Saturday, July 30, 2011

One thing you should take note of is how the lines for season win totals compare to your own power rankings.  For example, the books have downgraded Chicago, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and given some love to the Detroit Lions.  This falls in line with my 2010 custom power rankings which identified overrated/underrated teams from last year.  Teams have obviously moved up/down based on offseason changes, but it's a good sign that I'm doing something right and provides more proof that you should completely ignore the "strength of schedule" rankings you see on all the football sites.

AFC EAST
New England 11.5
NY Jets 10
Miami 8
Buffalo 5

NE made a big splash acquiring Ocho and Haynesworth and everyone will naturally call them geniuses. What should be praised is how they managed to overcome their flaws in 2010.  The defense should take more strides this season and it's tough to bet against a team led by Brady/Belichick.  11.5 is a high number though--especially with a tougher schedule.  The Jets haven't been given as much love with a 10 number despite knocking out NE in the playoffs.  They lost out on Asomugha and still have Cromartie/Edwards on the open market, but this isn't a team that should take a step back this year.  They'll be in the hunt for double-digit wins once again.  MIA is in limbo without an Orton deal and adding Bush was an overrated move.  They will continue to toil in the world of mediocrity.  BUF got shafted by the schedule-makers in 2011 and face a mountain of trouble.  Losing Posluszny stung.

AFC SOUTH
Indianapolis 10
Houston 8
Tennessee 6.5
Jacksonville 6

I've been one of IND's biggest backers over the years, but my data doesn't lie--they are facing a decline.  Peyton has always been the great equalizer, but how healthy will he be?  Free agency has been non-eventful and a lot of holes plague the lineup.  HOU seems like the team poised to take over the division.  They bowed out of the Asomugha sweepstakes and upgraded with Joseph/Manning instead.  Great moves. 8 wins seems low and I expect heavy action on the over.  TEN should be ranked the lowest on this list.  Hasselbeck is a turnover machine and doesn't stay healthy.  They lost D-line coach Washburn and Babin followed suit.  Combine that with a new coach/CJ holdout and it could spell disaster.  JAX is a MIA clone.  Inconsistency is their specialty.  They lost Sims-Walker, but they've made good moves in free agency adding Posluszny, Session, and Landry.  6 wins is a soft number.  

AFC NORTH
Pittsburgh 11
Baltimore 11
Cincinnati 6.5
Cleveland 6.5

PIT and BAL will need 12 wins to cover this year, but their schedules are significantly easier than last year.  Both teams have pretty set rosters already and that stability will pay off early in the season.  The books overrated BAL though.  CLE had a respectable year last season given their challenges, but face a softer schedule in 2011.  Combining McCoy with new coaches isn't a formula for success though.  Two steps back and one step forward in the dog-pound.  CIN actually opened at 7.5 wins and quickly got bet down to 6.5.  I would have jumped all over that too.  This team is facing a nightmare season with Dalton/Gradkowski trying to implement the new WCO.  Nice pieces are in place for the future, but it will be a dark year in CIN.

AFC WEST
San Diego 10
Kansas City 8
Oakland 7
Denver 6

Ok put up your hand if you had KC winning the division last year.   Can they repeat the feat in 2011?  Don't hold your breath.  Adding Breaston and resigning Wiegmann were good moves, but their schedule is tough.  I'd be shocked if they reached double-digit wins again.  Bookmakers have made the proper adjustments and left them at 8 wins.  I really like what SD has done in free agency.  They've resigned a lot of their good players with the exception of Sproles.  They can't be as bad on special teams as they were last year so 10 wins is attainable.  I think that number should be a bit higher.  OAK is a mess.  They lost Asomugha and probably Miller too.  Jason Campbell is Mr. Inconsistent and reaching 8 wins is a tall task.  DEN was complete garbage last year and now have the "Chosen One" leading the charge.  Fox has turned around a sinking ship before, but don't expect to see improvements until the 2nd half of the year.  I don't see them winning 7 games in 2011.

NFC Teams

I'll have my official season win totals/division winner predictions soon as well as my 2011 strength of schedule for all 32 teams.

UPDATE: AFC Predictions