2014 NFL Predictions Revisited

On September 2nd I posted my NFL predictions for the 2014 season. (Click for the full article.)

With the regular season having come to a close, it’s worth taking a look at some of those original predictions and comments:

AFC East

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Prediction

  1. Patriots
  2. Dolphins
  3. Bills
  4. Jets

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Result

  1. Patriots
  2. Bills
  3. Dolphins
  4. Jets

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I don’t feel the Pats are better than last year, but it’s still their division to lose… If Miami sweeps the Pats, they will contend for the playoffs… The Bills are still figuring things out but should fare better… The Jets are a mess, and play a brutal schedule. I don’t see them matching 8-8 like they did last season, with either Geno Smith or Mike Vick under center.

Nothing to see here: move along!

The Patriots did as expected. The Bills came out 1 game better than the Dolphins. The Jets are still a mess and just fired their GM and coach… I could probably make the same prediction for next season!

AFC North

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Prediction

  1. Bengals
  2. Steelers
  3. Ravens
  4. Browns

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Result

  1. Steelers
  2. Bengals
  3. Ravens
  4. Browns

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A very tough division where only the basement is known (sorry Cleveland!) The Bengals still have a strong core group… but will have a hard time doing so again and the window is closing as Pittsburgh and Baltimore reload. Pittsburgh is closer in their rebuild and should make the playoffs. Baltimore is a year removed from the Super Bowl… I feel they have more weaknesses than Pittsburgh, but could still contend. Cleveland is no better than a 5 win team, but will have a lot of close games played with a strong defense; offensive points will continue to be their struggle.

Sorry Cleveland! You did prove me wrong by winning 7 games, and proved me right by playing many close to the vest.

The Bengals tripped up and lost the division. Even I didn’t pick the Steelers to win the North, but I did have Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the playoffs, with Baltimore contending as well. (See Steelers notes below.)

AFC South

[one_half]

Prediction

  1. Colts
  2. Jaguars
  3. Texans
  4. Titans

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Result

  1. Colts
  2. Texans
  3. Jaguars
  4. Titans

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The Colts are the class of this division and should run away with it… The Jaguars are my pick to jump into 2nd place in the South, but with what will be a sub .500 record… The Texans have too much talent to fall too far, but they will not contend. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be lucky to play all 16 games and that will be a huge problem for Houston.

Well… the Colts won the division with no problem, but the Texans finished 9-7 (which is much better than .500!) I nailed their QB situation to a tee however. The Jags didn’t improve as much as I felt they would. And the Titans are more like the Titanic.

AFC West

[one_half]

Prediction

  1. Broncos
  2. Chargers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders

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Result

  1. Broncos
  2. Chargers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Raiders

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The Broncos are stacked and early favorites to win everything. The Chargers are similarly loaded on offense and can match them point-for-point… The Chiefs will not have the cupcake schedule of last season… The Raiders will be in the basement but will improve on 4 wins, but not by much.

Almost nailed it… the Raiders only got 3 wins and their veterans are going to be free agents next year when the team cleans house.

The Chargers disappointed, but were close to where I had them pegged. The Chiefs indeed lacked star power, especially at WR.

NFC East

[one_half]

Prediction

  1. Eagles
  2. Redskins
  3. Cowboys
  4. Giants

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Result

  1. Cowboys
  2. Eagles
  3. Giants
  4. Redskins

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…The Eagles should run away with the crown if Nick Foles plays as he did last year. The Redskins, Cowboys and Giants all have miserable defenses, and none will make the playoffs. I look for the Skins to put up offensive numbers in droves, as will the Cowboys. The Giants will suffer another down season as they repair their team and look to bounce back to form.

IF Nick Foles plays as he did… but he didn’t end up playing and Mark Sanchez took the team down… albeit, a 10 win “down” that wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs. The Cowboys were the biggest surprise, if you aren’t counting how bad the Redskins were this season.

NFC North

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Prediction

  1. Packers
  2. Bears
  3. Vikings
  4. Lions

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Result

  1. Packers
  2. Lions
  3. Vikings
  4. Bears

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The Packers added more pieces… the sky is the limit. The Lions woes continue until they fix their defensive problems; their offense is tremendous. The Bears will still be uncharacteristically weak on defense, but put up loads of stats on offense.

Well, I’d like to take a mulligan on the Vikings, though they did place 3rd in the division, even without Adrian Peterson. The Bears were bad on D and bad in general. I picked the Pack to go the distance, so we shall see…

NFC South

[one_half]

Prediction

  1. Saints
  2. Falcons
  3. Buccaneers
  4. Panthers

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Result

  1. Panthers
  2. Falcons
  3. Saints
  4. Buccaneers

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Drew Brees will put up huge numbers again… The Falcons will rebound as long as Steven Jackson, Roddy White and Julio Jones stay on the field. The Dirty Birds fall further without, as their defense is average at best. The Bucs will improve, and could overtake the Falcons… And then there’s the Panthers, who had a good defense, but won a lot of games by taking risks that were rewarded.

Well isn’t this division a mess? Tampa was horrid, but had 1 of their 2 wins against Pittsburgh. (Doesn’t that make you feel sick?) I thought the Panthers would end up in the basement, and if you looked at these standings heading into December, I was close… until the Saints and Falcons both imploded.

NFC West

[one_half]

Prediction

  1. Seahawks
  2. 49ers
  3. Cardinals
  4. Rams

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Result

  1. Seahawks
  2. Cardinals
  3. 49ers
  4. Rams

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Every defensive unit in this division is strong and the games will be close to the vest. The Seahawks win the division… A lot of that will depend on Percy Harvin… The Niners look woeful in the preseason but have enough main components to sneak into the wildcard spot, provided they do not slip and let Arizona jump in front of them. The Rams lost Sam Bradford but will be about the same without him.

Well well. Percy Harvin is a Jet. The Niners indeed slipped and let the Cardinals in (though the Cards did much of that on their own.) The Rams are in the basement and Shaun Hill wasn’t much of an X factor, though his replacement early in the season, Austin Pettis, did get compared to a young Tom Brady.

Playoffs

Prediction (w/results in bold)

Patriots, Bengals, Colts, Broncos, Steelers, Chargers (contenders: Ravens and Chiefs)
Eagles, Packers, Saints, Seahawks, Falcons, 49ers (contenders: Bears and Redskins)

The NFC was a wash, missing the Cowboys, Panthers, Lions and Cardinals. The AFC was nearly a lock, had San Diego not blown their game against KC.

Conclusion

I’d venture to say the Broncos have the best chance of returning to the big game, but the Seahawks will not… I’m going to go out on a limb and anoint the World Championship game between the Denver Broncos versus the Green Bay Packers… Point-for-point, several offenses look capable on paper, and New England clearly stockpiled their secondary to make a run at them.

TBD!

Steelers

…In my opinion, the Steelers will make the playoffs. They could potentially win the AFC North… I believe the disparity between the Bengals, Steelers and even the Ravens is too close to call… If the Bengals fall, the division is up for grabs: and I’d love nothing more than to see a home playoff game in 2014.

If [The Steelers] play in the wildcard game, a trip to Indianapolis or Cincinnati would be in the mix. Winning the division could send the Bengals or Chargers to Pittsburgh…

There’s more TBD, but I feel good enough taking these snippets. Even I felt the Steelers would be hard-pressed to top 9-7, given their 8-8 record the last two seasons. But here were are: the AFC North Champions and a home playoff game! (And I almost got the opponent correct: the Chargers stumbled, and while it’s not the Bengals, the Ravens are an AFC North opponent that made the cut.)

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