Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2014 Playoff Predictions: Super Bowl

Broncos over 49ers: The Denver Broncos offense, especially the passing game, is the best in the National Football League. Peyton Manning can choose between receivers Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker, so no matter who San Francisco decides to double team, Manning will be able to find the open man. The running back tandem of Knowshon Moreno and rookie Montee Ball should be able to improve the running game, which once led the league in rushing back when Tim Tebow was still quarterback. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a talented quarterback who will create problems for the Denver Broncos defense. If the Broncos defense decides to focus on defending the pass, John Harbaugh will immediately switch to running the ball with his trio of running backs. The defensive edge is awarded to San Francisco, but the Broncos defense is above-average, especially when outside linebacker Von Miller is in the starting lineup. Even with their excellent defense, San Francisco will be overwhelmed by Peyton Manning and his receivers. We predict the Broncos to win 30-27, where quarterback Peyton Manning wins his second Super Bowl MVP.

Monday, September 9, 2013

2013 NFL Award Predictions

Most Valuable Player: QB Peyton Manning: Peyton Manning's performance against the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday perfectly showed how lethal the Denver Broncos offense has become. Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker are bound to be Manning's favorite targets, and we predict Peyton Manning to throw for more than 50 touchdowns this year, breaking Tom Brady's record.

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Peyton Manning: If Manning is able to break Tom Brady's record of 50 passing touchdowns, he is a shoe-in for both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. The Broncos offense was able to score 7 passing touchdowns against the Ravens defense, so imagine what they will do against a team like Jacksonville...

Defensive Player of the Year: DE JJ Watt: With the return of cornerback Darrelle Revis, the fight for Defensive Player of the Year will only become more competitive, but we see JJ "Swatt" winning this award for the second consecutive season. Watt was a sack away from breaking Michael Strahan's single season sack record in 2012, and even though we do not see Watt breaking the record in 2013, Watt's dominating campaign will win him this award once again.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Eddie Lacy: Eddie Lacy is a thick, physical running back who will be used to take some pressure off of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. We predict Lacy's main competition to be Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin for this award, but in the end, Lacy will be the 31st running back to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Ezekiel Ansah: Despite having just three years of experience playing football since he left Ghana, Ansah has too much raw talent to be sitting on the sidelines as a rookie. In his first preseason game, Ansah picked off Mark Sanchez and returned it for a touchdown. Big things are clearly in store for Ezekiel Ansah.

Coach of the Year: Sean Payton: The Saints have already taken down Atlanta in Week 1 of the 2013, so Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints are off to a great start. Brees is likely to surpass 5,000 yards yet again, especially if tight end Jimmy Graham is able to stay healthy. If the defense improves slightly, Sean Payton is a shoe-in for this award.

Comeback Player of the Year: CB Darrelle Revis: Despite all this talk about Richard Sherman being the best cornerback in the league, Revis remains the most dominant at the position. His new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ranked dead last in pass defense last season, so this organization is building the defense around their newly acquired cornerback. He will not disappointment. 

2014 Playoff Predictions: Championship Round

Broncos over Patriots: The loss of Von Miller for six games is bound to negatively impact Denver's defense, but when he returns later in the year, the Broncos defense will improve by a decent margin. The Broncos offense is led by quarterback Peyton Manning, as he is surrounded by an abundance of extraordinary talent. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will also have key players returning from injuries: Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. As of right now, the Patriots are in serious trouble on offense due to their weak receiving corp. In yet another Peyton Manning-Tom Brady showdown, we predict Denver to win at home in a dominant fashion.

49ers over Seahawks: If this game was being played in Seattle, the Seahawks would be clear favorites to win; however, we predict the San Francisco 49ers to advance to their second consecutive Super Bowl as they beat Seattle at home. The 49ers offense consists of star weapons such as Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, and Anquan Boldin. The running game is one of the best in the league, while Colin Kaepernick is a dual threat passer. Both defenses are feared throughout the league, especially the front seven on either team. Seattle's offense is not at the same level as San Francisco, but quarterback Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are both All-Pro material. This rivalry is becoming more and more heated, and a win for San Francisco in the NFC Championship game will only add fuel to the fire.

Update: We were correct about all four of the teams to make the Championship Round of the 2014 NFL Playoffs. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2014 Playoff Predictions: Divisional Round

Broncos over Bengals: The Denver Broncos offense looked unstoppable against a very respectable Baltimore Ravens defense in Week 1. Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker make up the best receiving corp in the league, and we predict Peyton manning to throw for more than 50 touchdowns in 2013. The Bengals defense is very talented, but their inexperience makes Denver the favorite to win. 

Patriots over Texans: Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola are both expected to be in the starting lineup by October, so Tom Brady will finally have the receivers he needs to win. New England's running game also looks relatively strong with Steven Ridley, Shane Vereen, and Legarrette Blount. The Houston Texans are knocked out of the divisional round for the third straight year.

49ers over Saints: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has proven he can not only run with the football, but has also found success through the air. Kaepernick dominated the Green Bay Packers in his Week 1 matchup, and the defense fared well against former MVP Aaron Rodgers. The New Orleans Saints defense will be the Achilles heal in this matchup.

Seahawks over Falcons: With Percy Harvin back in the starting lineup, Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch will pick apart Atlanta's defense. The Atlanta Falcons offense is extremely difficult to defend, but Seattle is able to get the job done.

Update: 5 out of the 8 teams that we predicted to play in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs actually made it to the Divisional Round

Saturday, September 7, 2013

2014 Playoff Predictions: Wild Card

Patriots over Chiefs: The Patriots may be lacking talented wide receivers, but Tom Brady is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in playoff history. By the time the playoffs roll around, tight end Rob Gronkowski will hopefully be healthy, and Brady will have adjusted to his young receiving corp. The Chiefs may be talented, but not talented enough to beat the Patriots on the road.

Bengals over Ravens: Both Baltimore's offense and defense looked awful in the second half of their season opener against Denver. Joe Flacco is lacking weapons at wide receiver thanks to the loss of Anquan Boldin and tight end Dennis Pitta. The defense forfeited 7 passing touchdowns against Denver in Week 1, while Cincinnati is the most underrated team in the league.

Saints over Packers: The return of Sean Payton will propel New Orleans back into playoff contention. We predict quarterback Drew Brees to surpass 5,000 passing yards for the fourth time in his career, while the Saints defense is likely to improve under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers improved their running game with rookie Eddie Lacy, but New Orleans leaves Green Bay with the win in a close match.

Seahawks over Cowboys: By this point in the year, wide receiver Percy Harvin will have been fully healed from his injury, and the Seahawks offense will only become more lethal. Defensively, Seattle has one of the best pass rushing groups in the league. Dallas does not stand a chance.

Update: 8 out of the 12 teams that we predicted to make the playoffs actually made it to the postseason. The teams that we were wrong about were the Texans, Falcons, Cowboys, and Ravens

Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 Season Opener: Ravens @ Broncos

     The wait is now over. Tonight, the reigning Super Bowl Champions will take on one of the greatest quarterbacks in football history to kickoff the 2013 season. The Baltimore Ravens, last year's Super Bowl champions, are traveling to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. In the 2012 playoffs, the Ravens upset Denver in overtime, and as we know, the Ravens went on to win Super Bowl XLVII. Baltimore lost several key players in the offseason, including Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, and Anquan Boldin. Quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice make up the core of this offense, while the defense still has an abundance of talent capable of dominating the league. Peyton Manning of the Broncos gained yet another offensive weapon in the offseason: slot receiver Wes Welker. Yet this defense will be missing two pass rushers that found extraordinary success in 2012. Linebacker Von Miller was suspended for six games at the start of the season, while defensive end Elvis Dumervil left to play for Baltimore after a contract error. The Ravens offense may have lost a key offensive weapon in Anquan Boldin, but Joe Flacco will have plenty of time in the pocket with both Miller and Dumervil gone. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning will have to face the Ravens defense, and will struggle to consistently put points on the board.
Prediction: Ravens over Broncos 27-24

2014 NFL Predictions (NFC)

1. San Francisco 49ers (13-3): With Colin Kaepernick leading the way, this offense is one of the best in the league, especially running the ball. The many big names on defense makes San Francisco the most well-rounded team in football.

2. Atlanta Falcons (12-4): Despite their highly competitive division, the Atlanta Falcons receiving corp gives Matt Ryan an abundance of options when passing the ball. Newly acquired Steven Jackson is an excellent running back, but he also gives Ryan an extra receiver out of the backfield. Atlanta repeats as the NFC South champions.

3. Green Bay Packers (12-4): Acquiring running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin through the draft drastically improves the Packers running game. The receiving corp will remain strong even though Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are gone, and Aaron Rodgers is still the most reliable quarterback in the game.

4. Dallas Cowboys (9-7): The Cowboys??? Sure the Washington Redskins have a young, capable team, but we believe the Cowboys have all the tools needed to win the NFC East. Wide receivers Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten give quarterback Tony Romo plenty of options on offense. A new look on defense may be Dallas' key to success.

5. Seattle Seahawks (12-4): The Seahawks defense, statistically speaking, was the best in the league in 2012, and Seattle will likely remain dominant on the defensive side of the ball in 2013 thanks to an enhanced defensive line. Quarterback Russell Wilson was excellent as a rookie later in the season, but the offense looks almost identical to the one seen in 2012.

6. New Orleans Saints (10-6): Drew Brees and the Saints offense are clearly going to improve now that head coach Sean Payton returns from his suspension. The main problem for New Orleans will be on defense, a unit that ranked dead last in total defense last season.

Update: Correct regarding 4 out of the 6 NFC teams to make the playoffs

Sunday, September 1, 2013

2013 Heisman Prediction: Tajh Boyd

     Last night, football regained control of our TV screens for the first time since Alabama whooped Notre Dame in the National Title game. Saturday's biggest game of course featured two teams with very different football backgrounds; 5th ranked Georgia of the SEC and 8th ranked Clemson of the ACC. The game featured two high flying offenses, but in the end, Clemson's quarterback Tajh Boyd was able to overpower Georgia's defense, as Clemson upset the Bulldogs 38-35. Tajh Boyd is familiar with the spotlight, as he led his offense past LSU in last year's Chick-Fil-a Bowl. Boyd is extremely talented, with a strong, accurate arm, and the ability to make big plays with his feet. For this reason, we believe Tajh Boyd will take home the Heisman Trophy in 2013.

     Four minutes into the third quarter in last night's game against Georgia, Tajh Boyd faked the handoff to running back Roderick McDowell, hesitated, and then unleashed a 31-yard pass to wide receiver Zac Brooks. Brooks was draped by a Georgia defender, yet Boyd was able to place the ball where only his receiver could catch it. Once the ball landed in Brooks' hands, he was immediately tackled by the opposing cornerback in the end zone for the touchdown, which gave Clemson a 28-21 lead. This touchdown pass was just one of three for Tajh Boyd in last night's game, with an additional two touchdowns on the ground. His performance against Georgia perfectly reflects the skill-set in which Boyd possesses. Yes, Boyd is capable of running the ball, but unlike quarterbacks such as Marcus Mariota and Braxton Miller, Boyd is a pass-first type of quarterback. The accuracy on the deep throws is extremely inconsistent, but last night's game, especially Boyd's touchdown pass to Zac Brooks, is a posotive sign that Boyd has improved on the deep throws.

     In 2012, Tajh Boyd led his team to an 11-2 record, where both losses came against Top 25 teams (Florida State, South Carolina). By year's end, Boyd passed for 3,896 yards, 36 touchdowns, and just 13 interceptions. His passer rating of 165.6 ranked fourth in the nation last year behind pocket passers AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, and David Fales. Unlike the three I just listed, Tajh Boyd is more than capable of running the ball, especially in the red zone. Boyd's 10 rushing touchdowns last season ranked 11th in the nation among quarterbacks, while he also ran for 514 yards on the ground. Clemson finished second in the ACC Atlantic, and faced off against LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. After beating LSU on a last second field goal, Tajh Boyd was named MVP, passing for 346 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

     Clemson's offense lost wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who left for the draft, but Boyd still has one of the best wide receivers in the nation, Sammy Watkins. Watkins is a deep threat with extraordinary speed, and this duo is more than likely to succeed if both players are able to stay on the field. Clemson's schedule in 2013 features games against division rival Florida State, as well as SEC powerhouse South Carolina in the last game of the season. Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Tigers are off to a great start, and Clemson playing for the National Title no longer seems so far fetched with Boyd leading the way. If Boyd is able to lead Clemson to one of the major BCS Bowls, we see Tajh Boyd being named the winner of the Heisman Trophy in 2013.