This is my annual predictions piece. Last year, I broke my predictions into two posts, but this year I’m doing one.
For comparison, I’m almost posting the predictions of new profession writers. First, I chose Gregg Estabrook. Gregg is a columnist for ESPN.com and writes my favorite weekly column covering the NFL called Tuesday Morning Quarterback. The other prediction was the combined prediction that ESPN printed in ESPN the Magazine.
I picked the Saints last year and my reasons haven’t changed a great deal. They have a fantastic offense and an underrated defenses. Drew Bress is a top 5 quarterback with a bevvy of weapons and the league’s best tight end.
I see the Colts making it out of the AFC. Luck is an up and coming quarterback who will get serious MVP consideration. Ah, what might have been if he had come out a year early (or how different would be look up against the tough NFC South rather than the AFC South). He’s got weapons all over the place with Wayne, Hilton, Nicks, Fleener and Dwayne Allen. They also play this year against the generous defenses in the NFC East. They could get home field and they have the weapons to go toe to toe with Denver or New England especially in the dome.
MVP : Andrew Luck
Look, the NFL media types are just waiting to annoit the next great young quarterback and they’ve got a guy who fits the bill in Luck. A favorable schedule should allow him to put up big numbers that would justify the award. By year’s end, he will have ascended to the Manning, Brees, Rodgers tier in the eyes of many.
Rookie of the Year: Blake Bortles
At some point, Jacksonville will do what the Raiders did and actually watch the tape of their young single caller. He’s already better than Chad Henne. The best way to make a mistake is to let fear of making a mistake guide your decision. Eventually, Jacksonville will turn it over to Bortles. A quarterback has a leg up on any other position in Rookie of the Year consideration, and if Jacksonville challenges for the wildcard, which I think they will, Bortles is a lock for Rookie of the Year.
Estabrook: New England
ESPN The Magazine: New England
TedtheThird: New England
The kings of the East stay that way. As long as Tom Brady is under center you got to like their chances. I expect a push from the Jets and Dolphins.
Estabrook: Philly Eagles
ESPN The Magazine: Philadelphia Eagles
TedtheThird: Philadelphia Eagles
I don’t think their is any stopping the Chip Kelly offense. But it’s so much more than Xs and Os with him. He is applying Sabermetrics and sports medicine in ways other teams aren’t yet. The Eagles are going to be king of a bad divisin. The Cowboys could flirt with #1 overall pick territory once Romo’s back gives out and the Giants look terrible on offense. No one in this division plays much defense.
Estabrook: Baltimore Ravens
ESPN The Magazine: Pittsburgh Steelers
TedtheThird: Cincinnati Bengals
With deference to my esteemed collegues, and to use a Matthew Berry quote, this is woah woah crazy. The Bengals have the strongest offense in the division. Yes, Dalton has struggled in the playoffs, and you’ll note I don’t pick them to go to the Super Bowl. But winning the divison is about regular season play and Dalton is a very good QB. With A.J Green, Gio Bernaard and the rest of the weapons Hue Jackson’s offense will put up enough points to take the division from the Steelers or Ravens. Browns are already playing for next year and Manzeil will start more games (and win more games) than Hoyer by years end.
Estabrook: Chicago Bears
ESPN The Magazine: Green Bay Packers
TedtheThird: Green Bay Packers
I don’t understand the Bears pick. Their defense has look terrible. The Packers are primed for a deep run. They have the most balanced offense in football. Rodgers is every pick the quarterback that Brees or Manning is and Eddie Lacy is lightyears ahead of any back those two can throw out.
Estabrook: Indianapolis Colts
ESPN The Magazine: Indianapolis Colts
TedtheThird: Indianapolis Colts
See my Super Bowl pick, but honestly, who in this division is the threat? I do see a nice year coming for Jacksonville, largely on my belief in Gus Bradly and Blake Bortles but they won’t be able to take the divison form Inday.
Estabrook: New Orleans Saints
ESPN The Magazine: New Orleans Saints
TedtheThird: New Orleans Saints
Again, reference my Super Bowl pick. If not for a questionable call in a Panthers Monday Night game and a monsoon hitting Charlotte during the Saints-Panthers matchup, the Saints would have won the divison last year. The South is going to be tough, but the Saints are nigh unbeatable in the dome and they travel well enough. Brandin Cooks is a special rookie.
Estabrook: Denver Broncos
ESPN The Magazine: Denver Broncos
TedtheThird: Denver Broncos
The Broncos are loaded up for a now or never type of run. They improved their defense and their weapons, even with Welker missing some time, he’ll still be back when it counts. They running backs give you pause, but it’s almost back to the old Shanahan days where the Bronco running helmets were imprinted with the phrase “insert running back, get 1000 yards”.
Estabrook: San Francisco 49ers
ESPN The Magazine: Seattle Seahawks
TedtheThird: Arizona Cardinals
I predicted the Cardinals last year and I’m still bullish on them. Bruce Arians is a fantastic coach. Carson Palmer is a good enough quarterback. I love their weapons, especially Clemson product Andre Ellington. San Francisco looks like they are still finding themselves on offense, the Seahawks won’t be as motivated, and let’s not forget that last year the Cardinals went into Seattle and pulled out a victory.
Estabrook: Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks
ESPN: 49ers, Chicago Bears
TedtheThird: Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahhawks
I do see Seattle taking a step back, but you almost have to give them 7 wins in their home games. They have the best Home field in football. They should find 4 or so on the road which would give them 11, and that should be enough for a Wildcard.
I see a bouce back year for Atlanta. They weren’t as bad as their record last year and they have their main weapons back with Julio Jones and Roddy White. They really upgraded on the offensive line. With Carolina getting off to its traditional slow start and Tampa improving, the South will be tough but Atlanta will come out with the last Wild card.
Estabrook: Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers
ESPN: Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals
TedtheThird: Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City
Andy Ried is one heck of a coach. Alex Smith is a legit quarterback and Jamaal Charles is all world. They are still smarting from that huge playoff let down and will be back with avengence this year.
Jacksonville is my come out of nowhere team. Gus Bradley is a good coach and with Toby Gerhart running and Rookie of the Year Blake Bortles passing they can eek out the last Wild Card.