CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Season predictions: Special season for Julio, Falcons

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The season kicks off Thursday night at the home of the champion Packers, so it's time to get on the record.

Here's predicting every division finish, playoff round, Super Bowl and every individual award winner. Let us know how we did in February, if not sooner:

NFC East: 1) Dallas 2) Philadelphia 3) N.Y. Giants 4) Washington

NFC North: 1) Green Bay 2) Chicago 3) Detroit 4) Minnesota

NFC South: 1) Atlanta 2) New Orleans 3) Tampa Bay 4) Carolina

NFC West: 1) St. Louis 2) Arizona 3) San Francisco 4) Seattle

NFC wild card: Philadelphia over St. Louis; Dallas over New Orleans

NFC divisional: Dallas over Green Bay, Atlanta over Philadelphia

NFC championship: Atlanta over Dallas

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AFC East: 1) New England 2) Miami 3) N.Y. Jets 4) Buffalo

AFC North: 1) Pittsburgh 2) Baltimore 3) Cleveland 4) Cincinnati

AFC South: 1) Houston 2) Indianapolis 3) Jacksonville 4) Tennessee

AFC West: 1) San Diego 2) Oakland 3) Kansas City 4) Denver

AFC wild card: Houston over Oakland, Pittsburgh over Miami

AFC divisional: New England over Pittsburgh, San Diego over Houston

AFC championship: New England over San Diego

Super Bowl: Atlanta over New England

Individual awards

MVP: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego
He will get his team deep into the playoffs by putting up huge numbers.

Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Is it possible he is even better than he was in the 2010 postseason? If he is, his numbers will be record-breaking.

Coach of the Year: Tony Sparano, Miami
He has changed his way of thinking on offense, and it will pay off. From almost fired one year to coach of the year the next.

Defensive Player of the Year: DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Cowboys
The new scheme will move him around so he can't be doubled as much. I say he pushes for the NFL single-season sack record.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
He will liven up a passing game that was second-to-last in the NFL in 20-plus-yard passing plays. The kid acts like a veteran already.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
He has the tenacity and the toughness and the ability to be an impact player as a rookie.

Step-back Player: Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs
I just don't think he can have another big season for the Chiefs. The playoff loss to the Ravens makes me think that. We'll see.

Team on the rise: St. Louis Rams
The makeup of this team is impressive. It all starts with Sam Bradford at quarterback. They will be around competing for playoff berths and more for a while.

Team on the decline: Indianapolis
If Peyton Manning misses much of the season, this is the easiest pick of them all.

Best free-agent signing: Johnathan Joseph, CB, Houston
They needed help in a big way in the secondary in Houston. Joseph is a top cover player who can really add some man-cover ability.

Worst free-agent signing: Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck
I just don't see the attraction. Did I miss something from the second half of the 2010 season?


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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