I think the Giants will win the NFC East. They added stud defensive end Kenny Holmes and
rookie corner Will Allen to help out their already excellent defense. While Kerry Collins isn't the greatest quarterback
in the NFL, he wont make mistakes and has the help of a great offensive line, two good running backs and two good
receivers. Projected Wins: 11 . The Eagles won't lose the division without a fight. They still don't have the
receiver corps to beat out the Giants, but they did help by adding James Thrash and Freddie Mitchell. Their defense
is still intact even though their strong saftey is still suspect. Duce Staley's condition is still a huge concern. Projected Wins: 10. There is a huge
gap after the Eagles, and then come the Redskins who lost 10 key players to free
agency. The Skins still have some great players (Stephen Davis, Champ Bailey, Michael Westbrook) and two good rookies
(Rod Gardner and Fred Smoot) who will keep them out of the cellar. They need to address their quarterback situation because lemon-ass Jeff George just won't do.
Projected Wins: 6. The Cardinals have lost their top three defensive players to free agency.
However, they did bolster their offensive line, signing Pete Kendall and drafting Leonard Davis. They still have three
good receivers (Rob Moore, Frank Sanders and David Boston). The problem is their quarterback. Jake Plummer is an erratic interception machine who has done
nothing but make mistakes since 1998. At runningback, Michael Pittman may have had legal problems, but I believe that second year back Thomas Jones will step up
and have a huge season. Projected Wins: 3.
The Cowboys cut Tony Banks and ruined all chances of staying out of last place. Quincy Carter and Anthony "Not Too Bright" Wright
are both young and very raw. Emmitt Smith is old and tired. Joey Galloway and Rocket Ismail are both coming off injury and tight end David LaFleur has done
nothing but disappoint. While their offense is having problems, their defense is simply a disgrace. They lost Ryan McNeil and Chad Hennings, while signing no one
and having no first round picks. Projected Wins: 1.
While everyone expects Tampa Bay to run away with this division, I think this will be a very close race that involves every team. The Buccaneers
acquired Brad Johnson to help run their offense. While this may seem like a good idea, Brad Johnson is one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the NFL. He
gets injured too frequently and does not know how to win games; only how to not lose games. Shaun King has worked hard this offseason, and I believe that he will
regain the starting job. The Bucs also signed Simeon Rice because their defensive line was weak. (That was a joke).
They will run away with this division. Projected Wins: 11 .
The Vikings took five major hits this
offseason. Of course Korey Stringer's death is most significant. Second, Robert Smith who has been the best running back in the NFL over the last four years
retired. Todd Steussie's departure will also affect the Vikings' offense. On the defensive side, the
already horrible Vikings' defense lost two key players. Dwayne Rudd and John Randle both signed with different teams this offseason. Why do I think the Vikes
will finish second? I believe Michael Bennett will be rookie of the year, and the combination of Culpepper, Moss and Carter can score on anyone. Their awful
defense will prevent them from winning the division. Projected Wins: 10.
Packers have two great running backs (Ahman Green and Dorsey Levens), Brett Favre and receiver Antonio Freeman. The Packers'
defense is the question. Their young defense made many mistakes in the 2000 season, but much like the 49ers defense did last year, the
Packer defense should be much better than they were last year. Their slightly easier schedule allows Green Bay to finish ahead of Detroit
and Chicago. Projected Wins: 8. The Lions and Bears will tie for last in the
NFC Central. Detroit did add defensive back Todd Lyght, but lost half of their already-weak offensive line to free agency. Charlie Batch
will get knocked around more than he did last year (if that is possible). That being said, the Lions' excellent receivers will have no balls to
catch, and James O. Stewart might have to become their only source of offense. Speaking of which, I think he will have a breakout season (again) due to
the new west coast offense the Lions are installing. The Bears basically have the same problem. They lost two
offensive linemen to free agency. Other than that, I think the Bears are a pretty solid team. They have great receivers (Marcus Robinson,
Bobby Engram and David Terrell), a good runningback in James Allen and a solid defense that just acquired Keith Traylor and Ted
Washington. The Bears need to decide who their QB is. McNown is on the trading block and Jim Miller is a drug addict. I believe Shane Matthews can get the Bears
to .500 this season. Projected Wins: 7 .
Completely opposite of the Tampa Bay Bucs, the St. Louis Rams were a high powered offensive team in need of defensive personnel. This past offseason,
the Rams brought in three excellent defensive backs, Aeneas Williams, Adam Archuleta and Kim Herring. The Rams signed three speedy linebackers,
Mark Fields, Don Davis and O.J. Brigance. They also added Cedric Jones to the defensive line. This defense will take some time to jell, but with the
Rams' explosive offense, the team wont suffer much. Projected Wins: 14. Most of Saints ' moves through free agency have been mute,
except with the addition of Albert Connell. Now the Saints have a trio of receivers (Joe Horn, Willie Jackson and Connell) for Aaron Brooks to throw to (he will
and should be the starter). The Saints have also added Deuce McAllister to take the load off of Ricky Williams. This team is very close to the Rams, but will not over-take them. Projected Wins:
12. Next come the 49ers . Although they lost incredible back Charlie Garner, they do have 1,500 yard rusher Garrison Hearst back from injury. Whether he's
close to 100% or not will be determined later on. Jerry Rice, linebacker Ken Norton and defensive end Anthony Pleasent are gone, but linebacker Derek Smith,
defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield and saftey Zach Bronson are in. Jeff Garcia should continue his magic from 2000. The biggest difference between this years'
team and the 2000 Niners is experience. The 49ers had one of the youngest defenses in the league, but they improved over the course of last season. They should
continue to do so. If Hearst can stay healthy, this is a playoff team. Projected Wins: 9. The Falcons didn't really add anyone big through free agency,
although they did sign running backs Travis Jervey and Rodney Thomas to take some pressure off of Jamal Anderson. Tony Martin, an outstanding receiver two
years ago is back, although he has done nothing since the Falcons' Super Bowl run in 1998. The Falcons did lose corner Terry Cousin, linebacker Henri Crockett and
kick returner Tim Dwight, but received a huge talent in Michael Vick via the draft. It should be interesting to see how much time Michael Vick gets this year, since
Chris Chandler is so injury prone. If Chandler and Anderson both stay healthy, this team could make a playoff run, but that is very unlikely. Projected Wins: 5.
The Panthers have Jeff Lewis starting at quarterback after they released Steve Beurelein. That being said, Carolina fans should be ready for a disappointing
season. The Panthers did make some moves in the offseason, bolstering up their offensive line and adding depth at running back, however, they did lose DT Eric
Swann, corner Eric Davis and Reggie White. Maybe George Seifert knows something that we don't. Maybe Jeff Lewis will be an amazing quarterback. He does have
a good offensive line and great receivers to work with. Although all that has been said, my money is still on a disappointing season for the Panthers. Projected
The AFC is so stacked that only the winner of this division might be the only team to represent the AFC East in the playoffs. That being said, the race for the division
title will be a close one because the top three teams, the Fins, Colts and Jets all have tough schedules. The Dolphins have decided to
take the Ravens'approach and stockpile defensive players, while going with a mediocore quarterback and a stud running back. The Dolphins kept all of their
defensive players and drafted Jamar Fletcher, a defensive back. On the offensive side of the ball, the Dolphins signed Ray Lucas, who will be used in QB sneeks and
bootlegs. The Dolphins also brought in speed-demon receivers James McKnight and Chris Chambers, as well as possesion receiver Dedric Ward. This offense is going
for a new look which features the blazing speed of McKnight and Chambers. This will benefit Jay Fiedler and Lamar Smith.
The Dolphins should win this division with their defense, but whether or not they can hold down high powered offensive teams like the
Ravens did last season is still unknown. Projected Wins: 12. In a bit of a surprise, I pick the Jets to finish second in the AFC East. The
biggest addition in free agency was receiver Matthew Hatchette. This guy has all the talent to be a top-notch second receiver in the NFL. He and Santana Moss
should bring more consistency to the Jets' offense this season. Speaking of consistency (or lack thereof), I think it is time for Vinny Testaverde to take a seat.
Chad Pennington is ready and is more suited to run the Jets' offense.
The only player the Jets lost through free agency was Bryan Cox, but that wont matter because Herman
Edwards is switching to the more common 4-3 defense. Projected Wins: 10. The Colts had a terrible offseason. The only player
they signed to improve a horrible defense was defensive tackle Christian Peter, but they lost linebacker Cornelius Bennett and corner Tyrone Poole in the process.
Instead of drafting a defensive player, the Colts decided to draft receiver Reggie Wayne. The Colts' offense will be one of the NFL's elite this season, but they
still do not have that second receiver that will allow them to get by the tougher defensive teams, such as the Dolphins and the Jets. Projected Wins: 9.
The Patriots will be better this season. They have stockpiled receivers. They have lost bad-boy Terry Glenn for the entire season, but
they sill have Tony Simmons, Troy Brown, Bert
Emanuel, Charles Johnson and Torrance Small. The Pats also signed two offensive linemen, Joe Panos and Mike Compton and a running back, Antowain Smith. The
Patriots lost personnel on the defensive side. Chad Eaton, Henry Thomas and corner Larry Whigham were lost to free agency, although
they did draft defensive tackle Richard Seymour. The Pats are in need of some defensive players and a stud running back. Maybe Robert Edwards will come back...
With Bledose signed to a 10 year extension, watch out for this team in a few years. Projected Wins: 6. Stuck in the cellar, the Bills
, will be horrible this season. They lost probowl defensive end Marcellus Wiley, linebacker Sam Rogers, and defensive tackle Ted Washington to free agency.
These three players were all excellent, and the Bills' defense will suffer. It didnt stop there. The Bills also lost running backs Antowain Smith and Johnathan Linton,
quarterback Doug Flutie, as well as offensive lineman Victor Allotey to free agency. Three positives this offseason for Buffalo were the resigning of pro bowl
receiver Eric Moulds, and the additions of Larry Centers and Nate Clements. A horrible offensive line and the fact that Rob Johnson is the only real quarterback on
this team spells trouble. This will be a long, treadful season in Buffalo. Projected Wins: 2.
The Titans didn't have the
offseason they were wishing for. After watching the AFC Championship slip away, the Titans lost defensive tackle Kenny Holmes and corner Dernard Walker.
However, they did manage to acquire Kevin Carter from the Rams, so the offseason wasn't a total wash. They were not able to find a go-to receiver for Air McNair,
although Derrick Mason has looked very impressive in both training camp and pre-season. I think the Titans will beat out the Ravens for the division title due to Jamal
Lewis' season-ending injury. The Titans have the second best defense in the NFL (best when it comes to yards allowed), and this will give them an excellent chance
of going to the Super Bowl again. Projected Wins: 13.
Last years' Super Bowl champions have improved.... until the loss of exceptional running back Jamal Lewis for the entire season. The Ravens
lost their primary back although they added probowl quarterback Elvis Grbac, elder back Terry Allen and tackle Leon Searcy. Although Baltimore lost
outstanding saftey Kim Herring, they still have the best defense in the NFL (although the Titans may argue that).
They will just be edged out by Tennessee. Projected Wins: 12. Expect another mediocore season from the Steelers . Kordell Stewart seems
to have regained his confidence, but he still does not have a stud receiver to throw to, nor does he have a center, since Dermontii Dawson left. The Steelers lost
long-time Steeler Levon Kirkland to free agency, as well as defensive end Kevin Henry. The Steelers did sign a few players this offseason. They signed offensive
guard Jeff Hartings, linebacker Mike Jones and XFL MVP quarterback Tommy Maddux. If I am correct in thinking the Steelers will have another average season,
one should wonder how long Pittsburgh will have Kordell Stewart at starting QB. Projected Wins: 8. The reason I have the Jaguars
finishing fourth in the AFC Central is that I believe that Mark Brunell and/or Fred Taylor will get injured. The Jaguars lost two offensive lineman (Leon
Searcy and Brendan Stai). Both Brunell and Taylor were banged up last season, so there is no telling what might happen to them this season. However, if Brunell,
Taylor, Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell all stay healthy, this team might win up to 11 or 12 games. Projected Wins: 7. The
Browns are a lot better than last year. They added numerous players this offseason, such as offensive linemen Tre Johnson and Ross Verba, tight end Ricky
Dudley, linebacker Dwayne Rudd and defensive linemen Mark Smith and draft pick Gerard Warren. Tim Couch will be back from injury, and will now have a decent
offensive line to rely on. This team is not a playoff team yet because of the numerous holes they have on their roster. They have no
true top wide receiver and their defensive backs are horrible. Unproven, James Jackson is the Browns' starting running back, although the Browns' coaching staff
believes him to be the answer to their running woes. Projected Wins: 6. Like the Browns, the Bengals made many
acquisitions this offseason. They resigned Corey Dillon, and they signed tackle Richmond Webb, QB Jon Kitna and defensive linemen Tony Williams and Kevin Henry.
They also added defensive end Justin Smith with their 4th pick in the draft. Also like the Browns, the Benglas have many holes. Their biggest hole is at quarterback.
They have the unproven Akili Smith and the erratic Jon Kitna competing for the starting job. Tight end and defensive backs are also a problem. Projected Wins:
The style of football in the AFC West is defense. All five teams in this division will be highly competitive and will have a top ten defense. I think the team that will
win this tough division is the team that won it last year. The Raiders made some key acquisitions on both side of the ball. They signed outstanding running
back Charlie Garner, as well as Jerry Rice. They lost Ricky Dudley at tight end, but picked up Roland Williams and Andrew Glover. They also added guard Frank
Middleton. All of these changes should make the Raiders' offense very dangerous. The Raiders lost defensive end Lance Johnstone, but added probowler Trace
Armstrong and linebacker Ryan Phillips. The race for this division title might go to the last week, but I think the Silver and Black will defend their title.
Projected Wins: 13. Right behind the Raiders will be the Denver Broncos. This defense is very tough. They added Chester
McGlockton and Leon Lett to the defensive line. New linebackers include Henri Crockett and Lee Woodall. The addition of Dernard Walker to their secondary is
huge. The Broncos did lose some players, however. Lester Archambeau, Glenn Cardez, Ray Crockett and Keith Traylor all left the Broncos. If they were able to
retain a few of those players, I would say the Broncos would win this division. The Broncos should do something about their running back situation. They have
three 1,000 rushers on their squad. Terrell Davis appears to be injured yet again, so Mike Anderson might turn out to be a 1,500 yard rusher this season. This team will be very close to
Oakland, but I think they will fall short because the Raiders have the slightly better defense. Projected Wins: 12. Right behind Denver and Oakland will be
the Seahawks. After a disappointing 2000 campaign, the Hawks made many improvements. Their defensive line is now top five with the
addition of John Randle, Chad Eaton and Jeremy Staat. Probowl linebacker Levon Kirkland and saftey Marcus Robertson were also added to this defense. Whether
the Seahawks make the playoffs or not will depend on QB Matt Hasselbeck. Mike Holmgren believes in this guy, and I believe in Mike Holmgren. I think Matt
Hasselbeck will do an excellent job as starting quarterback. The Seahawks took the best receiver in the draft, Koren Robinson and guard Steve Hutchinson. Ricky
Watters will remain the starter at running back for Seattle, but look for Shaun Alexander to get a significant amount of playing time. I think Seattle will sneek into
the playoffs as the third wildcard team. Projected Wins: 10. Not far from Seattle will be the Chiefs and the
Chargers. Kansas City signed premier quarterback Trent Green, who had the best QB Rating last season. They also added Priest Holmes, who is a Marshall
Faulk type runningback. Receiver Sylvester Morris is lost for the entire season, but the addition of speedy Tony Horne should ease some of that pain. He also
improves their return game tremendously. The Chiefs were very busy on the defensive side during free agency. Corner James Hasty and Chester McGlockton are
gone, but they added Ray Crockett and Glenn Cardez. I think the Chiefs are a few players away from being a serious Super Bowl threat. Meanwhile, the Chargers
were the busiest team in the NFL this offseason. A totally new offense that features quarterbacks Doug Flutie and Drew Brees, runningback LaDainian Tomlinson
and receiver/returner Tim Dwight should shock the NFL. San Diego's defense kept them in almost game last season, and they got even better. Probowl defensive end
Marcellus Wiley, linebacker Sam Rogers and corners Alex Molden and Ryan McNeil were added. The Chargers went 1-15 last season but were in every game. This
season, they might even make the playoffs with some Doug Flutie magic. I still think they are a couple of receivers away. Projected Wins: 8.
NFC Playoff Picture
The Rams and the Giants will receive byes. The Giants should have no problem stealing the Vikings' plays again (oops) I mean beating them again. In a nail biter, the
Eagles should upset the Saints. In the
second round of the playoffs, the Rams will slaughter the Eagles, while the Bucs will edge out the G-Men. In the NFC Championship, the Rams should clobber the
Bucs. The Bucs do not have the weapons to stay in a shootout with the Rams.
AFC Playoff Picture
The Ravens and Raiders will receive byes. Matt Hasselbeck's lack of expierence will hurt as the Dolphins will unless hell against the Seahawks in the first round.
No, Jamal Lewis, but the Ravens' defense will be too much for the very injury-prone Broncos. In what seems like a perfect second round, the Titans will play the
Ravens and the Raiders will play the Dolphins; both were second round matchups last year. The Titans won't make the mistakes they made last year and will beat
the Ravens, while Jay Fiedler will be more expierenced and will beat the Raiders. The Titans have been here before, and they will beat the Dolphins in a great
defensive AFC Championship.
2001 All-Walter Team (Offense)
QBs: Kurt Warner and Daunte Culpepper
HBs: Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James.
WR: Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss and Torry Holt.
TE: Tony Gonzalez
2001 All-Walter Surprise Team (Offense)
QBs: Matt Hasselbeck and Jay Fiedler.
HBs: Priest Holmes and Thomas Jones
WR: Matthew Hatchette, David Boston and Brandon Stokley