Thursday, September 4, 2014

NFL Preview Extravaganza 2014: The Kitchen Sink

Photo courtesy of Forbes
Over the past few days I have been previewing every division in the league individually, followed by power rankings, which you can check out here.

First up, my full regular season standings. Each of my division previews are linked in the name of the division below:

AFC East
  1. New England Patriots 12-4
  2. New York Jets 9-7
  3. Miami Dolphins 7-9
  4. Buffalo Bills 4-12
AFC North
  1. Cincinnati Bengals 11-5
  2. Baltimore Ravens 10-6
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
  4. Cleveland Browns 7-9
AFC South
  1. Indianapolis Colts 9-7
  2. Houston Texans 8-8
  3. Tennessee Titans 5-11
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13
AFC West
  1. Denver Broncos 13-3
  2. San Diego Chargers 8-8
  3. Kansas City Chiefs 6-10
  4. Oakland Raiders 2-14
  1. Washington Professional Football Team 10-6
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
  3. Dallas Cowboys 6-10 (Win Division Record Tiebreaker over Giants.)
  4. New York Giants 6-10
NFC North
  1. Green Bay Packers 11-5
  2. Chicago Bears 10-6
  3. Detroit Lions 7-9 (Win Division Record Tiebreaker over Vikings)
  4. Minnesota Vikings 7-9
NFC South
  1. New Orleans Saints 11-5
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  3. Atlanta Falcons 7-9
  4. Carolina Panthers 5-11
NFC West
  1. Seattle Seahawks 12-4
  2. San Francisco 49ers 11-5
  3. Arizona Cardinals 6-10
  4. St. Louis Rams 5-11
Now here's the playoff picture:

  1. Denver Broncos
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. New York Jets
Wild Card Playoffs
  • Bengals over Jets. I'm not buying into the notion that Andy Dalton can't win in the playoffs. The Bengals are just a better team than my Jets.
  • Ravens over Colts. After making the playoffs by default, the Colts will lose to the Ravens in the Wild Card round for the second time in three seasons. 
Divisional Playoffs
  • Broncos over Ravens. The Broncos are much better offensively, and the defenses are comparable. Peyton Manning will get revenge on Baltimore for the Flacco Fling two years prior. 
  • Bengals over Patriots. As a result of attrition, injuries will occur by this point in the year. The Bengals are deeper, and are therefore in a better position to deal with missing players than the Pats. I believe that they will pull off the upset in this game. 
Conference Championship
  • Broncos over Bengals. The Broncos are easily the best team in the AFC. 
  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. New Orleans Saints (Win Head to Head Tiebreaker over Packers)
  3. Green Bay Packers
  4. Washington Professional Football Team
  5. San Francisco 49ers
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Win Head to Head Tiebreaker over Bears)
Wild Card Playoffs
  • Packers over Buccaneers. The shocking Bucs season comes to a screeching halt against a superior Green Bay team. 
  • 49ers over Washington Professional Football Team. San Francisco's defense will be able to slow down Washington's offense just enough in this showdown between two of the game's best young QBs. 
Divisional Playoffs
  • Seahawks over 49ers. I think that the Niners are a better than than they were last year, when they were just a fingertip away from winning the NFC title game in Seattle, but the Seahawks are also better. Either way, this should be another classic.
  • Saints over Packers. The Saints have a great secondary, so it will be hard for Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball all over the Superdome. 
Conference Championship
  • Seahawks over Saints. In what should be an amazing game, much like Seattle's divisional round matchup, the Seahawks' secondary prove too much for Drew Brees to handle. 
Super Bowl XLIX
Yes, I do in fact have a Super Bowl rematch for the first time since the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills in two straight Super Bowls in 1993 and 1994.

It's time to party like it's '94, because I have the Seahawks winning this game.

I would love for Peyton Manning to win his second Super Bowl and somewhat quiet his critics, but these Seahawks will love on forever in history. Their defense is dominant, and with Percy Harvin healthy (hopefully), the offense should be one of the best in the league.

The game will be a lot closer than it was this past February, but the result will be the same.

I know, I know, it's too easy to pick a team to repeat as champions, but there's no way that I can logically bring myself to make any other prediction.

It's hard to repeat as champs. The 2014 Seahawks are set up to do just that.

Seahawks 31, Broncos 28

MVP: Colin Kaepernick

Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers

Defensive Player of the Year: Geno Atkins

Comeback Player of the Year: Percy Harvin

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mike Evans

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jadeveon Clowney

Coach of the Year: Lovie Smith

Now it's time for a bunch of random predictions for things I expect to see this year. All of these appeared in my division previews, but I'm consolidating them here. They are listed in the draft order based on my standings, before trades are factored in. So, I went through all of the tie-breakers, including flipping a 100 yen coin that I was given as change last week to decide between the Saints and Bengals. It was tails, so the Bengals pick before the Saints in my theoretical 2015 Draft. 

Bold and Unnecessary Predictions That I'm Making Anyway
  • Darren McFadden will have 300 or fewer yards from scrimmage this season. The combination of injuries and ineffectiveness will cause DMC to finally fall out of favor in Oakland.
  • Blake Bortles will start 4 or fewer games this season. Like I said, the Jaguars are tying themselves to the idea of sitting their QB of the future out for the season, because he's not a finished product.
  • Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will combine for 2,600 yards from scrimmage. Together they had 2,395 last season, and I think that the team will make sure that they commit to the run. 
  • Cam Newton will rush for 800 yards this season. That will be the highest total of his career so far, but I think that with an offense that's lacking quality skill position players, Newton will be forced to make plays by himself a lot of the time. 
  • Zac Stacy will rush for 1,400 yards. He has to, because the passing offense will be terrible. 
  • Kendall Wright will have 1,450 receiving yards this season. I think he's a very good player, and should have himself a big year, regardless of who plays quarterback in Tennessee.
  • Logan Thomas will start at least 3 games this season. The fourth round pick is very raw, but I think there's a good chance that Carson Palmer falls apart and Thomas will step in. 
  • The Cowboys defense will rank last in the league in points per game and yards per game allowed. Feast your eyes on what could be the worst defenses you will ever see. 
  • Jamaal Charles will have less than 280 total touches this season. I mean, they have to give this man a break at some point. Even though they'll need him now more than ever, I think the Chiefs will chill out with the play calls for Charles. 
  • Tom Coughlin will be fired immediately following the season. I think that the honeymoon will finally end after the year. I don't think he's a bad coach, but we've seen many times in the past that after a few down years, teams feel that they need to make a change. 
  • Cordarrelle Patterson will score 15 total touchdowns this season. He scored 9 touchdowns (3 rushing, 4 receiving, and 2 kickoff returns) last year, and I think he'll take on a much bigger role in this offense. He'll appear in all sorts of different packages, sort of like a poor man's Percy Harvin, finally giving Minnesota a viable big play option alongside Adrian Peterson.
  • Julio Jones will have 500 more receiving yards than Roddy White. This is the year that Jones definitely takes over the role of the primary receiver in Atlanta. 
  • Joique Bell will have 400 more yards from scrimmage than Reggie Bush. I love both of these running backs, but everything that I've seen over the past couple of years suggest that Bell is a better player. That, combined with Bush's long injury history makes me confident that he'll be the feature back by the end of the year. 
  • After another disappointing season, Joe Philbin is fired immediately. This isn't the boldest statement possible, I know. He hasn't impressed me as a coach thus far, and they'll have to move on.
  • The Browns defense will be a top 7 defense this season. It depends on how exactly you choose to rate defenses, whether it be by yards, points, fantasy points, or Football Outsiders' DVOA, but I think that in any case, when the season's over, the Browns will clearly be one of the better units in the game. 
  • Antonio Brown will have 1,700 receiving yards this season. He had 1,499 yards last year with Emmanuel Sanders still in town. With Sanders now in Denver, I don't see who is going to be stealing his receiving output.
  • Keenan Allen will lead the NFL in touchdown receptions this season. He's a huge target and was able to find his way into the endzone 8 times last year. With a full offseason of work as the #1 option under his belt, he'll be even better. 
  • J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will combine for 25 sacks this season. It's self explanatory. 
  • Nick Foles will throw 11 interceptions this season. He threw 2 picks over 10 starts last year, which translates to 3.2 interceptions over a 16 game season. I know that Chip Kelly's offense is all about efficiency, skewing those numbers, but there's no chance that happens again. 
  • Jay Cutler will play 16 games this season. The offensive line will be better, so Cutler won't take as many hits. 
  • Trent Richardson will rush for 500 for fewer yards this season. He had 563 yards overall and 458 yards in 14 games in Indianapolis, so my prediction isn't wild. It's more of a way to illustrate that Richardson will not be the feature back for the Colts for very long. 
  • The New York Jets will make the playoffs. The AFC Wild Card race is wide open, and a .500 team from last season was gotten better. 
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make the playoffs. Hopefully they don't let me down again.
  • Robert Griffin III will play 16 games. Why not? He's learning to protect himself more, so the combination of his new ability to slide when he runs along with staying in the pocket more often makes him more capable of playing a full season. 
  • Ray Rice will rush for 1,000 yards this season. Even while only being eligible to play in 14 games, the new running scheme that Kubiak will bring to Baltimore will cause Ray Rice to look good once again. 
  • Eddie Lacy will lead the NFL in rushing yards. You know what? Why not? The line is good, and the Packers offense will be dynamite. 
  • Colin Kaepernick will have 4,800 total yards, passing and rushing. I'm recycling my prediction from last year because he will have to have a big year in order for the Niners to go far. 
  • Shane Vereen will have 85 receptions. I think he's going to have a great year catching the ball out of the backfield in a Darren Sproles/Danny Woodhead role. He caught 47 passes in 8 games last year, so it looks like this is a possibility. 
  • Giovani Bernard will gain 1,700 yards from scrimmage. I'm simply running back (pun intended) my prediction from last preseason because I assumed that Bernard would totally take over the starting job from BenJarvus Green-Ellis during the season, which somehow didn't happen. Even though I like Jeremy Hill, Bernard is going to have a great year, rushing and receiving. 
  • Brandin Cooks will be looked at as the best wide receiver on the team by the end of the season. I'm excluding Jimmy Graham here. Colston is great, but I think Cooks is going to have a great year making all sorts of explosive plays thanks to Drew Brees.
  • Emmanuel Sanders will have 90 receptions this season. The combination of Wes Welker's four game suspension to begin the year, and the fact that Emmanuel Sanders is good means that Sanders will have his best season yet. 
  • Percy Harvin will have 1,300 yards from scrimmage. I would increase the number greatly if I knew Harvin were to play 16 games, but I can't expect that to happen. 
Now you know everything that I'll be wrong about for the next four months. Check back on Sunday for my first weekly picks column. Enjoy the season!

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