NFL Season 3/4 Mark

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WOW! It’s already fantasy football playoff time, as we are entering Week 14 of the NFL season. With only four games left, its time to see where the contenders are, and who still has a shot at making the NFL playoffs.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots (9-3)

T-2. Buffalo Bills (7-5)

T-2. Miami Dolphins (7-5)

4. New York Jets (2-10)

Since the last update, the Patriots continued to extend their lead atop the division, while the Bills and Dolphins are dueling it out for second. As for the lowly Jets, they are already looking forward to their top 5 draft pick, and their upcoming coaching search that should begin early next month. The AFC East is a pretty straightforward division, and expect Brady to add yet another division title to his resume.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1)

T-2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

T-2. Baltimore Ravens (7-5)

T-2. Cleveland Browns (7-5)

Johnny Manziel (above) may be named the Browns' starting quarterback for their late season playoff chase.

Johnny Manziel (above) may be named the Browns’ starting quarterback for their late season playoff chase.

This is the most competitive division in the NFL and continues to surprise fans around the league. It’s still possible that three teams from this division make the playoffs, while a team that could finish .500 or above could miss the postseason. Now, the Cleveland Browns are thinking of starting rookie QB Johnny Manziel in the midst of their playoff push. Could this division get any crazier? If I had to guess, I’m going to say that Cincinnati will win the division, much in part to the tie they have in their record. However, I still believe the Steelers and Ravens have a good shot at making the AFC Playoffs, while I expect to Cleveland to crumble under the pressure late in the season. This should be fun to watch.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (8-4)

2. Houston Texans (6-6)

T-3. Tennessee Titans (2-10)

T-3. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

Not much has changed with this division. The Colts are the clear favorites, the Texans are stuck in mediocrity during their new head coach’s first season, and the Titans and Jaguars are in the midst of rebuilding projects. This continues to be the most predictable division in the NFL.

AFC West

1. Denver Broncos (9-3)

2. San Diego Chargers (8-4)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)

4. Oakland Raiders (1-11)

This division has gotten tighter, as both the Chargers and Chiefs are waiting for the Broncos to stumble and take advantage of their mistakes. However, QB Peyton Manning is as steady as anyone, and will help lead his team to the postseason again. Although, the Chargers and Chiefs will definitely be battling it out for a playoff spot against the bottom three teams from the AFC North. It should be an interesting race down the stretch. Oh, and Oakland won a game. Woo.

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-3)

2. Dallas Cowboys (8-4)

T-3. New York Giants (3-9)

T-3. Washington Redskins (3-9)

The Philadelphia Eagles have shown that they are the class of this division and one of the best teams

The Philadelphia Eagles (above) are looking to secure their postseason spot in the coming weeks.

The Philadelphia Eagles (above) are looking to secure their postseason spot in the coming weeks.

in the NFL. So far, the Eagles are a perfect 3-0 in their division, with three of their last four games coming against those same division opponents. I fully expect them to be a top seed heading into the playoffs. The biggest question is how the Dallas Cowboys will respond to their Thanksgiving Day blowout at home against the aforementioned Eagles. While Dallas was a surprise for much of this season, it will be interesting to see if they are able to rebound and make a push for a Wild Card spot. The Giants and Redskins are already looking forward to the changes they will make during the off season.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (9-3)

2. Detroit Lions (8-4)

T-3. Chicago Bears (5-7)

T-3. Minnesota Vikings (5-7)

Of course, QB Aaron Rodgers has helped lead his Packers back to the top of the NFC North. However, the Detroit Lions are right on their heels, and have the makings of a playoff team. Lions’ coach Jim Caldwell has truly gotten the most out of his players, and has them in position to at least challenge the Packers. While the Bears are immensely talented on offense, QB Jay Cutler has played awfully this past month, and the defense has matched his effort. The surprise of the division may be the Vikings, who are only two games under .500 while starting rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater. The future is now for Minnesota!

NFC South

T-1. Atlanta Falcons (5-7)

T-1. New Orleans Saints (5-7)

3. Carolina Panthers (3-8-1)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10)

Currently, the winner of this division could finish the season with a record of 5-11…. 6 games under .500. Obviously, that would be a record, but it’s something I can’t imagine. While every team in this division has been disappointing, the New Orleans Saints have taken the cake, after being picked by many to pick the Super Bowl during the preseason. Both the offense and defense have looked lost this season, and yet, the Saints are still the best team in this division. The Atlanta Falcons hurt themselves too often late in games to trust them, and the Panthers and Bucs are already looking forward to adding pieces to their rosters this off season. I’d expect the Saints to take this division, but with a .500 record at 8-8.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-3)

2. Seattle Seahawks (8-4)

3. San Francisco 49ers (7-5)

4. St. Louis Rams (5-7)

The Cardinals are continuing their surprise run, but for how much longer? The entire division has gained ground on Arizona in the past month, which has seen them lose QB Carson Palmer to an ACL injury. The Seahawks’ defense is hot again, and looks as if it is coming into form just in time for the postseason. I’d definitely expect both of this teams to be in the post season. On the other hand, the 49ers are struggling with injuries, and it’s showing on the field. There are many rumors that coach Jim Harbaugh will be moving onto a different team after this season, and so far, the performance is matching the reports. At the bottom of the division, the Rams are showing why they are a team on the rise, after beating Oakland down 52-0 this past Sunday. St. Louis isn’t technically out of it yet, but this season is more about gaining experience for the upcoming seasons, when they should be good enough to make a playoff run.


It’s hard to believe that the NFL season is moving by so quickly, but there are already only four games left! Watch and enjoy as we watch the playoff picture take form during this last month of the regular season.

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NFL Season – 1/4 Way Mark

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It’s hard to believe, but the NFL regular season is already 25% complete. This is an opportune time to take a look at the standings, and see where the teams stand.

AFC East

T-1. Buffalo Bills (2-2)

T-1. Miami Dolphins (2-2)

T-1. New England Patriots (2-2)

4. New York Jets (1-3)

For now, this division is tight, but I honestly can’t expect it to stay that way for long. The Patriots are coming off of a beat-down they took Monday night against Kansas City, and I expect that they will perform much better this Sunday. That being said, the rest of the division looks awful. It’s painfully obvious that Jets QB Geno Smith is not fit to lead any NFL team, the Bills look confused on Sundays, and the Dolphins are dealing with injuries and an ever-inconsistent QB Ryan Tannehill. I’d say that my prediction of the Patriots coming out on top should stick.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)

2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)

4. Cleveland Browns (1-2)

The Bengals are one of the least talked about undefeated teams that I can remember in recent history, and coach Marvin

The Bengals (above) are undefeated so far this season

The Bengals (above) are undefeated so far this season

Lewis is showing that he’s one of the NFL’s longest tenured head coaches because he’s a model of consistency. Baltimore is also surprising me, and don’t seemed to be phased one bit by the Ray Rice saga. It’s also looking like WR Steve Smith might be the pickup of the off season, as he has totaled 429 yds. and 3 TDs thus far. On the other hand, things are looking bad in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are rattled by injuries, and are coming off a crushing defeat against the Bucs, one of the NFL’s worst teams. It will be interesting to see if they can rebound and compete in this tough division. As usual, the Browns are by themselves, at the bottom of the standings. It’s unfair to criticize them after just three games, but they will go up against much better competition the rest of the way.

AFC South

1. Houston Texans (3-1)

2. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)

3. Tennessee Titans (1-3)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

A surprise to me, and a possible bust to my predictions, the Houston Texans are the early frontrunner in this division. DE J.J. Watt should be an early-MVP candidate, after scoring multiple offensive TDs this season, on top of his outstanding defensive work. The Colts have had a couple of tough early games, but QB Andrew Luck is having an MVP-caliber season as well. I expect these teams to head in separate directions, with the Colts reeling off some wins, and the Texans slowing down their winning pace. As far as the lower half of the division, both the Titans and Jaguars are performing as expected, and both should earn Top 5 picks in the NFL Draft.

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers (3-1)

2. Denver Broncos (2-1)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)

4. Oakland Raiders (0-4)

To me, this is the most interesting division in the NFL right now. The Chargers are legitimate contenders, as they beat the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks earlier this season. QB Philip Rivers has shown that San Diego isn’t intimidated by competing with division rival Denver, and it should make for an interesting race down the stretch. The Broncos appear to be a better defensive team this season, and QB Peyton Manning should be able to lead this team back to the playoffs one way or another. The wild card of this division is the Kansas City Chiefs. Who, or what is this team? One week, they struggle, the next, they blow out QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on MNF. I can see the Chiefs contending for a Wild Card spot come playoff time. Finally, the Oakland Raiders are currently the frontrunner for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. This brings up an interesting potential storyline; will the Raiders draft Florida State QB Jameis Winston in the upcoming draft, despite recently fired coach Dennis Allen selecting QB Derek Carr in this past draft? Yes, the Raiders can already look forward to next season, as wins should be hard to come by for this group.

NFC East

T-1. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)

T-1. Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

3. New York Giants (2-2)

4. Washington Redskins (1-3)

It’s not a surprise to me, but the Philadelphia Eagles hold the division’s top spot with the Dallas Cowboys. While the two don’t face each other until later in the season, it will be interesting to see how they match up against similar foes that they shall play down the stretch. A team that could catch fire and make an interesting run would be the New York Giants, who looked like a different team against the Redskins on TNF. If QB Eli Manning can grasp the new offense, and take pressure off the defense, the Giants could make some noise in the NFC. On the other hand, the Redskins should start focusing on the off season, where it will be time to decide between QB Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins. That will be the biggest storyline in D.C. this season.

NFC North

1. Detroit Lions (3-1)

T-2. Green Bay Packers (2-2)

T-2. Chicago Bears (2-2)

T-2. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

Despite this being one of the closer races thus far, I think it’s pretty clear cut and visible who the true competitors of the division are. Even though Detroit has started hot, they have shown that they can be inconsistent in the past, and this can still be evidenced in QB Matt Stafford‘s play. This should be cause for concern, especially after QB Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to victory this past weekend, and looked fantastic doing it. Green Bay is still the class of this division. The Bears have the potential to make a run at the playoffs, but injuries and a weak defense will have them struggling to keep up. Even though Minnesota has kept up thus far, I can’t expect it to keep up. QB Teddy Bridgewater was injured this past week, and is still a rookie in the NFL playing without his best weapon in RB Adrian Peterson. The Vikings should be in contention for a Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft when the year is through.

NFC South

T-1. Atlanta Falcons (2-2)

T-1. Carolina Panthers (2-2)

T-3. New Orleans Saints (1-3)

T-3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

The biggest disappointment in the NFL this season has to be the New Orleans Saints. Many experts were predicting the Saints to win the Super Bowl, but the team currently has the NFL’s worst defense, and QB Drew Brees has looked unspectacular thus far. Meanwhile, Atlanta is showing that they aren’t a bad team when they are healthy, but still have holes on defense. Carolina still has a strong defense, but QB Cam Newton is going to struggle without targets at the wide receiver position, and that began to show against the Ravens this past week. The most predictable part of the NFC South is the Buccaneers, who despite a big comeback win against Pittsburgh on Sunday, are in last and should expect to stay there and compete for a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft as well.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)

3. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)

4. St. Louis Rams (1-2)

The Arizona Cardinals (above) have outperformed expectations thus far.

The Arizona Cardinals (above) have outperformed expectations thus far.

The surprise in the NFL season has to be the Arizona Cardinals, who are undefeated, and have been led to two wins by backup QB Drew Stanton. Boasting the NFL’s top defense thus far, the Cardinals have only allowed 45 points through 3 games. Seattle is a close second, and is coming off a big OT win versus Denver and a relaxing bye week. These two teams may be the class of the division, as the normally dominant 49ers have struggled thus far. San Francisco will need to hope that the return of LB NaVorro Bowman and a healthy TE Vernon Davis is the key to the team’s success. Another season will be spent in the cellar for the Rams, who lost QB Sam Bradford to a season-ending injury, and have suffered the effects of an under-performing defense.


Overall, my predictions look fairly accurate at the 25% mark of the season. We’ll check back in at the 50% mark to see what teams really show their true colors as the season progresses!

 

AFC Predictions

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It’s the first Sunday of the NFL Season and the first slate of games is over….

But there’s still time for some season-long AFC Predictions!

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots 11-5
  2. Miami Dolphins 9-7
  3. New York Jets 4-12
  4. Buffalo Bills 4-12

AFCYet again, I look for the New England Patriots to continue their stranglehold on this division and walk away with the AFC East crown for another season. However, the teams behind them are steadily improving, such as the Miami Dolphins, who I expect to be battling for a playoff spot. The Jets and Bills struggles’ will most likely come from their inexperience at the quarterback position.

 

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5
  2. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
  3. Baltimore Ravens 8-8
  4. Cleveland Browns 5-11

These are where my predictions vary from most. I believe the Steelers will have what it takes to rise to the top of the division this year, while most believe the Bengals will continue their run of division titles. A season of failure will have coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers very hungry for a postseason berth, and they seem primed to make a run. That being said, I still believe Cincinnati will be a playoff team, with Baltimore still struggling to get its footing after its Super Bowl. The Browns will struggle, as usual, eventually leading them to bring in QB Johnny Manziel, who will make some highlight reel plays that will give Cleveland fans hope for the future.

AFC South

  1. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
  2. Houston Texans 6-10
  3. Tennessee Titans 5-11
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

This is currently the weakest division in the NFL. The Colts should absolutely run away with this division, but that being said, I can see their weak secondary giving them a few bumps and tough losses along the way. All of the other teams in the division are in their rebuilding, and are in different stages of installing their personnel and team plans. Believe it or not, I think that the Texans are the closest to contention, and should rebound with 4 more wins than last season. The Titans and Jaguars will essentially tread water, and continue to gain experience for their young rosters in hopes of competing in the future.

AFC West

  1. Denver Broncos 13-3
  2. San Diego Chargers 10-6
  3. Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
  4. Oakland Raiders 3-13

Surprise, surprise, QB Peyton Manning will lead his team back to the playoffs… AGAIN. However, I don’t think he’ll be alone, as the much improved Chargers should be able to separate themselves from the Chiefs and Raiders. Injuries and free agent losses will really take a toll on Kansas City, and I fully expect them to take a step back this season. On the other hand, I think the Raiders will take some steps in the right direction while developing rookie QB Derek Carr. Expect the Raiders to be competitive in some surprising games, but ultimately be a team building for the future.

PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Round

Chargers vs. Colts –> 28-24, Colts

Steelers vs. Bengals –> 24-21, Steelers

QB Andrew Luck is a rising star in this league, and has some experience in the playoffs. I fully expect that to serve him well, and to beat the Chargers at home. On the other hand, I can see QB Ben Roethlisberger taking Pittsburgh on the road, and squeaking out a victory against the Bengals.

Divisional Round

Steelers vs. Broncos –> 30-24, Broncos

Colts vs. Patriots –> 35-30, Patriots

Denver will enjoy their week off, and come back to tear up the Pittsburgh secondary, and secure their spot in the AFC Championship game. For the Colts, I believe their season will come to an end, once again, at the hands of QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Isn’t Luck’s career starting eerily similar to P. Manning’s in the way that he struggles against the Patriots in the playoffs? Either way, I believe it comes down to a repeat of last year’ AFC Championship.

NFC Championship Game

Patriots vs. Broncos –> 35-24, Patriots

I know that the Broncos got much better on the defensive side of the ball, but so did the Patriots. I couldn’t see coach Bill Belichick getting back to this game and scenario and letting him slip by again. I fully expect New England to make the necessary adjustments, and make their way back to the Super Bowl.