Saturday, September 6, 2014

NFL Predictions For 2014 - NFC Edition

The grand interwebs spider is allowing me to post this, so let's get this party started. This time around we'll take a look at some NFC goodness. With Seattle winning the Superbowl last year, who can unseat them this season? The AFC seems to pretty much the same as last year with most teams getting slightly better or worse. The NFC seems to be quite a bit more volatile. Some teams have made big improvements while some others are still mired in mediocrity.

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys

Offense

They are basically the same offensive team as they were last year. Minor changes, but they still have Bryant, Murray, Romo, and Whitten.

Defense

They have done very little to upgrade here, and it looks like they should once again have a terrible defense. The good news is that it might not be the worst defense in the division.

Overall

With a high powered offense and a horrid defense they have all the makings of another 8-8 season with a loss in the last week of the season to miss the playoffs once again. Sound familiar?

Washington Redskins

Offense

On paper they look like they should be scary good with all of the weapons they have. However, RGIII has looked scary bad in preseason. Who knows what may happen? One thing is certain, Alfred Morris is a beast.

Defense

Their defense was better than most people think last season, and this year they look like they could be much improved. The addition of Jason Hatcher and some veteran free agents at safety should help in the areas they needed most.

Overall

Everything will depend on how well RGIII plays. The sky is the limit. Their defense has improved enough to win at least 2 more games than they did last year. They could be a serious contender, or could finish behind the Cowboys.

Philadelphia Eagles

Offense

Chip Kelly's offense will be imitated, but the imitators won't be as good as the original. People make a big deal of them losing Desean Jackson, but this is a running team first and foremost. They upgraded their running attack with Darren Sproles.

Defense

The defense will be just as terrible as it was last year. The nature of their offense will allow them to play a lot of nickel defense, but their pass rush isn't good enough to keep teams from picking them apart.

Overall

They are too good on offense to not compete for the division in the NFC East. Lack of defense will keep them from running away with the division.

New York Giants

Offense

They have question marks all over their offense. Will they find a reliable target for Eli other than Cruz? Will Jennings be their workhorse back? Will Eli be running for his life all game?

Defense

They have upgraded their secondary a bit over years past. If Pierre-Paul can stay healthy and consistently show some of his game-changing ability then they could have a decent unit.

Overall

This team will be fighting for the last place in the division. If Eli can somehow become a couple of years younger then they might be able to win 8 games and take the Cowboys' traditional place of just missing the playoffs.

Division Winner

I'm torn between the Eagles and the Redskins on who will win the division. I'm going to go with the Redskins because their defense looks vastly improved. I'm trusting that RGIII will play well, but the division could go either way.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Offense

Trestman helped to transform this offense last year. With the emergence of Jeffries, it makes it harder on teams trying to defend both him and Marshall. Can't forget Forte who is a threat running or catching the ball.

Defense

While the offense performed well, the defense took a few steps back last year. They have added a few vets that should help improve a squad that has been traditionally very good.

Overall

With an improved defense and explosive offense they should make the playoffs even if they don't win the division.

Minnesota Vikings

Offense

I expect this year to be Cordarrelle Patterson's coming out party. You started to see a bit of it at the end of last year. ADP is still a beast too.

Defense

Their defense is underrated. People have discounted them, but the Vikings have some emerging stars on the defensive side. Not a great unit, but they have potential.

Overall

The Vikings could surprise quite a few teams this season with a decent defense, and a much improved offense compared to what they have had in the past couple of years. They would be competing for a division championship in several other divisions.

Detroit Lions

Offense

They should put up a lot of points. With Megatron, Bush, and the addition of Golden Tate they should have no problems getting the ball down the field.

Defense

The Lions defensive line led by Suh hasn't been as consistently good as they should be. When the line plays well the defense can be good, but just as often they can look pretty average.

Overall

Inconsistency has been the trademark of this team in the past few years. Stafford and Suh are the main examples. At times they can both dominate and take over a game. Other times they can completely disappear.

Green Bay Packers

Offense

The injury of Aaron Rodgers hurt them more than anything last season. He is the most physically talented QB in the league. He makes average receivers look very good. Lacy has given them a solid running game to go with that. It will be hard for teams to stop them.

Defense

With the addition of Peppers this unit could have propelled itself to the top 10. The loss of Raji to injury, however, is devastating. They should still rank in the low to mid teens.

Overall

With a healthy Aaron Rodgers this team is always dangerous. They have some solid weapons on offense and could make a deep playoff run.

Division Winner

The Green Bay Packers will win this division. Every team in the division has a chance to compete, and this could end up being the toughest division in the NFL this year. Aaron Rodgers is the only reason I pick the Packers.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Offense

They have a plethora of weapons with a solid Matty Ice throwing the ball around. He's not the most mobile of quarterbacks, and their offensive line still has questions.

Defense

The Falcons defense has looked average the past few years, and they haven't been able to do much to upgrade.

Overall

As long as they can stay healthy on offense they should put up more points than last year, but the questions on defense and their offensive line will hold them back.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Offense

Lovie Smith is a decent head coach, but his specialty is defense. The Mccown experiment has begun. Both him and Glennon played well when they got the opportunity last year. With Vjax and Martin they have some playmakers, but Martin is not Forte and Vjax is not Marshall.

Defense

Tampa has a lot of young talent on this side of the ball, and Lovie has shown he can put a quality defense on the field with a lot less.

Overall

Their defense could potentially compete for the top ranking in the league. If their offense can consistently put up points they could get a wildcard spot.

New Orleans Saints

Offense

In Brees we trust. If the receiver is open he will find them. Because their passing offense is so good they should be able to run the ball no matter what kind of combination of runningbacks they use.

Defense

Rob Ryan is in town and he will whip this defense into shape. They aren't without talent on this side of the ball. They have a couple of ball hawking safeties that should produce some turnovers.

Overall

The Saints have all the markings of a Superbowl contender. Sean Payton has done this before, and has a tendency to make everyone around him better.

Carolina Panthers

Offense

It's the Cam Newton show here. He's coming into the season with cracked ribs which doesn't bode well for this team. Injury concerns also follow around Williams and Stewart in the backfield. They lack explosive options with Olsen being their only consistent option in the passing game.

Defense

The Panthers offense could put this better than average defense in a lot of bad spots. They have a lot of talent on defense, but if the offense is as bad as I expect they will end up ranking lower than they should on defense as well.

Overall

The defense is good enough to help them compete. Their running backs have enough injury concerns to keep them from being a ground and pound team, but they don't have enough explosive playmakers to do anything else.

Division Winner

The New Orleans Saints will win this division. The Bucs might surprise some people and push the Saints if Mccown plays as well as he did last year. Ultimately Brees and Sean Payton will be tough to beat.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks

Offense

Marshawn Lynch will be a solid motor to run this offense. Percy Harvin is a lightning bolt in a football uniform. Russel Wilson is a scrappy Quarterback that just finds a way to make plays when needed.

Defense

They have lost some pieces to free agency here, but it won't hurt their defense too much. It's still a solid group that will once again compete for that #1 ranking.

Overall

It doesn't seem fair that they have Percy Harvin healthy on top of the great team they had all of last year. They are going to be a strong contender to repeat.

San Francisco 49ers

Offense

Crabtree seems to be the only target that can get open consistently for Kaepernick. Gore is getting older and older. Hyde needs to step up and make a significant contribution.

Defense

The 49ers have lost some key pieces to their previously stellar defense. I see them taking a small step back this year.

Overall

Harbaugh is too good of a coach to not compete for this division, but their talent level isn't as good as Seattle's looks to be.

St. Louis Rams

Offense

The loss of Bradford for the season is devastating. Still they have some good playmakers. They will have to lean heavily on Zac Stacy to compete this year.

Defense

Their defense looks like a solid squad that is quite capable of getting a top 10 ranking, but the loss of Bradford could cause that ranking to dip.

Overall

Jeff Fisher is too good of a coach to not having this team competing, but without Bradford it's going to be tough for them to win more than 4 or 5 games unless their replacement plays up to Bradford's level.

Arizona Cardinals

Offense

The Cardinals have quite a bit of talent on offense, but big question marks on the offensive line will be their undoing once again. How many years can you have the same issue and not address it? Did they hire Vinny Ceratto in Arizona?

Defense

Injuries and suspensions have devestated this defense. They still have a ton of talent here. It just means that instead of having a defense capable of competing for a top 5 ranking they might be hovering around the #10 overall ranking.

Overall

If they had addressed their offensive line woes then they might have had a chance to catch up to the 49ers.

Division Winner

Seattle should win this division again. This was the toughest division last year, but every team except Seattle took a step or several steps back.

NFC Superbowl Pick

I think the New Orleans Saints are going to the Superbowl this year. Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch play so hard that one of them is going to get injured. If they both manage to stay healthy and Seattle win homefield advantage throughout the playoffs then I think you can wrap another superbowl trophy in a bow for them. It's very tough to repeat as champions in the NFL, and I think the Saints have all the pieces lined up to meet up with the Broncos in the Superbowl.

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