In case anybody has not heard, I will be posting a weekly NFL blog on here. All the NFL discussions that we have on the regular comments page are intelligent and, for me, very fun, and I'd like to expand on those occasional discussions by giving people a weekly place to post their NFL opinions. My hope is that other people might be willing to do this for other sports such as baseball, basketball, or hockey, since I'm not knowledgeable enough about any of those sports to do it myself.
I had been meaning to post this on the regular comments page, but after 2 failed attempts to go through moderation, I decided to post it here as my opening blog for this series. These are my season predictions for all 32 NFL teams, with the chances of their making the playoffs, and their chances of making the Super Bowl if their chances of making the playoffs are higher than 50%.
49ers: Their defense will be stout, but I'm not as high on Colin Kaepernick as most people are. He's certainly good, but I need to see more before I christen him as "great". The rest of that San Francisco offense doesn't impress me one way or the other, although they do have one of the league's best offensive lines. Chances of playoff appearance: 85%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 40%.
Bears: Their offensive line is terrible, and the recent loss of Kelvin Hayden to a torn hamstring will make their pass defense extremely vulnerable, especially when you consider that Aaron Rodgers will be facing them twice this season. Chances of playoff appearance: 30%.
Bengals: This team has a legitimate chance to win their division if the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green connection blows up and rookies Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard make contributions to the offense. Chances of playoff appearance: 75%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 25%
Bills: I'm still scratching my head at the decision to draft QB E.J. Manuel at 16th overall. He's looked good so far in preseason action, but I'll definitely need to see more. Chances of playoff appearance: 10%.
Broncos: Peyton Manning has Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and now Wes Welker to throw to. Throw in a promising young running back in Montee Ball, and perhaps the NFL's premier left tackle in Ryan Clady, and you have maybe the most unbeatable offense since the Patriots in 2007. Chances of playoff appearance: 95%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 70%.
Browns: I actually like this team a lot, but they are going to be extremely weak starting out, with Trent Richardson injured and Josh Gordon suspended. With Brandon Weeden still a big question mark, I can't see this team advancing to the post season, although I do think they'll be improved upon last year. Chances of playoff appearance: 20%.
Buccaneers: See Browns, but replace Weeden with Josh Freeman. There are pieces of this team that I like (I'm almost scared to see Doug Martin in action this year), but again, injuries (TE-Luke Stocker, CB-Darrelle Revis) will plague them at the start, and the quarterback position is too much of a question mark. Chances of playoff appearance: 20%.
Cardinals: Carson Palmer will provide a significant offensive improvement, but the running back position currently is a huge concern. DB Tyrann Mathieu, however, looks like he is going to be good. REALLY good. Chances of playoff appearance: 15%.
Chargers: Plain and simple, Philip Rivers isn't the same as he was 3 to 4 years ago. He's been plagued by injuries, his offensive line has been terrible, his best receiver (Vincent Jackson) has left for "fresher" waters in Tampa Bay, and his current top receivers (Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd) have suffered serious knee injuries this offseason. Their offense alone will keep San Diego out of the playoffs this year. Chances of playoff appearance: 10%.
Chiefs: The good news is: Kansas City has some good pieces in place (Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Dwayne Bowe, Eric Fisher). The bad news is: Alex Smith is their quarterback, which is going to limit their passing game severely, and their front 7 still raises some huge questions in my opinion. Chances of playoff appearance: 20%.
Colts: This Colts offense is strong enough to go to the Super Bowl. Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, what's not to like? Oh yeah: the running back position. Also, their defense isn't exactly eye-catching, either. Chances of playoff appearance: 60%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 20%.
Cowboys: Need I mention anything other than "Tony Romo"? Chances of playoff appearance: 30%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 0.00001%.
Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill and Dion Jordan both have a lot of potential, but it might take a couple of years for them to mature and get comfortable with the game. When that happens, Miami has a good chance of taking New England's spot at the top of the AFC East. Chances of playoff appearance: 25%.
Eagles: Chip Kelly's offense is going to be very intriguing to watch, but the inconsistencies of Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and co. are going to hurt that offense a lot. The loss of Jeremy Maclin to a torn ACL might have just shot the Eagles' main hope to make the playoffs. Chances of playoff appearance: 20%.
Falcons: The Falcons' offense is unbelievably good (Matt Ryan to Julio Jones = beast combination), but their defense, well, it could be better. I do like Desmond Trufant, though. If he steps up, and if Matt Ryan shakes the Peyton Manning moniker and doesn't choke, the Falcons could very well win the Super Bowl. Chances of playoff appearance: 85%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 50%.
Giants: This offense has the potential to be the most explosive offense in NFL history, if it weren't for one player: Eli Manning. It appeared last season that Manning had reached his ceiling. We'll find out this year if that is the case. Manning will be the person that makes or breaks the Giants' chances of making the Super Bowl. Chances of playoff appearance: 65%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 40%.
Jaguars: Honestly, I can't think of one bright spot on this entire team. Blaine Gabbert is terrible, Maurice Jones-Drew is aging, Justin Blackmon seems to be having behavioral issues a la Randy Moss/Titus Young, and the pass defense is looking like it might be the worst one in the league. Chances of making the playoffs: 5%.
Jets: This depends on who wins the starting QB job. If Mark Sanchez wins it, they'll miss the playoffs. If Geno Smith, well, they'll still miss the playoffs. Chances of making the playoffs: 5%.
Lions: The question here is: will Matthew Stafford return to 2011 form, or 2012 form? If he returns to 2011 form, the Lions stand a good chance of making the playoffs. If he returns to 2012 form, I just don't see it happening. Chances of making the playoffs: 25%.
Packers: I would call them the runaway favorites to win the NFC North if Bryan Bulaga hadn't torn his ACL last week. After that, I'm not so sure Aaron Rodgers makes it through the entire season, and if he doesn't, that would be an enormous loss for the Packers. Chances of making the playoffs: 75%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 40%.
Panthers: This is for you, DSFF! I think Cam Newton should improve in his third year, but with Steve Smith aging and Brandon LaFell disappointing so far, I'm not sure he'll really have a consistent target throughout the year. Chances of making the playoffs: 20%.
Patriots: Even with Wes Welker leaving, Aaron Hernandez's arrest, and Rob Gronkowski's injury, the Patriots offense is still as formidable as it ever was. Undrafted free agents Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have looked sharp so far in training camp, so chalk up two new targets for Tom Brady to throw to. Chances of making the playoffs: 80%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 45%.
Raiders: This team is in terrible shape, plain and simple. I challenge you to name one great player on this squad, and I'll bet you can't. Chances of making the playoffs: 5%.
Rams: The pieces are starting to fall into place on offense for St. Louis to become a playoff contender, but the defense is still a huge question mark. The pass defense in particular is rather worrisome. If they can improve on defense, the Rams could be a sneaky wild card candidate. Chances of making the playoffs: 25%.
Ravens: The Ravens might be the defending Super Bowl champions, but they have lost some crucial players this offseason (Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta), and their only major addition was Elvis Dumervil. Because of this, it would not surprise me if Baltimore gets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Chances of making the playoffs: 65%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 15%.
Redskins: Robert Griffin has been undergoing a Herculanean (or Adrian Peterson-like) recovery from his torn ACL and is very likely to be back Week 1. The question now is whether or not he'll be the same player as he was last season. My belief is: he won't be the same when running the football, but if anything, he'll be a better passer, and considering how good he was last season, that's almost scary to think about. Chances of making the playoffs: 50%.
Saints: The return of Sean Payton to the coaching staff will be HUGE for the Saints, who looked lost last year without his guidance. Drew Brees is at the top of his game, and the defense has received some valuable additions this offseason, headed by first round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro. At this point, it looks like the race for the NFC South will be an extremely close one between New Orleans and Atlanta. Chances of making the playoffs: 60%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 30%.
Seahawks: Equally as close of a division race is the NFC West, between Seattle and San Francisco. The loss of Percy Harvin will hurt Seattle, but it certainly doesn't kill their chances, considering they also have Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Robert Turbin, Zach Miller, Christine Michael, and Spencer Ware waiting in the wings. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that the Seahawks will go all the way to the NFC Championship Game this year. Chances of making the playoffs: 80%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 35%.
Steelers: Similar to Philip Rivers, I think Ben Roethlisberger has passed his peak. He's been injured a lot over the past few years, and top receiver Mike Wallace has left for the Dolphins, so his receiving corps is rather mediocre. Add that to a re-building defense, and you have a team with a long shot (really, no pun intended) at making the playoffs. Chances of making the playoffs: 15%.
Texans: The Texans have a lot of talent on their roster (J.J. Watt, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Brian Cushing), but once again, they have a quarterback in Matt Schaub that has passed his peak, again mainly due to injury. Because of this, I think Houston will make the playoffs, but will not win the Super Bowl. Chances of making the playoffs: 80%. Chances of making the Super Bowl: 25%.
Titans: This team is simply too inconsistent. Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt are players that can have spectacular games one week and terrible games the next. None of the other players on the team really speak out to me in one way or another. Chances of making the playoffs: 15%.
Vikings: Okay, I'm biased here, but I honestly think that Minnesota will be a playoff contender if Christian Ponder can just get his act together and play respectfully on the playing field. If he can do that, the team has a lot of other pieces in place, and I do think they could fight for a wild card, and maybe even the division title if what I said about the Packers is true, and that Aaron Rodgers will get hurt sometime next season. Chances of making the playoffs: 35%.
Anyways, feel free to comment about my opinions, and don't hesitate to raise discussion topics! The whole point of this blog is to provide a place for us to talk NFL, and not commenting is defeating the whole purpose of this blog (except if you are not an NFL fan, in which case I can understand if you don't want to comment). But anyways, have a good week, and GO VIKINGS!!
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