Here is the rest of my NFL season preview, complete with my Super Bowl prediction.
AFC East Preview
- New England Patriots 13-3
The Patriots are sporting one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this season. Not necessarily sure they need it. This team is a lot stronger than the team that lost in the Super Bowl. They still need to learn to play better defense. However if the offense, still lead by Tom Brady, can score 30 points a game, they will not need to play great defense. A serious lack of a running game could hurt this team in the playoffs.
- Buffalo Bills 9-7
The Bills greatly improved themselves on defense with the acquisition of Mario Williams. Their defense was actually pretty solid last year, injuries were the biggest issue losing Fred Jackson down the stretch. This year should see the Bills competitive once again. They gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a 60 million dollar deal, however Fitzpatrick is not an elite QB and that is what is keeping the Bills from being really good.
- New York Jets 7-9
This is a team already in turmoil in the preseason. Their regular season will not be much better. Shonn Green is not a great running back. They lack any real QB as Mark Sanchez has not developed like he has needed to over the past couple of years. Mark’s development will be shortened this year with the Wildcat and Tim Tebow coming in and out of the huddle. Neither QB will help the Jets win games this year. Offenses have found ways to beat Revis last year. This will lead for a long year for Rex Ryan.
- Miami Dolphins 4-12
The Dolphins need new ownership. Questionable moves in the off season have me scratching my head. The gave away their best wide receiver, they did not make a serious move towards any starting QB this season. At last review, David Garrard was leading this team on the depth chart. For a team that has nothing to lose, start Ryan Tannehill. This rookie QB reminds me a lot of Jamarcus Russell, except without the smoking hot wife. The only good piece on this team is that Reggie Bush is still here, which in itself is almost crazy to say. They have no wide receivers, except for an aging Chad Johnson OchoCinco, or whatever is new name is now. Chad Johnson has as many name changes as the Dolphins will have wins.
AFC North Preview
- Baltimore Ravens 12-4
The Ravens are fresh off a near win, missing a would be chip shot that should have sent them to the big game. Their team is still together, and young players are only get better. Joe Flacco has declared himself an elite QB, and he will need to prove it this year. Getting to the Super Bowl would definitely define him as elite, and he has the tools to get there. The offensive unit is still strong, and so is the defense. This team should be able to make a run this year.
- Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6
The Steelers have a really good core of young WR, and a QB that can throw the football. Serious questions in the running game though, as Mendenhall does not seem to be the answer. Isaac Redman did average 4.1 yards per carry. However, normally a third down back, not sure he can carry the load for this team. They still have a very good defense which will keep them in a lot of games. However it will be on the offense to win them games and score some points. That might have to be done through the air. Big Ben could have a big statistical year.
- Cincinnati Bengals 8-8
The Bengals were a much improved team last year under rookie QB Andy Dalton, who showed he could play a smart game last year. This year they lost a big part of their offense when they let Cedric Benson walk. The law firm of Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis is not quite the running back Benson is. They lost another piece when Jerome Simpson got arrested and went to the Vikings. Will have to see how the defense picks this team up. The defense played well last year, and will have to do the same for the Bengals to win 8 games.
- Cleveland Browns 3-13
This team is completely boring on paper. However, youth overloads this team. There is potential for this team to win games, although not sure where those wins are coming from. Wheedon, Richardson, Cribbs and Little are about the only players on the team worth talking about. It would be nice to see them on a team that has the potential to win. This team is still going nowhere quick.
AFC South Preview
- Houston Texans 13-3
Yes, Yes, Yes…I have a lot of faith in the Texans this year. And why not? They have the best running back in the league in Arian Foster, one of the best wide receivers, if healthy, in Andre Johnson. They almost won in the playoffs with their third string QB, and they now have their best QB back on the field. The deletion of Mario Williams will not hurt their defense, and this team is poised to make a serious run this year as well.
- Tennessee Titans 7-9
The Titans need a huge comback from their franchise player in Chris Johnson to have any sort of chance at a playoff run this year. A potential QB controversey could hurt the team as they have Jake Locker ready to step in for Matt Hasselback. Hasselback has not played a full 16 game schedule since he came into the league, so his first injury could be his last start. They have no real wide receiver threat, and Kenny Britt is playing the role of diva and has been arrested twice in the off season which could lead to his potential suspension and possible release. The defense is spotty and needs to improve for this team to win games. They will be no threat for a playoffs spot.
- Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
The win total on this team has the potential to be zero if they do not make MJD a fair contract offer. The only real offensive player this team has is holding out, and prepared to hold out for a long time if not given the money he is owed. And who can blame him since he leads the league in rushing the past three seasons. There is not a lot to talk about with team as they do not have a franchise QB to lead this team. The town of Jacksonville does not care about football, which makes it hard for me to write about it.
- Indianapolis Colts 3-13
Andrew Luck has done the same thing Peyton Manning did in his first preseason game. He threw a touchdown pass on his first attempt. I may have underestimated this team. However, Manning went 3-13 in his first season. Not sure that I see more happening for this team. The defense is not that good. This team is young and in 4 or 5 years could be very good.
AFC West Preview
- Denver Broncos 10-6
The Broncos now possess what John Elway has wanted since he started running the football team, a real quarterback in Peyton Manning. If the talentless Tebow can lead this team to the playoffs, imagine what a hall of fame quarterback can do. There is lots of talent on this team, and Manning could turn Eric Decker into the next Marvin Harrison. Manning only has a good three to four years left in him, and it might be enough to give Elway another super bowl victory…just wont be this year.
- San Diego Chargers 10-6
Trying to figure out why I gave this team ten wins this year. Philip Rivers has not really proven himself to be that clutch quarterback. Ryan Matthews will need to stay healthy and run like Tomlinson did back in the day for this team. Their wide receivers are unproven, with two number two wide receivers and no real number one. They still have Gates, who again needs to remain healthy. There is not a lot to speak of on defense, and this team is coached by Norv Turner. Maybe I shoud reverse the wins and losses, but I am playing a hunch this year. Good luck Chargers.
- Oakland Raiders 8-8
The Raiders went over the top to get Carson Palmer, who now has had a complete off season to get ready for the year. This team has a lot of good, young talent, especially at running back with McFadden. They also have some speedy wide receivers in Moore, Heyward Bey, and Jacoby Ford. The team plays defense well, but are short a few key players that will help them get to the playoffs. This team is on its way back up now.
- Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
The Chiefs are still trying to make the team work with Matt Cassel. Its time to turn the page on that book. They signed Peyton Hillis with the hopes he will actually care about football this year, and Jamal Charles is coming off surgery for ACL and MCL injuries. The wide receivers are actually pretty good, but the first three pieces of the team will cause them some struggles. The team plays defense well, however they are in a tough division which will keep them out of the playoffs.
3rd seeded Ravens defeat 6th seeded Chargers
The famous Rivers tantrum happens again this year, as the Ravens are too strong to beat.
5th seeded Steelers defeat 4th seeded Broncos
Peyton Manning struggles against the Steelers defense continues. This year will not be Manning’s year, try next year.
1st seeded Patriots defeat 5th seeded Steelers
Tom Brady continues to roll. A close game, comes down to Gostkowski field goal.
2nd seeded Texans defeat 3rd seeded Ravens
The Texans avenge their loss in the 2011 playoffs with a win over the Ravens this year.
2nd seeded Texans defeat 1st seeded Patriots
Arian Foster explodes all over the Patriots defense, leading the Texans to their first Super Bowl appearance.
Super Bowl Prediction:
Packers 27 – Texans 24
Mason Crosby nails the game winner as time expires to win an exciting super bowl. Jordy Nelson with his two touchdown catches wins the MVP award.
Thanks, and as always – feel free to comment here or on twitter @ken_progolf.