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2014 NFL Season Results, Wrap Up and 2015 Needs

Updated on May 10, 2016

Patriots---Correct Prediction

AFC East
2014 Results
2014 Predictions
New England
12-4
11-5
Buffalo
9-7
7-9
Miami
8-8
6-10
New York Jets
4-12
6-10
Not bad. Pretty close on this division
Tom Brady and Bill Belichek enjoying their 4th Lombardi trophy together.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichek enjoying their 4th Lombardi trophy together.

Patriots

There is no argument anymore, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. Brady has played in 6 Super Bowls, won 4 and been the MVP 3 times. He's still not done, which is the craziest part folks. Brady had another stellar year. He passed for over 4000 yards, 33 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. He finally got some help from his defense. Malcolm Butler's great goal line interception won the Patriots the Super Bowl. Brady was great when he had to be in the Super Bowl. Down by 10 points in the second half at the hands of the number 1 defense in the league, he delivered. Pats fans should hope back up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is taking notes.

The Patriot way is often brought up with this team. They act like the names and faces don’t matter. It is a philosophy that works. It only works because they have Tom Brady. You saw the year Brady went down to injury, they weren’t the same. They went 11-5 but missed the playoffs. Brady comes back the next year and they win the AFC East and make the playoffs. Once he’s gone the Patriot way will fail.

The Patriots used a running back by committee approach, but that has been their style for years. The Patriots have an average running game. They do well enough to win games. It would make sense to upgrade this position. It could take the pressure of Brady as well as the defense. It seems to be a revolving door.

Rob Gronkowski proved when healthy, he is the best tight end in the NFL. In 2014, Gronkowski had 82 catches, 1124 yards and 12 touchdowns. Julian Edelman led the team in catches with 92. Brandon Lafell provided another reliable target by hauling in 74 receptions. The passing game could benefit from a legitimate number one receiver. They seemed content with a committee of receivers and it works. It’s only a matter of time before it catches up with them.

They will need to improve the offensive line in the off season. There has been a lot of shuffling in the last couple of years. You can't really argue with a philosophy that helped a team win the Super Bowl.

The Patriots defense stepped up this year, which was evident in the playoffs. They finished 13th overall. You still feel like they did a lot with smoke and mirrors. With cornerback Darrelle Revis gone, it will be hard to imagine this defense getting better. Cornerback Brandon Browner is gone as well, so there are 2 holes at starting defensive backfield for the Patriots. They will need to continue upgrading this unit. Still hard to find much fault with this unit and this team after winning the Super Bowl.

Results:

My predictions with the Patriots was very close. I believed in Tom Brady and not the defense. The defense proved me wrong and delivered. I had the Patriots finishing 11-5, winning the AFC East and losing the AFC Championship game. The finished 12-4, won the AFC East and the Super Bowl. So close, but close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.

Needs:

QB, RB, WR, OG, DT, OLB, CB



Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus celebrate a big play.
Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus celebrate a big play.

Bills

So the Bills improve, but can't get over the hump. They finished 9-7 and just missed out of a playoff berth. It seemed like they were heading in the right direction and then all of a sudden Doug Marrone opts out of his deal. He was said to be in demand for a couple of jobs and end up taking a position coach job with the Jaguars. Bad move Doug. The Bills went with Rex Ryan, who was fired by the Jets and now with the Bills has a very optimistic outlook or at least Ryan will convince the media they do. We shall see if Rex is the final piece.

The key will be improving that 26th ranked offense. He brought in Greg Roman as offensive coordinator, which is an odd pick seeing as he got run out of San Franisco. But in all fairness the 49ers ran out Jim Harbaugh, so they aren’t the best judges of coaching talent. They have a major question at quarterback. Kyle Orton retired and it seems like they don't believe in EJ Manuel. So they bring in Matt Cassel. Problems solved. To quote Lee Corso, “not so fast my friend!” Cassel isn't the answer either. They need to continue looking to fix their problem at quarterback, otherwise they are going nowhere fast.

The Bills offense got a major boost when they acquired Lesean McCoy in a trade with the Eagles. McCoy gives them a dynamic, explosive proven dual threat back. Fred Jackson gives them another dual threat back and solid back up. Jackson is injury prone and getting older so they need to find a valuable backup.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins played well as a rookie. He wasn't as dynamic as advertised. The shaky quarterback play may have had something to do with that. Watkins gives them a piece to build their passing game around. Robert Woods played well as the number 2 receiver. He seemed to be in and out of the doghouse with head coach Doug Marrone. With Marrone gone, maybe he flourishes with the new coaching staff. They will need to address the tight end position since they cut Scott Chandler.

The offensive line isn't very good and they've done little so far to improve it. It was one of the downfalls of the offense. They signed Richie Incognito. Incognito will bring a level of toughness they need. The big question is can he be a leader and put his past behind him.

Buffalo finished the season with the number 4 defense and now they getting a defensive minded coach. Hard to see them getting better, but Rex is talented at coordinating that side of the ball. He's got a scary pass rushing trio with Mario Williams Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes. They combined for 33.5 sacks in 2014. They just need to get the offense up to speed and may have a chance to compete.

Results:

I had Bills at 7-9. They exceeded my expectations finishing 9-7.

Needs:

QB, THE, OG, OT, ILB, FS


Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill talk over game strategy.
Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill talk over game strategy.

Dolphins

The Dolphins just can't seem to get over the hump. It seems like every year they have a shot to make playoffs and fall apart at the end of the season. Joe Philbin got a stay of execution after the 2014 season. You have to believe they'd have to make the playoffs in 2015 for him to continue as the head coach.

Ryan Tannehill continues to grow as a starting quarterback. He had a terrific year in 2014. He passed for over 4000 yards and 27 touchdowns. He continues to improve while the pieces around him seem stuck in mediocrity.

Lamar Miller had a decent year rushing for over 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns. They are hoping Knowshon Moreno can return from injury and give them a change of pace back.

Jarvis Landry had a solid rookie campaign with 84 catches. Mike Wallace continues to disappoint and its time to move on. Wallace was shipped off to Minnesota. So now they have a major hole to fill at wide receiver. They picked up Kenny Stills who was with the Saints in 2014. This should help but they'll need to acquire more. There still isn’t a dynamic play maker on the roster. They signed tight end Jordan Cameron to add a spark in the passing game. They are hoping Cameron can recapture the success of his 2013 season with the Browns where he had 80 receptions.

The offensive line play has not been good for a while. The Dolphins thought they had their troubles fixed by acquiring left tackle Brandon Albert. They need to a new plan either in the draft, free agency or scheme.

The defense was pretty solid and finished ranked 12th. It just got tougher to play the Dolphins. They landed the top free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh will be wreaking havoc in South Beach. Dolphins are hoping that’s only on the field. This was a great pick up. I still think they overpaid for his services. Cameron Wake continues to be a force for the Dolphins defense. He had 11.5 sacks in 2014. Brent Grimes continues to play well for this team. Grimes had 5 interceptions. This defense kept them competitive for the majority of the season.

Results:

The Dolphins are a perplexing team. They are solid on both sides of the ball. Maybe they are lacking in coaching talent. It remains to be seen if they make the leap in 2015. I had them finishing 2014 6-10. They overachieved in my eyes finishing 8-8.

Needs:

WR, OG, OT, ILB, CB


New GM Mike Maccagnan, Owner Woody Johnson and new Head Coach Todd Bowles.  The Jets fanbase are hoping they finally have their winning combination.
New GM Mike Maccagnan, Owner Woody Johnson and new Head Coach Todd Bowles. The Jets fanbase are hoping they finally have their winning combination.

Jets

Where to start with the Jets? The fire their general manager John Izdik. Which I think was the right move. I didn't understand what his plan was. He seemed to create chaos the minute he showed up. They fired Rex Ryan. Again, I think this was the right move. Ryan's schtick had worn thin and grown old with the Jets. The Jets are a mess and it was time for a fresh start. They hired Mike Maccagnan to be their new general manager. Maccagnan comes over from the Houston Texans and is said to have an extensive background in player evaluation. It seemed Izdik lacked that greatly. I give the Jets credit for realizing that mistake and taking care of it swiftly, however, they set him up to fail right away by not allowing him to hire his own coach and forcing Ryan on him. The Jets allowed Maccagnan to hire his guy. He chose Todd Bowles. I think this is a good hire. Bowles coordinated the Cardinals defense. It was aggressive and made plays when they had to. Statistically, they were not great, but considering the challenges they faced it was impressive. They battled injuries and had to keep the team in games because of the injuries at quarterback on offense. I read that some media outlets said the Jets should have held out for Dan Quinn. Why? Who believes Quinn is the reason why the Seahawks defense is the best in the league? I guess the same people who believed Gus Bradley was the reason. Maccagnan and Bowles will have their hands full. They will have to remake this roster completely. There aren't many real assets on the offensive side of the ball. Decker was a high priced free agent. He played well but not up to his contract. A lot of that had to do with the poor quarterback play. The Jets went out and acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall and Decker will give the Jets starting quarterback a solid duo in the passing game. They also acquired Ryan Fitzpatrick to battle Geno Smith and maybe a rookie QB for the starting job.

The running game was non existent. They will need to address this in the draft.

The offensive line was inconsistent and plagued by penalties. They have talent on the line they just need to get them on the same page.

Bowles should be happy coming to the Jets. They had a strong defense again in 2014. They finished 6th in the league. They also got the band back together in the secondary. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie came back home. They also signed a solid nickel cornerback Buster Skrine. The Jets should have a pretty formidable secondary in 2015. Bowles should have a lot of fun considering he likes to bring pressure. He will be able to let the corners play one on one and that should allow the front 7 to wreak havoc.

Results:

I had the Jets finishing at 6-10. They finished the 2014 at 4-12. They were worse than I imagined, but not overly shocked that it ended the way it did. I thought they would be bad and they were.

Needs:

QB, RB, OG, OT, OLB




Bengals---Incorrect Prediction

AFC North
2014 Results
2014 Predictions
Pittsburgh
11-5
9-7
Cincinnati
10-5-1
11-5
Baltimore
10-6
9-7
Cleveland
7-9
4-12
This divison was tough in so many ways. I thought the Bengals would win it again. They came close. I had the Bengals and Ravens figured out as close as possible. The Steelers were a little better than I thought. I thought they'd miss out on the
Le'veon Bell emerged in 2014 as one of the top backs in the NFL.  Now he has to prove he's not a one year wonder.
Le'veon Bell emerged in 2014 as one of the top backs in the NFL. Now he has to prove he's not a one year wonder.

Steelers

The Steelers finally bounced back after two straight 8-8 seasons and no playoff berths. Mike Tomlin was in danger of losing his job if the Steelers didn't make the playoffs. That was my opinion. Not only did they bounce back, they won the division. There was a coaching casualty when the dust settled. Longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau retired. The Steelers did the same thing with Bruce Arians. The Steelers are truly a classy organization and instead of firing coaches they allow them to save face by saying it’s their decision.

There was all this talk that Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Hailey didn't see eye to eye. It seems obvious that it is true. However, Big Ben seems to be succeeding in Haley's system. Ben had a career year. Roethlisberger passed for 4952 yards, 32 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Roethlisberger’s 4952 yards tied for league best. The Steelers finished with the number 2 offense in 2014. You can't argue with success.

It wasn't just Big Ben, who had a career year in Todd Haley's system. Le'Veon Bell excelled as a dual threat in Haley's offense. Bell rushed for 1361 yards. Bell as was 2nd on the team in receptions with 83 for 854 yards. The Steelers could use a viable backup consider Bell is coming off an injury. They signed DeAngelo Williams as a backup. Williams is injury prone and not very reliable. They would better off drafting a running back.

There is a theme here and its career years. Wide receiver Antonio Brown joins Big Ben and Le'Veon Bell in the career year in Haley's offense. Brown had a whopping 129 catches for 1698 yards and 13 touchdowns. Brown led the league in catches and yards. He is no longer in the shadow of Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders. Markus Wheaton stepped up and provided a solid number 2 and they are hoping Martavis Bryant can make the leap as well with another year in the offense. Heath Miller continues to be a reliable safety blanket for Big Ben. Miller had 66 catches for 761 yards.

For the last couple of years the Steelers offensive line struggled with injuries and inconsistency. They hired Hall of Fame offensive lineman Mike Munchak to teach this unit. He fired up and inspired this unit into a significant group. The offensive line play may have more to do with these career highs than Haley's play calling.

The Steelers defense finished 18th and no longer seems the force it use to be. It appears like it is time for a change. The Steelers promoted linebackers coach Keith Butler to Defensive Coordinator. This was no surprise. Butler has turned down a lot of defensive coordinator interviews because he was the coach in waiting. The defense was not up to par. They are used to this defense wrecking havoc in the game. They will need it to be the Steelers defense of old to get back to the promise land.

Results:

I had the Steelers finishing at 9-7 and missing the playoffs. They finished 11-5 and won the division. They are the model of consistency. I didn't give them enough credit. I thought they were getting a little long in the tooth and they are but they showed that you can't keep them down that long.

Needs:

NT, DE, OLB, CB, FS

Jeremy Hill delivering the pain.
Jeremy Hill delivering the pain.

Bengals

Everyone in Cincinnati is wondering what they have to do to win a playoff game. It's mind boggling. They are well coached. They have talent. Why can't they win a playoff game? Firing Marvin Lewis is not the answer. They can't get rid of Andy Dalton. They just gave him a big contract. Well, they gave him a big contract that they can get out of easily. That may be the answer for this team. He plays well enough to get them to the playoffs and that's when things go off the rails. The experts thought this offense and Andy Dalton would get better with Hue Jackson calling plays. Both got worse. Maybe Jay Gruden and Andy Dalton need each other to be successful. Both were terrible apart. At least Dalton was able to get the Bengals to the playoffs.

Andy Dalton's play really regressed in 2014. He got his big contract and a new offensive coordinator. That was going to help him get to the next level. In 2013, Dalton threw 33 touchdowns. In 2014, he only threw 19 verses 17 interceptions. He also continued to play awful in the playoffs. I don't know what to say, it's just plain baffling. He has to step up his play or the Bengals need to go in another direction.

The running game didn't suffer under Hue Jackson. Jeremy Hill and Givoani Bernard give the Bengals one of the better 1-2 punches in the league. Hill led the team in rushing with 1124 yards and 9 touchdowns. Bernard finished with 680 yards rushing. He was less effective in the passing game in Jackson's offense. He still hauled in 43 catches, but wasn't that match up nightmare he was a part of Gruden's offense.

A.J. Green battled injuries for most of 2014. He still finished with a solid year. Green just keeps delivering. Even with the injuries he led the team in catches with 69 and yards with 1041. Mohamed Sanu provided a legitimate number 2. They lost Marvin Jones for the season. His production was missed. Losing Jones and Green battling injuries contributed to Dalton struggling. If this core is healthy, maybe the Bengals passing game comes alive in 2015. They need to upgrade the tight end position. Gresham was second in catches, but he did not stretch the field.

The Bengals have invested well in their offensive line. They have one of the best lines in football. They hold up well in pass protection and open holes for their power running game. So if the Bengals move on from Dalton, the next quarterback will be set up.

The offense seems to suffer with the loss of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. The defense suffered the most when defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer left. In 2013, the Bengals were the 3rd ranked defense. In 2014, they fell down to the 22nd ranked defense under new defensive coach Paul Guenther. They played well enough to win games, but were nowhere near as dominate as they were.

Results:

I said the Bengals would finish 11-5, win the division, but not win a playoff game. The Bengals went 10-5-1, didn't win the division and lost a playoff game. That's as close to nailing it as you can get.

Needs:

QB, THE, OT, DE, OLB, CB

Justin Forsett celebrates a TD after a career year.
Justin Forsett celebrates a TD after a career year.

Joe Flacco was on fire!

Ravens

The Ravens were the talk of the league before the season for all the wrong reasons. The video emerged of Ray Rice assaulting his fiancé and now wife. He was released and there was a hole in their running game.

Joe Flacco at times flashes brilliance and then other times he disappears. I know they call him Joe Cool, but that seems to be the problem. Half of the time he seems like he doesn't care. He's a good quarterback, no doubt. He put up solid numbers in 2014. He passed for over 3800 yards and 27 touchdowns. I don't know if he is elite, but he's good enough to win. Yes, he has a Super Bowl and MVP to boot. His great run was tied to Anquan Bolden and since Bolden was traded, Flacco has had less and less big time moments. I think Flacco will really be hurt by the loss of Gary Kubiak. Kubiak and Flacco seemed to work well together and Kubiak is one of the brightest offensive minds in the league.

Justin Forsett took the ball and ran with it, literally. He finished the season with 1266 yards and 8 touchdowns. It's nice to see a guy, who has worked his whole career to get an opportunity, finally gets it and delivers.

The Steve Smith experiment worked. He did have more left in the tank. He caught 79 passes for over 1000 yards. The Ravens will feel the loss of Torrey Smith just like they felt it when Bolden left. Smith is a big play wide receiver that defenses have to respect. They are hoping Dennis Pitta can recover from two injury riddled seasons. They will need to address the wide receiver position in the draft.

The Ravens defense continued to be strength of the team. They finished with the 8th ranked defense. Rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley arrived with a vengeance. He led the team in tackles with 133. He also had 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Suggs and Dumerveil wreaked havoc on their opponents totaling 29 sacks between them. Veteran linebacker Daryl Smith finished second on the team in tackles. They have one of the best linebacker cores in the league. Suggs, Dumerveil and Smith are starting to get up there in age. They need to get younger at the linebacker position. Nose tackle Haloti Ngata was traded to Detroit. There is a big hole literally and figuratively in their defense. The Ravens are confident they can replace him. They have a great track record in the draft so I believe they will.

Results:

I said the Ravens would have a tough time with consistency and finish as a 9-7 wild card team. They had a hard time with consistency and finished as a 10-6 wild card team. Not too bad if I say so myself.

Needs:

RB, WR, THE, NT, CB

Browns had hoped owner Jimmy Haslam would be their savior.  He has turned out to be another buffoonish owner leaving Browns fans frustrated.
Browns had hoped owner Jimmy Haslam would be their savior. He has turned out to be another buffoonish owner leaving Browns fans frustrated.

No, Johnny, NO, NO, NO!! Johnny Be Good!

Browns

This team truly overachieved in my opinion. They won 7 games and I couldn't have imagined that. It truly seemed like the Browns had found their building blocks. Even with the distraction of Johnny Manziel. I predicted that Kyle Shanahan and Johnny Manziel wouldn't get along and that rang true. The circus was created when owner Jimmy Haslam forced his team to draft Manziel after he texted him. This is ironic because the Browns are in the middle of a scandal where the general manager texting coaches during games. This activity is against league rules. Kyle Shanahan decided to leave which isn't a huge loss. Even when it looks like the Browns are heading in the right direction, you pull back the curtain to witness more chaos.

The smart play would be to go all in on Johnny Manziel in 2015. Build the offense around him and see if it works. If it does, you have your quarterback. If not, move on. You have to give him a chance. I like Manizel, if you let him play his game. Trying to make him a drop back quarterback right away would be a mistake. You should ease him into that transition.

The Browns may have two diamonds in the rough in their backfield. Terrance West and Isiah Crowell both rushed for over 600 yards each. We'll see if one of them steps into that feature back role but for now that gives them hope that they should have a strong running game.

The receiver group took a major blow losing Josh Gordon to suspension. They were wise to go out and get Dwayne Bowe. He should help in the passing game. They are going to need to draft heavily in this position. Andrew Hawkins led the team in receiving with 63 catches. Hawkins is more of a slot receiver, if he's the leader again, the Browns are in trouble.

The Browns have one of the better offensive lines in football. That is a major part in building this offense. Left tackle Joe Thomas is one of the top players at his position. They drafted guard Joe Bitonio and seems to have his spot locked down for a while. They have center Alex Mack, who is one of the best at his position. This is one of the areas where the Browns are ahead of the curve.

The Browns defense took a step back in 2014. It was the strength of the team in 2013 where they finished 9th. In 2014, the defense finished 23rd. That is puzzling considering Mike Pettine is a defensive coach and had a solid defense in Buffalo. They have the pieces to turn it around. Joe Haden continues to be one of the best cover corners in the league. Paul Kruger lived up to his contract in the second year. He had 11 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in 2014. Free safety Tashuan Gipson led the team in interceptions with 6. They took a hit when cornerback Buster Skrine left in free agency. They are hoping 2014 1st Rd pick Justin Gilbert will step up.

Results:

I predicted they'd be 4-12. The Browns were 7-9. I would have never imagined. With all the drama, this team overachieved in my eyes.

Needs:

QB, WR, THE, DE, ILB


Colts---Correct Prediction

AFC South
2014 Results
2014 Predictions
Indianapolis
11-5
11-5
Houston
9-7
2-14
Jacksonville
3-13
4-12
Tennessee
2-14
5-11
The Colts were easy to figure in this divison. They are head and shoulders better than their comp. I had Jacksonville and Tennessee figured out well. Where I failed is in Houston. I didn't think O'Brien was that good of a coach and his philosophy
Luck has master many things in the NFL except beating the Patriots.
Luck has master many things in the NFL except beating the Patriots.

The Future is Now

Colts

Rarely does an organization strike gold twice in the form of franchise quarterbacks. The Colts are the exception. Andrew Luck is the real deal. Not breaking new ground there. Put it in perspective. The team isn't overly talented, but Luck just raises the talent around him. Don't get me wrong, they have some nice pieces, but it begins and ends with Luck. It's only a matter of time before he leads this team to a Super Bowl win. They just have to get over the hump of beating the Patriots. They seem to have their number the same way they had the Colts number with Peyton Manning.

Andrew Luck exploded in 2014. He passed for 4761 yards and 40 touchdowns. He is putting himself in an elite class.

The Colts finally gave up on the Trent Richardson experiment. It was a bad trade and they needed to move on. They also wisely moved on from injury prone Ahmad Bradshaw. They brought in experienced and proven workhouse Frank Gore. I like this move, but you have to worry about how much does Gore have left in the tank. That's where Daniel Herron can come in. Herron provided a spark in 2014. They would be wise in increasing his role in the offense.

T.Y. Hilton is an underrated star. He is often overlooked because of how good Luck is. The Colts passing game suffers when Hilton isn't in the lineup. He stretches the field and is a match up nightmare. Hilton led the team in catches and yards. Hilton had 82 catches for 1345 yards. He's going to need help so teams can't role coverage to him. So the Colts went and signed Andre Johnson. Johnson gives the Colts one of the best receiver duos in the game. At least on paper, we’ll have to wait to see if they gel in the regular season. Johnson wasn't happy in Houston with a reduced role. Will he make noise when Hilton's getting the lion’s share of the focus? We'll have to wait and see. Rookie Donte Moncrief gave the team a valuable 3rd wide receiver in 2014. Tight Ends Coby Fleener and Dewayne Allen give them a solid pair of pass catchers down the middle of the field.

The Colts have to solidify their offensive line. Luck takes way too many hits. He's tough, but they have to improve the line. They also need to improve the running game. The offensive line will be a big part of that, but they need to find a back or stable of backs that can deliver.

The defensive rise is the reason this team is a hair away from the Super Bowl. Don't misinterpret that. Andrew Luck is the most valuable player on this team, but they don't take the next step without this defense handling business on the other side of the ball. The defense finished 11th in the league. They fly around and attack from all angles. Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson is one of the stars of the unit. He led the team in tackles with 140. He also had 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 4 fumble recoveries. Strong Safety Mike Adams is another. Adams had 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. Their top cornerback Vontae Davis is good in coverage and is a play maker. He had 4 interceptions, 2 Forced fumbles and 1 recovery. They have the talent and play well as a unit to make them a threat for years to come.

Results:

I nailed the Colts in the regular season. I said they would be 11-5 and win the division. They did that to the tee. I didn't expect them to make the run to the AFC Championship game. I didn’t think they were that far along yet. I was wrong on that. They are so close, but they’ll have to get past the defending Champs to take the next step.

Needs:

OG, OT, DE, OLB, FS

Aaron Rodgers may be the MVP but J.J. Watt is the best football player in the NFL, period.
Aaron Rodgers may be the MVP but J.J. Watt is the best football player in the NFL, period.

Texans

I was totally wrong about my predictions on the Texans. I thought Bill O'Brien was overrated and that this team would be terrible. They were in the hunt till the end. This team just battled week in and week out. I was right when I said the quarterback choice would derail this team. I thought Ryan Fitzpatrick was a good backup quarterback option, not a starter. They waited too long to acquire Ryan Mallet. They are still going to struggle getting over the hump until they solidify that position. The Texans signed free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer. Hoyer and Mallet will battle for the starting quarterback job in 2015. I think that will be their downfall again. Neither is proven. I think it's a better plan than they had in 2014.

Arian Foster had a bounce back season rushing for over 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns. Alfred Blue gave them a nice backup to take the pressure off of Foster. Blue took over the spot vacated by Ben Tate leaving in free agency. Blue rushed for 528 yards. Foster and Blue gave them the solid 1-2 punch Texans fans were accustomed to.

DeAndre Hopkins has taken over as the primary target for the starting quarterback. Hopkins had 76 catches for 1210 yards. Don't get me wrong Andre Johnson was still a force with 85 catches. He's starting to get older and before the season he didn't want to be there. So now may be the best time to transition on from him. They tried to trade Johnson and had no takers. They had to release him and now will face him twice a year. They are going to have to find a replacement for that lost production.

The offensive line struggled in 2014, especially earlier on in the season. Their shaky play led the Texans to fire offensive line coach Paul Dunn. They hired Jets offensive line coach Mike Devlin. Devlin was available after Rex Ryan was fired in New York. The pass protection wasn’t very good and they are hoping Devlin can turn that around.

On defense, J.J. Watt is a one man gang. He is equally important to the Texans as Andrew Luck is to the Colts. He is easily one of the best players in the league. He had 20 sacks in 2014. Watt also had 1 interception, 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and 5 touchdowns. 3 of those touchdowns were pass receptions as an eligible receiver. That’s right folks; Watt’s can go both ways. That is insane. 3-4 defensive ends aren't known for getting sacks and scoring touchdowns on offense. He's just a freak athlete. The defense was pretty average in 2014. They were good enough to win and keep this team in games. They added run stuffer Vince Wolfork in the off season. He gives them that immovable object in the middle. They are hoping to get more production out of 2014 number 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney battled injuries for the majority of the season. They are hoping in his 2nd year he’s better prepared and ready to damage alongside of Watt. If Clowney can reach his potential, those two could be a match up nightmare for opposing coaches.

Results:

I picked the Texans to be the worst team in the league finishing 2-14. That was based on lack of faith in Bill O'Brien and their quarterback situation. No team proved me wrong more than the Texans finishing with a 9-7 record and had a shot at the playoffs. Kudos Texans!

Needs:

QB, WR, C, OG, CB



Things are bad in Jacksonville but could turn around with the growth of QB Blake Bortles.
Things are bad in Jacksonville but could turn around with the growth of QB Blake Bortles.

A Sliver of Hope

Jaguars

Year 2 of Gus Bradley's plan ended worse than Year 1. This is going to take a lot of work to turn around. I hear experts saying that they believe the Jaguars are on the verge of turning things around. I don't see anything that supports that evidence. I do however think Blake Bortles is a step in the right direction. I don't know that Gus Bradley is the guy to lead them there.

Rookie Blake Bortles showed promise, but struggled at times. He gives this organization hope that they can turn it around. He showed enough flashes that with time, experience and some help they have found their franchise quarterback.

I didn't get why they thought Toby Gerhardt would be their answer at running back. That was one of many moves that made me question if the general manager and Bradley know how to evaluate talent. Gerhardt was an average backup in Minnesota. He never seemed like he could shoulder the load as a starter. They turned to Denard Robinson who showed flashes, but he's not an every down back.

The receivers are a forgettable bunch. They drafted quite a bit of wide receivers in 2014. They didn't really stand out or establish themselves. There should be opportunities for someone to step up. Right now they still need to acquire talent.

The offensive line allowed 71 sacks. 71 sacks! They have to upgrade this group if they expect Bortles to survive a 16 game season. They brought in former Bills head coach Doug Marone to coach up the line. That's got to be a tough pill to swallow for Marone. He opted out of his Buffalo head coaching job because he thought he would get the option for another head coaching job. So they are banking on his motivation to fire up this crew. If he can make this unit successful, he deserves another head coaching job.

So many people believed Gus Bradley had a lot to do with Seattle's defensive success. I don't get it. It's Pete Carroll's defense. Bradley can't recreate it. Soon, Atlanta will see that Dan Quinn can't either. The defense was ranked 26th. They didn't show much improvement from the year before. They have the money to acquire free agents to fit his system, but they don't seem willing to pull the trigger. In all fairness, I don’t think many good free agents want to come to Jacksonville.

Results:

I thought they would be terrible at 4-12 and that Gus Bradley would be exposed. They were 3-13 and people still think he's the right guy. I had this team figured out. It was easy. They have a bad front office, a bad coach and bad talent.

Needs:

RB, WR, OT, DE, MLB, OLB, FS

Head Coach Ken Wisenhunt arguing a call.  I'm going to guess he lost the argument and the game.
Head Coach Ken Wisenhunt arguing a call. I'm going to guess he lost the argument and the game.

Titans

I thought this team would struggle and knew head coach Ken Wisenhunt had his work cut out for him. It was worse than I thought. They have a lot of work to do. It's going to take a while.

The Titans learned in 2014, Jake Locker wasn't their quarterback. In the off season, Jake Locker retired. I didn't get why they seem to like rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger so much. I think that they learned quick, he's not the answer as well. There are still reports that Wisenhunt still believes in Mettenberger. That is puzzling to me. I didn’t think Mettenberger was that good in college and have a hard time seeing him improve at the next level. The Titans have the 2nd pick in the draft. It seems like they will use that pick to draft or trade it to get their franchise quarterback.

They may also be looking for a running back in 2015. Rookie Biship Sankey led the team in rushing. His 3.7 yards a carry don't seem like the answer. Shonn Greene averaged 4.2 yards a carry. Greene's not the answer, but he does provide a solid backup.

The wide receiver’s production suffered mostly from poor quarterback play, but also there is a lack of talent in this core. Kendall Wright is a burner, but he's not a number 1 receiver. Delanie Walker is a solid tight end. He led the team in catches with 63 and yards with 890. There is work to be done.

The offensive line wasn't good by any stretch. The team gave up quickly on tackle Michael Oher, who seems destined to be known more for that movie than his playing career. They need to find their quarterback and immediately start building this line to protect him.

The most disappointing aspect of this team was the defense. I thought that Ray Horton would be able to scheme this unit up and motivate them. That didn't happen. They were ranked 28th in the league. They brought in Dick LeBeau to help him out. Horton was a defensive backs coach under LeBeau. Wisenhunt is hoping LeBeau's experience can help make this a dominate defense. They resigned their top pass rusher Derick Morgan and signed linebacker Brian Orakpo with the hopes to have two solid edge rushers. Orakpo is coming off an injury and has missed significant time in 2 out of the last 3 seasons. They will need more upgrades to turn around this unit around.

Results:

I thought they would finish 5-11. They finished 2-14. I wasn't that far off, but I never imagined they would be one the worst teams in the league. It's amazing how devoid of talent this team is. Ken Wisenhunt has his work cut out for him.

Needs:

QB, RB, WR, OG, OT, DT, ILB, CB, FS



Broncos---Correct Prediction

AFC East
2014 Results
2014 Predictions
Denver
12-4
13-3
Kansas City
9-7
8-8
San Diego
9-7
10-6
Oakland
3-13
2-14
Had this division figured out pretty well regular season wise. I missed on Broncos in the playoffs and I thought Chargers would make the post season.
Peyton Manning taking a beating in playoff loss to the Colts.
Peyton Manning taking a beating in playoff loss to the Colts.

Redemption derailed by Manning's injury

Broncos

The Broncos are the latest team to realize you can't buy a championship. The Broncos were major players in free agency and their season finished early of its goal. A big reason for that was that Peyton Manning got injured. No team was more reactionary after the season. The whole coaching staff is gone. John Elway and John Fox didn't see eye to eye on the team’s future. Knowing John Fox, I'd assume he was scared Peyton Manning was going to retire and didn't want to go through potential rebuilding. I never thought highly of John Fox. I gave him too much credit. I thought that this team would make it back to the Super Bowl. Like many, I couldn't have foreseen Manning's injury. I think it was extremely smart of Elway to hire his former backup and offensive coordinator Garry Kubiak. Kubiak knows Elway and he knows the Broncos fan base. He's also a coach that Manning can trust. I think this will be a good long term hire for life after Manning.

Peyton Manning looked as if he would lead this team back to playoffs early in the year. He was extremely impressive against the Seahawks. The same team that made him look foolish earlier in the year on the big stage. The Broncos and Manning started to falter down the stretch. He supposedly was injured for the last few weeks of the season.

C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman give the Broncos a strong duo of dual threat backs. I think their impact will be greater under Kubiak. Kubiak loves to run the ball. The Broncos need more balance and they will get it under Kubiak's zone running scheme.

The Broncos were wise to keep Demariyus Thomas. They let Eric Decker walk because they wanted to focus on keeping Thomas. Thomas delivered in a big way. He led the team in catches with 111 and yards with 1619. He also had 11 touchdowns. Decker's replacement, Emmanuel Sanders flourished in Denver. He had 101 catches for 1404 yards and 9 touchdowns. He exceeded everyone's expectations. Wes Welker continued to be a disappointment with the Broncos. He doesn't look like the same player in Denver. He only had 49 catches. Tight end Julian Thomas left in free agency, but I think they will be able to replace him easily.

The offensive line needs a lot of work. They haven't done any major movement on the line in the last two years. That needs to change. Manning took a beating in that Colts playoff game. Their play has seemed to fall apart at crucial times in the last two years.

The Broncos defense was strong in 2014. That was a focus for them in the off season was to upgrade talent and have a defense that was as strong as their offense. They succeeded. The Broncos had the 5th ranked defense. Unfortunately, the defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio has moved on and they will be learning a new system. The talent is there. New defensive coach Wade Phillips is back in Denver as well. Phillips is known for having good defenses. He runs a 3-4 scheme and the old scheme was a 4-3. I think the Broncos have the talent to pick it up quickly.

Results:

I had the Broncos going 13-3 and losing in the Super Bowl again. I had no idea Manning's injury would derail this season. So I don't feel bad being wrong about this one. I almost nailed the regular season. They finished 12-4 and out in the divisional round.

Needs:

Starting THE, OG, OT, NT, ILB


Is this Philip Rivers last year in San Diego?
Is this Philip Rivers last year in San Diego?

Chargers

Whether it’s Marty Schottenhemier, Norv Turner or Mike McCoy, the Chargers seem to always find a way to underachieve. I thought with McCoy, they would break the pattern. Upon further review, it seems like he will keep it alive.

Philip Rivers at one point in the season looked like the MVP. He had another stellar season. Rivers passed for over 4200 yards and 31 touchdowns. Rivers sounds like a guy who is ready to move on. It could be the uncertainty of the Chargers staying in San Diego. Maybe he feels like it's not going to get any better. They don't seem concerned with getting him much help.

Running back Brandon Oliver led the team in rushing with 582 yards. That's not going to cut it. They have to improve this running game and take pressure off of Rivers.

The wide receiver core is completely underwhelming. Keenan Allen looks like a solid possession wide receiver, but had a little bit of a down year after a solid rookie campaign. He led the team in receiving with 77 catches. They need to get guys who can separate down field. There isn't a deep threat on the team. They brought in Stevie Johnson. They are hoping he can recapture his glory years in Buffalo. If he can, they will have their deep threat. Tight end Antonio Gates is still getting it done. He's the 2nd leading pass catcher on the team.

The offensive line isn't perfect by a long stretch. They are solid in pass protection, but aren't that great in the running game. That's a big part of the problem with the running backs. They need to upgrade and add depth.

The Chargers were surprisingly strong on defense. They had the 9th ranked defense in 2014. They aren't known for their defense and are often overshadowed. They have a collection of solid talent. No real stand outs on this unit, but they have some pretty good ball players, safety Erick Weddle and cornerback Brandon Flowers to name a few.

Results:

The Chargers surprised and impressed me in 2013. I thought they were different. I thought Mike McCoy was different. In 2014, same old Chargers. Good, but not good enough. I thought they would have been 10-6 and make the playoffs. They finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Silly me for thinking they had changed.

Needs:

RB, WR, OG, OT, DT, DE

.




One of the most feared pass rushers and he's not a household name.  Meet Justin Houston.
One of the most feared pass rushers and he's not a household name. Meet Justin Houston.

He's gonna get you

Chiefs

The Chiefs are a tough team to figure out. They are well coached. They have enough talent to be a playoff contender every year. It's hard to believe they delivered the Patriots worst loss of the year. They had people questioning if Tom Brady still had it. Not me, but the mainstream media overreacted to this game. Then they lose to the lowly Raiders, not much more to say there.

Alex Smith continues to be a serviceable starting quarterback. He's good enough to win a Super Bowl. I just think it’s going to be tough if you don't get him more play makers at wide receivers. He's not going to put the team on his back.

Jamal Charles had another 1000 yard season and back up Kniles Davis delivered another 400 plus yards on the ground. The Chiefs have a solid running game and stable of backs.

The wide receiver situation has been just plain awful. Dwayne Bowe is gone and they brought in Jermey Maclin. I thought they needed to make this play. Maclin's playmaking ability should elevate Alex Smith's game. Maclin has familiarity with the system and Andy Reid. They still need to bring in more weapons. Tight end Travis Kelce led the team in receptions with 67. Maclin and Kelce give Smith to go to players in the passing game.

The offensive line is pretty stable and could use depth.

They have a defense that's good enough to keep and carry this team. It was the 7th ranked defense. The defense was led bypass rusher Justin Houston. Who had a monster year in 2014 with 22.5 sacks. Tamba Hali continues to provide a solid rush on the other side. Dontari Poe takes up a ton of space in the middle. The secondary took a major hit with the loss of safety Eric Berry. They held up pretty well in his absence.

Results:

I thought this team would be average at best. That was based on their division and level of competition. Also, I didn't buy the season they had the year before. I thought they would crash back to earth and they did. I said they would be 8-8. They were 9-7 and I had this team figure out.

Needs:

QB, WR, OG, OT, DE, ILB, FS

Many said that Derek Carr was the best quarterback in the draft.  They may be right.
Many said that Derek Carr was the best quarterback in the draft. They may be right.

Raiders

A lot of people felt like Derek Carr was the best quarterback in the draft last year. Those people were right. The Raiders have a building block and that's more than they have had in years. Maybe they are on to something. They still have Reggie McKenzie as their general manager, so maybe not. They fired Dennis Allen, which I thought was a great move. They hired Jack Del Rio, again, I like it. Time will tell and they are the Raiders, so expect the worst.

Derek Carr had an impressive rookie season. He passed for over 3200 yards and 21 touchdowns. He looked in command of the offense. They just have to build around him.

Their running game was nonexistent and needs a significant upgrade.

They are not blessed in the wide receiver department either. James Jones led the team with 73 catches, but only averaged 9.9 a catch.

The offensive line needs a lot of work again. I think Del Rio will get this fixed in time. He’s a believer of building teams up in the trenches.

The defense should improve under Del Rio. He has a history of having strong defenses. His Denver defense was ranked 5th in 2014. There was a myth that Dennis Allen was a good defensive coach. His defenses were terrible in Denver and it carried over in Oakland. There aren't any stand outs on this defense. Charles Woodson continues to add to his Hall of Fame career, but how much does he really have left. Khalil Mack didn't live up to expectations in his rookie season. I think he will benefit the most from Jack Del Rio's system.

Results:

I think I had this team pegged from the start. I said Dennis Allen was not the guy. I was wrong on Carr. I didn’t think he was ready. He was more than ready and carried himself like a veteran. I had them going 2-14. They finished 3-13. I knew this roster was devoid of talent, but with Carr they are heading in the right direction.

Needs:

RB, WR, C, OG, OT, DE, MLB, CB





Eagles---Incorrect Prediction

NFC East
2014 Results
2014 Predictions
Cowboys
12-4
8-8
Eagles
10-6
11-5
Giants
6-10
8-8
Redskins
4-12
9-7
I gave the Giants and Redskins too much credit. I didn't give the Cowboys enough. The Eagles fell short. I think many got this division wrong.
Bad Call?  I think so.  Dez Bryant caught and secured this ball.  Did it bounce in his hands?  Yes.  Did it touch the ground?  No.  He stayed in bound secured the ball on his body.  This call cost Cowboys NFC Championship game and maybe more.
Bad Call? I think so. Dez Bryant caught and secured this ball. Did it bounce in his hands? Yes. Did it touch the ground? No. He stayed in bound secured the ball on his body. This call cost Cowboys NFC Championship game and maybe more.

Cowboys

The Cowboys had everyone fooled in 2014. Their season ended in controversy. Was it a catch? In my opinion, it was a catch and the Cowboys got robbed. It's unfortunate and part of the game. It was a huge mistake by the refs. Dez Bryant caught the ball period. The ball moved in his grasp and never touched the ground. He also stayed in bounds. The refs ended the Cowboys season early. Some will say the refs helped them win their wild card game in which they botched an obvious pass interference call against the Cowboys. I don't think the Lions lost that game because of that call, but more so because they were way too conservative in the second half.

Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Tony Romo shut up a lot of their doubters. They didn't win the Super Bowl, but they didn't falter down the stretch again. They were one play away from being in the NFC Championship Game. I was one of those doubters. Romo had another stellar statistical year. He threw for over 3800 yards and 34 touchdowns, which was huge coming off back surgery. He bounced back nicely. They were so smart in not pulling the trigger on drafting Johnny Manziel. Time is running out on Tony Romo and the Cowboys would be wise to start looking for a quarterback in waiting.

Demarco Murray’s play was insane in 2014. He led the league in rushing, but the Cowboys let him leave in free agency. That's shocking to most. I think it was a good move. He had a great statistical season in a contract year. Was he holding back before? Plus, I think he can be replaced. Joseph Randle played well in spots. They signed often injured Darren McFadden and if he can stay healthy that will be a major get. They will need to draft a running back.

Dez Bryant had a monster year with 88 catches, 1320 yards and 16 touchdowns. Terrance Williams and Cole Bealsey round out the solid core of wide receivers. Jason Witten just keeps trucking along. He was the 2nd leading pass catcher on the team. Witten is getting long in the tooth and the Cowboys need to start looking for a replacement.

I thought that the Cowboys could have been one of the best lines in football, now I'm sure of it. I believe they are the reason the Cowboys were ok with letting Murray leave. Drafting Zach Martin over Johnny Manziel was genius. The offensive line is the biggest reason for this team’s great season. They look to be set with this unit for years to come.

The defense improved under Rob Marenelli. It's still bad, but not historically bad like it was in 2013. They played well in spots and when they needed to. They are definitely trending up, but have huge needs in this area. They are taking a risk on defensive end Greg Hardy. He comes with a lot of baggage and a high one year price tag. It’s a high risk, high reward investment. If Hardy is allowed to play they will have a dominate pass rusher. They will however take a major P.R. hit for this move.

Results:

I totally thought this team would be 8-8 at best. They are one of the teams that fooled everybody. So I don't feel bad about that. They had to prove it and they did. They finished 12-4, won the NFC East and were one play away from the NFC Championship game. Are they for real or one year wonder?

Needs:

QB, RB, THE, DE, DT, CB, FS, SS

Nick Foles is down in pain.  So is the hopes of the Eagles making the playoffs as Zach Ertz walks off the field.
Nick Foles is down in pain. So is the hopes of the Eagles making the playoffs as Zach Ertz walks off the field.

Season Derailed

Eagles

I'll sum up the Eagles with this. All they had to do was beat a Redskins team that couldn't get out of its own way. It's a divisional game, which are always tough, but it was against the Redskins. That's a tough pill to swallow. It's not always sunny in Philly. Chip Kelly demanded more power in the off season and he got it. Boy did he get it. He started wielding his power instantly.

Trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. I'm not sure I get this one, but Foles was never Chip Kelly's guy. I refuse to believe Bradford is either. Bradford is coming off an injury and he's injury prone. They brought back Mark Sanchez. Kelly praised Sanchez before the season and Sanchez wasn't that great in his offense. Many believe Chip is in love with Marcus Mariota and acquired Bradford so that he can swap him for Mariota. That theory seems a little far fetched but why not. It's not like Chip doesn't do crazy stuff. With him anything is believable.

So having a top 5 running back wasn't enough for Chip Kelly. He traded LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for a linebacker that played for him at Oregon. Huh? It doesn't make much sense. As I said when discussing DeSean Jackson last year, if you don't follow Chip 100%, then you are gone. I assume DeSean, McCoy, Foles and Jermey Maclin probably questioned his system so they had to be sent away. No one threatens Chip's ego. Now they have acquired Demarco Murray, the leagues leading rusher, which without that Dallas offensive line, isn't the haul people think it is. They have brought in often injured running back Ryan Matthews as well. The Eagles will see like last year the team lost something trading DeSean and it will lose more without McCoy. Darren Sproles didn't look as explosive in Kelly’s offense as everyone thought. Ego is a funny thing and Chip's ego is running wild.

In two years Kelly has moved on from explosive wide receivers teams would love to have. Rookie Jordan Matthews played well. He had 67 catches and 8 touchdowns. Zach Ertz is still a valuable weapon at tight end. Riley Cooper was a one year wonder. They are going to need tons of help with this unit.

The offensive line wasn't very good in year two under Chip Kelly. They weren't awful. They did not get the job done and it looks like there will be a few new starters here as well.

The defense continues to derail this team’s championship hopes. It was ranked 28th in 2014. They are quickly trying to turn it over again. It hasn't worked in the last 3 years. They traded for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Alonso is coming off an Achilles injury. They are hoping he can deliver the same production as a rookie in 2013. They signed former Seattle cornerback Bryon Maxwell. The Eagles overpaid for Maxwell, he’s a system guy and will get exposed being away from the Seahawks. I felt the same way when they brought in Cary Williams. He played play well in the Raven’s system and was exposed playing in Philly. Chip hasn’t learned his lesson. Conner Barwin has worked out well for the Eagles. Barwin led the team in sacks with 14.5. They need to find him a running mate on the other side.

Results:

I gave Chip Kelly too much credit. I still think he's a good coach, but his ego may get the best of him. I thought they'd go 11-5 and win the NFC East and make the playoffs. The Eagles finished 10-6. That's pretty darn close on the regular season record, but they didn't win the East and didn't make the playoffs. I thought this team would win a playoff game and continue improving. They are backsliding big time.


Needs:

OG, OT, DE, OLB, SS



Is it the Greatest Catch of All Time?  NO!  It was a regular season game.  The David Tyree catch was better.  It was special no doubt and made Odell Beckham Jr. a household name.
Is it the Greatest Catch of All Time? NO! It was a regular season game. The David Tyree catch was better. It was special no doubt and made Odell Beckham Jr. a household name.

Amazing but not the Greatest

Giants

The Giants believe in loyalty and consistency. I'm not sure I agree with them, keeping Tom Coughlan. I understand it. I just wonder if the team as a whole is over his tough guy old school mentality. It hasn't worked since the last time they won the Super Bowl and it just keeps getting stale.

The new offensive philosophy seemed to help Eli Manning's turnover problem. He had a solid year statistically. Eli passed for 4410 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. Somehow that wasn't enough.

The running game was sorely lacking. They haven’t truly had a solid running game since they won the Super Bowl. I think they need to address this position in the draft.

The true bright spot was Odell Beckham Jr. This kid came on like gang busters. Beckham had 91 catches for 1305 yards and 12 tds. Victor Cruz’s season was cut short by injury. Ruben Randle had a solid year with 71 receptions. Tight end Larry Donnell was a pleasant surprise with 63 catches. The Giants should have an opposing passing game with the return of Cruz in 2015.

Their offensive line could use some depth, but overall their play was good in 2014. Giant’s fans would disagree. They have been screaming for the team to fix this line for years. They could use a few pieces, but the Giants tend to like to retool and move people around. It has worked for them in the past.

The defense was the weak link for a team that has a history of great defenses. They were ranked 29th in the league. They fired defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and that move needed to be made. The Giants are hoping they can catch lightning in a bottle by hiring former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnola. He was the defensive coach when they won the Super Bowl. I don't know if they can recreate this magic. Spagnola hasn't been good since he left the Giants. He has one of his former players there to build around. Jason Pierre Paul bounced back nicely from injury. He led the team in sacks with 12.5. They will need to rebuild this unit from the ground up, but having JPP will make it easy.

Results:

This is a team I felt I knew well. I thought they would be 8-8. They finished 6-10. I wasn't that far off on them. They were worse than I thought and maybe in for another long season in 2015.

Needs:

RB, OG, OT, DE, MLB, CB, FS


The Brain Trust of Bruce Allen and GM Scot Mccloughan.  And with the 1st pick of the 2000 and forever drafts the Redskins take?????
The Brain Trust of Bruce Allen and GM Scot Mccloughan. And with the 1st pick of the 2000 and forever drafts the Redskins take?????

Redskins

Just when you thought this team couldn't be a bigger mess. They go and totally redeem themselves. Redskins fans should get their decorative brown paper bags ready for another awful season. The Redskins are a joke. Hiring Scot Mccloughan is a joke. They say he's this great talent evaluator. He's had a hand in building San Francisco and Seattle. Look, if he's so good why was he available. We know he has a problem with addiction. So that's the person the Redskins choose to put their franchise in the hands of. Look, I believe people can battle back and deserve second chances but you have to see this is a big risk. Especially for a team that has failed time and time again. They fail with people like Mccloughan and Mike Shanahan that have these great reputations and don't deliver. Yes, we all know the problem is Dan Snyder and that's why I expect this to fail. It seems they have doubts in Mccloughan so much that they tried to bring in A.J. Smith full time just in case. Why else bring in A.J. Smith if Mccloughan is so good? We will see, but no one should be surprised if this blows up in their face.

Jay Gruden's first year as a head coach was a disaster. He was the wrong man. I gave him too much credit, but he's clueless. He doesn't know how to adapt his system to the players he has. He was supposed to be a quarterback guru and all of his quarterbacks played poorly. It's a simple decision. Pick a guy and move on. Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins or someone else. Pick one. Build your offense around that one guy and move forward, otherwise you will have same issues. They didn't pick one and be prepared for a mess.

Gruden doesn't seem to like Alfred Morris. I don't get it. All the guy does is produce. But he doesn't seem to fit Gruden's philosophy as a receiving back. Here's where the good coaches adjust to the talent. Gruden kept talking glowingly about Chris Thompson, who has done jack and squat in the NFL but he's Gruden's kind of back. All Morris did was rush for 1074 yards and 9 touchdowns, most coaches would love that. Not Gruden, he's got a master plan that makes sense to no one.

The wide receivers were a huge disappointment. Not Desean Jackson. He was as good as advertised. Jackson had 56 catches for 1169 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was the only big play weapon on the team. Pierre Garcon had a dismal 68 catches after leading the league a year ago. I blame that on Gruden. Jackson wasn't targeted or featured nearly enough and they never really made an effort to get Garcon the ball. Andre Roberts was a free agent bust and the tight end's are forgettable.

Gruden talked about how the offensive line wasn't as bad as people thought. Then he realized everyone was right and started shuffling the line. They need 3-4 new starters. Tackle Trent Williams is the star and the rest are replaceable.

The defense was awful again under Jim Haslett. They finally did something smart and fired him. Unfortunately, they do something stupid and hired Joe Barry. They are the Redskins folks. They pursued Vic Fangio. Which would have been the smart hire. He turned them down, which is ok. There are reports that he turned them down because they wanted him to keep Raheem Morris as defensive backs coach. Why? The secondary is terrible. They are the Redskins. To make matters funnier, Morris leaves to take the Falcons job, unreal. I don't think the Redskins really wanted Fangio. Barry was their guy. He's pals with Gruden and if we've learned anything, Gruden's track record isn’t great. He kept Jim Haslet last year because they were friends. Yikes! There are few pieces on this defense. Ryan Kerrigan is a baller. Kerrigan had 13.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. Keenan Robinson led the team in tackles with 109. Cornerback Bashad Breeland could be a big time player for them in the future. They signed Chris Culler which should help their secondary. They have many needs on this side of the ball.

Results: I gave this team and Jay Gruden way too much credit. Fool me once. I thought they would be 9-7. They finished 4-12. I was way off on this one.

Needs:

OG, OT, C, OLB, CB, FS, SS

Packers---Correct Prediction

NFC North
2014 Results
2014 Predictions
Green Bay
12-4
10-6
Detroit
11-5
7-9
Minnesota
7-9
7-9
Chicago
5-11
8-8
Had this one figured out pretty good. The Lions were the shocker. I thought the Bears were average and they turned out below average.
Hi my name is Mike McCarthy and I will gift wrap this game to you.  Nice to meet you Mike.  I'm Pete Carroll and I will take this game and gift wrap the next to the Patriots.  Pay it Forward!
Hi my name is Mike McCarthy and I will gift wrap this game to you. Nice to meet you Mike. I'm Pete Carroll and I will take this game and gift wrap the next to the Patriots. Pay it Forward!

How did we not see this coming? Oh we are stupid.

Packers

The Packers lose to the Seahawks to start the season and to finish the season. Both loses can be contributed to Mike McCarthy. The Seahawks and are a tough team to beat, but the Packers made it easy on them twice. I'm still frustrated by how Mike McMarthy cost his team a shot at the Super Bowl. He played it scared. Just like Jim Caldwell in the game against Cowboys in the playoffs. Coaches often out coach themselves like Pete Carroll in the Super Bowl. McCarthy needs to find some guts. Those are harsh words for a Super Bowl winning coach, but the level of fear he showed in that NFC Championship game is unforgivable. He had the defending champs on life support, on the road at their house with a great quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. He was scared to go for it on the goal line with running back Eddie Lacy, who has been a bruising back all year. It's a tough pill to swallow for those poor folks in Green Bay. A whole lot of what if’s going on still in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Rodgers delivered another superb season. He passed for 4381 yards, 38 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Simply amazing! No shocker he won his 2nd NFL MVP.

The Packers have a solid duo at running back with Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Lacy led the team in rushing with 1139 yards and 9 touchdowns. Starks is a good change of pace back and is better in the passing scheme and huge in screen game.

The Packers always have one of the best wide receiver cores in the league. Jordy Nelson is the leader of the group. He led the team in receptions with 98 and yards with 1519. Nelson also hauled in 15 touchdowns. His running mate Randal Cobb was in hot pursuit. Cobb had 91 catches for 1287 yards and 12 touchdowns. It was a great move for the Packers to keep Cobb. He would have been hard to replace. They are extremely lucky that he took a lesser offer to be with them. I think it was a smart move on both parts. Rookie Davante Adams seems a nice piece as the 3rd option. They may need to shore up that tight end spot. It's a revolving door right now.

The offensive line is always a question of stability to this team. At times they play well and other times they look shaky. They have improved and it was huge that they were able to keep tackle Bryan Bulaga. Rookie center Corey Linsley looks like a nice piece to anchor this line for years to come. They will need to add depth to this unit. They always seem to battle injuries to key players.

The Packers defense played well in 2014. That was shocking to me because they've been awful for so many years. Dom Capers has a reputation for being a good defensive coach, but that had been in question for years. Moving Clay Matthews around turned out to be a genius move. He was wrecking havoc from inside and outside at the linebacker position. Julius Peppers was a nice addition, bringing another pass rusher. Peppers made that crucial forced fumble in a playoff game against the Cowboys. Morgan Burnett and rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix give them a good duo at safety. They played well and gave the Packers a chance to make the Super Bowl, but were let down by their head coach.

Results:

I had the Packers going 10-6, winning the division and making the playoffs. I was pretty close on this one. They finished 12-4, won the division and made the NFC Championship game. They were so close and gave the game away. There is no other way to describe what happened in the NFC Championship game. It will be intriguing were they end up in 2015.

Needs:

OG, OT, DT, MLB, OLB, CB


Huge blown call in playoff game against Cowboys.  Anthony Hitchens interferes with Brandon Pettigrew.
Huge blown call in playoff game against Cowboys. Anthony Hitchens interferes with Brandon Pettigrew.

Did this play cost the Lions the game? I say no but Jim Caldwell's fear did.

Lions

What a turn around. That's what solid coaching can do for you. See Dan Snyder, if you hired the right guy this could be you. Caldwell was up for the Redskins job, but was passed over for Jay Gruden. The Lions seem to have a bright future and the Redskins are well the Redskins. Jim Caldwell was interviewed by the Redskins before he interviewed and accepted the Lions job. They choose wisely. This team looked renewed and inspired under Caldwell. They no longer looked like the disorganized mess they were under Jim Schwartz. I think Caldwell did a great job. I do question a call in the playoff game against Dallas, which I felt cost them their season. They got screwed on that pass interference call. Plain and simple the referees got it wrong and picking up that flag was criminal. That play didn't cost the Lions the game. After that play, the Lions still had a 4 and 1 at the 50 yard line. They were up 10 on the road. Caldwell played it safe and that cost him. I believed then and I still believe he should have gone for it. If they get that first down, eat up more clock and score the Cowboys are done. They punted and the Cowboys scored quickly and the momentum shifted. I hate that scared way of thinking and that to me cost Caldwell big time. Joique Bell was running well in that game. Trust him and let him go get that one yard.

Quarterback Matt Stafford looked more polished and in control under Caldwell's system. Caldwell has a history of grooming quarterbacks. He has been a quarterback coach for various teams throughout his career. He managed to convince Stafford to not take as many chances with the football and the Lions were better off for it. Stafford passed for over 4200 yards. He had 22 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. The future seems bright for Stafford working with Caldwell.

The running game still is lacking. Joique Bell was the leading rusher with 860 yards. Reggie Bush was often injured and now is gone. They need to find an every down play, making running back. They have seriously lacked at this position since Barry Sanders retired.

They may have the best receiving duo in football. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in football, in my opinion. He battled injuries in 2014. Johnson still managed good numbers in an injury plagued season. He had 71 catches for 1077 yards and 8 touchdowns. Down numbers for Johnson but would be career numbers for a lot of people. Golden Tate was an excellent pick up in free agency. Tate led the team in receptions with 99 and yards with 1331. Rookie tight end Eric Ebron was a little disappointing in his rookie campaign. Maybe with a year under his belt, he can make more of an impact. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew continues to disappoint. He has talent but has not lived up to it. They could use another target in this offense to help continue to open and improve the passing game.

They need to address the offensive line. The need to drastically improve their run blocking and also need to solidify the right side. The right tackle spot dealt with a lot of injuries last season.

The Lions had the 2nd ranked defense in the 2014 season. They really took to Teryl Austin's system. Losing Ndamukong Suh will hurt this unit, but count me as one of the people that think he can be easily replaced. He's super talented and there is no doubt about it. He is not worth the money he got and the headaches he causes. I don't think he's a disruptive force like J.J. Watt. He'll be good for Miami but it would have been bad for Detriot to pay that kind of money. They will need to address his loss quickly. DeAndre Levy is a tackling machine. He led the team in tackles with 151. Hopefully Stephon Tulloch will return healthy after a foolish injury. That would give them a pretty strong linebacker core. Pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah continues to improve. He was 2nd on the team in sacks with 7.5. The Lions have solid pieces, even without Suh. They will need to bolster their defensive tackle position and add another pass rusher. They could use some help as well in that secondary. All in all I think they are in good shape with defensive coach Teryl Austin. I'll be interested to see if they can improve. He set the bar high.

Results:

The Lions exceeded my expectations. I thought they would be 7-9. I just thought with adjusting to new coach Jim Caldwell and his system, it would be a challenge. They embraced the change in philosophy and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin may be the next hot coordinator with another impressive showing without Suh. They finished an impressive 11-5 in 2014. I really misjudged this team, but also feel like many did as well. So I don't feel so bad on this one

Needs:

OG, OT, DT, DE, CB


Adrian Peterson's legal troubles have altered the view of his legacy with the Vikings and in the NFL.
Adrian Peterson's legal troubles have altered the view of his legacy with the Vikings and in the NFL.

Teddy, Teddy, Teddy!

Vikings

The Vikings had a good rebuilding year under first year head coach Mike Zimmer. All signs point to them getting better in 2015. Zimmer had this team competitive and focused in his first year. They are going to be one of those teams to be on the lookout for, if they are patient with him. I'm not sold on their general manager Rick Spielman. I think he is the one that could hinder the growth of this team. It still boggles my mind that he keeps his job. He doesn't have the best record drafting or in free agency.

Teddy Bridgewater was a steal for the Vikings and I have to give Spielman credit for that. He gives them a nice building block at quarterback. He came on during his rookie season and he and offensive coordinator Norv Turner could make some noise with this offense. I'm glad the Vikings came to their senses early and gave up on the Matt Cassel experiment. I think they could use a solid backup quarterback. Just in case Teddy doesn’t make the leap in year 2.

What will the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson? They don't want him, but they don't want to give him away. His legal troubles have soured his standing with the team. He felt like the team turned his back on him and he doesn't want to be here. This is a mess. Somehow they need to resolve it before the season. I think it would do them good to part ways. That would leave them with a huge hole in the backfield. They need a running back in the worst way. Norv Turner has a history of finding unknown guys.

The Vikings traded for Mike Wallace. This should improve their passing game. Wallace wasn't used properly in Miami. I think Norv will find a way to get the most of Wallace like the Steelers did. They have moved on from their own disappointing signing Greg Jennings. The Vikings went with Jennings after Wallace turned them down in free agency that year. It’s funny how things come around. I think it’s safe to say Cordelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph just aren't that good in the passing game. They will need to acquire more weapons if they hope for Teddy to make a big jump.

The offensive line should receive a lot of work. Left tackle Matt Khalil's play was inconsistent to say the least in 2014. They will need to invest heavily in the draft. They are going to need a major swing of talent or motivation with this group.

The defense was good in 2014 and that's Zimmer's focus. I think this side of the ball will improve greatly next season. Harrison Smith seemed to adapt well to Zimmer’s system. He was tied for second on the team in tackles with 93. He led the team in interceptions with 5. Everson Griffen is another player that benefited by posting career highs in sacks with 12.

Results:

I thought they would be 7-9 in Zimmer's first year and they were. I nailed the prediction for this team. I think they will continue to get better under this coaching staff. They may need to find a new talent evaluator because Spielman will continue to let them down.

Needs:

QB, RB, WR, THE, OG, OT, LB


The Bears invested 100 million into Jay Cutler.  Hey Bears I've got and investment deal of a lifetime for you.  Signed Bernie Madoff.
The Bears invested 100 million into Jay Cutler. Hey Bears I've got and investment deal of a lifetime for you. Signed Bernie Madoff.

In Matt We Trust

Bears

The Bears made a horrible decision paying Jay Cutler. I think they made a terrible decision in hiring John Fox as well. He is one of the most overrated coaches in the league. I think he does have a solid coaching staff. To be honest, I thought firing Lovie Smith for Marc Trestman was a horrible move. I think firing Trestman and hiring Fox was a brilliant move. I just don't think Fox is as great as the media makes him out to be. Fox will make this team competitive and a contender for the playoffs, but they fired Lovie Smith for that reason. They wanted to win the Super Bowl. I don't think Fox can lead them to that. He's a stubborn old school coach. He'll be great in Chicago, at first. He plays their style of football, but I doubt he can get them to the next level.

This is where we see how good of an offensive coordinator Adam Gase is. Just last season he was a hot head coaching candidate. Denver faltered down the stretch and exited the playoffs early. The offense sputtered. Fox left Denver and Gase wasn't seriously considered for the job. The shine wore off quickly. Peyton Manning is his own offensive coordinator; we've known that for years. This is a major opportunity for Gase with Jay Cutler. Cutler has the talent, but does he have it mentally, is always the case. His stats are misleading. He passed for over 3800 yards and 28 touchdowns. He threw 18 interceptions, which isn't that bad, but there were a lot of questions about his heart, leadership and motives. It will be a make or break year for Cutler and Gase. The Bears need to find a future quarterback now.

Matt Forte is still one of the most versatile backs in the league. He had over 1800 yards rushing and receiving combined. He led the team in receptions with 102. Forte has a history of missing games, so it would be smart to get another running back to help ease the load.

Brandon Marshall has a toxic personality and can destroy a locker room. It was smart to trade him to the Jets. The Bears still have Alshon Jeffery. He just continues to get better. He had 85 catches for 1133 yards and 10 touchdowns. They will need to find him a running mate on the other side. Tight end Martellus Bennett gives them a big target down the middle of the field. He had a monster season with 90 receptions for 916 yards. Bennett at times can be toxic, but nowhere near the level of Marshall.

The Bears have a solid offensive line but injuries derailed how good they could have been. The starters only played one full game together. Kyle Long is the star of this unit. If they can keep this unit healthy and add depth, the Bears fortunes could change quickly.

Defensively, the Bears were terrible. They were ranked 30th overall. It's not like the Monsters of the Midway to have a bad defense. They got back to what they know and hired a defensive minded coach in John Fox. Fox's defense in Denver was ranked 3rd. Fox smartly hired Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator. Fangio brought over Ed Donatell as defensive backs coach with him. Fangio's defense in San Francisco was ranked 5th. So you'd think with Fox and Fangio's defensive prowess, the Bears will be back to their old defensive dominating ways. Expect a lot of changes on this side of the ball. They have good pieces in strong safety Ryan Mundy, defensive end Willie Young and cornerback Kyle Fuller. Young provided the team with a solid rush and led the team in sacks with 10. Mundy led the team in tackles with 103. Fuller and Mundy tied for the team lead in interceptions with 4 apiece.

Results:

I thought this team would be a mediocre 8-8. They finished 5-11. I gave this team way too much credit. I thought they'd be inconsistent, but I didn't think they'd be a self-destructing mess.

Needs:

QB, WR, LB, CB, FS



Saints---Incorrect Prediction

NFC South
2014 Results
2014 Predictions
Carolina
7-8-1
9-7
New Orleans
7-9
11-5
Atlanta
6-10
7-9
Tampa Bay
2-14
4-12
Just like everyone else, I completely missed on the Saints. All in all not bad on this division.
Cam Newton celebrates with his favorite passing target Greg Olsen.
Cam Newton celebrates with his favorite passing target Greg Olsen.

Panthers

The Panthers win the worst division in the NFL in 2015. With all the screaming of a losing team making playoffs, the Panthers win their playoff game. So twice in history we have had two below 500 teams win playoff games. The masses whined and complained its not fair. Look, it’s simple, win your division and you get a home playoff game. What's so hard about that? What's so bad about that? I don't feel sorry for the Arizona Cardinals, who won 11 games and had to play a road game against a 7 win Panthers team. The Cardinals didn't win their division and that's their fault. They knew what needed to be done. The Panthers won their division and it's not their fault it's a bad division. They did what needed to be done. Guess what crybabies, the better team won. If the Cardinals truly were as good as their 11 wins said, they should easily come into Carolina and win. They didn't. No need to change the format. It's not broken and it is fair. People need to toughen up.

Cam Newton battled injuries all year, but still managed to deliver in crucial games to get them into the playoffs. All things considering Cam played well. He threw for over 3100 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also managed to rush for 539 yards and 5 touchdowns. Even hampered by injuries he was still a double threat. Back up Derek Anderson played well in the games Cam missed. The Panthers have their quarterback situation settled and secure, but they do need to work out a long term deal with Newton.

The running back situation is still in flux. DeAngelo Williams is gone and it’s about time. He hasn't provided this team much in a while. Jonathan Stewart was easily the better of the two backs. He played well rushing for 809 but he's a guy who is injury prone. They need to address this area in a major way.

Finally, and let me say it again, FINALLY the Panthers invest in a wide receiver for Cam Newton. They drafted Kelvin Benjamin in the 1st round of the 2014 draft and he delivered. Yes, Benjamin is rough around the edges, but he was still a rookie. He gave Cam and the Panthers the number 1 wide receiver they desperately needed. He had a great rookie season. Benjamin had 73 catches for 1008 yards and 9 touchdowns. Those numbers should only continue to improve. Tight end Greg Olsen led the team in catches with 84 and tied Benjamin in yards with 1008. Those two players give the Panthers a solid base for their passing game. They do need to get them help. There is a huge drop off in talent after those two options.

The Panthers offensive line at times had a hard time protecting Newton. Ryan Khalil is still a pretty solid starting center. They signed tackle Michael Oher of The Blind Side fame. He's more known for that movie than his play on the field. He's too inconsistent as a blocker, but he's an upgrade over what they had. They will still need to add depth here as well.

The Panthers had a top 10 defense in 2014. It's not flashy, but it is the strength of the team which is not surprising with a defensive head coach like Ron Rivera. It begins and ends with the man Luke Kuechly. Kuechly is arguably the best middle linebacker in football. Kuechly is a tackling machine. He led the team in tackles with 153. The team lost pass rusher Greg Hardy for the season due to legal actions and now he’s gone. Charles Johnson still continued to give them a steady pass rush with 8.5 sacks. They will need to get him some help on the other side. The secondary is serviceable, but will need some upgrades.

Results:

7-8-1 won this division and they won a playoff game to boot. The Panthers exceeded my expectations in the playoffs. I had them at 9-7 and in the Wild Card playoffs. I wasn't far off on this one. I just believed they were going to be a tough team to keep out of the playoffs. They fought all year long.

Needs:

RB, WR, OT, DE, DB



Sean Payton is still trying to figure out what went wrong in 2014.
Sean Payton is still trying to figure out what went wrong in 2014.

The Best Pre Game Ritual in the NFL. It's too bad it fell on deaf ears.

Saints

The Saints maybe the most disappointing team in the league. They have the coaching and talent to be special. It's baffling how this team couldn't win at least 10 games. They had to be the biggest surprise team of 2014. It was surprising they were this awful. Looks like the Saints agree and are having a fire sale.

Drew Brees had another stellar year. He passed for 4952 yards and 33 touchdowns. Bree's is not the problem. They do need to start looking for a quarterback to start grooming. Bree’s would be a good teacher.

They even got a career year from Mark Ingram. Ingram rushed for over 900 yards and 9 touchdowns. He was a man on a mission. A mission to secure a new contract which he did successfully. They could still use a change of pace back, since they decided to let Darren Sproles go before the season. Signing C.J. Spiller could fill that role vacated by Sproles. He's got the explosion and talent, but the question is can he stay healthy.

The wide receiver cast seemed like a sound bunch. Kenny Stills had 63 catches for 931 yards. Stills was another victim of the cleaning house. They traded him to Miami to bolster their terrible defense. It will be easier for them to replace him in this offense. They are always sound at finding pass catchers. Marques Colston had 59 catches for 902 yards. Colston continues to be a solid performer. Jimmy Graham led the team in receptions with 85. He had 889 yards and 10 touchdowns. Now Graham is gone and I don't think he'll be missed as much as Sproles. Rookie Brandin Cooks had a strong 1st season with 53 catches. Cooks season, while good for a rookie, was disappointing as well. Cooks is apparently not available in the fire sale, which I don't get. They see value in him. There was so much hype surrounding this guy during the draft. He claimed he was better and more explosive than DeSean Jackson. He was not. Not even close. He was underwhelming. Maybe he will explode in his second season after digesting the playbook. They really missed Darren Sproles and though Cook could provide that spark.

The offensive line really wasn't that good. The trade of Jimmy Graham for center Max Unger is a huge upgrade. Unger is one of the better centers in the league and is a nice building block. They traded guard Ben Grubbs to Kansas City, as the fire sale continued. Brees is going need more up front to keep him safe.

In 2013, the Saints had a top 5 defense. In 2014, they had the second worst defense in the league. That’s the biggest reason why they struggled. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that out. Sean Payton decided to keep Rob Ryan and chalk it up to a bad year. They'll have to improve drastically in the upcoming season. They signed Brandon Brower with the hopes to bolster their secondary. Top free agent Jarius Byrd was lost early in the season. A healthy Byrd teamed with strong safety Kenny Vaccaro and Browner could give the Saints a big physical secondary that everyone but Seattle desires. They added linebacker Dannell Ellerbe in the Kenny Stills trade, to help improve that unit. We'll see if their moves and reactionary fire sale work.

Results:

I couldn't have missed a prediction more on a team than I did on the Saints. I had them finishing 11-5, winning the division and making the NFC Championship game. The Saints, however finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs. I don't feel as bad on this one because everyone got this pick wrong.

Needs:

QB, WR, THE, OG, DE, OLB, CB, FS

The Falcons are hoping Dan Quinn is more Pete Carroll than Gus Bradley.  You figure it out.
The Falcons are hoping Dan Quinn is more Pete Carroll than Gus Bradley. You figure it out.

Falcons

All the Falcons had to do was beat the Panthers and they would have won the division and hosted a playoff game. They got destroyed. A change needed to be made. I think they were right in firing Mike Smith. I don't think they hired the right guy in Dan Quinn. Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks. Let's get one thing straight, the success of the Seahawks defense has to do with Pete Carroll and not Quinn. Being a defensive coach of the Seahawks will get you a head coaching job. It worked for Gus Bradley and now Dan Quinn. Bradley has been awful and I believe Quinn will follow suit. People will see that Carroll is the mastermind behind Seattle's defense.

Quinn's first mistake, hiring Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. This will now be Kyle's 3rd team in 3 years as an offensive coordinator. It's good that his coaching career got jump started by his dad. Kyle is regarded highly by most NFL experts. I don't get it. He always has issues with his quarterbacks and his offenses have only been ok. They have never been dominant. He's had some good statistical offenses, but none that scared anybody. We shall see what he does with the Falcons. The weapons are in place.

Matt Ryan is a great statistical quarterback. He passed for over 4600 yards and 28 touchdowns. He is not a big game quarterback. When the pressure is on, he comes up small. He was horrible at that last critical game against the Panthers. So were the rest of his teammates, but Ryan is paid like one of top quarterbacks and has not delivered. He does need help.

The running game was abysmal. Steven Jackson didn't make much of a difference and the Falcons have parted ways with the running back. They will be transitioning into a zone blocking scheme and Jackson wouldn't be a good fit.

The wide receivers are the strength of the offense. Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the league. He led the team in receptions with 104 for 1593 yards. His partner in crime, Roddy White finished with 80 catches. They will need some help, since their number 3 receiver Harry Douglas is a free agent. The team lacked a viable threat at tight end after Tony Gonzalez retired. The core is in place, they need the supporting cast.

The offensive line needs a lot of work. Tackle Jake Matthews was a nice addition. They are going to need much more.

There isn't anything good about this defense. It was ranked dead last in the NFL. That's why they hired the defensive coordinator of the NFL's best defense. They hope Quinn can turn the Falcons defense into the Seahawks. I don't see that happening. The Jaguars thought the same with Gus Bradley and their defense only finished 26th. When will executives learn that Pete Carroll is the mastermind of the Seahawks defense. Don't expect much to change in this unit next year.

Results:

I predicted the Falcons would finish 7-9 and they finished 6-10. As you can see I didn't have high hopes for them. They had a chance to make the playoffs and couldn't win a home game to advance.

Needs:

RB, WR, THE, OT, DE, LB

Man among boys.
Man among boys.

A Wide Receiver that Blocks....That's Crazy!!

Buccaneers

The Josh McCown experience was one and done. Now the Buccaneers are looking for a starting quarterback again. Will it be Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? All reports are pointing to Jameis Winston. Winston is the better of the two quarterbacks, but he comes with a lot of baggage. We have to wait and see what the Buccaneers do with the 1st overall pick in the draft. Mike Glennon is still on the team. No one seems to care. He may be the Day 1 starter until the rookie is ready.

The running game was nonexistent. Doug Martin has regressed and struggle with injuries. He led the team in rushing with just 494 yards. The team will need an upgrade at this position.

The strength of this offense is its big strong wide receiver duo in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Jackson led the team in catches with 70 and also had 1002 receiving yards. Mike Evans led the team in receiving yards with 1051. Evans also had 68 receptions and 12 touchdowns. Impressive numbers considering their quarterback situation is horrendous. They could use more depth at this position. They'll need an upgrade at the tight end position as well.

The offensive line was an abomination. They need so many parts here. The unlucky starting quarterback will be in for a world of pain unless they seriously upgrade across the board.

Tampa was 25th in defense. That much was to be expected. Lovie had to install his defense in the first year and they didn't have all the parts. I believe Lovie will turn this defense around faster than the offense. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of the stars on defense. He led the team in sacks with 8.5. Another bright spot was LaVonte David who led the team in tackles with 146. This team has many holes and a lot of work to do. The silver lining is they played in the worst division in football, so there is a chance of quick turnaround. I don't see it, but it could happen.

Results:

I knew this team would be bad and they were. I said they would be 4-12. They were 2-14. They were as bad as I thought they would be.

Needs:

QB, RB, THE, OL, DE, LB





Seahawks---Correct Prediction

NFC West
2014 Results
2014 Predictions
Seattle
12-4
12-4
Arizona
11-5
9-7
San Francisco
8-8
11-5
St. Louis
6-10
6-10
Had the Seahawks pegged perfectly until the worlds worst play call cost them the Super Bowl. The Niners were one of the biggest disappoints in the league and everyone missed on this one. The Cardinals were better than I imagined while the Rams are
The play that cost the Seahawks the title.  Ricardo Lockette got the blame but he had no shot at this ball.
The play that cost the Seahawks the title. Ricardo Lockette got the blame but he had no shot at this ball.

Seahawks

An ego is a funny thing. Pete Carroll let his ego get in the way of winning another Super Bowl. No matter how many times he tries to explain it, the explanation is stupefying. Why would you take the ball out of the hands of your best player on offense?

The Seahawks are going to have a long, painful off season of questioning motives. Why would you take the ball out of Marshawn Lynch's hands on the goal line? I believe it's because they wanted to get rid of him at the end of the season. There were reports that Lynch was extremely unhappy when Percy Harvin was traded. There were also reports that Lynch would follow offensive line coach Tom Cable got a job with another team. So the leader of the team has gone against the head coach's decision to trade a problem player and he's shown his loyalty to another coach on the staff. He's become a problem for Pete Carroll. If Lynch scores the game winning touchdown, he's the Super Bowl MVP plain and simple. If Russell Wilson throws the game winning touchdown, maybe he's the MVP or at least that's what Carroll was hoping. If Wilson is the MVP, Carroll can move on from Lynch. Wilson will instantly gain the respect of the locker room with the MVP trophy and can be Carroll's mouthpiece. Then the worst thing happened. Wilson threw an interception. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin admitted the players were shocked when the play call came in. Lynch has said that he believes someone in the organization didn't want him to score that touchdown. That decision has brought dissension into their locker room. There were players on the defensive side of the ball complaining in the locker room about Lynch not getting the ball. There will be a lot of damage control done in 2015.

Russell Wilson had another strong year. I think he is the perfect quarterback for this team. He doesn't turn the ball over and he's a dual threat. He keeps the chains moving. He passed for 3475 yards, 20 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He also rushed for over 800 yards and had 6 rushing touchdowns.

Marshawn Lynch is still the most important player on this offense. That's why it's so mind boggling they took the ball out of his hands in the Super Bowl. Lynch rushed for over 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns. Christine Michael has been a disappointment. All we heard for the last two years from general manager John Schneider was how much of an impact he'd make. He has been nonexistent in two years. In 2014, he only had 175 yards rushing. In 2013, he only had 79 yards rushing. Now he's backing up one of the best running backs in the league so you have to take that in account. I bring it up because they talked about how he was going to be an explosive part of their offense. Robert Turbin looks like a solid back up. He seems to have the talent to take the reigns, but he just hasn't had enough experience. He rushed for over 300 yards in a limited role. I think he is clearly better than Michael.

The Seahawks made a mistake letting Golden Tate go. He was a play maker and exploded with the Lions. There were rumors swirling with him and Russell Wilson. Quarterbacks are more valuable than wide receivers, that's the business and the truth. Now with that said, the wide receivers for the Seahawks are underrated. I had this group all wrong. They stepped up when Percy Harvin was traded. I don't think they get enough credit for bailing Russell Wilson out. A lot of his passes are jump balls or 50/50 balls and they go up and get it. Doug Baldwin stepped up as the leader of this unit. He led the team with 66 receptions. Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette are assets. They have blazing speed and have great vertical leaps. Kearse bailed out Wilson on that great catch that led to the final play of the Super Bowl. Kearse made that amazing catch, that if they won the game, it would have been the play of the game. Ricardo Lockette was the scapegoat for the final play. The coaching staff attempted to blame him for the interception. Lockette had no shot at that ball. It was a bad pass. Baldwin came to his defense and the coaching staff admitted that the play shouldn't have been called. Lockette is a free agent and its easy to blame him instead of Russell Wilson. The Seahawks acquired tight end Jimmy Graham in a trade with the Saints. Graham gives them a big weapon and a matchup nightmare. I think they gave up too much in this deal. Plus, the Seahawks have been burned before bringing in big time pass catchers. Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin didn’t work out. Everyone will say Graham is different. He’s coming off a down year after getting a new contract. He’ll be going from a pass heavy offense to a run heavy offense. I don’t think its automatic that he’ll fit into this offense.

The Seahawks have a solid run blocking line. They really need to improve on their pass blocking. Wilson is one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league. They could use some depth in this area. It doesn’t help that they may have traded their best offensive lineman Max Unger. Now they have a huge hole in the middle.

The defense is still the best in the game. They finished number 1 in defense for the 2nd year in a row. I'm still amazed they were not able to hold a 10 point lead late in the Super Bowl. This defense was known for dismantling quarterbacks. Look at what they did to Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. They get tremendous pressure on the quarterback. Most of it is based on their superior coverage skills. They do have solid edge rushers in Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin. Their linebackers have the ability to quickly move sideline to sideline. They are great in coverage. They are led by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. He and linebacker K.J. Wright led the team in tackles. K.J. Wright finished 1st. The secondary is the unquestioned strength of this defensive unit and maybe this team. The Legion of Boom puts the fear in quarterbacks and play callers around the league. They scared Packers coach Mike McCarthy so much that he blew the first game and the NFC Championship game, because of his fear of this secondary. Richard Sherman gets the headlines, but Earl Thomas is the best player in this secondary. His ability to cover in space, allows the cornerbacks the freedom to take chances. Kam Chancellor is the heavy hitter and intimidator. Sherman is as good as he says. Is he the best corner in the league? That's debatable. He's damn good. He doesn't follow the best receiver around, but their system doesn't call for him to do that. He had to do it in the game against the Cowboys and he struggled in covering Dez Bryant. Bryon Maxwell was the underrated player of this unit. He had to cover the opposing team’s top wide receiver most of the times because teams were scared of Sherman. Maxwell is a free agent and now he’s gone. They will be able to replace him easily. They have a knack for doing that. They did it when Browner left and I feel confident they will do it again. They signed Cary Williams to replace Maxwell. Williams was terrible in coverage with the Eagles. He’ll be better in the Seahawks cover 3 system. He’ll have Earl Thomas to protect him when he blows coverages, and he will blow coverage big time.

Results:

I felt that the Seahawks would finish 12-4 and would win the Super Bowl. They finished 12-4 and lost in the Super Bowl. I nailed this prediction except I didn't account for Pete Carroll making the worst play call in history. Now granted the call was made by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell but don't get it twisted, Pete Carroll had a hand in that play call.

Needs:

WR, C, OG, OT, CB




Carson Palmer, Bruce Arians and Drew Stanton talk over game plan with Logan Thomas looking on.
Carson Palmer, Bruce Arians and Drew Stanton talk over game plan with Logan Thomas looking on.

Thanks for setting them straight Bruce

Cardinals

I can't say enough about the coaching job Bruce Arians has done in the last 3 years. It's truly impressive. 2014 stood out because of the fact that the Cardinals played 4 different quarterbacks and had 3 different starters. Carson Palmer was playing well before he was lost for the season. Drew Stanton filled in for Palmer and was impressive at throwing the deep ball. When Stanton went down things got a little hairy.

The Cardinals need to figure out a long term quarterback plan. It seems like Arians believed in last year's rookie Logan Thomas, but he needs time to grow. The jury is still out on that idea. Palmer and Stanton give them two capable quarterbacks for now. The running game is nonexistent. Their running backs are forgettable. They seem to like Andre Ellington, but I don't think he's anything special. I think he would be a good change of pace back/3rd down back. They need to find a starter whether through free agency or the draft.

The Cardinals have solid wide receivers. Their stats don't tell the story. The core as a whole had a down year based on the erratic quarterback play. Larry Fitzgerald is a consummate pro. Michael Floyd and John Brown are capable of making big plays.

The offensive line was steady. No one on this unit is stellar. They could use some depth here.

The defense will take the biggest hit in 2015. The loss of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will be felt. Statistically, they weren't great. Their defense was ranked 24th. That doesn't tell the story. Bowles was great at dialing up the pressure and getting the most out of a unit that was hit with devastating injuries of players like Darnell Dockett and the yearlong suspension of Daryl Washington.

They have one of the better secondaries in football led by stand out Patrick Peterson. Did he have a stand out season? No, but he does what few will. He's going to follow the best receiver all over the field. Antonio Cormartie provided a solid number 2 guy, giving them a stable duo. They lost Cromartie to free agency and that is a big blow to this unit. Free safety Rashad Johnson led the team in tackles and interceptions. Tyrann Mathieu was injured for the early part of the season and seemed to get into the groove as the season progressed. They are hoping he will be back to full strength in 2015.

Results:

I thought this team would finish 9-7, based on Arians being able to coach this team up. I didn't think they'd make the playoffs due to the strength of this division. I thought the quarterback play would hold them down. Arians just proved how good of a coach he really is and they finished 11-5 and made the playoffs.

Needs:

QB, RB, THE, OG, OT, DE, OLB, CB



The Brain Trust.  The ran Jim Harbaugh out of town because they found him difficult.  They seem to hate success.  They made their bed now it's time to lie in it.
The Brain Trust. The ran Jim Harbaugh out of town because they found him difficult. They seem to hate success. They made their bed now it's time to lie in it.

49ers

Hard to figure out what the plan is when you chase off a coach that has you in the mix for the title every year. Harbaugh's worst year in San Francisco was his last. The Niners finished 8-8, which was an achievement considering all of the meddling and dysfunction spread by the owner and general manager. In 4 years, Jim Harbaugh was 44-19-1. He went to a Super Bowl, 3 NFC Championship games and made the playoffs 3 out of the 4 years. He never had a losing season. So the front office decided success wasn't good enough for our team, let’s chase off the guy who turned around our franchise. Harbaugh has a reputation of being tough to work with and maybe that's true, but some of the greatest coaches are known for that. Jed York and Trent Balke couldn't find a common ground so naturally they felt they were the reason the Niners were successful. They chose Harbaugh and they felt they could find another coach that can lead the team to a Super Bowl win. I couldn't disagree more. York and Balke are fools and Niners fans should prepare for some dark seasons ahead.

York and Balke decided to promote defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach. They apparently liked Tomsula's rah rah enthusiasm. They believe that he's a players coach and the team will like him better. Or at least that's what they are portraying. The truth is he will be easy for York and Balke to control. Tomsula has only been a head coach once. It was for the Rhein Fire in 2006. They went 6-4. He was the interim coach for the final game of the season when they fired Mike Singletary in 2010. He won that game. So those two things make the Niners confident that he will be more successful than Harbaugh. I can't make this stuff up. It's unreal situation. Don't expect much from this team in 2015. They have talent, but they lack the proper leadership at head coach. Tomsula may fool me; I'd be shocked by that. I will have to wait and see.

Colin Kaepernick hasn't progressed the way everyone thought. He's still a solid quarterback. He may backslide without Harbaugh. Harbaugh has proven he knows how to coach up quarterbacks. It will be interesting to watch if he improves without Harbaugh. Kaepernick passed for over 3300 yards and 19 touchdowns. He rushed for over 600 yards. His dual threat ability makes it tough for defensive coaches to scheme him. We will see how he adapts to the new offense.

Frank Gore just keeps delivering. He rushed for over 1100 yards. Gore is now 31 and will be 32 when the season starts. The Niners had to make a tough decision to let him walk in free agency. It’s Carlos Hyde’s job to lose now. When Hyde got his opportunity he played well. They will have to add some depth behind Hyde. He’s never been a full time starter, so they would be wise to pick up some insurance. They brought in Reggie Bush, but he’s not reliable at all. They’d be wise to invest in a running back in the draft.

Anquan Boldin like Gore had another solid year. He had 83 catches for over 1000 yards. Like Gore Boldin's days are numbered he's 34 and will be 35 during season. Michael Crabtree finished second on the team with 68 catches. Crabtree often questioned his role in the offense. He is a free agent. It remains to be seen if he’ll come back. The Stevie Johnson experiment was quick and ineffective. He only had 35 catches and has been cut. Tight End Vernon Davis was lost in this offense as well. Davis finished the season with only 25 receptions. There are rumors that Davis may be done in San Francisco as well.

The 49ers have one of the better offensive lines in the game. Their line took a big hit when Mike Iupati. The Niners feel they have enough depth to deal with the loss of Iupati.

They couldn't convince Vic Fangio to stay which will hurt this unit. The Niners had a top 5 defense. They did that without Navarro Bowman. Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith missed significant time as well. The team was hit hard by the surprise retirements of linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. Fangio managed to keep this unit playing at a high level. It will be interesting to see how this group responds to new defensive coordinator Eric Mangini.

Results:

I picked the Niners to finish 11-5 and make the playoffs. I had no idea of the level of dysfunction and they finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. It’s a shame they let ego derail a season and chase off a very good coach.

Needs:

RB, WR OG, DE, OLB, ILB, CB




Sam Bradford being carted off due to injury.  Is it time for Bradford and the Rams to part ways?
Sam Bradford being carted off due to injury. Is it time for Bradford and the Rams to part ways?

Rams

Someone still has to tell me how Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are still employed and Jim Harbaugh is fired. In 3 years together they are 20-27-1 and no playoff appearances. That's not good. People will say it's a rebuilding process and it’s going to take time. Ok, that's fair, but why are other teams turning around their fortunes quickly. Every year we hear about their great drafts and how we should watch out for the Rams. Every year they win about 7 games. In 19 full years as a Head Coach, Jeff Fisher has 6 winning seasons and only 5-6 playoff record with one Super Bowl berth. That's not that amazing, but every media expert and outlet talks about how great a coach he is.

Let's examine some of the excuses with the Rams will use.

  • Sam Bradford was hurt. He's always hurt, why didn't you have a quarterback to push him.

  • They are rebuilding. The 49ers made it to the NFC Championship game the 1st year Jim Harbaugh was there. He did it with a quarterback people were calling one of the worst in the league. The Cardinals won 10 games in Bruce Arians first year with a quarterback they were saying was washed up. Pete Carroll won the NFC West and a playoff game in his first year in Seattle.

  • The roster is in better shape than before they were there. Is it really? They didn't draft Robert Quinn or Chris Long. Who are these great draft picks?

    It's time to move on from Sam Bradford. He can't stay healthy and even when he's healthy, is he the guy to take this team forward. I think both would do better parting ways. The Rams need to find a legitimate starting quarterback and not a Jeff Fisher band aid quarterback. They have enough back up quarterbacks and it's time to get a starter. So they traded Sam Bradford for Nick Foles. I think this is an upgrade. Foles is a solid quarterback. May be the Rams are heading in the right direction, but Jeff Fisher’s history tells me not to believe it.

    Tre Mason showed flashes when he got the chance. He led the team in rushing with 765 yards. They could use another running back. Fisher is a run heavy coach and they would benefit from a big bruising running back.

    The team needs to invest in the wide receiver position heavily. Tavon Austin is not the star that Mike Mayock and all the "experts" would have you believe. He had 31 catches for 242 yards. He averaged 7.8 yards a catch. That is not explosive. I know his numbers will be blamed on the lack of solid quarterback play, but they weren't much better his rookie season. Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and so on and so forth. They aren't cutting it. They drafted all these guys except Kenny Britt, who Fisher drafted in Tennessee. I don't know what they have to do, but they need play makers at that position. Maybe stability at quarterback will help but I doubt it.

    The offensive line is mediocre at best. They need stability and more talent. They finally have a quarterback. Now they need to invest in some protection for him. Fisher wants to have a power running game so he needs to get some mean and nasty guys up front to open holes.

    The Rams defense is ok. It's solid enough to keep them competitive considering their offense is just awful. Robert Quinn is the star of this unit. He had another strong season in 2014 with 10.5 sacks. It was a down season compared to his 2013 performance, but I think that had a lot to do with Chris Long being injured. Teams were able to focus their protection on Quinn. Alec Ogletree and James Laurinaitis finished 1st and 2nd in tackles. The secondary is serviceable. It's not special by any means. It's good enough for this team to be successful. I expected the defense to improve under Gregg Williams. It didn't really change much.

    Results:

    I said this team would finish 6-10 and they finished 7-9. I just don't see what everyone else sees in this team. I don't think their drafts are as great as the experts say. I really don't think Jeff Fisher is that great of a coach. This prediction was an easy one. They were one game better than I thought.

    Needs:

    QB, RB, WR, C, OG, OT, CB, FS





Conclusion

So closing the chapter on the 2014 season. It was the first time that I summarized team by team and predicted a whole NFL season. It was fun. I’ve always enjoyed following the NFL. I never needed a reason to watch NFL games, but I have to say closely watching the games to see my predictions added a level of excitement. I think this how people feel when they play fantasy football.

My overall 2014 game predictions finished with a record of 149-106-1.

I got 8 of the 12 playoff team’s right.

Playoff Teams

AFC                                 NFC
Patriots                            Packers
Bengals				    Panthers
Ravens				    Seahawks
Colts
Broncos


Regular Season Teams that fooled me good and bad.

Dallas Cowboys—Like everyone, I thought they would falter down the stretch.

Houston Texans—I thought they’d be the worst team in football and hired the wrong coach.

New Orleans Saints—Everyone was shocked how bad this team played.

San Francisco 49ers—Front Office vs Coach. The dysfunction derailed this team’s season.

Washington Redskins—I overvalued this team’s coaching ability and talent or lack thereof.

I got 5 of the 8 division winner’s right.

Division Winners

AFC                     NFC
Patriots                Packers
Colts                   Seahawks
Broncos


Championship Game Predictions

AFC Championship Game         NFC Championship Game
Patriots                      Seahawks


I predicted the Patriots would make the AFC Championship game but lose to Broncos

I nailed the Seahawks winning the NFC Championship Game---Not a big stretch since they won the Super Bowl the year before.

Super Bowl Team Predicted

Seahawks—I predicted the Seahawks would win. Still shocked they lost. At least they made the Super Bowl.

I look forward to making predictions for the 2015 season.

I highly suggest trying it for fun. I will do it again after the draft. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.


© 2015 Randal Bruce

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