As the #deflategate bullshit finally begins to die and the new NFL season looms on the horizon, it’s time to focus less on the drama surrounding the sport and more on depth charts, fantasy leagues and curating our hopefulness of a super bowl season. In the past three years, I’ve had some good fortune with my Super Bowl picks having picked at least ONE of the contenders from Super Bowl 47 to 49.
So, at the very least, I’m expecting that I will predict ONE of the teams who will be playing in Super Bowl 50. But, before that, let’s go over the fate of every team in the league.
Midway through last year, this was by far the best division in the league – but that will not be a continuing trend for the 2015 season. The Ravens did something that this “new” Baltimore team needed to do: scrapped the old Coach Billick mentality and usher in a new era not built around a scry defence, but rather built around an almost-elite quarterback. This is the year Flacco battles Roethlisberger as an EQUAL. The Steelers will be their regular playoff-bound selves, but this is still an aging team in transition. Once again, I’m choosing not to believe in the Bengals. And I think the Browns will realize McCown’s NOT a starting quarterback very early into the year. I see Manziel coming in, having mixed results, and Cleveland finding themselves in a sticky position next year come draft time: Deciding whether or not Mr. Football is the future of the franchise.
1 – Baltimore Ravens
2 – Pittsburgh Steelers
3 – Cincinnati Bengals
4 – Cleveland Browns
I’ve said it once and I will say it again: Peyton Manning is the greatest Regular-Season QB of all time. He will lead the Broncos to another division title, despite the fact that he may not seem like his old dominating self. The Chiefs will have a great running game and an exceptional defence, but that won’t be enough to make up for Alex Smith’s timidity. The Chargers are like the Steelers (trying to change from old to new) but they just aren’t talented enough. My Oakland Raiders won’t go 3-13, but we’ll be better – GOD, I hope we’re better.
1 – Denver Broncos
2 – Kansas City Chiefs
3 – San Diego Chargers
4 – Oakland Raiders
Well, this might be the year that Andrew Luck gets a running game. I believe Frank Gore will give the Colts some semblance of a rushing attack that will take a lot of pressure off of Luck and help them win games. The Texans may have the best defence in the AFC this year, but it’s gonna be hard to make the playoffs with inconsistent QB play and no Arian Foster. I think Bortles will take a big step this year and the Jaguars defence will be much improved (and they were good last year). Mariota will have flashes of brilliance this year, but he needs a far better surrounding cast.
1 – Indianapolis Colts
2 – Houston Texans
3 – Jacksonville Jaguars
4 – Tennessee Titans
The Patriots will win this division. Simple. But what will surprise everyone is how well Tyrod Taylor will play in leading the Bills to their first playoff appearance this millennium. The Dolphins will NOT be bad this year, they will just simply be outmatched in a talented division. The Jets, on the other hand, are screwed. On the bright side, the Jets will be in position to draft a star QB next season.
1 – New England Patriots
2 – Buffalo Bills
3 – Miami Dolphins
4 – New York Jets
The receiver combination of Cobb and Nelson make the Packers an undeniable Super Bowl contender. With them out, it puts that label in jeopardy, but as long as they have Aaron Rodgers, they will have enough to win the NFC North. AD is back, Bridgewater is a year more mature and the defence is even more stout up in Minnesota, so don’t be surprised when they claim that wild card. The Lions will be good – but I see an injury-riddled season in their future. This will also be Jay Cutler’s last year in Chicago and his last year as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
1 – Green Bay Packers
2 – Minnesota Vikings
3 – Detroit Lions
4 – Chicago Bears
While Seattle has improved, Kam Chancellor holding out will NOT ruin their REGULAR season, especially since Jimmy Graham is going to give them a great offensive boost. IF Carson Palmer stays healthy, the Cardinals will be a playoff team – I just don’t think he will. I like what the Rams are doing, but they have some very talented young players who need to ingratiate themselves with Jeff Fisher’s system before they excel. This will definitely be a hard transition year in San Francisco.
1 – Seattle Seahawks
2 – Arizona Cardinals
3 – St. Louis Rams
4 – San Francisco 49ers
This is the HARDEST division to pick. Truthfully, I’ve chosen the Saints simply because I have more faith in Drew Brees returning to his elite form than I have in the other starting QB’s being exceptionally great. The Falcons are a few defensive pieces away from retuning to the playoffs. The Panthers will struggle without Kelvin Benjamin and that will be felt mostly on third downs and in the red zone. Jameis will have a rocky year, but he will show flashes here and there.
1 – New Orleans Saints
2 – Atlanta Falcons
3 – Carolina Panthers
4 – Tampa Bay Bucs
The Cowboys hubris may cost them. Jerry Jones believes that ANY ABLE BODIED HUMAN can run behind his offensive line and that may be true. It’s a gamble, but losing Demarco Murray won’t cripple them enough to cost them the division. The Eagles would be my final wild card pick, but the reason I don’t have them making the playoffs is because they are super FRAGILE. DeMarco Murray, Sam Bradford, Ryan Matthews and Mark Sanchez can all get seriously injured at the drop of a helmet. They will score points and electrify the league, but the wins won’t be as constant as they hope they are. The Giants offence will look amazing this year, but with JPP out, they are going to be HORRIFIC on D. Luckily for the G-Men, they are in the same division as the Redskins, whose ineptitude will keep Coughlin from getting fired and Eli Manning from getting demoted, simply off the strength of comparison.
1 – Dallas Cowboys
2 – Philadelphia Eagles
3 – New York Giants
4 – Washington Redskins
(3) RAVENS beat the (6) BILLS in Baltimore in the wild card game. Harbaugh is hard to beat up there, but Taylor, who’s very familiar with that field, makes the game interesting before Ravens pull away.
(4) PATRIOTS beat the (5) STEELERS at Foxborough in the other AFC wild card game. The Patriots may not roll through the season, but they will heat up at the right time.
(3) RAVENS beat the (2) BRONCOS at Mile High in the divisional round. Peyton goes out with a standing ovation, but the younger, tougher Ravens end his season – and his career.
(4) PATRIOTS beat the (2) COLTS in Indianapolis. In a #deflategate rematch, Brady and Belichick exact sweet revenge over Luck and the Colts.
(3) RAVENS beat the (4) PATRIOTS in the AFC championship game. This game will come down to a simple fact: the Patriots secondary will not be able to stop the Ravens passing game. The Ravens will play the Pats tough and advance to their third ever Super Bowl.
(6) VIKINGS beat the (3) PACKERS at Lambeau Field in the wild card game. The young Packer receivers will play good during the season, but the bright lights of the playoffs is a different beast. The Pack will be upended by a solid running game and great defence.
(4) SAINTS beat the (5) FALCONS in New Orleans. In an offensive struggle, the Falcons will crumble on the road in the loud-ass dome.
(1) SEAHAWKS beat the (6) VIKINGS in Seattle in the divisional round. The Seahawks are simply too experienced and too talented at this point.
(2) COWBOYS beat the (4) SAINTS in Dallas. Romo will have too much time to pass and whoever the hell is running the ball will get big gaping holes to sprint through. Cowboys in a blow-out.
(1) SEAHAWKS beat the (2) COWBOYS in the NFC Championship game. This is the game where the Cowboys hubris hurts them. Playing against a defence that can match their offensive line, the game hinges on the Cowboys running back to make defenders miss, which Dallas finds out he can’t do effectively.
The SEAHAWKS beat the RAVENS to win their second Super Bowl in three years (making everyone realize that they SHOULD be the first NFL team to three peat). The Seahawks DYNASTY now officially reigns.
This Is Your Conscience