2014 NFL Predictions

“I can’t tell you how much I missed NFL football this year.”

“Amen to that.”

Conversation between father and son last night as we get ready for the 2014 NFL Season.

These are completely worthless and if you seriously are going to use them in Vegas as your retirement plan – you’ve got issues. No time for fluff or cute little insights from the offseason. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Bold indicates division winner.
Bold Italics indicate wild card.

NFC Predictions

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles
New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys
Washington Redskins

Random Thoughts: Kelly has proven his offense will work in NFL. Giants could snag wildcard here if Manning the Lesser gets some protection and a decent running game. Cowboys and Redskins are both hot messes.

NFC South
New Orleans Saints
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Random Thoughts: I love this division – mainly because of the Saints and Falcons and their sweet looking uniforms. The Bucs changed their uniforms this year. NOT A FAN. They now look like they all work for Burger King. Think I’m kidding?
NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At any rate, Carolina needs receivers and Tampa Bay needs…alot. But Lovie Smith will get them there eventually. Not this year.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings

Random Thoughts: I’m thisclosetopicking the Bears as a wild card. Especially with all the drama coming out of San Francisco. Okay…forget it. I’m picking the Bears to win the wild-card. I instantly regret this decision. Lions and Vikings have what the other needs. Think about it for a second – it will make sense in a minute.

NFC West
Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals
St. Louis Rams

Random Thoughts: San Fran is so close and they could be the wildcard team but there is serious drama surrounding this team and it isn’t all good. Cardinals look good and could push, Rams…wow. Snakebit team.

NFC Playoffs
Packers (home field), Seahawks – byes
Saints over Bears, Eagles over Falcons.
Packers over Saints, Seahawks over Falcons
Packers over Seahawks

NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers

AFC Predictions

AFC East
New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills
New York Jets

Random Thoughts: Not to take anything away from Tom Brady and Belicheck but can we at least be honest and say that all you need to win this division is an average QB and a coach that it isn’t an idiot? I mean, the rest of the teams in this division aren’t just bad, they are putrid. And they stay putrid. And they don’t make great draft decisions or trades or coaching hires or GM hires. Remember Matt Cassell destroyed this division for like 8 wins the season Brady was hurt.

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars

Random Thoughts: See note above. Luck is great but let’s get real…none of the rest of these teams are going to challenge the Colts. Lone exception is Texans if they ever find a QB that throws as many TDs passes for them as he does for the opposing teams.

AFC North
Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns

Random Thoughts: Can’t believe I’m picking the Bengals but who else are you going to pick? And Ravens as a wildcard? Again, I ask you – who else are you going to pick? KC? Steelers? The Steelers are an enigma to me, they should be better than what they are but they just don’t play that way. Hope Tomlin can push for the playoffs this year but…

AFC West
Denver Broncos
San Diego Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders

Random Thoughts: Denver should fly thru the division. Chargers are going to be good. Chiefs looked absolutely horrible in preseason. Not even close to the same team they had last year but they are the Chiefs and they do have ways to surprise you.

AFC Playoffs
Broncos (home field), Patriots – byes
Chargers over Bengals, Colts over Ravens
Broncos over Chargers, Patriots over Colts
Broncos over Patriots

AFC Champion – Denver Broncos

Super Bowl – Broncos over Packers

Random Thoughts: It’s not a stretch to see the Broncos winning the AFC. It’s a weaker conference and the defenses in the AFC can’t match up with the Broncos. Hence, why the Broncos the last two years have laid waste in the regular reason racking up 12 and 13 wins.

The NFC is another beast altogether. Honestly, both the Seahawks and the Packers are a better teams than the Broncos. Their running games and defensive backfields are so much stronger than any of the teams the Broncos will face in the regular season. If it does indeed end up Broncos/Packers or Seahawks, the NFC will have the edge. I just can’t pick them over the Broncos. Too much of a Bronco fan.

If however the Saints make it – can you imagine that Super Bowl???? Brees and Manning? Broncos/Saints? Good night – there could be 200 points scored in that game.

Any rate – we kick off a new season in just a few minutes.

Go Broncos.

I Thought Elway Was A Stud As A Player…

The fans of about 30 teams right now have to be saying – “Why the heck doesn’t my team act like the Broncos?”

Elway has come in over the last three years and completely turned around the Broncos. I’m not even going to go over the draft choices.

Fires McDaniel.
Hires John Fox.
Hires Jack Del Rio.
Signs Manning.

We could stop there and that would be enough. But Elway didn’t.

Trades Tebow.
Signs Louis Vasquez.
Signs Wes Welker.
Signs Terrance Knighton.

But wait – there’s more.

Signs Talib.
Signs TJ Ward.
Signs DeMarcus Ware.

The Super Bowl loss was painful. Not going to lie. The Seahawks just manhandled the Broncos and Elway pretty much has said – never again. He goes out and signs 3 tough as nails defensive players.

Elway ain’t playin’.

The popular opinion around the web is that the Broncos are mortgaging the future for the present. Maybe. But consider these numbers:

Broncos started offseason with 28 million to spend under cap. Champ is released: +10 million to that number. Chris Kuper retires: +4 million. That’s 42 million to spend under the cap.

TJ Ward by all accounts signed for under what he could have gotten elsewhere and for less than what his agent said he was asking for. Plus – he’s 27. He’s in his prime. It’s a 4 year contract. This is a great signing.

Aqib Talib is a beast of a contract. 6 years but it’s all front loaded. He’s under 30, big and fast corner. Problem is – he has yet to complete a full season. This is the riskiest of the signings. But let’s be honest – worse case scenario is that now Denver doesn’t have to play against him. It’s an aggressive move.

Ware – he’s a known stud and a great locker room guy. 3 years. He’s 31. It’s a risk if he gets injured but what a sight to have Von Miller on one end and Ware on the other. This is really the only ‘rent a player’ contract and the upside is ridiculous.

Here are the scary numbers for the rest of the league:

15 of their starters are 28 or younger. 7 are under 25. So they are one of the youngest teams in the NFL.

Of course, Manning is the lynchpin in all of this. If he is healthy, it’s all good.

What a great time to be a Bronco fan!

Elway Proving He Belongs

In just 14 months as VP of Football Operations, Elway has proven not only does he belong as an executive but he is going to be one of the best. And it proves that the whole Indianapolis thing back in ’83 was personal. Good night – to stick it to the same team again. It would have only been better if Cleveland had been in the running.

One huge question has been answered over these last few months. Why didn’t Elway joint the Broncos sooner?

Two words – Mike Shanahan. Can you imagine Shanahan allowing anyone have this much leeway and freedom in making a roster? Can you imagine Shanny talking through decisions with anyone? Or him flexing his offense back and forth? Or drafting heavy defense? I loved Shanahan’s time with the Broncos. He did Denver proud and is still one of the greatest offensive minds ever. But it came with a pretty good sized ego that wouldn’t listen to anyone else. He would have home runs on offense only to be undone by a defense he drafted. Elway has proven not only will he listen to his coach and his GM, but he’s not afraid of changing anything if it will get them closer to winning a Super Bowl.

What will remain unanswered is why in the world did Bowlen put us through the McDaniels era?

Elway is showing not only an incredible eye for talent, but that he knows exactly the kind of team that he and John Fox want to build. For all the records Elway holds, he just seems to only care about how many more Super Bowls he can add. And he only wants those kinds of people in the building with him.

The Manning signing is huge. Even if Manning comes back only 70 to 80%, it’s a huge win. With Manning, free agents are going to want to play with him in Denver. The Tebow experiment can be over in the only way it could possibly end without causing mass revolt. Everyone loved Tebow the person. Watching him throw in the playoffs was painful. I’m sure it was not lost on Elway as he watched Brady dismantle his team.

Another thing not to be lost in all of this is how Elway has handled some potentially horrific situations. He allowed Orton to walk. Did it cost the Broncos a draft pick? Maybe but he didn’t drag out the drama between Orton and Tebow, allowing Orton a chance to just walk away and find himself a landing space. Same thing with Brady Quinn. Although I think Elway let Quinn walk because once again – he doesn’t want any of that drama at the QB position. So Quinn will take his GQ loving self to Kansas City.

I’m guessing he will attempt to trade Tebow. Getting something for him should not be incredibly difficult. The guy will fill a stadium and sell jerseys. So if you are a team that is a few years away – make a pitch on Tebow. But if the trades don’t happen, I’m guessing Elway won’t let the drama last very long. He let Tebow play, he allowed him to show off for the league and he’ll at the very least do his best to get Tebow to a place that will use him.

The future looks bright for the Broncos.

Bama, BCS, & Broncos, Nov 8 Edition

Had a bye week. So no humiliating loss this week.

Watched the Chiefs gift wrap the win for Oakland. Pretty bizarre to watch them make all those mistakes they hadn’t made all year in one half. And in more bad news, Chargers look like they are awake now.

What a painful loss. It’s always hard to win in Death Valley but the 24-21 score hides four huge realities that Alabama fans better swallow.

First, Les Miles coached to win the game, Nick Saban coached to not lose. Les Miles emptied the playbook, took risks, put more on his players to deliver the win. Saban didn’t. Instead of showing up to dominate and beat the snot out of LSU, Alabama showed up and acted like ‘let’s just try to escape here with a win.’ You don’t escape Death Valley. Show up to play hard or don’t show up at all.

Second, Alabama’s offensive line this year is a smaller, less aggressive, less physical version of the line last year. Last year when Alabama would get in a tight game, it was hand the ball to 22 and let’s pound the ball down the field. This year’s version likes to pass way to much. There is no plan B with this team. If the passing game sputters there is no commitment to the running game.

Third, the defensive line play of Alabama this year has been atrocious. The secondary was what everyone thought was going to be the problem this year for the Tide. It hasn’t. They’ve had some mistakes but with no pressure getting to the quarterbacks, they’ve been asked to cover guys for 4 and 5 seconds. That’s unheard of on the pro level, let alone college. The defensive line does not get pressure on the QB and it does not stuff the run without help from the linebackers. And when a defense has to use it’s LB to blitz to stop the run and get pressure, it makes the secondary that much more vulnerable.

Fourth, the Alabama defense is clueless how to stop a 2-minute offense. When an offense picks up the pace on them, forces them to stay at the line of scrimmage – bad things happen for Alabama. And guess who runs this type of offense better than anyone in the country right now?

By losing the game, Alabama lost a lot. There is no shot at defending the national title. They more than likely lost the chance at a BCS bowl as well. There is little to no chance at an SEC title. Those are some huge stakes for a 3 point game.

The bigger question will be their mental state in the next 3 games. Will they quit? When the Tide lost in the SEC championship 2 years ago, they rolled over against Utah in the Sugar Bowl. It was an ugly moment for Tide fans everywhere. We’ll see how they respond to this. While this year’s goals are gone, the Tide aren’t going anyway. There is plenty of talent coming back for 2011 to try again. They just need to finish strong this year.

Can’t really complain about the rankings to much. Oregon and Auburn still look like the best two teams in the country. TCU had a huge win over Utah – and yes it was impressive. But do that every week or 3 or 4 times a year, and then you can complain about being number 3.

That’s all for now. Been a rough year football wise.

Bama, Broncos, and Fantasy Land

I’m 2-1 in both fantasy leagues. Big losses this weekend thanks to Frank Gore not scoring and Adrian Peterson finally finding the end zone against me. Overall, still feel pretty solid in both leagues. Playoff team but not sure if we’re championship material.

The Broncos showed the nation that after two years of major trades and drastic measures – they still can’t run the ball, score touchdowns, or rush the passer. That is the frustration of it all – they are the same team with the same issues when they fired Shanahan. Sunday was particularly painful when a decent running game puts Denver in the lead and at least gives them a chance to compete.

And are we getting to a point to call Knowshon Moreno a bust? I was excited with the pick two years ago but he has yet to show that flash or power that he had at Georgia. The good news? Orton looks solid which may mean Tebow plays running back later this year.

The number 1 college football team in the nation – your Alabama Crimson Tide! The Tide looked lost the first half against Arkansas. Defensively, this team isn’t near the team that last year’s team was. With 10 new starters on defense, one had to expect some let down. Ryan Mallet exposed their weakness in the first half with relative ease.

But that’s why they play two halves of football and the second half was classic Alabama football. Play pressure defense and when the opposing team makes a mistake – make them pay for it dearly. Oh, and hand the ball to #22 early and often. Any questions as to who the Number 1 back was in Alabama or in the country that matter were answered on Saturday. Mark Ingram is a beast. Any offensive game plan that doesn’t include him getting the ball 30 times a game is a mistake.

I have a lot of friends in Arkansas and the good-natured teasing went back and forth during the game. (Actually it mainly was coming AT me since Alabama was behind the whole game…) But the truth of the matter is that I pull for the Hogs 51 weeks a year except against Alabama. I’ve seen this script before at Arkansas – incredible offense, exciting team for 3 quarters then the wheels fall off in the 4th. And while it makes for great television, I’m convinced that Hog fans have a 7 year shorter life span because of this.

After the game, the analysts were putting most of the loss on Ryan Mallet and his 3 INTs. I’m not sure that is completely fair. Ryan Mallet was the reason the Hogs had a chance to win in the first place. A great QB (which Mallet is) can put your team in a position to win but running the ball and stopping the run is the difference between good teams and championship teams. Arkansas couldn’t put the nail in the coffin and Alabama had enough moxy and horses to pull a win out of disaster on Saturday.

Florida is next up for the Tide in Tuscaloosa.

Broncos Draft Situation

Been quiet about the Broncos moves this off-season so far. Draft is coming up and like all Bronco fans, I’ve got opinions that no one else cares about…but I want them heard.

Marshall Trade
– win-win situation. He hated Denver for a lot of reasons, not all of them football (Darrent Williams) and now he goes ‘home’ to Miami. He gets what he wants. Denver gets what they want – the equivalent of a 1st round pick (2 Number 2s) and not paying an outrageous contract to a guy one slip away from NFL banishment. I like the trade.

– what I don’t like is the speculation that now Dez Bryant is the number 11 pick. If that happens, guns will go off all over the city of Denver. Be listening next Thursday night. Dez Bryant is Marshall reincarnated — huge WR with massive talents, nutcase off the field.

Instead, pick #25, Rolando McClain. But McClain is a 10-year pick. It’s a Patrick Willis, Al Wilson, kind of pick. It’s a “this makes so much sense it’s stupid” pick. The Crohn’s disease? He’s handled it since high school. Proves he’s a warrior and disciplined to play at that high level with that issue. Will he be there at 11? I think so. I hope so. Almost every mock draft has him sitting there. And with Doom in a 3-4 – the meltdown of 2010 could be a thing of the past.

McClain actually covers AND tackles AND calls plays AND audibles AND hits people coming across the middle. Something a LB for Denver hasn’t done since Wilson’s days. He can play all 3 downs, he’s a gym rat, he’s smart, fast, and basically the other teams in front of Denver will be idiots if they don’t pick him.

How sold am I on McClain instead of Dez? If a WR is such a HUGE need (last time I checked, they don’t tackle or block), then I’d rather Denver sign TO for a year and draft McClain then let McClain go and draft Dez. How’s that?

The Rest of the Draft
I think if McClain is drafted at 11, the rest of the draft is gravy. As deep as the WR position is in this draft, grab one of those other WR with the 2nd rounder. Trade up and get a lineman/center in the first round. Grab a safety or DB in the middle rounds.

Tebow is an interesting pick. I know Denver worked him out and like all teams that meet him, they loved him. and if he is sitting there late in the 2nd round — heck yeah, roll the dice. If it works out, you’re a genius. If it doesn’t, well you tried. After watching Gruden’s film on the QB, I think Tebow will be a better pro than what was first thought and I think the team that gets him won’t ever have to worry about his work ethic or staying out of trouble.

He’ll be smarter with the ball than Clausen, bigger than McCoy to take the hits and with Orton — really, what is there to lose by drafting him? Worse case scenario, he’s a backup that does a great job on special teams.

Hardest NFL Team To Be A Fan Of, Conference Championships

Wildcard Weekend
Divisional Weekend

NFC Divisional Weekend:
Redskins vs. Rams
Rams win (lose) this going away. Redskins have so much more going for them than the Rams at this point. New coach, new system, new outlook and talent-wise they are not that far away from competing in the NFC.

Rams are hurting all over the place – from talent to ownership. Will they leave St. Louis? If they did, would anybody notice? Rams are much harder to cheer for at this state.

Lions vs. Seahawks
Very close game…almost too close to call. Is it harder to cheer for an old team with a new coach OR a young team with an old coach? The difference is that the Seahawks are in a division where they don’t have to get that much better to be good, whereas the Lions are staring up at the Bears, Packers, and Vikings.

Lions are the harder team to be a fan of.

Conference Championship:
Rams vs. Lions
Make your vote count….all both of you.

AFC Divisional Weekend:
Bills vs. Broncos

It’s close but after the last few weeks, the Bills win (really lose). Chan Gailey was a great coordinator and coach…in the late 80’s. The staff he is assembling right now looks pretty green. Talent level on the Bills not great and they still don’t know who is going to be the QB. Broncos have their drama and problems but talent level (at least on the offense) isn’t one of them.

Raiders vs. Chiefs
As a refugee living in Chefs country, things (according to fans) are actually looking a bit up. Charlie Weiss and Romeo seem to have lit the fires of hope and we all know that hope is a dangerous thing (Shawshank Redemption).

But there is no comparison to the mess that is the “Grrrreaaatness ofthe Raaaydahs.” Pick your poison – ownership, coach, QB, talent, fans, city? It’s all jacked up. I can’t wait for the draft this year to see who the next bust will be. Raiders win (lose) in a blowout.

Conference Championship
Bills vs. Raiders
The easiest odds to guess in the world….