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2014 NFL Season Preview and Predictions

Updated on October 7, 2015
(click column header to sort results)
AFC East  
Win  
Loss  
New England
11
5
Buffalo
7
9
New York Jets
6
10
Miami
6
10
Tom Brady
Tom Brady

Patriots

Bill Belichick can do no wrong in the media’s eyes. Yes, he is a Super Bowl winning coach and deserves all the praise he gets. He is going to have to change if the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl again. His ways have made him successful, but the game has changed and his system is falling behind.

Every year we hear about the great draft the Patriots have and yet we don’t see the results on the field. He hit on Tom Brady and that has been successful for him. His track record after that has been spotty at best. His track record in free agency and trades has suffered as well. He hit on Randy Moss and busted on Chad Johnson. I think this a critical year for the Patriots, not that Belichick will be fired. Can they beat the favored Broncos? I don’t think they’ve done enough. They’ll be in conversation, but they always are. I think it's safe to say that Belichick isn’t the defensive genius they said he was because his defense has been terrible for quite some time now.

Tom Brady is the backbone of this team. He is arguably one if not the best quarterback to play the game. I know the media loves Peyton Manning more, but I don’t. Brady is an elite quarterback, but he can’t do it by himself. He needs help from his defense. It remains to be seen if he will receive it. Brady will keep this team competitive but I don’t know if he has enough help to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are going to have to start thinking post Brady. I’m not saying they should move on but Brady’s only got so many years left. I know he wants to play into his forties, but that’s being wishful. You can’t outrun father time. Drafting Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round proves that. The Patriots are protecting themselves and thinking ahead.

The running back situation for this team every year seems unstable. Steven Ridley and Legarrette Blount both rushed for over 700 yards. Blount is gone, but Shane Vereen is in the mix. He only ran for 208 yards last season. There is talk that 4th round pick James White could possibly start. Your guess is as good as mine who will be the starter. They likely will use the running back by committee philosophy.

Julian Edelman did a good job in replacing Wes Welker. I have often felt like people inflated Wes Welker’s worth to the Patriots. He is a solid player, but he was not a key player in this offense. The Patriots wasted their time signing Danny Amendola. He can’t stay healthy. He is effective when he plays. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins flashed potential, but both are wildly inconsistent. Brady will elevate the play of his receivers, but their lack of overall consistency could keep them from winning another Super Bowl. Rob Gronkowski is the most important player in their passing game. When he is healthy, he’s arguably the best tight end in football. I know people love Jimmy Graham but when Gronk is healthy, he is a monster. Health has always been an issue with Gronkowski. It’s why he slipped in the draft. The Pats will be scary if they can get the Gronkowski that set a tight end record with 18 touchdown receptions. They added tight end Tim Wright in the Mankins trade. They are hoping he can be the second tight end in their multiple sets. Wright had a solid year in 2013 with 54 catches.

The Patriots offensive line is pretty solid. I don’t understand the trade of guard Logan Mankins. I know they wanted him to take a pay cut, but you just traded away your best lineman. That could come back to haunt them. I know he was getting older, but time will tell if they have a suitable replacement. Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Soldier are a good tandem at tackle. They don’t have many holes or concerns with this group.

The weakness of this team is its defense. It’s been a weakness for quite some time. The Pats were ranked 26th in total defense in 2013. That will have to drastically change if they want to win the Super Bowl again. Belichick hasn’t been able to scheme teams up like he use to. Some believe he was exposed after Spygate. I don’t think that’s the case. I do however believe his ego stands in his way. That whole Patriot way deal has become tired and he needs to get playmakers. They went out and signed Darrelle Revis, which I think was a good signing. They let their previous top cornerback Aqib Talib leave. I think that was smart as well. They also signed Brandon Browner the former Seahawk. I think that was a terrible idea. The guy is talented but he’s going to be suspended for the first 4 games of the season. He is also one suspension away from being gone for a year. Belichick likes to take chances on talented guys other teams have given up on. He had success with Randy Moss and Corey Dillion. He failed miserably with Chad Johnson and Albert Haynesworth. Will he strike gold again with Browner? We shall see.

Vince Wolfork is the glue of the defensive front. He clogs up the middle as well as anyone. Chris Jones did a solid job of providing a pass rush from the tackle position. He finished with 6 sacks in 2013. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich make a solid duo. They quietly combined for 19.5 sacks. Jones had 11.5 and Ninkovich finished with 8. Stats do lie at times. I don’t think opposing teams fear these two. They will need Jones to be more of a disruptive force. The potential is definitely there.

Dont'a Hightower and Jerod Mayo are a good duo at linebacker. The Patriots are hoping Jerod Mayo can bounce back after an injury shortened 2013 season. The Pats parted ways with Brandon Spikes. I don’t think he will be missed.

The secondary in 2013 was easily the weakest link of the unit. In 2014 it may become a strength. Signing Darrelle Revis was huge and Brandon Browner could pay big dividends as well. They can have Revis lock down the opponent's best receiver which would allow them to blitz more. Browner on the other hand isn’t as great in man to man coverage. He’s big and physical. He could make it tough for receivers to get off the line. These two should give Belichick more flexibility in play calling. It didn’t help with Talib. Talib played great but the defense as a whole didn’t. They are hoping to copy Seattle’s philosophy with two big corners. The problem is they don’t have Earl Thomas or anything close. Statistically Logan Ryan had a good season with 5 interceptions in 2013. The rest of the secondary is made up of Kyle Arrington, Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. Nothing special about that group. They better hope Revis can do for the Pats what he did for the Jets.

The Pats have owned this division. They still have Brady and Belichick and the rest of the division doesn’t. The Pats should finish 11-5 winning the division only to lose to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game again.




New England Patriots
11-5
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Miami
W
1-0
@Minnesota
W
2-0
Oakland
W
3-0
@ Kansas City
W
4-0
Cincinnati
L
4-1
@Buffalo
W
5-1
New York Jets
W
6-1
Chicago
W
7-1
Denver
L
7-2
Bye
 
7-2
@Indianapolis
W
8-2
Detroit
W
9-2
@Green Bay
L
9-3
@San Diego
W
10-3
Miami
L
10-4
@New York Jets
L
10-5
Buffalo
W
11-5
Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins

Bills

It’s really hard to be positive about the Buffalo Bills. They’ll be going through a lot this season. New owners and the possibility that they may move. It could be too much for a team that has a 2nd year coach and 2nd year quarterback. They traded away one of their most beloved players, Stevie Johnson. That’s a lot to overcome.

I like EJ Manuel. I think he could be a solid starting quarterback. He’s big and got a strong arm. He needs to work on his accuracy. He also needs to stay healthy. I just don’t know if I believe in the offense the Bills run.

CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson make a stout running back duo. Spiller ran for over 900 yards and Jackson was just a hair under 900. They are both dangerous in the receiving game. CJ is the home run hitter and Fred churns out the tough yards. Fred had 9 rushing touchdowns. Both are very injury prone and Jackson is getting up there in age. They traded for Eagles backup running back Bryce Brown. Brown is tough and elusive but he does fumble a lot.

I don’t get why they got rid of their best receiving option in Stevie Johnson. My guess is that he clashed with the head coach. Stevie had a down year. He only had 52 receptions, but he was still the guy that teams had to respect. I think he would have helped Sammy Watkins transition into the number one receiver. Now its all on Watkins and it could be really tough. Watkins has the potential to be the next big thing at receiver, but it’s going to be so much pressure on him now that Johnson is gone. The good thing is that tight end Scott Chandler is a reliable option. He led the team in receptions with 53. Who else is going to step up? The Bills traded for Mike Williams. Williams was an ok number 2 for the Buccaneers, but he’s coming off an injury riddled year. They are hoping he can return to form of his first 3 years where he averaged 60 plus catches a season. Robert Woods is shaky at best. He could turn out to be a solid number 3. There are a lot of questions with this receiving core.

There was an emphasis to bolster the offensive line through the draft. They took two tackles in Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson. Both of those players had concerns coming out. Kouandjio’s knees were a question and Henderson had substance abuse concerns. If Kouandjio’s health could hold up, he could be a 2nd round steal. He was seen as one of the better tackles in the draft. Henderson has some technical issues, but worth the risk as a 7th round developmental pick. They also took guard Cyril Richardson in the 5th round as well. I like Richardson and he should have a chance to crack the starting lineup. Tackle Cordy Glenn and center Eric Wood are penciled in as starters. They brought in Chris Williams in free agency to start at guard as well. This group as a whole will be new and may take some time to gel, which may be be bad news for EJ Manuel who battled injuries last year. Manuel’s health may not hold up while this unit gets it together.

The strength of this team is the defense. The Bills had a top 10 defense last year. Unfortunately, they lost their defensive coordinator who left to become the head coach of the Browns. They replaced him with former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. Schwartz was Jeff Fisher’s defensive coordinator for years with the Tennessee Titans. His defenses played well with the Titans and Lions. There shouldn’t be any drop off on this side of the ball.

The defensive line got after the quarterback last year. Mario Williams had 13 sacks and Jerry Hughes had 10 sacks at the defensive end position. Tackle Kyle Williams had 10.5 sacks and his counterpart Marcell Dareus had 7.5 respectively. They weren’t very good against the run. The Bills were actually 28th in run defense.

They were great against the pass. They finished 4th in pass defense. A lot of that can be contributed to the strong pass rush. Their pass defense could take a hit with the loss of safeties Jarius Byrd and Jim Leonhard. Free safety Aaron Williams had a good year, making 82 tackles and 4 interceptions. Da’Norris Searcy is an aggressive, strong safety that had 71 tackles, 1 interception and 3.5 sacks in 2013. They signed corner Corey Graham in free agency and hoping he and Stephon Gilmore can give them a solid duo at that position.


The team was dealt a major blow with the loss of linebacker Kiko Alonso for the season. His production from the 2013 season will be missed. Alonso had 159 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 interceptions. They brought in linebackers Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers in free agency to help improve the run defense. Their pass defense will take a hit with the loss of Alonso. He is one of the best coverage linebackers in the league. They are hoping 3rd round pick Preston Brown can step in and make an impact.


I think the Bills will play hard and compete. I just think they still have a lot of wholes and need EJ Manuel to make a giant leap. They need Sammy Watkins to be as good as advertised and the defense to continue to be in the top 10. That may be a tall order. I think they will finish around 7-9.

Buffalo
7-9
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Chicago
L
0-1
Miami
W
1-1
San Diego
L
1-2
@Houston
W
2-2
@Detroit
L
2-3
New England
L
2-4
Minnesota
W
3-4
@New York Jets
L
3-5
Bye
 
 
Kansas City
L
3-6
@Miami
W
4-6
New York Jets
W
5-6
Cleveland
W
6-6
@Denver
L
6-7
Green Bay
L
6-8
@Oakland
W
7-8
@New England
L
7-9
Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan

Jets

The Jets are a mess wrapped in potential. The team has the potential to be a playoff team, but the mess between GM John Idzik and Rex Ryan could derail that. Idzik wants people to know he’s in control, but his meddling could hurt Ryan’s ability to coach the team. Neither wants to relinquish control and that will doom the Jets and ultimately Rex Ryan as the coach. They could be successful if they could learn to work as partners like Pete Carroll and John Schnieder. Neither man seems interested in that. I think Idzik will finally get what he wants after this season and Ryan will be gone. Ryan isn’t Idzik’s guy and after having a good season with a rookie quarterback in 2013, Idzik was forced to keep him around.

Geno Smith had an up and down rookie season, but showed promise. Instead of getting him more weapons they bring in Michael Vick to confuse things. They don’t seem to believe in Geno based on their actions. If they struggle at any point people will clamor for Vick. That’s not the scenario you want as a Jets fan. Vick at this point is a backup QB. He can’t stay healthy and he turns the ball over too much. This move will shake Smith’s confidence and have the Jets in the same position again, drafting a quarterback.

The Jets were 6th in rushing in 2013. Not bad for a team without a star running back. Chris Ivory ran for 800 yards and Bilal Powell ran for 697 yards. They jumped at the chance at bringing on Chris Johnson. I don’t know if this is an upgrade. Johnson’s career has been in decline since he ran for 2000 yards in one season. He ran for over 1000 yards last season, but at only 3.9 yards a carry. They are hoping he can be the change of pace back. If he can, then good things can be in store for the Jets offense.

The Jets had to make a big splash in free agency at the wide receiver position to help their young quarterback and they did. Eric Decker was the number one available receiver in free agency. He’s coming off a big year in Denver. In 2013, Decker had 87 catches for 1288 yards and 11 touchdowns. He did that as the number 2 receiver in an explosive offense with a future hall of famer at quarterback. The Jet’s are hoping that production continues and that he and Geno can grow together, giving them stability in the passing game for years to come. The rest of the receiving group isn’t very good and that puts added stress on Geno and Decker. Jermey Kerley was the leading receiver with 43 catches in 2013. They drafted three receivers. Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa. Rookie tight end Jace Amaro could be an intriguing piece to the puzzle. If they can get him up to speed, the Jets could have a steal in the draft.

Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are dependable pieces on the line. They added Breno Giacomini. He is aggressive and at many times too aggressive. He has a knack for getting personal foul penalties. As a unit they are much better at run blocking than pass blocking. It’s good that both quarterbacks are mobile.

The Jets defense finished ranked 11th in 2013. It’s always been the strength of the team since Rex Ryan has arrived. They were 3rd against the run and 22th against the pass. So it wasn’t surprising that they took safety Calvin Pryor to shore up that secondary. Antonio Cormartie is gone. Now 2nd year cornerback Dee Milliner is the man. Milliner was shaky in his rookie season and now he’s claiming to be the best cornerback in football. We shall see. He’ll have to make a dramatic leap to achieve that.

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson had a strong season with 10.5 sacks. Throw in linebacker Calvin Pace’s 10 sacks and the Jets have a strong pass rushing duo. Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison are aggressive run stoppers. They brought in Jason Babin to help with the pass rush.

David Harris is the leader of the linebacker core. Harris led the team with 124 tackles. Quinton Coples hasn’t lived up to the hype. Another disappointing season from him and his time as a Jet could be over.

I just think the dysfunction between GM John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan will be too much to overcome and another mediocre season will do Ryan in. The Jets should finish around 6-10.


New York Jets
6-10
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Oakland
W
1-0
@Green Bay
L
1-1
Chicago
L
1-2
Detroit
W
2-2
@San Diego
L
2-3
Denver
L
2-4
@New England
L
2-5
Buffalo
W
3-5
@ Kansas City
W
4-5
Pittsburgh
L
4-6
Bye
 
4-6
@Buffalo
L
4-7
Miami
L
4-8
@Minnesota
W
5-8
@Tennessee
L
5-9
New England
W
6-9
@Miami
L
6-10
Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill

Dolphins

The Dolphins are hard to figure out. They spent a ton of money to improve their team last year. They really got no return on investment and had a shot at making the playoffs. This could be a make or break year for coach Joe Philbin. They have improved every year under him, but another mediocre year could make things tough.

QB Ryan Tannehill made a big jump in year two. He passed for 3913 yards, 24 touchdowns and had a completion percentage of 60. All improvements from his rookie season. It seems like the Dolphins have their quarterback position set. Now it’s time to build around him.

The running game is practically nonexistent. The Dolphins finished 26th in rushing. Lamar Miller finished with just over 700 yards rushing. They decided to bring in Knowsheon Moreno in free agency. Moreno had a strong season in a contract year for the Broncos. He rushed for 1038 yards, 10 tds, and had 60 receptions. The problem with Moreno is that he gets injured up frequently. I don’t think they can depend on him. It is essentially another contract year for him since they only signed him for one year. Hopefully for the Dolphins they can get the same production. That could be the boost they need to get over the hump. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.

Last year the Dolphins spent big money on Mike Wallace to improve their wide receiving core. I liked this move. Of course they bring in a guy that does something well and then try to force him into their system. What they should do is change their system to suit Wallace’s strength. Let him run deep and use his speed. They tried to force feed him into their West Coast offense scheme and he and the coach clashed. Wallace put up ok numbers with 73 catches for 930 yards. Ok is not what you want from your number one receiver, especially after you gave him a huge contract. He wasn’t even the leading receiver on the team. Brian Hartline led the team with 76 receptions for 1016 yards. Hartline and Wallace give Tannehill a strong pair of passing options. Tight end Charles Clay provides a nice security blanket for the quarterback. He had 69 catches in 2013. They took LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the 2nd round to add another play maker and depth to this unit.

The offensive line has to be the biggest concern on this team. You lose two starters based on the bullying scandal with tackle Jonathan Martin and guard Richie Incognito. So the Dolphins went out in free agency and grabbed former Chiefs Pro Bowl left tackle Brandon Albert. That was huge. Albert solidifies the blind side and Tannehill couldn’t be happier. They already have a Pro Bowl center in Mike Pouncey but he’s battling an injury that may get his season off to a slow start. Tannehill surely won’t be happy about that. They also added guard Shelley Smith and tackle Jason Fox in free agency. In the first three rounds of the draft they took tackles Ja’Wuan James and Billy Turner. There will be a lot of work to be done with all these new faces. So things could be a little dicey until they get things settled.

Miami’s defense wasn’t anything special last year. It has the potential to be a lot better this year. Defensive end Olivier Vernon led the team in sacks with 11.5 in 2013. Cameron Wake provided a solid rush on the other side with 8.5. Wake and Vernon gives them a decent pair of bookends. First round pick Dion Jordan struggled in his first season. He had only 2 sacks and was invisible most times. He has only made the pressure worse by having a four game suspension to start the season. There were rumors that the Dolphins were ready to give up on him after one season. He’s got a lot to prove and he’ll be behind the eight ball early. Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Earl Mitchell give them a strong group at tackle.

Last year the Dolphins went out and grabbed linebacker Dannell Ellerbe in free agency. Ellerbe didn’t live up to expectations. They have moved him to the outside and Koa Misi will be the middle linebacker. Phillip Wheeler led the team with 118 tackles. The linebacker group was the weakest part of the defense last year. They are hoping another year in the system and the move to the outside will help Ellerbe and strengthen this unit.

Brent Grimes has been a good addition to this team at cornerback. He had 52 tackles, 4 interceptions and a Pro Bowl berth in 2013. They brought in Cortland Finnegan to compete and add depth to the unit. Jamar Taylor and Will Davis could end up pushing Finnegan for that that starting spot. Jimmy Wilson will be the slot corner. The Dolphins let starter Chris Clemons leave with hopes of finding a play maker at free safety. They signed Louis Delmas in free agency. I don’t know if that’s much of an upgrade but they believe it is. Strong safety Reshad Jones was another high priced free agent brought in last year. He too struggled at times. They are hoping another year in the system will boost his confidence.

I just think the Dolphins are kind of stuck in mediocre and I don’t see any signs of them taking the next step. Actually, I think they take a step back this year and it could mean the end of Joe Philbin in Miami. I see them finishing around 6-10.

Miami
6-10
 
Opponent
Result
Record
New England
L
0-1
@Buffalo
L
0-2
Kansas City
L
0-3
@Oakland
W
1-3
Bye
 
1-3
Green Bay
L
1-4
@Chicago
L
1-5
@Jacksonville
W
2-5
San Diego
W
3-5
@Detroit
L
3-6
Buffalo
L
3-7
@Denver
L
3-8
@New York Jets
W
4-8
Baltimore
L
4-9
@New England
W
5-9
Minnesota
W
6-9
New York Jets
W
6-10

Pick the AFC East Winner

Who do you think will win the AFC East?

See results
AFC North
Win
Loss
Cincinatti
11
5
Baltimore
9
7
Pittsburgh
9
7
Cleveland
4
12
Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton

Bengals

The Bengals have become one of the more talented teams in the league. They are tough to beat, in the regular season. The playoffs have been another story. They are hoping this is the year that changes. It’s definitely going to be tougher with the loss of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Andy Dalton is improving every year he has been in the league, but somehow he is always underrated. Dalton does have his limitations but he deserves more credit than he gets. In 2013 he passed for 4293 yards and 33 touchdowns. However, things haven’t been so great in the playoffs. They are hoping new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson can help him improve with a balanced play call approach. I hear many experts and fans believing Jackson is an upgrade over Gruden. I don’t agree. I think Gruden at times is pass happy, but I think he had a lot to do with Dalton’s growth. I don’t know if Dalton and Jackson will gel as well.

The running game was not an emphasis of former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Hue Jackson loves to run the ball so you can expect more production out of the running back core. Ben Jarvis Green Ellis led the team in rushing with 756 yards. He was the guy to get the tough yards. He is now gone. His spot will be taken by LSU running back Jermey Hill, who was drafted in the 2nd round. Giovani Bernard was the star of this duo last year. He had an impressive rookie season rushing for 695 yards and hauling in 56 receptions. Bernard is a dual threat back. We may see him featured even more in the offense. He has earned it.

The receiving unit is impressive and is led by one of the best in the league A.J. Green. Green has delivered from day one and just continues to get better. He had a monster year in 2013 with 98 catches for 1426 yards and 11 tds. Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are solid number 2 and 3 receivers. Jones had 51 receptions and Sanu finished with 47. You can’t forget their talented tight end duo of Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Gresham had 46 receptions and Eifert pulled in 39. Throw in Benard’s ability to catch passes out of the backfield and Dalton’s got an impressive group of weapons.

The Bengals have done an exceptional job of putting together the offensive line. They have a Pro Bowl left tackle in Andrew Whitworth and a solid right tackle in Andre Smith. Kevin Zeitler is dependable at guard. They have a strong unit and not very many weaknesses here.

New defensive coordinator Paul Gunther takes over a talented group that Mike Zimmer left behind. The Bengals finished with the 3rd best defense in the league in 2013. It will be up to Gunther to keep up that high standard. The parts are there.

Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap give them a pair of strong pass rushers. Atkins finished with 6 sacks in 2013 and missed time due to injury. So you can expect that number to go up this year. Dunlap was tied for the lead in sacks with 7.5. He tied with defensive end Wallace Gilberry. They lost Michael Johnson to free agency and won’t miss him. That’s how much talent they have on the defensive line.

The Bengals took a chance on Vontaze Burfict and it’s paid off. Burfict led the team in tackles with 114. You can’t leave out Rey Maualuga, who is all out effort. Vinnie Rey played well when he got the chance.

The secondary has a balance of experience and youth. Leon Hall is coming off an injury, but when healthy is a solid cornerback Terence Newman and Adam Jones have the ability to start and play well when called on. Dre Kirkpatrick is making strides and could be a factor. They drafted corner Darqueze Dennard in the 1st round and was known as a cover cornerback coming out of Michigan State. Dennard could also push for a starting spot. His talent is that good. George Iloka and Reggie Nelson give them a good group of safeties on the back end.

This team will be a tough out for anyone. They are finally doing things the right way in Cincinatti. Can they win a playoff game? It will depend on if Andy Dalton can take the next step. They have put faith in him and now it’s time to deliver. I think the Bengals will win the AFC South and finish 11-5, but I don’t see them winning a playoff game this year.

Cincinnati Bengals
11-5
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Baltimore
L
0-1
Atlanta
W
1-1
Tennessee
W
2-1
Bye
 
2-1
@New England
W
3-1
Carolina
L
3-2
@Indianapolis
W
4-2
Baltimore
W
5-2
Jacksonville
W
6-2
Cleveland
W
7-2
@New Orleans
W
82
@Houston
W
9-2
@Tampa Bay
W
10-2
Pittsburgh
W
11-2
@Cleveland
L
11-3
Denver
L
11-4
@Pittsburgh
L
11-5
Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco

Ravens

Baltimore was the latest victim of the Super Bowl hangover. They lost a lot of key players from that Super Bowl team and struggled to find their identity in 2013. They have made some changes and I think coach John Harbaugh will have his team refocused and ready to fight again.

Joe Flacco bet on himself in 2012 and it paid off. He was the Super Bowl MVP, which helped him score a huge deal in 2013. There are huge expectations tied to a huge contract and Joe Flacco did not deliver. He was up and down in 2013. Flacco threw more interceptions than touchdowns. It was a rough season. They are hoping new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak can revive Flacco and get him back to protecting the ball and making big plays.

The biggest hope is that Kubiak can incorporate his effective zone read scheme he had in Houston. The running game struggled the most last year. Ray Rice wasn’t very good in 2013. He only rushed for 660 yards at 3.1 yards a carry. Rice still displays strong versatility in the passing game. He had 58 receptions last year. He will also be suspended for the first 2 games of the season. This leaves the door for backup Benard Pierce. Pierce has shown well when he’s received the opportunity. He just has to overcome injuries. If he produces in those first two games he could wrestle that starting spot away from Rice.

I felt like it was a huge mistake to trade Anquan Boldin. Many people trusted Ozzie Newsome’s decision. Why not? He has a great track record, but to me he blew it with this move. It showed in so many ways. He was Flacco’s security blanket and he went out and made all the tough catches. He was the unsung hero on that run to the Super Bowl. They felt the effects of his loss. It just made it easy for defenses to take Torrey Smith out of the game. Smith had his best statistical year with 65 catches for 1128 yards, but you expect more out of your number one receiver. They went out and grabbed released wide receiver Steve Smith in free agency. I know people think he will fill that void left by Boldin. I’m not one of those people. I think he is an aging receiver on his way out and at times he can be a pain to be around. Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones will be the number 3 and 4 receivers. A healthy Dennis Pitta at tight end should help this unit and give Flacco that security blanket he needs. Signing Owen Daniels gives them a quality backup behind Pitta.

The Ravens have a pretty good group at offensive line. There is no reason they shouldn’t play well. Tackle Eugene Monroe was a huge trade for the team last year. They have a Pro Bowl guard in Marshal Yanda. They traded for Jermey Zuttah who seems like he could be a good fit. Rick Wagner is replacing Michael Oher at right tackle and is probably an improvement. Barring injury, they shouldn’t have any major problems here.

The defense continues to be a strength on this team even though it's not as dominant as its been in the past. The Ravens had the 12th ranked defense. Not too bad for a team that lost a lot of leaders and talent last year. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Krueger and Dannel Ellerbe were lost last year. All were important in that Super Bowl run. Terrell Suggs is around and still an effective pass rusher. Suggs finished with 10 sacks last year. They also signed Elvis Dumervil in free agency last year to pair with Suggs. Dumervil had 9.5 sacks on the other side, giving them two solid rushers. You can count on the strong line play with Haloti Ngata and Chris Canty. Second round pick Timmy Jernigan could force his way into the lineup.

Daryl Smith was the leading tackler on this team with 123. He also had 5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. He had a delivered last year. They are hoping to pair him with rookie 1st round pick C. J. Mosley. Mosley and Smith could make a good duo on the inside with Suggs and Dumervil causing havoc on the outside.

The secondary is the weakest link on this defense. Jimmy Smith has been serviceable at cornerback, but hasn’t really lived up to being a 1st round draft pick. Lardarius Webb is the best of the bunch if they can keep him healthy. They lost Corey Graham in free agency and need to find a nickel cornerback. Matt Elam should settle in nicely in his second year at safety. He had big shoes to fill in replacing Ed Reed. Now he can just focus and let the game slow down. James Ihedigbo was productive last year, but he was lost in free agency. They picked up Darian Stewart in free agency. Stewart may be the place holder until 3rd round pick Terrance Brooks is ready to take over. It could be a long year on the back end for the Ravens.

The Ravens will have a tough time with consistency, but I think they will finish 9-7, which will be good enough for them to be a wild card team.


Baltimore Ravens
9-7
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Cincinnati
W
1-0
Pittsburgh
W
2-0
@Cleveland
L
2-1
Carolina
L
2-2
@Indianapolis
L
2-3
@Tampa Bay
W
3-3
Atlanta
W
4-3
@Cincinnati
L
4-4
@Pittsburgh
L
4-5
Tennessee
W
5-5
Bye
 
5-5
@New Orleans
L
5-6
San Diego
L
5-7
@Miami
W
6-7
Jacksonville
W
7-7
@Houston
W
8-7
Cleveland
W
9-7
Mike Tomlin & Ben Roethlisberger
Mike Tomlin & Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers

The Steelers are known for never firing coaches. If the Steelers don’t make the playoffs this year I’d be shocked if they don’t fire Mike Tomlin. That would be a shame because he’s a really good coach. I think they should fire offensive coordinator Todd Haley. He’s an ineffective play caller who has clashed with Ben Roethlisberger.

With all the clashing with Todd Haley, Ben Roethlisberger had one his best statistical years. He passed for 4261 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. He completed 64 percent of his passes. Makes you wonder why Big Ben wasn’t happy with Haley. Roethlisberger felt like the offense wasn’t vertical enough. We shall see if they can work things out this year.

The running game suffered from a major lack of production. Rookie Le’Veon Bell was the teams leading rusher with 860 yards. Jonathan Dwyer was the next leading rusher with 197 yards. The Steelers have moved on from Dwyer and picked up LeGarrette Blount. They are hoping Bell and Blount can provide that smash mouth, running style Steelers fans love. Third round pick running back Dri Archer could be an interesting weapon in this offense. They will use him as the third down back and can line him up in the slot to cause matchup problems. His speed could be a huge asset.

Mike Wallace left for greener pastures. The Steelers had a big void in their receiving core. Antonio Brown stepped up. Brown led the team in catches with 110. Add in his 1499 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns and their receiving void was filled. Unfortunately, no one else in this core was outstanding. The Steelers managed to lose their number 2 and 3 receivers in free agency. Emmanuel Sanders was a restricted free agent and signed with the Broncos. I don’t think the Steelers will will miss Sanders or Jerricho Cotchery. Heath Miller is still around and a solid target for Big Ben. They are hoping veterans Lance Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey make up for the loss of targets. They are expecting Markus Wheaton to make a big jump as well. Fourth round pick Martavis Bryant seems intriguing. If they can get him up to speed on the playbook he could give them that deep threat that they have missed since Mike Wallace left.

The Steelers have had to patch together this offensive line over the last few years. They have committed to making it stronger but they need them to be on the field. Center Maurkice Pouncey is the leader of this unit. If they are healthy, expect the running game to get back on track.

The defense is still solid, but no longer dominate like they did in the past. They finished ranked 13th. Their defensive line is in a transition period. Brett Keisel is back, but is getting up there in age. Cam Heyward stepped up last year. Ziggy Hood left in free agency. Steve McLendon is the nose tackle and they signed Cam Thomas to back him up. Second round pick Stephen Tuitt should provide a big lift to this unit.

Lawrence Timmons had a strong season at linebacker. Timmons had 126 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions. The rest of the linebacker core was disappointing. Jason Worilds led the team in sacks with 8. That was enough for the Steelers to franchise him. LaMarr Woodley’s play was declined and he was allowed to leave in free agency. Last years 1st round pick Jarvis Jones was very underwhelming with 30 tackles and 1 sack. They are hoping he can pick up the scheme in year 2. This years 1st round pick Ryan Shazier looks like he could be a dynamic play maker that can play inside and outside. He may breathe the life into this unit that they need.

When Troy Polamalu is healthy he is one of the better safeties in the league and teams need to be aware of where he is on the field. He lost his long time partner in crime Ryan Clark. Clark had lost a step and the Steelers chose to move on. They signed Mike Mitchell in free agency. Mitchell had a solid year with the Panthers last year. They are hoping he can replace Ryan Clark. Cornerback was a weak spot for this team last year and still could be in 2014. There is really nothing special about this unit. Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen should be the starters with William Gay as the nickel.

The Steelers are getting older and it seems that their run of consistency is over. They have missed the playoffs in the last few years. They will always be a tough out for teams. I think the Steelers will be 9-7 and just missing the playoffs again. That could lead to a few changes in the Steel city.


Pittsburgh Steelers
9-7
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Cleveland
W
1-0
@Baltimore
L
1-1
@Carolina
L
1-2
Tampa Bay
W
2-2
@Jacksonville
W
3-2
@Cleveland
W
4-2
Houston
W
5-2
Indianapolis
L
5-3
Baltimore
W
6-3
@New York Jets
W
7-3
@Tennessee
L
7-4
Bye
 
7-4
New Orleans
W
8-4
@Cincinnati
L
8-5
@Atlanta
L
8-6
Kansas City
L
8-7
Cincinnati
W
9-7
Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel

Browns

The Browns play in a division with teams that are models of consistency. The Steelers and Ravens have been consistently competitive for years. The Bengals have become consistent in winning the last three years. The Browns, however, have been consistently bad at pretty much everything. Browns fans thought things would have changed with a new owner. He has shown to be just as inconsistent in a short period as the last owner. Firing general manager Mike Lombardi and head coach Rob Chudzinski after one year. Enter Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine in their place. We shall see how that works out. I’m not sure about either hire. I wasn’t crazy when they hired Lombardi and Chudzinski. Pettine seemed to take the job after so many declined to interview. So excuse me if I’m skeptical. I don’t even think Pettine was on a lot of team’s radar as a head coach.

The Browns quarterback situation is just as murky as their coaching situation. They like Brian Hoyer, who played well for 3 games until he was injured. They draft Johnny Manizel in the first round. Not because he was on their draft board, but because he texted the owner and he made the decision. So the owner is already ignoring the new people he trusted to make the decisions. I like Johnny Manziel. He’s a wild card and you should try to build the offense to his strengths and not try to force him to be something he’s not. I’m just not sure his offensive coordinator likes him and is willing to do that. Kyle Shanahan has a history of clashing with quarterbacks with strong personalities. I don’t expect this to end well.

The Browns brought in Ben Tate to be their starting running back. Tate has shown potential when he got opportunities in Houston. He should put up big numbers as the starter in this offense. He should add stability to that position that they are looking for. He’s great in the zone running scheme and that’s a staple in Kyle’s offense. However, Kyle is a pass happy play caller that abandons the run too quickly. The Browns made a huge mistake in taking Trent Richardson in the 1st round a few years ago, but it was genius for them to trade him for another 1st pick. They definitely got the better of that trade.

Josh Gordon is an amazing receiver, unfortunately he won’t play for the Browns this season. It’s going to be a huge loss. In 2014, Gordon had 87 catches for 1646 yards and 9 touchdowns. Knowing that they were going to lose Gordon, the Browns really didn’t really address it with the draft or free agency. They brought in often injured, Miles Austin. They signed undersized Andrew Hawkins. The good thing is they still have tight end Jordan Cameron. Cameron had a big year as well. He hauled in 80 catches for 917 yards and 7 tds.

The offensive line will be switching to the zone blocking system which is featured in Kyle Shannahan’s offense. They have the talent to make this transition. Left tackle Joe Thomas is one of the best at his positions. Alex Mack is an exceptional center. Some feel like the right side of the line could be improved, but I think this line is pretty solid. They have more concerns at specialty positions than with this unit.

The Browns were a top 10 defense in 2013. They are hoping that they can continue that success in 2014. The Browns released D’Qwell Jackson and allowed T.J. Ward to leave in free agency. It was a little surprising considering they were the teams top two tacklers. Pettine is a former defensive coach so I’m sure he’s looking for guys who are better fits in his system. The Browns finished 9th in total defense. Pettine’s former team Buffalo, where he was the defensive coordinator finished 10th.

The team is hoping to get a bigger return in year two out Paul Kruger. He was a big time free agent last year and didn’t deliver the production they expected. Barkevious Mingo showed flashes in his rookie season, but also battled injuries. They are hoping one or both of those guys improve the pass rush on this team. No one is an outstanding rusher at this time and may need to bring more pressure. They brought in Karlos Dansby, who is a productive player and had a good year in 2013, but is on the downside of his career. I felt the same way when they signed Donte Whitner. They let two guys in their prime go for guys who are equally talented but older. I give them the benefit of the doubt because of the defensive head coach. Joe Haden is the star of this defense and one of the best cornerbacks in the league. They drafted Justin Gilbert in the first round and are hoping to pair the two for a long time. Tashaun Gipson proved to be a play maker at free safety. He made 95 tackles and picked off 5 passes.

This team is going to be a circus with Manziel and they brought it on themselves. They took a chance and want to change what makes him who he is. Who is in charge? Expect more of the same with this team. I think this team will finish 4-12 with more concerns again.

Cleveland Browns
4-12
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Pittsburgh
L
0-1
New Orleans
L
0-2
Baltimore
W
1-2
Bye
 
1-2
@Tennessee
L
1-3
Pittsburgh
L
1-4
@Jacksonville
L
1-5
Oakland
W
2-5
Tampa Bay
L
2-6
@Cincinnati
L
2-7
Houston
L
2-8
@Atlanta
L
2-9
@Buffalo
L
2-10
Indianapolis
L
2-11
Cincinnati
W
3-11
Carolina
W
4-11
@Baltimore
L
4-12

Pick the AFC North Winner

Who will win the AFC North?

See results
AFC South
Win
Loss
Indianapolis
11
5
Tennessee
5
11
Jacksonville
4
12
Houston
2
14
Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck

Indianapolis

General Manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano have done a good job in retooling this team and making it a consistent winner. Now it’s time to take the next step. They seem to get closer and closer each year. They lost their offensive coordinator Bruce Arian and replaced him with Andrew Luck’s college offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. They didn’t miss a beat. The continuity with Luck and Hamilton made the transition seamless.

Andrew Luck has been as good as advertised coming out of college. He was better in year 2 taking care of the ball. Luck is the single most important player on this team and they go as he goes. They need to establish a running game to take the pressure off of Luck. They can’t expect him to do everything.

The running game was dreadful last year. I think it was a huge mistake for Grigson to trade a 1st round pick for Trent Richardson. That was a move that just didn’t make sense. I know they were desperate, but that was a reach. Richardson did not deliver and was eventually benched. He finished the season as the second leading rusher on the team with 458 yards. To make matters worse, he only rushed for 2.9 yards a carry. They didn’t really address this position in the off season or the draft. Their leading rusher Donald Brown went to the Chargers and Vick Ballard is out for the season. They signed Ahmed Bradshaw last year and he couldn’t stay healthy. Their backfield is a mess.

Reggie Wayne had his season cut short in 2013. Wayne is an asset and a bonus, but the team proved last year they didn’t need him. He gives you another play maker that opens up avenues for others. I think T.Y. Hilton is the guy in this passing game. He is the guy that breaks games open. He just continues to improve and he and Luck will give the Colts a good tandem for years to come. Hilton proved he was more than just a deep threat last year by hauling in 82 catches in 2013. They signed Hakeem Nicks in free agency. It will be a great pick up if he can get on the field which you never know with him. Coby Fleener was Luck’s favorite target in college and they have brought that bond to the pros. They drafted Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief in the 3rd round of the draft to add depth. All in all this a good group of targets that are balanced with youth and experience.

The offensive line has been an issue since they drafted Andrew Luck. They have shuffled names in and out with this unit. No one on this unit is a stand out and remains to be seen if they will be starters past this season.

The defense has improved. It finished ranked 13th. They need to build on that and get better. They weren’t dominating, but were good enough to win games. Robert Mathis was a monster last year. He exploded for this team with 19.5 sacks. It’s going to hurt to lose him for the first 4 games of the season because of suspension. Someone is going to have to step up while he’s out. They also need someone else to take the pressure of Mathis. They brought in defensive end Arthur Jones who played in Pagano’s system in Baltimore. They scooped up D’Qwell Jackson in free agency as well. Jackson led the Browns in tackles last year and is an upgrade for this defense. The defensive backs are serviceable. No one to really be feared.

The Colts are a team that is trending up and still need to fine tune certain areas. I think this team will win the AFC South easily and finish 11-5.

Indianapolis Colts
11-5
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Denver
W
1-0
Philadelphia
L
1-1
@Jacksonville
W
2-1
Tennessee
W
3-1
Baltimore
W
4-1
@Houston
W
5-1
Cincinnati
L
5-2
@Pittsburgh
W
6-2
@New York Giants
L
6-3
Bye
 
6-3
New England
L
6-4
Jacksonville
W
7-4
Washington
L
7-5
@Cleveland
W
8-5
Houston
W
9-5
@Dallas
W
10-5
@Tennessee
W
11-5
Ken Whisenhunt
Ken Whisenhunt

Titans

The Titans hired a new coach after after another below average finish. Out is Mike Munchak and enter Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers last year. The Chargers finished 5th in total offense and the Titans are hoping Wisenhunt can bring some of that to their team.

The quarterback situation is still up in the air. There are many who aren’t sure about Jake Locker as a starter. I’m one who was shocked they didn’t draft one. Whisenhunt feels like he can help Locker. I don’t hold much stock in that because he couldn’t help Matt Leinhart when he was the coach in Arizona. The team’s success or failure will depend on Locker. They brought in Charlie Whitehurst as the backup. Whitehurst was the backup in San Diego and he knows Wisenhunt’s system. If they turn to Whitehearst you know the season is over. They did draft a QB in the 6th round. Zach Mettenberger is a project and is probably years away from being ready. It may be a long season in Tennessee.

The running game will be a major concern as well. Chris Johnson is gone and so too is their running game. He was in decline, but he was the teams leading rusher. Johnson rushed for over 1000 yards and the closest person to him was Shonn Greene with 295 yards. They drafted Bishop Sankey in the 2nd round and hope they’ve found their starter. They signed Dexter McCluster in free agency. McCluster gives them a weapon on 3rd down in the passing game. It will be interesting who will step up at running back. They have more concerns than answers here.

Kendall Wright emerged as the go to receiver in his second year. He had 94 receptions for 1079 yards. Nate Washington gives them a solid option at the 2nd spot. Washington had 58 catches for 918 yards. They are expecting to get more out of Justin Hunter in year two. If he can step up they could have a solid group of receivers. Delanie Walker gives Locker a middle of the field threat at tight end. Walker had a good year as a starter with 60 catches.

A major strength of this team is the offensive line. Michael Roos gives them a strong left tackle. Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack give them two sturdy starters in the middle of the line. They signed Michael Oher to shore up the right tackle spot and drafted tackle Taylor Lewan to add depth and potential starter down the road. Their offensive line will give them a chance to compete.

Tennessee’s defense wasn’t very good last year. I expect it to improve with Ray Horton as the defensive coordinator. Horton was the defensive coordinator in Cleveland last year and led that unit to a top 10 ranking. I like Horton and think he will get this defense in shape. He will bring an aggressive and attacking defense that may be the strength of the team. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey led the team in sacks with 10.5. Benard Pollard is an intimidating safety that plays like a linebacker. He led the team in tackles with 99. Jason McCourty is a capable corner, but no one in this secondary is exceptional in coverage. They let Alterraun Verner go in free agency. I think that was a mistake, but time will tell.

This team has a lot of questions on offense that I think Ken Whisenhunt can’t answer. I believe Ray Horton will get this defense ready to keep this team in games. I expect this team to finish around 5-11.


Tennessee Titans
5-11
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Kansas City
L
0-1
Dallas
L
0-2
@Cincinnati
L
0-3
@Indianapolis
L
0-4
Cleveland
W
1-4
Jacksonville
W
2-4
@Washington
L
2-5
Houston
W
3-5
Bye
 
3-5
Baltimore
L
3-6
Pittsburgh
W
4-6
@Philadelphia
L
4-7
@Houston
L
4-8
New York Giants
L
4-9
New York Jets
W
5-9
@Jacksonville
L
5-10
Indianapolis
L
5-11
Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles

Jaguars

Where do you start with the Jaguars? They were equally as bad on offense as they were on defense in Gus Bradley’s first year. I don’t see much changing for this team.

I like that they decided to draft a quarterback in the 1st round. What I don’t like is they aren’t expecting to start him right away. Yes, we know this team got burned by Blaine Gabbert. Get over it. This team is bad and I don’t know who they are fooling by starting Chad Henne. Henne is a backup quarterback at this point. This team isn’t close to winning a championship so just start the rookie and get him some much needed experience. They invested the 3rd pick in the draft on Blake Bortles. I think they should get him on the field and try to tailor the offense to his strengths. The only way he’ll learn is by playing. Many quarterbacks have started right away and taken their bumps and bruises and succeeded. Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning did. We get so concerned with the guys who failed playing earlier than with the ones who succeeded. I don’t believe Chad Henne gives you a better chance to win than Blake Bortles.

The Jags running game concerns me, like many teams in this division. Houston is the only team that doesn’t have a major question at running back. Their leading rusher Maurice Jones Drew is gone. Who is going to carry the ball for this team? They brought in Toby Gerheart in free agency. I don’t know if that is a reliable option. There is only a small sample size on Gerheart.

The receiving core has their share of questions. Justin Blackmon so far has been a waste. He’s gone for the year on a suspension. The Jags wisely went out and drafted two receivers in the 2nd round. Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson should get a chance to play early and often. Cecil Shorts led the team in receiving with 66 catches last year and looks like he’s going to be the first option. Marcedes Lewis is a talented tight end. He had a down year last year, but he missed games as well. Hopefully, for the Jags he bounces back.

This offensive line is terrible. I understand why they don’t want to play Bortles behind this line, but the like I said earlier, they knew this team was going to be terrible They aren’t fooling anyone. The Colts have played Andrew Luck behind a terrible line and he gives them a chance to win. I’m not comparing Bortles to Luck but I’m saying their situations are similar. They both have suspect offensive lines.

They spent a lot of money on defense to bring in players with experience with Bradley’s defensive system. Red Bryant and Chris Clemons played for Bradley in Seattle. They are hoping Clemons can provide a pass rush. He did play well in Bradley’s system in Seattle. Bradley hasn’t had the defensive success in Jacksonville like he did in Seattle. It’s going to take time to build that. Unfortunately, I don’t think Seattle’s success had much to do with Bradley. They won the Super Bowl after he left. I think Seattle’s success has to do with Pete Carroll. Paul Posluszny was the stand out player on defense. He led the team in tackles with 162. Rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien was active in his rookie season. He was the second leading tackler on the team. He was another bright spot on this defense.

This team is in the middle of a long rebuilding process that could turn interesting when they turn the reigns over to Blake Bortles. Based on their approach and philosophy, so far don’t expect much from this team. I think they will finish 4-12.

Jacksonville Jaguars
4-12
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Philadelphia
L
0-1
@Washington
L
0-2
Indianapolis
L
0-3
@San Diego
L
0-4
Pittsburgh
L
0-5
@Tennessee
L
0-6
Cleveland
W
1-6
Miami
L
1-7
@Cincinnati
L
1-8
Dallas
L
1-9
Bye
 
1-9
@Indianapolis
L
1-10
New York Giants
L
1-11
Houston
W
2-11
@Baltimore
L
2-12
Tennessee
W
3-12
@Houston
W
4-12
J.J. Watt & Jadeveon Clowney
J.J. Watt & Jadeveon Clowney

Texans

The Texans fell apart last year and fired Gary Kubiak. It was time for them to make a change. Last season was a mess. I heard so many people applaud the hire of Bill O’Brien. I didn’t like this hire at all. I know people hold him in high regard. I don’t really know why. Was it because he shouted at Tom Brady? Was it because he took over Penn State and kept the team competitive during a tough and disturbing situation? The answer is probably yes to both. The Tom Brady scenario reminds me of how Todd Haley screamed at Anquan Boldin and everyone became all impressed with Haley. He became a head coach and he stunk. I feel the same thing will happen to Bill O’Brien. I wasn’t as impressed with his two seasons at Penn State either. Yes, it was a tough time, but it was still Penn State and players still wanted to go there.

This team needed to address the quarterback situation. Matt Schaub lost confidence last year and it was time to move on. They decided to bring in Ryan Fitzpatrick to be their bridge quarterback. I think they would have been better to sign Michael Vick. Vick could give a team with talent a chance to win. They could allow 4th round pick Tom Savage to sit and learn. I just think Fitzpatrick is a good backup if you have your starting QB, he’s not the guy you want to trot out as your starter. They traded for Ryan Mallet at the end of the preseason which doesn’t make sense. It would have made sense to do this deal in the off season and get him ready to be the starter. It just goes to show they don’t know what they are doing.

They have one of the most complete backs in the league in Arian Foster. He was often injured last year and his production suffered. Ben Tate left in free agency, so there is some question about their running game. It was very effective under Gary Kubiak. Hopefully Arian Foster can return to form. It could be really interesting. They brought in Ronnie Brown to add depth at the position.

I feel like Andre Johnson would be more excited to play for the Texans if they brought in Michael Vick. He knows this passing game will struggle with Fitzpatrick at the helm. Johnson is the main reason why I thought they should bring in Vick. Those two could have made enough plays to make this team competitive. Johnson had a great year again in 2013. He had 109 receptions for 1407 yards. DeAndre Hopkins had a solid rookie season, making 52 catches for 802 yards. Garret Graham provides the team with a solid tight end. He hauled in 49 passes last year. I like the pick of C.J. Fiedorowicz in the 3rd round. He gives them a chance to go to two tight end sets.

The Texans have a solid offensive line. They don’t have many holes with this unit. They have solid veterans in center in Chris Myers and left tackle Duane Brown, two of the most important positions on the line.

The defense is good to go for the most part. They finished 7th in the league and have quite a bit of talent. Romeo Crennel is the new defensive coordinator and he’s got a reputation of developing good schemes to stop offenses.

J.J. Watt is a monster. He can change a game with a mere swat of the ball. The Texans absolutely made the right choice in taking Jadevon Clowney. These two will be wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. They can also mask any problems on the back end. Whitney Mercilus gives you another guy that can generate a pass rush, not to the level of Watt or Clowney but good enough to cause problems. Brian Cushing has battled injuries, but when he’s healthy he is a human hit machine. The secondary is pretty weak, but again the pass rush could mask that problem until they acquire the right guys.

I think this team is going to struggle based on a new coach trying to mold the team into what he wants. I also think he is the wrong guy to be doing so and this team will suffer another long year. They are a talented team with bad leadership. I expect them to finish near the bottom of the league again at 2-14.


Houston Texans
2-14
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Washington
L
0-1
@Oakland
L
0-2
@New York Giants
L
0-3
Buffalo
L
0-4
@Dallas
L
0-5
Indianapolis
L
0-6
@Pittsburgh
L
0-7
@Tennessee
L
0-8
Philadelphia
L
0-9
Bye
 
0-9
@Cleveland
W
1-9
@Cincinnati
L
1-10
Tennessee
W
2-10
@Jacksonville
L
2-11
@Indianapolis
L
2-12
Baltimore
L
2-13
Jacksonville
L
2-14

Pick the AFC South Winner

Who will win the AFC South?

See results
AFC West
Win
Loss
Denver
13
3
San Diego
10
6
Kansas City
8
8
Oakland
2
14
Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning

Broncos

The Broncos were humbled in the Super Bowl last year. That’s putting it nicely. They had it handed to them by the Seattle defense. What the Seahawks did to Peyton Manning was amazing. They set the tone early and just kept coming. It will be interesting to see if the Broncos can recover. They were aggressive in free agency, but I don’t know if it will pay off.

Peyton has a great regular season and it’s not news. At this point in his career we expect it. He’s one of the greatest to ever play quarterback. He threw for 5477 yards, 55 touchdowns an only 10 interceptions. All of that gets overshadowed by how bad he played in the Super Bowl. You have to give credit to the Seahawks defense, they caused him to play bad. It’s a little disturbing that Manning struggles in the post season. I don’t know if that’s going to change. I think that’s why they invested so much in the defense.

The Broncos let their leading rusher walk in free agency. Which is fine because they don’t really run the ball that much. They can easily slide someone into that place. Knowsheon Moreno rushed for over 1000 yards, scored 10 tds and caught 60 passes and he won’t be missed. Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman will pick up the slack and the Broncos offense will motor on.

Demaryius Thomas has developed into the receiver they hoped he would be when they took him over Dez Bryant. He can thank Peyton Manning for that. Manning always seems to raise peoples’ level of play that’s why he’s so great. Thomas had a killer year. He had 92 receptions for 1430 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Broncos again, let another productive player on their offense walk in free agency when they didn’t resign Eric Decker. Decker had an amazing year as well, but they had to decide to keep Decker now or lose Thomas later. They kept the right guy. I like Decker but Thomas is the clearly the best receiver. I don’t think they’ll have trouble making up for the loss of Deckers production. They brought in Emmuanel Sanders from the Steelers. Sanders had 67 catches in 2013 and that number will go up playing with Manning. They still have Wes Welker working in the slot. Welker had 73 receptions and 10 touchdowns and there will be more opportunities for him. Welker will be gone for the first 4 games of the season due to suspension. I don't think he'll be missed. Let’s not forget tight end Julius Thomas. Thomas had 65 receptions and 12 touchdowns. It seems like 2nd round pick Cody Latimer should factor in the mix as well. The Broncos have a wealth of riches in their receiving core.

This offensive line took a beating in the Super Bowl. They were exposed in that game. When Manning couldn’t get the ball out of his hands fast enough, they couldn’t sustain blocks. Again, you have to give credit to the Seahawks, but you know teams are watching that tape thinking let’s attack this line. Ryan Clady is still a solid left tackle. I think the rest of the guys are serviceable. Apparently the Broncos believe the line is fine and that it was one game. We will see if they will hold up.

People have always given this Broncos defense too much credit. I thought the defense wasn’t very good when Tim Tebow was the quarterback. Everyone said the defense carried the team. No, it didn’t they’ve always been around the bottom half of the league. When their offense couldn’t outscore the opposing team they were exposed.

The Broncos are banking on Von Miller returning to form after the embarrassment of that suspension last year. He never really got on track after he came back. They brought in Demarcus Ware, who is coming off a down year himself. If these two return to the double digit havoc, causing pass rusher they were, it’s going to be scary for opposing teams. The defense will be hurt by the loss of Danny Trevathan for the first few weeks. He was a play maker on this defense. He led the team in tackles with 129. Trevathan also had 4 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions. They allowed their best cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to leave. I think that was a good move because he was overrated. It was a wise move to let Champ Bailey go. He had become a liability in the secondary. They signed Aqib Talib which is a major upgrade, unfortunately, he misses too many games. They also brought in T. J. Ward at safety. They took Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby in the 1st round. Like most teams they are trying to follow the Seahawks model by improving the secondary.

The Broncos will be the team to beat in the AFC. I don’t think they will have any challenges in this conference. They should finish at 13-3 and AFC Champions again, only to be shut down by the same team two years in a row.

Denver Broncos
13-3
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Indianapolis
L
0-1
Kansas City
W
1-1
@Seattle
L
1-2
Bye
 
1-2
Arizona
W
2-2
@New York Jets
W
3-2
San Francisco
W
4-2
San Diego
W
5-2
@New England
W
6-2
@Oakland
W
7-2
@St. Louis
W
8-2
Miami
W
9-2
@Kansas City
W
10-2
Buffalo
W
11-2
@San Diego
L
11-3
@Cincinnati
W
12-3
Oakland
W
13-3
Phillip Rivers
Phillip Rivers

Chargers

The Chargers were one of the surprise teams last year. I don’t think many people expected much from this team. New coach Mike McCoy came in with a plan and executed it well. They lost their offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. I don’t think that it will be a big loss because McCoy had his hands all over this offense.

Phillip Rivers had a stellar year passing for 4478 yards, 32 touchdowns and completing 69 percent of his passes. If Rivers can continue that high level of play this team will be back in contention again. There is no reason to believe he won’t.

Ryan Mathews finally looked like a feature back. He had a career high in rushing with 1255 yards. Mathews, however, has a history of getting nicked up. They brought in Donald Brown to add depth. They have the versatile Danny Woodhead who is a major factor in the passing game. Woodhead had 76 receptions out of the backfield in 2013.

The Chargers got a steal in the 3rd round last year with receiver Keenan Allen. They found their number one target for years to come. Allen had a great start to his career by catching 71 passes for 1046 yards and 8 touchdowns. Malcolm Floyd’s season was cut short due to injury. They are hoping he can come back at full speed and give the team a legit number 2 receiver. Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal will battle it out for that third spot. Old reliable Antonio Gates led the team in receptions last year with 77. There is no one flashy in this group, but they are hard workers who get the job done.

The Chargers have a strong unit along the offensive line. They used multiple combinations last year and managed to allow the fourth fewest sacks in the league last year. It’s why Rivers and Mathews had such good years in 2013. The only player who remains in the same position as last year is center Nick Hardwick. There isn’t a superstar in the group, but they are a group of versatile guys that get the job done.

The defense wasn’t anything special last year. The one stand out on defense is safety Eric Weddle. Weddle led the defense in tackles last year with 115. This defense wasn’t very good at getting pressure, sacking the quarterback and forcing turnovers. That’s why they spent their 1st round pick on corner Jason Verrett and their 2nd round pick on pass rusher Jeremiah Attaochu. They are hoping that a healthy Dwight Freeney can provide a pass rush as well. I think defensive coordinator John Pagano has his work cut out for him. If this unit doesn’t improve there may be a new play caller.

This team has solid coaching and strong quarterback play. They don’t necessarily win pretty, but they find a way to win. They will need a drastic improvement on defense to go to the next level. I think they will return to the playoffs with a record of 10-6.

San Diego Chargers
10-6
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Arizona
W
1-0
Seattle
L
1-1
@Buffalo
W
2-1
Jacksonville
W
3-1
New York Jets
W
4-1
@Oakland
L
4-2
Kansas City
W
5-2
@Denver
L
5-3
@Miami
L
5-4
Bye
 
5-4
Oakland
W
6-4
St. Louis
W
7-4
@Baltimore
W
8-4
New England
L
8-5
Denver
W
9-5
@San Francisco
L
9-6
@Kansas City
W
10-6
Andy Reid
Andy Reid

Chiefs

Andy Reid performed a miracle in one season with this team. He took a franchise that was suffering for a while and made them into a contender. It was surprising because Reid was coming off two dismal seasons and a firing in Philadelphia. I think most thought they would improve just not that fast. It will be interesting to see if they can sustain it in a tough division.

Alex Smith came into last season with something to prove just like his head coach. Both men delivered and were so close to advancing in the playoffs. Alex proved that he did turn the corner and is a legitimate starting quarterback. I thought he benefited from playing in Jim Harabaugh’s system and doubted he could duplicate it here. Andy Reid has a good track record with quarterbacks as well. The marriage worked well in year one. Smith was efficient while throwing for 23 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions.

The Chiefs running game is the strength of the offense and Jamal Charles is lightning in a bottle. He is always one cut from taking it the distance. He is also a dual threat back. Charles rushed for over 1200 yards and caught 70 passes. He had 12 rushing touchdowns and 7 receiving. The offense begins and ends with him. If he gets hurt their season will be over. There isn’t another viable option behind him right now. They drafted running back De’Anthony Thomas in the 4th round. Thomas is a speedster that could cause match up problems in the passing game. He should replace what they lost when Dexter McCluster left in free agency.

The wide receivers were underwhelming last year. Dwayne Bowe finished second on the team in receptions behind running back Jamal Charles. Bowe had only 57 receptions. Donnie Avery finished second among receivers with 40 catches. They just don’t have any receiving options that scare anyone.

The Chiefs have the youngest offensive line in football. They have a lot of inexperienced players on this unit. I didn’t like the idea of letting a solid tackle like Brandon Albert leave. It was mainly because the team has salary cap concerns, but when you have a good left tackle you have to find a way to keep him. I know they had planned on moving Eric Fisher to the left side, but he struggled on the right side at times. We’ll see if he improves. This unit could be a problem as the season progresses.

Going into the season this defensive unit was a huge concern. Especially after they couldn’t close out the Colts in a playoff game last year. They blew a 28 point lead. That’s amazing unless you are a Chiefs fan. They have enough tools to be a solid defense. They weren’t very good as a whole in 2013 but individually they had guys who played well. Dontari Poe has become a major space eater in the middle of this 3-4 defense. Poe has become one of the better NFL defensive lineman and was rewarded by making the Pro Bowl. They have a good pass rushing duo in Tambi Hali and Justin Houston. Hali and Houston each recorded 11 sacks in 2013, while both making the Pro Bowl. Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson led the team in tackles and earned a Pro Bowl berth as well. They drafted Dee Ford in the 1st round to give them another pass rusher. The secondary is the weak link. They have safety Eric Berry and he’s a reliable play maker. They will need to sure up this unit if they expect to compete again in a division that boast two top passers in Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers.

It’s going to be tough for the Chiefs to repeat what they did in 2013. I don’t think they will be able to sneak up on teams this year. I think they will be competitive and finish 8-8.

Kansas City Chiefs
8-8
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Tennessee
W
1-0
@Denver
L
1-1
@Miami
W
2-1
New England
L
2-2
@San Francisco
L
2-3
Bye
 
2-3
@San Diego
L
2-4
St. Louis
W
3-4
New York Jets
L
3-5
@Buffalo
W
4-5
Seattle
L
4-6
@Oakland
W
5-6
Denver
L
5-7
@Arizona
W
6-7
Oakland
W
7-7
@Pittsburgh
W
8-7
San Diego
L
8-8
Derek Carr
Derek Carr

Raiders

The Raiders are simply a hot mess. It’s time to move from Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen. That’s the only way I can put it. It’s not working and it hasn’t worked.

I actually liked the move to bring in Matt Schaub. Schaub is coming off of a bad year, but he was on a team that just imploded. Then he comes to a team that is just a dumpster fire. I just think Schaub needed a change of scenery. He is not the Raiders answer at quarterback. He just gives them a starter that gives them a chance to compete. They desperately needed to make this move. They drafted Derek Carr in the 2nd round. I don’t particularly like Carr but again, I think the Raiders needed to make the move. If Carr becomes the quarterback people expect him to be it will be genius. I don’t get the decision to go with Carr over Schaub. This is the one situation where I think it makes sense to let the rookie sit. I don’t think he’s ready. Right now Schaub is the better quarterback and gives them a chance to win, especially after the failed Terrelle Pryor experiment.

The running back situation is a huge mystery. They let their leading rusher leave in free agency. They still believe in Darren McFadden. McFadden has tons of talent and no one can argue, but he can’t stay on the field. They keep investing in this guy and it doesn’t make sense. They also decide to bring in Maurice Jones-Drew, who is on the downside of his career. By the end of the season don’t be shocked if someone you’ve never heard of is the Raiders leading rusher.

The mystery continues with the Raiders wide receiving core. Back are their top two receivers Rod Streeter and Denarius Moore. They brought in James Jones. He is a guy with questionable hands. James Jones is intriguing because he has the ability and talent to be a big time receiver. He at times lacks focus. It will be interesting to see who comes out the number one receiver in that mix.

The Raiders offensive line was considered one of the worst in football last year. They have new starters at every position except center. Center Stefen Wisniewski is the leader of the group. They are hoping that Wisniewski and free agent left tackle Donald Penn can be the cornerstones of their line. I don’t think it can get worse than it was.

Dennis Allen became the Raiders head coach based on the believe that his defense in Denver was good. I always believed that defense was overrated. Allen’s defense with the Raiders hasn’t been good either. There aren’t many stand outs on this defense. They tried to overhaul it in the off season with veteran players on the downside of their careers. Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith and Carlos Rogers. The Raiders are hoping they can find the fountain of youth and give them a viable defense. It has worked in the past for the Raiders, but I’d be shocked if we see that with this group. The Raiders took Khalil Mack with the 5th pick in the draft. They are hoping he can be a dynamic play maker. I think they may have reached at this pick. It will make two years in a row that they took a chance one a guy in the first round and failed. Last years 1st round D.J. Hayden has battled injuries and it may be a while if they see any returns.

It’s going to be another long year in the black hole. Expect major changes in the front office and coaching staff at the end of the season. The Raiders will finish around 2-14.

Oakland Raiders
2-14
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@New York Jets
L
0-1
Houston
W
1-1
@New England
L
1-2
Miami
L
1-3
Bye
 
1-3
San Diego
W
2-3
Arizona
L
2-4
@Cleveland
L
2-5
Seattle
L
2-6
Denver
L
2-7
@San Diego
L
2-8
Kansas City
L
2-9
@St. Louis
L
2-10
San Francisco
L
2-11
@Kansas City
L
2-12
Buffalo
L
2-13
@Denver
L
2-14

Pick the AFC West Winner

Who will win the AFC West?

See results
NFC East
Win
Loss
Philadelphia
11
5
Washington
9
7
Dallas
8
8
New York Giants
8
8
Chip Kelly
Chip Kelly

NFC East

Eagles

Chip Kelly strolled into town and changed Philly’s fortunes quick. The Eagles were expected to finish last in the division and ended up first. Chip Kelly’s up tempo style of offense caught the NFL off guard. It will be interesting to see if the NFL will catch up to it in year two. It will be hard to slow this team down.

Nick Foles delivered an unreal season in his sophomore season. Nick Foles excelled in Chip Kelly’s offense. He threw 27 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions. That is truly amazing. No one should expect him to put up numbers like that two years in a row. I think he will play well and the Eagles have their franchise quarterback. Michael Vick is gone and replaced by Mark Sanchez. Mark Sanchez is the backup and should stay that way.

The Eagles have one of the best running backs in the NFL in LeSean McCoy. McCoy is a versatile running back that can kill you in the running and passing game. He ran for over 1600 yards and caught 52 passes. He really makes this offense go. They traded for Darren Sproles in the off season. Sproles is a versatile weapon that you play with McCoy. Sproles strength is in the passing game. He had 71 receptions last year with the Saints. The Eagles will be able to cause a lot of match up problems with these two backs.

The question marks in the offense will be the receiving core. They released DeSean Jackson in the off season because he clashed with Chip Kelly. This move may come back to haunt them. Kelly doesn’t believe it’s a big deal, but no other receiver on this team scares people like Jackson did. Riley Cooper played well as a number 2 last year, but won’t have Jackson drawing the attention of the defense this year. Jeremy Maclin is returning from injury and that should give them a boost, but he hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy. They took receivers Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the draft. Matthews may end up a solid receiver for this team in his rookie season. Brent Celek and Zach Ertz give them a group of athletic tight ends that can make plays. Chip Kelly bet on himself by cutting DeSean Jackson. If he’s wrong and this passing game struggles those boos will be directed at him.

The offensive line played well and a lot of that had to do with continuity. This unit started every game last year. You don’t do that unless you are delivering. They have a solid group led by their left tackle Jason Peters. That continuity we be disrupted this year with the 4 game suspension of right tackle Lane Johnson.

The defense hurt this team last year. They played well enough to win games. This defense will be the reason the Eagles won’t take the next step. They can’t really stop anyone. They have to blitz to manufacture a pass rush. Trent Cole is the only legitimate pass rusher on the team. He led the team with 8 sacks. They reached for a pass rusher in the 1st round of the draft. They took Marcus Smith and there are already rumblings that they aren’t happy with his effort. Linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks played well in this system last year. They were the top two tacklers. Corner Brandon Boykin played well leading the team in interceptions with 6. They signed safety Malcolm Jenkins in the off season to lift their secondary. I don’t think he’s that much of a difference maker. Don’t expect much of an improvement on this side of the ball with this team. They just have to hope their offense can outscore opponents.

The Eagles should win this division again at 11-5.


Philadelphia Eagles
11-5
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Jacksonville
W
1-0
@Indianapolis
W
2-0
Washington
W
3-0
@San Francisco
L
3-1
St. Louis
W
4-1
New York Giants
W
5-1
Bye
 
5-1
@Arizona
W
6-1
@Houston
W
7-1
Carolina
W
8-1
@Green Bay
L
8-2
Tennessee
W
9-2
@Dallas
L
9-3
Seattle
L
9-4
Dallas
W
10-4
@Washington
W
11-4
@New York
L
11-5
Jay Gruden & RG3
Jay Gruden & RG3

Redskins

The Redskins were as dysfunctional as you can get in one season. Mike Shanahan and RG3 going back in forth. Shanahan was leaking stories to the media to make himself look good or even sympathetic. The media fell for it at every turn. Shanahan is gone and Jay Gruden is taking over. Gruden has his work cut out for him. The Redskins are coming off a horrible 3-13 season. The good news for Gruden is that there is talent on the roster.

RG3 had a tough year coming off a major injury. His confidence took a major hit last year. I think he will bounce back and benefit from having a creative play caller in Jay Gruden. I believe RG3 will show the playmaking ability that made him the Rookie of the Year and turned the NFL upside down. Gruden’s offense in Cincinatti was among the leagues best. It will be far better than the predictable play calling from Kyle Shanahan. The Redskins have a capable backup in Kirk Cousins if RG3 goes down with an injury again.

The Redskins boast one of the top running games in the NFL. That shouldn’t change under Gruden. Gruden had a reputation in Cincinatti for being pass happy. I think by keeping Sean McVay as offensive coordinator they will keep the running game intact. Alfred Morris has been one of the top rushers in both of his two years in the league. He’s easily a top 5 back in the league. Morris rushed for over 1200 yards last year. Gruden wants him to work on his hands and become an option out of the backfield. Roy Helu gives them a solid backup and an option in the passing game.

The receiving unit got a shot in the arm with the signing of DeSean Jackson. Jackson is coming off a career year in Philly. He also comes in with a lot of baggage, which can be scary for a first time coach. Jackson had 82 catches, 1332 yards and 9 touchdowns. They are going to pair him with the man who lead the league in catches last year, Pierre Garcon. Garcon had 113 catches for 1346 yards. The two should make an explosive combo. They also brought in Andre Roberts, who can play outside and in the slot. Tight end Jordan Reed gives them a dynamic young tight end that causes match up problems. This unit could be scary in 2014.

The offensive line is a major question for this team. They have no worries at left tackle. Trent Williams is one the best at his position. They brought in Shawn Lauvao to shore up their left guard spot. The center and the right side of the line is awful. If the offensive line play doesn’t improve, RG3 will be in the dirt a lot.

The defense was one of the worst in the league last year and has been for years under Mike Shanahan. His defensive coordinator was Jim Haslett. Many wondered why they kept him as Shanahan got fired. I was one of those people. The word is that Shannahan meddled with the defense and undermined Haslett. Shanahan is gone and Haslett has a year to prove himself.

Brian Orpako and Ryan Kerrigan give the Redskins two strong pass rushers. The two combined for 18.5 sacks last year. They drafted Trent Murphy in the 3rd round to give them another pass rusher. They also signed defensive end Jason Hatcher. Hatcher had 11 sacks in 2013 for the Cowboys. They are hoping to improve their pass rush to make up for deficiencies in the secondary. Perry Riley led the team in tackles last year with 115. They are hoping to pair him with Keenan Robinson on the inside. Robinson is an athletic linebacker that is good in coverage. He is going to replace second leading tackler London Fletcher. Fletcher had become a liability in coverage and has been for years. The problem with Robinson is, he can’t stay healthy. The secondary is questionable at best. DeAngelo Hall had a good season last year, but he gambles too much in coverage. Corner David Amerson came on towards the end of his rookie season and maybe the team’s best cover cornerback. They have veteran safeties in Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather. Clark is on the downside of his career, but they are hoping his leadership can be of use. This defense is on paper didn’t improve that much. They are hoping that allowing Haslett to have complete control will change their fortunes.

The Redskins have a lot of questions, a new coach and a lot of talent. I think they will improve drastically with a healthy RG3 and a new coaching philosophy. I think they will finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.

Washington Redskins
9-7
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Houston
W
1-0
Jacksonville
W
2-0
@Philadelphia
L
2-1
New York Giants
W
3-1
Seattle
W
4-1
@Arizona
W
5-1
Tennessee
W
6-1
@Dallas
L
6-2
@Minnesota
L
6-3
Bye
 
6-3
Tampa Bay
L
6-4
@San Francisco
L
6-5
@Indianapolis
W
7-5
St. Louis
W
8-5
@New York Giants
L
8-6
Philadelphia
L
8-7
Dallas
W
9-7
Jerry Jones & Tony Romo
Jerry Jones & Tony Romo

Cowboys

Nothing can stop the Cowboys more than Jerry Jones constant meddling. Jerry needs to step aside and hire a real football guy to run his team. What he’s doing is not working and you know he feels he’s close. For the last four years the Cowboys were one game away from making the playoffs and have failed to win that final game. It’s amazing that head coach Jason Garrett still has his job, but he’s one of Jerry’s guys so it’s not surprising. Jerry has done everything he can to undermine Garrett and it shows in their lack of success.

No quarterback is more maligned than Tony Romo. He is the blame for every loss, according to fans. Cowboys fans saw first hand what it was like to not have him for that final game. Romo gives the Cowboys a fighting chance to win. Without him, they would be one of the worst teams in the league. Romo had a really good season in 2013. He threw for 3828 yards and 31 touchdowns. He only threw 10 interceptions, but people would have you believe he threw 50. Things are always over exaggerated with Romo. It should be noted that he’s coming off of a back injury, so that could slow him down this year. If it does the Cowboys are in serious trouble because they’d have to put their trust in back up Brandon Weedon. Just ask the Cleveland Browns how that worked out.

The Cowboys have a solid running back in Demarco Murray. He is often injured, but he is good enough to make plays for this team. The problem is the team often abandons the running game for reasons unknown to everyone. With all that said, Murray rushed for 1121 yards and 9 touchdowns. He averaged 5.2 yards a carry. They just need to feed him the ball. He was also a threat in the passing game. Murray was 3rd on the team in receptions with 53. If Murray goes down, they don’t have a reliable back up.

The Cowboys have one of the best weapons in the league in the passing game. Dez Bryant is a monster. He combines size, speed and power. He is a tough cover for any team. The numbers on him don’t lie. Bryant finished the 2013 season with 93 receptions, 1233 yards and 13 touchdowns. Terrance Williams gives them a speedy number 2 wide receiver. Jason Witten has been always there for Romo when he needs a crucial first down. The Cowboys can always rely on Witten. He had another impressive season, hauling in 73 catches and 8 touchdowns. Cole Beasley gives them an option in the slot, but 5th round pick Devin Street could give him a run at that position.

There is a lot of talk that the Cowboys may have the best offensive line in football. This may be true. It’s the one thing I can give Jerry Jones a lot of credit for. He spent the last few drafts focusing on the offensive line. During the heyday of his ownership the Cowboys have a devastating offensive line. Tryon Smith will have the left tackle position locked down for years. The draft experts felt Jones overreached in the 1st round for Travis Fredrick. They don’t think that anymore. Right tackle Doug Free is the weak link and they addressed that by taking tackle Zack Martin in the 1st round of the draft.

How many ways can you describe the Cowboys defense? I bet they all come back to terrible for lack of a better word. They brought in legendary defensive guru Monte Kiffin to replace Rob Ryan. Kiffin is known for running that dominant cover 2 defense the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were known for. What they got was an abysmal performance. They were dead last in total defense. The ultimate slap in the face was that fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan went to the Saints and turned them into the 4th ranked defense. That’s got to sting. To make matters worse, they did nothing in the off season to improve the defense. They allowed their leader in sacks Jason Hatcher, to walk in free agency. They cut their best pass rusher DeMarcus Ware. They took pass rusher DeMarcus Lawerence in the 2nd round of the draft and he’s going to miss time due to injury. Their best player on defense, linebacker Sean Lee is out for the season. When it rains, it pours. It’s going to take a minor miracle to fix this defense. May be they pick up the system in year 2. You have to point out that the Cowboys were traditional a 3-4 team and switched to a 4-3 system. They didn’t have the right personnel. I don’t know if they still do. Monte Kiffin’s got his work cut out for him.

The Cowboys have an explosive offense, but have a defense that can’t stop anybody. That puts too much pressure on Tony Romo to have to win games and history has shown it doesn’t end well for this team. Too many defensive concerns will have this team finishing in familiar territory at 8-8.


Dallas Cowboys
8-8
 
Opponent
Result
Record
San Francisco
L
0-1
@Tennessee
W
1-1
@St. Louis
W
2-1
New Orleans
L
2-2
Houston
W
3-2
@Seattle
L
3-3
New York Giants
W
4-3
Washington
W
5-3
Arizona
L
5-4
@Jacksonville
W
6-4
Bye
 
6-4
@New York Giants
W
7-4
Philadelphia
W
8-4
@Chicago
L
8-5
@Philadelphia
L
8-6
Indianapolis
L
8-7
@Washington
L
8-8
Eli Manning
Eli Manning

Giants

The Giants started slow but finished strong. Usually that leads a team to have a lot of hope for next year. I don’t see that with the Giants. They didn’t seem to improve in the off season. Which makes them scary because they are dangerous when you don’t expect anything from them. If they have another season like last year it could be the end of Tom Coughlin as head coach of the Giants.

Eli Manning threw 27 interceptions in 2013. That’s not a shock because he throws a lot of picks. He usually throws more touchdowns. Last year he only threw 18 touchdowns. That buried the Giants. Eli was extremely reckless with football. I don’t think Manning will have a repeat of 2013. He’s too good of a quarterback.

The Giants running game last year was non existent last year. They went out and signed Rashad Jennings. Jennings led the Raiders in rushing with over 700 yards. They drafted running back Andre Williams in the 4th round. They are helping Williams will give them a bruising back to get the tough yards. I don’t expect this group to improve the running game that much. Which means Eli will be putting the ball in the air a lot again.

Victor Cruz had a sub par year after signing a big contract. He did have 73 receptions, but he didn’t seem as explosive as in the past. They allowed their second leading receiver to leave in free agency. They will need guys like Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan to step up. They drafted LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham in the 1st round to give Eli another viable option. The lack of a major threat next to Cruz limits this offense in a major way.

This offensive line is shaky at best. Expect a lot of changes and patchwork with this unit. They always seem to be shuffling guys around and in and out of the lineup. There isn’t any stars or a stand out in this group. If they don’t gel it could be another long year for Eli.

The Giants always seem to have a good defense. They were the 8th ranked defense in 2013. That always gives them a chance to win. The defense is the major positive going into this new season. The Giants let their sack leader leave in free agency. They felt like Justin Tuck was on the downside of his career and it was time to move on. Mathias Kiwanuka should take over his spot. He was second on the team in sacks and they shouldn’t see a major drop off. They are hoping Jason Pierre-Paul can stay healthy and return to being the dominant disruptive pass rusher. Antrell Rolle had a solid season and was the best defensive back on the team. He led the team in tackles with 98 and also had 6 interceptions. The secondary as a whole needed to be upgraded. They brought in Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond to lend a helping hand to their cornerback position. Both players are coming off good seasons with their former teams.

The Giants will have a lot of the same problems from 2013. I think they will finish 8-8. It may not be good enough to keep Tom Coughlin around.

New York Giants
8-8
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Detroit
L
0-1
Arizona
L
0-2
Houston
W
1-2
@Washington
L
1-3
Atlanta
W
2-3
@Philadelphia
L
2-4
@Dallas
L
2-5
Bye
 
2-5
Indianapolis
W
3-5
@Seattle
L
3-6
San Francisco
L
3-7
Dallas
L
3-8
@Jacksonville
W
4-8
@Tennessee
W
5-8
Washington
W
6-8
@St. Louis
W
7-8
Philadelphia
W
8-8

Pick the NFC East Winner

Who will win the NFC East?

See results
NFC North
Win
Loss
Green Bay
10
6
Chicago
8
8
Detroit
7
9
Minnesota
7
9
Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers

Packers

The Packers battled injury after injury to end up winning the division. Alright, let’s not go nuts. It was possibly the worst division in football. Even with that said, they deserve a lot of credit. Especially since they played major chunks of the season without their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Head Coach Mike McCarthy deserves a lot of credit for keeping this team together.

Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The Packers are hoping that they can keep him healthy for the whole season. There aren’t many questions at quarterback for this team. They have a very capable backup, Matt Flynn, who returned last year to help this team keep it together while Rodgers was out. The passing game suffered with Rodgers which is expected.

Eddie Lacy delivered in his rookie season at running back. Now the Packers have a power running game to pair with their dynamic offense. Lacy rushed for 1178 yards and 11 touchdowns. James Starks gives the Packers a versatile change of pace back to give Lacy a break.

Jordy Nelson’s production didn’t suffer with the loss of Aaron Rodgers for half of the season. He posted high numbers in 2013. Nelson led the team in receiving with 85 catches for 1314 yards and 8 touchdowns. They allowed their second leading receiver James Jones to leave in free agency. They have let receivers go and always been able to replace them. Randal Cobb’s season was cut short due to injuries in 2013. Expect him to have an increased role in the passing game. They drafted DaVante Adams in the 2nd round to address the position. There will be more opportunities for Jarrett Boykin as well. Boykin finished third on the team in receptions with 49. Tight end Andrew Quarles could see a jump in his numbers with JeMichael Finley gone. He may have to battle with 3rd pick Richard Rogers for that position as the season goes on.

For the fourth straight year the Packers will have a new starting center. That is not a position you constantly want franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers in. I’m always surprised Aaron Rodgers plays well behind this shaky line. They always seem to be shuffling guys in and out.

The Packers defense has been pretty terrible for years and they seem to stand behind defensive coordinator Dom Capers. They believe in continuity in Green Bay. It is why they are successful, but you can’t help but think is it holding them back. There aren’t signs that this unit is getting better.

It's a major blow losing B.J. Raji for the season. You need that space eater in the middle of the 3-4 defense. Clay Matthews continues to be the main man when it comes to providing a pass rush. He led the team in sacks with 7.5. He’s missed games with injuries and couldn’t get into a groove last year. They brought in Julius Peppers to give him a partner in crime on the other side, they are hopeful he can take the pressure off of Matthews. It will be hard to double team Matthews if Peppers is wrecking mayhem on the other side. Peppers is coming off a down year as well. He only had 7 sacks in 2013 with the Bears. Peppers is always a force to reckon with and should increase their rush. He will be able to do what Nick Perry has failed to. Perry has been a disappointment on the other side. A.J. Hawk has been a model of consistency on the inside. He led the team in tackles with 118 and had 5 sacks as well. The secondary is atrocious. They gave up 30 touchdown passes. No safety on the team intercepted a pass. So no one was shocked when they took Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round this year. They are hoping he is ready to go early. They can’t afford another year like that. I just don’t see how this secondary improves. This defense will hold this team back when it counts.

I think the Packers are easily the class of the NFC North and will win the division at 10-6. It will be hard for them to move on in the playoffs with this defense.

Green Bay Packers
10-6
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Seattle
L
0-1
New York Jets
W
1-1
@Detroit
L
1-2
@Chicago
L
1-3
Minnesota
W
2-3
@Miami
W
3-3
Carolina
L
3-4
@New Orleans
L
3-5
Bye
 
3-5
Chicago
W
4-5
Philadelphia
W
5-5
@Minnesota
L
5-6
New England
W
6-6
Atlanta
W
7-6
@Buffalo
W
8-6
@Tampa Bay
W
9-6
Detroit
W
10-6
Brandon Marshall & Alshon Jeffery
Brandon Marshall & Alshon Jeffery

Bears

The Bears go 10-6 and barely missing the playoffs in 2012, so they fire coach Lovie Smith. Believing this team had peaked. I still think that was a horrible move. They bring in an offensive minded coach believing he will get them over the hump. The team actually performed worse in year one under Marc Trestman. 8-8 isn’t an improvement. It’s not what they were hoping for. I truly don’t see this team getting better than that. They did however become a better offensive team. The Bears were 28th in offense in Lovie’s last year. In Trestman’s first year they finished 8th.

Marc Trestman’s offense was supposed to elevate Jay Cutler’s game. He was very mediocre last year. He missed 5 games, but he never looked all that special in this offense. The offense seemed to fit back up Josh McCown better. Cutler threw 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. McCown threw 13 touchdowns and only 1 interception. McCown is gone and they are hoping Cutler will be better in year two in this offense.

Matt Forte just continues to be one of the best dual backs in the league. He played great in Trestman’s offense. Forte rushed 1339 yards and 9 touchdowns. He was the 3rd leading receiver on the team with 74 catches. Forte has had injury concerns in the past and there really isn’t much depth behind him. That could be a concern down the road.

The Bears may have the best duo of receivers in the league. Brandon Marshall is the number one target and led the team in receptions with 100. He also had 1295 yards receiving with 12 touchdowns. Alshon Jeffery led the team in receiving yards with 1421. Both receivers are big and physical and cause match up problems for a lot of teams. They picked up Santiono Holmes to be the third receiver. That could be a great fit for this offense. Holmes plays well when he’s not expected to be the main target. Tight end Martellus Bennett gives Cutler, another big and imposing threat in the passing game. He was the fourth leading target in this offense with 65 catches.

Coming into the 2013 season the Bears offensive line was considered one of the weakest in football. Now its considered a major asset on the team. The starting line played in all 16 games at the same spots. They grew as an entity together and stopped their quarterbacks from being tackling dummies. The Bears took guard Kyle Long in the 1st round of the 2013 draft and that pick paid off big time. Long made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. This group should be good to go for the 2014 season.

The Bears have always been identified by having a tough defense. Last year that all changed. The Bears finished 30th in the league in defense. In Lovie’s last year the team finished 5th in defense and led the league in takeaways. The Bears offense is now their strength. They spent the first three rounds of the draft on defense. They lost their leading pass rusher Julius Peppers. He had a down year so it shouldn’t be much of a loss. The only problem is he went to their rival and they have to deal with him two times a year. They replaced Peppers with Jared Allen. Allen is getting older but still playing at a high level. He had 11.5 sacks in 2013. The Bears have a lot of aging talent on their defense. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are still concrete players for this team but are both 33. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has his work cut out for him in year two.

I still think this team is too inconsistent and will be stuck in mediocrity and finish at 8-8.


Chicago Bears
8-8
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Buffalo
W
1-0
@San Francisco
L
1-1
@New York Jets
W
2-1
Green Bay
W
3-1
@Carolina
W
4-1
@Atlanta
W
5-1
Miami
W
6-1
@New England
L
6-2
Bye
 
6-2
@Green Bay
L
6-3
Minnesota
L
6-4
Tampa Bay
W
7-4
@Detroit
L
7-5
Dallas
W
8-5
New Orleans
L
8-6
Detroit
L
8-7
@Minnesota
L
8-8
Calvin Johnson & Matthew Stafford
Calvin Johnson & Matthew Stafford

Lions

The team moved on from head coach Jim Schwartz. They were a talented undisciplined group. Schwartz couldn’t get these guys on the right path. They had the one playoff year and you felt like he had them heading in the right direction. They fell back into bad habits and it was time for a change. They hired Jim Caldwell, who is known as an offensive minded coach that works well with quarterbacks. He has been a quarterbacks coach for multiple teams. The hope is that he can help quarterback Matt Stafford, who plays too fast and loose with the football.

Matthew Stafford puts up good numbers, but they don’t seem to lead this team to wins. He threw for 4650 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also threw 19 interceptions and 12 fumbles. They are hoping to cut down on his turnovers. Stafford and Caldwell should work well together.

Reggie Bush gave them a consistent starter at running back. This team struggled to find a starting running back every year Schwartz was here. Bush gave them a dual threat. He’s a perfect fit for this pass happy team. He ran for 1006 yards and caught 54 passes. Joique Bell gave them a solid dual threat back up. Bell finished with 650 yards rushing and caught 53 passes.

The Lions have the best wide receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson. Johnson had another stellar season with 84 catches and 1492 yards. He also hauled in 12 touchdowns. The Lions really lacked in additional receiving targets for Stafford. So they went out and signed Golden Tate in free agency. Tate caught 64 passes with the Seahawks. They are hoping he will be a number 2 target and take some of the pressure off Johnson. They also used their 1st round pick on tight end Eric Ebron. They are hoping he gives Stafford another option instead of constantly forcing it to Johnson. They still have tight end Brandon Pettigrew and could use he and Ebron in two tight end sets like Caldwell used in Baltimore.

The offensive line played well last year. They gave up the second fewest sacks in the league. They did well opening running lanes for Bush and Bell last year. The Lions started two rookies on their offensive line last year. Guard Larry Warfod and tackle LaAdrian Waddle made the most of their opportunity. Dominic Raiola is a 14 year veteran that helped guide the rookies and keep this unit together.

The Lions have a defense that’s good enough to make them a playoff team. The strength of their defense is the front four. Ndamukong Suh is a relentless defensive tackle who needs to play under control. The personal fouls are getting out of control. Every year he says he’s going to get better and every year we see him make the same bonehead plays. He provides a solid rush from the tackle spot and he finished with 5.5 sacks. Nick Fairley and Suh could make a good team, but Suh is reckless and Fairley is lazy. If Fairley cared he could be an amazing player. He plays when he wants to. He finished second on the team with 6 sacks. Ezekiel Ansah led the team in sacks with 8 sacks.

The Lions had two strong playmakers at linebacker in 2013. Stephen Tulloch led the team in tackles with 135. He also had 3.5 sacks. DeAndre Levy was second on the team with 119 tackles. Levy led the team in interceptions with 6, which is huge coming from that position. The Lions secondary didn’t play well last year. They gave up a lot of big plays in 2013, but they didn’t give up a lot of touchdowns. Their cornerbacks gambled a lot last year and got hit with the big play. They brought in safety James Ihedigbo in free agency. Ihedigbo had 101 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries with the Ravens. They are hoping he can bolster this unit. Caldwell brought Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin with him to be the defensive coordinator. They are hoping that Austin can help this unit cut down on the big plays. May be a change in philosophy is what the doctor ordered.

The Lions have talent, but I just think with the new coach and changing of the culture they are going to have too many growing pains and finish 7-9.

Detroit Lions
7-9
 
Opponent
Result
Record
New York Giants
W
1-0
@Carolina
L
1-1
Green Bay
W
2-1
@New York Jets
L
2-2
Buffalo
W
3-2
@Minnesota
L
3-3
New Orleans
L
3-4
@Atlanta
L
3-5
Bye
 
3-5
Miami
W
4-5
@Arizona
L
4-6
@New England
L
4-7
Chicago
W
5-7
Tampa Bay
L
5-8
Minnesota
W
6-8
@Chicago
W
7-8
@Green Bay
L
7-9
Mike Zimmer
Mike Zimmer

Vikings

I don’t understand how General Manager Rick Spielman keeps his job after after poor drafting and poor decisions in free agency. At what point do they start to question his free agent signings and poor drafting. So he has to be banking on Mike Zimmer changing the fortunes of this team. Mike Zimmer deserves to be a head coach. He’s got his work cut out for him with this team. I think it was smart for Zimmer to bring on Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator. Turner and Zimmer have worked together in the past and Norv excels as a play caller.

The quarterback play last year for the Vikings was dreadful. Christian Ponder was ineffective. Matt Cassel wasn’t much better. So the Vikings decided to take Teddy Bridgewater in the 1st round of the draft. Bridgewater easily should be the starter in this bunch. I don’t agree with the experts that say Cassel gives them the best chance to win. Cassel is a backup, plain and simple. Bridgewater has too much talent to be behind him. It won’t take long for the Vikings to find out.

The Vikings have the best running back in the league in Adrian Peterson. Peterson continues to shine on a team with terrible quarterback play. Peterson rushed for over 1200 yards and 10 touchdowns. There really isn’t a plan B on this team if Peterson goes down, but Norv Turner has a track record for finding and developing running backs.

The receiving core is truly lacking in talent. They tried to upgrade the position by signing Greg Jennings last year. It’s hard to judge his performance in this awful passing game. He led the team in receiving with 68 catches for 804 yards. Jerome Simpson was the second leading receiver with 48 catches. Simpson will be suspended for the first 3 games of the season. How many chances are they going to him? His production doesn’t warrant the headache. They are expecting big things from second year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson had 45 catches in 2013 and made a bigger impact on special teams. I don’t know if I believe he will make the leap they are talking about. I feel like tight end Kyle Rudolph is overrated. He gets a lot of hype and the production hasn’t matched on the field. His numbers should be big in Turner’s offense.

The Vikings offensive line has been a reliable unit for this team. They are strong run blockers and seem to struggle in pass protection. They are hoping left tackle Matt Kalil can return to the Pro Bowl form of his rookie season. Kalil’s play was sub par in his sophomore season.

Leslie Frazier was a defensive minded coach, but his defense was terrible. This team finished with the 31st ranked defense. Enter head coach Mike Zimmer another defensive minded coach. Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for Cincinatti in 2013 and they were ranked 3rd in the league. So you expect and upgrade based on scheme change. They lost their sack leader Jared Allen but it was time. Allen was getting older and it’s time to rebuild. Defensive end Brian Robison will be back. Robison had 9 sacks in 2013. They used their first of two 1st round picks on pass rusher Anthony Barr. They used their 2nd round pick on defensive end Scott Crichton. They are hoping Zimmer can get more out of last year’s 1st pick defensive tackle Sharif Floyd. They signed tackle Linvel Joseph in free agency to help help with stopping the run. So it’s clear that they are trying to rebuild this front line.

Linebacker Chad Greenway played well in 2013. He had 134 tackles, 3 sacks and 3 interceptions. Greenway led the team in tackles. Second leading tackler Erin Henderson was released after the season, so there is a void at middle linebacker.

The secondary is the biggest mystery. Cornerback Xaiver Rhodes was one of three 1st round picks last year. He dealt with a few injuries but the team felt he came on at the end of the season. They are expecting him to have a big year in his second season. Josh Robinson was terrible last year. They signed Captain Munnerlyn to play the slot. He can also play on the outside, but maybe better suited in the slot. They can’t play any worse than last year. In 2013, the Vikings gave up 37 touchdown passes and only picked off 12 passes. The system change should improve this secondary. Harrison Smith will be the free safety, but they are looking for someone to play opposite at strong safety.

Mike Zimmer has a lot of work ahead of him and not a lot of talent on this team. I still think they will regret delaying Bridgewater and expect this team to finish at 7-9.


Minnesota Vikings
7-9
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@St. Louis
L
0-1
New England
L
0-2
@New Orleans
L
0-3
Atlanta
L
0-4
@Green Bay
L
0-5
Detroit
W
1-5
@Buffalo
L
1-6
@Tampa Bay
W
2-6
Washington
W
3-6
Bye
 
3-6
@Chicago
W
4-6
Green Bay
W
5-6
Carolina
W
6-6
New York Jets
L
6-7
@Detroit
L
6-8
@Miami
L
6-9
Chicago
W
7-9

Pick the NFC North Winner

Who will win the NFC North?

See results
NFC South
Win
Loss
New Orleans
11
5
Carolina
9
7
Atlanta
7
9
Tampa Bay
4
12
Sean Payton & Drew Brees
Sean Payton & Drew Brees

Saints

You saw in 2012 and 2013 how much coaching matters. The talent didn’t change much in the two seasons. In 2012, without Payton they were 7-9. After he returned from suspension in 2013, they were 11-5

Drew Brees just continued playing at a high level in 2013. He passed for 5162 yards, 39 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. Brees and Sean Payton make a great team.

The running back situation isn’t that strong. They prefer running back by committee. I think this comes back to bite them later in the season. They don’t have a running back that can close out a game. Pierre Thomas led the team in rushing with 549 yards. He was also the teams second leading receiver with 77 catches. Former 1st round pick Mark Ingram continues to be a disappointment. He only rushed for 349 yards in 2013. They decided to trade dynamic running back Darren Sproles. They should have enough talent to make up for losing Sproles.

Jimmy Graham is a tight end who plays like a wide receiver. He is a tough cover for any defense. You have to put a cornerback on him. He had a phenomenal year in 2013. He led the team in receiving. Graham had 86 catches, 1215 yards and 16 touchdowns. Marques Colston was the top receiver on this team. He had 75 catches last year. They drafted wide receiver Brandin Cooks to give them another match up problem in the passing game.

The Saints have a solid pass blocking line, but they are below average in the run blocking game. They are suited well for this Sean Payton pass happy system. I just don’t know that if they can get that tough grind it out yard. It hasn’t been a problem in the past. They’ve won a Super Bowl with this same philosophy.

Hiring Rob Ryan was a good move for the Saints. I had my concerns after his defense was terrible in Dallas but I believe that had more to do with Jerry Jones constant meddling. Ryan’s defense finished 4th in the league in his first year in New Orleans. It was a major improvement in the defensive turn around last year. The team had a stronger pass rush in Ryan’s system. Defensive end Cameron Jordan led the team in sacks with 12.5. Linebacker Junior Galette performed well with 12 sacks. Linebacker Curtis Lofton led the team in tackles with 125.

The secondary play left something to be desired last year. Fixing this unit could be the key to the Saints returning to the Super Bowl. They drafted corner Stan Jean-Baptiste in the 2nd round to help improve this position. The biggest improvement was signing the biggest name in free agent safety Jarius Byrd. His experience could be the missing piece to the puzzle this secondary will need. He and Kenny Vacaro should make a solid duo manning the back end of the defense.

The Saints have the firepower to go far this season. I think they will win this division at 11-5 and make it to the NFC Championship game only to be stopped by the Seahawks again.


New Orleans
11-5
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Atlanta
L
0-1
@Cleveland
W
1-1
Minnesota
W
2-1
@Dallas
W
3-1
Tampa Bay
W
4-1
Bye
 
4-1
@Detroit
W
5-1
Green Bay
W
6-1
@Carolina
L
6-2
San Francisco
L
6-3
Cincinnati
L
6-4
Baltimore
W
7-4
@Pittsburgh
L
7-5
Carolina
W
8-5
@Chicago
W
9-5
Atlanta
W
10-5
@Tampa Bay
W
11-5
Cam Newton
Cam Newton

Panthers

Rob Chudzinski being hired by the Browns was the best thing that happened to the Panthers. I always felt Chudzinski’s offense held back Cam Newton. I was weary of them hiring Mike Shula as offensive coordinator, but he had a game plan that worked well for Newton. Ron Rivera’s defense came on and the offense became more efficient. The Panthers were a huge surprise in 2013, but can they build on that.

Cam was more efficient in the passing game in the new offense. He threw 24 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. It was Cam’s lowest passing and rushing totals of his career, but he was more effective doing both.

DeAngelo Williams led the team in rushing with 840 yards. He isn’t the best running back on the team just the most durable. Jonathan Stewart is the most complete of the two, but he can’t stay healthy. He only rushed for 180 yards in 6 games. They have neglected this position. The running game gets by on the threat of Cam scrambling.

The Panthers have ignored the wide receiver position as well. They cut their number one receiver Steve Smith. I think that was a great move. He was past his prime. I just don’t think they did enough in free agency to get Cam weapons. They brought in Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery. Both are number three receivers at best. They drafted Kelvin Benjamin in the 1st round of the draft. I like that move a lot. I think Benjamin and Newton could be a good combo for years to come. I just don’t think there is much else around him. Tight end Greg Olsen led the team in receptions with 73. At least they kept his number one target. This group has a lot to prove this season. I like the signing of Ed Dickson. He gives Cam another receiving target and gives them the option to run a two tight end set.

The Panthers were dealt a harsh blow when their left tackle Jordan Gross retired. As usual the Panthers didn’t try to address the void. They believe in the talent they have but it may come back to bite them. They still have their Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil to hold this group together.

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott had this team ready to go in 2013. They were the 2nd ranked defense. They were 2nd against the run and opponents scoring. They were 6th against the pass. The strength of this unit was the front line. Defensive ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson triggered devastation on offensive lines. Hardy led the team in sacks with 15. Johnson chipped in with 11 sacks of his own. The Panthers hit on their 1st round pick in 2013. They took defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. He stuffed the run and allowed the defensive ends to attack the quarterback.

Luke Kuechly is one of the best linebackers in the league. He is a human hit machine. Kuechly just continues to get better. Kuechly had 156 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 interceptions. He is the unquestioned leader of this defense. Thomas Davis had a good year as well in 2013. He had 123 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 interceptions.

The team lost some key members of the secondary in free agency. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell. The Panthers felt like they were players who had great numbers in a contract year. It’s the going theme with this team to let good players leave. They are big into the next man up theory. It could backfire. They picked up safeties Roman Harper and Thomas DeCoud in free agency. He also signed corner Antoine Cason. They will be working with a revamped secondary. They are trusting in their system.

I think Panthers caught teams off guard last year. They will still be a tough matchup with Cam Newton and this imposing defense. I think they will have to fight and claw their way to a 9-7 record and barely make the playoffs this year.

Carolina Panthers
9-7
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Tampa Bay
W
1-0
Detroit
W
2-0
Pittsburgh
W
3-0
@Baltimore
W
4-0
Chicago
L
4-1
@Cincinnati
W
5-1
@Green Bay
W
6-1
Seattle
L
6-2
New Orleans
W
7-2
@Philadelphia
L
7-3
Atlanta
W
8-3
Bye
 
8-3
@Minnesota
L
8-4
@New Orleans
L
8-5
Tampa Bay
W
9-5
Cleveland
L
9-6
@Atlanta
L
9-7
Roddy White & Julio Jones
Roddy White & Julio Jones

Falcons

This team had high hopes for the 2013 season. Injuries piled up and this team never recovered. This team fell apart and it was a little disconcerting. You wonder what kind of leash is Mike Smith on. I don’t know if he can survive another disappointing season with a team that had Super Bowl hopes.

Matt Ryan played well last year. It didn’t seem like it, but all things considered he wasn’t the problem. He did however turn the ball over 22 times. His level of play will be elevated if his wide receivers are healthy.

The running game was a massive failure last year. Free agent Steven Jackson didn’t pan out. He only rushed for 548 yards. He only averaged 3.5 yards a carry. Back up Jacquizz Rodgers wasn’t much better. I don’t feel like they addressed the lack of a running game in the off season. It used to be the strength of the team when Michael Turner was there.

A healthy Roddy White and Julio Jones should help this team improve. They are vigorous play makers. Their injuries played a part in derailing their season. Third receiver Harry Douglas stepped and showed what he could do last year. He had 85 catches for 1067 yards. They are losing a major target in tight end Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez decided to finally retire. They are looking for someone to step up at the tight end position.

The offensive line was dealt a major blow when they lost left tackle Sam Baker for the season. Now they have to move their 1st round draft pick Jake Matthews from right to left tackle. He is going to have to grow up in a hurry. If he struggles, the Falcons could be in big trouble.

The defense was awful. They finished 27th in the league. They didn’t really generate a pass rush. They gave up 27 points a game. They were equally bad against the run and the pass. They gave up an average of 243 passing yards and 135 rushing yards a game. They really weren’t stopping anyone. They brought in Osi Umenyora to help with that. He led the team in sacks with 7.5, but never really was a threat. Mike Nolan as a reputation of being a good defense coordinator, which I will never understand because most of his defenses have been terrible. He keeps getting these positions and the results continue to be he same, terrible.

I think the team will improve with the receivers being healthy, but the defense and running game will hold this team back. I think they will finish around 7-9.

Atlanta Falcons
7-9
 
Opponent
Result
Record
New Orleans
W
1-0
@Cincinnati
L
1-1
Tampa Bay
W
2-1
@Minnesota
W
3-1
@New York Giants
L
3-2
Chicago
L
3-3
@Baltimore
L
3-4
Detroit
W
4-4
Bye
 
4-4
@Tampa Bay
L
4-5
@Carolina
L
4-6
Cleveland
W
5-6
Arizona
L
5-7
@Green Bay
L
5-8
Pittsburgh
W
6-8
@New Orleans
L
6-9
Carolina
W
7-9
Lovie Smith
Lovie Smith

Buccaneers

The experts fell in love with Greg Schiano. They kept predicting big things for Tampa Bay. Schiano never lived up to the hype and his players ended up hating him. So the Buccaneers decided to turn to a familiar face, Lovie Smith. Lovie use to be an assistant in Tampa under Tony Dungy.

Tampa’s quarterback situation is confusing. Scott Glennon played well when he got the chance as a rookie. He finished with a promising season. He threw 19 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. The new coaching staff didn’t seem to take a shine to him. They brought in Josh McCown to be the starter. McCown played well when he got the chance for the Bears. He threw 13 touchdowns and 1 interception. I just think they will end up flip flopping with both of these players and it won’t end well.

They are hoping that offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford’s scheme will mask their quarterbacks short comings. Tedford’s offense is sure to be an improvement considering they were the worst in the league last year.

Injuries derailed Doug Martin’s second season. He rushed for under 500 yards and only played in 6 games. Bobby Rainey led the team in rushing with 532 yards. If Martin can return to form this could be a huge deal for this offense. He was a strong weapon as a dual threat in his rookie season.

Vincent Jackson has been a great signing for this team. He has played well since he arrived. The team however has not. Jackson led the team in receiving. Jackson had 78 catches for 1224 yards and 7 touchdowns. It’s impressive considering the inconsistent quarterback play. The team lacked a viable second option, So they drafted Mike Evans in the 1st round. Jackson and Evans will give them two big and fast receiving threats. They drafted tight end Austin Steferian-Jenkins in the 2nd round. Now the team has big targets that mirror the Bears. Tight end Tim Wright was the second leading receiver in 2013 and drafting Steferian-Jenkins made him expendable. He was traded for Logan Mankins to help improve the offensive line.

The Buccaneers may have the worst offensive line in football. That’s why they had to make the trade for guard Logan Mankins. They are hoping his experience and leadership will whip these guys into shape. It will be a long year for this offense.

The defense performed adequately. This should be an easy transition for this team to become dominant again. Lovie Smith was in Tampa when they had a dominate defense. He went to Chicago had them playing at a high level as well. There is no reason to think that Lovie won’t do it again. Lovie will be excited to get his hands on play making linebacker Lavonte David. David was the standout on this defense. He had 145 tackles, 7 sacks, 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. He was all over the field. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy led the team in sacks with 9.5. Darrelle Revis was less than spectacular in his one year with this team so they let him go in free agency. Revis was going to be a bad fit in Lovie’s cover two defense. They went out and signed cornerback Alterruan Verner. Verner and safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson should give them a formidable secondary. No one should be surprised if this defense is in the top 10 by the end of the season. Lovie’s track record on defense speaks for itself.

Lovie is going to have a rough rebuilding process in Tampa. This team has too many questions on offense and will struggle to a 4-12 record.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4-12
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Carolina
L
0-1
St. Louis
L
0-2
@Atlanta
L
0-3
@Pittsburgh
L
0-4
@New Orleans
L
0-5
Baltimore
L
0-6
Bye
 
0-6
Minnesota
L
0-7
@Cleveland
W
1-7
Atlanta
W
2-7
@Washington
W
3-7
@Chicago
L
3-8
Cincinnati
L
3-9
@Detroit
W
4-9
@Carolina
L
4-10
Green Bay
L
4-11
New Orleans
L
4-12

NFC South Winner

Who will win the NFC South?

See results
NFC West
Win
Loss
Seattle
12
4
San Francisco
11
5
Arizona
9
7
St. Louis
6
10
Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman & Kam Chancellor
Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman & Kam Chancellor

Seahawks

Head Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider have a plan that doesn’t make sense to anyone but them. It works and they are looking down at everyone else right now. They are the defending Super Bowl Champions. What they are doing is working. Now we have to see how well they handle being the hunted. It’s been a while since we have had repeat champions.

Russell Wilson is the perfect quarterback for this system. He is a dual threat quarterback that is extremely efficient in moving the chains. He threw 26 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. He also had 539 yards rushing. The offense is perfect as long as the defense continues to be the best in the league. I don’t know if they can survive depending on this 26th ranked passing game.

The Seahawks rushing game however is the strength of the offense. The Seahawks had the 4th ranked rushing attack. Marshawn Lynch continued to be the main weapon in the offense. He rushed for over 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns. They are expecting more out of running back Christine Michael. Robert Turbin gives them a hard nosed back up.

They allowed their best receiver to walk in free agency. Golden Tate was the most reliable target in this unit. They believe he is easily replaced. They are hoping Percy Harvin will be healthy this year. Harvin is a better weapon than Tate, but he isn’t dependable. He showed in the Super Bowl how explosive he can be. Doug Baldwin should fill Tate’s role in the offense. He was the second leading receiver on this team. They drafted speedster Paul Richardson in the 2nd round to address the loss of a play maker.

The offensive line has been suspect at times. They are good at run blocking, but below average in pass blocking. Wilson was sacked 44 times last year. That was the third most in the league. Thye have a solid center in Max Unger and Russell Okung is a good left tackle when healthy. They shouldn’t be as bad as they are at times. They drafted tackle Justin Britt in the 2nd round of the draft to make up for the loss of starting right tackle Breno Giacomini.

The star of this team is its defense. They were the best in the league. It was truly impressive what they did to Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. I’ve never seen Manning look that confused in a game. They could have given the Super Bowl MVP to the whole defense. Linebacker Malcolm Smith took home that honor. He did have a great individual game. The Seahawks are able to generate a pass rush based on the strength of their secondary. Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril provided a consistent pass rush. Bennett is the primary guy and led the team in sacks with 8.5. Avril was strong coming off the edge with 8 sacks. Bobby Wagner is the man in the middle. He led the team in tackles with 120. He also had 5 sacks and 2 interceptions.

The stars of this team are in the secondary. Richard Sherman gets all the highlights mainly because he never shuts up but the guy is talented. In this system he excels. He had 8 interceptions in 2013 and is one of the top cornerbacks in the league. The star, however is Earl Thomas. Thomas is the best safety in the league. He allows Sherman the freedom to gamble. Thomas is the most important player in the secondary and the defense as a whole. He was second on the team with 105 tackles. Thomas also had 5 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. Kam Chancellor is the hard hitting intimidator on the back end. They lost cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond in free agency, but they will easily be replaced.

The Seahawks don’t have many weaknesses. If the defense slips and they have to depend on their offense they will have a long season. I don’t see this defense losing any ground and it’s going to be tough to score on them again. I expect the Seahawks to finish at 12-4 and to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

NFC West
 
 
Seattle Seahawks
12-4
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Green Bay
W
1-0
@San Diego
W
2-0
Denver
W
3-0
Bye
 
3-0
@Washington
L
3-1
Dallas
W
4-1
@St. Louis
W
5-1
@Carolina
W
6-1
Oakland
W
7-1
New York Giants
W
8-1
@Kansas City
W
9-1
Arizona
L
9-2
@San Francisco
L
9-3
@Philadelphia
W
10-3
San Francisco
W
11-3
@Arizona
L
11-4
St. Louis
W
12-4
Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh

49ers

The 49ers will always be in the mix to win the Super Bowl as long as Jim Harbaugh is the coach. I don’t think any coach in the league gets more out of his players than Harbaugh. You know you will always be in a fight with his team.

Colin Kaepernick is a dual threat quarterback. He is a major threat once he gets outside of the pocket. He did a good job taking care of the ball last year. He threw 21 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. He also rushed for 524 yards. They are going to need him to be smarter in the red zone this year. He forced the ball in coverage in the NFC championship game on 1st down when he didn’t need to.

Frank Gore is old reliable. He just keeps churning out 1000 yard seasons. He rushed for 1128 yards and 9 touchdowns. They drafted Carlos Hyde in the 2nd round to provide a suitable backup and eventual replacement for Gore.

The 49ers got the best of the trade for Anquan Boldin. Boldin delivered with a strong season. He had 85 catches for 1179 and 7 touchdowns. Vernon Davis turned in another strong year. He had 52 catches and 13 touchdowns. Michael Crabtree was injured for most of the season. He should return back to form giving Kaepernick a solid group of receivers. The team still lacks a deep threat. They have been searching for one since Harbaugh arrived and failed to find someone. They are hoping Stevie Johnson will deliver in that role. They traded for him in the off season. Johnson fell out of favor with the Bills. If they can get him back to the guy who was averaging 70 catches and 1000 yards a season, they will have gotten another wide receiver steal.

The 49ers could have the best line in football. They get overlooked. People are saying the Cowboys could be the best, but for my money it’s this group. They have one of the best left tackles in football. Joe Staley has made the Pro Bowl three straight years. Left guard Mike Iupati is an All Pro and Pro bowler. Tackle Anthony Davis and guard Alex Boone are underrated stalwarts on the right side.

The defense is the strength of the team. They were the 5th ranked defense in the league. They will lose top pass rusher Aldon Smith for half the season due to suspension. Top tackler Navarro Bowman will be lost for most of the season as well after that devastating injury in the NFC championship game. Losing those two play makers could make things tough on their Super Bowl bid.

They still have Ahmad Brooks, who tied for the lead in sacks with 8.5. Justin Smith continues to be strong against the run and allowing the pass rushers to roam free. He also had 6.5 sacks in 2013. The linebacker core will have a major hole without Bowman. Bowman had an amazing year. He had 145 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. Aldon Smith had 8.5 sacks in limited action. The team will still be strong because leader Patrick Willis is there in the middle. He was the second leading tackler on the team with 104.

The 49ers secondary is a major concern for this team. They really didn’t do a good job in improving this unit and it could blow up in their face. They drafted safety Jimmie Ward in the first round. It may be a while before he’s ready to start. Last year’s 1st round pick safety Eric Reid played well. He had 77 tackles and 4 interceptions. They are hoping he makes a big jump in year two. They brought in Antoine Bethea to replace the loss of Donte Whitner. The cornerbacks are forgettable. They have always been able to mask their deficiencies with a strong pass rush.

The 49ers are going to be a threat again. I think they will finish 11-5 and make the playoffs again, unfortunately I think they will be derailed in the playoffs by their rivals the Seahawks.


San Francisco 49ers
11-5
 
Opponent
Result
Record
@Dallas
W
1-0
Chicago
W
2-0
@Arizona
L
2-1
Philadelphia
W
3-1
Kansas City
W
4-1
@St. Louis
L
4-2
@Denver
L
4-3
Bye
 
4-3
St. Louis
L
4-4
@New Orleans
W
5-4
@New York Giants
W
6-4
Washington
W
7-4
Seattle
W
8-4
@Oakland
W
9-4
@Seattle
L
9-5
San Diego
W
10-5
Arizona
W
11-5
 
 
 
Bruce Arians
Bruce Arians

Cardinals

I don’t think anyone saw the Arizona Cardinals turnaround coming. Bruce Arians was the right the choice. Rarely can you say that in the Cardinals decision making process. Arians did an amazing job in taking over for Chuck Pagano when he was sick in Indianapolis. That got the notice of NFL Owners. The Cardinals hired him and his influence took over quickly. It’s amazing that he almost had this offense in the Top 10 in his first year.

The Cardinals decided to bring in Carson Palmer as their starter. I hated this acquisition and I still do. Palmer turns the ball over too much. I think Arians got the best out of him, but I still think he will be their downfall this year. Last year he threw for over 4200 yards. He threw 24 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. That’s not good. They don’t have a good back up plan. Drew Stanton is the back up. The only positive is that he is familiar with Arians system. They drafted Logan Thomas in the 4th round to be their quarterback of the future.

The running game was nonexistent last year. Leading rusher Rashad Mendenhall retired. Second leading rusher Andre Ellington should get an increased role. He had 652 yards rushing. They signed Jonathan Dwyer with the hopes that he can give them a power rushing game.

They have a solid group of receivers. Larry Fitzgerald just continues to be a reliable target. He led the team with 82 catches and 10 touchdowns. It’s amazing he can still put up strong numbers with such bad quarterback play. Michael Floyd stepped up with 65 catches for 1041 yards. They lost number 3 receiver Andre Roberts in free agency. They believe they can replace his production easily. They signed speedster Ted Ginn Jr in the off season to compete for that 3rd receiver spot and help on special teams. They seem really high on 3rd round pick John Brown. We’ll have to wait and see if he delivers.

The offensive line isn’t very good. They went out and signed left tackle Jared Veldheer to help protect Palmers blind side. They are hoping last years 1st round pick Jonathan Cooper will be ready this year. He was slowed by a leg injury last season. This unit has a lot of work to do.

The biggest shock on this team is that they had the 6th ranked defense. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles deserves a lot of credit. I didn’t think they had an abundance of talent. I felt like they had a few parts, but not well enough for them to be a Top 10 defense. John Abraham keeps turning back the hands of time. He was huge leading this team in sacks with 11.5. Calais Campbell also provided a solid rush with 9 sacks. They were dealt a major blow when leading tackler Karlos Dansby left in free agency. They lose another linebacker Daryl Washington for the whole season for testing positive for a banned substance. Then Darnell Dockett is lost for the season with an injury. Leaving major holes along this defensive front seven. Safety Tyrann Mathieu is still trying to recover from a knee injury. They still have dynamic corner Patrick Peterson. Peterson is one of the best cornerbacks in football. He is one of the few man coverage cornerbacks that follows the best receiver around all game. He gives them stability in the secondary. I just don’t know if they will be able to overcome all of the injuries.

I think the Cardinals will come back down to earth this season. They just have too many injuries to deal with and poor quarterback play to overcome. Plus, they have to compete in the toughest division in football. I think they will finish at 9-7.

Arizona Cardinals
9-7
 
Opponent
Result
Record
San Diego
L
0-1
@New York Giants
W
1-0
San Francisco
W
2-1
Bye
 
2-1
@Denver
L
2-2
Washington
L
2-3
@Oakland
W
3-3
Philadelphia
L
3-4
@Dallas
W
4-4
St. Louis
W
5-4
Detroit
W
6-4
@Seattle
W
7-4
@Atlanta
W
8-4
Kansas City
L
8-5
@St. Louis
L
8-6
Seattle
W
9-6
@San Francisco
L
9-7
 
 
 
Les Snead & Jeff Fisher
Les Snead & Jeff Fisher

Rams

So how long do Rams fans have to wait for this master plan to work? General Manager Les Snead and head coach keeping talking about sticking to the plan. Every year we hear how great their draft is but we don’t see the results on the field. I think Jeff Fisher is one of the most overrated coaches in history. The media loves him, but outside of that one Super Bowl year in Tennessee he’s an average coach at best. He was with the Oilers/Titans as head coach for 17 years and only had 6 winning seasons. That’s not good. I don’t know why people thought he was the answer for the Rams.

Their offense was just awful last year. It was ranked 30th in the league. The Rams were dealt a major blow with the injury to Sam Bradford. It is insane that they didn’t draft a quarterback this year. They knew he was coming off an injury to start with and had a long injury history. They didn’t even get a quality back up in the off season. Which they could have had Michael Vick for next to nothing. They will be going with career back up Shaun Hill. They also claimed quarterback Case Keenum off waivers. I think once he’s up to speed, he’ll take over the starting spot. It’s going to be a long season in St. Louis.

Zac Stacy will be their starter at running back. He wasn’t that impressive last year. He rushed for 973 yards at only 3.9 a carry. The drafted Tre Mason in the 3rd round to help out with the running game. Back up Benny Cunningham may get the chance to push Zac Stacy for carries.

The receiving core just isn’t that good. Last years 1st round pick Tavon Austin didn’t deliver the dynamic play making ability everyone expecting. They have a mix of not so special players at wide receiver. Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and Chris Givens will all see playing time. It will be interesting to see who will separate themselves. Stedman Bailey will join this mix once he returns from his 4 game suspension. Tight end Jared Cook led the team in receptions with 51. It doesn’t look good for this passing game.

The offensive line has the potential to be good. They have a good left tackle in Jake Long but he can’t stay healthy. They took Greg Robinson with the 2nd pick in the draft. He’s a tackle and they are going to make him play left guard. I don’t understand that. They are taking Roger Saffold who is a tackle by trade and having him play right guard. It looks like Joe Barksdale will be the right tackle. They brought in Davin Joseph to add depth at guard. If Robinson and Saffold deliver with the move to the inside they could be a strong unit.

The defense was above average. They will give this team a chance to compete. They hired Gregg Williams to be the coordinator. Gregg will find a way to get this defense, attacking and forcing turnovers. They are really good at rushing the passer. They have a dominate defensive end with Robert Quinn. He had 19 sacks and 7 forced fumbles. He is a quarterback’s nightmare. Chris Long provides a strong rush from the other side. Long finished with 8.5 sacks last year. Last year’s 1st round pick Alec Ogletree led the team in tackles with 117 tackles. He also had 6 forced fumbles. Linebacker James Laurinaitis finished second on the team in tackles with 116. Their secondary is solid, but not really that special. They have enough talent to compete at the back end.

Get ready for another round of excuses for another Rams disappointing season. What you should hear is Les Snead and Jeff Fisher haven’t delivered. This team is in a tough division where the teams ahead of them are clearly better. I expect the Rams to finish at 6 and 10.


St. Louis Rams
6-10
 
Opponent
Result
Record
Minnesota
W
1-0
@Tampa Bay
W
2-0
Dallas
L
2-1
Bye
 
2-1
@Philadelphia
L
2-2
San Francisco
W
3-2
Seattle
L
3-3
@Kansas City
L
3-4
@San Francisco
W
4-4
@Arizona
L
4-5
Denver
L
4-6
@San Diego
L
4-7
Oakland
W
5-7
@Washington
L
5-8
Arizona
W
6-8
New York Giants
L
6-9
Seattle
L
6-10
 
 
 

Pick the NFC West Winner

Who will win the NFC West?

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Playoff Picture

Wild Card
Divisional Round
Championship Game
Super Bowl
Super Bowl Champions
Chargers
 
 
 
 
Colts
Chargers
 
 
 
 
Broncos
 
 
 
 
 
Broncos
 
 
 
 
Patriots
 
 
 
Patriots
 
 
 
Ravens
Bengals
 
 
 
Patriots
 
 
Broncos
 
 
 
 
 
Seahawks
 
 
 
 
 
49ers
 
 
Seahawks
 
Packers
49ers
 
 
 
 
Seahawks
 
 
 
 
 
Seahawks
 
 
 
 
Saints
 
 
 
Eagles
 
 
 
Panthers
Saints
 
 
 
Eagles
 
 
 
 

Which favorite do you think has the best chance to win the Super Bowl

Who has the BEST chance to win the Super Bowl?

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© 2014 Randal Bruce

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    • Mick97 profile image

      Mick97 2 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Great, detailed job.

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