four possessions that totaled 14 plays, 27 net yards and two first downs. In Barkley's first start two weeks ago against the Tennessee Titans, they surrounded one 13-play touchdown drive in the opening half with five possessions, totaling 16 plays, 108 yards, three first downs, and an interception.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

3. HOO-RATIO

The Bears have lost the turnover battle in eight of their 12 games, and just twice have they won it. One of those instances was in Week 4. For a team that has just five interceptions all year, against a quarterback who's thrown just five picks, two came in the first meeting on the lakefront. And those picks were by (....wait for it....) Deiondre Hall (the rookie who'll play for the first time since that game), and Jacoby Glenn, who's now back on the practice squad. Now, yes, Stafford is a different beast in his den, and there's a completely different confidence level now for the NFC North leaders. But what if the defense can pull an encore? And can Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks pick up where they left off against another mobile quarterback? The Bears had just two sacks in the first meeting, registered by (....wait for it....) Mitch Unrein and Cornelius Washington.

** Finish up your snow removal by 11 a.m. Plop yourself in front of CSN, and watch ex-Bears Lance Briggs, Jim Miller and Alex Brown join Chris for Bears Pregame Live. Then as soon as the second quarter ends on CBS, log on here to CSNChicago.com as Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments on Bears Halftime Live. Finally, as soon as the team's start sharing handshakes, flip back to CSN as the three ex-Bears and Chris provide 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, press conferences and locker room interviews from Detroit on Bears Postgame Live. **

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

The Bears and Detroit Lions square off Sunday at noon and CSN Chicago has you covered along the way.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Chris Boden, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago