I’m so excited for the season to get underway. Whether it’s setting up multiple TV’s, the Red Zone Channel, my Fantasy teams, Suicide Pools & my world-famous Unlocks of the Week, I love everything about football Sundays. They are religion and a way of life for any sports fan.
We’ll try and pick some winners as far as previewing the season. Some of these picks will be good, some of them will be bad and, yes, some of them will be ugly, but that’s what makes the NFL so great, the unpredictable nature of the sport week to week.
So here we go…
1: New England Patriots 12-4
Death, Taxes, Brady & Belichick. It’s that simple folks. They have the best quarterback and coach in the AFC East. They’ll find a way to win the division yet again. The defections of Vince Wilfork, Brandon Browner and current Jet Darrelle Revis will hurt this team defensively, but still the team to beat in my eyes.
2: Miami Dolphins: 10-6 (WC)
The Miami Dolphins have teased the last two seasons with an 8-8 record. I think 2015 is the year they get over that playoff hump. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has gotten better each and every season, and I expect him to take the next step. Plus, I loved their offseason. They added playmakers that suit Tannehill’s game and also added the best defensive free agent on the market in Ndamukong Suh. South Florida will see their team in the playoffs for the first time since 2008. If not, their head coach Joe Philbin should be fired. No excuses.
3: New York Jets 8-8
The Jets are a much-improved football team from a season ago. They had a great offseason. The additions of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Leonard Williams will help an already stout defense. Plus, I think the Jets are improved by adding Brandon Marshall at wide receiver. Ryan Fitzpatrick cannot be any worse than Geno Smith a year ago. I sense improvement, they’ll tease at times, but ultimately fall short of the playoffs.
4: Buffalo Bills 6-10
Nice running game, nice defense, but the Bills will encounter many of the same problems the New York Jets ran into over the last four years. They have no quarterback and a coach that has no clue how to handle a quarterback situation. I don’t trust Rex Ryan, I don’t trust Tyrod Taylor, therefore I do not believe in the Buffalo Bills.
1: Baltimore Ravens 11-5
A team that knows how to win in the postseason, will find a way to get it done in the regular season. They have a great coach in John Harbaugh, a proven quarterback in Joe Flacco and a very balanced team. To me, the Ravens are the most well-rounded team in the AFC.
2: Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
They may feature one of the best trios of QB-RB-WR in the sport with Ben Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Steelers will be an offensive machine, but the defense leaves a lot to be desired.
3: Cincinnati Bengals 8-8
The Bengals have been in the playoffs each of the last five seasons, but the results in the month of January have been miserable. I think their collapse comes a month sooner in 2015. Andy Dalton as your QB, Marvin Lewis as your HC, no thanks.
4. Cleveland Browns 4-12
Back up the truck in Cleveland. The Browns are one of the worst offensive teams in the league with no solution at quarterback. The season must be about figuring out if Johnny Manziel can be their long-term answer at the position.
1. Indianapolis Colts 13-3
This one is too easy folks. Andrew Luck is the second-best quarterback in football. I love the additions of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. They will roll to the division title. The only question is are they tough enough between the trenches for the month of January?
2. Houston Texans 8-8
Hard Knocks has made me one of the biggest Bill O’Brien fans on the planet. I think the former Penn State coach has a chance to be a great NFL coach for years to come. However, despite some of the elite level talent on defense, the quarterback situation stinks. Houston is a year away from postseason.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-10
Team should improve, if not 2015 then when? Can second-year quarterback Blake Bortles progress with better talent around him?
4. Tennessee Titans 4-12
I expect a rough learning curve for rookie quarterback and reigning Heisman winner Marcus Mariotta. Titans are in for a long year, but his transition to the pro game is their biggest key long term.
1. Kansas City Chiefs 11-5
This is probably my most surprising division winner. The Kansas City Chiefs are poised for a big season. They have a great running back in Jamaal Charles, plus the addition of Jeremy Maclin will help the passing game a great deal. I don’t love the coach/quarterback combo of Andy Reid/Alex Smith in the postseason, but they are outstanding during the year. The duo will bring a division title back to Kansas City for the first time since 2010.
2. Denver Broncos 10-6 (WC)
The Broncos still have Peyton Manning, therefore the Broncos will still be a factor. However, I’m very concerned about Manning’s play at the end of last season. They’ll be good enough to get in the playoffs, but I expect a far less dominant regular season from the Broncos and the future HOF quarterback.
3. Oakland Raiders 7-9
I think the Raiders are actually moving in the right direction. They have a nice offensive core to build around with Derek Carr, Latavius Murray and rookie standout wide receiver Amari Cooper. They will take a step in the right direction in 2015.
4. San Diego Chargers 6-10
I love Phillip Rivers, but question the team around him with doubts about the offensive line and defense. I expect this to be a long year in San Diego.
1. Dallas Cowboys 12-4
I know this is going to be painful for many Giants fans to read, but I am a firm believer in the Dallas Cowboys. Even with the loss of Demarco Murray, I expect a strong running game because the Cowboys feature one of the best offensive lines in the sport. With Sean Lee and Greg Hardy added to the defense, I expect that unit to take another step and Tony Romo can play quarterback for me any day of the week.
2. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6 (WC)
Chip Kelly has caught my attention. He’s had two very good years in the NFL, but he put his reputation on the line with some of the moves he made in the offseason. He needs Sam Bradford to stay healthy at quarterback and play most of the year. Call me crazy, I think it happens. In Chip I trust.
3. New York Giants 7-9
The Giants had nothing to smile about in the preseason and the fan base is very nervous entering the 2015 season. I expect the offense to put up a ton of points; Eli will find Beckham, he will find Cruz if he can get on the field. However, how in the world are the Giants stopping anyone? Their pass rush stinks, they are mediocre at linebacker and all beat up in the secondary. The defense will keep the Giants out of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
4. Washington Redskins 3-13
This might be the worst team in the NFL. The quarterback situation is a nightmare, they’re lousy defensively, the owner is clueless. It’ll be a very long season for the Redskins.
1. Green Bay Packers 13-3
The Packers have the best player in football in Aaron Rodgers. I expect Rodgers and the Packers are still stewing after squandering a chance at the Super Bowl in last year’s NFC Championship Game in Seattle. Green Bay was the better team in that game. I expect a ticked-off team all season long, and even with the loss of Jordy Nelson, I expect Rodgers to will his team to a monster 2015.
2. Minnesota Vikings 9-7
This has a chance to be a sneaky good team in 2015. With the return of Adrian Peterson and the trade of Mike Wallace, Teddy Bridgewater should be able to build upon his very good rookie campaign. This team could easily be a playoff team in 2015, but I think they fall just short.
3. Detroit Lions 8-8
All eyes will be on quarterback Matthew Stafford. Detroit was a playoff team, but it was not a great year from the gunslinging quarterback. With the defection of Suh, they’ll need better from Stafford to make the postseason a second straight year. I’m skeptical.
4. Chicago Bears 6-10
I like the hire of John Fox, who did a very nice job with the Denver Broncos over the last few years. However, the talent defensively is atrocious and I cannot trust Jay Cutler to deliver a monster season.
1. New Orleans Saints 9-7
I hate that I have to pick a team to win this division. It is easily the worst division in football. I’ll go with the Saints for two reasons: Sean Peyton and Drew Brees. They are the best coach/quarterback combo in the division. I’ll take my chances.
2. Carolina Panthers 8-8
This would have been my pick for the division if it wasn’t for the injury to Kelvin Benjamin in the preseason. The defense is outstanding, but who is Cam Newton throwing the football to?
3. Atlanta Falcons 7-9
New head coach Dan Quinn will infuse some life into what was a dead team in 2014, but too many glaring weakness on the offensive line and defensively.
4. Tampa Bay Bucs 5-11
The Bucs are in a similar situation to the Titans. They have a rookie quarterback they invested a lot in by the name of Jameis Winston, and 2015 needs to be a year of development and learning.
1. Seattle Seahawks 11-5
This will be another outstanding year in the Pacific Northwest, however here’s the question I ask about the Seahawks: Will they be able to overcome one of the most devastating defeats in Super Bowl history? They’ll win the West, but won’t be as formidable as they’ve been over the last two seasons.
2. St. Louis Rams 10-6 (WC)
Much like the Miami Dolphins in the AFC, I think this is the year for Jeff Fisher to get back to the postseason in 2015. The Rams have one of the best defensive fronts in all of football, but the difference in this year’s group is a healthy quarterback by the name of Nick Foles.
3. Arizona Cardinals 8-8
Bruce Arians is one of the best coaches in football, but the Cardinals lost a ton of depth from the team that made the postseason a year ago. I expect a marginal step back in 2015.
4. San Francisco 49ers 5-11
The 49ers had the worst offseason of any NFL team. They lost their head coach Jim Harbaugh to Michigan, their emotional leader in Frank Gore, and a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball. A perennial contender the last few seasons will fall on serious hard times in 2015.
Super Bowl Pick: Green Bay over Baltimore
It’s been over four seasons since Aaron Rodgers won his first Super Bowl. I expect the Packers to be holding up the Lombardi Trophy narrowly defeating the Baltimore Ravens in an epic 35-31 Super Bowl in Santa Clara!
The chances that happens? Slim to none! Enjoy the season!
I will pick five games against the spread every week. Here’s to many winners throughout 2015!
• Patriots -7
• Cowboys -5.5
• Jets -3
• Ravens +5
• Dolphins -4.5