Thursday, September 5, 2013

10 comments 2013 NFL Season Predictions

I don't always make NFL season predictions, but when I do, they are guaranteed to be wrong. Regardless, I don't like it when people make predictions and then act like they are dismissing their own predictions, so I'm going to be super-confident in my predictions. Go to Vegas and bet all the money you have on what I am able to predict. What could go wrong? It's always hard to predict the upcoming NFL season. Some teams don't do well and other teams go from last to first. Some teams catch a break or two and that allows them to cruise to a 11-5 record, while other teams struggle with bad luck and only go 8-8 and miss the playoffs. Given the short NFL season, there is a certain amount of luck that goes into whether a team makes the playoffs or wins their division. Regardless, here are my 2013 NFL predictions. Feel free to mock mine or make your own in the comments.

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (11-5): I just have a feeling this is about to become the year of Chip Kelly. I think the Eagles are going to really benefit from the change in head coaches and his offense will take enough teams by surprise that the Eagles will be able to win the NFC East. This is a tough division and I can almost see any team in this division winning the division. This is an offense that Mike Vick seems born to run...we'll see. I also sort of like the Eagles defense too and think they are a team that takes the "first year head coach leap" which is something I just made up and isn't a real thing. I think Brandon Graham is going to have a breakout year and end up with 10+ sacks.

New York Giants (10-6): I have a hard time counting the Giants out. Even if Victor Cruz doesn't return completely healthy I fully expect Rueben Randle and David Wilson to have some breakout years (but not Bleacher Report-type breakout years where they have already broken out and I am predicting they will break out again). The Giants can still protect the passer and rush the quarterback, which is always nice. The defense will still be strong in rushing the passer and I am of the opinion a strong pass rush is the best way to win football games, especially in a division with Robert Griffin and Chip Kelly's offense.

Washington Redskins (8-8): It's not that I am down on the Redskins anymore than I am down on the Griffin carrying the offense and the Redskins (what I perceive to be) overachieving again. I'm obviously guessing at this, but I like the Redskins defense and offense, but just don't think they will win as many games this year. I don't think the Redskins have strong enough receivers and other teams have had all summer to gameplan around the zone-read. Even if Griffin is 100% all year, which I am not confident in this occurring, I don't think he has the receiving targets which will force defenses to adjust to stopping the Skins running game. The Redskins do have Brian Orakpo back, which is going to help the pass rush, but I still feel the Redskins overachieved last year.

Dallas Cowboys (6-10): I think the Cowboys are at a turning point right now. This could be the season the Cowboys put it together, Romo proves his critics wrong and Jason Garrett shows why Jerry Jones liked him so much 4-5 years ago. This could also be the season Romo gets even more criticism for his lackluster play, Garrett gets fired after the season, and the Cowboys head into the offseason ready to make major coaching staff and personnel changes that I can only guess at (something insanely crazy like trading for Phillip Rivers and hiring Jon Gruden). I'm also not sold on Monte Kiffin coming back to the NFL and being a quality defensive coordinator. I don't hate Romo as much as a lot of people, but this seems like an extreme year where Romo could be run out of town when things go bad. Though his new contract makes my doomsday scenario not very viable. Hey, Gruden loves veteran quarterbacks so Romo would be probably be a guy he'd love to work with. Gruden loves that guy!

NFC North

Chicago Bears (11-5): Logic dictates to me the Bears will be better than I think. I am not happy with this prediction, but on paper the Bears look very good to me. Many of the problems I have harped on in the past have been fixed. The offensive line is stronger, there is another receiving option (or two) for Cutler and the defense isn't going to be completely broken by losing Brian Urlacher. I have always had more faith in Jay Cutler than I should, but he has a better offensive line and this is really the year he has to show up to earn a new contract. The Bears defense is going to help them win games, but I think this is the year the Bears get a second receiving threat and an offensive line that protects Cutler. They will win the division.

Detroit Lions (10-6): I feel like it is a fool's errand to pick the Lions to make the playoffs, but I think it will happen. I'm not a big Reggie Bush fan, but he is going to be in an offense where he'll have room to catch the ball and he certainly is a better running option than the Lions have had recently. I still believe the Lions are weak in the secondary, but a good pass rush fixes a lot of defensive problems and the Lions got Ansah and Devin Taylor in the draft to help Suh and Fairley up front. I think the Lions will stay healthy and have just enough defense to win 10 games and make the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers (8-8): It's pretty boring to choose the Packers to win this division, I must admit, so I won't do it. Of course I'm not convinced the Packers can protect Rodgers sufficiently, but Rodgers did well last year and was sacked 51 times. He'll make due. The Packers actually have a running game now (hopefully) with Eddie Lacy, which only serves to make the offense more potent. I'm not exactly excited about the Packers defense and I think that's where they will get tripped up this year. The secondary is weak and while Rodgers is going to make due at the quarterback spot and will put up great numbers, this Packers offensive line could be a sieve. I see a step-back year for the Packers followed by them getting serious about upgrading the defense and offensive line in the offseason.

Minnesota Vikings (3-13): I hate Christian Ponder. Not as a person, mind you, but as a football player. Aside from the fact I think Christian Ponder isn't very good, these are the receivers he has to throw the ball to:

Greg Jennings: Declining and never played with a quarterback who isn't really good. Christian Ponder isn't very good.

Cordarelle Patterson: He's a rookie. If you know what to expect from him, tell me, because I don't know.

Kyle Rudolph: A real receiving threat.

Jerome Simpson: Blah.

The offensive line isn't terrible at the tackle and center spots, while the defensive line is very good, which always helps. Still, no matter how good the defense can be, the offense (and by offense I mean "Adrian Peterson") has a ton of pressure to score points and I don't think the Vikings offense can score points. Last year's playoff appearance was a miracle and I don't see this team going anywhere with Christian Ponder anytime soon.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints (13-3): The Saints schedule isn't exactly threatening and I firmly believe Sean Payton will get the ship righted on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball this year. The Saints can't be as bad they were last year on defense. More importantly, the Saints haven't ever really counted on the defense to do anything but create turnovers and make sure the ball gets back to the Saints offense. It goes against my common sense to bet on Rob Ryan, but since the Saints were so bad last year if he pulls the defense up to be even average he is going to look like the genius I don't believe him to be. The Saints offense is still potent and I think the Saints defense will be on a mission to prove they aren't as bad as last year. It's a leap of faith, but I think the Saints will win the NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons (9-7): I think the Falcons are a popular pick for good reason to win the NFC South, but the Falcons are also a tad bit overrated. A tad bit, I mean, not a lot. Regardless of their talent, they are counting on two rookie cornerbacks to play well in a division with really good receivers. As great as Steven Jackson has been during his career in St. Louis, he is 30 years old and has 2802 touches in the passing and running game to his credit during his career. Granted, the Falcons made due with Michael Turner while Turner was running with weights around his legs, a fork in his back, and the breakaway speed of, well, he had no breakaway speed. So I am nitpicking. The Falcons are a sexy pick for good reason, but their linebackers and secondary have the potential to be not very good at all. The Falcons look really, really good on paper, but they have questions on the right side of the offensive line and I'm not sold on their defense at all.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10): Looking at the Bucs defense I feel like I should like them more. All jokes aside about Revis, even if he is only 70% of what he was then he is a starting cornerback in the NFL. I love Lavonte David, like how the Bucs dedicated themselves to making their secondary better, but I'm not sure the defensive line can get pressure. Then I move to the offense where the Buccaneers have a "franchise" running back (whatever that means these days) in Doug Martin and two great receivers. But yes, they do have Josh Freeman who can make spectacular passes or just outright look terrible. He's symbolic of this Bucs team. There's talent and they will beat some good teams, but I can't see them putting it together over an entire season. Too little pass rush, too little faith in Freeman. The good news is he will be a free man (see what I did there?) when the Bucs let him leave in free agency after this year.

Carolina Panthers (6-10): At the end of last season, the Panthers had shaky coaching, an offensive line with questions on the right side, no second wide receiver to complement Steve Smith and a secondary that had a lot of holes. Going into this season none of these things have improved and the secondary doesn't have holes, it's just a hole. Carolina has a really good defensive line but the rule that pressure makes the secondary look good doesn't apply when the secondary is this awful. Same story as the previous two seasons. Carolina won't win important early games, Cam Newton will get blamed for the offensive struggles partially caused by inept play-calling, and Ron Rivera should have been fired back in January. New GM, new head coach. That's the rule. There's great players here, but Carolina hasn't committed to giving Newton more weapons in the passing game and the secondary could very well allow opposing quarterbacks an 80% completion percentage.

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers (11-5): This is a really tough division to predict. Even though the 49ers don't have a great secondary and Colin Kaepernick lacks weapons in the passing game I still think the 49ers can win the really tough NFC West. The injury last season to Justin Smith showed how much Aldon Smith is reliant on Justin Smith playing well on the defensive line. Still, the 49ers have a great defense and I'm excited to see what Kaepernick can do over a full season. The 49ers have a really steady offensive line and the 2013 draft made it clear that Trent Baalke is setting the 49ers up to contend this year and for quite a few years down the road. I just don't know who Kaepernick is going to throw the ball to other than Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin, but the way the 49ers can run the ball I can still see them winning the division.

Arizona Cardinals (8-8): Here's the thing about the Cardinals. They won four games last year with shitty quarterbacks and they have a new coach in Bruce Arians who has shown he knows how to help quarterbacks improve and develop. Maybe Carson Palmer can't develop too much more, but he is competent and the Cardinals simply need competent. Even with Jonathan Cooper being injured indefinitely I think the Cardinals offensive line has moderately improved and Larry Fitzgerald is due for a bounce-back year because I didn't decide to keep him as one of my keepers in a fantasy league. I also think the Cardinals defense will be very solid. All reports about Tyrann Mathieu seem to be positive coming out of Cardinals training camp and Patrick Peterson has one side of the field fairly well locked up. There are questions at linebacker, but the Cardinals have Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, and I think Dan Williams will improve to become a very good nose tackle. I'm pretty high on the Cardinals, even if they don't make the playoffs. I think I've under-guessed their record for the season and will regret it when they make the playoffs and I didn't predict they would.

Seattle Seahawks (8-8): I know, this is probably a stupid choice because Russell Wilson is a winner and Marshawn Lynch is a beast, plus Pete Carroll is just great. I blame my gut feeling. I feel like Seattle had a really good year last year, but with the Irvin suspension and Percy Harvin being out indefinitely I'm getting bad vibes about this season. I have more than vibes, so don't worry, I also have my opinion...which means jackshit of course. The Seahawks offensive line is pretty good, but shaky on the right side. More importantly, I don't know if Russell Wilson has anyone to throw the ball to if Harvin stays out, which doesn't bode well for the passing game. Of course the Seahawks defense is great and it's really great in the secondary where I would have to nitpick in order to criticize them. Even with the addition of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett I'm still not sure these two are going to get the pass rush where the Seahawks want it to be. Their schedule also plays out to be really brutal.

St. Louis Rams (5-11): I'm not hating because of Peter King's love for the Rams, I promise. I think Tavon Austin will deserve to win Offensive Rookie of the Year and he will make a difference in the Rams passing game. The problem is I don't trust Chris Givens, Jared Cook and Brian Quick to make a difference in ensuring defenses don't key on Tavon Austin. Not to mention, the Rams running back position just looks awful to me and these running backs will be running behind an offensive line that has talent (Jake Long) but questions as to whether they can stay healthy (Scott Wells and Jake Long). Giving Bradford no running game isn't the way to win football games. The Rams defense is very solid up front with Brockers, Langford, Quinn, and Long, while the secondary looks great as long as you just don't pay attention to the safeties. It's a partial-birth abortion at this position unless T.J. McDonald is a lot better than I anticipate him being. But hey, if the Rams have a bad season just look to Peter King for a few rays of sunshine.

NFC Playoffs: 

Byes: New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears

Wild Card Round: San Francisco 49ers over Detroit Lions, New York Giants over Philadelphia Eagles

Divisional Round: New Orleans Saints over New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers over Chicago Bears

Conference Championship: San Francisco 49ers over New Orleans Saints

AFC East

New England Patriots (13-3): I'm not quite convinced the Patriots are going to lose this division only because the names of Tom Brady's offensive weapons aren't well-known. I think Danny Amendola can do a very good Wes Welker impression and the Patriots are lucky to have a running back in Shane Vereen that is a very good receiver. Obviously the questions tend to lie the most with the Patriots secondary and how well they can stop the opposing team. I feel pretty good about Dennard and Talib with McCourty playing safety. I'm not sure the Patriots have it all worked out defensively quite yet, but they have a good pass rush with Chandler Jones and a solid group of linebackers who all seem to be from SEC schools (whatever that means for their NFL careers). I'm not ballsy enough to predict the Patriots to lose the division as long as the Patriots really good offensive line protects Tom Brady. 

Buffalo Bills (9-7): Obviously this prediction's accuracy lies in how much Jeff Tuel ends up playing this season. If he plays only in the opening game of the season (which it seems he won't even play in that game) I feel the Bills can go 9-6 over the rest of the schedule with E.J. Manuel as their starter. I didn't like Manuel as much coming out of college, but all indications I have read is that he had a really good training camp. I'm overly high on the Bills. C.J. Spiller is going to only benefit from getting the football more and I believe the Bills receiving corps of Stevie Johnson, Marquise Goodwin, T.J. Graham and Robert Woods are young, but are going to help Manuel succeed at the quarterback spot this season. Mostly, I like the Bills defense. I know the defensive line struggled last year, but I think this year they are going to look a lot better and allow the Bills to get pressure on the quarterback with just three or four rushers. The Bills have moved to a 3-4, but so few teams run a straight 3-4 or 4-3 system and there are hybrids the Bills can run with Mario Williams dropping back into a linebacker spot that I have faith the Bills defense will adjust. Stephon Gilmore (a breakout player according to Bleacher Report) is going to improve this season and I'm just going to ignore the Bills linebackers because I don't have as much faith in them.

Miami Dolphins (6-10): I appreciate the sentiment of improving the receivers by signing Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson. That's the way to help Ryan Tannehill succeed as a quarterback, which is to put quality playmakers around him. The Dolphins let Jake Long go, but Tyson Clabo should hold down the right tackle spot sufficiently, though I'm not convinced Tannehill won't be murdered by a pass rusher who beats Jonathan Martin on the left side. So I don't feel as okay about the offensive line as I should. I'm just afraid the Dolphins offense isn't going to be as good running the ball and will force Tannehill into too many tough throwing situations. Plus, the Dolphins better run a lot of hybrid defenses because I'm not sure I like their defensive players as a fit in a 4-3 system. What do I know though? I don't believe the Dolphins offense will improve as necessary and they don't really have very strong cornerbacks, which made cutting Richard Marshall a bit of an odd move. It's hard for me to see the Dolphins doing better than 6-10.

New York Jets (1-15): I tried hard to think of a reason why the Jets aren't going to be 1-15 and failed. A few of the many reasons I can see a team have a terrible season is bad quarterback play, a lack of a balanced offense, a porous offensive line and a defense that isn't able to compensate for the offense's issues. I think the Jets have all four of these characteristics. They don't really have a starting quarterback, I don't trust any of their running backs to carry the load, even if they had a competent quarterback who the hell does he throw the football to, and I don't have faith in the right side of the offensive line. Maybe Stephen Hill or Santonio Holmes will be productive and healthy. Maybe Chris Ivory can be the 200 carry back I don't believe he is capable of being. The Jets defense isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but Rex Ryan's defenses with the Jets has relied on strong cornerback play which this team doesn't have. I feel like it's time for a change and this year just seems like it is going to be a dumpster fire for the Jets.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals (12-4):The Bengals are a really popular pick this year and for good reason. They had a pretty good offseason and part of the reason I see them playing so well is because of the draft picks I didn't really like...if that makes sense. I didn't think Tyler Eifert was a great choice, not because of his talent, but because I thought the Bengals had other needs. Still, he will make a great weapon for Andy Dalton. I'm not too high on Gio Bernard, but he will complement BenJarvus Green-Ellis well simply by giving defenses a different look. I also like the Bengals defense with Dre Kirkpatrick (hopefully) finally making it back from injury and the pass rush should be pretty strong, which helps out considering the safeties are a bit of a question. Yeah, I'm buying on the Bengals, so I'm pretty screwed.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): Despite the fact the Steelers signed Bruce Gradkowski this offseason, I am not predicting them to win the AFC North. It's the same song, different verse for me. I don't like the Steelers offensive line that much and feel like Ben Roethlisberger will be running for his life as usual. I would say again I don't like Le'Veon Bell, but he's the best they have and perhaps one of the backup running backs could get the job done if Bell gets hurt or is ineffective. I'm not counting on this to happen though. I do think the Steelers will be better than last year, simply because they have added Jarvis Jones and the Steelers (in my opinion) has a stronger secondary then they did in 2012. They are still a good team, no doubt about that, but I don't think it is the loss of Mike Wallace that will hurt the Steelers as much as the offensive and defensive line play won't put them in the running for the division title.

Baltimore Ravens (8-8): I keep getting told "Don't count out the Ravens simply because they had roster turnover" and I'm not counting them out. I just don't think they will be above .500. I know we saw MVP Joe Flacco last year in the playoffs and I have no idea where that consistently great Flacco came from. Hopefully he will show up again this year for the Ravens. I am not predicting the Ravens offense will be bad without Pitta and Boldin, but Flacco just doesn't have the supporting cast around him that will allow him to be successful. He's going to try to lean too heavily on Torrey Smith and Ray Rice, which will cause defenses to focus on those two guys more than usual. I will say this, I have bashed Jim Caldwell before, but if he puts a Top 10 offense on the field this year I may admit he deserves another shot as a head coach. The Ravens defense is a unit that I expect to be fine. Ray Lewis was a great motivator and they will miss Ed Reed/Paul Kruger, but I think Chris Canty, Elvis Dumervil, Matt Elam, and Arthur Brown can replace what Reed and Lewis provided on the field for the Ravens. I don't like the Ravens cornerback depth, but I think a pretty good defense combined with an offense that lacks weapons means the Ravens won't have above a .500 record in a really tough division.

Cleveland Browns (5-11): I'm biased when it comes to the Browns. I'm not a fan of Mike Lombardi and I think Rob Chudzinski is a talented offensive coordinator when he isn't too busy showing off how creative he is. Brandon Weeden is 30 years old and the Browns spent a first round pick on him. Whatever. That's done, but I don't think he is the guy to lead the Browns offense and I'm not sure Brian Hoyer or Jason Campbell are either. I have no idea why Mike Lombardi insisted on changing around the Browns defense. I thought the Browns defense was the growing strength of the team last year and should not be fucked with. So Mike Lombardi, a genius in his own mind, went out and overpaid for Paul Kruger and the best part about Barkevious Mingo is his name. Otherwise he is small and not worth the pick the Browns used on him in my opinion. What's most interesting to me is Lombardi messed with the defensive line (which I thought was the strength of the defense) and then ignored the cornerback and safety spots, nor did he find any linebackers that can play well in the 3-4 defense. I feel like Lombardi could have been addressed the weaker areas in the Browns defense. Maybe I'll look like an asshole, but 5-11 seems too optimistic. Weeden has more weapons on offense, but if Trent Richardson can't stay healthy then it won't do much good.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts (11-5): This isn't the strongest of divisions and the Colts are a team on the rise, so I think they will win the AFC South. They have good young (and old) receivers and as long as Ahmad Bradshaw doesn't pull a muscle or get injured like he always seems to be injured then the Colts are going to have a strong offense. I really wish they had invested a bit more in the offensive line, as I don't think there are but 1-2 offensive linemen on the Colts line that can start in the NFL. The Colts defense is somewhat improved, though I really didn't love the money they gave to some of the players to improve the defense, at least they paid the defense lip service, unlike in 2012 when they focused on putting a good offense around Andrew Luck. I think the Colts will win AFC South based entirely on my belief that Andrew Luck will progress enough to cover up for the mediocre offensive line and slightly questionable run game. The Colts defense isn't going to be bad, but I don't know if the improvement will come from the free agents they paid to come in and improve the team.

Houston Texans (10-6): I lack faith in Matt Schaub. I'm not sure why, well I sort of know why, but I get confused sometimes when he is considered an elite quarterback. I liked how the Texans went for a receiver in the draft in DeAndre Hopkins, which can only help them considering Andre Johnson isn't getting younger and there hasn't been a consistent threat on the other side of the field to force teams to not double Johnson. I don't have a very good reason to think the Texans won't win the AFC South. They will still have a great pass rush and their corners are impressive. All in all, I think the Texans will struggle to run the ball if Arian Foster isn't completely healthy and the Texans offense is built to play best coming off of play-action. Ed Reed is probably a better addition in the locker room than on the field since he seems to be perpetually hurt. Maybe the Texans defense carries them this year, but I'm not sure J.J. Watt can be better than he was last year and if Ed Reed is hurt then I don't feel good about the safety situation.

Tennessee Titans (6-10): The Titans have done a great job of putting young receivers around Jake Locker in order to help him succeed. They have done such a great job in the past they had to ignore some of their offensive line needs and improve the line through free agency...but not this year. Chance Warmack was my favorite player in this year's draft and I like the Titans receivers. I think Warmack is going to be the best player in this draft five years from now. Still, I'm not buying the Chris Johnson resurgence quite yet and I don't think Jake Locker is the guy to lead this franchise. He isn't accurate enough and doesn't make good enough decisions. He can't ever say the Titans didn't do anything to help him succeed though. I like the Titans defense, but they don't overwhelm me and I'm not sure this is a defense that can overcome any turnovers by the offense. The Titans need a better pass rush from their ends and they replaced their safeties from last year with George Wilson and Bernard Pollad so that's some sense of improvement. I get a bad feeling if the Titans can't get a good pass rush from the ends and Sammie Lee Hill/Jurrell Casey/Mike Martin then the secondary isn't going to look very good. It's probably the end of the line for Mike Munchak after this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13): I feel badly for Maurice Jones-Drew. He's wasted the last few years of his prime playing behind Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. I don't think the Jaguars should have drafted a quarterback this year, but it's just unfortunate concerning the options they have at the position. I had faith in Gabbert last year to turn himself around and a part of me thinks he could be salvaged, but he really doesn't have much to work with. I'm fooling myself it seems because Gabbert has been horrible. Jacksonville did improve the offensive line, so hopefully they will at least be able to run the ball. Still, it's hard to win games with an offense like this one. We are going to see what kind of defensive coach Gus Bradley is, because the Jaguars cornerbacks are absolutely horrific. The Jaguars need to have a strong pass rush, which I don't think they will, in order to compensate for the horrible secondary. Obviously the Jags are rebuilding, but for the foreseeable future they have no pass rush, the linebackers are just okay and the best player in the secondary could be a rookie. Maybe the Jags new owner can move the team over to England and just give a total middle finger to the Jacksonville fan base that has put up with this shitty play for a few years now.

AFC West

Denver Broncos (12-4): The combination of Peyton Manning and Wes Welker seems unfair. A part of me wonders if Welker and Manning will gain the chemistry that Tom Brady and Welker had. Manning has much better options on the outside than Brady had nearly every year in New England (Brady did have Moss/Stallworth, but I think Thomas/Decker may be better overall) and this could affect how often Welker gets the football. I'm nitpicking I guess. The Broncos have also put a really good offensive line in front of Manning. I wonder if the Broncos can rush the football. I'm not a Monte Ball fan and John Fox will not play a running back who can't pass protect, so Ronnie Hillman isn't guaranteed to start either. Fox doesn't like rookie, so Broncos fans may be in for some Knowshon Moreno action for a good portion of the year. Like many others, I'm not sure where the pass rush will come from on defense and I don't generally love the secondary for the Broncos. Champ Bailey isn't "Champ Bailey" anymore and the Broncos are really counting on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to produce. Still, this is a decent defense and Manning is going to be able to win regular season games with this offense. I just question how far they could go if a running game doesn't eventually show up.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-7): I'm not a big Alex Smith fan, but he is an upgrade over what the Chiefs had last year at quarterback. The Chiefs managed to improve the offensive line through the draft and Andy Reid isn't an offensive genius, but he is going to find a way to use Jamaal Charles and be successful in doing so. Still, there isn't much else on the offense other than Dwayne Bowe in the receiving game. The Chiefs defense will be pretty good again and Hali/Justin Houston will provide a strong pass rush. I don't know if I like the second cornerback across from Brandon Flowers (not the lead singer of the Killers), but overall the Chiefs should have another steady defense. I can see a situation where the Chiefs have a great defense and a good enough offense to make the playoffs, especially in this division, but I'm thinking getting to a little over 500 will be enough in this semi-weak division.

San Diego Chargers (6-10): I don't think Philip Rivers is no longer a Top 15 quarterback, it's just the Chargers have slowly taken away his weapons in the passing and stuck him with a shitty running game behind a leaky offensive line. I'm not sure any of this has improved too much. D.J. Fluker isn't a tackle and Max Starks/King Dunlap aren't very good. Plus, there is no real winner among Ronnie Brown, Ryan Mathews, and Danny Woodhead in the running back spot. The winner is just who manages to fail the least. Eric Weddle is the star of the secondary and hopefully the secondary will look good because the Chargers do get a good pass rush from the middle of the defense. Still, this isn't a good enough defense to help the Chargers win games. I think Rivers improves a bit this year and then once he joins a new team manages to be back in the Top 10 quarterback discussion once he isn't given an aging tight end as the best receiver to get the ball to.

Oakland Raiders (1-15): I'm not sure whether to feel bad for Reggie McKenzie or just outright blame him. I know very, very little about the inner workings of the Raiders front office, but if this is what McKenzie envisioned in Year 2 of his rebuilding then I'm a little surprised. The Raiders skill position players are Rod Streater/Darius Moore/Darren McFadden and that's assuming McFadden stays healthy for a full season. The Raiders have two good offensive linemen. I just don't see how this offense puts points on the board if McFadden doesn't turn into Adrian Peterson. The defense is an abomination. There's no pass rush that I could find, the linebackers are all new starters, and the Raiders are counting on Charles Woodson's leadership to help a secondary that is going to have to cover receivers for a long time. The interesting part is I think McKenzie could turn it around if he got another 3-4 years, but I'm betting he isn't allowed that. Looking at the schedule, the only wins I can see are against Jacksonville or the Jets. Maybe the Raiders surprise us and beat the Chargers, but I'm not seeing more than two wins for them this year.

AFC Playoffs

Byes: New England, Cincinnati

Wild Card Round: Denver over Buffalo, Houston over Indianapolis

Divisional Round: New England over Houston, Cincinnati over Denver

Conference Championship: Cincinnati over New England

Super Bowl: San Francisco over Cincinnati


Chris Carlomastro said...

Definitely some ballsy picks there Ben. Good analysis to justify your predictions. Do you really think that GB will be that bad this year? I know their O-Line is garbage, and the defense isn't frightening, but Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers. Maybe I put too much stock in elite QB's though.

I think the gutsiest call I made was WAS going 11-5. I've also got TB flipped from yours at 10-6, though i'm a homer so I suppose it doesn't really matter. I've got Sea over Den in the Superbowl, which should mean neither team makes the playoffs...

Anonymous said...

I think it's fair to say manning and Weller have good chemistry.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, that was a bit of a risky selection because a great QB can carry a team so far. I worry about his pass protection and really don't like the Packers defense. I think it is more of a reflection on the teams they are playing and the issues I see the Packers as having.

They play the 49ers, Redskins, Bengals, Bears (twice), Lions (twice), Eagles, Falcons and Steelers. I have those teams doing pretty well, so logic dictated to me the Packers won't have a great record. I see their wins being:

Detroit (once)
Vikings (twice)
Bears (once)

I am probably wrong, but the scheduled seemed difficult to me and I am scared by the offensive line and defense.

I had Washington at 8-8. I think they overachieved last year. I could see Tampa Bay making the playoffs. They are a funny team because they are sort of like the Falcons in that they have two great receivers, a workhorse running back, and are rebuilding their secondary. I don't trust Freeman to make the steps this year.

I think I've picked the Super Bowl once in my life, so I'm no expert. I try to use logic though, which probably hurts me.

Anon, you like how I write that and then last night happened. My larger point was I was wondering if Welker wouldn't develop the chemistry with Manning that he had with Decker and Thomas also getting passes. I'm a moron though. Clark got touches in Indy when Harrison and Wayne were on the outside.

Chris Carlomastro said...

Ben, I think some of the GB thing is how i feel about a couple of their opponents too. Mostly, the Eagles and Bears.
I just don't believe in them. I think they are going to get beaten in a couple early games and the players will not buy into Chip Kelly's offense. Add in the realization that Vick is one good hit away from being out for weeks, I can see the wheels falling off of their season quickly.
I also don't trust Cutler running a West Coast. I think a QB needs to make better decisions in a timing based pass attack. I like your wins for them, but I'll give them both against Chicago, the game against the Eagles, and I think they win against SF (I'm probably wrong there).

Totally agree on that Josh Freeman thing too. I have no idea what his problem is. He had one pass a couple years ago that he made on the run; a 40 yard throw on a wire, that hit the receiver on the back shoulder on the sideline. One of the best throws i think i've ever seen. He'll do that, and then throw 4 interceptions. There are some people who will point out how many of his INT's were tipped passes, or unlucky breaks...but if they watched every game, they'd see how many dropped picks there are every week. If you watch any this year, count them. I'll take the over vs his TD throws.

Anyway man, I'm glad I found your blog. Always fun to hear people that know sports talking about them. Have a good weekend and enjoy the games!

ivn said...

I can't really knock you for going out on a limb here, because I have the Cleveland Browns going to the playoffs this year. SADDLE UP!

Murray said...

JAws thinks the Dolphins "Run Away" with the AFC East

Bengoodfella said...

Murray, Jaws also went on PTI on Thursday and said the Ravens were better than the Super Bowl winning team last year. I respect his ability to view tape, but sometimes he says stupid shit so he can get attention.

Ivn, I wouldn't rule it out. I don't think they will, but they have talent on that team. I don't trust Brandon Weeden to get them there though.

Chris, I think Foles could do a decent job running the Kelly offense if/when Vick goes out, so I'm still buying on them. It's all guessing anyway on wins. I like Chicago this year, but one or two bounces don't go their way then I'm an idiot and the Bears miss the playoffs. It's what's great about sports.

I don't even want to talk about Josh Freeman. That pass to Vincent Jackson over Luke Kuechly's shoulder was brilliant last year to force overtime. Kuechly was on him, yet it was such a great throw it was indefensible.

I didn't think Vincent Jackson would have such a great couple years in TB, but he has been great. He's really underrated, as is Mike Williams. If Freeman becomes more consistent (I know, it is a Joe Morgan term) they could go far in the playoffs. I don't think it would happen, but the talent is there.

Hope you enjoy the games too and I hope Josh Freeman has a great game, just not against Carolina.

Anonymous said...

My prediction: no matter what happens today/tonight, peters mmqb will lead off with a comment/observation about how wacky the nfl is this season. Completely unlike all other seasons when everything is 100% predictable.

JBsptfn said...

I don't see NO going 13-3. Their defense still sucks, and they don't have a great O-line. I can't believe they beat Atlanta today, and I don't think that the Falcons are that good.

I think that the Bucs can win the division, although they blew it today.

And, I think that Denver is cruising in the AFC. NE and Cincy ain't got a chance. Pats got their usual luck win today that they didn't deserve that the AFC East dregs have been donating to them for 12 years. Denver will pound them in Week 12 at NE.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that Peter actually said the week wasn't very exciting. This breaks a 2-3 year streak of the first week just being so crazy he couldn't stand it.

JB, I think the defense being average would make them 10-6 or 11-5 and then they are pissed Sean Payton was suspended, so they will be super-motivated. Plus, I can just feel we will have 100 stories about how Payton rebounded from tough times to lead his team back to the playoffs.

The Falcons aren't that good really. They can be, but I don't think that defense is very good.

I'm already excited for the NE-Denver game. I will say the AFC East is a little worse than usual. I'm really high on Cincy. I think they are going to have a great year.