NFL races have never been so wide open

By Steve Sell
September 06, 2016

I almost wonder sometimes why I try to pick the NFL division races because it generally leaves me embarrassed about my ineptitude.

There is so much parity that a team picked to win its division could just as easily finish last (the NFC East, for example).

What I am almost positive of is that Denver will not repeat as Super Bowl champion. Not since 2005 has a team (New England) gone back-to-back.

Do you really believe Denver can repeat with somebody named Trevor Siemian at quarterback? Peyton Manning he is not, even the Peyton that was on wobbly legs in the last game of his career in last year’s Super Bowl.

I won't go so far as to pick the Broncos last in the AFC West as one publication did. Their defense will keep them in every game, but I have a hard time believing the Broncos can make the Super Bowl with Siemian at the helm. I have to admit I had to Google to find out who the guy is.

Of course, injuries play such a key role during the NFL season. The violence of the game tests a team's depth, especially at the quarterback position where it's essential that you have to have two quality players.

So here they are, my picks (or as some tell me, my miss-picks):

• NFC EAST •

1. Dallas — No Tony Romo for the foreseeable future. But there's a lot of talent at the other positions.

2. Philadelphia — I was going to pick the Eagles to win the division until they inexplicably traded Sam Bradford to Minnesota. Carson Wentz has been handed the job, so it's sink or swim with the rookie.

3. New York Giants —Maybe the most difficult team in the NFL to get a read on as it has a new coaching staff.

4. Washington — The Redskins overachieved last year. Things have a way of evening out.

• NFC SOUTH •

1. Carolina — The Panthers won't run away and hide like they did last year, but still the class of a mediocre division.

2. Atlanta — The Falcons always seem to be around 9-7 or 8-8.

3. New Orleans — Drew Brees always gives the Saints a fighting chance.

4. Tampa Bay — Jamesis Winston could suffer from the Sophomore Jinx.

• NFC NORTH •

1. Green Bay — Aaron Rodgers alone makes the Packers the favorite.

2. Minnesota — The season-ending knee injury to Teddy Bridgewater could be eased by the addition of Sam Bradford.

3. Detroit — No reason to watch the Lions anymore with no Calvin Johnson.

4. Chicago — You can't win with Jay Cutler as your quarterback.

• NFC WEST •

1. Seattle — I'm a huge believer in Russell Wilson and that great defense.

2. Arizona — The Cardinals can't afford to lose Carson Palmer.

3. Los Angeles — New home, old results

4. San Francisco — Probably the NFC's worst team.

• Wild-cards — Arizona and Atlanta

• NFC Champion — Seattle

• AFC EAST •

1. New England — No Tom Brady for four games, no problem.

2. New York Jets — The best of the rest.

3. Buffalo — Will Rex Ryan survive the season?

4. Miami — When was the last time the Dolphins were a factor?

• AFC NORTH •

1. Pittsburgh — The Steelers may be the NFL's most entertaining team as they have a lot of speed in the skill positions.

2. Cincinnati — The Bengals are finally a consistent playoff team, but can't clear the next hurdle.

3. Baltimore — It used to be that Baltimore was my automatic pick to win the division, but age caught up with it.

4. Cleveland — The worst team in the NFL.

• AFC SOUTH •

1. Houston — The Texans might win this division at 9-7.

2. Indianapolis — It's Andrew Luck and not much else.

3. Tennessee — The Titans should be able to control the clock with the 1-2 tandem of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. 

4. Jacksonville — This is a team that is spinning its wheels.

• AFC WEST •

1. Denver — Until somebody proves otherwise, I'll stay with the Broncos.

2. Kansas City — The Chiefs are closing the gap. Pass defense is a big concern.

3. Oakland — The Raiders are on the cusp of being a contender.

4. San Diego — Philip Rivers will keep the Chargers competitive.

• Wild-cards —Kansas City, Cincinnati

• AFC Champion — New England

• SUPER BOWL CHAMPION — Seattle


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