Scout.com NFL Analysts' Season Predictions
Colts safety Bob Sanders (Donald Miralle/Getty)
Colts safety Bob Sanders (Donald Miralle/Getty)
Scout.com
Posted Sep 8, 2007


Scout.com NFL analysts Tom Marino and Chris Steuber go head-to-head with their NFL season predictions. Find out who they think will win each division, the wildcard spots and the Lombardi Trophy in this exclusive feature.

AFC East

Tom Marino says... Chris Steuber says...
1. Patriots
2. Bills
3. Jets
4. Dolphins
1. Patriots
2. Jets
3. Bills
4. Dolphins

Tom:  Expect Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to move on after another run at the Super Bowl. New England has an outstanding defense, but their secondary play is still a concern. In Buffalo, a key injury on either side of the ball could spell doom for the Bills. Quarterback J.P. Losman gives them an edge over the rest in a weak division. The Jets' surprise finish last year is not likely to be repeated. Quarterback woes and the injury to running back Thomas Jones don't paint a pretty picture. Miami simply appears to be seriously out-manned and overmatched. Head coach Cam Cameron will quickly find that his offensive system is not as high-powered without LaDainian Tomlinson.

Chris:  The Patriots are ready to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy. Quarterback Tom Brady finally has weapons on offense and you can imagine how easy he will make things look this year. The Jets are close, but they’re not ready to take on New England yet. The Bills are improved, but still a few years away. The Dolphins, well, they have a nice defense.

AFC North

Tom Marino says... Chris Steuber says...
1. Ravens
2. Bengals
3. Steelers
4. Browns
1. Ravens
2. Bengals
3. Steelers
4. Browns

Tom:  The Ravens aren't flashy, but their veteran defense and quarterback Steve McNair give them the edge in the competitive AFC North. With Cincinnati, you have to wonder if off-the-field distractions will continue to impact this talented squad? Their offensive line's play and depth are also major concerns.  The new coaching staff in Pittsburgh wants to change the character of this ball-control offense and play-defense-like-hell football club. Huh?  As for the Browns, update those resumes boys, the game is over. The price for trading up this year to grab quarterback Brady Quinn might well end up being Arkansas running back Darren McFadden in next year's draft ...ouch!!!  

Chris:  Baltimore still has an intimidating defense, even without linebacker Adalius Thomas who headed north to New England as a free agent. The offense is still suspect, but just like during their Super Bowl season of 2000, the Ravens defense will carry them in 2007. The Bengals are loaded on offense, but the defense still needs work. The Steelers are solid, but I still have questions about Ben Roethlisberger. The Browns are building a good, young team. They’re still a few years away.

AFC South

Tom Marino says... Chris Steuber says...
1. Colts
2. Jaguars
3. Texans
4. Titans
1. Colts
2. Texans
3. Jaguars
4. Titans

Tom:  For the Colts, defending the run could be a concern but as long as No. 18 is running the offense, not to worry.  In Jacksonville, new starter David Garrard is a journeyman quarterback and the Jaguars' receiver corps is adequate at best. And what's with all the assistant coaching changes? There are lots of questions to be answered in Houston.  Can the offensive line protect? Can running back Ahman Green stay healthy? Can they run the football? If not, John Elway could be their QB and it really wouldn't matter.  In Tennessee, nobody on the offensive side of the ball scares anyone. The league's top coach, Jeff Fisher, might well be headed down the road at the end of this season.

Chris:  The Colts are still the class of this division and with their high-powered offense, Indy is looking to repeat as champs. The Texans will surprise the NFL this season. They have a great young defense that will give the opposition fits. The Jaguars are a tough defensive team with a lot of offensive questions. Tennessee is building, and Vince Young looks great -- but they need more help.

AFC West

Tom Marino says... Chris Steuber says...
1. Chargers
2. Broncos
3. Chiefs
4. Raiders
1. Chargers
2. Broncos
3. Chiefs
4. Raiders

Tom:  I'm not crazy about the receiving corps in San Diego (exposed versus the Patriots in playoffs), but there are still a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball.  This year Denver boasts a solid, experienced squad, veteran coaching staff and a future star quarterback.  But they're just not good enough to overtake the Chargers.  Meanwhile, the Chiefs are flat out not good enough at the quarterback position. Their defense is talented and plays hard, but will be overworked.  Oakland is a bad football team -- pure and simple. Maybe they can draft quarterback DeMarcus Russell with their first pick again next spring.

Chris:  The Chargers are a tough team and they have a great defense. The offense stars running back LaDainian Tomlinson and developing quarterback Phillip Rivers, but the receivers -- outside of tight end Antonio Gates -- are questionable. Denver has high hopes for second-year quarterback Jay Cutler, but give them another season to build chemistry and the Broncos will be "Rocky Mountain High" in the AFC West. The Chiefs are mediocre at best, while the Raiders -- who have a nice defense -- are pathetic on offense.

NFC East

Tom Marino says... Chris Steuber says...
1. Cowboys
2. Eagles
3. Giants
4. Redskins
1. Eagles
2. Cowboys
3. Giants
4. Redskins

Tom:  Dallas' secondary was exposed late in the season. If quarterback Tony Romo can withstand the pressure and narcissistic wide receiver Terrell Owens keeps his mouth shut, the Super Bowl is a real possibility.  With the Eagles, you have to wonder if they can effectively run the ball? Can quarterback Donovan McNabb rebound from injury? Has the once formidable defense begun to show it's age? In New York, running back Tiki Barber will be severely missed.  There is no bell-cow wide receiver on the roster, their special teams are suspect and defensive end Michael Strahan will be a major distraction in the locker room.  Meanwhile, personnel mistakes abound in our nation's capital. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been sold a bill of goods. This is a sad ending for a great coach, Joe Gibbs, and some excellent assistants.

Chris:  With Donovan McNabb back healthy, look for the Eagles to continue their dominance in the NFC East. The Cowboys have a solid team all around, but are not good enough to emerge as the division winner. The Giants are "Team Turmoil," and the gossip has already started. Washington spends money every year, but disappoints even more.

NFC North

Tom Marino says... Chris Steuber says...
1. Lions
2. Bears
3. Vikings
4. Packers
1. Bears
2. Packers
3. Lions
4. Vikings

Tom:  Every dog has his day.  And because of their ineptness over the past decade, the Lions' day has arrived. Head coach Rod Marinelli and offensive coordinator Mike Martz are a cut above.  In Chicago, the defense is as good as it gets today.  But running back Thomas Jones will be missed and the quarterback situation is -- to say the least -- "unsettled."  For the Vikings, the four-year window of opportunity is now closed. Their over-involved owner is way over his head in this field of endeavor.  When looking at the situation in Green Bay, a shortage of offensive weapons combined with an aging QB does not bode well for this once proud organization.

Chris: The Bears don't have much on offense, but their defense is still one of the league's best. Green Bay will surprise some teams this year with their defense, but gunslinger Brett Favre will lose a game or two for the Pack. The Lions are improved, but not ready for primetime just yet. The Vikings have an excellent running game, but where's the passing game?

NFC South

Tom Marino says... Chris Steuber says...
1. Saints
2. Panthers
3. Falcons
4. Buccaneers
1. Panthers
2. Saints
3. Buccaneers
4. Falcons

Tom:  After 40 years, the Saints appear poised to take that final step. Let's just pray to the saints in heaven they can keep No. 9 healthy and upright.  The Panthers should rebound, but I don't think they have enough firepower other than wide receiver Steve Smith on the offensive side of the ball. I really like this coaching staff, though.  In Atlanta, distractions off the field, an unproven QB, a new coaching staff and system of play spell trouble for this marginally talented squad.  Tampa Bay must learn that players -- not coaches -- win football games.  And there are not enough quality players on either side of the ball in Tampa. Their quarterback position is a disaster.

Chris: This is the year the Panthers finally show their promise. The defense is loaded with athletes and should be one of the best year-in and year-out. The Saints will have a little bit of a hangover from last year, but will still challenge for the division and wildcard. The Buccaneers are too inconsistent.  And the Falcons are a mess.

NFC West

Tom Marino says... Chris Steuber says...
1. Rams
2. Cardinals
3. 49ers
4. Seahawks
1. Rams
2. Seahawks
3. 49ers
4. Cardinals

Tom:  If they can stop the run, the Rams appear poised to return to their past glory. Quarterback Marc Bulger, running back Steven Jackson, offensive tackle Orlando Pace and wide receiver Torry Holt are at or near the top of their game. As far as the Cardinals are concerned, I've gotten tired of picking them to win the division over the last three seasons. The time has come for them to do it on the field.  In San Francisco, it all depends on the development of Alex Smith. If he makes strides, this club could well contend for the division title.  Meanwhile, after a good run, the Seahawks appear to have come back down to the rest of the division. Running back Shaun Alexander must rebound from a sub-par 2006 season.

Chris: I think the Rams will be one of the most explosive teams this year. Their offense is stacked. The defense will allow a lot of points, but St. Louis can outscore a lot of teams in the league. Seattle will be back in 2007, but it won't be enough. The Niners are young and have a bright future, but it's not their time. Arizona always seems to have potential, but they never live up to it.

POSTSEASON PICKS

Postseason Tom Marino Chris Steuber
AFC Wildcards Bengals, Broncos Bengals, Broncos
NFC Wildcards Bears, Eagles Cowboys, Saints
AFC Championship Chargers over the Colts Patriots over the Ravens
NFC Championship Cowboys over the Saints Eagles over the Rams
Super Bowl Chargers over the Cowboys Patriots over the Eagles

 

Tom Marino has over 35 years of experience as a professional scout working for the NFL's Bears, Saints, Rams, Giants and Cowboys along with both the WFL and USFL. As Scout.com's Lead NFL Analyst, he has primary responsibility for network reporting, the NFL Draft, Free Agency databases and rankings.



A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.



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