2011 NFL Capsules

2011 NFL Capsules

Get ready for the first week of the NFL season by checking out our 2011 NFL Capsules. Read up on each division, team, and check out our encouraging quotes from Christians in the NFL. Sports Spectrum staff member Bryce Johnson provided his insight for the AFC, and Sports Spectrum Editor-in-Chief Brett Honeycutt gave his opinions about the NFC…

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
2010 Record:
14-2 (1st in AFC East)
Playoff Results:
Lost to Jets 28-21 in divisional round
Key Additions/Losses:
Chad Ochocinco bringing his traveling sideshow to New England is very interesting. If he buys into the “Patriot Way” then he will be a crucial piece to the puzzle.
Key to Success: If they want to win another Super Bowl, the defense must improve and take a little pressure off of the offense.

NEW YORK JETS
2010 Record:
11-5 (2nd in AFC East)
Playoff Results:
Lost to Steelers 24-19 in AFC Championship
Key Additions/Losses:
Plaxico Burress joining the Jets is a big story.  He is getting out of jail, so you have to be cautious with expecting too much. However, if he regains his old form…he could be a good addition.
Key to Success: Knowing how much to let Mark Sanchez handle in the offense. If they expect too much from him, it might get ugly, but if they stay balanced on offense…they will be fine.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
LaDainian Tomlinson
Quote:
“I understood God’s plan. I never really questioned God. I just felt like He knows everything. He knows the number of hairs on my head, so why would I ever question Him?”

MIAMI DOLPHINS
2010 Record:
7-9 (3rd in AFC East)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
The Dolphins are taking a moderate risk by bringing in running back Reggie Bush. He’s got a lot of talent when he stays healthy.
Key to Success: Chad Henne must play with confidence and prove he deserves to be a starting quarterback.

BUFFALO BILLS
2010 Record:
4-12 (4th in AFC East)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
The Bills stole a guy from a division rival (Jets), Brad Smith, who will give the Bills some different looks on offense.
Key to Success: They must run the ball effectively. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson need to become a strong one-two punch this year.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS
2010 Record:
12-4 (1st in AFC North)
Playoff Results:
Lost to Packers 31-25 in Super Bowl
Key Additions/Losses:
Getting players like Troy Polamalu fully healthy is all they needed.
Key to Success: They just have to be the Pittsburgh Steelers.  They know what to do.  The offense could be very dangerous if their deep receiving core emerges even more.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Dan Sepulveda
Quote:
“In spite of me, God continued faithfully guiding me along this path, even though I tried to mess it up. How many times has He been faithful despite our unfaithfulness.”

BALTIMORE RAVENS
2010 Record:
12-4 (2nd in AFC North)
Playoff Results:
Lost to Steelers 31-24 in divisional round
Key Additions/Losses:
The Ravens needed another wide receiver to compliment Anquan Boldin after they lost Derrick Mason, so they went out and got Lee Evans.
Key to Success: The defense needs to keep doing what they always do and Joe Flacco needs to put up bigger and more consistent numbers.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Head coach John Harbaugh
Quote:
“Any goal I can think of is grass to be burned up. It doesn’t have value because my imagination is limited. I want to be on God’s plan. So I let him figure out what path it’s going to be, and that opens up the whole spectrum of possibilities that I can’t even dream of or imagine.”

CLEVELAND BROWNS
2010 Record:
5-11 (3rd in AFC North)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Greg Little is a rookie wide receiver that the Browns have high hopes for. He gives Colt McCoy another target in the offense.
Key to Success: They are another team that needs to be patient and grow with their young players.  Colt McCoy needs to prove he is worthy of being their “franchise” quarterback.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Colt Mccoy
Quote:
“Most of my close friends know who I am. Most of my teammates know who I am. Being a Christian, sharing my faith and living for Christ is important.

CINCINNATI BENGALS
2010 Record:
4-12 (4th in AFC North)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
A.J. Green will become one of the next great wide receivers in the NFL. He will show glimpses of greatness as a rookie this year.
Key to Success:
They just need to develop their young nucleus. Andy Dalton is a rookie QB and he’s surrounded by other inexperienced weapons. They have to be patient with their growth.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Andy Dalton
Quote:
“My parents have done a great job. Every time I talk to my dad, he’s asking me if I’m reading my Bible. Every morning, he’ll text me something, like a Bible verse or spiritual saying.”

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
2010 Record:
10-6 (1st in AFC South)
Playoff Results:
Lost to Jets 17-16 in wild card round
Key Additions/Losses:
Rookie running back Delone Carter will have the biggest impact this season.  He will have a great chance to steal carries from Joseph Addai.
Key to Success: It’s all about Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.  If he can make it back healthy the Colts will have a chance to make the playoffs. Without him, they will be on the outside looking in.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Jeff Saturday
Quote:
“Any time you’re facing tough circumstances, you have to continually kind of build your faith. I have some great men here in the city, who I call upon, talk to, pray with and talk about where things are and what’s going on in my life, and that’s a tremendous help…”

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
2010 Record:
8-8 (2nd in AFC South)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Jacksonville surprised everyone when they released David Garrard.  However, the addition of rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert gives them hope for the future.
Key to Success: Running back Maurice Jones Drew will keep the Jaguars in games, but the defense will have to shut down teams if they want to win any games.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Aaron Kampman
Quote:
“Jesus is establishing His kingdom all over the world. We desire to be a part of it.”

HOUSTON TEXANS
2010 Record:
6-10 (3rd in AFC South)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Key Additions/Losses: Adding cornerback Johnathan Joseph to one of last year’s worst passing defenses should prove valuable.
Key to Success:
The offense will carry the Texans as far as they can go.  If quarterback Matt Schaub can get the ball to all of his weapons, they can win the division this year.

TENNESSEE TITANS
2010 Record:
6-10 (4th in AFC South)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will come in and help keep the Titans offense respectable. It’s hard to imagine Matt playing for anyone else other than Seattle though.
Key to Success: Running back Chris Johnson has to get back to a high level of play very quickly. It’s intriguing to see how his long holdout will affect his game and the team’s chemistry.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Matt Hasseleck

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
2010 Record:
10-6 (1st in AFC West)
Playoff Results:
Lost to Ravens 30-7 in wild card round
Key Additions/Losses:
Tight end Tony Moeaki had a great season last year for the Chiefs, but he got injured before this season started and he’s out for the year.
Key to Success: If Matt Cassel gets the ball to his multiple weapons and the offense plays even better than it did last year, the Chiefs will stay in the mix for an AFC West title.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
2010 Record:
9-7 (2nd in AFC West)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
The Chargers were able to re-sign wide receiver Malcom Floyd, so the Chargers’ top statistical offense from last year remains intact.
Key to Success: The “little things” have to go the Chargers way this season.  They have the talent, but they have to put it all together. 

OAKLAND RAIDERS
2010 Record:
8-8 (3rd in AFC West)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
The Raiders added rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore who had a very impressive training camp.
Key to Success:
If Darren McFadden can stay healthy and improve on his success last year, the Raiders will take a step in the right direction.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Jason Campbell
Quote:
“I’m not perfect by any means, but I know my strength comes from God. Without him, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today.”

DENVER BRONCOS
2010 Record:
4-12 (4th in AFC West)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
The Broncos needed a running back to compliment Knowshon Moreno, so they went out and got Willis McGahee to fill that role.
Key to Success: John Fox football is based on running the ball consistently and stopping people on defense.  If the Broncos can do that, they will have moderate success.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Tim Tebow
Quote:
“God has given me the opportunity to be a role model.”

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
2010 Record:
10-6 (Tied for 1st in NFC East, but won division based on tie-breaker criteria)
Playoff Results:
Lost 21-16 to Packers in wild card round
Key Additions/Losses:
Kevin Kolb, QB (loss); Steve Smith, WR (addition); Johnnie Lee Higgins (addition). Even though Kolb was only a backup, we saw how nice it was to have someone capable of stepping into the starting role last season (Kolb and Michael Vick were injured and both filled in for each other at one point last season). Adding Smith is the best addition, because of his playmaking ability, even though seemingly everyone is talking about the defensive backfield additions of Nnamdi Asomugha (CB), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB) and Jarrad Page (S). Higgins will surprise people with his ability and will be a quiet star.
Key to Success:
Everyone has to stay healthy and they will have to deal with constant media scrutiny after adding so many top-level players.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Michael Vick
Quote:
“I’m thankful for so many things in my life right now. I think most importantly I’m thankful that I’ve got my relationship back on track with God. It went south for a minute, and it was all my fault. He just had to bring me back to reality.”

NEW YORK GIANTS
2010 Record:
10-6 (Tied for 1st in NFC East, but lost division based on tie-breaker criteria)

Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs because of tie-breaker criteria.
Key Additions/Losses:
Steve Smith, WR (loss). This will hurt because he, like the Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers, had great playmaking ability.
Key to Success:
The pressure is off now, because it’s all on the Eagles, but a collapse like last year can’t happen again. If so, a coaching change will be in order.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
David Carr
Quote:
“If you want to fill that God-shaped hole, trust Jesus.”

DALLAS COWBOYS
2010 Record:
6-10 (Tied for 3rd in NFC East)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Kenyon Coleman, DE (addition); Marion Barber, RB (loss). Not many losses or additions that will hurt or help.
Key to Success:
Keeping team harmony and the owner happy will go a long way to making this team successful. Oh, and, keeping Tony Romo healthy, too.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Jason Witten
Quote:
“You hold yourself accountable and live it every day of your life. That’s what I’m called to do.”

WASHINGTON REDSKINS
2010 Record:
6-10 (Tied for 3rd in NFC East)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Donovan McNabb, QB (loss); Tim Hightower, RB (addition). I know McNabb wasn’t happy, but he still plays well and his loss will be felt in a big way. Adding Hightower, though, may shift the offense to a run-first or run-oriented type of system.
Key to Success:
Winning early will help, mainly because of the consistent losing recently. If the players see a familiar trend, they may shut down and you can kiss the season goodbye.

CHICAGO BEARS
2010 Record:
11-5 (1st in NFC North)
Playoff Results:
Lost 21-14 to Green Bay Packers in NFC Championship.
Key Additions/Losses:
Marion Barber, RB (addition); Greg Olsen, TE (loss); The addition of Barber will help the ground game, providing another weapon to compliment Matt Forte. Olsen will be noticeably missed despite what some have said about him getting lost in the Bears system in previous years.
Key to Success:
Play big in the big games. All the Bears needed to do in the NFC Championship was play like they had been playing most of the year, but they caved. A strong mental game is the key to winning the Super Bowl. Almost every team has talent.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Matt Forte
Quote:
“It’s easy to praise God and be all happy and tell everyone when things are going well. But when things go bad, how do you act, and what’s your character like?”

GREEN BAY PACKERS
2010 Record:
10-6 (2nd in NFC North)
Playoff Results:
Beat Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl.
Key Additions/Losses:
Brandon Jackson, RB (loss) and a ton of players on defense. Remember, defense was key to this team last year (although, the offense was pretty stout, too). Losing Jackson will hurt, but it’s yet to be determined how much.
Key to Success:
Distractions (from the media because they won the Super Bowl last season) and thinking they can repeat without doing the preparation. It’s hard to win a Super Bowl, but it’s even harder to repeat because everyone seems to be gunning for you.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Jordy Nelson
Quote:
“Knowing that people are watching, even if I’m not out speaking all the time, people will recognize the way I live my life. There are so many athletes that are eager to get up and talk, who memorize Scripture, and then go out and party and have affairs. The two don’t go together.”

DETROIT LIONS
2010 Record:
6-10 (tied for 3rd in NFC North)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Mike Bell, RB and Jerome Harrison, RB (additions). This should help an already potentially potent offense, if they can forget the recent past (of losing and losing big).
Key to Success:
Keeping quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy and not getting caught up in the preseason hype (some experts are saying this is a playoff team).

MINNESOTA VIKINGS
2010 Record:
6-10 (tied for 3rd in NFC North)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Donovan McNabb, QB (addition); Sidney Rice, WR (loss); Gaining McNabb was huge, because the Vikings are unsure about their other relatively untested quarterbacks. Losing Rice, though, won’t hurt as much as some think. Favre made Rice look good and McNabb has that capability, too. So, watch for some not-so-big-named receiver to get a lot of passes thrown his way this season.
Key to Success:
Just go out and have fun. After dealing with the attention from Brett Favre for two years, and after a losing season, it will be a welcome relief to not have all the attention.

ATLANTA FALCONS
2010 Record:
13-3 (1st in NFC South)
Playoff Results:
Lost 48-21 to Packers in divisional round
Key Additions/Losses:
Julio Jones WR (addition).  The Falcons traded a lot of assets to draft Jones.  He will be a great new weapon for Matt Ryan this year.
Key to Success:
Keep Matt Ryan (QB) and Roddy White (WR) healthy and keep the balance on offense that has helped the Falcons become a top NFL team.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Ovi Mughelli

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
2010 Record:
11-5 (2nd in NFC South)
Playoff Results:
Lost 41-36 to Seahawks in wild card round
Key Additions/Losses:
Darren Sproles, RB; Aubrayo Franklin, NT (additions); Reggie Bush, RB; Jeremy Shockey, TE (losses). Adding Sproles to the backfield and for returns will help tremendously since Bush was often injured. Franklin will help the defense. Shockey may not be as big of a loss as some expect because of the plethora of receivers that quarterback Drew Brees has.
Key to Success:
Relaxing and not having a target on their back like they had last season after winning the Super Bowl the previous season.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Drew Brees
Quote:
“God puts us in positions for a reason…you have to understand that it’s happening for a reason, and god is doing it to strengthen you.”

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
2010 Record:
10-6 (3rd in NFC South)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
None
Key to Success:
Staying grounded. There is excitement in Tampa Bay, especially after last season and also with the team being led by a young coach and young quarterback (Josh Freeman).
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Gerald McCoy
Quote:
“I just want to tell people to spend time with the Lord. People say that they don’t have time to pray or read their Bible. But God always makes time for you. Why can’t you make time for Him?”

CAROLINA PANTHERS
2010 Record:
2-14 (4th in NFC South)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Greg Olsen, TE; Jeremy Shockey, TE and Olindo Mare, K (additions); John Kasay, K (loss). The big names at tight end will show up each week and help rookie quarterback Cam Newton in the short passing game; Losing one kicker (Kasay) and gaining another (Mare) of equal value is a good tradeoff.
Key to Success:
Forget about the last year’s nightmarish season.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Jonathan Stewart
Quote:
“Jesus is my everything. We’re placed on this earth to glorify God and that’s about it. It’s simple to say, but hard to do, especially in the position I’m in right now.”

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
2010 Record:
7-9 (tied for 1st in NFC West, but won division based on tie-breaker criteria)
Playoff Results:
Lost 35-24 to Bears in divisional round
Key Additions/Losses:
Tarvaris Jackson, QB; Sidney Rice, WR; Zach Miller, TE (additions); Matt Hasselbeck, QB; Olindo Mare, K (losses). Getting Jackson isn’t an equal replacement for Hasselbeck, but adding Rice, especially since he was with the Vikings with Jackson, will help tremendously. Hasselbeck was the face of this franchise for a while, but it was time for a change. Losing Mare will only be felt if the Seahawks can’t put it in the endzone and have to rely on kicking.
Key to Success:
They have to get a consistent running game out of Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington.
Christian Athlete to Watch:
Justin Forsett

ST. LOUIS RAMS
2010 Record:
7-9 (tied for 1st in NFC West, but lost division title based on tie-breaker criteria)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Jerious Norwood, RB; Mike Sims-Walker, WR (additions). Norwood could be one of the breakout backs of this season and Sims-Walker could help Bradford to elite status in the league. The Rams needed a go-to deep threat, and they got it in Sims-Walker.
Key to Success:
The hype surrounding this team makes people feel like the time when Kurt Warner and Rams were the “greatest show on turf” and put up numbers like an arena football team. Time will tell, though. 
Christian Athlete to Watch:
James Laurinaitis
Quote:
“When football’s done, I won’t be depressed. You won’t see me struggling because my identity’s going to be in Christ all the time.”

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
2010 Record:
6-10 (3rd in NFC West)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Braylon Edwards, WR (additions); Aubrayo Franklin, NT (loss).
Key to Success:
 Learning coach Harbaugh’s offense will be key. When they do, this team will take off.

ARIZONA CARDINALS
2010 Record:
5-11 (4th in NFC West)
Playoff Results:
Missed playoffs
Key Additions/Losses:
Kevin Kolb, QB; Todd Heap, TE (addition); Tim Hightower, RB; Steve Breaston (losses).
Key to Success:
Two words – Kevin Kolb. He could lead the Cardinals back to the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl. The Cardinals are my darkhorse pick.