Here we are again. The pre-season is over, the rosters cuts have been made, the fantasy teams have been drafted and now finally in tomorrow night the 2014 NFL season begins. That means it's time for me to bust out the mushy prognosticator that's conveniently crammed into my skull. My predictions from last year went about as well as this past Super Bowl did for the Denver Broncos. It wasn't what you'd call pretty. Yes, I did correctly predict the aforementioned Broncos to make the big game, but other than that…not a solid year of picks. However, redemption is upon me and I vow live up to my lofty reputation.
East: The New EEngland Patriots (11-5)Yea…AGAIN. Jets? Yea right. Bills? Keep dreaming. Dolphins? Not a chance.
AFC North: The Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
The amazing thing here won’t be who finishes first, but who finishes last because for the first time in forever it seems like (on paper) Cleveland actually has a chance to contend for the playoffs. The Bengals have too much talent to fall completely in the tank. Not that it hasn’t happened before, but can you really see them doing worse than 8-8? That leaves the Steelers and Ravens. I couldn’t name ten guys on the Steelers, but I could still see them making a run at the playoffs before the Ravens. The Ravens problem is Joe Flacco. The guy is just not good enough on his own. They added (old) Steve Smith at WR and Ray Rice remains, but he is starting to show signs of breaking down. Not too hard to do when you have about 5,000 touches a season. Not to mention his two game ahem…”suspension” for striking his wife. Maybe they’ll be better off than they were a year ago, but I just don’t see it.
AFC South: Colts(10-6)
Houston was seemingly a lock to not only win the Division, but dominate the AFC playoffs and march right into New Jersey for the Super Bowl. Well, after winning their first two games, they managed to drop 14 FUCKING STRAIGHT GAMES. Not surprisingly, some turnover to the team was needed. Coach Gary Kubiak was given the old heave ho as was QB Matt Schaub who was shipped to Oakland for a seventh round pick. Yes, that same Matt Schaub who put up almost 5,000 yards in 2009. The same Matt Schaub who put up 3 seasons of 4,000+ yards. Not to mention a 2x pro bowler including one the season before in 2012. That guy was dumped for a 7th rounder. I’m not going to wax poetic about how crazy that is, but just know that it is nuts. In comes Jadaveon Clowney the number one overall pick who is poised to set the league on fire. It shouldn’t be too tall of a task with Brock Lesnar like J.J. Watt on the other side. Colts have to be concerned, but they are bringing their usual heavy arsenal of skill players to the table including newly acquired WR Hakeem Nicks. If Houston took a QB early in the draft or traded for or picked up someone decent, I’d feel a lot better about them. They didn’t so I’m sticking with Indy. Not to mention Arian Foster started to break down like RB’s with heavy workloads usually do. Andre Johnson is getting up in age and he’s frustrated with having to start over. Oh did I mention he’s starting over with journeymen QB Ryan Fitzpatrick? Yes that same Ryan Fitzpatrick who is on his third team in three years. The Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars continue their never ending rebuilding projects. Both acquired some nice talent in the draft, but it’ll probably be a few years before it all comes full circle. I have Jacksonville at 3-13 this year, but if they bench QB Chad Henne for rookie Blake Bortles they could eek out a couple of more wins.
AFC West: The Denver Broncos (12-4)
Putting my name on it now: This is Denver’s last chance. They had Kansas City breathing down their necks last year for most of the season and San Diego snuck into the playoffs as a six seed. Their young team is getting better and more confident. John Elway has loaded enough talent to make another run at a Super Bowl, but the window is shutting. Sooner than later, Peyton is not going to want to do this anymore. Then what? You think a defense with Demarcus Ware and Aquib Talib is going to hold it together? You think Wes Welker will play well enough without a Hall of Fame QB throwing to him? Its now or never boys so LAY SOME PADS ON SOMEBODY. Kansas City will take a surprising step back. They have a lot of talent, but they fell apart at the end of last season. Plus they didn’t do anything to improve their weak group of receivers, lost three offensive linemen and last I checked Alex Smith is still their Quarterback. I mean how many times can you throw a screen pass to Jamaal Charles for 18 yards? At some point you have to throw it down field and someone other than Dwayne Bowe has to be there to catch it because Dwayne Bowe stinks. Come on Chiefs! Football HARDER! San Diego who squeaked into the playoffs on a controversial field goal should be in the mix again as they continue to develop their young team behind veteran QB Phillip Rivers. The Raiders…will continue to be a league wide punch line because they just can’t seem to draft well nor do they sign free agents that are in their prime. Oakland has become the destination where careers come to die so get ready to wave goodbye to Justin Tuck, Matt Schaub, Carlos Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Lamarr Woodley and MJD this season.
Cleveland (9-7) – STOP THE FRIGGIN PRESSES. Lebron going back “home” will be the second greatest sports happening in northeast Ohio this year because the Browns are going back to the postseason. Think I’m crazy? I don’t think so. Even if Johnny Doucheballs sits, this is a good team. They were actually winning games with Brian Hoyer at the controls last year and looked good doing it. Sure all they have is has-beens and never-weres at WR (thanks Josh Gordon), but with Ben Tate leading the running attack, good QB play and a great defense you can overcome mediocre receiver play. Hell, if the 09 and 10 Jets did it with just about the same amount of talent, why not these guys?
San Diego (9-7)- Hey look everyone Phillip Rivers is back. Only he wasn’t hurt. He just sucked the three years prior to last season. The guy only had one of the biggest albatrosses around his neck (Norv Turner as a head coach) so naturally when everyone thought his days as a starter were over…BOOM. In comes Peyton’s right hand arm…man Mike McCoy and all of a sudden Rivers is on fire and the Chargers are back in the playoffs. I expect them to be here again.
- Denver (12-4)
- New England (11-5)
- Indianapolis (10-6)
- Cincinnati (10-6)
- San Diego (9-7)
- Cleveland (9-7)
Wild card weekend
Cincinnati def. San Diego
Indianapolis def. Cleveland
Indianapolis def. New England
Denver def. Cincinnati
Denver def. Indianapolis
Peyton shows Luck who the master still is. Frankenstein wins over young Frankenstein in the AFC.
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)
Between this division and the NFC south is enough to drive someone crazy. Every year someone different wins. There is usually one team who is surprisingly bad despite all the talent on the team. Two of the teams hover around .500. The forth is usually a weak division winner at 9-7 or 10-6. Maybe I should pick Washington since they play Dallas the final week of the regular season. It would be just like the last three seasons because the team to beat the Boys in that situation has won the division. No, I did not make that up. 2011- Giants, 2012 -Redskins, 2013 – Eagles. While that would be hilarious, I think the Eagles pull it off again. Dallas is the super bad team this year. I’d be shocked if they won more than four games. My beloved Giants could contend for a wild card if they can find the end zone more often than they did last year and in the pre-season this year. Washington could contend as well depending largely on the health of RGIII and their key defensive players.
NFC North: Detroit Lions (11-5)
Continuing the theme of a division that fails to live up to billing every year, here is the North with defending champion Green Bay who won it with a stunning 8-7-1 record on the last week of the season on a miraculous TD pass from Aaron Rodgers who got helped by a non-holding call. I think it was the NFL’s way of saying “sorry for the fail Mary play”. So who takes it? Probably whoever’s defense can play the best or at the very least not suck. None of these teams have a scary, unbeatable defense. Chicago’s defense was basically dead last a season ago in the entire league, Green Bay’s was nothing to write home about either. Detroit had/has the best of the group if they can stay away from the police blotters, the commissioner and the refs whistle. Minnesota has Adrian Peterson and other guys as well…moving on.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints (12-4)
Its hard to discount anybody in this division. Any of these teams could break out a double digit win season, but I think the Saints have the best shot this year. Carolina’s offense is shaky at best, Tampa has new everything, and Atlanta despite the improvements on the lines may still not have enough to contend. The Saints did drop some key offensive players (Darren Sproles & Lance Moore), but they’ve gotten younger and faster which suits what they do perfectly. Adding Jarius Byrd onto an already solid defense can’t hurt either. Saints look very strong going into 2014.
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
Prepare yourself for the mother of all division battles. Seattle and San Francisco were busy bloodying each other’s faces in 2012 and 2013when Arizona showed up out of nowhere and made it a three way dance for the division. San Fran stood tall in 12 and Seattle took it in 13. Will Arizona be able to snatch the belt this year? No. I know the last few Super Bowl champs have been a bust the following year with everyone jumping ship to get their big paydays, but this team has remained mostly intact. Also unlike recent champions (Steelers, Giants, Ravens) they were dominant all season long and used that dominance to absolutely crush the Broncos in the Super Bowl. They didn’t just get hot at the end of the regular season and tear through the playoffs. This is still a very capable team despite the loss of talent. While I do think it will affect them, it won’t have them on the outside looking in. As for the Rams – They have everything a winning team needs – a great run game , a great aggressive defense, and a smart and experienced head coach. The only thing they’re missing is a QB a.k.a. the most important position in all of sports.
San Francisco (11-5): While San Francisco has reloaded its offense, its defense certainly has its holes. Between injuries and off the field troubles the once mighty San Francisco defense isn’t looking so hot. However, they have yet to lose a significant contributor for the season so while they may struggle early I think they can go on a late run and make the playoffs again as the five seed.
Arizona Cardinals (10-6): The best in the west just keep on getting better. Arizona is going to be a very exciting team to watch. The have play makers all over the place. They’re well coached and have a good mix of young and proven players. Not only do I see them getting this spot, but they could gives teams a headache in the playoffs.
- New Orleans
- San Francisco
Wild Card weekend
Arizona def. Philadelphia
San Francisco def. Detroit
Arizona def. Seattle
New Orleans def. San Francisco
New Orleans def. Arizona
Like I said earlier, Arizona makes some waves, but ultimately comes up short in the conference finals against a complete Saints team.
Super Bowl XLVII
Denver Broncos def. New Orleans
Yes, I am going back to the well once more. As bad as Denver played in last years Super Bowl loss, it needs to be forgotten. Denver has reloaded especially on defense and is ready to be a more well rounded, attacking team. No more laying back on defense. They will bring the fight to the Saints and get the job done. Peyton gets his second ring and retires in one piece.