Athlon Sports 2011 NFL Predictions

Our editors have the Packers making it back-to-back titles

Our editors have the Packers making it back-to-back titles

The NFL season is finally here. It kicks off tonight when the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers play host to the 2009 Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Athlon Sports' editorial staff made its predictions in the Athlon Sports Pro Football 2011 Preview magazine, and here they are.

Also checkout Athlon's preseason picks for who will win which NFL awards

AFC Playoff Seeding
1. Patriots
2. Steelers
3. Chargers
4. Texans
5. Ravens
6. Jets

Wild Card
Ravens (5) over Texans (4)
Jets (6) over Chargers (3)

Divisional Round
Patriots (1) over Jets (6)
Steelers (2) over Ravens (5)

AFC Championship
Patriots (1) over Steelers (2)

NFC Playoff Seeding
1. Packers
2. Eagles
3. Saints
4. Rams
5. Falcons
6. Giants

Wild Card
Falcons (5) over Rams (4)
Saints (3) over Giants (6)

Divisional Round
Packers (1) over Falcons (5)
Eagles (2) over Saints (3)

NFC Championship
Packers (1) over Eagles (2)

Packers over Patriots

AFC East
1. New England Patriots

Belichick and Brady marching toward fifth Super Bowl berth.
2. New York Jets
Ryan still hungry after back-to-back trips to the AFC title game.
3. Miami Dolphins
Need more All-Pros to “take their talents to South Beach.”
4. Buffalo Bills
Gailey unveiling “hybrid” defense anchored by versatile Dareus.

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Hits-burgh gunning for record ninth Super Bowl appearance.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Fans hoping this year isn’t farewell tour for Lewis and Reed.
3. Cleveland Browns
Just what curse of Cleveland sports needed, a Madden cover.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Bungles are back; Dalton era starts now.

AFC South
1. Houston Texans

Phillips bringing his 3-4 scheme south from Big D to Houston. It's all setup for Kubiak to win now.
2. Tennessee Titans
Munchak and Locker replacing Fisher and Young in Music City.
3. Indianapolis Colts
No Manning for 2-3 months means few wins for 2-3 months.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Garrard cut just days before the season begins, MJD coming off a bum knee, it's not looking good.

AFC West
1. San Diego Chargers

Possible move to L.A. a black cloud hanging over sunny San Diego.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Will offense remain as potent without Weis calling plays?
3. Oakland Raiders
Climbing out of the Black Hole after many years of obscurity.
4. Denver Broncos
New regime of Elway and Fox has a Mile High mountain to scale.

NFC East
1. Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl expectations for “Dream Team” assembled in Philly.
2. New York Giants
G-Men eager to put last season’s collapse and this preseason behind them.
3. Dallas Cowboys
New sheriff Garrett and healthy gunslinger Romo ready to ride.
4. Washington Redskins
Snyder and Shanahan most stubborn men in nation’s capital.

NFC North
1. Green Bay Packers

Reigning champ Rodgers eyeing back-to-back title belts.
2. Detroit Lions
Motor City revving engines, eager for breakout season.
3. Chicago Bears
Egos bruised and flaws exposed by Packers in NFC title game.
4. Minnesota Vikings
Metrodome implosion symbolic of collapse as contenders.

NFC South
1. New Orleans Saints

What lockout? Brees’ OTAs have Big Easy locked and loaded.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Bold draft-day moves prove Dirty Birds playing to win now.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Young Bucs older and wiser after playoff-less 10-win ’10.
4. Carolina Panthers
Newton bringing Cammy-Cam Juice and Midas touch to Charlotte.

NFC West
1. St. Louis Rams

McDaniels joining Bradford for new-look Greatest Show on Turf.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Harbaugh hoping to follow Bill Walsh from Stanford to Super Bowl(s).
3. Arizona Cardinals
Paid king’s ransom in trade and contract extension for Kolb.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Hasselbeck and Tatupu leave leadership void on both sides of ball.

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