Tag Archives: 2015 Preview

2015 NFL Season Predictions

The one common thing about predictions is they miss the mark completely year in and year out. I had the Packers beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl last year, which was two fluke plays away from coming to fruition. Granted Green Bay would to have needed to beat New England, but they had already done so fairly easy earlier in the year. The 2015 season has a ton of unknowns. As of this article being published we don’t know if the Super Bowl MVP is going to be starting under center for the defending champs. Will Tommy be dogging Giselle from his Brookline home when the Patriots take on the Steelers? Can The Forehead’s arm strength that resembles Johnny Damon’s keep Denver in the hunt? Will the Neck Beard limit turnovers in the postseason, and avoid another raping by a Bill Belichick lead defense? Has Russell Wilson finally caved to Ciara’s golden vagina? Chances are probably not. He is such a soft piece of crap, and I’m already sick of the mantra he is shoving down the media’s throats. Buddy, you have one of the hottest pieces of ass on the market, destroy it! I can guarantee someone else on the Seahawks team will be if you are not. How many touchdowns will Captain America score on both sides of the ball for the Texans? He is another one who has some solid Instagram tail begging him to slide into their DMs, but he may be too dumb to notice it? It is prediction time, and I’m sure to catch a ton of crap for 99.9% of what I write, but let’s get crackin…

L is for the way you Look at Me
L is for the way you Look at Me

AFC East
Patriots (11-5)
Dolphins (9-7)
Bills (8-8)
Jets (6-10)
The division is still the Patriots to lose. They won’t be as dominant in the division as they have been in year’s past and will have their first five loss season in recent memory. Losing their starting corner-backs will be a much bigger problem than people are letting on.

Leveon Bell should be the overall #1 Pick in Fantasy Drafts, even with the suspension
Leveon Bell should be the overall #1 Pick in Fantasy Drafts, even with the suspension

AFC North
Ravens (12-4)
Steelers (10-6)
Bengals (9-7)
Browns (5-11)
Baltimore is another team who puked on themselves in the postseason last year, but will be improved in 2015. They addressed the defensive backfield in the off-season and in the draft, so they will be improved there. I may be the biggest Harbaugh hater on the planet, and rightfully so. I’d give anything to see some coach “one-punch” him during the post-game handshake.

Sale on Pills - Aisle 4
Sale on Pills – Aisle 4

AFC South
Colts (12-4)
Texans (9-7)
Titans (6-10)
Jaguars (4-12)
As bad as the AFC East is, the AFC South isn’t much better. The President of League Pharmaceutical Distribution went out and spent some money in the off-season. They got “tougher” if you want to call it that, on the offensive side of the ball. Scoring points wasn’t the problem for Indianapolis last season, it was getting hit in the nuts and thrown in a locker by the Patriots on defense. The Colts are soft, they are the sole reason for “Deflategate” and Jim Irsay loves pills and hookers.

According to me, we will see this twice in 2015.
According to me, we will see this twice in 2015.

AFC West
Broncos (13-3)
Chiefs (11-5)
Chargers (8-8)
Raiders (6-10)
Denver will go back to what won them championships at the end of Elway’s run. CJ Anderson isn’t Terrell Davis, but he, Monte Ball, and Ronnie Hillman will take the load off of The Forehead to win games on his own. The Horses have some studs on defense and can get after the quarterback. Will The Forehead be able to win the cold weather game come January and exercise that demon? I believe so.

Chip Kelly will be assaulted by Riley Cooper by Week 8.  Print it!
Chip Kelly will be assaulted by Riley Cooper by Week 8. Print it!

NFC East
Eagles (12-4)
Cowboys (11-5)
Giants (7-9)
Redskins (4-12)
Chip Kelly is still kicking the tires on Tim Tebow, but he knows Sam Bradford will be his money maker on offense. Can he stay upright and healthy in the fast paced Eagles offense? Will Demarco Murray be over or underutilized? Did the 440 touches last year put too many miles on the tires? Can the defense hold up their end of the bargain? Many questions for a team that I’m picking to win the division.

70% Completion Rate he says?  He must be smoking what Leveon Bell was this offseason.
70% Completion Rate he says? He must be smoking what Leveon Bell was this offseason.

NFC North
Green Bay (13-3)
Detroit (10-6)
Minnesota (8-8)
Chicago (7-9)
Green Bay is the class of the NFC, even losing Jordy Nelson. I love the back end of their defense and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, if he remains healthy, will be an All Pro this year. The guy has a knack for always being around the ball and plays with a physical edge. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league and will be playing for his second Super Bowl ring come February in San Francisco.

King Crab may have arm strength, but the dude threw 20+ INTs in a weak ACC
King Crab may have arm strength, but the dude threw 20+ INTs in a weak ACC

NFC South
New Orleans (12-4)
Atlanta (10-6)
Carolina (6-10)
Tampa Bay (4-12)
Bounce back year for the Saints this year. They did some serious house cleaning on the field and with positional coaches. I love the Dennis Allen pick up and Brandon Cooks is going to be an absolute monster. Drew Brees will miss his security blanket of Ginger Graham, but has some younger weapons at his disposal. I liken this situation to when Colston, Devery Henderson, Reggie Bush, and others were his primary targets.

Who Has it Better Than You?  EVERYBODY!
Who Has it Better Than You? EVERYBODY!

NFC West
Seattle (12-4)
Arizona (9-7)
St. Louis (8-8)
San Francisco (5-11)
Mr. Ciara talked to God after he threw the interception to Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. He also talks to God when he is between the sheets with his girlfriend whom is a hip-hop superstar. Let’s hope, for the sake of Seahawks fans, he leaves that mumbo jumbo at home come opening weekend. Seattle has all of the talent in the world, but a coach who sometimes has his head in the sand with a smoothie cocktail on Venice Beach. The Hawks will be there come January, but will be traveling to Lambeau to face the Packers.

AFC Wild Card Weekend
(4) New England over (5) Kansas City
(3) Baltimore over (6) Pittsburgh
BYE: (1) Denver (2) Indianapolis

AFC Divisional Playoffs
(1) Denver over (4) New England
(3) Baltimore over (2) Indianapolis

AFC Championship
(1) Denver over (3) Baltimore

NFC Wild Card Weekend
(3) New Orleans over (6) Detroit
(4) Philadelphia over (5) Dallas
BYE: (1) Green Bay (2) Seattle

NFC Divisional Playoffs
(1)Green Bay over (4) Philadelphia
(2) Seattle over (3) New Orleans

NFC Championship
(1)Green Bay over (2) Seattle

Super Bowl 50
(1)Denver over (1) Green Bay

Postseason Awards:
MVP: Aaron Rodgers – Packers
Offensive Player of the Year: Calvin Johnson – Lions
Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Houston – Chiefs
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Amari Cooper – Raiders
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Randy Gregory – Cowboys
Comeback Player of the Year: Victor Cruz – Giants
Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy – Packers

Other Postseason Awards and Predictions:
Owner Likely to Overdose Mid-Game: Jim Irsay – Colts
Most Dysfunctional Organization: New Jersey Jets/Washington No-Names
Most Likely to Bang Ciara Before Russell Wilson: Pete Carroll & Marshawn Lynch (Simultaneously)
Over/Under on the Amount of Babies Conceived When TB12 Takes The Field Opening Night: 1,233,393 (All Male Pregnancies)
Who Sings the National Anthem at Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco: The Biebs, if it isn’t him, murder whom is in charge of choosing the artist.
NFL Sex Tape That Gets Released by Mid-Season: Ciara with Marshawn Lynch and Pete Carroll
How many players murder their ACL’s by the end of the season: 95
Coach Likely to Get Challenged to Mortal Kombat by their own players: Chip Kelly
Coach with the season long sinus infection and cold: Bill Belichick, but that is a given. Six Rings has that effect on people.

There you have it. Go throw a million billion on each of these predictions. You’ll thank me later.

New England Patriots, Malcolm Butler: Star In The Making

At this time last year Malcolm Butler was an undrafted rookie free agent fighting to make a roster spot. This year he’s the teams number one cornerback going in to the 2015 season, and by the looks of things Butler looks to be the real deal and that he could be a starting number one cornerback in the NFL.

patriots.com
patriots.com

Everyone in the world knows about his Super Bowl winning interception, but that wasn’t Butler’s only good play he made during the season. Butler saw limited action throughout the year playing behind Revis, Browner and Arrington, who are now all playing for different teams. Butler isn’t getting the job because of the departure of the other corners, he’s getting it because he’s deserved it. He’s paid his dues playing and learning behind elite company, now he gets to exhibit his skills as a number 1 corner.  This isn’t going to say that Butler is going to be an elite cornerback like a Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman, those types of guys are once in a generation type players but Butler is going to be a very good corner in the NFL. Is it possible he could work himself into being an elite corner in the NFL? Sure, but for now its premature to say.

Julian Edelman vs. Malcolm Butler.
Julian Edelman vs. Malcolm Butler.

Butler has shown his skills in both man and zone coverage and has continued to work on getting better from last year to this year and wants to be the best player he can be. He has shown good ball skills of course with his interception in the Super Bowl and as well as making great plays so far in training camp. Then one of the biggest things he has is the confidence and the swagger of a great corner. He was on top of the world after the Super Bowl by making maybe the best play in the history of the NFL, he’s shown that he wants to cover the best by covering Edelman and Gronkowski in practice and covering them well, covering Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb against the Packers in week one of the preseason and not allowing any catches, covering Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks in week two of the preseason against the Saints. He showed his speed and hit power by leveling Brandin Cooks on a wide receiver end around by following him and making the big hit after Cooks crossed the line of scrimmage. Cooks has 4.3 speed and is one of the fastest guys in the NFL and tracking him down is no easy task. After the play Butler got up got into Cooks face a little bit and just stood there with confidence and swagger.

via bostonherald.com
via bostonherald.com

He’s drawn praise from coaches and players for his work ethic, ability and his determination to get better and wanting to be a great player. He struggled the first day of doing practices this week against the Saints, he came back the next day and had a very good day of practice and then played well in the preseason game against New Orleans. He knows what it takes and wants to be the best and keep improving, if he struggles he’s going to do something about it and change it and showed the ability to bounce back from a bad performance. Butler is going to be the starting cornerback for the Patriots this season and he’s going to do a great job at it. With the more experience he gets the better he will get and maybe get into that Sherman and Revis category in a few years. For now he’s going to be the Patriots number one corner and hopefully do his job of stopping the opposing offenses number one threat. I wrote about Butler last summer going into the season and how well he performed in camp and had confidence in him being a contributor on defense, now I’m writing about Butler with him being “the guy” in the secondary and I still have all the confidence in him. Malcolm Butler is going to be a great player for the Patriots and can’t wait to see him in the regular season lined up against some of the best in the league and see how he performs.

New England Patriots: Chris Harper moving up Wide Receiver Depth Chart

With injuries tearing down the Patriots wide receiver depth chart undrafted rookie free agent Chris Harper has been working his way up the depth chart. Harper has played well so far this season not only as a receiver but also as a return man on special teams. We all know Bill Belichick loves versatility in his players and with Harper showing his ability to do multiple things on the field

via www.heraldnews.com
via http://www.heraldnews.com

Harper has been receiving a lot of snaps with injuries to Edelman, LaFell, Dobson and Tyms and so far has made the most of his opportunities. It seems very likely that Brian Tyms is going to end up on the season ending injured reserve and Brandon LaFell possibly starting the year on the physically unable to perform list and Aaron Dobson battling yet another injury the Patriots receiver depth chart would take a hit and need players to step up, and Harper could be that player. Through two preseason games Harper has tallied 12 receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown as well as averaging 10.7 yards per punt return and 23.8 yards per kickoff return.

via blog.masslive.com
via blog.masslive.com

Though it is just preseason and can never take anything into full effect Harper has gained the attention of coaches and players with his increase of snaps and production. The first preseason game third year man Josh Boyce was the main target for Jimmy Garoppolo, week two it was Harper who edged out Boyce on both offense and special teams. Boyce was not targeted at all on offense and didn’t receive any returns on special teams and I believe didn’t see a single snap in Friday’s win against the Saints. With the lack of depth the Patriots currently have at wide receiver the fact that Boyce didn’t receive a snap goes to show that New England doesn’t see him in their plans for 2015 and maybe the future. Harper seemed to have taken Boyce’s shot at the 53rd roster spot and will continue to fight for his spot over the next few weeks of practice and preseason. I would love to see Harper make the final 53 man roster with how he has played so far this preseason and wouldn’t want to risk losing him by placing him on the practice squad. I think the Patriots receiving corps should look like Edelman LaFell, Amendola, Dobson, and Harper, if all are healthy. Harper may not always be active or see a lot of playing time but keeping him on the roster would get him experience and playing time in practice as well as not risk losing him to another team by placing him on the practice squad.

Deconstructing the AFC East: The Buffalo Bills

461529290-rex-ryan-speaks-at-a-press-conference-gettyimages

The Bills are looking for their first playoff appearance since the Music City Miracle in January 2000 (Think about that for a second) and the optimism is high in Western New York. They have a coach with enough gumption and bravado in Rex Ryan that wants to return Buffalo to the Jim Kelly/Thurman Thomas/Andre Reed days. After having the 5th ranked defense last year, the Bills will move to a 3-4 and try to create a “bully”. Should the Patriots be scared?

460594164-marcell-dareus-of-the-buffalo-bills-looks-on-gettyimages

Reasons why they should be:

The Bills defensive line is a scary quartet. Mario Williams is an incredible edge defender and is a very good pass rusher (14.5 sacks in 2014), Marcel Dareus is a dominant tackle is who is just as good at rushing the passer (10 sacks) as stopping the run. Kyle Williams is quietly a dominant run defender and a leader on the team and Jerry Hughes has come into his own as one of the most dangerous edge rushers in football. Stephon Gilmore is one the best shut down corners in football. On offense, Sammy Watkins had almost a 1000 yards as a rookie with shoddy QB play and the additions of RB LeSean McCoy and TE Charles Clay has gave the Bills more weapons than they’ve had in recent years. WR Robert Woods is a competent #2 wide out and Percy Harvin is one of the most dangerous gadget players in the game. He automatically gives them a dangerous returner and is a threat every time he touches the ball. If they get at least somewhat competent QB play, they should be one of the best teams not only in the AFC East, but in football.

Reasons why they shouldn’t:

The QB play. The trio of Matt Cassell, EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor leaves a lot to be desired. Like the old adage says: if you have 2 QB’s, you have no QB’s. Well, the Bills have 3, so the adage still applies. Ryan has boasted a playbook that is 75% run. No team can survive doing that, no matter who is their running back. Even if you could do that, you have to have a great offensive line…which the Bills don’t have. With only one really good starter (LT Cordy Glenn is a stud) and an average/above average C in Eric Wood, the Bills are still trying to find the other 3 starters. They are banking on 32 year old Richie Incognito, who has been out of football for a year, to be their anchor inside (which is telling) and 5th year pro Kraig Urbik and rookie John Miller battling out for the RG spot. Seantrel Henderson and Cyrus Kouandjio are battling out for the RT spot and Henderson was one of the worst RT’s in league last year. Unless they can fix the offensive line, it won’t matter who’s at running back, quarterback or wide receiver, the team isn’t going anywhere.

It’s perplexing to change a defense that was so dominant last year, yet Buffalo has fallen for Ryan’s hubris and arrogance and is changing their defense. Their line backing corps leaves a lot to be desired. Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown will be their ILB’s and are solid, yet unspectacular. I don’t think that will be the problem more than the secondary. Aaron Williams is an average starter at SS and they moved Corey Graham, who was solid at CB to FS, which should make them competent, but who is starting opposite Gilmore? Leodis McKelvin is more of a nickel back at this point and rookie CB Ronald Darby/2nd year CB Ross Cockrell will battle for the other CB spot.

120704119-bruce-hall-of-the-buffalo-bills-runs-during-gettyimages

What does all this mean? It means that for as much optimism there is, there are so plenty of concerns. Will they get a competent QB? Will the offensive line play better? Will the defense move to a 3-4 well enough? Can the defense carry the team to the playoffs? All these are viable questions that aren’t really going to be answered until the season starts. I think that the Pats have nothing to worry about when it comes to Buffalo as long as they are unsettled at QB and Rex Ryan continues to insist that running the ball is going to be what takes them to the next level. Could it work? Sure, but technically, it didn’t work with the Jets and it’s foolish to think that the Bills can do it with a lesser team than the Jets had when Rex took them to two back to back AFC Championship games. Initially, like in New York, the players will buy in early and then his personality will start rubbing guys the wrong way. Until they can prove that they not just run the ball, but throw it consistently, they will be an 8-8/9-7 team.

Things to watch for in Patriots Preseason Opener

The Patriots start game action tomorrow in their preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers. Though it’s preseason and it isn’t very likely to see many starters playing and getting significant time, its still better than watching the Red Sox. Lets take a look at things to watch for during the Patriots preseason opener.

QUARTERBACKS

Tom Brady has been receiving all of the first team reps at quarterback before Tuesday when he was preparing for his meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell and Judge Richard Berman in an attempt to exonerate his four game suspension handed down by the league. With Brady missing yesterdays practice and being in New York today I wouldn’t expect to see Brady in the preseason opener. If Brady does not play I would expect Garoppolo play the whole first half and some of the third quarter before newly signed QB Ryan Lindley sees the field. It is important for Garoppolo to get as much playing time and experience that he can during the preseason just incase Brady ends up missing time due to his suspension. Garoppolo also knows the New England playbook with more than a year of studying under his belt, Lindley has about two days under his belt and the Patriots would likely use a lot smaller playbook focused more on the run with Lindley under center.

via boston.cbslocal.com
via boston.cbslocal.com

HEALTH

Health has been a big concern for the Patriots early in camp and it will be interesting to see who ends up playing in tomorrow’s game. The Patriots offensive line and wide receivers have been plagued the most by the injury bug with Julian Edelman, Nate Solder, Ryan Wendell, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Lafell and Matthew Slater among notable names that have missed time. LaGarrette Blount left last weeks practice with an apparent knee injury but suffered no structural damage to his knee and I wouldn’t expect to see Blount suit up against Green Bay. It will also be interesting to see if linebackers Jerod Mayo and Donta Hightower see playing time. Mayo was placed on injured reserve last season after a torn patellar tendon and Hightower an offseason shoulder surgery, have been active in training camp in both contact and non-contact drills but practiced and games are different and the Patriots could choose to hold the linebackers out or limit their playing time.

via patriots.com
via patriots.com

RICHARDS AND ROBERTS

Two guys who have been making a name for themselves so far in training camp have been second round pick Jordan Richards and seventh round pick Darryl Roberts. To be honest I didn’t like the pick of Richards in the second round, I thought he was a good player and was a good fit for the team but thought the team reached for Richards and could have taken him later in the draft and wasn’t even watching the draft in the seventh round when the team drafted Roberts. Throughout offseason mini camps and OTAs Roberts was making plays and getting strong recognition from coaches and media. Richards could only learn the teams playbook and couldn’t participate in OTAs due to Stanford’s late graduation. Once training camp kicked off, Richards made up for his lost time and Roberts continued to shine, both looking like they could be big contributors to the Patriots defense this season. Tomorrow will be the first NFL game action the two see, and though they likely wont be going against Aaron Rodgers or either of the Packers star receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, one thing I will be looking to see is how the two perform in real game action. Last year, a player I was high on during camp and had high hopes for was Malcolm Butler and wrote about it in articles at this time last year, if these guys can contribute and play as well as Butler did his rookie year and continues to do so during camp, the Patriots again may have found a few diamonds in the rough. The only reason I’m not mentioning Butler as someone to watch is I’m not sure how much playing time the Packers receivers and Rodgers will see, I’m confident in Butler against any of the backups, the real test would be him matched up against Nelson or Cobb with Rodgers at quarterback.

via chowderandchampions.com
via chowderandchampions.com

These are things that I will be watching for when the Patriots take the field tomorrow night. It’s only the preseason but Patriots football is back and that is something we can all be happy about.

New England Patriots: Players to watch heading into the Packers Game

patriots-training-camp-lg

Training Camp has begun and with it, comes the injuries. As of August 8th, 24 out of the 90 players on the roster are missing practice due to health/rehab issues. So, with that, we get to see more unknown players get more reps and show why they should wear a Patriots uniform come September. Here are some players to keep an eye on as the Packers game approaches on the 12th.

RBs Jonas Gray and Tyler Gaffney: With incumbent RB LaGarrette Blount spraining his MCL and missing Game 1 against Pittsburgh with a suspension, the backup running back position is something that really needs more attention. Gray had that 4 TD game against Indianapolis last year and did nothing else and Gaffney was hurt all last year. Seeing that James White, Dion Lewis and Travaris Cadet are battling for the “Vereen” Role, we need to figure out who can be the road grater for whomever is playing Quarterback. Both Gray and Gaffney are likely fighting for one roster spot, so this is something to look for.

TE Jake Bequette: As Bequette pretty much washed out as a defensive end, the former 3rd round pick was moved to TE this offseason and has been a pleasant surprise in camp. He’s been stretching the field and catching the ball well. With this size (6’5, 275) and quickness (4.07 shuttle and 6.90 three cone drill at his Pro Day in 2013), he could be an intriguing player to watch. Obviously, he is still a big project, but definitely someone to keep an eye on.

G/C Josh Kline: One of the biggest areas of uncertainty is at Guard. With rookies Tre Jackson and Shaq Mason starting together the other day, you still have the void left by not resigning Dan Connolly (and then his subsequent retirement). Kline is a guy who has appeared in 21 games, starting 6 starts (one in the AFC Championship against Indianapolis) since joining the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State in 2013. He has the ability to play all interior spots, and could be a surprise starter at one of the guard spots if he plays well enough. With Ryan Wendell on the PUP, Kline will see more reps and could come out ahead as a starter or top reserve.

DE/OLB Eric Martin: After bouncing around the Saints and Browns rosters in 2013 and 2014, Martin signed to the Pats Practice Squad last year. At 6’2, 250, he ran a 4.53 at his Nebraska Pro Day in 2013. He has raised some eye brows with his pass rush. He could make noise as Dane Fletcher and Chris White are on the PUP as a good special teamer/backup pass rusher. Keep an eye out on how he does with the pads on.

S Tavon Wilson and Jordan Richards: Although the attention has been on the corner back (and rightfully so), the attention needs to be on how well these two have played as of late. Both are getting a lot of playing time and surprisingly enough, Wilson has been a better player. Will he remove his borderline bust status as a 2nd rounder? We’ll see, but it’s an encouraging sign. With that being said, hearing good things about Richards makes it interesting to see if guys like Duron Harmon and Nate Ebner get put on notice with their play.

National Football League: What Is Your Team Looking For In Training Camp?

As training camps open throughout the NFL every team approaches the season with a different objective in mind. The Lombardi Trophy would be the ultimate goal for everyone, but for many teams that is unobtainable (yes, I know they all start on a level playing field…but really?) Let’s take a quick look around the NFL at last year’s haves and have-nots.

BOTTOM OF THE LADDER – 5 WINS OR LESS (2014)

JACKSONVILLE, TENNESSEE, OAKLAND, WASHINGTON, TAMPA, CHICAGO, NEW YORK JETS 

These seven teams combined for a total of just 23 wins, with Chicago (5-11) leading the pack. All seven are thin at many positions and keep searching to find the formula that will push them into contention. Training camp is more important for them as they take a look at their weaknesses and need as much time as they can get to scrutinize all the players available to take the next step.

Fans of the Jets (4 wins) and Bears will argue they are on the cusp of being a legitimate threat, possibly with a new QB, as they view their teams through “rose colored glasses” (known as the Jeff Kane perspective – Patriots Beat, 2014).  For the first time since he arrived in Chicago six years ago, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is in a vulnerable situation. Head coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace, will have him on a short leash and are under no obligation to keep Cutler beyond 2015.

Jay Cutler may be on the way out in Chicago (photo: Google Images)

Everyone in this group has serious flaws and to expect a turnaround to double-digit wins in one season is setting expectations high. Yes, off-season signings may have helped, but history tells us the odds are strong that most of them will once again bring up the rear end of their division.

The Jets have had the most improvement in talent, but are playing in a division that, with the exception of New England, has stepped up in the off-season. With a new Head Coach (Todd Bowles) and no proven QB (I’m being kind) it’s hard to see them leap frogging Buffalo and Miami, let alone the Super Bowl Champion Patriots.

MIDDLE OF THE PACK – 6 TO 9 WINS 

MIAMI, CLEVELAND, NY GIANTS, MINNESOTA, ATLANTA, CAROLINA, NEW ORLEANS, SAN FRANCISCO, ST. LOUIS, KANSAS CITY, SAN DIEGO, HOUSTON, BUFFALO

The unlucky thirteen need training camp to check who will or won’t be an asset in 2015. Many players will be “on-the-bubble” for this group. In a league that prides itself on competitive balance it’s no surprise they make up the largest percentage of teams in the NFL.

Some teams are on the way up (Houston, Miami and Buffalo???) and are looking at training camp as a chance to see improvement from veterans as well as analyze their youngsters. Others are striving to regain prominence (Kansas City, St. Louis, New Orleans, San Francisco, NY Giants, Carolina, San Diego) and are hoping their veterans are ready to bounce back, some from injuries others from off years, and will use camp to see if they have filled the holes that weren’t apparent until too late in 2014.

Is Johnny Football ready to set aside his demons and become a true NFL Quarterback? (Photo: DallasNews.com)

The remaining three (Cleveland, Atlanta, Minnesota) are working to assure they won’t drop into the bottom rung, where they have all resided in past seasons. Training camp will be used to evaluate key players and positions that could make or break their ability to move up, or, more than likely, fall further in the standings.

Looking at this group, Houston, Miami and Buffalo all look ready to step up. The strength of division/schedule will have an impact, as both Miami and Buffalo play in a dramatically improved AFC East while Houston has only the Colts to contend with in the AFC South (not sure how Indianapolis is in the south…but I digress).

The Bills have serious question marks on offense, but their defense could be the strongest in the league. One player they are looking at for a boost on offense is Charles Clay. The Bills paid Clay nearly as much as Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas hoping he can be the blocking and receiving tight end that makes Roman’s offense tick.

Playing in the exceptionally weak NFC South, where Carolina won the division with an ugly 7-8-1 record, will certainly help not only the Panthers, but also New Orleans and Atlanta.

CONTENDERS/PRETENDERS – 10 TO 14 WINS

NEW ENGLAND, PITTSBURGH, CINCINNATI, BALTIMORE, INDIANAPOLIS, DENVER, DALLAS, PHILADELPHIA, GREEN BAY, DETROIT, SEATTLE, ARIZONA

This grouping often has fewer needs and are just hope to get out of training camp without any major injuries. Odds are the next Super Bowl will be played by two of the 12 teams in this group.

New England, last year’s Super Bowl winner, looks to have more question marks then you would expect after losing many key parts from their championship team. With those holes to fill, especially in the secondary, you know teams (and fans) are chomping at the bit to step on them while they are regrouping.

Yes, the Pats could be vulnerable early, especially if QB Tom Brady is out for 4 games. but Head Coach Bill Belichick has led New England to 12 straight winning seasons, so don’t dig the grave too quickly. Commissioner Roger Goodell has just issued his decision to keep the penalty the same, so the courts will now decide if Brady’s sentence fits the supposed crime.

Teams unlikely to repeat their 2014 performance include:

The remaining eight will fight to prove their worth and use training camp to test veterans that may have reached the downside of their careers, draft picks who could step in, free agent signings and those always exciting un-drafted free agents. Training camp is a bother more than need for most of of the chosen few.

Look for the teams that have done it before, can overcome issues and have solid veteran leadership to once again step up and reach for “THE RING.”

My pre-season picks (Lord, its way too early for this to mean anything) are…drum roll please…the angry, hated, underdog New England Patriots (confession time, that pick is with my heart not brain) taking on the always tough Green Bay Packers, for the Lombardi Trophy.

Could this be the 2015 Season Super Bowl Match-Up

To read full articles from the original sources, just click on the blue highlighted portions of this article. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly mine and open for discussion.

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Brady’s Pissed, Be Ready NFL

With the whole aftermath of the “Deflategate” scandal there is only one thing that is safe to say, Tom Brady is pissed and the NFL should be worried. Brady is one of the most competitive players in the NFL and in all sports as a whole and giving him more fuel to add to the fire won’t be good for the Patriots opposing teams in 2015 and maybe even beyond.

The league is trying to tarnish Brady’s name and legacy, something he has worked hard for since coming into the NFL and even before during his college days at Michigan. Brady has set numerous records as well as four Super Bowl Championships and other accolades and accomplishments throughout his career.

via bostonherald.com
via bostonherald.com

Going into last season  Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus stated that Tom Brady was no longer a top five quarterback, which was widely viewed by people as a bit of an over statement. With the statement from Monson and after a rough first month of the season including a 41-14 blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs where the now famous words from Trent Dilfer, “The New England Patriots, lets face it there not good anymore”, you could tell Brady was determined and pissed. The next week Brady and the Patriots went on to put a beat down on the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals which set the tone for the rest of the season and made Dilfer eat his words on the way to the teams fourth Super Bowl title. No one was second-guessing Brady’s ability to continue to play at a high level and to continue to be the best quarterback in the game.

This isn’t the first time Brady has been pissed off regarding people talking about him or the Patriots. How about in 2007 when Steelers safety Anthony Smith guaranteed a victory against the Patriots. Brady heard, and made Smith amongst the rest of the Steelers look foolish. Brady scored on a rushing touchdown where he proceeded to spike the ball and chirp at Anthony Smith while doing so. Brady also was targeting Smith all game throwing at him and Smith could do nothing about it, most notably the famous Brady to Moss to Brady to Gaffney touchdown pass (one of my all-time favorite plays). Another example of if you make Brady mad you’re going to pay for it. We’ve seen Brady’s intensity and passion on the sidelines many times before and I expect him to play with that even more than usual during the 2015 season.

via nesn.com
via nesn.com

Former teammate Rodney Harrison and current teammate Julian Edelman have talked about Brady being mad about this whole situation and how the NFL is adding fuel to the fire, giving Brady more of a reason to be great and excel on the field and to show the league that he is the best quarterback to play the game and a true winner.

via zimbio.com
via zimbio.com

So once Brady’s suspension is exonerated and he is allowed to play in all 16 games of the regular season and he is going to be out to make a point and to quiet the league and its fans. Brady is going to be shattering records this year, Brady could be so mad the Patriots may not run the ball this year. LaGarrette Blount is suspended the first game of the year and it may not even matter Brady could throw the ball 50 times per game just to make a statement to the sports world. So a quick little thank you to the NFL, once this whole mess with Brady is fixed and cleared up and he is out there on opening night it wont be a pretty sight for the Steelers and every other opponent the Patriots play in 2015 and is giving Tom even more of a reason to get ring number five this season.

New England Patriots: No Panic In Patriot Nation

PANIC…HELL NO, THIS TEAM WILL BE READY

Most fans in the NFL would be concerned if their team (you mean fans don’t own the team…say it ain’t so) had half the turnover the New England Patriots have had this off-season, but not the Foxboro faithful. They know what New England has accomplished since Bill Belichick took over as Head Coach.

After going 5-11 his first year (2000 in case you forgot) they haven’t had a losing season. If you are wondering how many other teams can say they have gone 14 years without a losing record, the list is short. Zero!

Through those years this team, under his tutelage, has thrived on controversy. Heck, when he came from the Jets there was controversy. Do you remember how he wrote his resignation from the hated rivals on a piece of paper, stating simply “I resign as HC of the NYJ.” just one day after accepting the position. At that time most Pats fans didn’t welcome him with open arms!

Things haven’t calmed down since. Let’s face it, Belichick uses controversy/pressure as one of his many motivators. He loves the pressure it puts on players because he knows it will ultimately make them stronger when the chips are down. If it doesn’t happen naturally, he creates it (think Lawyer Malloy, Ty Law, Logan Mankins, etc. etc. etc.).

Anyone can see this football is/isn't deflated - right?
Anyone can see this football is/isn’t deflated – right?

Controversy over “deflate-gate” has become so big that we tend to forget that just one week earlier, Ravens’ Head Coach John Harbaugh accused the Pats of a “substitution trick” that was “clearly deception” when Baltimore lost to New England 35-31.

Forgive me my ignorance, but I thought deception was the name of the game and having a Head Coach who actually knows the rules was an advantage. Although what the Pats did was within the rules (lining up just four offensive linemen and declaring a normally eligible receiver as ineligible), non Patriot fans, which are many, jumped on the bandwagon and the word “cheaters” was once again attached to the franchise. Losers are always looking for a scapegoat and the Patriots are easy…they just win too darned much!

2015 OUTLOOK

So, as the Patriots prepare for another winning season (do you doubt it will be?) we have the usual turmoil.

  • Starting Quarterback out first four games (maybe)…relax, we have the next Tom Brady as a solid back-up.
  • Revis and Browner are gone…be calm, this year the pass rush will shine (although things sure look bad right now)
  • The middle of the DL won’t be the same without Vince Wilfork…New England will miss his leadership, but be honest, his skills have diminished.
  • No team has won consecutive Super Bowls since 2003 & 2004…oh yeah, that was the Patriots

Many media “experts” are ready to write this team off, or, at least not a legitimate Super Bowl contender, which is just what the greatest coach in NFL history wants. National Football League beware, the Patriots are once again going into a season as underdogs…and they love it.

So, relax everyone. Enjoy all the hullabaloo. The 2015 season is just around the corner and, as you know, YOUR New England Patriots will do just fine…you know “the Hoodie” has a plan

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

Rob Ninkovich: Most Underrated Player in the NFL?

Rob Ninkovich has been the model of consistency since becoming a starter in New England. With consistency and improvement every year does Ninkovich get the recognition and respect he deserves?

via nfl.com
via nfl.com

When Ninkovich became a starter at outside linebacker during his second year with the patriots he proved that he should be a starter collecting 62 tackles with 4 sacks and 2 interceptions. The next year he improved with 74 tackles, 6.5 sacks and two interceptions. Two good seasons from a prior special teams player. He was then switched to defensive end where he has really excelled. His first year at defensive end Ninkovich recorded 58 tackles with 8 sacks, a very respectable number. His next season was even more of an improvement where he recorded 91 tackles and 8 sacks. Defensive ends typically don’t record that high of an amount of tackles, which really goes to show Ninkovich’s motor as well as his versatility being able to be moved around the field. This past season Ninkovich again played well, his tackle amount decreased to 53 tackles but again collected 8 sacks, which lead the Patriots.

Ninkovich is a leader on the defense and does even more than what the numbers show. He has played the role of a QB spy against mobile quarterbacks containing the outside edge, most notably against Russell Wilson in this years Super Bowl victory where he had a clutch sack on Russell Wilson which forced Seattle to punt and New England ended up scoring the game winning touchdown the following drive.

via catchfence.com
via catchfence.com

Ninkovich is seemed to never be talked about, especially outside of New England. I’m not saying he is one of the best defensive ends in the NFL and at the elite level such as guys like JJ Watt and Robert Quinn, but he is and should be closer to the top of the league ranks than he is the bottom and one of the best defensive players the Patriots have. Ninkovich provides the Patriots to run different defensive schemes with his versatility and the effect he has to change games. In my opinion, Rob Ninkovich is THE MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER IN THE NFL. Everybody has those players that they love and think is underrated and doesn’t get the praise and respect they deserve, Rob Ninkovich is one of mine. He is a difference maker, he plays well against the run, can get after the quarterback in the pocket and force him outside the pocket, and can drop back in coverage against the pass and do all three things at a high level.

via sportswire.usatoday.com
via sportswire.usatoday.com

Like he has in years past, I expect Rob Ninkovich to have a very good 2015 season and be one of the top defenders for the Patriots.