I expect that it will be an interesting season. The top 4 QBs chosen in the draft have all been named the starter in Week 1 and at least 2 other young QBs will get their first opportunities to start.
We can pretty much count on New England, Baltimore and Pittsburgh to be playoff teams every year. Of course, there is the possibility that one of them could fall off dramatically as Indy did last season especially if a key player gets hurt.
Last year's playoff teams were as follows:
New England, Baltimore, Houston, Denver, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati.
In the hunt were New York, Tennessee and San Diego.
Most likely to fall off: I'm going to say Cincy just because of their track record even though I like Dalton at QB. That team has had a few good years but never a consistent winner in more than 20 years. Also, Denver is a possibility. Peyton Manning should have a good season but he's no longer among the top 5 in the game and the talent surrounding him on offense is only average.
New England, Baltimore, Houston, San Diego.
Most likely to sneak in: Tennessee- if Houston falters, who wins the South? It's unlikely to be Jacksonville or even Indy. Andrew Luck should make them competitive but it's very rare to see a team go from 2-14 to 10-6 or better. Don't overlook New York either. I'll be watching for another potential Tebow mania episode. However, with New England in their division, a slow start will be difficult to overcome.
Cleveland. I know it's a long shot especially in a tough division but they made a killing in the draft. I've seen Trent Richardson play for Alabama and he's a BEAST. If Weeden is the answer at QB, that's a potent offense.
I'll mark the top tier this season as Green Bay, New York and Detroit but there are fewer safe bets in this conference and more possible surprises.
Last year's playoff teams:
Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Detroit
Most likely to fall off:
New Orleans because of the off-season turmoil but they've got too much talent to be a pushover. In San Fran, is Alex Smith for real or was it a career season? That team was mediocre for so long that I used to call them the "7 and 9 ers." For at least 6 years, they were always between 6-10 and 8-8, which means you're never in contention but miss out on top draft picks. Ouch!
Green Bay, San Fran, Atlanta, New York
Most likely to sneak in:
Seattle- If San Fran reverts to the "7 and 9 ers," this is the team most likely to win the West. At QB, Matt Flynn had success in a limited role as a backup in GB but had championship caliber talent surrounding him. You can't count on him duplicating that success but they still have the best chance. Arizona finished strong last season but neither Kolb not Skelton threatens to be another Kurt Warner.
Expect 8-9 wins from New Orleans, Dallas, Philly and Chicago. RG3 will make it interesting in DC.
Carolina- Cam Newton should be much improved in his 2nd year. If New Orleans does not fall off as I predicted, Atlanta could be the one out. I expect that we could see a team go 10-6 and not make it.
Super Bowl: Green Bay over Baltimore.
As promised, no running posts this week. Today is my 3rd sugar free day and I am just now beginning to feel some improvement. I could probably do 5@ upper 7s today but no faster. Fructose malabsorption is related to adrenal fatigue and at least indirectly related to plantar fasciitis. Sugar is indeed somewhat addictive and it is difficult to break free from it but my best hope is to avoid it completely and stay off any pills then after a month, allow it only as a treat no more than once per week. Fears of a full scale relapse are back. If it progresses to the point that I can't tolerate it even once a week, I will try probiotics or other supplements, which should not result in being locked into to taking them every day or else. I've got prolotherapy on Thursday morning and I will start back with a junk run Sunday. Next week will be around 25-30 miles with low quality.