2013 NFL PREVIEW
Philadelphia Eagles 6-10
The list of college coaches that succeeded in the NFL is quite short, whiles those who have failed and fled back to the college ranks is plentiful. Now Chip Kelly is the latest to try and he plans to run the same run and gun offense he ran in Oregon with the Eagles. This spells disaster. Running quarterbacks have gained success in the NFL recently, and Michael Vick is one of the best, but he is also quite fragile. Nick Foles does not impress anyone and Matt Barkley whose stock crashed is the third option. LaSean McCoy is a solid running back, but with no reliable passing game it is likely going to be another long season.
Dennis Allen-Oakland Raiders
Rex Ryan-New York Jets
Coaches who will be looking for work after the season
Dallas Cowboys 9-7
One of these years the Cowboys are going to put it together and make the playoffs. There is just too much talent on the roster for them to keep failing as they have in the last two years losing the final game of the season. A healthy DeMarcus Ware will certainly help as Morris Clairborne in his second season should be able to become one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. One thing that must improve is the running game to take pressure off Tony Romo. However, as long as Romo avoids the big mistake the Cowboys should be able to win the NFC East, otherwise there could be a big shake up in bid D.
New York Giants 7-9
For the Giants getting in the playoffs is the key as Eli Manning has shown the ability to win the big game on the road. However, that is the tricky part for the Giants who are already beset by injuries as the season begins. At Running Back they have lost two players and now must rely on second year player David Wilson, while leading Pass Rusher Jason Pierre-Paul could miss the first few games after undergoing off-season back surgery. In addition Victor Cruz their top receiver is hurting and the Giants could dig themselves a big hole with a tough early schedule.
Washington Redskins 8-8
There is no question that Robert Griffin III is the real deal and can be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over the next ten years if he stays healthy. However, that is a very big if as he aggressive running style exposes him to big hits and the grass field at FedEx Field, which by December is muddy mess does not help. It is insane that the Redskins don't move to Field Turf with a quarterback as valuable as RGIII already suffering a knee injury because of it. How Griffin recovers from his injuries will be a key to the Redskins success as they will only go as far as RGIII can take them.
Detroit Lions 6-10
The Lions signed RB Reggie Bush in the off-season hoping he can add to an offense led by record breaking receiver Calvin Johnson. However, the lack of discipline still is a big obstacle, and a big part of that is Coach Jim Schwartz who himself has shown a lack of self control, which was most costly in their Thanksgiving meltdown against the Titans. Until the Lions are able to avoid the big turnover and the big penalties than they are going to continue to be on the outside of the playoff race and Reggie Bush is not going to solve any of these issues.
Minnesota Vikings 8-8
Adrian Peterson who last year coming off a knee injury fell nine years short of the single season rushing record has guaranteed this year he will make the record fall. Easier said than done, since no rusher has ever record two 2,000 yard seasons in NFL history. The Vikings will have a difficult time repeating anything they did last year as Christian Ponder still remains a glaring weak spot as quarterback, especially with the loss of Percy Harvin. The Vikings have a solid defense, but not one that can take over games and in the end unless Ponder plays like he did in the first half of last season the Vikings are doomed for a mediocre season.
Green Bay Packers 11-5
Over the last few years the one thing the Packers offense has lacked is a reliable running game. With the drafting of Eddie Lacy in the second round the Packers may have finally found a back that could add some balance and take some pressure away from Quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers also have focused on making their defense younger. While it may not be as strong on paper the Packers defense could be more durable and healthy come the postseason, which is what will be the key for the Packers as they again are the class of the NFC North. If Lacy has a breakout season the Packers could be in another Super Bowl.
Chicago Bears 7-9
People expecting Jay Cutler to develop into a winning NFL quarterback may as well grab a Snickers bar, because it is going to be a while a long while. More and more Cutler is showing himself to be the next Jeff George, a quarterback with all the tools but not the mentality of a NFL quarterback. The Bears also dealing with the retirement of Brian Urlacher, who despite being on the decline in recent years was the closest thing to a team leader. The Bears also have a new Coach in Marc Trestman who is coming from the CFL and will need a period of adjustment as the Bears limp their way to a mediocre season.
Atlanta Falcons 11-5
The Falcons took a significant step forward last year as they won their first eight games and hosted the NFC Championship Game. However, despite grabbing an early 17-0 lead, they fell short of making the Super Bowl as they lost to the 49ers. This is a key year for the Falcons as TE Tony Gonzalez is in his final season, while newly acquired Running Back Steven Jackson himself is nearing the end of his career. Jackson is replacing Michael Turner who was the key cog in the Falcons offense before falling off last year. If Jackson can fill that role the Falcons could again be a contender for the NFC Championship.
Carolina Panthers 9-7
Cam Newton has been solid his first two seasons, but now he needs to move the Panthers into playoff contention. A strong finish with four straight wins has raised hope in Carolina, and Newton must build on that hope. One thing is that Cam can't do it alone and the Panthers need someone to emerge to help take the load off. The Panthers defense is getting better led by 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechy, but with one of the toughest schedules in the NFL reaching their postseason goal could be a hard, but they should at least get close to the endzone.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10
This is going to be a make or break season for Quarterback Josh Freeman, who has shown flashes at times, but has yet to prove himself to be a consistent NFL quarterback. The Buccaneers have a solid Running Back in Doug Martin, who should only get better in his second season, but unless Freeman improves the Bucs will be going nowhere fast. The addition of Darrelle Revis should give the Buccaneers a defense capable of keeping them in games, but if Freeman repeats his 27 turnovers from last season not even the 1985 Chicago Bears would be able to overcome those odds.
New Orleans Saints 10-6*
Last year while Coach Sean Payton was forced on the sideline following a suspension for player bounties the Saints struggled posting a 7-9 record as they seemed like a rudderless ship especially during the early part of the season when they lost their first four games with a porous defense. Payton returns and the Saints should have a bounce back season. Their big challenge will be their longtime rivals the Falcons whom they play at home in Week 1. Despite the Saints struggles, Drew Brees still had big numbers last year with 43 touchdowns and should continue to be of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals 7-9
The Cardinals have the pieces to be a good team, with a secondary that could be downright scary if Tyrann Mathieu is able to play like he did at LSU. The "Honey Badger" also could be a game breaking return man. With former LSU teammate Patrick Peterson by his side the transition to the NFL may smooth for Matheiu who was suspended for violation the NCAA substance abuse policy. The only thing stopping the Cardinals from being a contender is the lack of a quarterback, while Carson Palmer is better than what they had last year, but he is not capable of leading a team into the postseason.
Seattle Seahawks 11-5*
The Seahawks last year established themselves as one of the upcoming teams in the NFL as their late season run propelled them to within 30 seconds of reaching the NFC Championship Game. All the attention was on rookie QB Russell Wilson, but the true reason for the Seahawks success was their top ranked defense and the game breaking skills of RB Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks looking to get even better acquired Percy Harvin, who will miss at least the first six games with a hip injury. However, he could come back strong the Seahawks could make another late season run and this time it may not stop until they arrive at the Meadowlands for Super Bowl XLVIII.
St. Louis Rams 7-9
The Rams have made some improvements adding Jake Long to their offensive line with the hopes he keeps Quarterback Sam Bradford off his back. They have also vastly improved their receiving core by adding Tight End Jared Cook and drafting Tavon Austin with the eighth overall pick. The Rams though will need to replace Steven Jackson who was their top runner the last nine seasons. One big obstacle will be the division they are in may be the best top to bottom in the NFL with two Super Bowl contenders. If the Rams can get over that hump they may just be able to slip into the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers 12-4
Last year Colin Kaepernick took over in the middle of the season and guided the 49ers to the Super Bowl. There is no reason to believe that Kaepernick can not repeat that performance now that he is has been given the job with Alex Smith going to Kansas City. One thing that will be help Kaepernick be even better is the addition of a deep threat in Alquan Boldin. The 49ers also have a strong run game and one of the best defenses in the NFL and with Jim Harbaugh looking to get the title he did not win last year, the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes over the Golden Gate Bridge.
New York Jets 2-14
Look up the word dysfunctional and you may find a picture of the 2013 Jets. Just two years removed from two straight AFC Championship Game appearances the Jets are a bigger mess than ever. Coach Rex Ryan is clearly a lame duck and committed to Mark Sanchez, while GM John Idzik is pushing for Rookie Geno Smith, who thus far looks far from ready to play in the NFL. The Jets now are without Darrelle Revis and still have no running game; this is all the makings of an epic disaster of a season. The only consolation will be Jadeveon Clowney in green in 2014.
New England Patriots 10-6*
The Patriots window of opportunity may be closing. Tom Brady once a young gun now is a grizzled veteran and the lack of dependable receiving core and a steady running back may begin to take its toll. Add to the fact the defense is mediocre at best and the Patriots have several holes. Brady of course can carry this team further than just about anyone can, but the loss of Wes Welker and questions at Tight End with Rob Gronkowski still healing from his broken arm. Danny Amendola can be a seamless replacement for Welker, but the former Rams WR has never been able to stay healthy for a 16 game season.
Buffalo Bills 4-12
The Bills seem committed to mediocrity as they enter the season with Jeff Tuel expected to start at quarterback in the opener. The long term plan if for E.J. Mannuel to start for the Bills, but the first round draft pick was unable to make it through the pre-season without injury. The Bills also sign Kevin Kolb, but he too was injured in the pre-season and may never play again due to a severe concussion. This does not bode for the Bills. A young hungry defense may keep them in some games, but without a reliable quarterback and rookie head coach Doug Marone this team is going nowhere fast.
Miami Dolphins 11-5
In his second season, QB Ryan Tannehill is ready to break out, as the addition of Mike Wallace gives the Dolphins the deep threat they sorely lacked last year. A concern rest on the offensive line now playing without Jake Long, but with Tannehil's quick arm the Dolphins should be fine. The growth of Tannehill should help make things easier for Lamar Miller to get some running lanes, while the Dolphins defense was one of the top in the NFL last year and they should benefit by playing more often with the lead as the Dolphins rise to the top of the AFC East.
Pittsburgh Steelers 6-10
How much more abuse can Ben Roethlisberger take? Each of the last two seasons, the Steelers quarterback has broken down at the end of the season due to his sometimes reckless style of play. The Steelers rely on Big Ben more than ever, because over the last few years they have had trouble finding a steady running back. The loss of Mike Wallace at Wide Receiver will not help matters; while an aging defense that is dealing with the loss of James Harrison needs to quickly retool. Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin is one of the best in the league, but sometimes a rebuilding team is a rebuilding team.
Cincinnati Bengals 12-4
The Bengals made the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in 30 years and they look like things can only get better as they are poised to take over in the AFC North. Quarterback Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green have quickly become one of the best tandems in the NFL, while the addition of James Harrison will make the Bengals defense one of the toughest in the NFL. The main goal for the Bengals this year will be winning their first playoff game since 1990, which should happen as they are clearly one of the top teams in the AFC.
Baltimore Ravens 7-9
Repeating is hard in any sport, but in the new landscape of the NFL it is nearly impossible, which makes the Ravens mission this year just keeping their heads above water. If this team just makes the playoffs this year it will be a surprise as the loss of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Alquan Boldin will be too much to overcome. Joe Flacco has showed he can win the big game and got the big contract, but now defenses will focus more on him and without Boldin and TE Dennis Pitta lost to injury the Ravens are nowhere near a Super Bowl team.
Cleveland Browns 5-11
Cleveland Browns fans must ask, what did I do to deserve this? Not only did the Ravens (the former Browns) win another Super Bowl it appears that the new Browns owners are involved in heavy legal troubles and may be forced to sell keeping the Browns in a state of flux. On the field things are not much better as they have another new coach and are starting from scratch all over again. Trent Richardson is a solid Running Back, but there is not much else in Cleveland to grasp on as it is clear Brandon Weeden will never be a winning NFL quarterback, as the Browns suffer through another awful season.
Indianapolis Colts 9-7*
It will be difficult for the Colts to match the emotional run at 11-5 they made last year, while Coach Chuck Pagano was undergoing treatment for Leukemia. However, if they can make it to nine wins they could still sneak into the playoffs. The key will be Quarterback Andrew Luck, who had a fine rookie season with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. However, those can and should improve. The Colts defense lost Dwight Freeney but with the adjustments it is making they may soon be better with players more suited for playing Pagano's 3-4 defensive system. Look for a strong second year for Luck as they Colts squeeze into the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
Good news Jacksonville, they will be showing a stream of the Red Zone Channel during Jaguars games at Everbank Field. Tis good thing considering the Jaguars are a terrible team with ugly new uniforms, featuring a ridiculous two tone helmet. At quarterback it's even uglier as it will either be Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne throwing wobbly passes for interceptions. The only bright spot is going to be on the legs of Maurice Jones-Drew, but not even Jim Brown, Barry Sanders or Walter Payton can carry this sorry squad very far. However, with new Coach Gus Bradley bringing a defensive mindset, better days may be on the horizon if they can get some talent with their high draft picks.
Houston Texans 13-3
The last two years have seen the Texans break through and make the playoffs and win playoff games, but now they need to take the next step and at least play for an AFC Championship. One key will be staying healthy and if WR Andre Johnson, QB Matt Schaub and RB Arian Foster have strong years it may be hard to stop the Texans. The Texans defense is also strong with Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt leading the way, adds a returning Brian Cushing and newly acquired Ed Reed and the Houston Texans. The only quest will be with Schaub and his ability to win a big playoff game on the road.
Tennessee Titans 7-9
This is going to be a key year for Coach Mike Munchak and Quarterback Jake Locker who each need to take strides if they are going to be a part of the Titans longer term plans. In the off-season the Titans looked to strengthen their offensive line with the hopes of keeping Locker on his feet, but the person who should benefit most is Chris Johnson who is coming off a disappointing season. The former offensive player of the year should have a bounce back season and again become one of the top running backs in the NFL, but the Titans will quickly learn that Locker is not the answer as they miss the playoffs again.
San Diego Chargers 6-10
What once was a loaded team, labeled Super Bowl or bust is now a team in shambles as much of the talent has moved on and the Chargers never got to play in the big game, as the endured playoff failures under Coach Norv Turner. Turner is finally gone and Phillip Rivers all alone with only an aging Antonio Gates left off from one of the best receiving corps. The defense which once was one of the best fizzled much like Shawne Merriman after testing positive for PED's. For new Coach Mike McCoy the expectations are low, and that might be the only saving grace as the rumors of a move up the Pacific Coast to Los Angeles continue.
Kansas City Chiefs 8-8
One thing is certain Andy Reid is a good coach, despite what happened his last two seasons in Philadelphia. It is not going to take long for the Chiefs to become a contender in the AFC with Reid at the helm. If any team can emerge as a dark horse playoff contender it is the Chiefs, who also have a quarterback in Alex Smith who is proving that he was a big part of the 49ers recent success. Smith will be helped significantly by the presence of Dwayne Bowe an All-Pro receiver. Now all Reid need is more of his type players and the Chiefs will be ready to make their move.
Oakland Raiders 3-13
To young fans who see the Raiders, this was once one of the premier teams in the NFL. Commitment to Excellence meant what it said, as the Raiders were one of the top teams year and year out. The last decade has been a dark time on the bay and things are only getting bleaker as management continues to lack direction and continued poor drafting has left them with perhaps the worst roster in the NFL, as Matt Flynn finally gets his chance to start at quarterback though he hardly impressed in the preseason. Perhaps the only consolation is if they can out awful the Jets enough to get the number on pick and land Jadeveon Clowney.
Denver Broncos 14-2
Could there be a better match for Wes Welker than Peyton Manning, who can literally make any receiver better. Of course with Manning the Broncos have a limited time to get back to the Super Bowl as eventual father time will catch up with the 37 year old Hall of Famer. The suspension of Von Miller could hurt on defense, but the Broncos schedule in the first six games is relatively soft. Two years ago Eli Manning won a Super Bowl in Peyton's Place now it's time for Peyton to win in the House of Eli as he cement himself as one of the best of all-time if he becomes the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with two teams.
Coach of the Year
Comeback Player of the Year
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Offensive Player of the Year
St. Louis Rams
San Francisco 49ers
Predictions Made: September 2, 2013
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