Friday, September 5, 2014

NFL Predictions For 2014 - AFC Edition

I meant to post this yesterday, but my internet has been out lately. The sadfaces have been plentiful. At least I haven't been distracted Orange Is The New Black which has been surprisingly fantastic. Now I wonder why I ever hesitated to click that show on Netflix. Anyway I am writing this to talk some NFL goodness, not about some women in prison jumpsuits. I'm also going to unveil my prediction for the AFC representative for this year's Superbowl. This year, for the first time, I'm going to predict who I think will win each division as well. I'm going to list each team in the order they are listed on the NFL.com standings page. The NFC predictions will be posted tomorrow.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills

Offense

This team is built to run the ball. With a solid offensive line and they are very deep at RB. EJ Manuel is the big questionmark here. They can score a lot of points if he can extend drives on 3rd down when asked to.

Defense

Again this team is stacked up front. Their defensive line looks very good. If they can get pressure on the Quarterback consistently, that will take pressure off of their serviceable secondary.

Overall

This could be a very good ground and pound team. They have one of the best defensive lines in the league and one of the deepest teams at Running Back.

New York Jets

Offense

They want to run the ball. Chris Ivory has some talent along with Chris Johnson, but Ivory hasn't been the most durable and CJ is on the downside of his career. Geno is still a big questionmark that they need to answer, but I'm not sure they have surrounded him with the passcatchers to help him succeed.

Defense

With Rex Ryan they are going to whip that defense into shape. Even if they have subpar talent, they should be at or near a top 10 team.

Overall

They want to ground and pound like the previous versions of this team that Rex led to the playoffs, but I'm not sure they have the talent to do it yet.

New England Patriots

Offense

They will be better than their offense was last year, but they will have to run the ball well to put points up on the board. A lot will depend on the health of Gronk and Amendola who were both banged up last season.

Defense

The Patriots should be a bit improved on defense this year with the addition of Revis Island. He may have lost a step after injuries have hobbled him lately, but he still has the talent to be very good even if he is no longer the best cornerback in the NFL.

Overall

Belichick finds a way to win. Period. They will compete for the division title as usual.

Miami Dolphins

Offense

On paper they look like they have quite a few weapons to distribute the ball to that is capable of running and passing the ball efficiently, but that's on paper. The press have pumped up Miller and Moreno for years, but neither have produced much which doesn't give you confidence in their run game.

Defense

I'm overwhelmed with meh at their defense. Serviceable, but not spectacular. They could step up to be a low top 10 defense or drop to be in the high 20-something ranked defense.

Overall

This team looks very average to me, but there is a chance that the coaching staff will mold them to play up to their potential.

Division Winner

The New England Patriots will win this division. With the best QB and best coach in the division it will be tough for the other teams to take the division away from the Pats.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Offense

There are questions on the offensive line, but there is some talent on this offense. They will go as far as Flacco will take them. Their running game looked blatantly average last year, and it might be more of the same this year.

Defense

This defense should be decent even with some aging pieces. They may be past their prime, but they are quite capable of being a lower end top 10 defense.

Overall

This team will go as far as Flacco takes them. He has played great at times, and others he has looked very average.

Pittsburg Steelers

Offense

Big Ben needs to stay healthy for them to have a chance. The problem is that he isn't as young as he used to be and his offensive line always looks bad because he holds the ball too long.

Defense

They haven't upgraded their defense enough to be elite as they had in previous years. Years in which they made the playoffs. Possibly low to mid teen ranked defense.

Overall

With two speedy WRs they may be able to throw up enough points to compete for the division, but only if Ben stays healthy.

Cleveland Browns

Offense

What Offense? Ben Tate is a tough guy and talented, but he will have to carry the full load. Hoyer was decent when he played last year, but he looked like crap in preseason. Other than Jordan Cameron they have no weapons to throw to.

Defense

The defense looks like they could be a top 5 defense IF their offense can keep from putting them in bad situations. Unfortunately that's not likely to happen.

Overall

Their offense looks like it doesn't have the power to punch itself out of a wet paper bag even though their defense may keep them close in many games.

Cincinatti Bengals

Offense

Andy Dalton is not a great QB, but he does just enough to keep drives alive. It helps that he has one of the best receivers in the game. They may lean more heavily on the run game this year with two solid options there.

Defense

Their defense is loaded with talent. They should have a top 10 defense with the possibility of creeping into the top 5.

Overall

This team should be very good this year, but I don't see them doing much once playoff time comes around.

Division Winner

The Cincinatti Bengals will win this division. Baltimore looks like a strong challenger this year, but I like the Bengal's defense to keep them at the top of the division as long as Dalton performs as he has in the past. A Dalton meltdown would hand the division to Baltimore.

AFC South

Tennessee Titans

Offense

Their offensive line looks like it could be beastly. This could mean lots of rushing yards for Shonn Greene. Locker has some decent targets to throw to, but nothing spectacular.

Defense

The defense looks average on paper, but Whisenhunt might be able to work some magic to get these guys to perform better than advertised.

Overall

Possible ground and pound team with the potential to have a balanced attack. Their defense might not be where it needs to be yet to compete for the division though.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Offense

Chad Henne is a decent backup QB. Wait.. he's starting? The offensive line looks like it could be quite good, and Gerhart is a serviceable if a bit slow RB.

Defense

The defense should be good enough to help them win a couple of games, but not good enough to carry the team.

Overall

They need more talent on the offensive side of the ball to compete. They are still a year or two away.

Indianapolis Colts

Offense

Clearly built as a strong passing offense with plenty of targets to throw to. Richardson is decent if a bit lackluster at running back.

Defense

The quality of the defense will hinge on if Laron Landry can stay healthy. He can be a major game changer, but plays so hard that he injures himself.

Overall

With Luck they can compete with every team in the league.

Houston Texans

Offense

They still have Arian Foster, and he's healthy this year. He hasn't lost all of the talent he had before the injury. They have talented targets at WR and TE. Fitzpatrick is the main question mark, but he has been decent when asked to start.

Defense

I have two words. Romeo Crennel. They also have the talent to be a top 5 defense in the NFL.

Overall

I predict a quick bounceback this year. This team has way too much talent to not win now even if Fitzpatrick isn't the best QB.

Division Winner

The Indianapolis Colts will win this division just barely over the Texans. Luck will be the difference. The guy is a gamer. He is the second coming of Peyton Manning. If Luck or Peyton were on the Texans then I would predict that the Texans go to the Superbowl, but Fitzpatrick just isn't good enough to get them the division.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

Offense

They are stacked on offense, and Peyton puts them in the best possible position to be successful. Having Welker out from suspension hurts a bit though.

Defense

Their defense was good enough to get them to the playoffs before Peyton came. They took a step back last year, but still made it to the Superbowl. This year they upgraded a bit in spots.

Overall

It's going to be hard to match last year's production, but they still have tons of talent on both sides of the ball.

San Diego Chargers

Offense

Rivers played like an elite quarterback at times last year. I've heard that they want to pound the ball with Matthews this year. I hope it's not true. Not that Matthews isn't a decent RB, but durability issues may keep that from happening anyway.

Defense

The weak spot on the team will make it tough for them to compete with teams like Denver and Kansas City.

Overall

The offense has the talent to put up points, but it will be tough for them to finish above .500 with the competition in the division.

Oakland Raiders

Offense

Still rebuilding and starting a rookie QB so he can learn on the job. MJD went from a bad Jacksonville squad to a potentially worse Oakland team.

Defense

They have some real talent on defense. As much as the offense looks like an experiment in science fiction, the defense looks like an NFL caliber defense.

Overall

The good news is they are headed in the right direction. If they were in another division they might be able to put together a 7 win season.

Kansas City Chiefs

Offense

Jamaal Charles is a beast. If Andy Reid can remember to get him the ball they should score enough points to win more often than lose. They need Dwayne Bowe back also. They are lacking targets in the passing game.

Defense

Their defense should be just as good as they were last year. They have a defense that is potentially top 5 in the NFL.

Overall

Good defense + lots of touches for Jamaal Charles = wins. Andy Reid knows the formula.

Division Winner

The Denver Broncos will win the division. Kansas City doesn't have enough weapons on offense and may take a step back this year with the Raiders and/or Chargers potentially stealing a win from them.

AFC Superbowl Pick

I have to go with the Denver Broncos as my Superbowl pick again this year. I see several teams starting to bridge the gap, but the Broncos look like the team to beat yet again in the AFC.

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