Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 NFL Preview Extravaganza, Part 2: The Kitchen Sink

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Read Part 1, the Power Rankings, here.

My second year doing this, after mixed results last year. After pegging the Vikings at 1-15, Adrian Peterson decided to put the team, and especially Christian Ponder's carcas on his back doeee and lead them to the playoffs. If you had listened to me, you would have been completely shocked when the 10-6 Buffalo Bills and (division winning) Kansas City Chiefs were not in the hunt come playoff time. Instead, the Bills finished with the inverse of that record and the Chiefs had the first pick in the draft. Well then...

I also, however, was one of the few people to correctly predict that the Saints would be average without Sean Payton, and I was fairly close with the Steelers. Trust me, I will never stop talking about this one, I correctly referred to Colin Kaepernick as the "best QB on his team" and that "for the sake of the Bay Area, I hope [he takes over as starter] this year." That brings me to the part where I picked the Ravens to be in the Super Bowl. Don't forget me picking my boy Luke Kuechly to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

But fear not! I have returned to redeem myself and make a few hideously bad picks, a few unnecessarily bold ones that will make me look stupid, and a few great ones. Let's start with the division standings (by the way, because I needed to pick every game in the season with a schedule grid, the tiebreakers aren't completely indicative of my thoughts, it's just used for clarification) :

AFC East

  1. 11-5 New England Patriots
  2. 6-10 Miami Dolphins
  3. 4-12 New York Jets (Win Division Record Tiebreaker over Bills.)
  4. 4-12 Buffalo Bills
AFC North
  1. 11-5 Cincinnati Bengals
  2. 10-6 Baltimore Ravens
  3. 8-8 Pittsburgh Steelers (Win Division Record Tiebreaker over Browns)
  4. 8-8 Cleveland Browns
AFC South
  1. 12-4 Houston Texans
  2. 8-8 Indianapolis Colts
  3. 5-11 Tennessee Titans
  4. 3-13 Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC West
  1. 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs (Win Conference Record Tiebreaker over Broncos)
  2. 10-6 Denver Broncos
  3. 5-11 San Diego Chargers
  4. 1-15 Oakland Raiders
NFC East
  1. 10-6 Washington Redskins
  2. 8-8 New York Giants 
  3. 7-9 Dallas Cowboys (Win Head to Head Tiebreaker over Eagles.)
  4. 7-9 Philadelphia Eagles
NFC North
  1. 11-5 Green Bay Packers
  2. 9-7 Detroit Lions (Win Conference Record Tiebreaker over Bears)
  3. 9-7 Chicago Bears
  4. 6-10 Minnesota Vikings
NFC South
  1. 11-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  2. 10-6 Atlanta Falcons
  3. 8-8 New Orleans Saints 
  4. 7-9 Carolina Panthers
NFC West
  1. 12-4 Seattle Seahawks (Win Conference Record Tiebreaker over 49ers.)
  2. 12-4 San Francisco 49ers
  3. 7-9 St. Louis Rams (Win Head to Head Tiebreaker over Cardinals.)
  4. 7-9 Arizona Cardinals
So, I just dished you the regular season division standings, but what's the skinny on the playoffs? Here are the playoff teams and matchups, all leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, New Jersey.


  1. Houston Texans
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (Along with Patriots,win Conference Record Tiebreaker over Broncos. Win Head to Head Tiebreaker over Patriots.)
  3. New England Patriots (Along with Bengals, win Conference Record Tiebreaker over Broncos.)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Baltimore Ravens (Win Head to Head Record Tiebreaker with Broncos) 
  6. Denver Broncos
Wild Card Playoffs
  • Broncos over Patriots. The Patriots cannot stop the three headed monster of Welker, Thomas, and Decker. Watch out for tight end Julius Thomas, he could be interesting. The Broncos will throw. And throw. And throw. 
  • Ravens over Chiefs. I think that the Ravens are better. Their defense will be able to slow down Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. That's all I got. Well, there is Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who may be afraid of more than just horses after this game. I don't foooool wit no ravens now.
Divisional Playoffs
  • Bengals over Ravens. Well the Bengals defense will definitely be able to slow down the Baltimore passing attack, and they're good enough to slow down the running game as well. It will be a really good game because I like the Ravens defense as well, but Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green trump the Ravens main offensive weapons, Ray Rice and Torrey Smith.
  • Broncos over Texans. Once again, the Texans cannot stop the three wideouts that Peyton Manning can throw to. The Texans are better in every other aspect of the game, but well. Peyton Manning. I don't know what else to tell you. 
Conference Championship
  • Bengals over Broncos. Now things get fishy. Why all of a sudden can the Bengals stop the Broncos' passing attack? Because they have four really good cornerbacks. So they are the only team in the NFL that can actually cover Denver's three receivers. Champ Bailey is no match for A.J. Green. I think the Bengals are supremely talented, and Andy Dalton is good enough to lead them to the Super Bowl. Who Dey?
  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. Green Bay Packers (Win Conference Record Tiebreaker over Buccaneers)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Washington Redskins
  5. San Francisco 49ers
  6. Atlanta Falcons
Wild Card Playoffs
  • Falcons over Buccaneers. While I have the Bucs as the better team during the regular season, in one game, I trust the Falcons more. Tampa's secondary, while very good, doesn't have the depth to contend with both Julio Jones and Roddy White. Throw in Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez and it will be almost impossible. I think it will be a pretty close game, but Matt Ryan pulls it out over Josh Freeman. 
  • 49ers over Redskins. The Niners defense will corrall RGIII, and Michael Crabtree will most likely be back for the playoffs, so I wonder who on the Redskins defense can slow down Kaepernick, Crabtree, and Davis. 
Divisional Playoffs
  • Seahawks over Falcons. In a rematch of last year, the Seahawks are so strong offensively, and with Harvin back at this point, I don't know if the Falcons can even compete. 
  • 49ers over Packers. In yet another NFC rematch, the Niners will run all over the Packers again. The Green Bay defense is so inconsistent, and I really don't like the front end. The San Fran's defense is good enough to slow down Aaron Rodgers just enough to pull this one out. 
Conference Championship
  • Seahawks over 49ers. Ah, the two best teams in the league. While I think Kaepernick is better than Wilson (though they are both going to have great years), Percy Harvin adds something to the Seahawks that the Niners lack. People may forget, but through nine weeks last year, Harvin was in discussions for MVP talk. He was all around among the best players in the league. San Fran doesn't have anything like him. I overall like Seattle's weapons better, so they should win/ 
Super Bowl XLVIII
Now this is a game that should be interesting. The Seahawks, the team with no holes. No weaknesses. Somebody find one for me. The Bengals, the semi-surprise team that, when you take a step back and look at it, it makes a lot of sense why they are so good. Russell Wilson is better than Andy Dalton, though the gap isn't as wide as one may think. Giovani Bernard is a very good weapon, as he also has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He's the antithesis of Marshawn Lynch, who is a downfield runner who will run through people. Bernard will run around you and he just about as effective.

I would say that A.J. Green and Percy Harvin cancel each other out, but here's where I think the Seahawks have the biggest edge, coaching. Harvin was utilized in all types of ways last year in Minnesota, with a bunch of screens and reverses. And Pete Carroll is a better coach than Leslie Frazier. Do you think he won't find all sorts of crazy ways to turn Harvin into the best weapon in the NFL? If that means lining Harvin up in the backfield and using him as a running back, I'm sure Carroll will do it.

Other than that, the weapons are overall pretty even.

Now here's another big thing that I haven't mentioned yet. Chris Clemons will be back pretty early in the season. He tore his ACL in the wild card round against Washington in January, and this means that the Seahawks have four good defensive ends. Think of the toll that would put on the Bengals offensive line. On both sides of the ball, the Seahawks are monsters up front, and chock full of speed behind that front. It's scary to think about how good this team is.

In the end, the Bengals are doing a very good impersonation of the Seahawks. A good, young QB. One all-world receiver and a few decent options. A very good running back. The Seahawks don't have a tight end like Tyler Eifert, or even Jermaine Gresham. Very good offensive and defensive lines. A dominant defense. In the end, the Seahawks are the OG team, they are deeper, and quite simply better. 

Seahawks 31,  Bengals 20

MVP: Colin F'ing Kaepernick
Offensive Player of the Year: Peyton Manning
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Peterson
Comeback Player of the Year: Maurice Jones-Drew
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Giovani Bernard
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ziggy Ansah
Coach of the Year: Andy Reid

Jadeveon Clowney Sweepstakes
Congratulations to the Oakland Raiders!!!

Bold and Unnecessary Predictions That I'm Making Anyway

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win the NFC South. I said it in my power rankings, I'm all in on Josh Freeman. One last ride with him. If he's good, that team is all around better than the Falcons. If he stinks again, they're probably finishing last. I'm betting that he's fine. Wish me luck. 
  • The Kansas City Chiefs will win the AFC West. Now hear me out on this one. I am lower on the Broncos than most other people, but I do think they'll make it to the AFC Championship Game. As a Wild Card. Why? Von Miller is out for the first six games, and Champ Bailey will be out for at least the first game, and maybe more. Once Miller comes back, it may take a little bit of time for them to get everything in order. Their bye is Week 9, so I'm sure they'll work it all out by then, but the defense is very weak and they'll have a lot of issues stopping teams. They'll have a bunch of shootouts all year, and they'll win most of them, but not all. Once they get to the playoffs, it will be tough to stop them, but I just don't know about them right now. They would have figured out the running back situation by then, which is a key. This is less about the Chiefs being a great team, which they aren't than about the Broncos having a lot of weaknesses. 
  • Giovani Bernard will gain 1,700 yards from scrimmage. My newest man crush, Bernard is an elusive back who will quickly usurp BenJarvus Green-Ellis for the starting role in Cincy. He's also a very good receiver. 1,700 yards is not too much to ask. Widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best receiving running back, Ray Rice gained 554 yards in the passing game last year, and 704 in 2011. Let's give Bernard 450 receiving yards, all he needs to do is gain 1,250 yards on the ground. Let me remind you, Green-Ellis sucks. He may not start the year as the feature back, but he will be soon. And it wouldn't surprise me if he got to 2,000 yards from scrimmage. 
  • Peyton Manning will lead the league in passing yards. He has three really good receivers. And Julius Thomas. And Montee Ball. What more do you want from me?
  • Rex Ryan will be fired by the Jets during the season and Marty Mornhinwheg is named interim coach. Woody Johnson is creeping towards Al Davis, Jerry Jones, and James Dolan on the "fickle owner who needs to stop speaking to the press and saying things that make his management staff look bad" ladder. He's greatly affected by the media opinion of his team, and they're going to be all over the Jets after their inevitable bad start. Their bye is in Week 10, and I have them at 2-7 going into it. No way Johnson lets Rex come back after that. Mornhinwheg has some head coaching experience, albeit with the Lions in 2001 and 2002, but it's more than defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. John Idzik may want to have an offensive minded coach to move the team in a different direction. I think he may just be hired full time after the season is over.
  • Rex Ryan will be the coach of the Indianapolis Colts going into next season. Now you think I'm insane. Rex Ryan is a very good coach. He led Mark Sanchez to the AFC Championship Game twice, and it's now evident that Sanchez is horrible. Teams will be lining up to hire him. Other fits include the Dolphins, and the defensive coordinator positions for the Packers and the Redskins. I think the Colts are the best team for him because They have a young stud quarterback ready and waiting for him. The thing is, the defense is awful. Given some control over personnel decisions on defense, Ryan will be able to build a pretty good defense quickly. The combination of his own personnel and his scheme, the Colts will finally be serious contenders. The defense will finally be respectable, and when Andrew Luck and the rest of the young and talented offense takes that extra help and uses it to their advantage, everyone is going to forget how hated Ryan was in New York. And the Jets will just be sitting there. Alone. As for Chuck Pagano, I'm pretty sure that once it's evident that Ryan will be available, the Colts will jump at the chance to replace Pagano with Ryan. 
  • Colin Kaepernick will gain 4,800 total yards, passing and rushing. You're thinking, this is ridiculous. All he needs here, is 4,000 yards passing and 800 yards rushing. In the 7 games he started, he had 415 rushing yards and 1,814 passing yards. And he's going to be better this year. Mark my words. Mark 'em. I mean look at him, chilling with Michelle Obama. He's so cool. 
  • Danny Amendola will play 16 games. His injury history is full of random, unavoidable injuries such as his broken collarbone last year. A freak accident. I just have a hunch that in New England, the aura of the Patriots will keep those weird things from happening to him, and he'll stay healthy. 
  • Danny Amendola will lead the league in receptions. Now, if he plays all 16 games, he's going to get the bulk of the targets from Tom Brady. Kenbrell Tompkins is more of a deep threat. Amendola is a better version of Wes Welker, a possession receiver who is more of a deep threat, and maybe a better route runner. And Welker led the league in receptions three times in his six years in New England. He's sure-handed, and I know Brady will love him.
Well, that's it. The game starts in 30 minutes. Go watch some football! I'm ready for a great new season. My first set of weekly picks will be out on Sunday, and follow my twitter, @WilliamBotchway, for my pick for tonight's game.

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