Monday, September 05, 2016
The board has been barren lately. Zeb has had plenty of things on his plate, R.J. has experienced computerized racing, and I am moving and taking over a business at the same time. So the board has been put on the back burner. And instead of talking about Hillary, Trump and the two crabby people from the Libertarian and Green Party, let's put out some predictions for the upcoming NFL season.
AFC OVERVIEW: The changing of the guard in this conference is in full swing. Denver after winning the Super Bowl isn't looking like they will repeat, the Indianapolis Colts have dominated the South for years and they are in a dogfight with Jacksonville and Houston, The mighty Pittsburgh Steelers were dethroned last year by the Bengals. But the East still looks like the Kingpin will keep their throne.
1. New England Patriots - No matter what you think of Deflategate and the penalties coming out of that situation, the Patriots still should breeze to another Division title. Bill Belichick will go at the very least 2-2 for the games that Brady is out. And when Tom comes back, you know he wants to prove something. The challenge as it usually is when talking about the Patriots is will the Defense rise up and become dominant. I believe that they don't make it to that level this year. PREDICTION: 12-4.
2. Buffalo Bills - Year 2 of the Rex Ryan and Tyrod Taylor experiment should make the Bills a better team. Sammy Watkins health is a factor to get the passing game on track. Leshon McCoy needs to have a big year. The defense which is the Ryan Brothers calling will come up short. Buffalo gets a winner this year, but not enough of that winning to get them into the playoffs. PREDICTION: 9-7.
3. New York Jets - If I were an owner, Todd Bowles would be a coach that I would want. He gets the respect of his players and has a demeanor that works well in the league. The defense is ranked high, but can be had if you work short and intermediate passes. The offense last year didn't show up when they were needed most. The locker room seems divided and there is the ongoing saga of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith. There is just too much off the field problems for this franchise to get their act truly together. PREDICTION: 9-7.
4, Miami Dolphins - This once proud franchise is now just another team in the league. Stephen Ross has led this franchise into mediocrity. Nothing exemplifies that better than Ryan Tannehill. A sure-fire elite QB according to the experts coming out of Texas A&M, he is a stats machine but has no leadership qualities. He does not inspire his teammates. In fact, he is a shit in the locker room. On the otherside, we get Mr. Suh. He isn't the consummate teammate either. PREDICTION: 6-10.
1. Cincinnati Bengals - This has to be the year the Marvin Lewis takes the Bengals deep into the playoffs, otherwise he has to go. The offense will miss Sanu and Jones at Wide Receiver, but I have confidence that the Bengals will find replacements to go with their strong running game. The defense is a very good defense but let their emotions go nuts during high pressure situations. Last year's debacle vs. the Steelers and the surrounding controversies with that game should give the Bengals enough motivation to repeat as champs of the North. PREDICTION: 11-5.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers - I am a little iffy about putting the Steelers here. LeVeon Bell is suspended for 3 games, Big Ben misses 2 or 3 games a year. The defense isn't one that you point to as a Top 5 defense. Mike Tomlin seems to get distracted or lost in though occasionally. And yet, I can see the Steelers being tough for anybody that plays them. Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the league. Special Teams for the Steelers can change the game and Heinz Field is a positive for the team. PREDICTION: 10-6.
3. Baltimore Ravens - Joe Flacco is back. Terrell Suggs is back. That makes the Ravens formidable. Those two lead their respective units and will help Baltimore become what it usually is, a tough grind it out team that plays fabulous defense. I am not in love with their special teams. John Harbaugh is a great coach, but he won't be able to get the Ravens into the playoffs with this roster. PREDICTION: 7-9.
4. Cleveland Browns - Over 30% of their opening day roster will be rookies. If that sounds like a recipe for success, you need to get to a mental institution for help. Add to that you have RG III trying to resurrect his career, the defense has no identity at the current time. And nobody has any clue why Hue Jackson or the Browns has made some of the personnel decisions they have made. Let's predict that Josh Gordon will play 10 games this year and he will have 10 TDs. There is your good news for the Browns. PREDICTION: 3-13.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - I like what Gus Bradley is doing in Jacksonville. Blake Bortles looked like he figured out how to play QB in Year 2, the Allen Brothers make for good wideouts, Julius Thomas and Chris Ivory round out an offense that can score points in bunches. I believe that the defensive line problems have been addressed and that the back 7 will be effective enough to have the Jags go 5-1 in the South. And that will be the difference in the division. PREDICTION: 10-6.
2. Houston Texans - Signing Brock Osweiller will help, but the team needs to get better on the O-Line and at Wide Receiver. I don't believe that Lamar Miller is as good as everybody else thinks. The defensive backfield is primed to break down in my opinion. Bill O'Brien is a good coach but the talent that he has had just hasn't gelled in Houston. The last 4 games will determine the fate of the Texans. At Green Bay and Indy and at home vs. Jacksonville and Cincinnati. They fall short. PREDICTION: 9-7.
3. Indianapolis Colts - The return of Andrew Luck has the Colts thinking they can win the South again. T.Y. Hilton is a fantastic receiver, but Frank Gore is past his prime and the O-Line isn't a very fine oiled machine. The defense should be adequate for run support and pressuring the QB. However, the injury bug has visited the defensive backfield enough that the Colts signed Antonio Cromartie in Training Camp. That is not a good thing. And when you play Jacksonville andHouston with their Wideouts, that spells trouble. PREDICTION: 7-9.
4. Tennessee Titans. - Welcome to Titans smashmouth football. Maybe they are anticipating Marcus Mariota having his mouth smashed all the time? Who knows, but this team is not contending this year. Mariota looks like he will have a fine career as an NFL QB. The offensive line is a decent line. DeMarco Murray should resemble the players that led the league in rushing with the Dallas Cowboys. The problem looks to be on defense. I am not sure that any of the units will be able to excel and that means that the opponents can score and keep time of possession. PREDICTION: 4-12.
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Andy Reid has the Chiefs primed to take the division. He has his game manager in Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles will need some time to work back into the offense. The Wide Receivers scored a TD last year, so that drought is over. But where KC really excels is defense. They get Eric Berry back. The pass rush is relentless and the fundamentals of the team are not in question. The Chiefs look like the team to beat in the West. PREDICTION: 13-3.
2. Oakland Raiders - Reggie McKensie has been on the hot seat in Oakland, but he has built the Raiders from the ground up using the draft and has complimented that with sensible Free Agent signings. Now is when they will start to reap the benefits in Raider Nation. The Carr to Cooper connection looks like a lethal one for years to come. A little worried about Donald Penn at Left Tackle. Khalil Mack on defense is a terror. Bruce Irvin should shore up the LB corps. The devensive backfield might be a little overrated. PREDICTION: 10-6.
3. Denver Broncos - When you have a defense like they had last year, you can see why they were Champions. This year, I expect the defense to take a step back. Everything fell into place for a team that needed the offense not to turn it over. Well, this year the offense will need to help a little bit more and I don't see it happening. Trevor Siemian might develop into a suitable NFL QB, but I don't see it right now. I see lots of low scoring games, but the Bronocs will not get the bounces they did last year. PREDICTION:7-9.
4. San Diego Chargers - Is there anybody else in San Diego that could own the Chargers? The Spanos family has driven this franchise into the ground. The Joey Bosa negotiations were handled less than stellar. The team has Philip Rivers in his twilight years and not much else. Eric Weddle slammed the organization out the door. The talent level for this team isn't close to playoff material. So wherever the Chargers end up, whether it is LA or SD, the organization needs a shake-up from the top down, with the Top being Ownership. PREDICTION: 4-12.
Oakland over Jacksonville
Cincinnati over Pittsburgh
Kansas City over Oakland
Cincinnati over New England
Kansas City over Cincinnati