Guess what time it is? That’s right, NFL football is finally back, and I couldn’t be more excited.
This might finally be the time the hit-or-miss teams hit their mark. The Vikings, Dolphins, Bills, Rams, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Falcons, and Giants could all be teams to worry about this year.
Everybody knows the perennial teams in the league. Those teams will remain at the top (the Colts, Patriots, Broncos, Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, Packers, Seahawks, Eagles and Cowboys.)
But who will actually be the playoff teams, and who is going to be the coveted Super Bowl L champion? I don’t know, and neither do you. If either of us did, we would be heading to Vegas instead of reading this column. But since we don’t, I am going to predict the champion along with all of the playoff contenders.
One seed: Indianapolis Colts-13-3
The toughest stretch for the Colts is weeks six through 10. In that span the Colts play the Patriots, Saints, Broncos and Panthers. The upside to that stretch of tough opponents is the that three of the four games are at home. The Colts will come out of that 2-2.
Two seed: New England Patriots- 12-4
The AFC east has to be the scariest defensive division in football. The Bills front seven with Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus and Rex Ryan being the new coach, who is a defense first coach, the Dolphins and Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon thrashing the middle and outside of the defense and you can’t forget about the Jets and that compelling young group of interior defensive lineman.
Three seed: Cincinnati Bengals- 11-5
I have never been a big fan of the Andy Dalton. The Bengals play in four primetime games, and given Dalton’s track record in primetime games previous, they are going to lose three of those four. The Bengals have way too much talent to now win the division, but it will be tough with both the Ravens and the Steelers in their way.
Four seed: Kansas City Chiefs- 11-5
Alex Smith finally has some weapons around him besides Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs don’t have an easy schedule, having to play the Packers, Vikings, Bills, and Bengals to name a few. Smith and the Chiefs finally get over the Broncos and win the division.
Five seed: Denver Broncos- 11-5
KC wins the tiebreaker by having a better division record. Two years ago, the scariest part of the Broncos was their offense. Now teams have to worry more about the defense, with DeMarcus Ware and a healthy Von Miller. The Broncos offense is what keeps this team from winning the division. I foresee this being Peyton Manning’s final year in the NFL.
Six seed: Buffalo Bills- 10-6
This spot is a toss-up. You could pick the Dolphins, Steelers, Ravens, Chargers or even the Texans. But the Bills have all of the pieces in place to beat the Patriots at least once this year, and they have the defense to match Rex Ryan’s normal game plan of tough defense and a ground-and-pound run game. This team has my eye this season
One seed: Seattle Seahawks- 13-3
The one weakness to this team in the O-line. The rest of the team could be considered the top at their respective position. Russell Wilson, “Beast Mode”, Jimmy Graham, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor (if he plays,) are all going to put this team into the NFC championship and possibly another Super Bowl berth.
Two seed: Philadelphia Eagles- 12-4
If Sam Bradford can stay healthy, then this team can compete for a Super Bowl berth as well. The second best O-line in the NFL, with last season’s league leading rusher in the backfield and a QB who has shown he can be a starter if his knees can stay under him, is a great formula for success. And you can forget the fact that Chip Kelly has one of the trickiest offenses in the NFL behind only Bill Belichick.
Three Seed: Green Bay Packers- 12-4
I could say that the Packers are going to fall because they don’t have anybody for Rodgers to throw to. But, I am not. Rodgers is the best QB in the league right now and he will make all of the throws to whomever he wants. This team will compete for a super bowl berth every year as long as Rodgers is at the helm.
Four seed: Atlanta Falcons 10-6
Matt Ryan finally gets back to the Playoffs. A new defensive-minded head coach, with a crafty offensive coordinator makes this the year for “Matty Ice” to be great. Run first with play action will make use of Ryan’s big arm and his speedy deep threat in Julio Jones. You can make a case for the Panthers here, but with no offensive line, no wide receivers, and a QB whose leadership skills have been questioned of late, that doesn’t make for a good mix
Five seed: Minnesota Vikings- 10-6
The return of Adrian Peterson is here. Teddy Bridgewater is a stud at QB. And now he finally can hand the ball off to somebody who will make the opposing defenses plan against him. Plus, Mike Zimmer helped the make the Bengals defense top-notch, and Norv Turner is responsible for kick-starting Phillip Rivers’ career.
Six seed: Dallas Cowboys- 10-6
This team falters from the top for two reasons, the Boys’ lost DeMarco Murray and two, their division rivals picked him up. Romo was good last year because he could hand the ball off and the attention was off of him. This year, it’s all on you Tony.
To finish this off quickly...
Wild Card weekend
Bengals vs. Bills - Bills win and Dalton is gone at the end of the season.
Chiefs vs. Broncos - Chiefs win and Manning retires.
Packers vs. Cowboys - Cowboys win and this time Dez Bryant makes the catch.
Falcons vs. Vikings - Vikings win, AP tears up the Falcons defense
Colts vs. Bills- Luck and Co. win on a game-winning fourth quarter drive
Patriots vs. Chiefs- Brady wins, with a chip on his shoulder
Seahawks vs. Cowboys- Seahawks, Graham is unstoppable by this point
Eagles vs. Vikings- Eagles soar
Colts vs. Patriots- Colts finally get over their demons
Seahawks vs. Eagles- Eagles win with a HEALTHY Bradford
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts
Eagles get their first Super Bowl win in franchise history.