2011 NFL Playoff Teams: Predicting the Teams Headed to the Promised Land

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IJune 14, 2011

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets walk off the field after the Jets defeated the Patriots 28 to 21 their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The lockout is looming large and many fans are questioning whether the NFL will have a season. But with recent negotiations and both parties thinking of positive results, i feel confident in saying that their will be football this winter.

Heading into the season, some teams have huge expectations, hence the Packers repeating, while others are simply attempting to become relevant again, hence the Panthers and the Bills.

But every team's dream run to the Super Bowl has to be earned throughout the regular season, whether it's winning your division or the Wild Card. Here are my predictions on who the 2011 NFL playoff teams will be:

AFC East Champion: New York Jets- The Jets have been on the verge of the Super Bowl the past two seasons, only to just fall short. They have outstanding talent on both sides of the ball, as they have one of the game's best defenses, offensive lines and receiving corps. Mark Sanchez has developed over the last couple seasons and showed in last season's playoffs that he is the real deal. Although Gang Green may lose Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie, I think that they still do enough to finish the season 13-3 and claim home field advantage throughout the postseason. 

AFC North Champion: Pittsburgh Steelers- The defending AFC Champions will have another good season in 2011, but be aware Steelers fans, it may be their last great one in a while. Their stifling defense is very old and they may be headed towards a rebuilding period. But they should once again cruise the regular season behind their fabulous defense and finish the year 11-5.

AFC South Champion: Indianapolis Colts- The Colts are coming off a disappointing year, according to the expectations they had heading into last season. But Indy was one of the most banged up teams in the league last year, as they missed key offensive pieces such as Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and Austin Collie for the majority of the season. This ended up costing them in the early round of the playoffs, as Manning did not have the necessary talent around him. But this season, they should be healthy and be back to their dominating form. Expect the Colts to cruise through the regular season and win their division handily, finishing with a record of 13-3. 

AFC West Champion: San Diego Chargers- The Chargers should dominate their division this season after a disappointing campaign a year ago. Philip Rivers should explode for a MVP-like season, and their special teams are bound to get better. The Chargers finish with a 5-1 record in their division and finish with an overall record of 11-5, as they simply have too much talent to withstand another bad year.

AFC Wild Cards: New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens- Nothing new here folks. The Patriots should dominate again this season, as Brady puts together another terrific season. Their young defense should improve and only a difficult season holds them back from winning their division, as they finish the season at 12-4.  The Ravens should have another good season in 2011 behind their solid defense and decent offensive pieces. They finish with a record of 10-6 and claim the last spot in the 2011 AFC playoffs. 

NFC East Champion: Dallas Cowboys- Big D will rebound from a tough 2010 season and have a dominating 2011 season. Tony Romo should have the best season of his career and the Dallas defense should come up big. They will have a couple big wins over the Eagles and Giants that will lead them to an 11-5 season and a division title. 

NFC North Champion: Green Bay Packers- The defending Super Bowl champions will cruise through their defense behind their stifling defense and their incredible offensive pieces. They should go 5-1 or even 6-0 within their division and cruise to a final record of 14-2, claiming home field advantage in the NFC Playoffs.

NFC South Champion: New Orleans Saints- The Saints should be angry after their shocking loss to the Seahawks last postseason. Drew Brees should have a better season than he did last season and the defense should be able to keep them above water. They should be able to be better than the Falcons for the majority of the year due to their explosive offense. The Saints win the NFC South with a final record of 12-4

NFC West Champion: St Louis Rams- The worst division in football will be bad again in 2011. The Rams should be able to finish with an 8-8 record behind explosive rushing from Steven Jackson and an improvement in Sam Bradford

NFC Wild Cards: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles- The Giants defense should be finally ready to lead them back to the postseason with the addition of the star Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara. Eli Manning should be able to cut down on the turnovers with the offensive weapons they will attain if they hold on to Ahmad Bradshaw. The Giants finish the regular season with a record of 10-6. The Philadelphia Eagles will not be as dominant as last year, but they should still be able to have another playoff season behind their explosive offense led by Michael Vick. The Philly defense should hold serve and they should just edge out the Falcons for the final Wild Card Spot, with a record of 10-6.