2014 NFL prognoses

Annnnnnnd… we’re off!  Team-by-team and playoff predictions for the 2014 NFL season:

2014nfl

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: A solid year from a solid team in a solid division.  Yawn. 8-8

Carolina Panthers: Cam “Isaac” Newton blows some teams away but battles injuries all year, ultimately leading to a disappointing first-round loss. 10-6

New Orleans Saints: Marques Colston officially turns into a metronome as he logs yet another 70 catch, 1,000 yard, 8 TD season to little fanfare.  11-5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A transition year by the bay, with plenty of friskiness showing through. 5-11

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: The defense regresses a little, the offense progresses a little, and they end up in the middle.  Poetry. 8-8

San Francisco 49ers: The most consistently solid team of the last three seasons puts forth another strong effort despite some issues in the news (and in the courthouse), and harnesses past frustrations well. 13-3

Seattle Seahawks: A raucous and talented team finds out how difficult it is to repeat as champs, and it turns out that Russell Wilson isn’t *perfect* after all — but the team does plenty of damage along the way. 12-4

St. Louis Rams: A lost season for a lost franchise. 4-12

 

NFC North

Chicago Bears: A ruthlessly efficient offense is held back by a surprisingly porous defense once the really tense games start. 9-7

Detroit Lions: The stink of Jim Schwartz lingers like a stale fart as the organization struggles to utilize its considerable weapons in a productive way. 6-10

Green Bay Packers: A fine rebound year for the cheeseheads, including taking advantage of a weaker-than-expected division. 11-5

Minnesota Vikings: After Matt Cassel lays a few eggs, Teddy Bridge-over-troubled-water makes clear that he is the dude for the foreseeable future. 6-10

 

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: The Romo-Dez express is as dangerous as any, and Witten solidifies himself as an eventual Hall of Famer, but the team as a whole can’t hit fifth gear as a unit. 9-7

New York Giants: Eli shows people that he isn’t dead yet, but the team regresses like a hermit crab against decent opposition. 6-10

Philadelphia Eagles: Teams begin to figure out Chip Kelly’s innovative schemes, and Nick Foles crashes back to earth.  Still enough firepower to win the division, although barely. 9-7

Washington Redskins: An underwhelming year in D.C. ends with an intact RGIII and visions of a fruitful future. 6-10

 

AFC South

Houston Texans: No more visions of the Sage Rosenfels era, with a vast improvement over the lost 2013 season, but only a flash in the regular season pan (with a home blowout loss in the playoffs). 9-7

Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck spearheads another reasonably successful campaign, but falls short of recent past accomplishments. 9-7

Jacksonville Jaguars: The long climb from the cellar continues as the Jags stay competitive in most games and Bortles impresses while earning many sophomoric nicknames. 5-11

Tennessee Titans: A difficult team to predict — some promising signs, but more less-than-promising signs. 5-11

 

AFC West

Denver Broncos: Peyton and the refurbished defense perform well against an absurdly difficult schedule, which provides the team with more of an edge heading into the playoffs than in the last couple more finesse-y seasons. 11-5

Kansas City Chiefs: Hard to disagree with all the regression predictions given that the 9-0 start last years was against a bunch of creampuffs, and how the team folded in all its high-profile high-anxiety games. 6-10

Oakland Raiders: Matt Schaub is not the man to turn around the Raiders’ decade-plus from hell. 4-12

San Diego Chargers: An explosive offense hides several defensive flaws as a playoff-tested dark horse rides again. 11-5

 

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: Too much drama, too much turnover, too much Flacco. 7-9

Cincinnati Bengals: ROAR!  Many offensive weapons combine to surprise many folks (and take advantage of the rest of the division having a sharty year). 11-5

Cleveland Browns: Manziel-mania happens eventually, and produces some fits and starts.  Ultimately, this team ain’t going anywhere until the QB situation is fully resolved and until its all-world receiver is back on the field (i.e., next year). 6-10

Pittsburgh Steelers: The aging riverfolk make a game opponent to many, but defeat very few. 5-11

 

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: Competitive in every game, and showing signs of battling Miami for the post-Brady-era pole position in the AFC East.  But not yet. 7-9

Miami Dolphins: Spunky bunch led by rising star Ryan Tannehill finds itself squarely in the playoff picture. 10-6

New England Patriots: Possibly the last best opportunity for the Pats squad results in a dominant regular season (assuming good Gronk health), before facing much stiffer tests in the playoffs. 12-4

New York Jets: Another young QB makes strides on the field, but the strides are ultimately futile in the short term. 5-11

 

NFC Championship

San Francisco 49ers over Green Bay Packers

AFC Championship

Denver Broncos over New England Patriots

Super Bowl

Denver Broncos over San Francisco 49ers.  After two straight gut-wrenching playoff/Super Bowl losses, expectations are this high:

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After all, what kind of homer would I be if I picked someone else? Go donkeys!

 

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