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Unlocked, and set to go

NFL sheds shaky offseason, kicks off this week

NFC South – Here’s another division crowded with fun possibilities. Atlanta has done everything but win in January, something that could haunt Matt Ryan soon if the trend doesn’t changes. New Orleans might zoom past the Falcons, anyway, with smart off-season signings and good players at every position. Tampa Bay, too, is trending upward, but 10 wins again might be asking a lot of the young Bucs. Carolina gave long-overdue Ron Rivera a coaching nod, and he’ll do well, especially if he allows Cam Newton to naturally grown, rather than rush him out when he isn’t ready yet.

NFC West – Just one favor to ask here – somebody please finish above .500? Seattle, St. Louis and Arizona can reach these minimum standards, all with attached strings. The Seahawks need someone to pass it to Sidney Rice. The Rams simply need to mature a bit more and are the safest bet, while the Cardinals have a keeper with Kevin Kalb (say that three times fast). Only San Francisco appears hopeless, and by October Jim Harbaugh might wonder why he left Stanford for this….then again, he might get the chance to draft Andrew Luck anyway.

Now, we have the obligatory don’t-bet-on-this-if-you-have-any-good-sense Super Bowl prediction. No matter how much the Eagles loaded up, they still don’t topple Green Bay, who will join the (sad to say it) Patriots in Indy for a real good vs. evil proposition. Or two other teams will make it, which is just fine. Just get it kicked off already.

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