2014 NFL Predictions
The 2014 NFL season promises to provide plenty of interesting storylines. Heck, even in the preseason, we already have plenty of noise throughout the league that's kept football atop the headlines, even as baseball's playoff races begin to heat up.
But let's get something out of the way right now. Here in New England, we're spoiled. We know that our team will once again be a contender for the Lombardi Trophy. We know this because Tom Brady is the quarterback, because Bill Belichick is the coach, and because Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL.
It's a league in which winners are built on star quarterbacks and shutdown defensive backs. I know what you're thinking after reading that statement: "But the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year with Russell Wilson as their QB."
Perhaps you don't consider WIlson a star quarterback like I do. That's fine. We disagree on that then. But nobody can disagree with the fact that the Seahawks had the most physical secondary in the league.
And the defending Super Bowl champs will most certainly have a chance to repeat this year. But to play spoiler with you for a minute, I'm not going to put my money on that to happen.
Here are my official 2014 NFL Predictions:
AFC EAST: New England Patriots
-I actually think the Miami Dolphins should be taken seriously this year. But at the same time, the Pats will win 12 games again. Ultimately, the Dolphins' 10 wins won't be enough to overcome the kings of the AFC East. Expect the Patriots to be dominant on both sides of the ball. Brady is playing with a little extra motivation this year. Might as well give him the regular-season MVP trophy now.
AFC NORTH: Baltimore Ravens
-My reasoning for this pick will be controversial, mainly because every time we see Ray Rice run the football, we'll be reminded of the fact that he knocked out his girlfriend in an elevator and is only facing a two-game suspension for it. Well, as brutal as that is, when Rice returns, expect him to bounce back from his worst pro season -- as an established NFL running back -- in 2013. Rice is only 27. Last year he ran for 660 yards in 15 games, marking the first time he didn't rush for 1,000 yards since his rookie season in 2008. fantasy football know-it-alls can study their draft rankings all they want, but when Rice returns from his suspension, he's still young enough and talented enough to help the Ravens get back to the playoffs.
AFC SOUTH: Indianapolis Colts
-Andrew Luck got a taste of the postseason last year, but unfortunately for him, he ran into the Patriots in the Divisional Round. The Colts should win the division again, and it might only take 10 wins to do so. The Houston Texans will improve on their 2-14 record in 2013, but even after trading for Ryan Mallett, they still won't have a good enough passing attack to grab a Wild Card spot. Expect the Luck-to-Reggie-Wayne connection to steal the AFC South's headlines all year.
AFC WEST: Denver Broncos
-It won't be a walk in the park, but do you really expect the Broncos to not win the division? Kansas City had 11 wins last year, and I think the Chiefs are good for at least 10 wins this season. And San Diego seems to always find itself in the Wild Card hunt. This division had three playoff teams in 2013. That could very well be the case once again in 2014. But there's no way that either of those two teams will knock off the Broncos.
AFC WILD CARD:
-Kansas City Chiefs
NFC EAST: New York Giants
-This would be the moment in which I pick the G-Men to bounce back from their 7-9 record last season. It's funny, all that talk about Eli Manning being "elite" not too long ago, and here we are with a New York Giants team that's missed the playoffs the last two seasons. Of course, that comes after they won a Super Bowl three years ago, but still. The Eagles won 10 games last year, and he obsession with Chip Kelly's offense will make them the popular pick to once again win the East. But I do think Eli is much better than the 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions that he threw last season. At least, I expect him to be good enough to get the Giants back to the top of the division this year.
NFC NORTH: Green Bay Packers
-It's kind of crazy to think that the Packers won the division last year with only eight wins. An injured Aaron Rodgers missed most of the second half, but returned for the last regular season game and the playoffs. If Rodgers can stay healthy for the entire season, the Packers will be one of the best teams in the NFC, if not the entire NFL.
NFC SOUTH: New Orleans Saints
-Had Cam Newton not suffered a hairline fracture in his ribs during the preseason, my pick here would be the Carolina Panthers. But if I can't put my money on Newton's health now, I can't put my money on the Panthers. So I'll go with the Saints, who lost to the Seahawks in the Divisional ROund last year. Brees has thrown for 5,000 yards his last three seasons, and I don't expect him to fall off in 2014. Expect New Orleans to make some serious noise.
NFC WEST: Seattle Seahawks
-As long as Seattle remains the toughest place to play in professional sports, then the Seahawks are my pick here. And remember how I feel about Russell Wilson. I believe he's one of the elite quarterbacks in the game. The kid is only 25 years old, and entering his third season, he's only getting better. Strong arm, accurate when throwing on the run, and as smart as they come, Wilson is the real deal, even if your fantasy football draft guide doesn't say so. The San Francisco 49ers obviously get a serious look here, but at the end of the day, I don't see the Seahawks taking a step back in the 2014 regular season.
NFC WILD CARD:
-San Francisco 49ers
AFC WILD CARD ROUND:
-Indianapolis Colts over Cincinnati Bengals
-Baltimore Ravens over Kansas City Chiefs
NFC WILD CARD ROUND:
-New Orleans Saints over Atlanta Falcons
-San Francisco 49ers over New York Giants
AFC DIVISIONAL ROUND:
-New England Patriots over Baltimore Ravens
-Denver Broncos over Indianapolis Colts
NFC DIVISIONAL ROUND:
-Green Bay Packers over San Francisco 49ers
-Seattle Seahawks over New Orleans Saints
-New England Patriots over Denver Broncos
-Green Bay Packers over Seattle Seahawks
SUPER BOWL XLIX:
-New England Patriots over Green Bay Packers