Foooooottttttbaaalllll!  Finally, the NFL season has arrived as the season kicks off tonight.  The defending Superbowl champion New York Giants open up against division rival, the Dallas Cowboys.  Will Big Blue repeat in 2012?  Let's preview the season! 

Though I do believe the Giants open up tonight with a victory over the Cowboys, I wouldn't hold my breath on the Giants holding the Lombardi trophy at the end of the season again. Last year, the Giants were 9-7 overall and just  3-3 in the NFC East.  Who wins you ask?  Let's peak into Monte's Crystal Ball.

NFC East:

Cowboys - Aren't they always a trendy pick with Romo at the helm?  Not for this guy.  On the road at Baltimore and Atlanta, home  games against the New Orleans, Pittsburgh and they were 2-4 in their own division last year.  Pass.

Giants - Eli has emerged with the help of Nicks and Cruz at WR but with a mediocre regular season last year and the schedule they have this year, I'm not buying.  Look at their games coming of the bye in week 11: Green Bay, as Washington, New Orleans, at Atlanta, at Baltimore and home against Philly to end it up.  How many of those games are they winning?

Redskins- Don't believe the hype!  Well, OK, you can buy into RG3.  However, as a team, the 'skins are still the 'skins.   I think Washington starts out pretty well but will falter after the bye as well in week 11.  Philadelphia and Dallas twice after the bye,  Baltimore, New York and Cleveland.  Even if they split their division games, it's still an ugly schedule with a rookie QB.

Eagles - My pick for the East.  Four wins in a row to end last season with a 5-1 division record and DeSean Jackson has some money in his pocket. Their schedule is much more favorable from weeks 10-17.  Better team? Maybe not, but it's all about the matchups.  Carolina, Washington, Tampa, etc.  I think they go 6-2 to finish the season.

NFC North:

Packers - 15-1 may not happen this year.  To start the season, they'll see San Fran, Chicago and New Orleans in three of their first four games.  With Jay Cutler healthy, Michael Bush added to the backfield with Matt Forte and the return of Brandon Marshall, I think these Bears games will be tough! The Pack are just so full of talent.  QB aside, Jordy Nelson nabbed 15 TDs last season and you have Greg Jennings on the other side.   Cedric Benson signed at RB may only give them 500 yards on the ground but that's about 499 more than last season.  Tease the run and toss the ball all day.  I think the Packers win the division again,  but Chicago will make them work for it.

Bears - As I just mentioned, this team is healthy, loaded and ready to deal some pain.  Anyone else like Da Bears to win the NFC?  I do.

Lions - I think the Lions will go 16-0.

OK, so I'm a huge Lions fan.  However, I see eight games that are easily winnable if the Lions play up to par so another 10 win season is not out of the question.  They'll need to play their best and get some luck but I see my boys as playoff bound. Arizona, Indy, Jacksonville, Minnesota,  Seattle, St. Louis, W, W, W, W and more dubyas.

Vikings- AP is coming off of  major knee surgery, they have Harvin at wideout and that's about it.  Oh yeah, they have the arm of Christian Ponder!  *Note, sarcasm.  Their last six games of the year see them up against Green Bay twice, Chicago twice and Houston also in the mix.  Yuck.


NFC South:

Saints - I know, Bounty Gate.  However, Drew Brees seems to demolish passing records for breakfast.  I doubt he needs a coach or a defense to put the ball in the air.  I can honestly see them starting out winning five of six against Washington,  Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego and Tampa Bay. I can also see Drew Brees throwing for 85 million yards.

Falcons- Another hot pick.  I know Matt Ryan has had some stellar regular seasons but gets hacked a lot for coming up short in the post season.  I think Matty Ice can lead his team deep but this may the year he needs to do it!  They have two beasts at WR in Roddy White and Julio Jones but Michael Turner has hit that magical RB age of 30 and Tony Gonzales is old enough to be my dad.  The schedule seems to favor Atlanta for the most part - minus the game they have against Detroit.  I shall take the birds to win the division crown.

Panthers - Man, isn't Cam fun to watch?  They do have a nice two back system but the downfall will be WR for Carolina. Steve Smith was the the Steve Smith of old last year, not old Steve Smith.  They also give up more points than they score. I don't see Carolina moving anywhere in the standings but I'll sure as hell watch a few games.

Buccaneers- 4-12 last year but they have added Vincent Jackson at WR and drafted Doug Martin from Boise State.  I don't think the Bucs make noise and they have a rough schedule.  Five wins - maybe?

NFC West:

49ers - Sorry, am I the only one that think this team was a fluke? Yes, one player pretty much cost them a trip to the Super Bowl.  Yes, the defense is stellar.  However - your best receiver is your Tight End.  You basically hope Alex Smith does not turn the ball over and your defense wins your games.  San Fran scored 380 points last season.  The Packers scored 560.  The defense gave up far less points than anyone else - but can they do that again this season?  First game of the year is against Green Bay - let's see.

Cardinals - Albert Pujols is gone.  Tony Larussa retired.  Oh, wait - football.  Hmm, what can we say about Arizona?  You have John Skelton.

Seahawks- Winnable games against Miami, Arizona, Minnesota and not too much else with a rookie QB in Russell Wilson.  Marshawn Lynch needs to repeat his breakout season if they want to move up the chain.  They may not improve on last year's 7-9 record but in this division, anything is possible.

Rams - You heard it hear first - division champs.  Jeff Fisher knows how to win, plain and simple.  I like a healthy Sam Bradford at QB, Jackson in the backfield is always a plus and I can see a possible five wins after their bye in week 9.  The Rams could win this thing at 8-8.

AFC  East:

Patriots - Painfully, your champs again.  I don't know what the hell Tom Brady drinks in the morning but someone get me a glass.  13-3 last season and just short of another ring for New England. Their coach is a genius, Wes Welker will catch another hundred balls and they picked up Brandon Lloyd who once led the NFL in receiving not too long ago.  I just don't see anyone else stepping up and hitting double digit wins here.

Dolphins - See Arizona. Just replace Skelton with Ryan Tannehill.

Jets- They'll see Houston, New England, Pittsburgh and San Fran in their first eight games. Ouch.  However, I see seven games they could win after the bye in week nine.  Jacksonville, Arizona and Seattle for sure.  If the Jets can keep the locker room together until the bye week, I really think the New York Tebows can make the playoffs.

Bills- I like what the Bills are trying to do.  Sign the smartest QB in the league to big money, bring in Mario Williams to sure up the defense, let Fred Jackson get healthed up and throw the ball to Stevie Johnson.  The Bills are a team that could win the NFC West.  However, they play in the AFC East and all they'll win is a .500 record.

AFC North:

Ravens - Billy, Billy, Billy.  Man, if you just made that field goal, you would still have a job and perhaps a ring.  Instead, you are out of a job and the Ravens refocus on winning the AFC North.  This is a tough division but the Ravens can handle it. Ray Rice may be the best overall running back in the league.  Torrey Smith is ready for a breakout year and that D allowed just 266 points last year, second to San Fran.  Say it with me - Super. Bowl.

Steelers - Nothing I can add to the Steelers this year that they haven't done in years past.  I liken the Steelers to the Spurs in the NBA during their run of titles.  Nothing flashy, just quality wins each year with smash mouth D and consistent offense.   Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington, Devener - all easy wins out of their division.

Bengals- Andy Dalton was a pleasant surprise last year. I was one of the nay-sayers to not give the kid a chance.  All he did was take Cincy to the playoffs.  I see five wins in their first seven games as they see the likes of Cleveland, Miami, Jacksonville and Washington. They finish up tough but they may be able to build a lead and get lucky.

Browns-  Rebuilding year with Brandon Weeden at QB and Trent Richardson at RB. However, if these kids pan out, Cleveland may have a future here.  This season, we'll say a lot of "who?" aloud as we watch the games but this team is looking ahead a few years.

AFC South:

Jaguars - Well, MJD resigned.  That's good.

Colts - No Petyon this year, a first since 1997.  I think we'll all be surprised to see the number of wins the Colts wrack up this year.  I'm not talking playoffs but Andrew Luck can bounce back Indy from a two-win season.

Texans- Perhaps Schaub healthy puts Houston in the Superbowl.  Arguably one of the best running backs and wide outs in the game.  Their D gave up 278 points and they won a playoff game with a third string QB.  With health, this is an easy division win for Houston.

Titans- Not a bad team. Jake Locker about to be a full-time starter, Chris Johnson's run game will be paramount to his success.  If Kenny Britt doesn't get arrested anymore, he's a threat at WR. I also like their TE, Jared Cook.  They went 9-7 last year, I think this team may sneak into the playoffs.  Might just be my sleeper pick.

AFC West:

Broncos - Peyton off of missing an entire season, multiple neck surgeries and and a new system. However, have we forgotten that this is PEYTON MANNING?  I like to think that Erick Decker will be on every one's radar too, a young WR who will blossom this year.  If Tebow can get this team to 8-8 and a division title, Peyton can at least get them 9 and in the Lombardi hunt.  They do play the Steelers, Ravens, Saints and Bengals, though.  Nine wins may be the max, but nine should do.

Chargers- The loss of Vincent Jackson and Vincent Brown hurts Phillip Rivers.  Rivers also threw a ton of picks last season.  .500 may come knocking for the Chargers again this season unless their ground game with Ryan Matthews steps up and Rivers finds a new target he loves.

Raiders- Oakland picked up Carson Palmer and went 1-4 in their last five games - ugh.  Oakland has the talent, in my opinion, to win some games.  However, they are just Oakland being Oakland.  I'm curious to see what they do this year.  I like them to win 10 games. I also like them to lose 10.

Chiefs - A surprise a few years ago but got bit hard by the injury bug last year.  Charles back off knee surgery and the KC signed Madden cover boy, Peyton Hillis.  Dwayne Bowe hauled in 1,159 yards from three different QBs last year.  They have some winnable games.  I think this team may be another gem in the rough.


So, who do you think will be headed to the Super Bowl this year?  I like Chicago and Baltimore!  In the words of Bart Scott- Can't Wait!