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2014 NFL Season Predictions; Shocking Super Bowl Champions

@SportsRuckus 2014
NFL Season Predictions
By: William Eissler & Justin Walters

​This year’s NFL offseason saw a number of big names moving, resigning, and getting locked out of the team’s gym at four in the morning (JJ Watt). The landscape of the NFL has changed and yet much has remained the same. This year we’ll see some teams rebuild and find success for the first time in a while. At the same time we will see some teams face more adversity than anyone could have predicted just a couple weeks ago. This years predictions were especially hard with the surprising number of ‘middle of the road’ teams. It was hard to find a clear winner and a team that is clearly going to be claiming the number one pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Anyways, I digress, here is what we have come up with division by division.

​ We will start in the AFC East where much is unchanged. I think it will come as no surprise to anyone that the Patriots, with or without, Gronkowski will walk away with the division again this year. This would make the sixth year in a row that the powerhouse Patriots will grab the division title from the Dolphins, Jets, and Bills who despite improvements resemble more of NCAA Division 1AA teams. The Patriots have made improvements to their defense even with the departing of Aqib Talib and are poised to walk away with the division with little to no resistance.

New England Patriots​12-4
Miami Dolphins​9-7
New York Jets​7-9
Buffalo Bills​5-11

​The AFC North will be an interesting set of teams to keep your eyes on this year. The once little brother Cincinnati Bengals have now become the front-runners in this once strong division. The Pittsburg Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have taken a back seat to the Bengals but are not ready to relinquish control of the division just yet. Both teams still have a lot of talented players to make games interesting. This division has produced some of the most exciting games against each in the past couple years and I expect the prior to prove true again this year. These teams hate each other and no matter what the circumstance it is always a battle amongst each other. The Browns were a team last year that showed hope and promise but a tumultuous offseason of off field mishaps has landed them as one of the worst teams in the NFL this year. Cleveland is like a terrible car accident, something you don’t want to look at but cannot take your eyes off of. This most likely will be a close division race with the Bengals pulling away down the stretch.

Cincinnati Bengals​ 11-5
Pittsburgh Steelers ​8-8
Baltimore Ravens​ 7-9
Cleveland Brown​ 5-11

​The AFC South much like the East is a division that people are mailing in already. Almost everyone with any sense has the Colts winning this division and we at SportsRuckus are no different. It is hard to say how the other teams are going to do in this division given the uncertainty of the offseason improvements. The Texans have made a good pickup in Ryan Mallet. A player who played under Bill O’Brien in New England but is very untested and is being thrown into the starting roll. The Titans have made improvements on the field and with the coaching staff. But it is hard to see them improving their record from last year. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a much better team than last year and should do much better then being the butt of the joke in the NFL. At the end of the day the Colts should win this division with relative ease.

Indianapolis Colts​ 10-6
Jacksonville Jaguars​ 7-9
Houston Texans​ 6-10
Tennessee Titans​ 5-11

​The AFC West is more proof that the AFC will be boring this year and the NFC should prove to be a lot more interesting. The division winners in the AFC seem to be penciled in for the playoffs already with other teams fighting a futile battle for runner up spot. It seems definite that the Broncos will win the division title again this year in decisive fashion. At the same time there is more to be concerned about with the Broncos this year than the year past. The defense is still reeling and the Seahawks proved defense wins championships. The Broncos have an ace in the hole though in the form of future Hall of Fame quarter back Peyton Manning. He wills teams to victory against improbable odds and he will have his plate full again this year. The Kansas City Chiefs seem to be the biggest test in Denver’s way but I am not convinced they have gotten any better from last year. The Chargers will probably go 8-8 again this year either just making or just missing the playoffs like they always do. Lastly the Oakland Raiders will continue the trend of recent failure being the bottom of the division, or conference for that matter, as they try to start a rookie quarterback that resembles nothing of the early successes of Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson.

Denver Broncos​ 13-3
Kansas City Chiefs​ 8-8
San Diego Chargers​ 8-8
Oakland Raiders ​3-13

​The AFC was rather easy but the NFC presents quite the challenge as far as predicting winners and losers goes. We will start in the abysmal NFC East, where this once powerhouse division struggles to pull wins from subpar teams across the board. Everyone has the Philadelphia Eagles taking this division with relative ease. I can’t say that I have as much confidence in the Eagles as everyone else does. The Eagles will win this division but it will be yet another close race as it has in years past. The Cowboys defense might be the worst in the NFL but don’t count out Tony Romo from pulling out a bunch of games that they have no business winning. The Giants despite their 5-0-preseason record looked lost and confused. I would expect them to drop games early in the season but start winning as the offense starts to put together this new simplified scheme. The Redskins have a bunch of talent but RGIII just makes you question their ability to win games. After the sophomore slump can he recover? Should they be starting Kirk Cousins, the more traditional quarterback in his place? I think a lot of their questions will be answered this year and the future of the NFC East will start to take shape whether it be positive or negative. Basically the whole NFC East is a huge question mark and no one has any idea what is going to happen. The Eagles are just the safest answer and that’s why you see countless people picking them. We will take the easy way out too but with a much smaller margin.

Philadelphia Eagles ​9-7
New York Giants​ 8-8
Dallas Cowboys ​7-9
Washington Redskins​ 5-11

​The NFC North is a historically tough division with all teams battling for supremacy. Well all besides the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions are arguably the most consistently inconsistent team in the NFL making them the hardest to predict. They will start out on a hot streak and then when it seems they’re a lock for the playoffs they will drop five games in a row missing the wild card by one game. The Chicago Bears have a great offense with a mediocre defense. They get a lot of turnovers but let up over thirty points a game so they are also hard to predict. The Packers have been a constant since Aaron Rodgers took over the helm and this year is no different. He will lead the team to another division title and take this veteran team far into the playoffs. Lastly the Minnesota Vikings are kind of like the Oakland Raiders in the sense that you think they are going to get better every year and end up being consistently awful. This year will not be any different as the rookie quarterback will need a couple years to develop and Matt Cassel, with limited weapons, will have trouble getting the offense to win games with another subpar defense.

Green Bay Packers​ 12-4
Chicago Bears​ 9-7
Detroit Lions ​8-8
Minnesota Vikings​ 4-12

​The NFC is most certainly proving to be tougher to predict than the AFC and the South is more evidence of this. Like most other sport writers I am going to say that the Saints will win this division and maybe with ease but the rest of the teams demonstrate a lot more parity. The Panthers have a very solid defense but still have an inept offense. Once again they don’t help Cam and when they have an average year they will threaten his job once more. They had no weapons on offense last year and this year they miraculously have even less. Much will ride on the shoulders of Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin with the huge pickup of Jericho Cotchery (sarcastic voice). The Buccaneers, much like the Jaguars, should be a much improved team this year under the supervision of Lovie Smith. He is a great coach that has turned teams around in the past and will have another tough project after the work that Greg Schiano did on this team. All jokes aside the Bucs will get better with Josh McCown and cool futuristic jerseys. The Falcons are a team that has fallen under the radar and maybe for good reason. They haven’t really improved at all on either side of the ball but a healthy Julio Jones could change all of that. Overall they seem like a fantastically mediocre team. The Saints shouldn’t have any trouble winning this division and getting back to the playoffs.

New Orleans Saints​ 11-5
Carolina Panthers​ 9-7
Atlanta Falcons​ 8-8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers​ 7-9

​Finally the NFC West is a strong division with a lot of talent. The reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks have taken a step back in my eyes but so has most of the division. The 49ers were one of the strongest teams in the conference a couple weeks ago but the uncertainty of their defense leaves us with many unanswered questions. I look at them to start slow and then with the return of Navarro Bowmen, Aldon Smith, and possibly McDonald to pick up their play and string some wins together down the stretch. The Cardinals are a hot team to like and for good reason. With a strong receiving core and the emergence of Ellington and Floyd this could be an efficient offense. The loss of Dockett is a big blow after losing Washington to suspension earlier this offseason. A top ten defense last year is hurting and needs to find a way to stop the bleeding. The answer could come in the form of the offense scoring more points this year relieving some of the pressure. There was a lot to like about the Rams coming into this regular season but the lose of Sam Bradford again will prove too big of a task to overcome. The Rams should make a play at Kirk Cousins to help with the huge lose. The Super Bowl champion Seahawks should be able to pull out another division title in this confusing division.

Seattle Seahawks​ 11-5
San Francisco 49ers​ 9-7
Arizona Cardinals ​8-8
St. Louis Rams ​5-11

​Now we get to the fun stuff…the Playoffs. The AFC playoff picture when all is said and done should look similar to this:

1. Denver Broncos
2. New England Patriots
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Indianapolis Colts
5. Miami Dolphins
6. San Diego Chargers

​This leaves us with some interesting playoff matchups. In the Wildcard round Cincinnati will play San Diego with the Bengals pulling out a close one against a formidable Charger team. On the other side we will see the Colts take on Miami with Andrew Luck picking apart the Dolphins defense making their way to Divisional Sunday. This leaves Peyton Manning playing his alma matter Colts and Tom Brady squaring off against Andy Dalton, AJ Green and the Bengals defense. After this Sunday the Patriots will pull out a win against the Bengals and move on to the conference championship. This twist this year is that Peyton will not be joining him as the Colts manage to upset the incumbent conference champions. The Patriots will have their way with the Colts returning to the Super Bowl that eluded them last year.

​The NFC playoff picture will be a little muddier but should ultimately end up looking something like this:

1. Green Bay Packers
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Seattle Seahawks
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Chicago Bears
6. San Francisco 49ers

​This will be a great Wildcard weekend with intriguing matchups in the AFC and NFC. The NFC will consist of the Seahawks against the division rival 49ers who managed to just squeak into the playoffs. The Eagles will matchup against the Bears in the first weekend of the playoffs. The Seahawks once again will prove too much for the 49ers to handle and move on to the Divisional game. The Bears and Jay Cutler will beat the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles and meet a veteran New Orleans team lead by Mr. 5000 himself Drew Brees. The Divisional playoff will pin the Packers against the Super Bowl champion Seahawks where Aaron Rodgers will be able to beat the stingy defense of the Seahawks to make an appearance back in the NFC Championship. On the other side of the bracket the Saints will fall to a hot wildcard Bears team by a field goal on the last drive. This sets us up for one of the best matchups possible in the NFC Conference Championship: Packers vs. Bears. Their familiar foes will battle for supremacy with the Bears ultimately falling to the superior Green Bay Packers.

​The Super Bowl will feature two of the best quarterbacks in the game in Tom Brady versus Aaron Rodgers. When this 2014-2015 season is over the Patriots will return to glory beating the Packers 27-24 in a classic Super Bowl battle.

Please let @Thoughts_On_Ice and @SportsRuckus know what you think of our predictions and whether you agree or disagree with us. We LOVE feedback. Follow @Thoughts_On_Ice and @SportsRuckus for continuous football coverage this year!

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