During the preseason, I attempted to predict who would win each division and the wild card spots. Four weeks into the season, I'm going to do it again! This time I'll also include my early Superbowl picks.
AFC East: New York Jets (prev. Patriots). Yes, Sanchez was brought back down to earth last weekend, but their schedule is simple. I truly don't believe that the Patriots can pull this one out, for two reasons. First, the Jets have already beaten them, which already gives them a tie-breaker advantage. Second, the Patriots are a Mark Clayton drop and McKelvin fumble away from being 1-3, which would leave them tied with the Dolphins at the basement. I think the Jets will pull it out with a one win lead.
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (prev. Steelers). They're currently 3rd in their division, but they have the tools to bring this back around. They have the Lions and Browns back-to-back, which all but puts them at 4-2. Although the Bengals have looked good, each game has been close with them. They're certainly making strides, but they're still a year away from the playoffs in my eyes. The biggest challenge is the Ravens, and I think regardless of who wins the division, both will be making the playoffs.
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts (prev. Colts). This doesn't need a lot of justification, although they did almost lose to the Jaguars in the opener. If they can put away the Titans next week (and they certainly should), we can pretty much call this one.
AFC West: Denver Broncos?? (prev. Chargers). I guess? After beating the Cowboys I finally had to admit that this team was better than average. The Chargers should win this division in every single way, but they just can't put their defense together. Josh McDaniels will exploit that. I'll fully be able to make up my mind in the Week 6 Monday Night game, when they play the Chargers. Plus, the Chiefs and Raiders were knocked out of division contention for the next 3 years.
AFC Wildcards: Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots (prev. Texans and Titans). These two teams are as close as you can get to winning their respective divisions, but I think will ultimately fall short. The Patriots have too much experience to not make the playoffs, and Brady will only get more comfortable. Flacco is playing like a veteran, and the loss of so many players on their defense hasn't seemed to phase them.
AFC Championship Game: Colts over Steelers.
NFC East: New York Giants (prev. Giants). Their week 8 matchup against the Eagles will shed more light on this, but they're the class of the NFC East for now. They will need their rushing game to step up as the weather gets colder, especially now because of Eli's foot. We don't really know what to expect from the Eagles because they've had so many changes on offense so far. Now that McNabb and Westbrook should be both playing, we'll see if they have what it takes to challenge the Giants.
NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (prev. Packers). That Monday Night win went a long way for the Vikings. Not only do they have a 1 game lead on the Bears, but also the advantage in the tie-breaker if Green Bay battles back. They don't play Chicago until week 12, so this could be too close to call until then. Though a lot is riding on Favre's durability (which I think should be fine), they have Adrian Peterson to carry the majority of the load.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints (prev. Falcons). Though I don't believe that the Saints are as good as most people do, it's hard to argue with a 4-0 record. They have yet to play a division game (and don't play one until week 8), and the Panthers and Falcons will play them hard. That win against the Jets, especially against their great defense, was very nice. Weirdly enough, their defense has been stepping up when they need it, which is vastly different than last year.
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers (prev. Cardinals). I had a feeling that the Cardinals would be a bust, and it seems like they very well might be. The 49ers defense is great, and they've already won 3 division games. You can't get much better than that. Once Hasselbeck is healthy, the Seahawks might give them a run for their money, but I'm not positive that it's Seneca Wallace's fault that Seattle is performing poorly.
NFC Wildcards: Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears (prev. Eagles and Panthers). The Eagles, when healthy, are deadly. They torment teams late in the season, especially their division opponents. The Bears are sort of my dark horse to make the playoffs, although I don't think it's too much of a stretch. Jay Cutler has been playing very well, and their defense respectable.
NFC Championship Game: Giants over Vikings.
Superbowl Matchup: Colts 31, Giants 24