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    NFL Preview

    Last updated on 7/30/2012
    Last Updated: 9/10/2012 2:30 PM ET

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    The Predictalator has already played the 2012 NFL season 50,000 times before it's actually played. The Philadelphia Eagles turn their "Dream Team" into Super Bowl champions, winning it all league-high 18.0% of the time. In the most likely Super Bowl, Philadelphia defeats the New England Patriots 54.3% of the time and by an average score of 28-26. New England, the AFC's top-seed, wins the Super Bowl 14.2% of the time. The Green Bay Packers (9.2%), Houston Texans (9.2%) and Pittsburgh Steelers (7.2%) follow the Eagles and Patriots in Super Bowl likelihood.

    Below, we explain How This Works and breakdown every team division-by-division. In each team's preview, the "Most Important" players are those whose play is most critical to the team's success. Typically, they will be young, injury-prone or inconsistent players who could just as likely play well and help the team as play poorly or miss games to hurt the team. Also, the Offensive and Defensive Rankings are based on how many points a team would score (offense) or allow (defense) if each team played the same, league-average schedule.

    Since launching in January 2010, this remarkable technology is over 60% against-the-spread with football Locks of the Week, over 60% ATS with Paul's Picks in the NFL, college football and the NCAA Tournament, over 57% with "normal" or better picks all-time in the NFL, NBA and MLB combined and over 53% with all playable picks. And finally, with a perfect 2011 postseason, the Predictalator is now 20-3 against-the-spread in NFL playoff games. In 2011, Paul's Picks in the NFL went 49-28 (64% ATS) on the season, while preseason O/U picks are 36-26 (58% O/U) all-time. Check out the Shop now to learn more.

    See: How This WorksSeason Summary and Division Previews: AFC EastAFC NorthAFC WestAFC SouthNFC EastNFC NorthNFC West and NFC South

    How This Works
    Just as the Predictalator plays each individual NFL game 50,000 times before it's actually played, it can also play the entire NFL season 50,000 times before it's actually played. The actual 2012 regular season and playoff schedules have been played 50,000 times, allowing us to compute average records and likelihoods of each team making the playoffs, winning their division and bringing home the Super Bowl trophy.

    The Predictalator's technology is built to handle such a demanding task. Making sure that we have the best possible inputs for players' statistics, progression over time and age, roles, health and playing time as well as teams' coaching styles and weather are keys to the accuracy of the output.

    In general, we apply strength-of-schedule-adjusted, relevant statistics from every player's careers (weighted more heavily on the most recent 16 games) to a fairly traditional player development curve that considers age and previous playing time. Not only does this development curve help to set average inputs, it combines with health history to dictate the variance ("boom or bust" potential) of a player's inputs.

    Playing time estimation is more of an art than a science for all players who are expected to see significant starting time in 2012. That being said, gaps have been filled in by our best approximations of average bench and role players on teams. This has a very minor impact on average results.

    Once that math and statistical analysis is evaluated, importing a schedule and running the games 50,000 times each is simple.

    See: How This WorksSeason Summary and Division Previews: AFC EastAFC NorthAFC WestAFC SouthNFC EastNFC NorthNFC West and NFC South

    Season Summary

    The Philadelphia Eagles assembled an impressive roster heading into the 2011 season. Yet, with little time to prepare for the season with so many new parts, the Eagles lost four of their first five games, including three losses by a touchdown or less. The team finished the year on a four game winning streak and ultimately missed the playoffs by just one game. In total, the Eagles lost five of the seven games they played where the margin was seven points or less. Philadelphia was also incredibly unlucky, turning the ball over 38 times and suffering many critical injuries throughout the season. With a full offseason, a tremendous draft and some better fortune, the Eagles, who have the best roster in the NFL, look like the most likely team in the league to win it all. Even assuming starting quarterback Michael Vick misses two games on average (but he is assumed to be healthy for this playoff simulation), Philadelphia wins a league-high 10.8 games to take the NFC East, which has four teams projected to win 7.3 or more games, 56.9% of the time, ultimately making the playoffs 84.0% of the time. The Eagles go on to make the Super Bowl 29.5% of the time, winning it 18.0% of the time.

    It is not as necessary to make an argument about the New England Patriots. We expect this team to be in the playoffs and among the best in the league. Last season, New England was let down by its defense at points during the regular season and, ultimately, in its loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. The defense does not look much better, but that should not matter. The Patriots still rank as a top three team overall and as the best AFC team. The Patriots win the AFC East 61.3% of the time, earning the conference's top seed with an average of 10.7 wins. The Patriots take advantage of that homefield advantage to make the Super Bowl 26.6% of the time, winning it 14.2% of the time.

    The Eagles, San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills - replacing the New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals respectively - represent new teams in our most likely playoffs that did not make last year's post-season. Most notably, the Bills capitalize on several great offseason additions to finish .500 or better for the first time since 2004 and make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. 

    Looking at the results, as the New York Giants displayed last season and the Buffalo Bills clearly noticed when adding Mario Williams and others, while downfield passing offenses dominate the headlines, an elite pass rush is the ultimate equalizer. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers (who have a great all-around defense otherwise) and Atlanta Falcons make our most likely playoffs with a below-average pass rush. And, in our Preseason Team Win Total  O/U Picks,  we are favoring the "under" for only three teams with a top 12 pass rush. 

    Based on the analysis, here is the projected NFL 2012 Playoff bracket. It should be noted however, that this exact bracket only occurred 416 of the 50,000 seasons played by the Predictalator:

    AFC

    Wild Card Round
    #6 Buffalo 16 @ #3 Pittsburgh 23
    #5 Baltimore 20 @ #4 San Diego 21

    Divisional Round
    #3 Pittsburgh 17 @ #2 Houston 20
    #4 San Diego 24 @ #1 New England 34

    AFC Championship 
    #2 Houston 23 @ #1 New England 29

    NFC

    Wild Card Round

    #6 New York Giants 19 @ #3 San Francisco 20
    #5 Detroit 23 @ #4 Atlanta 26

    Divisional Round
    #4 Atlanta 17 @ #1 Philadelphia 26
    #3 San Francisco 19 @ #2 Green Bay 27

    NFC Championship 
    #2 Green Bay 24 @ #1 Philadelphia 28

    Super Bowl
    Philadelphia 28 over New England 26

    Other Info:
    Teams that should surprise (good): Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams
    Teams that should surprise (bad): Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings
    Most Important Player (AFC): Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
    Most Important Player (NFC): Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
    Most Important Rookie (AFC): Mike Adams, OT, Pittsburgh Steelers
    Most Important Rookie (NFC): Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

    See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North, NFC West and NFC South

    AFC East Preview

    New England Patriots
    Power Rank: 3
    Offensive Rank: 1
    Defensive Rank: 25
    Division Standing: 1
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 4
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected Record: 10.7 - 5.3
    Playoff Probabilities: 86.5%
    Super Bowl Win%: 14.2%
    Biggest Strength: Belichick-Brady(-McDaniels) Braintrust
    Greatest Weakness: Pass Defense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Brandon Lloyd
    Most Important Defensive Player: Steve Gregory
    Fantasy Stud: Rob Gronkowski
    Fantasy Dud: Deion Branch
    Fantasy Sleeper: Shane Vereen

    New York Jets
    Power Rank: 15
    Offensive Rank: 29
    Defensive Rank: 3
    Division Standing: 2
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 8.7 - 7.3
    Playoff Probabilities: 48.6%
    Super Bowl Win%: 1.9%
    Biggest Strength: Shutdown Pass Defense
    Greatest Weakness: Offense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Mark Sanchez
    Most Important Defensive Player: LaRon Landry
    Fantasy Stud: Defense
    Fantasy Dud: Everyone Else
    Fantasy Sleeper: Stephen Hill

    Buffalo Bills
    Power Rank: 17
    Offensive Rank: 22
    Defensive Rank: 12
    Division Standing: 3
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 4
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 8.6 - 7.4
    Playoff Probabilities: 53.5%
    Super Bowl Win%: 2.1%
    Biggest Strength: Offseason Upgrades (from Free Agency, Health and Draft)
    Greatest Weakness: Run Defense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Chris Hairston/Cordy Glenn
    Most Important Defensive Player: Stephen Gilmore
    Fantasy Stud: Fred Jackson
    Fantasy Dud: Scott Chandler
    Fantasy Sleeper: TJ Graham

    Miami Dolphins
    Power Rank: 27
    Offensive Rank: 25
    Defensive Rank: 17
    Division Standing: 4
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 6.5 - 9.5
    Playoff Probabilities: 13.6%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.2%
    Biggest Strength: Defensive Front Seven
    Greatest Weakness: Passing Game
    Most Important Offensive Player: Jonathan Martin
    Most Important Defensive Player: Richard Marshall
    Fantasy Stud: Reggie Bush
    Fantasy Dud: Everyone Else
    Fantasy Sleeper: Lamar Miller

    See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North, NFC West and NFC South

    AFC North Preview

    Pittsburgh Steelers
    Power Rank: 4
    Offensive Rank: 11
    Defensive Rank: 9
    Division Standing: 1
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 10 - 6.0
    Playoff Probabilities: 64.4%
    Super Bowl Win%: 7.2%
    Biggest Strength: Passing Game (Offense and Defense)
    Greatest Weakness: Running Game (Offense and Defense)
    Most Important Offensive Player: Mike Adams
    Most Important Defensive Player: James Harrison
    Fantasy Stud: Antonio Brown
    Fantasy Dud: Rashard Mendenhall
    Fantasy Sleeper: Isaac Redman

    Baltimore Ravens
    Power Rank: 8
    Offensive Rank: 20
    Defensive Rank: 2
    Division Standing: 2
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 8
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 9.1 - 6.9
    Playoff Probabilities: 53.3%
    Super Bowl Win%: 5.9%
    Biggest Strength: Defensive Core (even without Terrell Suggs)
    Greatest Weakness: Difficult Schedule
    Most Important Offensive Player: Torrey Smith
    Most Important Defensive Player: Paul Kruger
    Fantasy Stud: Ray Rice
    Fantasy Dud: Anquan Boldin
    Fantasy Sleeper: Bernard Pierce

    Cincinnati Bengals
    Power Rank: 13
    Offensive Rank: 21
    Defensive Rank: 6
    Division Standing: 3
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected Record: 8.1 - 7.9
    Playoff Probabilities: 28.3%
    Super Bowl Win%: 1.2%
    Biggest Strength: Young Offensive and Defensive Core
    Greatest Weakness: Run Offense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Kevin Zeitler
    Most Important Defensive Player: Taylor Mays
    Fantasy Stud: A.J. Green
    Fantasy Dud: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
    Fantasy Sleeper: Armon Binns

    Cleveland Browns
    Power Rank: 28
    Offensive Rank: 27
    Defensive Rank: 19
    Division Standing: 4
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 8
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected Record: 5.8 - 10.2
    Playoff Probabilities: 3.8%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.1%
    Biggest Strength: Youth and Athleticism
    Greatest Weakness: Inexperience and Mistakes
    Most Important Offensive Player: Brandon Weeden
    Most Important Defensive Player: Ahtyba Rubin
    Fantasy Stud: Trent Richardson
    Fantasy Dud: Ben Watson
    Fantasy Sleeper: Josh Gordon

    See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North, NFC West and NFC South

    AFC South Preview

    Houston Texans
    Power Rank: 6
    Offensive Rank: 15
    Defensive Rank: 5
    Division Standing: 1
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected Record: 10.3 - 5.7
    Playoff Probabilities: 91.7%
    Super Bowl Win%: 9.2%
    Biggest Strength: Explosive Playmakers (Offense and Defense)
    Greatest Weakness: Fragility
    Most Important Offensive Player: Matt Schaub
    Most Important Defensive Player: Kareem Jackson
    Fantasy Stud: Arian Foster
    Fantasy Dud: Andre Johnson (relative to most expectations)
    Fantasy Sleeper: Lestar Jean

    Tennessee Titans
    Power Rank: 26
    Offensive Rank: 17
    Defensive Rank: 29
    Division Standing: 2
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 8
    Projected Record: 6.6 - 9.4
    Playoff Probabilities: 11.5%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.2%
    Biggest Strength: Dynamic Offensive Playmakers (when healthy and motivated)
    Greatest Weakness: Defensive Front Seven
    Most Important Offensive Player: Kenny Britt
    Most Important Defensive Player: Alterraun Verner
    Fantasy Stud: Chris Johnson
    Fantasy Dud: Kendall Wright
    Fantasy Sleeper: Jared Cook (again)

    Jacksonville Jaguars
    Power Rank: 30
    Offensive Rank: 32
    Defensive Rank: 8
    Division Standing: 3
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 5.6 - 10.4
    Playoff Probabilities: 4.5%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.0%
    Biggest Strength: Maurice Jones-Drew (if he wants to play)
    Greatest Weakness: Blaine Gabbert
    Most Important Offensive Player: Blaine Gabbert
    Most Important Defensive Player: Tyson Alualu
    Fantasy Stud: Maurice Jones-Drew (if he wants to play)
    Fantasy Dud: Mike Thomas
    Fantasy Sleeper: Rashad Jennings

    Indianapolis Colts
    Power Rank: 32
    Offensive Rank: 31
    Defensive Rank: 27
    Division Standing: 4
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 4.6 - 11.4
    Playoff Probabilities: 1.5%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.0%
    Biggest Strength: Quarterback of the Future
    Greatest Weakness: Emphasis on "Future"
    Most Important Offensive Player: Andrew Luck
    Most Important Defensive Player: Tom Zbikowski
    Fantasy Stud: Reggie Wayne
    Fantasy Dud: Delone Carter
    Fantasy Sleeper: Vick Ballard

    See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North, NFC West and NFC South

    AFC West Preview

    San Diego Chargers
    Power Rank: 16
    Offensive Rank: 8
    Defensive Rank: 18
    Division Standing: 1
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 4
    Projected Record: 8.1 - 7.9
    Playoff Probabilities: 34.4%
    Super Bowl Win%: 1.5%
    Biggest Strength: Vertical Passing Game
    Greatest Weakness: Norv Turner
    Most Important Offensive Player: Robert Meachem
    Most Important Defensive Player: Jarret Johnson
    Fantasy Stud: Ryan Mathews
    Fantasy Dud: Defense
    Fantasy Sleeper: Vincent Brown

    Denver Broncos
    Power Rank: 14
    Offensive Rank: 10
    Defensive Rank: 22
    Division Standing: 2
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected Record: 8.0 - 8.0
    Playoff Probabilities: 41.0%
    Super Bowl Win%: 1.9%
    Biggest Strength: Pass Rush
    Greatest Weakness: Running Game (Offense and Defense)
    Most Important Offensive Player: Peyton Manning
    Most Important Defensive Player: Von Miller
    Fantasy Stud: Peyton Manning
    Fantasy Dud: Knowshon Moreno
    Fantasy Sleeper: Jacob Tamme

    Kansas City Chiefs
    Power Rank: 20
    Offensive Rank: 16
    Defensive Rank: 10
    Division Standing: 3
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected Record: 8.0 - 8.0
    Playoff Probabilities: 36.4%
    Super Bowl Win%: 1.2%
    Biggest Strength: Elite Talent Getting Healthy
    Greatest Weakness: Vertical Passing Game (or lack thereof)
    Most Important Offensive Player: Jamaal Charles
    Most Important Defensive Player: Eric Berry
    Fantasy Stud: Ryan Succop
    Fantasy Dud: Matt Cassel
    Fantasy Sleeper: Tony Moeaki

    Oakland Raiders
    Power Rank: 23
    Offensive Rank: 13
    Defensive Rank: 32
    Division Standing: 4
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected Record: 7.6 - 8.4
    Playoff Probabilities: 26.8%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.7%
    Biggest Strength: Run Offense (when Darren McFadden is Healthy)
    Greatest Weakness: Run Defense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Darren McFadden
    Most Important Defensive Player: Ron Bartell
    Fantasy Stud: Darren McFadden
    Fantasy Dud: Tight Ends
    Fantasy Sleeper: Carson Palmer

    See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North, NFC West and NFC South

    NFC East Preview

    Philadelphia Eagles
    Power Rank: 1
    Offensive Rank: 7
    Defensive Rank: 4
    Division Standing: 1
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 8
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 10.8 - 5.2
    Playoff Probabilities: 84.2%
    Super Bowl Win%: 18.0%
    Biggest Strength: Talented Roster
    Greatest Weakness: Schedule and Michael Vick's Health
    Most Important Offensive Player: Michael Vick
    Most Important Defensive Player: DeMeco Ryans
    Fantasy Stud: LeSean McCoy
    Fantasy Dud: NONE
    Fantasy Sleeper: Mike Kafka

    New York Giants
    Power Rank: 5
    Offensive Rank: 5
    Defensive Rank: 16
    Division Standing: 2
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected Record: 8.8 - 7.2
    Playoff Probabilities: 50.6%
    Super Bowl Win%: 4.7%
    Biggest Strength: Pass Rush
    Greatest Weakness: Run Offense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Ahmad Bradshaw
    Most Important Defensive Player: Michael Boley
    Fantasy Stud: Victor Cruz
    Fantasy Dud: Martellus Bennett
    Fantasy Sleeper: Rueben Randle

    Dallas Cowboys
    Power Rank: 7
    Offensive Rank: 9
    Defensive Rank: 13
    Division Standing: 3
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected Record: 8.4 - 7.6
    Playoff Probabilities: 43.4%
    Super Bowl Win%: 2.9%
    Biggest Strength: Explosive Offensive Playmakers
    Greatest Weakness: Meddling Owner
    Most Important Offensive Player: Dez Bryant
    Most Important Defensive Player: Morris Claiborne
    Fantasy Stud: Jason Witten
    Fantasy Dud: Felix Jones
    Fantasy Sleeper: Andre Holmes

    Washington Redskins
    Power Rank: 19
    Offensive Rank: 14
    Defensive Rank: 11
    Division Standing: 4
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected Record: 7.3 - 8.7
    Playoff Probabilities: 18.5%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.6%
    Biggest Strength: Balance (QB Improvement neutralizes previous greatest weakness)
    Greatest Weakness: Brutal Division
    Most Important Offensive Player: Robert Griffin III
    Most Important Defensive Player: Tanard Jackson
    Fantasy Stud: Fred Davis
    Fantasy Dud: Defense
    Fantasy Sleeper: Roy Helu

    See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North, NFC West and NFC South

    NFC North Preview

    Green Bay Packers
    Power Rank: 2
    Offensive Rank: 3
    Defensive Rank: 21
    Division Standing: 1
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected Record: 10.5 - 5.5
    Playoff Probabilities: 70.5%
    Super Bowl Win%: 9.2%
    Biggest Strength: Passing Offense
    Greatest Weakness: Pass Defense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Marshall Newhouse
    Most Important Defensive Player: Nick Perry
    Fantasy Stud: Aaron Rodgers
    Fantasy Dud: Donald Driver
    Fantasy Sleeper: Defense

    Detroit Lions
    Power Rank: 11
    Offensive Rank: 4
    Defensive Rank: 26
    Division Standing: 2
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 9.2 - 6.8
    Playoff Probabilities: 46.6%
    Super Bowl Win%: 3.0%
    Biggest Strength: Passing Game (Offense and Defense)
    Greatest Weakness: Running Game (Offense and Defense)
    Most Important Offensive Player: Jahvid Best
    Most Important Defensive Player: Chris Houston
    Fantasy Stud: Calvin Johnson
    Fantasy Dud: Jahvid Best
    Fantasy Sleeper: Mikel Leshoure

    Chicago Bears
    Power Rank: 18
    Offensive Rank: 19
    Defensive Rank: 14
    Division Standing: 3
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 8.6 - 7.4
    Playoff Probabilities: 35.5%
    Super Bowl Win%: 1.1%
    Biggest Strength: Run Defense
    Greatest Weakness: Offensive Line
    Most Important Offensive Player: Gabe Carimi
    Most Important Defensive Player: Chris Conte
    Fantasy Stud: Brandon Marshall
    Fantasy Dud: Devin Hester
    Fantasy Sleeper: Alshon Jeffery

    Minnesota Vikings
    Power Rank: 31
    Offensive Rank: 28
    Defensive Rank: 31
    Division Standing: 4
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 5.2 - 10.8
    Playoff Probabilities: 1.1%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.0%
    Biggest Strength: Pass Rush
    Greatest Weakness: Elite Division
    Most Important Offensive Player: Christian Ponder
    Most Important Defensive Player: Harrison Smith
    Fantasy Stud: Percy Harvin
    Fantasy Dud: Blair Walsh
    Fantasy Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph

    See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North, NFC West and NFC South

    NFC South Preview

    Atlanta Falcons
    Power Rank: 10
    Offensive Rank: 12
    Defensive Rank: 7
    Division Standing: 1
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 4
    Projected Record: 9 - 7.0
    Playoff Probabilities: 60.4%
    Super Bowl Win%: 4.1%
    Biggest Strength: Easy Schedule
    Greatest Weakness: Run Offense (Michael Turner Wearing Down)
    Most Important Offensive Player: Julio Jones
    Most Important Defensive Player: Akeem Dent
    Fantasy Stud: Julio Jones
    Fantasy Dud: Michael Turner (relative to most expectations)
    Fantasy Sleeper: Jacquizz Rodgers

    New Orleans Saints
    Power Rank: 12
    Offensive Rank: 2
    Defensive Rank: 31
    Division Standing: 2
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
    Projected Record: 8.5 - 7.5
    Playoff Probabilities: 38.4%
    Super Bowl Win%: 2.6%
    Biggest Strength: Drew Brees
    Greatest Weakness: Uncertainty with Coaching Staff and Defense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Drew Brees
    Most Important Defensive Player: Curtis Lofton
    Fantasy Stud: Jimmy Graham
    Fantasy Dud: Defense
    Fantasy Sleeper: Mark Ingram

    Carolina Panthers
    Power Rank: 21
    Offensive Rank: 6
    Defensive Rank: 23
    Division Standing: 3
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected Record: 7.4 - 8.6
    Playoff Probabilities: 22.8%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.7%
    Biggest Strength: Cam Newton and the Linebackers
    Greatest Weakness: Defensive Secondary and Pass Rush
    Most Important Offensive Player: Cam Newton
    Most Important Defensive Player: Ron Edwards
    Fantasy Stud: Cam Newton
    Fantasy Dud: Defense
    Fantasy Sleeper: David Gettis

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Power Rank: 23
    Offensive Rank: 30
    Defensive Rank: 16
    Division Standing: 4
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 5.1 - 10.9
    Playoff Probabilities: 1.9%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.0%
    Biggest Strength: Upgrades to Pass Offense
    Greatest Weakness: Overturning Roster and Coaching Staff
    Most Important Offensive Player: Doug Martin
    Most Important Defensive Player: Gerald McCoy
    Fantasy Stud: Vincent Jackson
    Fantasy Dud: Dallas Clark
    Fantasy Sleeper: Michael Smith

    See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North, NFC West and NFC South

    NFC West Preview

    San Francisco 49ers
    Power Rank: 9
    Offensive Rank: 24
    Defensive Rank: 1
    Division Standing: 1
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected Record: 9.2 - 6.8
    Playoff Probabilities: 62.7%
    Super Bowl Win%: 4.4%
    Biggest Strength: Defense
    Greatest Weakness: Offense
    Most Important Offensive Player: Alex Smith
    Most Important Defensive Player: NaVorro Bowman
    Fantasy Stud: Vernon Davis
    Fantasy Dud: Michael Crabtree
    Fantasy Sleeper: LaMichael James

    Seattle Seahawks
    Power Rank: 22
    Offensive Rank: 28
    Defensive Rank: 15
    Division Standing: 2
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 7.7 - 8.3
    Playoff Probabilities: 26.8%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.6%
    Biggest Strength: Run Defense
    Greatest Weakness: Uncertainty at Quarterback
    Most Important Offensive Player: Matt Flynn
    Most Important Defensive Player: Barrett Ruud
    Fantasy Stud: Defense
    Fantasy Dud: Kellen Winslow/Zach Miller
    Fantasy Sleeper: Robert Turbin

    Arizona Cardinals
    Power Rank: 24
    Offensive Rank: 18
    Defensive Rank: 24
    Division Standing: 3
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 8
    Projected Record: 7.1 - 8.9
    Playoff Probabilities: 22.2%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.5%
    Biggest Strength: Being Average (or just below in pretty much everything)
    Greatest Weakness: Being Average (or just below in pretty much everything)
    Most Important Offensive Player: Kevin Kolb
    Most Important Defensive Player: Patrick Peterson
    Fantasy Stud: Larry Fitzgerald
    Fantasy Dud: Todd Heap
    Fantasy Sleeper: Ryan Williams

    St. Louis Rams
    Power Rank: 25
    Offensive Rank: 20
    Defensive Rank: 28
    Division Standing: 4
    2011 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 5
    Projected 2012 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
    Projected Record: 7.0 - 9.0
    Playoff Probabilities: 14.6%
    Super Bowl Win%: 0.3%
    Biggest Strength: Young Pass Rush
    Greatest Weakness: Offensive Line
    Most Important Offensive Player: Roger Saffold
    Most Important Defensive Player: Cortland Finnegan
    Fantasy Stud: Stephen Jackson
    Fantasy Dud: Austin Pettis
    Fantasy Sleeper: Chris Givens

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