In another most likely futile attempt at looking smart, I'll try once again to look into my crystal ball and tell you the future. Here are my 2009 NFL prognostications, along with some thoughts on each division. Playoff teams are marked with an asterisk (*).
New England Patriots*
New York Jets
With Tom Brady back the Patriots could return to their 2007 form. The additions of Fred Taylor and Joey Galloway make the offense that much better and the defense, even with the losses of Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour, will be good as usual... The Dolphins won't be surprising anyone this year, but I could see Pat White get some playing time at quarterback in the Wildcat offense. They will be a solid team and probably win 10 games, but it won't be enough to crack the playoffs in the tough AFC... The Bills will be a better team with the addition of Terrell Owens, at least until he reverts back to his usual shtick and starts causing problems... The Jets, while they will be competitive, are still lacking a lot in my opinion. A rookie quarterback usually goes through some learning curves. Sure it worked out last year for Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, but that was more the exception and not the rule.
Although the Ravens lost Bart Scott to the Jets, their defense is all about Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, so they should be fine. Ray Rice could have a breakout year this season... The Bengals should be better than last year with a healthy Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco likely bouncing back... I expect the Browns to be pretty bad this year. Eric Mangini hasn't made any friends since his arrival in Cleveland and the team hasn't improved since last year's woeful season.
The loss of Marvin Harrison won't hurt the Colts too badly since they hardly even knew he was on the team last year. Anthony Gonzalez should step right in and pick up the slack. While Tony Dungy has departed, the same philosophies are in place and Peyton Manning is still a Colt, which always bodes well for Indy... The only real loss for the Titans in this offseason was Albert Haynesworth. While that certainly hurts, the defense should be able to make up for it and I expect the running game to be just as strong as last year, maybe even better with a trimmed down LenDale White... The Texans have been slowly getting better each year and could compete for a playoff spot this season. The AFC South could be this year's 2008 AFC East with one very good team getting left out.
San Diego Chargers*
Kansas City Chiefs
This will be one of the two worst divisions in football, along with the NFC West. The Chargers take this one almost by default, although I expect them to be better than the 8-8 showing from 2008... The one bright spot this year for the Broncos could be Knowshon Moreno and they will certainly miss Jay Cutler and Mike Shanahan... I'm going with a little bit of a surprise putting the Raiders over the Chiefs, but Oakland has a few more athletic weapons than Kansas City.
New York Giants*
If Michael Vick isn't horrible and doesn't cause any off-field controversy, the Iggles should take the East. If nothing else, they have a very athletic, versatile offense... The only concern I have with the Giants is at the wide receiver position, although their defense will perhaps be the best in the NFL... Dallas will be right there with New York and Philly, but every year we have high expectations for the Cowboys only to see them fail... The Redskins are the Yankees of the NFL except they're never any good. This year could be the same exact thing.
Green Bay Packers
The Vikings win the division in spite of Brett Favre, not because of him. Look at what he did to the Jets last year. The only difference is that the Vikings have a better team than last year's Jets, and even if Favre has his usual putrid last few months, the Vikes should make the playoffs. They'll probably get ousted in their first postseason game, though... The Bears will be a better team than last year with Jay Cutler, which should make Devin Hester, Greg Olsen and Matt Forte better... The Lions should be better also, but that could mean only one win.
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The addition of Tony Gonzalez, although at the end of his career, could push the Falcons over the top. Matt Ryan will only be better in his second year, after learning so much during his first. I don't know if Michael Turner will have the year he had again, but he should still be a very strong running back... You could say the same thing about DeAngelo Williams, but Jonathan Stewart is no slouch at the backup running back position... The Saints will be an offensive powerhouse again but the division they play in will hurt them... The only thing I'll be watching the Bucs for is to see how long it takes for Josh Freeman to be under center.
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
Here we are at the second horrible division in the NFL. The Cardinals could be 9-7 and run away with it once again... The Seahawks won't be as bad with a healthy Matt Hasselback and the addition of TJ Houshmandzadeh, but age is a concern for Seattle... The 49ers would have been higher in my predictions if they had their first-round pick Michael Crabtree. Since he's being the diva everyone said he was, it could be much the same as we've been used to with the Niners.
New England Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons
I may be climbing far out on the proverbial limb here, but the NFC is very muddled to me. The Vikings won't make it because Brett Favre will hold them back. The Cardinals won't be surprising anyone this year. The Giants' receivers are too shaky for me to pick them. Basically each team could make a strong case as to why they could be in the big game, so I'm throwing a dart here and going with the Birds.