NFL Season Preview By Divisions

US                                

AFC

AFC West Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/afc-west-preview/)

AFC East Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/afc-east/)

AFC South Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/afc-south-preview/)

AFC North Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/afc-north-preview/)

NFC

NFC East Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/nfc-east/)

NFC West Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/nfc-west-preview/)

NFC South Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/nfc-south-preview/)

NFC North Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/nfc-north-preview/)

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NFC West Preview

 

nfc west

NFC West

This is without a doubt the strongest division in football having had two different teams reaching the Super Bowl in the past 2 years and another team with an 11-5 record barely missing the Playoffs this past year.

St. Louis Rams:
Well some people had some really high hopes for this year’s Rams team. Then Sam Bradford their starting QB went down with an ACL tear (Article on them here https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/time-to-move-on/) basically taking them out of the conversation completely as their offense wasn’t that prolific before.

They will have depend on their breakout rookie last year in Zac Stacy. Zac Stacy is a very nice player but I do not ever see him being the sole reason the team will win any games. On the defensive side of the ball they have a lethal front 7, but I have questions about their secondary. No team should look to run on them, but I see passing on them to be a very solid strategy as their only decent guy being Cortland Finnegan. I see them giving some teams problems but the Eagles, Cowboys, Broncos and Chargers will all have a field day on this defense. ( All of the teams I just listed are teams on the Rams schedule this year.) I see the Rams finishing with a pedestrian 6-10 record.

Arizona Cardinals:

This team was outstanding last year and just barely missed the playoffs. They lost Dockett but I don’t think this defense will miss a beat. In fact I think this team will be a tad better all around than last year. On offense they have veteran Larry Fitzgerald and an underrated WR on the other side in Michael Floyd. They have Carson Palmer who quietly threw over 4,000yds last year and Andre Ellington who I personally believe will be a great player for them as he had the most yards per carry of any player last year. He is the starter from here on out and I think things are looking up for this young RB.

On the defensive side they have a playmaker safety in Tyrone Mathieu and a CB who is the most physically gifted corner in the game right now. Their coach, Bruce Arians is pretty solid as well. I believe this team will not only repeat their 11-5 record this year but will also grab a playoff spot in one of the wildcard spots.

San Francisco 49ers:
This was a hard choice for me. Before the preseason I told everyone that if I had to pick who would be in the Super Bowl this upcoming year it would be the Patriots vs the 49ers. I can’t stand by that prediction because the key to that happening was for the 49ers to win that division for home-field advantage over the Seahawks. With Bowman being out for a majority of the season and Aldon Smith suspended for 9 games there is no possible way this team can win the division. Kaepernick has more weapons than just about any other QB besides Peyton Manning. Stevie Johnson a great pick-up for the Niners was a #1 option for the Bills. The combination of Stevie, Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and Vernon Davis would be more than enough for most QBs. Problem is Kaepernick still has trouble making plays from the pocket. Frank Gore keeps getting older and older, but somehow he keeps managing to be a 1,000yd rusher each year. I just don’t trust Kaepernick to steal this division. By the end of this year the 49ers will barely scratch by the cardinals in the division due to their division record and finish the season 11-5. ( I nearly had this team 3rd in the division.)

Seattle Seahawks:

The reigning defending champions. The same team who destroyed the greatest statistical offense in NFL history. They are all young and hungry to come back again. Russell Wilson has been the best QB this preseason scoring on a ridiculous 11-13 drives. Again I don’t like to put much stock in the preseason but I personally watched some of their preseason games. The eye test is telling me this guy is the real deal. Making perfectly timed throws, reading defenses and countering them with efficient play after efficient play.

They lost their best WR Golden Tate to the Lions, but from what I’ve seen they will be perfectly okay without him. Marshawn Lynch can still be “beastmode” when they need him to as he led the league last year in Rushing TDs. Oh yeah, they got that defense which dominated the greatest offense ever recorded in history.

The Legion of Boom is still intact as they have the two best safeties in the league, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. They have Richard Sherman who has won the Madden cover vote this year and if you happen to follow him on twitter you will more than likely see him telling every other corner that he is better than all of them. I could go on and on about the weapons they have on defense but that would turn into an article all on it’s own. The Seahawks will finish this season 13-3, earning the division title and a first round bye week in the Playoffs. Do not be surprised if we see them again this year in the Super Bowl.

Superbowl

NFC East Preview (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/nfc-east/)

NFC South Preview (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/nfc-south-preview/)

NFC North Preview (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/nfc-north-preview/)

De’Shawn Hornback

AFC West Preview

afc west

AFC West

After a few years of being a putrid division the AFC West has finally gained steam. Denver is strong. The Chiefs are monstrous. And San Diego is Charging. Outside of the Oakland Raiders this division is pretty tough and filled with competition.

The Raiders:

As a sports fan I want the Raiders to be good. I feel like it would be beneficial for the league if they were but as it stands they aren’t. This offseason in free agency they had a ridiculous amount of cap space and with it they picked up Justin Tuck and James Jones. A bit of a disappointment for them but improvements nonetheless. They also traded away Terrell Pryor and got Matt Schaub so a bit of a change up at the QB position. Outside of Michael Huff Tuck, James Jones and Charles Woodson I don’t see a single positive thing about this team. They got Maurice Jones-Drew who has been on the downside of his career and Darren McFadden who has yet to even play half a season. I can’t bring myself to say they have a chance at beating anyone in the division in a single game. Raiders will end the season with a pitiful 2-14 record and which’ll finish last in the division.

Kansas City Chiefs:

Many of you might be wondering why I have the Chiefs here. Last year the Chiefs were a top 5 defense, had the best RB for the year and had a great coach in Andy Reid. Now let’s look at what they actually did.

They failed to beat a single team that was over .500. To add on to that most of the teams they beat were beaten down at the QB position; facing backups in most of those wins. Jamaal Charles has had many problems staying healthy in past years and defenses will be locked in on him as he was their primary source of offense in passing and rushing the ball last year. And if they do happen to lockdown Charles it falls on Alex Smith to win the game. Alex Smith is a game manager and he is great at it, because he will more than likely never be a reason you lost a game. The problem is however, is that he can’t win you a game either.

I believe the defense will be solid, but last year teams were able to drop 40+ on them so their defense isn’t lockdown. I honestly don’t think they’ll have a chance this year with defenses locking into Jamal Charles. I have them going 8-8; barely missing the playoffs and finishing 3rd in the division.

San Diego Chargers:
This team made some noise last year and if they get one stop at the end of their Divisional Round Playoff game against the Broncos we might be talking about a very different Super Bowl inregards to last year. With that being said for a couple of years now Philip Rivers has been stuck throwing to guys I’ve never heard of and an aging Antonio Gates. Until last year when San Diego snatched a guy named Keenan Allen in last years draft. Keenan made the most of his opportunities and became one of seven guys to ever get a 1,000 receiving yards in their rookie season. He’s a very underrated guy and should be mentioned more in debates of future receivers because he is a stud. Philip Rivers finally got some useful weapons and used them to perfection.

He was quietly the 5th best QB last year and I believe he does the same this year. He has Danny Woodhead who was used multiple times as a receiver out of the backfield a veteran in Antonio gates at TE, Keenan Allen a rookie on the rise and Ryan Matthews who hasn’t quite lived up to expectations but is a 1,000yd rusher regardless. Their defense hasn’t been great but it isn’t bad either. I can’t remember the last time their defense lost them games. I have them going 10-6 placing second in the division and snatching a playoff spot for the 2nd year in a row.

Denver Broncos:

This here is a no-brainer. The Denver Broncos still have Peyton Manning at the helm which means it’s championship or bust for them once again this year. All of us saw this team humbled, beat down, bullied, whatever you want to call that atrocity in the Super Bowl. The blueprint is out. Play the Broncos rough and they’ll back down. I’ve seen it already happen against the Texans this preseason with Manning getting in the face of a guy after the guy popped Wes Welker into another concussion, getting an unnecessary penalty call. While I do like to see Peyton show some emotion on the field it makes you wonder if other teams are taking note of how they can get into the psyche of the Denver Broncos.

They lost Knowshon Moreno who had his best year last year to the Miami Dolphins and they also lost Eric Decker who had become a very solid WR for them to the Jets. They picked up Demarcus Ware from the Cowboys and I’m a bit skeptical of the move after seeing him be a no-show for many games for the Dallas Cowboys due to injury and age. They also got a solid corner from the rival Patriots, Aquib Talib. Only problem is the fact that every game it seems like you need him he isn’t there and gets some kind of injury. Nonetheless the Broncos have one thing nobody else has and that is the greatest regular season QB of all time.

Peyton Manning will do this year what he has done for the past decade and that is be surgeon by picking apart opposing defenses. I expect him to not have the record breaking season but to end the season 2nd in the MVP race. (we’ll get to who I think will later. ) The Broncos will finish this season 13-3 taking the division title and earning themselves a first round bye in the playoffs.

peyton

AFC South Preview: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iM)

AFC North Preview:
(http://wp.me/p33YLP-iI)

AFC East Preview: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iw)

 

 

De’Shawn Hornback

Time To Move On

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From 1999 to 2003 the St. Louis Rams were a dominant force having perhaps one of the most explosive offense’s ever assembled. Led by QB Kurt Warner, RB Marshall Faulk and WRs Issac Bruce and Torry Holt the Rams were dangerous and put fear into the eyes of many.

They dominated their competition in route to seasons that saw the likes of 13-3, 10-6, 14-2 and 12-4. During that span they went to two Superbowls winning one (99) and losing the other (01).

After losing the SB in 2002 (season of 01) to the Patriots the Rams went down hill,

They finished the following season with a 7-9 record having found a replacement, Marc Bulger, for QB Kurt Warner who’s play was sort of diminishing. The 2003 season was the last of the Rams as they finished 12-4 losing to the Panthers in the divisional game.

Ever since the “Greatest Show On Turf” ended St.Louis has been bad. Having gone through the rebuilding stage twice.

The fist rebuilding project occurred when Marc Bulger first took over. Having led them to 12-4 record his first year some thought he was the next guy up. When in reality he was just a mediocre QB. They eventually brought in RB Steven Jackson to take over for Marshall Faulk and let Holt and Bruce finish their careers off.

Following the GSOT’s exit the Rams went on to have records that consisted of a 8-8 (a pair), 6-10, 3-13, 2-14 and 1-15. They went from being respected to being laughed at in a short time span. After finishing the 09-10 season 1-15 placing last in the NFL, they were awarded the first pick in the NFL Draft (2010).

The talk of that draft (QB wise) was Sam Bradford (OU), Tim Tebow (Florida, Two Time Heisman Winner) and Colt McCoy (Texas). ( Hmph Jimmy Clausen as well.) Many believed Bradford had the potential to be very good if not great; stating that he was head and shoulders above the other QBs in his class.

With all of the hype surrounding Bradford and a glaring hole at the QB position the Rams selected the Oklahoma QB number one.

Alot of fans were enthused with the pick. And now some may have questions surrounding it.

Having missed most of his final college season (shoulder injury) Bradford started in every game his rookie year. He was Rookie of The Year (ROY) and broke a few rookie records.He finished the season with 3512 yards, 18tds, 15ints a QB percentage of 76.5 and completed 60% of his passes. The Rams as a team went on to finish with a 7-9 record, which was a decent turnaround from the previous year.

After showing a little bit of promise in his first year Bradford’s encore for the next season saw him miss six games and finish the season with stats of 6tds, 6ints, 2164 yards a 70.5 QB rating and a 53.5 completion percentage on his passes. 2-14 was the record the Rams finished with in year two of the Bradford era.

With that being his second year in the league it’s fair to give him the benefit of the doubt. Quarterbacks generally do worse in year two because they’re game planned alot better and teams know some of their tendencies. Add that in with the fact that Bradford was hurt a pass must be given.

So I’ll let him off the hook…For now.

In year three Bradford had totals of 21tds 13ints 3702 yards 82.6 QB rating and a completion percentage of 59.5. He also played in all sixteen games. He improved a bit from his rookie season individually but when you look at the team’s record they finished 7-8. (One game was postponed.) Better quarterback yet same result.

Year four, which was last year saw Bradford miss nine games. His stats were nice (14tds 4ints 1687 yards 90.9 QBR and 60.7% completion wise) but his absence wasn’t felt like in year two. Last year the Rams still managed to win seven games without Bradford for most of the season which leaves me with this thought.

Is it time to abort the Bradford project?

If you look at it even with Bradford intact this team was still mediocre. They have a decent defense but the inconsistency or should I say absence of a mobile QB seems to throw them off from time to time. They’ve never been over .500 as a ball club and alot of the blame has to be put on Bradford. It may not be fair to him but that’s how it is in the NFL.

If a QB can’t stay healthy and hasn’t done much to make a case in why he should be the franchise guy, why should the team continue to give him chances? Some may say fours years is too small of a sample to evaluate on if a QB is franchise caliber or not. I think it’s just enough if the QB can’t remain healthy.

Oh and if you think this year is going to be a different story you’re wrong. Bradford is already out for the season with an ACL tear and who’s to say he’ll be healthy next year?

For three out of five years now Sam Bradford has failed to be there when his team needed him. This season was supposed to be the year of the Rams. A breakout year if you will that has now been ruined because of Bradford’s cliched departure. Eleven years ago it was okay to wait and build. But now with a division that’s currently on the rise and primed for years of dominance (Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco) the time to act is now.

It doesn’t make sense to pay for a broken product…….. Time is money and money is time. It’s time for the Bradford project to be resigned. Or another decade of mediocrity will be all but enshrined.

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Ryan Fort
FMOT: RyanDFort

AFC East Preview

afc east

AFC East
This division has been one of the weaker divisions in football over the past decade, being dominated by one team the past 15 years. Will that change this year?

Miami Dolphins:  As much I want this team to be good their terribly inefficient play and awful coaching staff will continue to plague this team. The Dolphins arguably have the worst O-line in the NFL; a guy in Mike Wallace who’s getting paid like an elite WR when he can’t help but drop the ball; and a QB in Tannehill that has to fight on every single play just so he doesn’t get sacked. Too many things can go wrong on each passing play offensively.

They upgraded the RB position with Knowshon Moreno but up until last year he was known as “No-show Moreno” so I’m not sure he’ll make that huge of a difference when Peyton is no longer at QB. In the end the Miami Dolphins will end their season at 5-11 and last in the division.

New York Jets:
This one is hard, because of the simple fact that we don’t know if Geno Smith will keep his job this whole season. I believe Vick would give them a much better chance to win games but I’m going forward with my prediction based off of who the starters are now. Geno is a turnover machine and this defense can be lethal one week and allow 40 the next. Rex Ryan knows how to build a defense, but without anybody leading them in the locker room they’ve become very inconsistent. Chris Johnson is a HUGE upgrade over their former starting RB. Their WRs are still weak. Hopefully, Eric Decker can give them a spark in the receiving game.

I can’t see this team overcoming how comfortable Geno seems to be with giving the ball away to the other team. They’ll finish this year going 7-9. They’ll give teams in their division trouble just like they always have for the past few years but they will miss the playoffs for the 3rd year in a row.

Buffalo Bills:
I could not believe all of the under the radar hype this team got. They just lost their best defensive player, Jairus Byrd, to the Saints and I was expecting them to plummet even worse than they’ve been over the past couple of years.  EJ Manuel seems like he can’t help but stare down his WR the entire play which I’m expecting to translate into turnovers when the regular season starts. They do have a rookie who I believe will make a lot of noise in Sammy Watkins. He is the real deal which will help out EJ because Sammy is going to be one of those WRs who will just go up and get the ball wherever it is. They have solid RBs in Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. And this defense will not be as bad as I once thought it to be. But with all of that I don’t think it’s enough to put them over the top because I believe EJ just isn’t the future of this team. The Buffalo Bills will end their regular season at 7-9 and 2nd in their division.

New England Patriots:
Now was this really a surprise to anyone? The Patriots have dominated this division so long it’s tradition nowadays is to just go ahead and name them the division champs. Tom Brady will continue to be Tom Brady. We saw last year he can continue to find a way to win with his best WR being a former QB in college (Julian Edleman). And now he potentially has Gronk back who when healthy is without a doubt the best TE in the league. They have all their guys back on their defense who were out last year with Jerrod Mayo and Vince Wilfork.

Not only that, but they also made a nice move in the free agency picking up former Jets/Bucs cornerback Darrell Revis, a guy who I believe when healthy is the best lockdown corner in the league. The Patriots will finish their season 12-4 not only reaching the playoffs but also getting a first round bye.

bray vs dolphins

AFC South Preview (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iM)

AFC West Preview AFC West Preview
(http://wp.me/p33YLP-ib)

AFC North Preview:
(http://wp.me/p33YLP-iI)

De’Shawn Hornback

AFC South Preview

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AFC South
This is, as of right now the weakest division in the NFL, and has been dominated for the past 10 years by one team and two different quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. As it currently stands won’t too much change unless one of the teams not named the Colts bring in a legit QB.

Tennessee Titans
This one hurts because this is my favorite team believe it or not. The Titans have struggled since the departure of Jeff Fisher. Jake Locker showed flashes last year of being a decent QB, but was hurt way too much for them to get a good picture of what he is going to bring to the team on a weekly basis. The Titans let Chris Johnson walk after being a consistent thousand yard rusher, and picked up the first RB in the draft, Bishop Sankey. Kendall Wright has been a good solid receiver week to week gaining over a thousand yards last year. Outside of that not much else to say about the offense. Defensively they have a good solid core of guys, but the question is if they are able to be used accordingly. By the end of the season I have my Tennessee Titans finishing with a putrid 3-13 record which should be the worst in the NFL.

Jacksonville Jaguars
I was one of the people who asked, “How could you possibly take Blake Bortles with the 3rd overall pick? “

If the preseason play carries over into the regular season I’ll be wrong about what Bortles can bring to the Jags. But then again even with the potential Bortles has shown this team is just horrible. Outside of Cecil Shorts and Marcedes Lewis this team has a whole lot of nothing on both sides of the ball. The one wildcard on the team is Toby Gerhart, the former backup RB from Minnesota. He hasn’t been given a real chance to get the ball up until now. Even with that the team is still bad plain and simple. In the end they’ll finish 4-12 while placing 3rd in the division.

Houston Texans
With the #1 overall pick the Houston Texans selected Jadeveon Clowney to bolster their defensive front line and perhaps form a scary DE combination with JJ Watt. As bad as they were last year  the Texans were still  a top 5 pass defense last year and have one of the easiest schedules this year. With the recent trade of Bill O’brian’s guy from New England, Ryan Mallet raises questions of who is going to be starting at QB. I believe Arian Foster will come back and redeem a below average performance from last year; Andre Johnson will continue to be a monster even if he might be looking to go elsewhere sooner than rather than later and the defense should be better. The Texans are starting to look up and in a couple of year they could be what they were just 2 years ago. But for now the Texans will finish 6-10 and wound up second in the division.

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have consistently dominated the division and there is no reason to believe that’ll change this year. Andrew Luck,  (who I do not think is worthy of being called a top 5 QB) is a good QB and is only getting better every year. T.Y Hilton has shown flashes for them as a receiver and they will need him to be more consistent as he will be needed more than before since Reggie Wayne is coming off of an ACL injury last year. Luck will need other guys to step up this year as well if they want to have a chance.

A solid pick up by the Colts this offseason was former Giants WR Hakeem Nicks. Coming off a bad year from the Giants he’ll be looking to bounce back and be a major weapon in this offense. The Colts have a solid defense. They get stops and play their game consistently. If Robert Mathis looks anything like he did last year then that will open things up for other players; as he demands two guys to block him or he will get your quarterback in the backfield. Playing in a weak division The Colts will easily finish 1st and have a 12-4 record earning them a playoff spot.

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AFC West Preview ( AFC West Preview
http://wp.me/p33YLP-iB)
AFC East Preview ( http://wp.me/p33YLP-iw)
AFC North Preview:
(http://wp.me/p33YLP-iI)

De’Shawn Hornback

NFC South Preview

nfc south

NFC South
Last year the division had a surprise champion in the Carolina Panthers. With a lot of change this year to each team the division will be very competitive. Can Cam lead them to another Playoff Berth

Carolina Panthers:

Simple answer to that question, no. This team was taken apart last year and I do not see how Cam can carry the team this year in this division. Deangelo Williams has been lackluster for years now. I have no expectations for him at this point because he has set his bar so low. Jonathan Stewart has flashes every year but cannot stay healthy and they lost their two best receivers Brandon Lafell and Steve Smith. The best tool Cam has now is Greg Olsen who cannot be your best option on offense for you to win games.

On defense they lost Captain Munnerlyn who was their best guy in the secondary. The positives they have on defense are the defensive ends. They still have Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson who I believe will continue their play next year. The best player on the team, and in my opinion the best defensive player in the entire league as of right now is Luke Kuechly. For this team to win Cam will have to put up monster numbers, which is something he didn’t do last year only putting up over 300 yards in one game. I’m a fan of Cam, but the offense is so putrid I see this team going from best to worst finishing with a 7-9 record and last in the division.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
A lot of analysts are high on this team and seeing them with my own eyes I understand why. They got Josh McCown in the offseason after hid tremendous games he had for the Chicago Bears. He fits perfectly with his weapons at hand. McCown likes to throw up high for big receivers to go get it and he has two of those on this team with Vincent Jackson and rookie who made a lot of noise at Texas A&M Mike Evans. A player many have forgotten about due to injury last year is Doug Martin. Martin in his rookie year showcased his potential and will build off of that this year.

On defense they have Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Michael Johnson getting to the QB. They also made a nice pick up in the free agency snatching up Tennessee Titan Alterraun Verner. I like what Tampa Bay is doing and even though I don’t see it happening necessarily this year they could be a Playoff team in years to come. I have Tampa ending 7-9 and 3rd in the division.

Atlanta Falcons:

The Atlanta Falcons caught a horrible injury bug last year having their #1 WR Julio Jones go down for the year, and Roddy White was having problems the entire year getting into games. Everyone is back now though. I hear commentators say it all the time. This is a passing league. A healthy Roddy White and Julio Jones make a contention for best WR duo in the league. Their defense leaves a lot to be desired, but my belief is they will just out score other teams to victory as they are very capable of doing. Only issue I have on offense is in the backfield.

Nobody stands out as Steven Jackson isn’t getting any younger and they picked up Devonta Freeman from Florida St. in the draft, which leads me to believe they are not comfortable with the guys they have now. I believe at the end of the year the Falcons will finish 8-8 second in the division and missing the Playoffs.

New Orleans Saints:
I see a real contender in the Saints this year. They picked up a top 5 safety in former Buffalo Bill, Jairus Byrd. Rob Ryan his first year as defensive coordinator turned the former worst defense in the NFL to a top 5 defense last year. (But it was his fault right Jerry?) Then on offense they have a man named Drew Brees, who I believe will win MVP honors this year. With so many weapons at hand look for Brees to have yet another stat stuffing season, and with Sean Peyton at the helm this team will take over this division and finish 14-2 with home field advantage throughout the Playoffs and a first round bye week.

brees

 

NFC West Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/nfc-west-preview/)

NFC East Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/nfc-east/)

NFC North Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/nfc-north-preview/

 

De’Shawn Hornback

AFC North Preview

 

afc north

 

AFC North

A couple of years ago teams never wanted to face this division because this division was known for rough, punch you in the mouth, style of defenses. The teams leading those defenses have become old, star players have retired. Even with that this remains to be one of the most competitive divisions in football.

Cleveland Browns:
Nobody thought coming into this year that they would care about this team at all. But Cleveland as a city is becoming huge for media outlets with a certain NBA player and the most controversial guy in the NFL, Johnny Manziel.

I’m a Manziel guy. I believe he is going to do great thing in this league, but he did not win the starting job over the preseason. And he alone can’t turn a mediocre team into the best team in the nation. The Browns lost a monster receiver in Josh Gordon due to use of marijuana, (If you want an opinion on that another writer is planning on giving you one.) and their starting RB is Ben Tate… They still have Jordan Cameron who I believe will become a ridiculously talented elite TE in the future, but outside of that there is a lot to be desired of this offense.

They grabbed Miles Austin in the offseason who had one good year and as of late seemed to find the perfect time to run horrible routes for the Cowboys so I don’t have much faith in him. It doesn’t matter who the starter is whether it’s Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel, there simply is not enough talent on this offense.

Now the defense will be able to pick up a lot slack from the offense. Joe Haden is a top 5 CB no doubt about it. Most WRs will have a very hard time getting open on this guy. They have a good front 7 as well, but outside of Haden they don’t have another elite guy on that side of the ball. They won’t be able to beat good teams with just their defense. At the end of the year the Cleveland Browns will finish 5-11 regardless of if Manziel takes over at some point.

Baltimore Ravens:
To think that they just won a Super Bowl 2 years ago is crazy. Problem from that is that they’ve lost almost all of their veterans to retirements, trades, or free agency. Then there is the huge controversy surrounding Ray Rice. This team is all out of sorts. There was some crazy stat I saw the other day like 1 out of every 5 players on the Ravens has been arrested. That is beyond outrageous. So distractions are heavy at this point.

Joe Flacco had an average year at best last year, and it does not seem like it’s going to be different if the preseason correlates to anything in the regular season. They have Torrey Smith who will continue to be a deep threat and Dennis Pitta who is a solid TE. The Ravens acquired Steve Smith from the Panthers this past off-season, but he has been on his downward slope for a couple of years now.

On defense Terrell Suggs was and will continue to be a monster on defense, Haloti Ngata is impossible to block and they still have a solid CB Ladarius Webb. That alone though cannot overcome the off field issues and other deficiencies on both sides of the ball. This year the Ravens will end their year 7-9 and 3rd in the division.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Just barely missing the playoffs last year behind the Chargers, the Steelers will be looking for redemption this year. Last year Antonio Brown was a top 5 WR for receiving yards and receptions. Big Ben and Brown have chemistry and I expect that to continue this year. Le’Veon Bell had injury issues his rookie year so the Steelers made a great pickup for this year picking up former Patriot LeGarrette Blount. The offense will be able to do what they were doing near the end of last season and make plays when they need them.

On the defensive side I’m worried though. It seems like the Steelers are looking for the guy farthest away from the ball to make every single play. Troy Polamalu is getting older and cannot continue to do everything on defense for this team. Consistency will hurt this team again this year and it will be their downfall. I have the Steelers going 8-8 and missing the Playoffs again.

Cincinnati Bengals:
The Bengals made it to the playoffs last year but lost to the San Diego Chargers in the first round. By default they should win this division as they are light years above these other teams in pure talent.

I’m a strong critic of head coach Marvin Lewis as he has coached this team for 10+ years without a SINGLE playoff victory. It has is now beyond ridiculous. I do not understand how this man still has a head coaching job in the NFL, much less the same team for this long.

The players are supremely talented here. Andy Dalton falls under the radar too much because of his lack of holding onto the ball, but his numbers are ridiculous only comparison being Peyton Manning in his first few years in the league. AJ Green is a top 3 WR, not up for debate. Giovani Bernard had a solid rookie year. Marvin Jones had four touchdowns in a SINGLE game. They have a solid TE duo with Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert and a strong line. That was just the offense I gave you.

On defense they have Carlos Dunlap breaking in for sacks, Geno Atkins is right next to Suh as best DT in the league, Leon Hall at corner and I could go on and on. This team is loaded with talent. They have yet to reach their full potential due to a coach that should not have a head coaching job. They will undoubtedly win this division going 11-5 taking the division and making the Playoffs.

afc north game

AFC South Preview: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iM)

AFC East Preview: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iw)

AFC West Preview:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iB)

De’Shawn Hornback

NFC North Preview

nfc north

NFC North
A division rich with NFL history. Historic moments with each team have been record and talked about as the greatest of all time. Green Bay took the division last year in week 17 in a thriller against Chicago. Are the Packers destined for another division title?

Minnesota Vikings:
I want Adrian Peterson to have a chance at a ring, but sadly I just never see that happening. The Vikings drafted Teddy Bridgewater in this years draft and he already looks better than Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder. They have Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and Cordalle Patterson in their receiving core. All solid players but none of them are game changers. The worst thing that happened to the Vikings this season was losing Jared Allen. Even at his old age he was the best player on their putrid defense and now he left to a division rival in the Chicago Bears.

I don’t see anything improving the defense so expect them to be worse this upcoming year. I can’t see this team coming anywhere close to a division title unless Peterson rushes for 2,500yds this year and as much as I would want that to happen it’s more than likely not.

The Vikings will finish the season 5-11 last in the division. Peterson alone will win them some games but it won’t be enough to contend with the other loaded teams in the division.

Chicago Bears:

The Bears have a lot of hype right now. Jay Cutler is considered having a top 10 chance of getting MVP this year. If you listen to anything Brandon Marshall says about Jay Cutler he’ll have you thinking he’s the next Joe Montana. Despite the hype that I feel is way over done the Chicago Bears are in a peculiar situation. As a dynasty this franchise is known for gritty tough defense. This year it’s the opposite with a woeful defense and a prolific offense.

They have the best WR duo in the league with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. Matt forte is a top 5 RB in this league and Martellus Bennett has been under the radar doing very well for them. They added a huge piece to replace their loss of Julius Peppers by signing Jared Allen a future HOFer. They still have Charles Tillman a very underrated CB in the league. With all of that praise though there’s one problem. Jay Cutler. Cutler shows many similarities to Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo except when he screws up it’s ten times worse because he has some bad wiring in his brain where he can throw 5 picks in a single game putting the team on a downward slope. I have the Bears going 8-8 and placing 3rd in the division missing the Playoffs.

Green Bay Packers:
The defending division champions. We learned last year that this team goes as far Aaron Rodgers takes them. They made one of greatest picks in the draft last year taking Alabama RB Eddie Lacy. Eddie Lacy did a good job carrying a load and proving to Mike McCarthy that he can be more than useful to this team. They have the same core on defense which isn’t good but isn’t horrible either. As great as this team is I strongly believe in the team after this and I’m saying the Green Bay Packers will finish 10-6 barely missing the playoffs and 2nd in the division.

Detroit Lions:
Matt Stafford has had a weird turn of events in his career. First few years he couldn’t stay healthy to play consistently in games, but when he finally became healthy in 2011 the Lions made the playoffs. Recently though Stafford has actually declined and many critics believe it to be the fault of former head coach Jim Schwartz.

Schwartz has been an awful coach for such a long time and the Lions made the necessary change that was needed by firing and replacing him. With the addition of picking up the best WR from the Seahawks, Golden Tate, Matt Stafford I believe will make use of his raw talent as he once did before and propel this team above expectations. They have undoubtedly the best WR in the game, Calvin Johnson. They have Joquie Bell and Reggie Bush making things happen both rushing and receiving. In the draft this year the Lions picked up a promising young TE in Eric Ebron. They also have the best defensive lineman in Ndamakung Suh. This offense will be lethal with Stafford’s cannon arm leading the charge. I just feel it. I’m not a Lions fan but I believe that over the past 2-3 years this is the most talented team that didn’t make the Playoffs and I think that changes this year. The Lions will be 10-6 winning in a thriller against the Green Bay Packers in week 17 to win the division and make their first Playoff birth since 2011.

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NFC East Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/nfc-east/)

NFC West Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/nfc-west-preview/)

NFC South Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/nfc-south-preview/)

De’Shawn Hornback