NFL 2015 Preview
Who will win the NFC North?
1. Green Bay
Fresh off a devastating overtime loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game, the Packers added some pieces to beef up their defense. The Packers should win this division, even with Jordy Nelson’s injury, however, someone will need to step up to fill his spot. I believe that spot will be filled by second year player Davante Adams. Look for him to have a huge year this year as he helps the Packers catch yet another NFC North Title.
Adrian Peterson is back. That really should be all that I need to say here. Teddy Bridgewater is coming off a strong Rookie year, and now he has a running back who is more like a horse with arms. Peterson will help open up more of the passing game for Bridgewater and I think the Vikings find a way to at least contend for a playoff spot. However, the NFC is stacked, and I don’t think they will make it this year.
The Lions will still be a solid team, but I think they will actually take a couple steps back this year. Last year they had Ndamukong Suh, and he is incredible. He took his talents to South Beach with a massive deal and the Lion’s defense is going to feel it. Matthew Stafford is inconsistent and I think will be the main downfall to the Lions this year. However, if he can keep his turnovers down, and get the ball to his playmakers, the Lions have a shot to compete for the division.
Why are the Bears at the bottom of the North? Jay Cutler. Cutler may be the most infuriating player to watch. He has the talent and arm strength to make every single throw, but between the ears he has an issue making the right decision. The Bears have lost a lot from last year, and they were bad last year. I’m looking at this being a rebuilding year for the Bears, and a divorce from Cutler after this season.
Who will win the NFC South?
1. New Orleans
Despite the Saints losing Jimmy Graham, I see them winning the South this year. Yes Graham had almost one thousand yards receiving and ten touchdown receptions, but I’m confident that Brees will help anyone succeed. He threw for 4952 yards last year which was tied with Big Ben for the most in the league. The big question for the Saints this year is “Can Rob Ryan turn that defense around?” In 2013 they were one of the better defenses in the league, but last year they were not good at all. If that defense does start playing “Ryan” defense, the Saints are going to be a really good team.
The Falcons are another team that was not good at all defensively last year. They will need to improve drastically if they want to make a run to the playoffs. Just a couple season ago, the Falcons were one of the league’s best, but have fallen off, mostly due to their poor production on the defensive side of the ball. With Matt Ryan as the signal caller, they will be in position to be a solid offense that just needs a little support from their defense.
The Panthers won this division last year, and they certainly could again. However, I believe that with the loss of Kelvin Benjamin for the season they are going to struggle. Cam Newton has certainly been making strides, but he had some issues in production last year with a substandard receiving corps. This year he has less. However, I don’t put it passed Superman to lead his team to a few victories that they shouldn’t have and win this division.
4. Tampa Bay
Possibly one of the most highly anticipated teams coming into this year. FAMOUS JAMEIS is behind center, but will he be able to live up to the hype and help turn around this franchise? I love the Bucs roster, I think they are one of the more talented teams in the league, but over the last couple years, they have had issues filling the most important position in the game, quarterback. I think Winston has potential to be a very good NFL player, but as is with all rookies, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to playing in the NFL. Give the young man a couple years to develop and the Bucs could be back in the discussion for NFC South Champs.
Who will win the NFC East?
The Cowboys still have a bad taste in their mouth after their playoff loss to the Packers in the NFC Divisional round. I hate the rule, but there has to be a line of what is and isn’t a catch. Anyway, the Cowboys return the best offensive line in football, and have a very explosive offense to go along with that. If Darren McFadden can pick up where Demarco Murray left off last year, the Cowboys will be in great shape. Maybe with a good offensive line, we will finally get what we all hoped for from the former Razorback. Tony Romo also has plenty of weapons at his fingertips with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. The Cowboys should be a fun team to watch this year.
The Eagles could win this division if they can continue doing what they have been doing in the preseason. However, I believe that when their starters are playing full games, they too will start to get tired. Will Sam Bradford be able to stay healthy or are we going to get a Tim Tebow, who actually does appear to have improved over the last couple years, during his hiatus from the game. The Eagles are fast and explosive, and will certainly be must see TV.
3. New York
The Giants aren’t likely going to be much better than they were last year, but when you have Eli Manning throwing the ball to Odell Beckham Jr what else do you need? The game plan should be, throw the ball towards OBJ and let him make a play. In all seriousness, the Giants will need to find a running game by committee to help open up the passing game for OBJ and Victor Cruz. If they can do that, then they just need to worry about their defense, and they are missing a couple fingers.
Washington has so many issues right now, people have forgotten about the whole issue with their nickname. RGIII is on his way out, and he should be happy about that. He needs to find a place that wants him and can use his abilities to their fullest. I think the best place for him would be to go to Seattle and backup Russell Wilson. That being said, they have a couple of really solid Running backs, but just need some help through the air.
Who will win the NFC West?
This actually might be the year that the Seahawks don’t win the West, but until that actually happens, I am picking them to win it. They are having to pay all their young talent now, and with that they have to let people go. Their offense has struggled the last couple years at times, but because of that stingy defense, they have been able to win games that most teams wouldn’t. This team is not the same it was last year after losing a couple pieces, but if they want to be solid again, they will need to work out a contract deal with Kam Chancellor, and that should be the focus before the start of the season.
I really wanted to put the Cardinals at the top of my list here. I think they have a great opportunity to win the division. They have a great defense, but last year they were riddled with injuries, and a big one to their starting quarterback, and then their backup quarterback. They just didn’t have the talent to compete down the stretch. However, their defense was able to keep them in ball games and help them win a couple that they shouldn’t have won. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy, he has a good chance of leading this Cardinals team to a Division title.
3. St. Louis
I really don’t know what to think about the Rams this year. They have a new identity with Nick Foles as their quarterback, but I don’t know how much that will help their team. Last year they had a pretty mediocre defense, but definitely not a bad defense. Bradford was hurt again last year, and maybe with a competent quarterback they would have been a better team. I guess we will see this year, but I don’t see them being better than Seattle or Arizona this year.
4. San Francisco
The 49ers are a mess on the field and off. Letting Jim Harbaugh go is a bad decision. I’m prepared to eat my words if Jim Tomsula is better, but he won’t be. Not having Aldon Smith anymore will definitely hurt their defense, but he shouldn’t be playing in the league anymore anyway. There was a mass exodus from the team, and one of the players being their stable, long-time running back, Frank Gore, who packed up and went to Indianapolis. The 49ers are going to be bad this year, and in a division that is extremely good, that isn’t good.
Who will win the AFC North?
The Steelers are coming off a division title. They were in a dogfight for first place all year with the Bengals and Ravens, but finished the year on a four game winning streak to take the cake. I expect this to be another tight race between the top three teams in the division. Antonio Brown is coming off an absolutely insane season with almost 1700 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns. If he has production like that again, the Steelers should win this division yet again.
The Bengals have proved that they are not going anywhere anytime soon. They have slowly become one of the best teams in the division. However, they seem to have hit a plateau and if they want to take the next step Andy Dalton, the Bengals quarterback needs to step up. He has way too much talent around him to not go forward. A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert along with Marvin Jones and Jeremy Hill, who had a breakout year last year in his rookie season. The Bengals could take this division and make it theirs, but they need more consistent play from Dalton.
Just three years removed from winning the Super Bowl the Ravens have certainly taken a couple steps back. That being said, they have a solid quarterback and a good coach. If Justin Forsett can have another good year, he will help them compete for the division. Flacco will need to take more risks and throw the ball down the field a bit more. He has a big time playmaker in Steve Smith Sr despite his aging legs. He should be able to get over the top. If the Ravens can come up with a few more big plays this year, they have a pretty good chance to make the playoffs.
If the Browns can figure out their quarterback situation they could be a pretty solid squad. They went 7-9 last year with their quarterback fiasco. Josh McCown is now their signal caller and may help them out drastically, but I’m not convinced he is the answer to their prayers. He has a decent receiving group with Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, but will he be able to get them the ball, and can the Browns run the ball? That is yet to be seen. They have a pretty solid defense and seem to be getting better, if they can figure things out on Offense they could be good, but in this division they are probably going to have a rough time.
Who will win the AFC South?
The Colts will win the division because of Andrew Luck. He is a “football god” according to new addition Frank Gore. Luck is coming off a sensational year by most, but is still getting scrutinized because he wasn’t mistake free. I expect Luck to take the next step in his career and win the MVP award at the end of the season. The thing that may hold the Colts back this year is their defense. The defense showed flashes of being great last year, but it wasn’t consistent, and consistency is what is needed in this league. The Colts have what it takes to win the Super Bowl this year, but they will need their defense to step up for them, because we all know their offense will produce.
If there was a team to challenge the Colts in the division, it’s the Texans. Brain Hoyer is the new quarterback in the Lone Star State, but he may actually be a good fit there. He has a good group around him, when healthy, and they could have a lot of success. However, how healthy is Arian Foster? He has been banged up most of his career. Even with questions at the running back position, the Texans have the scariest defensive line in the league. J.J. Watt alone is enough to get defenses scared, but the Texans added Vince Wilfork to the group in the offseason. Combine that with Jadeveon Clowney as a pass rushing linebacker and you have a front seven that is terrifying.
The Jaguars finished the year at 3-13. However, I think they are getting better and will be immensely improved. Blake Bortles is in his second season, which I expect will be much better than his rookie outing. He has some solid young pieces around him on offense with a defense that is improving all the time. I do think they will start a little slow, but once Julius Thomas is back from his injury, Bortles will have another larger target that causes match-up problems for everyone.
Like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Titans will struggle again. They will likely be a little improved, or at the very least looking better. Marcus Mariota is getting the ball from the start and being thrown to the wolves, but that will give him a lot of good experience. They need more pieces around him to complement his ability, but I think they will be improved. Their defense will need to improve drastically as well if they want to have any success. They were 29th in points allowed and that just won’t cut it, especially with a rookie quarterback.
Who will win the AFC East?
1. New England
Tom Brady. Brady owns the AFC East. Over the past ten years the Patriots have not won the division just one time, and that year Brady threw just eleven passes before tearing his ACL. Brady’s suspension was lifted and he is the starting quarterback in week one, which is bad news for the rest of the East. I don’t think the Patriots will be as good as they have been in the past as they have been losing pieces right and left. However, I can’t bet against Belichick and Brady to win the AFC East.
Sexy Rexy is with a new team and he is going to try to make a splash. The Bills were a pretty solid team last year, despite having a terrible offense. They say defense wins championships, and the Bills have a defense. I’m expecting them to be one of the top defenses again this year, and if they can figure out their quarterback situation, they could be dangerous. They have the defense to combat the Patriots and compete for the Division, but will their offense step up? We’ll see!
I really like the Dolphins, but I think this Division is going to be a tough one. Ryan Tannehill is getting better every year, and he could end up breaking out this year and leading the Dolphins passed the Bills and Pats. Although, I don’t see that happening quite yet. I think the Dolphins are on their way, building a solid offense, and getting Ndamukong Suh to anchor the defense. Give them a couple years (Brady’s retirement) and they will be the team to beat in the East.
4. New York
The Jets still don’t know what’s going on under center. That has been their biggest issue the last couple years. But the Jets have bigger issues than who is playing quarterback. When you have players punching your quarterback in the face, we need to figure out that first. What’s going on in the locker room? Why does this dude, who is no longer on the team, hate Geno Smith? If I was a Jets fan I’d almost be thankful he did break Geno’s jaw, that way you don’t have to go through an entire year of that again.
Who will win the AFC West?
Sure, Peyton Manning may not be able to feel his fingertips. And sure, he was pretty bad the last few weeks of last year. But don’t count the old man out. Manning comes into this year needing just over two thousand yards to eclipse Brett Favre as the all-time passing leader. He has already accumulated all of the other passing records, just needs this one to finish off his career. Manning may have just this year left in the tank, but if he is healthy, the Broncos will be really good again.
2. Kansas City
The Chiefs need Alex Smith to be more aggressive, plain and simple. He has the arm and the talent to make the big throws, he just doesn’t. Last year, not a single wide receiver caught a touchdown pass. However, this year the Chiefs have brought in big time playmaker, Jeremy Maclin who is coming off a 1300 yard ten touchdown season. He gives Smith an option to go over the top for some big plays. That coupled with Jamaal Charles being the beast he is, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Chiefs did take the top spot in the West.
3. San Diego
The Chargers are one of those teams that feels like they always under-perform. I always expect them to be a 12-4 team, and they end up being about .500 overall. I don’t understand. Normally, the Chargers are terrible for the first half of the season and get into panic mode and slip into the playoffs. Last year, I thought they had figured it out as they started the season 5-1 but they ended 9-7. We’ll see, they have the talent to do great things, but never live up to their potential.
I really like the Raiders. They are doing great things with Derek Carr and the young talent that they are adding to the roster. This year they drafted wide receiver, Amari Cooper, out of Alabama who proved that college just wasn’t challenging enough for him. He will be a great weapon at Carr’s disposal. The Raiders will definitely need to improve on the defensive side of the ball as they gave up a league worst 28.3 points per game. I don’t think they are close yet, but they are going in the right direction.