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Carolina in their mind

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USA Today has posted a list of media sources, and most agree that the Carolina Panthers will play in the Super Bowl in 2007. Who Carolina will play is up for debate (two sources picked the Colts), but the consensus is they will be there:

Athlon: Indianapolis defeats Carolina. Lindy's: Carolina defeats Denver. ProFootball Weekly: Carolina defeats Indianapolis. Sporting News: Pittsburgh defeats Carolina. Street & Smith's: Carolina defeats Denver.

Division winners:

*Athlon-- NFC East (Dallas Cowboys), NFC North (Chicago Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (New England Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

*Lindy's-- NFC East (Eagles), NFC North (Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (New England Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

*Pro Football Weekly-- NFC East (Washington Redskins), NFC North (Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

*Sporting News-- NFC East (Cowboys), NFC North (Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

*Street & Smith's-- NFC East (Cowboys), NFC North (Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

The other consensus is the Colts will take the AFC South, and the Steelers will gobble up the AFC North. Neither prediction is a gimme, especially the Steelers getting the AFC North. They didn't get it last year (even though they won it all), and this year they aren't as good talent-wise. Meanwhile thier division has gotten better with Baltimore adding Steve McNair and Trevor Pryce, Cincy bulking up their defense, and the Browns quietly building a very solid team.

As for the Colts: yes, they should win the AFC South. Talent-wise, no one comes close, not even the Jags who were slapped around by the Colts last year. Tennessee is in complete rebuilding mode. The team I have my sights on is the Houston Texans. The one thing that held that team back was incompetent management and coaching. Vic Fangio ran their defense, and we all know how utterly clueless Fangio is. Now, they have a new coaching staff, new management, and a new lease on things. I've always thought David Carr could perform (when his line actually BLOCKS something) and they have several key weapons on offense. The addition of Mario Williams will help their putrid defense, which has always been the main reason this team has underperformed.

Bottom line: the AFC South will be no cakewalk, but the Colts should prevail. Carolina is my pick as well for the NFC's Super Bowl representative. They have very few weaknesses, and they are very well coached. The general consensus among sports writers is either Indy or Pittsburgh will represent the AFC. I'm a little confused as to Street and Smith's and Lindy's predictions that the friggin' Broncos will play in the Super Bowl. They were demolished by the Steelers last season, and they have done very little to truly improve their roster: Jack Plummer is still thier QB; they lost Pryce, Putzier, and Mike Anderson; they gained a WR coming off major knee surgery.

And if the play the Colts in the playoffs again...

... well, let's just say Indy has their number. The one team I don't see on anyone's Super Bowl list is the Patriots, yet everyone has them winning the AFC East.