By Ken Murray
The easy choice in the AFC is always Peyton Manning and the Colts. Since they blew it last year, I'm staying away. I don't think the Patriots have enough defense. I don't buy the hype on the Jets. I think the Ravens have two big issues to resolve — right tackle and cornerback.
So, I'm picking the Chargers to win the AFC and reach the Super Bowl. I'm putting a lot of weight on Philip Rivers. They'll miss left tackle Marcus McNeill, but they can beat the Colts if they get that far.
As for the NFC, I don't believe the Saints can win back-to-back with that defense. The Cowboys are more flash than substance and the Vikings can't count on another great season from Brett Favre. So I'm going with the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. And I think the Packers will beat the Chargers in the Super Bowl 33-28.
Packers over Ravens
Los Angeles Times
The NFL has become a passing league, and two of the young, emerging star quarterbacks will lead their teams to Super Bowl XLV.
In the end, it will be the Packers over the Ravens. Aaron Rodgers showed last season that, far from being a fill-in for a legend, he's a ring away from joining the league's elite passers. He has very good receivers and an offensive line that's starting to solidify. The Packers should generate a better pass rush this season, and they have a very talented secondary.
As for the Ravens, Joe Flacco's first two seasons were remarkably productive — he's the fourth starting quarterback since 1970 to make the playoffs in his first two years — and now he has Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in his arsenal. That should be a robust complement to a defense that's always strong.
Jets over Packers
With the Super Bowl at Jerry Jones' Dallas palace this year, the Cowboys' owner would love for his team to be the first to play for an NFL title in its home stadium. Sorry Jerry, that's not going to happen.
The Cowboys should make the playoffs and could even make the NFC championship game, but this is the Packers' year. Aaron Rodgers could be the best quarterback in football and he will lead the pack to the Super Bowl against ... the Jets, who will defeat the Ravens for the AFC title.
Mark Sanchez will be the weakest quarterback to make the playoffs this season, but he is loaded with go-to weapons. And Rex Ryan's defense will shut down all opposition. The Jets will win the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969. But unlike Joe Namath, Sanchez shouldn't make any guarantees.
Ravens over Packers
A superb opening weekend will be highlighted by Monday's meeting between the Jets and Ravens.
The Jets, who have been compelling to watch on HBO's "Hard Knocks," couldn't make a Super Bowl run without cornerback Darrelle Revis and now that problem has been solved. But the Ravens have assembled a roster worthy of just as much hype and they have a better quarterback in Joe Flacco.
In the NFC, Aaron Rodgers is destined to win an MVP trophy soon. The Packers were a machine when offensive line woes were solved midway through 2009 and they'll begin this season operating at a high level. But as good as the Dom Capers defense was, it collapsed in the postseason and an aging secondary and iffy pass rush are concerns. The Ravens will triumph over the Packers.