NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The 2014 NFL Season finally kicks off tonight when Green Bay travels to Seattle to take on the defending Super Bowl champions. For the next five months our daily lives will be consumed by football until a champion is crowned in Phoenix, Arizona on February 1st. Is this the year the Patriots finally clear the final hurdle and win their fourth Lombardi Trophy? Is this the year the Jacksonville Jaguars return to respectability? Well, I think we all know the answer to the last question, but there are plenty of other questions to be answered. Here are my predictions for the 2014 NFL Season.
Hot Sportz Takes
First Coach Fired: Doug Marrone, Buffalo Bills
Marrone and Doug Whaley went all in on E.J. Manuel during the 2013 NFL Draft, then turn around to mortgage the future during the 2014 Draft with WR Sammy Watkins. If the Bills get off to a rough start and Kyle Orton is forced to replace Manuel, Marrone will find himself looking for another second tier college job.
Coaches that will be Fired after 2014: Joe Philbin (Miami), Dennis Allen (Oakland), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati), Ron Rivera (Carolina)
No big surprises on this list. Joe Philbin’s locker room and game management ability leaves a lot to be desired. Dennis Allen was in over his head from day one. Marvin Lewis will end up coaching in Cincinnati for 11 seasons, without a single playoff victory, amazing. Carolina plummets back to earth and Jerry Richardson figures he can find someone better.
Seat Getting Hotter: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
If he misses the playoffs for the third straight season his seat will get very warm. The window will Ben Roethlisberger seems like it’s closing and it’ll close faster than Brady or Manning.
Breakout Offensive Player: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Trendy pick and I agree. Patterson is a great fit in Norv Turner’s offense and will torture defenses with explosive plays.
Breakout Defensive Player: Kenny Vaccaro, SAF, New Orleans Saints
Vaccaro can play multiple positions in the defensive backfield and all he does is make plays. He’s the next great Safety in the NFL.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Brandin Cooks is the odds on favorite, but I have trouble trusting rookie Wide Receivers regardless of reports. I think Frank Gore goes down at some point and Carlos Hyde puts up monster numbers.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Houston Texans
Is there really any doubt? The only other player I see challenging him is Steelers LB Ryan Shazier who looks poised to be a dynamic defensive playmaker.
Biggest Offensive Disappointment: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Newton was coming off ankle surgery and now has a fracture rib. Combine that with the fact he’s forced to develop chemistry with a whole new cast of receivers and it spells trouble.
Biggest Defensive Disappointment: Demarcus Ware, DE, Denver Broncos
People expecting Ware to be the same player he was three years ago will be disappointed. Ware will be productive, but won’t have the impact many are projecting.
Best Free Agency Signing: Darrelle Revis, CB, New England Patriots
Best cornerback in football goes to one of the best teams in the league and immediately elevates everyone on the defense.
Worth Free Agent Signing: Julius Peppers, OLB, Green Bay Packers
Peppers didn’t look like he had much left last season. Ted Thompson strayed from his usual course and signed the edge rusher to a 3 year $27 million deal despite his drop in production.
Most Overrated Player: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Griffin better show some progress after last seasons disappointing performance otherwise there will be some nervous people in Washington. Based on what I saw in the preseason, that’s far from a guarantee to happen.
Most Underrated: Eric Weddle, SAF, San Diego Chargers
I’d kill to have a Safety like him on my team. Impact defensive player and a Special Teams stud.
Coordinators Next in Line to be Head Coach: Adam Gase (OC/Denver), Ray Horton (DC/Tennessee), Greg Roman (OC/San Francisco), Dan Quinn (DC/Seattle)
New England Patriots (13-3)
Miami Dolphins (8-8)
New York Jets (7-9)
Buffalo Bills (5-11)
Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Houston Texans (6-10)
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)
Denver Broncos (12-4)
San Diego Chargers (10-6)
Kansas City Chiefs (6-10)
Oakland Raiders (6-10)
Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)
Washington Redskins (8-8)
New York Giants (7-9)
Dallas Cowboys (5-11)
Green Bay Packers (11-5)
Chicago Bears (10-6)
Detroit Lions (9-7)
Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
New Orleans Saints (12-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
Carolina Panthers (5-11)
Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
San Francisco 49ers (10-6)
Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
St. Louis Rams (5-11)
AFC Playoff Seeds:
1. New England Patriots
2. Denver Broncos
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Baltimore Ravens
5. San Diego Chargers
6. Tennessee Titans
NFC Playoff Seeds:
1. Seattle Seahawks
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Green Bay Packers
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. San Francisco 49ers
6. Chicago Bears
Wild Card Round
Indianapolis Colts beat Tennessee Titans
San Diego Chargers beat Baltimore Ravens
Green Bay Packers beat Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles beat San Francisco 49ers
New England Patriots beat San Diego Chargers
Denver Broncos beat Indianapolis Colts
Seattle Seahawks beat Philadelphia Eagles
New Orleans Saints beat Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots beat Denver Broncos
New Orleans Saints beat Seattle Seahawks
New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints
I don’t like to pick a winner of the Super Bowl because everyone will say I’m a “homer” if I pick the Patriots and my biases can get in the way. I believe this will be the match-up and either team could easily be victorious.
MVP: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Offensive POY: LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Defensive POY: Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis Rams
Comeback Player: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Head Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Tags: New England Patriots