Monday, September 7, 2015

2015-2016 NFL Preview - NFC Regular Season Standings and Playoff Predictions

After back to back Super Bowl appearances can the mighty Seahawks make it 3 in a row?

So yesterday I gave you my 2015-2016 NFL Preview - AFC Regular Season Standings and Playoff Predictions. Now it's time to tell you how I see the NFC playing out this year. The Seattle Seahawks have dominated the NFC over the last couple of years, winning one Super Bowl and one Conference Championship. There's a lot of other teams though that are looking to knock them out this year. Will they be able to do it?

Let's get things started by taking a look at the NFC East

NFC East Regular Season Predictions

1. Philadelphia Eagles - Chip Kelly went 10 and 6 with a bunch of players who did not necessarily fit his particular style or system. Now he gets a chance to prove what he can do with a team that is specifically designed with his system and style of play in mind. I think Sam Bradford can be REALLY REALLY good in Kelly's system, the question with him as always is can he stay healthy. You're not doing bad at all when you lose your star running back and upgrade him with an even bigger star running back. And for all the changes in offense, it could be the defense that steals the show for this team. They are my pick to win this division.

2. Dallas Cowboys - It's hard to count "the boys" out when they have arguably the best offensive line in the conference and one of the better quarterbacks in the league. I think the loss of Murray is going to hurt. I don't believe McFadden and Randal are the answer, although this offensive line will make them better than they actually are. I think they improve slightly on the pass rush, however, I still think they have some questions in the secondary and for those reasons, I don't see them repeating as division champions.

3. New York Giants - Sorry Giants fans there's not much to like about your team this year. Defense is weak already and thanks to the infamous fourth of July incident Jason Pierre Paul bare minimum won't be 100% and more likely is going to miss a couple of games. Your front 7 is suspect. Your secondary is suspect. At least there's Odell Beckham Jr. He'll be a ton of fun to watch. I don't expect much improvement on last year's 6 and 10 record.

4. Washington Redskins - This team is a mess! We don't even know if they are even going to be able to keep their team name, much less whether they are going to be able to play any football. Their star quarterback Robert Griffin III is now a backup. New GM, new head coach, completely new team. I expect completely similar results to last year. They just aren't that good. I would be impressed if they could win 6 games with the team they are going to put out on the field. Kirk Cousins is not the answer. Their offensive line is suspect. Their defense is suspect. They have a couple of pieces at running back and wide receiver and that's it. Another ugly year for the Redskins.

NFC North Regular Season Predictions

1. Green Bay Packers - Losing Jordy Nelson for the year definitely hurts. However, this is the Green Bay Packers and make no mistake about it, in my Stephen A Smith voice, Aaron Rodgers is a BADY MAN! Eddie Lacy is one of the best running backs in the NFL. I think Davante Adams has what it takes to step up now that Randall Cobb becomes the #1 option and they have some young talent who can also step up as well. Special teams is still an issue but other than that, I don't see anything not to like about this team.

2. Minnesota Vikings - I think this team is going to be a lot better than some people may expect this year. Remember they went 7 and 9 last year without Adrian Petersen and now they get him back for a full year. Teddy Bridgewater is going to improve even more with another year under his belt and if defenses try to stack the box, I think Bridgewater has the tools to punish them. Don't be surprised if they beat out the Lions and sneak into the playoffs.

3. Detroit Lions - The Lions still have a strong core on the offensive side of the ball with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. However, the long of Suh and Nick Fairley is huge and I don't believe they have made enough moves in the offseason to address the huge hole they have in their defensive line right now. Running game could be better assuming Bell can stay healthy. Improving on their 11-6 record to me is out of the question and I wouldn't be surprised if they only go .500 this year.

4. Chicago Bears - John Fox is a great coach and giving enough time I think he has what it takes to turn this team around. However, I don't think that's going to happen this year. Jay Cutler is suspect. Their wide receiving corp is pretty banged up. They are one of the weakest defensive teams in the NFL (if you play daily fantasy football a free tip for you is target offensive players playing the Bears). They just have way too many holes this year to really do anything of significance.

NFC South Regular Season Predictions

1. New Orleans Saints - This division is hard to pick not because everyone is good but because everyone is BAD!!! They have one of the best Quarterbacks in the NFL in Drew "Feel That Smooth Brees." They lost several games by only a few points last year and although they will miss Jimmy Graham I think they have enough to get it done on the offensive side of the ball. The big question is what is always the question in this team and that is the defense and that's what's going to determine whether they win the division or not.

2. Carolina Panthers - I actually had them winning the division again until Kelvin Benjamin got hurt for the season. That is a HUGE loss and in a division that is so close because everyone is bad, a injury of that magnitude could very well be the difference between winning the division and not making the playoffs because you better believe there will be no wild card team coming from this sorry division! Their defense though is pretty good. It could be good enough to help them get over the top.

3. Atlanta Falcons - This division is such a disaster the Falcons are certainly capable of winning it also. The problem is their offensive line looked horrible in the preseason and if they don't get it together it's going to be a LONG year for Matt Ryan. Their defensive line has gotten better a little bit but not much. This team definitely looks like they are in full out rebuilding mode and are definitely a number of pieces away from contention.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - They have Jamesis Winston and Mike Evans but this team still has a ways to go before they can compete even in this terrible division. The offensive line is garbage. The secondary has probably taken a step back. Hopefully their defensive line will be better, but they still aren't ready to compete yet. Maybe in another year or two.

NFC West Regular Season Predictions

1. Seattle Seahawks - You must be smoking crack if you are seriously considering putting anybody else as the division winner here. If Pete Carroll decides to throw it at the one yard line, at least this time Russell Wilson now has Jimmy Graham to throw the ball to. I'm not exactly thrilled about the Kam Chancellor situation and there are legitimate concerns with their offensive line but other than that, I see this team easily winning the division and absolutely in the conversation for getting back to the Super Bowl.

2. Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals were looking like the team to beat last year until Carson Palmer got hurt. Looks like they got some insurance by making the trade to get Matt Barkley after he lost out in the battle for signal caller for the Eagles. John Brown and JJ Nelson could be a very explosive backfield of targets for Palmer to throw to and the running game has definitely gotten better as well. I don't think they are good enough to challenge the Seahawks unfortunately but a wild card is certainly an option especially considering how far the 49ers have fallen from grace.

3. St Louis Rams - I like Nick Foles at Quarterback getting rid of Bradford who while very talented just couldn't stay on the field long enough to make a difference. Their defense is always good and this year is no exception. Their offensive line is very young though and that could definitely be an issue. I'm also concerned about whether they have enough weapons in wide receiver to be competitive.

4. San Francisco 49ers - This team is a disaster. They lost pretty much EVERYBODY. The offensive line is still terrible. They lost Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith AND Chris Borland thus decimating their lineback core. New coach. New offensive system. Tough division spells VERY long year for the 49er faithful in the bay area.

NFC Playoff Prediction

Division Winners

Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints
Seattle Seahawks

Wild Card Winners

Dallas Cowboys
Arizona Cardinals

NFC Championship

Seattle Seahawks defeat Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl

Seattle Seahawks defeat Indianapolis Colts

Sunday, September 6, 2015

2015-2016 NFL Preview - AFC Regular Season Standings and Playoff Predictions

Will the New England Patriots Repeat As Super Bowl Champions?

So this is it! This is the week that the 2015 NFL season begins! All of the NFL teams have reloaded in the 2015 NFL Draft and Free Agency and now it's time to see which team can execute.  Tom Brady will NOT be missing the season as a judge ruled this week that the NFL cannot suspend him for his role in the "deflategate" scandal.  There will be no Tebow Time in Philadelphia as the controversial quarterback was cut.

Now the question is how will the teams finish off this season? Here are my predictions for each division:

AFC East Regular Season Predictions

1. New England Patriots - This team has definitely gotten worse at the secondary with the loss of Darrelle Revis. EVERY team in the AFC East has also gotten better in the offseason. However, with Tom Brady no longer being suspended and Bill Belichick still at the helm, I don't see how you NOT pick them to win the division.

2. Buffalo Bills - New coach and defensive mastermind Rex Ryan gets to inherit one of the best defenses in the NFL that has only gotten better. Defensive line is ferocious. Their offense has improved dramatically now that they have Shady McCoy at running back and Charles Clay at tight end. The biggest question with this team right now is at the Quarterback position. If Tyrod Taylor is for real, this team will absolutely challenge the Patriots for the division.

3. Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins also have improved dramatically, especially at the defense end. Ndamukong Suh is a PROBLEM and pairing him with Cameron Wake is just downright SCARY! I love the pickup of Jordan Cameron at tight end. If they were in another division I think they would have enough to make the playoffs. However, I think the Patriots and Bills are slightly better this year and as a result they are going to just barely miss out.

4. New York Jets - Geno Smith is out for the next 6 weeks, but I actually think Ryan Fitzpatrick is an upgrade for them. However, it's going to be the same old story for Jets fans. Good defense. Not good enough offense. I see them improving upon their 4 and 12 record, but BEST case scenario for this team is another 8-8 season and in reality, I see them more at 6 or 7 wins and missing out on the playoffs once again.

AFC North Regular Season Predictions

1. Pittsburgh Steelers - The AFC North to me is going to be the most competitive division, even more competitive than the AFC East. It's really hard to pick a division winner here as I see 3 of the 4 teams here with a legitimate shot. However, I'm going to go with the Steelers. I see a slow start due to all the suspensions and a young defense taking time to get it together. However, after that, I see them going on a run and that run will be enough to get them over the finish line.

2. Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals are very deep, no question about it. A.J Green is a beast! I love the backfield of Hill and Bernard. I see Dalton improving as well.  Their pass rush should also be a lot better this year than it was last year where they got pressure but couldn't sack to save their lives. I'm very concerned about their secondary though. With that said they will absolutely challenge the Steelers and it would not surprise me a bit if they actually beat the Steelers out for the division.

3. Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens certainly have the talent to win the division. They have the best defense in the division no question about it. Joe Flacco is a legitimate quarterback and he definitely doesn't get the credit that I believe he deserves. Honestly the ONLY reason why I'm not picking them to win the division is their schedule. FIVE out of their first SEVEN games are on the road and in an ultra competitive division, that might be the difference.

4. Cleveland Browns - The biggest problem for them is at Quarterback. Josh McGown to me is not the answer and I don't know if Johnny Manziel is ready. I also don't see a whole lot of playmakers on this team. Combine that with competing in arguably the toughest division in the NFL and you have the makings for another disappointing year for Cleveland fans.

AFC South Regular Season Predictions

1. Indianapolis Colts - Who in their right mind is NOT picking the Colts to win this division? They have arguably the BEST Quarterback in the NFL right now in Andrew Luck. Then to add insult to injury they have provided him with EVEN MORE WEAPONS giving him Frank Gore and Andre Johnson??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Offensive line and run defense is still a concern but I see them winning the division easily even if they remain an issue. If they can address these gaps? It's going to be a special season.

2. Houston Texans - I like Bill O'brien as coach. The defense is going to be scary as always headed by JJ Watts who is a once in a generation kind of player at the defensive end and now they are getting Jadeveon Clowney back from injury on top of that??? Sheesh! DeAndre Hopkins is going to be even better now that he is the number one option. However, I don't think they have enough at Quarterback to get the job done and Arian Foster is going to be out at least a month, making running back an issue as well. It's going to be a rough September/Early October and that rough period will be enough to make the difference of them not winning the division and not making the playoffs. They do have an easy schedule so that should help.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - This is a young team with a lot of young talent. I like Blake Bortles. I think he can definitely improve in his second year. I also like T.J Yeldon at running back and Allen Robinson at the WR position. I think they are still another year away from competing but finishing .500 is certainly doable for this team.

4. Tennessee Titans - They still aren't going to be good at all, but they should get slightly better. How can you not get better when you only won 2 games last year? Their defense is definitely better and I think Marcus Mariota is the real deal. They will still lose more games than they win though.

AFC West Regular Season Predictions

1. Denver Broncos - It's likely the last year of the Peyton Manning era and the other teams in the division have most certainly gotten better. However, the Denver Broncos still have enough weapons to finish atop of the division this year. I really like Wade Phillips running the defense over there as well. They should have enough to be able to get the job done.

2. Kansas City Chiefs - Derrick Johnson is back and that makes this defense downright scary especially pairing him up with Justin Houston he of the 101 million dollar contract. Marcus Peters at cornerback could win rookie of the year this year. Alex Smith is respectable if not spectacular. Jamal Charles is an ANIMAL. They will challenge the Broncos but I believe they will fall slightly short unfortunately for them.

3. San Diego Chargers - Philip Rivers has a much better offensive line to work with this year. The problem is they have a very difficult schedule and they play in a very difficult division having to play the Broncos twice and the Chiefs twice AND on top of that they have to play the AFC North too??? I think that's a little too much to ask to expect this team to be able to make the leap.

4. Oakland Raiders - I like the young core that they have built around this year. I expect running back Latavius Murray to have a BIG year this year because I especially like that offensive line that they are working with. With that said, I just don't think the Raiders have enough talent yet to compete in this competitive division.

AFC Playoff Predictions

Division Winners

New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers
Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos

Wild Card Winners

Cincinnati Bengals
Buffalo Bills

AFC Championship

Indianapolis Colts defeat the New England Patriots