Insider: 10 Bold NFC Predictions for 2012

We take a quick peek into our crystal ball and give our 10 Bold Predictions for the NFC for 2012.

1. Bill Cowher is introduced as head coach of the New York Giants.

The Giants will likely have to win out to make the playoffs and if they don’t it would appear that Tom Coughlin will be relieved of his duties. Although Cowher has said publicly that he’s not interested in returning to coaching next season, our sources say that the New York Giants job is one he’d leave the friendly confines of CBS for.

2. The Washington Redskins will draft a quarterback in the first round.

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has had two lackluster seasons in Washington and he won’t be able to survive a third without a legitimate answer at quarterback. The Redskins may need to trade up to get Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin and they’ll do whatever it takes.

3. Drew Brees will become the highest paid player in NFL history.

Drew Brees is having the best contract year maybe in the history of sports, as he’s on pace to shred Dan Marino’s 27-year old yardage record. Add in a deep playoff run and Brees’ value is off the charts. Expect to see the 32-year old to be inked to a deal that exceeds what Tom Brady and Peyton Manning received prior to this season.

4. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a backfield of Trent Richardson and LeGarrette Blount.

The Bucs have to go back to the drawing board as general manager Mark Domenik significantly overvalued the level of talent on his roster. With Matt Kalil and Morris Claiborne already off the board when Tampa Bay is on the clock, they will grab Alabama running back Trent Richardson who will combine with LeGarrette Blount for one of the best one-two punches at running back in football.

5. Tavaris Jackson will be the opening day starting quarterback for the Seahawks in 2012.

This late-season run has put the Seahawks too far back in the draft to get an elite signal caller. The team may look at a guy like Texas A & M’s Ryan Tannehill, but he won’t be ready to play right away.

6. Vince Young will not be on an NFL roster.

Vince Young has always been considered a talented guy with some maturity issues. In his few starts this season with the Eagles it appears as if the talent has gone the way of his maturity. To put it simply, he’s too big of a headache to justify the end result of having him on your team.

7. Alex Smith will begin the year as starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, but will not finish as the starter.

The 49ers will give Alex Smith a new contract in the offseason but they realize that he has limitations with his ability to throw the football. 2011′s success dictates that Smith his anointed the starter next season, but Colin Kaepernick will push him and eventually take over.

8. The Detroit Lions will have a sub-.500 record in 2012.

The Lions seem to be built for long-term success but the NFL is filled with stories of young teams that win one year and take huge steps back the next. Injury luck, young players regression and overconfidence usually play a role.

9. The Chicago Bears defense will be ranked 20th or worse in 2012.

The already “mature” Bears defense will have a difficult time maintaining a high level of play after another offseason of Lance Briggs complaining about his contract and the overall age of the linebacking corps. Add in the fact they play in a division with gunslingers like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Christian Ponder and they will allow a lot of yards in 2012.

10. The Dallas Cowboys will have the best regular season record in the NFC.

Dallas is really close to being an elite team this season as Tony Romo continues to play great football. With a full season from DeMarco Murray in 2012 and some obvious improvements that will be made in their secondary, the Cowboys will have a great chance of making a return visit to the Super Bowl.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie

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