Dan's 2007 NFL Predictions
By Dan O'Donnell
Super Bowl XLII: New England 24, Carolina 17
The Patriots will win the AFC with a 13-3 record, beating Indianapolis (12-4) for what seems like the 53rd time in the playoffs to go to the Super Bowl, where they'll beat a resurgent Carolina Panthers (12-4). Don't call it a comeback, they've been here for years and will put the injury-plagued demons of 2006 behind them with a win over the 10-6 Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship.
Other AFC playoff teams will include the Baltimore Ravens, who won't be quite as good as last year at 10-6, but still good enough to win a competitive AFC North. Pittsburgh will also get a wild card berth with a 9-7 record, but both will fall in the first round of the playoffs. San Diego will win the West at 11-5 and then bounce the Steelers, while the wild card Broncos (10-6) will top the Ravens.
From there, Denver will fall to the top-seeded Patriots and Indianapolis, the AFC's second seed, will beat the Chargers in the divisional round.
In the NFC, Philadelphia (10-6) will win a hotly contested NFC East over Dallas, which will also finish 10-6 but lose to the Eagles twice in the regular season. The Cowboys will get a wild card berth, though, but lose to Philly in the opening round of the playoffs. The other NFC wild card will got to New Orleans (11-5), who will beat NFC West champion Seattle (9-7) in the second first round game.
In the divisional round, top-seeded Carolina beats the Eagles handily and, in a rematch of last year's NFC championship game, the second-seeded Bears will make it two straight playoff wins against New Orleans.
The Bears still suck, however, and will fall to the Panthers in this year's NFC title game.
The Packers, meanwhile, will make some strides defensively, but uncertainty in the running game will relegate them to a second straight 8-8 finish.
LaDainian Tomlinson will again be the NFL's Most Valuable Player and win Offensive Player of the Year, while Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey will be the league's top defender.
Look for would-have-been Packer Marshawn Lynch to win Offensive Rookie of the Year with about 1,000 yards rushing for the Bills and Redskins safety LaRon Landry to be the top defensive rookie.
Bill Belichick (who else) will be Coach of the Year, and the Giants' Tom Coughlin will be fired by the bye week.
Finally, come January the Atlanta Falcons will be on the clock with the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.