1. Dez Bryant is going to be a monster. Seriously. Physically he's one of the most gifted wideouts in the league. Everybody knows most WRs breakout in their third season, and his first two years (45/561/6 and 63/928/9) point two a guy who is figuring it out (on the field, at least). Dude may be a mess at times, but assuming he doesn't do something stupid like bringing a pound of weed through airport security or beating up a fan for making mom jokes and getting suspended he's going to be huge. I'm talking 90/1,400/12 this year. Of course, Tony Romo completely sucks donkey balls so it's possible he's too scared to throw it down field and just dinks it to Miles Austin and those TEs all the time, in which case I'd put the odds at 50/50 of Bryant blowing up Romo's car.
2. Ryan Williams will be one of the better backs in the league. He has to beat out Beanie Wells first, but let's be honest here that's not really going to be a problem. Williams was an absolute monster for Virginia Tech for two years, breaking the Va Tech single season rushing record and the ACC single season TD record, before the Cardinals took him early in the second round of the 2011 draft. He then destroyed his knee on his first carry in his first preseason game, which is why Arizona fans and football fans in general were subjected to another year watching fatass Wells fall down again and again. Williams is a threat to score every time he has the ball. Wells is a threat to become the next Lendale White. Of course, Williams also missed all of last year and the second half of his final college season due to injury so he's got a bit of china doll syndrome possibly going on so maybe everyone will get lucky and get to watch Wells again. Joy!
3. The Falcons are going to miss the playoffs. Way way way way way too much hype here, and whenever that happens the results are generally in the exact opposite direction. Matt Ryan is going to throw for 2 billion yards with Julio Jones and Roddy White both somehow catching for 1.5 billion apiece! Jacquizz Rodgers is the next NFL super star! Michael Turner will be rejuvenated by this holy crap passing offense! Please. Worst nicknamed player ever Matty Ice hasn't won anything, Michael Turner is going to Shaun Alexander this year, and Rodgers isn't the kind of runner who can be a feature back. Atlanta won't be able to run this year, which means Ryan is going to have to throw a ton and even if his (and those wideouts who I confess are pretty damn good) stats look great he's also going to throw 40 interceptions. Plus their defense sucks. Everyone is going to feel stupid at the end of the year when they suck except me because I'm right, and then you're going to acknowledge me as your god.
4. Percy Harvin is going to have a break out season. No, he's not going be like Dez Bryant or anything, but Harvin should finally break the 1,000 receiving yards barrier and probably hit 100 catches. You can see it coming if you're a Vikes fan who's been watching him for three years, but just to put some quantitativeness to the qualitativeness - from week 7 forward last year (which is when Christian Ponder) took over, Harvin touched the ball 100 times which was the most in the NFL. Second place was Wes Welkerbury with 76. Yeah, Ponder digs him some Percy. He does get more touches than most WR due to the lining up in the backfield he does, particularly once AP went down to injury but even prior to that he was averaging more than 3 rush attempts per game. Looking forward to this.
5. Antonio Gates will break TE records. I know everyone is all over Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham as the world's greatest tight ends - and rightly so because they had the two best seasons by a TE ever last year - but don't forget about Antonio Gates, who is primed to have an even better season that either of those two did last year. You know Philip Rivers is going to throw for a whole bunch of yards just as sure as you know he's going to cry at least once this year, but who gets those yards? Vincent Jackson is gone (#2 in catches last year). Mike Tolbert (#3) is as well, and Vincent Brown (who was supposed to ascend to their new #1 WR) is out half the season with an injury. That leaves Malcom Floyd (please) and Gates as your two main targets, and Antonio is finally healthy again after two injury plagued seasons where he still managed to average 57/780/8. Before getting hurt he had the best 1.5 seasons of his career, and everything points to a career year for him - expect him to break 1,400 receiving yards, a new TE record.
6. Andrew Luck will be better than Robert Griffin III this year. Seems like 95% of opinions I've read on these two say Luck will have the better career but RG3 will be better this season. Well I think Luck's better in both cases. Nobody argues he's the more polished QB already, so the other two factors would be if Luck struggles to pick-up the offensive scheme and if RG3 had markedly better weapons surrounding him, but I don't see it in either case. Luck basically called his own plays at Stanford, a team run by a "cerebral" former QB type like Jim Harbaugh (and by cerebral I mean in comparison to blockheads like Brad Childress) so I don't think he's going to majorly struggle with any system he's asked to run. And as far as weapons, both Indy and the Skins are a mess at RB although I'd give the edge to the Colts based on at least having a clear idea of who is going to get the majority of the carries, and I'll take Reggie Wayne/Austin Collie over Santana Moss/Pierre Garcon every time. What am I missing? Clear advantage to Luck. Also garcon means boy.
7. The Chiefs are going to suck. I have no idea why it seems everyone is picking these guys to win the AFC East this year. None at all. They're horrid. The have three good offensive players and two play the same position and were both hurt all or most of last year (fun fact: Jamaal Charles' middle name is Rashaad - that's a lot of a's), and the other one is Dwayne Bowe who is likely to end up shooting himself in the leg or getting suspended after buying weed in Mexico. Matt Cassell might very well be the worst starting QB in the league, and the Chiefs have one of the worst pass defenses in the entire NFL going up against the pass happy Chargers (6th in passing yds last year) and Raiders (11th and should be even better) and a team that just upgraded from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning. Speaking of which....
8. The Broncos will win their division. Yes, I'm on board the Peyton train. I kind of have to be since I drafted him like 15 years ago in our inaugural keeper league draft and have held him since, but I truly believe he can make a huge difference for Denver. Demaryius Thomas has all the skill to be a lead WR and Eric Decker has both the game and the smarts to become Peyton's #1 target or at least a 1b to Thomas's 1a. That offense should be good enough to put up some points, and that hyper aggressive defense (big on sacks and turnovers, low on actual stops) could turn for the better. I'd feel better if I had heard of anyone on their offensive line and if their running back was someone better than Willis McGahee, but I feel pretty safe putting my blind trust in Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey. Especially if this was 2003.
9. The Saints are going to the Super Bowl. Seems to me like everybody is ignoring the Saints, and I rarely hear them come up when postseason stuff is talked about. In fact I don't think anyone on ESPN picked them to make the Super Bowl, but you best believe they'll be there. They have the best QB on the planet (or #2 after Rodgers) who has a whole mess of weapons to throw too, and while most teams with three running backs have a mess on their hands they have three guys who would all start in many NFL situations. That offense is straight up sick. And you don't think that defense is going to be playing with a major chip on their shoulder? Don't forget if this team doesn't see Alex Smith miraculously morph into Joe Unitas they're probably in the Super Bowl last year (they would've beat the Giants, I promise). Now take that same basic team (oh no, Robert Meachem left!) and add a big ole steamy plate of gritty emotions? They'll be there. Other playoff teams: NY Giants, Packers, 49ers, Lions, Eagles, Broncos, Texans, Pats, Ravens, Steelers, and Chargers. And your champ.....
10. The Ravens will win the Super Bowl. That's right, I'm backing Joe Flacco. I think we've got a perfect storm here. A young QB coming into his own with an offense being revamped to take advantage of his talents and a WR (Torrey Smith) coming into his own right along with him. Maybe the best offensive weapon in the game (Ray Rice) and one of the best defensive players (Haloti Ngata). Veterans who can still play who know this might be their last shot (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Matt Birk, Anquan Boldin). And, similar to the Saints, you've got a team here who was very close to making the Super Bowl last year (if Lee Evans catches one more pass they're in) and has done very little tinkering. Terrell Suggs injury is a bit of an unfortunate wrinkle, but so is your face.
HONORABLE MENTION: Others who will be awesome - Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Steven Jackson, Carson Palmer, Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Marshall, Hakeem Nicks, Marques Colston, Greg Olsen, David Wilson, Mark Ingram, and Brandon Pettigrew. Those will suck - Cam Newton, Mike Vick, Darren McFadden, Arian Foster, Frank Gore, Ahmad Bradshaw, every Lions RB, Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz, Miles Austin, Steve Johnson, and Vernon Davis.