Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
In the AFC, I like New England, Cincinnati, Houston and Denver winning their divisions, with Pittsburgh and San Diego emerging as wild-card teams. The AFC championship game I see is Cincinnati at Denver, and I can see the Broncos winning that to go on to the Super Bowl.
With the first legitimate off-season he's had in four years -- one in which he hasn't been recovering from an injury or searching for a new team -- Peyton Manning is well positioned to make a run at his fifth MVP award. What's more, Denver is probably stronger on the other side of the ball, and once that defense gets Von Miller back, it will be one of the best in the league.
In the NFC, I like Washington, Green Bay, Atlanta and Seattle to win their divisions, and San Francisco and Chicago as wild cards.
It’s something of an upset to have Seattle winning the West over San Francisco, and I predict the Seahawks will start slow (as Pete Carroll’s teams often do), but that’s a franchise I can see gathering momentum in the second half of the season. Here’s predicting the Seahawks will ride that momentum all the way to the Super Bowl, where they will beat the Broncos to collect the first ring in club history.
Losing Percy Harvin stings, but the Seahawks already have enough ways to score, on top of an outstanding defense.
Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Everyone keeps talking about the Patriots falling off but have no concrete evidence to support their argument.
Despite all the changes made this off-season, the Patriots play in the NFL's weakest division and have the offensive firepower to lead the league in scoring again.
Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant
Could the Giants advance to a Super Bowl being played in their home stadium? Never underestimate Eli Manning in the playoffs. He seems to elevate his game in the postseason.
But we’re not sure the Giants have quite enough skill to overcome Green Bay, Seattle or San Francisco. All three have quarterbacks capable of leading their team to East Rutherford.
Our pick: Seattle, which has a solid defense and rising star at quarterback in Russell Wilson. Pete Carroll, the former Jets coach who was laughed out of New York, will return to the region to lead his team on the big stage.
Nick Fierro, Allentown Morning Call
San Francisco wins the NFC West again and has to be considered the favorite to return to the Super Bowl. But its toughest competition could come within its own division, as Seattle has proved itself a contender as well.
The Seahawks will get a wild-card berth and will win at least one game, if not four. Count New Orleans as the second wild card and Atlanta, Washington and Green Bay as your other division winners. Atlanta and San Fran get the byes and should be good enough to advance to the conference title game, where Jim Harbaugh will not be denied if he makes it that far again.