***WARNING*** I MAY NOT COVER EVERY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE! BUT IF YOU WISH TO COMMENT IN THE SECTION BELOW EITHER ON YOUR OPINION ABOUT TEAMS I MENTION OR HAVEN’T MENTIONED OR STANDINGS/WILD CARD PREDICTIONS. PLEASE DO SO. THANK YOU.
Welcome back for my 2012 recap and 2013 season review. If you haven’t checked out Part 1 of this article set, then please click here, catch up and make your way back here.
Now where were we? Ah yes, the Cincinnati Bengals. I love that they kept Marvin Lewis, I truly believe he is an awesome coach, probably an under-rated coach and is perfect for this team. The only thing I see them missing is a premiere back, if they had a consistent running back and put the fear in defensive coordinators every game, they could be a favorite in the AFC North. But until that happens, I believe they are a 2nd place/Wild card team at best. You never know, maybe one of the running backs they have on their roster will surprise us this year and do big things. You can never really tell in this league, that’s what makes it so beautiful.
Next up of course, all in one are the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings. Now with the Kansas City Chiefs, I think their rebuilding process is only going to take maybe 1-2 seasons. They need to add more depth when it comes to defensive backs, but as far as their offense goes, I believe they have the weapons and leadership they need to put points on the board and win games. Trading for Alex Smith and hiring Andy Reid was a great decision for this team.
I thought for sure they were going to take Luke Joeckel with the 1st overall pick in the draft, but they decided to roll with Eric Fisher who is equally as good as Joeckel. So their offensive line should have better pass protection and consistent running lanes if they can put that new West Coast offense to good use.
As far as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings are concerned. Both teams are looking great on offense and defense. Between the 2 teams, with Tampa Bay adding Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson and Minnesota trading Percy Harvin, adding Greg Jennings and selecting 3 1st round draft picks, both teams had a great off-season and Draft day. Minnesota who stepped it up late last season, making the playoffs, are looking to do the same again with Adrian Peterson eyeing the single season rushing record. It will be interesting to see how their draft picks perform (Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson), which all 3 could possibly start.
My heavy favorite for this season has to be the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning said early on in the off-season that he is more comfortable than he was last year. Which could be very dangerous for the rest of the league, as the team added Wes Welker to that high powered offense. Jumping behind the Denver Broncos could easily be the New England Patriots and Houston Texans. Of course the New England Patriots because of Tom Brady, although they have a huge distraction right now, first by adding Tim Tebow and then having to release one of their star tight ends in Aaron Hernandez.
I expect the Patriots to remain the top team in the AFC East this season because of Tom Brady’s ability to turn any wide receiver into a threat. Put the ball in his hands, protect him and that team will continue to win ball games as long as Tom Brady doesn’t lose his touch. Now as for the Houston Texans, they fell apart late last season after it looked like they were going to run away with the #1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage. Their secondary will be better this season after adding Ed Reed, with Danieal Manning opposite of him or at least Manning should be opposite of him.
This Houston Texans offense needs to start off strong like they did last season and keep it up, because if they do, they could give the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos a run for their money when it comes to the #1 seed in the conference. And with the targets on their backs and being the reigning defending Super Bowl Champions, you have the Baltimore Ravens. A team that will definitely look different on the defensive side of the field, now that Ray Lewis is retired. They lost Ed Reed and few key pieces of that defense that helped lead them to a Super Bowl but signed some players who could potentially send them back to the post season for another shot at the Super Bowl.
Will elite Joe Flacco and his giant contract live up to what it’s worth and lead the Ravens to a back to back Super Bowl champion? Or will the money go to his head and he along with the rest of the team face plant either early or later on in the season. It’s shown that Super Bowl champions usually miss the playoffs the season after they won it all. Last season the New York Giants struggled.
Alright as for my personal opinions/predictions for the league let’s get on with it. Remember, other staff members here at NFL Spin Zone will also post their own predictions on the standings for this season.
Let’s start with my predictions for the league standings.
1. New England Patriots (12-4) – Tom Brady. Enough said.
2. Miami Dolphins (9-7) – A team on the rise, solid defense. Mike Wallace will do big things for this offense.
3. New York Jets (5-11) – I believe Geno will be the starter at some point and helps them win games.
4. Buffalo Bills (3-13) – They need what they lack the most, leadership.
1. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – It will be interesting to see how Flacco and this new look defense performs.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) – A young team who could soon dominate this division, but not this season.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – Can Ben Roethlisberger stay healthy and will Jarvis Jones bring the defense to life?
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) – Another team making the right moves. Solid defense, just need that offense to step up.
1. Houston Texans (11-5) – They need to buckle down, complete assignments and all should be well. Limit injuries or try.
2. Indianapolis Colts (10-6) – I love how this team looks, but I still think they have some work to do before they take this division.
3. Tennessee Titans (6-10) – Will be interesting to see what happens when it comes to carries with Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene. And is Jake Locker the answer in Tennessee?
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) – They could have some games where they look like a serious team, but will have plays where they remind us that they are the Jacksonville Jaguars. A high draft pick next year, could get them Manziel.
1. Denver Broncos (14-2) – Hands down the best team in the entire league in my opinion. I think they clinch the #1 seed and home field advantage. This could be the year of Peyton Manning.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) – A new coach, new system, new quarterback. They are close, but not there yet. Next years draft with off-season pick ups should boost this team closer to a shot at the division title in 2014.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12) – They traded for Matt Flynn who I am a huge fan of, but that’s not enough. Keep a close eye on rookie D.J. Hayden who could possibly be a defensive Rookie of the Year.
4. San Diego Chargers (3-13) – I’m sorry San Diego but Rivers is not the answer. Gates is getting older, Woodhead is not the answer at half back, Mathews can”t stay healthy. Back to the drawing board.
1. Washington Redskins (11-5) – RG3 should be healthy and ready, but will have to limit the amount of carries he himself takes per game. They should pick up right where they left off.
2. Dallas Cowboys (9-7) – They picked up Rod Marinelli who will completely turn that defense around. Look what he did in Chicago. If I’m a Cowboys fan, I’m excited about this defense. On another note, Romo needs to hit the RIGHT target.
3. New York Giants (7-9) – If this team wants to stay above .500, then the protection and the performance of Eli Manning needs to improve and improve fast. Release some key players from the last 5-7 years and this will show.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-11) – Chip Kelly in town? Who will be the starting quarterback? Can the offensive line protect whoever it is? Where is this defense at? Are the Eagles even considered a threat? These questions need to be answered now.
1. Green Bay Packers (12-4) – They lost Greg Jennings but I don’t think that will hurt them much now that they have a running back in Eddie Lacey who could possibly end up like his former Tide teammate Trent Richardson. They needed a running back, now they have one. He just needs to stay healthy.
2. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – I think we find a repeat between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears last season.
3. Chicago Bears (10-6) – An entire new coaching staff, minus Brian Urlacher equals question marks. They added pieces to the offensive line, but how will everything piece together. I’m a Bears fan but I have my concerns.
4. Detroit Lions (6-10) – You added Reggie Bush? Cool. Defense needs to step up and actually hold leads this season if you want a chance to keep up with the Bears and Vikings in this division.
1. Atlanta Falcons (13-3) – They lost Michael Turner and John Abraham but landed Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson during the free agency period. Good news! They brought back Tony Gonzalez for his final season.
2. New Orleans Saints (8-8) – Last season this team was all over the place. The production from both sides of the ball including Drew Brees himself wasn’t exactly the greatest. They have Sean Payton back but I think they still need some work.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) – I know I may get heat for putting Tampa over Carolina, but when you compare both teams, Tampa’s defense is a lot better than Carolina’s. Defense doesn’t always win games, unless you are the Chicago Bears, but they could put the ball in your hands. A young quarterback who needs to prove himself should have the chance to do so this season now that he has a couple ball hawks on the other side of the field.
4. Carolina Panthers (6-10) – Cam Newton and Steve Smith can’t win games by themselves. Signs of improvement need to be shown on the defensive side of the ball. I don’t have anything against Carolina, I just think Cam needs more talent around him. Oh and Steve Smith won’t be along for forever. So they need to focus on what to do when he is gone.
1. Seattle Seahawks (12-4) – A very dangerous team. If coaches want their players to stop Russell Wilson, you better get better schemes together.
2. San Francisco 49ers (11-5) – A for sure wild card team, we’ll see if Dashon Goldson’s choice to leave for Tampa will hurt their secondary.
3. St. Louis Rams (7-9) – Last season their defense showed signs of life and caused a few of the top teams in the NFL some problems. The offense of this team should be a lot better since they drafted Tavon Austin. I think they are a couple steps ahead of the Arizona Cardinals in a division that will most likely belong to the Seahawks and 49ers in years to come. Unless St. Louis can step up and add a 3rd threat to this division.
4. Arizona Cardinals (5-11) – Alright you traded for Carson Palmer, drafted a solid guard, picked up a running back who has had knee problems. That can’t automatically bump you up 2-3 spots in the division. Right now I see this being a good record for this team who needs to make sure they can protect their quarterback or at least stick with one. Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald are in my opinion the only Pro Bowl caliber players on this roster, well maybe Chance Warmack.
San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl Champions: Denver Broncos over Seattle Seahawks