2014 NFL Season Predictions
The 2014 NFL Season is upon us.
Remember, these are strictly predictions and have no personal reflection on your team. The beauty of sports is that they are subjective to opinions and easily debatable on paper. That’s why they play the games.
It’s worth noting that the last two Super Bowl match-ups were accurately predicted in the preseason; with the Ravens victory also being predicted in August… But enough bragging, let’s figure out how this season will go.
Here are the @NFLRT predictions for the 2014 NFL Season:
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The Patriots are going to be hard to knock off the top of the AFC East once again. As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are on the same sideline, the Patriots should be the AFC East favorites. They are still be lacking weapons for Brady, but at least Gronkowski is healthy (for now) and the stable of running backs should be compensate for the lack of a #1 wide receiver.
A division rival may be on the verge of challenging them, but the Dolphins, Jets, and Bills all appear to be at least a year away from true AFC East contention.
In the 3rd year of Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins are primed to overtake the Jets as the runner-up in the AFC East. After splurging on free agents in 2013, the Dolphins lacked continuity and the coaches were trying to figure out how to use their new toy, Mike Wallace. After the bullying scandal in 2013, this locker room should be much more cohesive and prepared to take the next step in 2014.
The Jets are one of the Boom-Or-Bust teams of 2014. If Geno Smith comes out and performs like Rex Ryan says he will, the Jets could be closer to challenging the Patriots than previously stated. If Geno Smith falters and they bench him in favor of Mike Vick, it could be 2012 for the Jets all over again.
The secondary is hanging on with band-aids, but the front seven might be so good that it won’t matter.
The Bills will go as EJ Manuel takes them. Manuel had an injury riddled rookie season where he showed flashes of what the Bills had in mind when they selected him in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but if he can’t stay on the field for 16 games, the Bills offense will struggle to find a rhythm. Sammy Watkins will help open up the entire field for EJ Manuel & CJ Spiller and the defense should be pretty stout when they adjust to the scheme changes.
The Bengals lost both of their coordinators from 2013 to head coaching jobs, but their offense could be even more explosive in 2014 with Giovani Bernard taking the lead back role. Geno Atkins returns on defense and the Bengals hope that physical-phenom Margus Hunt can help replace Michael Johnson as a pass rusher. The secondary added another 1st round pick in CB Darqueze Dennard to their crowd of former top draft picks.
Andy Dalton is the X-Factor for the Bengals. He had a great season in 2013, but collapsed in the playoff loss to the Chargers. The Bengals paid him like an elite QB, so it is time for him to take the Bengals to the next level and win a playoff game.
John Harbaugh is one of the better head coaches in the NFL, but his team is still trying to reload after their Super Bowl win. They may have found a band-aid for the vertical offense in Steve Smith, but he only has a couple seasons left and may be more of an emotional leader on the offense. Flacco needs to find that “elite” status again and lead this offense from week 1.
The Ravens were fortunate with Ray Rice’s 2-game timeout, although Rice was not very effective in 2013 (career low 3.1 YPC). If rookies C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan can contribute at a high level in 2014, the Ravens defense could be a strong unit.
Brian Hoyer is a great story and should be the opening day starter for the Browns, but the truth is, he is not as gifted as Johnny Manziel. Without Josh Gordon to throw to, Hoyer is going to be seen for the pedestrian QB that he is after the first 3 games against the Steelers, Saints, and Ravens. That’s the moment where Manziel should be named the starter and use the Bye Week to get him ready for the Titans in Week 5.
The Browns defense will be the strength of the team and keep them in games; Johnny Manziel will be the spark that actually wins them a few games.
The Steelers may be in for a tough season. The Steelers offensive line has been the problem for the past couple seasons and they have secured some above average lineman, hoping for some continuity to develop under new OL Coach Mike Munchak. Their problem in 2014 could be an uncharacteristic Steeler defense relying on a youth movement. Dick LaBeau will need to earn his paycheck this year if the Steelers are going to have any success in the AFC North.
Up Next: AFC South & AFC West