Thursday, September 4, 2014

4th and Inches: 2014 NFL Season to Come

How can you not like Raider fans?
The new season is upon us and as always I like to throw out my thoughts.  I've already done my previews of the Bills and Falcons so I'll concentrate on the rest of the league.  First my picks:

AFC:  NE, Cincy, Indy Den  Wild Card:  KC, SD
NFC:  Philly, GB, NO, Sea    Wild Card:  SF, Atl

Super Bowl:  Denver vs New Orleans    Winner:  Denver

You could only be disappointed by the Broncos' performance in the Super Bowl last year.  Still I think they are the best team in the AFC.  New England is the only team I believe can challenge them but I think they fall short again.  Indy isn't quite ready to contend for the conference crown but I love Andrew Luck and think they could be the next best thing.  Cincy, KC and San Diego round out my playoff teams but none have what it takes to challenge for a Super Bowl appearance. 

In the NFC you have four top teams with Green Bay, New Orleans Seattle and San Francisco being the cream of the crop.  Seattle and that defense could very well go to their second straight Super Bowl but as it so rarely happens I'm placing my bet on the field, or rather New Orleans to be specific.  I just think Drew Brees can get New Orleans back to the Super Bowl in their second year removed from "Bounty Gate".  While Seattle will be good I don't see their defense having the same kind of year and while Russell Wilson is good he can't carry this team.  Also not sure Marshawn Lynch will be the running stud of years past to take pressure off him.  Green Bay would be the other team I can see at the top of the NFC.  Aaron Rogers may be the best overall quarterback in the league but I'm not sold on the Packer defense.  Doesn't help that Green Bay's starting center is out and they must start a rookie.  San Francisco has way too much drama around it and probably takes a step back.  Philly and Atlanta will be good stories but aren't contenders. 

Mike and Mike of ESPN morning radio show fame mentioned that a minimum of four new teams make the playoffs each year with I think a total of eight new teams making it one year.  That is amazing and pertinent because I have zero AFC playoff teams changing from last year and only one NFC team making it back after missing out last year.  So the odds are I'm wrong.  No shocker there but I really didn't see anyone else in the AFC challenging except maybe Baltimore and Pittsburgh.  The NFC is more wide open so who knows how the wild card plays out there. 

I'm really curious to see how Tampa Bay does.  I like the pickup of quarterback Josh McCown who was the best available passer available.  Getting Lovie Smith as the coach is also a huge plus for this team that has talent and I think they can win nine games if things break their way some.  I've always liked Carson Palmer as a quarterback and there are stats showing he was one of the top tier quarterbacks the last seven weeks of the 2013 season.  I'll be curious to see if he and Arizona can build on some of the momentum from their good season last year.  San Diego could win ten games if their defense improves and they tried using the draft and free agency to make it a better unit.  Phillip Rivers played great last year and if he can do the same as last year there is no reason they can't be even better. I liked Jacksonville's bold pick of Blake Bortles early in the draft.  I'm sure he'll get significant playing time this year and I can't wait to see how he does. 

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