Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 NFC Playoff Seeding Predictions

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3): The Packers are basically a lock for winning the NFC North for the fifth straight year due to a lack of competition within their division. Green Bay suffered no major losses in the offseason and managed to re-sign receiver Randall Cobb to create a solid receiving corp for Aaron Rodgers. And even though the Packers must play all four NFC West teams this year, the game against the mighty Seahawks will be in Lambeau.
2. Seattle Seahawks (12-4): After appearing in the past two Super Bowls, the Seahawks are poised for a return to the Big Game in 2016. Quite possible the weakest part of Seattle's depth chart was its receiving corp, but by trading for All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, dual threat quarterback Russell Wilson will lead one of the most productive offenses in the league. The Legion of Boom lost cornerback Byron Maxwell to free agency, but the core of this legendary secondary remains intact. The Seahawks are bound to earn a first round bye for the third year in a row.

3. Carolina Panthers (10-6): Cam Newton suffered career lows in almost every single major statistical category last season after losing receiver Steve Smith. The receiving corp has some great young talent lead by second year player Kelvin Benjamin, along with rookie Devin Funchess. Meanwhile, Carolina's defense is still very solid, especially with the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly being one of the league's best players. The race for the NFC South title last year was more or less a pillow fight, but expect the Panthers to see a lot more difficult competition next season as they look for a third straight division title.
4. Dallas Cowboys (10-6): The loss of DeMarco Murray to the division rival Eagles could be detrimental to the Cowboys next season, especially with such a massive hole now at the running back position. Murray's incredible season with the help of the NFL's best offensive line took plenty of pressure off of quarterback Tony Romo and the rest of Dallas' offense. Moreover, a successful running game gave the defense more time to rest off the field, so it will be interesting to see if the Cowboys can continue to remain relatively solid on defense without Murray.

5. Arizona Cardinals (11-5): Hopefully, Arizona's defense will still be able to find success as last year's defensive coordinator leaves for the head coaching job in New York. Bruce Arians is one of the best head coaches in football, and if quarterback Carson Palmer is able to stay healthy, the Cardinals will have yet another chance to dethrone the Seahawks from atop the NFC West.

6. New York Giants (9-7): Second year wide receiver Odell Beckham appears to be one of the most talented young players in recent memory, and with Victor Cruz returning from a season-ending injury, as well as the addition of running back Shane Vereen, New York's passing game has the potential to be lethal in 2015. New York's pass rush lacks the same talent seen by the two Championship winning teams of the past, so it will be interesting to see if Eli Manning can succeed with more pressure on the offensive side of the ball.

Tom Brady Loses Appeal, Goodell Will Keep Suspension at Four Games

Earlier today, the NFL announced that Tom Brady's supension will be kept at four games for the star quarterback's supposed involvement in the saga known as "Deflategate." The major breakthrough that accompanied the announcement was that on March 6th, the day that Tom Brady interviewed with Ted Wells, the quarterback asked an assistant to destroy a cellphone that he had been using since November of 2014. The NFL simply viewed Brady's unwillingness to cooperate with the investigation as an ongoing pattern.
Meanwhile, Brady's attornee Don Yee quickly released a statement of his own: "The commissioner's decision is deeply disappointing, but not suprising because the appeal process was thoroughly lacking in procedural fairness. Most importantly, neither Tom nor the Patriots did anything wrong. And the NFL has no evidence that anything inappropriate occured. The appeal process was a sham, resulting in the Commissioner in the Commissioner rubber-stamping his own decision." Don Yee went on to complain that the NFL gave Brady and his team just several days to prepare for a four hour argument in juxtaposition to the roughly 100 days that the NFL had to prepare. Moreover, Brady's team points to the third party's that sided with the Patriots, whereas the the information collected by the NFL's investigation is deemed "junk" by Yee. Lastly, Yee argues that the team presented Goodell with all kinds of electronic data, even though this data was eventually "ignored."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015 AFC Playoff Seeding Predictions

1. Indianapolis Colts (13-3): The Colts had one of the busiest offseasons of any team in the league, adding plenty of talented veterans such as receiver Andre Johnson, running back Frank Gore, safety Mike Adams, and outside linebacker Trent Cole. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck enters his fourth season, where over the past three years, his completion percentage, touchdown percentage, and passer rating have all increased. Next year, don't be surprised if Luck is able to snatch the Most Valuable Player Award away from Aaron Rodgers.

2. New England Patriots (12-4): While the New England Patriots are almost guaranteed to earn a spot in the playoffs next season, their exact seeding depends on how many games Tom Brady will be able to play in 2015 due to his suspension. The Patriots certainly lost plenty of talented players this past offseason--Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork, Shane Vereen--but if there is any coach in the league capable of creating a Championship caliber team with a reduced amount of talent, it is six time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick. Moreover, Tom Brady seems to play his best when the critics and doubters are at their absolute loudest.

3. Denver Broncos (11-5): After suffering a torn right quadriceps, posting a passer rating of 76.8 in the month of December, and having his team lose in their first playoff game, Peyton Manning appears to be nearing the end of his career (or so they say). The truth is, Manning likely has one or two more years left to compete for a Super Bowl, and taking into account Manning's age and the loss of Eric Decker and Julius Thomas the past two seasons, Denver will likely need to rely more on running back CJ Anderson. Anderson became the starter for the Broncos in the final few weeks, and in games where the he had twenty or more attempts, the Broncos went 4-0. A reduced workload for Manning may result in another division title for Manning and the Broncos, but the Chargers are certainly talented enough to regain control of the division.

4. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): The Ravens passing game took a pretty sizable hit this past offseason by losing receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Thus, more pressure will be put on "Cool Joe" Flacco offensively, as well as running back Justin Forsett, one of last year's breakout stars. Meanwhile, Baltimore's defense ranked sixth last season in terms of points allowed, fourth in rushing yards allowed, but just 23rd in passing yards allowed. Hopefully, the signing of cornerback Kyle Arrington will be able to help Baltimore's pass defense.

5. San Diego Chargers (11-5): The San Diego Chargers easily have the talent necessary to dethrone the broncos from atop the AFC West. First, quarterback Phillip Rivers is entering the last year of his contract, and will be looking to produce the same numbers he had at the start of the 2014 season. Second, the additions of rookie running back Melvin Gordon through the draft and wide receiver Jacoby Jones through free agency will add versatility to this offense that was not present last season. Don't be surprised if the Chargers make a run at one of the higher seeds in the playoffs this postseason.

6. Buffalo Bills (10-6): The Buffalo Bills are most definitely going to be a hit or miss team in 2015 with new head coach Rex Ryan at the helm. This Bills team is a slightly better version of the New York Jets team that went 4-12 last season: solid running game, talented defensive line, but no quarterback. The Bills managed to acquire All-Pro caliber running back LeSean McCoy who can hopefully take some pressure off of quarterbacks Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel.

Teams On the Bubble
Cincinnati Bengals: Have made the playoffs for four straight seasons, but the organization's confidence in quarterback Andy Dalton is beginning to fade

New York Jets: A great defensive line become even better with rookie Leonard Williams and a new head coach. But one can not put too much confidence in Geno Smith

Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben is now one year older, and the rookies that Pittsburgh drafted are unlikely to improve a relatively weak secondary.