The 2014 NFL season only saw two changes in division winners from the previous season. Three of the four wildcard teams last year had missed the postseason in 2013. For the last 15 years we have become accustomed to parody in the NFL, however it looks as if we are trending towards more consistency. New England, Indianapolis, Denver, Seattle, and Green Bay have all made the playoffs and at least appeared in a conference championship game since 2012. Can Baltimore or Pittsburgh jump back into that group this year? Could Dallas, Philadelphia, or another make its way into the NFC Elite?
Let’s start with the divisions!
*indicates wildcard berth
New England Patriots 11-5 The Patriots will face much improved defenses this year within their division. The good news is the best QB not named Tom Brady in the AFC East is Ryan Tannehill.
Buffalo Bills 10-6* If the Bills had a top 10 quarterback they would be the Super Bowl favorites. Rex re-energizes Orchard Park getting Buffalo back to the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins 8-8 Defense looks great, but how does this offense stack up against the division foes’ defenses? Not good.
New York Jets 4-12 What happened to Geno Smith in training camp is a good indication of where the Jets are headed this year.
Baltimore Ravens 11-5 The key injuries to Pittsburgh give Baltimore the edge in the North. You could argue they should still be the favorite even if the Steelers were healthy.
Cincinnati Bengals 10-6* Let’s face it we all know what the Bengals are. The fact that this team has a second place schedule will allow Marvin Lewis to experience a first round exit yet again even with the Red Rifle having a few stinkers in the first 16.
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7 There is no doubt the Steelers will have their share of big plays this year, but suspensions and injuries could lead to a slow start which might be too much to overcome in a competitive AFC.
Cleveland Browns 3-13 The Browns are the Browns. Watching this team blow the draft every year is more entertaining than the product on the field. Just start Manziel already!
Indianapolis Colts 12-4 Andrew Luck might prove to be the league’s best quarterback and he already plays in the league’s worst division. Luck is all you need.
Jacksonville Jaguars 7-9 Someone has to emerge as somewhat mediocre out of the rubble that is the cellar of the AFC South. Blake Bortles to Allen Robinson could be the next best pass-catch tandem in the NFL. I’m not kidding.
Houston Texans 6-10 Houston has the best player in the league that is not a quarterback in JJ Watt and it doesn’t matter, because the Texans don’t have a quarterback and a running back for most of the year. Don’t worry Ryan Mallett. You will get a chance to start this year sooner rather than later.
Tennessee Titans 4-12 Questionable rookie quarterback on an already bad team. If this squad wasn’t in the AFC South they’d be lucky to get half the wins I’m predicting they’ll get.
Kansas City Chiefs 10-6 This team isn’t good enough to contend with the AFC elite, but they are good enough to win the West. I’m still baffled how a WR didn’t catch a TD pass last year? In today’s pass happy NFL?!
San Diego Chargers 9-7 Philip Rivers never has the right weapons around him to take the Chargers deep into the playoffs. This year will be the same story.
Denver Broncos 8-8 Peyton Manning can still play in this league. He won’t be Denver’s downfall. The organization gutting the coaching staff after four straight division titles will spell doom for the Broncos. A new offensive philosophy at this stage in his career may make Manning rethink buckling his chinstrap after this season.
Oakland Raiders 6-10 The bad news: the Raiders still have a long way to go. The good news: they will show signs of life this year and better yet improvement.
Dallas Cowboys 11-5 Even without DeMarco Murray the Cowboys still have the most talented roster man for man in the division. A much improved defense should enable them to repeat in the East.
Philadelphia Eagles 9-7 It’s not Chip Kelly the coach, it’s Chip Kelly the GM that will do Philly in. While it is important for coaches to have say in personnel decisions, outside of Bill Belichick when does the coach being judge, jury, and executioner with the team’s roster ever work?
New York Giants 7-9 We’re about to find out how good Odell Beckham Jr. really is. Holes in the offensive line and all over the defense means that the G-Men will need to many more big plays from No. 13 if they are going to have a chance at getting back in the playoffs.
Washington Redskins 4-12 Daniel Snyder has been compared to guys like Jerry Jones and Al Davis. At least those guys won championships before they screwed up their teams. The dumpster fire continues in the Nation’s Capital.
Minnesota Vikings 11-5 With Peterson back, Teddy Bridgewater, in his second year in Norv Turner’s offense, will look better than he really is. He’ll get a few assists from his defense and the Vikes will steal the division.
Green Bay Packers 10-6* This team can still win without Jordy Nelson. Aaron Rodgers has proved time and again he is good enough to carry this team on his back. Unfortunately for him he doesn’t have the luxury of playing in the AFC South like Andrew Luck. It will be a tougher road for Green Bay.
Detroit Lions 9-7 The key to the Lions success will be running the football. Their losses on defense will likely be too much in the end. Detroit has not made the playoffs in consecutive years since Wayne Fontes was the coach.
Chicago Bears 8-8 Don’t sleep on these guys. John Fox’s style of pounding the rock and gritty defense is what Chicago Bear football is all about.
Atlanta Falcons 9-7 One of these teams has to win this division and it will probably be Atlanta by default. Dan Quinn will likely make better in-game decisions than Mike Smith. It is nearly impossible to make any worse.
New Orleans Saints 8-8 If Drew Brees has any gas left in the tank it should be the Saints division for the taking. Unfortunately for Who Dat Nation the gauge seems to be going towards “E”.
Carolina Panthers 6-10 Kelvin Benjamin had the best rookie season of any receiver not named Odell Beckham Jr. His absence will cost the Panthers a shot at repeating as South champs and maybe even Ron Rivera his job.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-13 Winston has what it takes to be a good NFL quarterback except for an offensive line. Let the growing pains begin in Tampa.
Seattle Seahawks 12-4 The Seahawks might be worse than they were last year which could still be good enough to win it all.
St. Louis Rams 10-6* Todd Gurley and Tre Mason could give the Rams a lethal ground attack. If this happens it will open up things for Nick Foles giving St. Louis the QB it has lacked during the years of the Fisher era.
Arizona Cardinals 8-8 I’m betting that injuries and Father Time have caught up to Carson Palmer. Even if Matt Barkley is better than Ryan Lindley it probably still won’t be enough for the Cards.
San Francisco 49ers 5-11 If San Francisco can make it to .500 Jim Tomsula needs to be Coach of the Year.
Buffalo Bills 21 Kansas City Chiefs 17
Baltimore Ravens 31 Cincinnati Bengals 10
Green Bay Packers 27 Atlanta Falcons 13
Minnesota Vikings 23 St. Louis Rams 20
New England Patriots 24 Baltimore Ravens 23
Indianapolis Colts 38 Buffalo Bills 16
Dallas Cowboys 30 Minnesota Vikings 22
Seattle Seahawks 26 Green Bay Packers 24
Indianapolis Colts 34 New England Patriots 24
Seattle Seahawks 17 Dallas Cowboys 13
Super Bowl 50
Indianapolis Colts 20 Seattle Seahawks 19
MVP Andrew Luck- IND
Offensive Player of the Year Dez Bryant- DAL
Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald- STL
Offensive Rookie of the Year Ameer Abdullah- DET
Defensive Rookie of the Year Randy Gregory- DAL
Comeback Player of the Year Eric Berry- KC
Coach of the Year John Fox- CHI