Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 9/3/12

It’s here! The 2012 NFL season starts Wednesday night with the Cowboys visiting the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Here’s some interesting questions and answers for the upcoming season.

Peyton Manning: Will we see the old Manning or a new, not as awesome Manning?
I think we’ll see Manning get back to the Peyton of old. I do want to say that if I were a Broncos fan, I’d temper my expectations. It’s a new team, new receivers, and he’s had two neck surgeries. He’s expected to make an immediate impact, and I think he will. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are expected to have huge years because of Peyton. Expect about 30-35 touchdowns.

Number of players John Gruden will love:
All of them.

Number of wins Andrew Luck leads the Colts to this season:
7. (Last year I asked myself the same question about Cam Newton. Bingo!)

Will Matt Ryan will be a top flight quarterback after this season?
I think we’ll see Ryan surpass 40 touchdown passes this season. Why? I like new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s offense combined with big-time receiving threats (Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez). Jacquizz Rodgers is also going to get in on more of the offense. The only problem is if Matt Ryan and Mike Smith can’t win a playoff game, then it all doesn’t matter.

John Skelton is going to get hurt…or worse.
What do I mean by that? Look at the starting tackles for the Cards: D’Anthony Batiste and rookie Bobby Massie. Levi Brown is out for the season on IR and the running game might not be all that dependable with Beanie Wells battling injuries quite often, and Ryan Williams hasn’t had a regular season carry.

Can the Giants repeat?
Yes, the Giants definitely have a chance to repeat. They’re a team that’s been built to win and to continue to win. They’ve been able to lose good players and replace them with young players they’ve drafted and have had some decent success with free agency. Are they the favorites? Not at all. Remember, this is a team that finished 9-7 with the last NFC playoff seed in 2011. There’s no denying the star power on the G-Men (Manning, Nicks, Cruz, JPP, etc.), so even if it’s getting to December, I’m not counting the Giants out until they’re mathematically eliminated.

What kind of impact will Randy Moss have in San Francisco?
None. Next question.

Which teams will surprise?
I like the Bengals and Panthers as teams that will have surprising runs this year. I think Andy Dalton is just slightly underrated, but the defense is strong and I like BenJarvus Green-Ellis to have a good year. Not to mention AJ Green. As for Carolina, Cam Newton won’t have a sophomore slump and the running game will have two good rushers in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, plus the addition of Mike Tolbert. Brandon LaFell I think could have a bit of a breakout year. The big question will be the defense. Rookie linebacker Luke Keuchly is going to be the man. He’s had a good preseason and could make a world of difference.

Will this be Andy Reid’s last year as head coach of the Eagles?
I’m fairly confident that the Eagles will make it back to the playoffs this year. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are just an offense that will be too powerful and the defense will gel together better after last season.

Who’s going to get the first pick?
This is my list of teams that are in contention for being number one…and not in a good way: Miami, Arizona, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Minnesota). My top choice: Miami.

The playoffs:
NFC
East: Eagles
North: Packers – 2 seed
South: Falcons – top seed
West: 49ers
Wild Cards: Giants and Panthers
Team that just misses: Lions

AFC
East: Patriots – 2 seed
North: Bengals
South: Texans top seed
West: Broncos
Wild Cards: Chiefs and Ravens
Team that just misses: Bills

Wild Card games:
Bengals over Chiefs, Ravens over Broncos, Eagles over Giants, 49ers over Panthers

Divisional games:
Texans over Bengals, Ravens over Patriots, Falcons over Eagles, Packers over 49ers

Conference Title games:
Falcons over Packers & Texans over Ravens

Super Bowl XLVII (47 for those who refuse to remember Roman Numerals from school)
Texans 31
Falcons 27

If the Texans’ offensive superstars can stay healthy for a full season and their defense continues to get better under the tutelage of Wade Phillips. As for the Falcons, the defense needs to improve, but I think the switch from Mike Mularkey’s offense to Dirk Koetter’s will pay huge dividends for Atlanta. This is the year that Matt Ryan will get over the hump and step into the league’s elite quarterback club.

League MVP: Matt Ryan, Falcons (I picked him last year, too. Good call.)

Rookies of the Year:
Offensive: Andrew Luck, Colts
Defensive: Luke Kuechly, Panthers

Coach of the Year:
Gary Kubiak, Texans

Be sure to check out other great articles at 85% Sports.

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