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2012 NFL Season Outlook: Get Your Fill at CYInterview with Football Expert Phil Steele – Peyton Manning with the Broncos, What to Expect; Jets’ Sanchez vs. Tebow, Who’ll Own the Season? Odds on Favorite for Taking the Bowl that’s Super; Disappointments, Surprises, More

Last week we brought you our college football preview with football expert/magazine publisher Phil Steele [see here]. Today being the first Sunday of the NFL season, it’s time for our CYInterview NFL preview with Phil. Big stories for this season include Peyton Manning’s return to the field with the Denver Broncos – after sitting out last season with an injury – and the quarterback competition on the New York Jets between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. We discuss all of Phil’s predictions for the season. You can read the highlights of this CYInterview or listen to it in its entirety below:

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Phil predicted, in the preseason, that the New England Patriots will defeat the Green Bay Packers to win this year’s Super Bowl. Phil explains why the Patriots team is better than last year:

“They went out and got some solid additions on the defensive side of the ball. I think New England will have one of the most improved defenses in the NFL this year…The New England Patriots actually face the number 31 schedule in the NFL… Actually there’s a place there that put numbers on, the betting numbers on each NFL team for the entire NFL season, the Patriots are favored in all 16 games. So this could be a special season for the New England Patriots with that improved defense. That’s why I think they’ll get to the Super Bowl out of the AFC this year.”

The team with the most questions going into the NFL season is the New York Jets. Even with the quarterback battle, which has been frequently discussed in the media, between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, Phil isn’t concerned as he believes the Jets will win 10 games this year and make some noise in the playoffs.

“I rate their schedule number 24 coming into the year. So I think the schedule actually is manageable for them. When you look at the Jets, they’re a team that can play defense, they have the number five defense in the NFL last year…You look at their offense, you think well it’s going to be extremely poor this year, but keep in mind it is preseason football, they’re not game planning for opponents and I like what Tim Tebow is gonna bring to them. They’ll be able to use him at running back, wide receiver, wildcat quarterback. And I think his presence on the team is gonna push Mark Sanchez to be a better practice quarterback. That’s something that he struggled with in the past…This year I would say they’re a good chance to make the playoffs especially with everybody saying they’re not gonna make the playoffs this year.”

Though there is a lot of attention around Peyton Manning returning to the field with the Denver Broncos this year, Phil believes Manning will not be able to lead the Broncos to the playoffs. He has the San Diego Chargers winning the AFC West.

“I don’t know if Peyton Manning can recapture that 2010 form this year for two reasons. First of all, it’s obvious he is not 100 percent healthy so we’ll see how that impact is. And the second, he’s not playing with the same personnel, the same system he did in Indianapolis. I know they’re trying to modify things in Denver, get it to that area, but it’s not the same situation he was at in Indianapolis…San Diego takes on my number 23rd ranked schedule in the NFL this year. Denver meanwhile takes on my number sixth rated schedule this year so San Diego’s got the easier path to win that division and that’s why I call for the Chargers to get there.”

When it comes to prominent teams disappointing this year, Phil believes the New Orleans Saints will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009:

“My main question mark though with the Saints is this whole coaching thing they’ve got going on. Not only do they have an interim head coach this year in Vitt, Joe Vitt, but they also have an interim head coach to the interim head coach for four games. That’s really gonna be a tough thing to deal with. Plus in the NFC South, a team has never returned as a division champion…I think the Falcons take the NFC South and once again keeping that streak of the NFC South as never had a repeat champ.”

Last year the Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs losing to the Houston Texans in the first round. This year, however, Mr. Steele believes the Bengals will be the team in the NFL that will regress the most. He explains why the Bengals win total will fall off this year:

“Cincinnati is probably gonna be the team that regresses the most this year. Now when you look at the Bengals, they’re a team which I had sort of under the radar last year and they performed well… The schedule’s a lot tougher this year. They’re actually taking on my fifth toughest schedule in the entire NFL and that’s gonna make it difficult. Plus last year they really didn’t beat any playoff teams. Look how they did against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, 0-4 during the course of the season…When I line up the talent in Cincinnati, they don’t really line up as a playoff caliber team.”

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