Editor's note: Adam's bold predictions appear each week on ESPNBoston.com. You can listen to Adam Jones and Drew Brooks on ESPN Boston Radio every weekday live from noon to 2 p.m. and again 2-4. (Listen HERE)
With the NFL beginning this week, I figured I'd do some leaguewide predictions. I'll make Patriots predictions next week
1. Two AFC East teams will make the playoffs
It won't be the two you might think. Yes, the New England Patriots should win the division again (a topic I'll discuss in further detail next week), but I see the Miami Dolphins as the next-best team in the AFC East. My reasoning is twofold: (1) There's no chance Miami will go 1-7 at home again this season, and (2) the New York Jets are worse than they were last season. The Jets had the most underwhelming offseason of any contending team, and I believe that ultimately will come back to bite them. The Dolphins have enough talent -- especially on defense -- to overcome their issues at quarterback.
2. The Lions will be the NFL's breakthrough team
This one shouldn't come as a surprise to most Patriots fans, given how the Detroit Lions manhandled New England in Week 3 of the preseason. The Lions went undefeated in the preseason for the first time since 2008, when they finished 0-16. True, it didn't mean anything then, but with a stockpile of young talent in place - Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, Matt Stafford, Jahvid Best et al -- I'm guessing it will mean something this time around.
3. The Eagles will be the NFL's most disappointing team
I'm not saying they'll be terrible, but I can't see how the Philadelphia Eagles could possibly live up to the hype. They haven't won 12 or more games since 2004, yet people assume they'll become an elite team all of a sudden? Granted, they made a number of splashy moves this offseason, but, after Nnamdi Asomugha, how many were for impact players? Despite his contract extension, Michael Vick remains a question mark, and DeSean Jackson is capable of becoming a distraction after not getting an extension of his own. Ultimately, I think the Eagles will find a way to make the playoffs, but I believe the Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the division.
4. Roethlisberger will win NFL MVP
He's not exactly a model citizen, but I've never felt as though Ben Roethlisberger gets his due as a football player (especially in these parts). He led the Pittsburgh Steelers to their third Super Bowl appearance in six years last season and is just two years removed from an MVP-caliber season (66.6 completion percentage, 4,328 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2009). Now that all of his off-field distractions are (presumably) behind him, I expect this to be the year he brings home the hardware.
5. Steelers over Saints in the Super Bowl
Sure, it isn't the sexiest pick of all time, but I believe both teams are flying a bit under the radar, with the Eagles, Patriots and defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers receiving the most attention. Despite a first-round flameout, the New Orleans Saints avoided a Super Bowl hangover by winning 11 games last year. I know Pittsburgh has struggled coming off Super Bowl appearances in the past (8-8 in 2006, 9-7 in 2008), but the Steelers are too talented to discount solely on the basis of past failures. They are the most balanced team in the NFL, and I believe they will capture their third Super Bowl title since 2005 because of it.