FITZ BEAT By Larry Fitzgerald—Here we go!

Now it’s time for what we’ve been waiting for: The NFL regular season starts this week, along with the 10th anniversary of that horrific day 10 years ago, September 11.

The NFC North looks like the strongest Division in the NFL. The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, a wild card team with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, got hot last year and had the right stuff.

The Chicago Bears won the division, but the Packers captured the biggest prize. The division from top to bottom appears to be loaded. Donovan McNabb has something to prove in Minnesota. Detroit looks like they are ready to make a strong statement.

Get ready — this is going to be worth the price of admission. All four teams in the NFC North have good veteran quarterbacks, and all four teams have good strong defenses.

When it’s all said and done, injuries will be the biggest factor in who survives the season after the longest lockout in NFL history, where 500 free agents changed teams with no mini camps or OTAs.

What this season will tell us is who can really coach and which teams have the strongest organizational foundation. Remember, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

Here’s how I think, when it’s all said and done, the 12 playoff teams will qualify:

AFC East
1. New England Patriots 13-3*
2. New York Jets 11-5
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4*
2. Baltimore Ravens 11-5
3. Cleveland Browns
4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South
1. Houston Texans 10-6*
2. Tennessee Titans
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West
1. San Diego Chargers 12-4*
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Oakland Raiders
4. Denver Broncos

NFC North
1. Green Bay Packers 11-5*
2. Minnesota Vikings 10-6
3. Detroit Lions
4. Chicago Bears

NFC East
1. Philadelphia Eagles 13-3*
2. Dallas Cowboys
3. New York Giants
4. Washington Redskins

NFC South
1. New Orleans Saints 11-5*
2. Atlanta Falcons 10-6
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Carolina Panthers

NFC West
1. Arizona Cardinals 10-6*
2. St. Louis Rams
3. Seattle Seahawks
4. San Francisco 49ers

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to, or visit