Before the 2014-2015 NFL season officially kicks off on September 4, it’s time to do a complete preview of what’s bound to go down this year. The so-called experts have already made their predictions for this year’s division winners and Super Bowl champions, and now it’s our turn.
Read on for some pretty-well-educated picks on which teams and players will come out on top this season, and don’t miss our list of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL. Happy football, everyone.[sc:Football ]
2014-2015 NFL Season Preview and Predictions
Let’s start by going division by division. The four teams in each group are arranged from division winner (1) to last-placed team (4). Click on the names of each team to view their individual 2014 team preview
[sc:NFL240banner ]Even with a ton of injuries and Tom Brady far from his best last season, the Pats still won the division comfortably. With Revis Island set to improve the defense this year, New England is still the team to beat.
Geno Smith, whom we’ve tabbed as one of the possible breakout stars this season, leads the Jets to the second Wild Card spot. The Dolphins sink just below .500, while the Bills go way under their 6.5 wins total without Mike Pettine leading the defense.
The NFC East could be the worst division in the NFL in 2014-2015. Chip Kelly’s offense has more than enough firepower to lift the Eagles, who are EVEN odds to claim consecutive division titles, to the top of the bunch.
It’s all downhill after Philly, though. The Giants, Redskins and Cowboys all have huge question marks around their teams, ones they won’t answer this season. Eli Manning has another uneven season for the Giants under a new offensive scheme, while the defenses of Washington and Dallas take away whatever RG3 or Tony Romo can produce for them, respectively.
The Ravens will make up for their terrible title defense last year by reclaiming the AFC North. Baltimore, +250 to win the division, and its revamped defense, fends off the challenge of the two favorites, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The Steelers, though, still return to the postseason via the Wild Card at the expense of the Bengals.
And over in Cleveland, the Browns eventually turn to Johnny Manziel at quarterback, but the rookie won’t be able to pull them from the bottom of the division.
The Packers inexplicably still won the division despite Aaron Rodgers missing almost half the year in 2013. With the best QB in the NFL back healthy and priced at +500 to lead the league in passing yards, Green Bay once again captures the NFC North. However, they’ll be pushed all the way by the Bears, who get the second NFC Wild Card as consolation.
The Lions don’t progress with new head coach Jim Caldwell, ditto the Vikings with Mike Zimmer.
As long as Andrew Luck remains upright, the Colts are not losing the AFC South. Luck is just so good and the competition is just so bad that Indy’s division crown looks safe this season. The Texans, with help from No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, won’t be the worst team in the division (or in the NFL, for that matter) this year and have a good shot to go over their 7.5 win total. Either the Titans or Jaguars could find themselves taking Houston’s place at the bottom of the league standings.
The defending divisional champion Panthers lost a host of key players in free agency, which makes defending their NFC South title highly improbable. That should open the door for Drew Brees and the explosive Saints offense to once again be the class of the division.
But the Falcons could be right there challenging New Orleans now that Matt Ryan has receivers Julio Jones (+500 for most receiving yards) and Roddy White back healthy. The Buccaneers improve in their first year under Lovie Smith, but not enough to lift them from last place.
According to the odds, there is no bigger lock to win its division this year than Denver, who are a massive -400 to rule the AFC West. It’s hard to argue with that price, what with reigning-MVP Peyton Manning set to be backed up by a much-improved defense.
The Chargers and Chiefs, who were both playoff teams a year ago, experience a regression this time around and fall further away from the Broncos. The Raiders have been regressing for the better part of a decade, and will be cellar-dwellers yet again.
The Seahawks won’t have an easy road toward defending their Super Bowl crown, but they will defend their NFC West title ahead of the 49ers. For the second year running, San Fran will have to settle for the first Wild Card place. The Cardinals go over their 7.5 win total, but don’t even sniff the postseason by virtue of their punishing division. Finally, Sam Bradford’s injury ended the once-promising Rams’ season before it even started.
Super Bowl Champions – Denver Broncos
It’s highly unlikely that the Denver Broncos break all the offensive records they set just last year. Even the great Peyton Manning can’t (or at least shouldn’t) be able to replicate all-time great seasons two years in a row. But he and the Broncos can afford to experience some regression on the offensive end, especially if the Broncos defense improves like it’s expected to after some key free agent signings.
With a more complete team, coupled with the lack of truly formidable contenders apart from the Patriots in the AFC, this is the year the Broncos, +600 favorites to win the Super Bowl, finally grab the big prize.
Regular Season MVP – Andrew Luck
The Colts’ Andrew Luck is poised for an MVP-caliber year. Now in Year 3, Luck will have three very good wide receiving targets in T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks, as well as tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.
Luck should have the numbers to be in contention; he’s averaged around 4,000 and 23 TDs in his first two seasons in the NFL. And after guiding the Colts to consecutive 11-win seasons, he’ll also be facing what should be the easiest schedule in the league.
Although we have Luck at just No. 3 in terms of the top five quarterbacks this season, a monster year could very easily vault him into the No. 1 player in the NFL.
You can predict what’s going to happen in football just as well as we can. Create a betting account today and finalize your NFL futures picks head of the new season.[sc:NFL490Banner ]
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