Ok, so I wrote a little bit on every team, and now I’ve run out of small banter to lead off these season preview pieces, so lets get on with it.
Houston – While I don’t think they win the division, they will get in the dance and I believe they’ll be a threat once they get there. They haven’t been tested, and in the last 8 or 9 years its the teams who are tested that win the Super Bowl. So this could be a good thing for the Texans.
Cincinnati – I feel like these are 2 easy picks, but every year nearly half of the playoff teams didn’t make it in the previous year. Bengals fans will not accept another one and done though. The wildcard will be fine I’m sure, but once they’re in they had better start showing progress.
Atlanta – VERY similar to the Texans. Being tested in the regular season could be huge for this team. I really believe that one of those 2 teams is going to the Super Bowl. In fact, I will be picking one of them to go to the Super Bowl….maybe even win it. I do believe this team took a big step into the elite of the NFL last season.
St.Louis – This was TOUGH to pick. Tampa, Detroit, Washington, Seattle, Dallas, Minny, it will be a dog fight for this spot in my opinion. Of course injuries will happen, and things will go wrong for a few teams early that will leave them disheartened like what I believe happened with Detroit last season. I’m a big fan of what Jeff Fisher is doing in St.Louis and believe they make the jump this season.
AFC Championship game
New England at Denver – It is just so tough to pick against these 2 teams. I do love the Ravens this season more than most, but I feel like they bow out. Indy is just too young. Same with the Bengals. And I just do not like Matt Schaub to take the Texans anywhere. That leaves Tom and Peyton….one last time in the AFC title game. We got robbed of it last year (although we got a great story that everyone got sick of), but we will get it this year with a little Wes Welker sub plot. Love it! Should be a great game if both teams are healthy, and either could win if that’s the case but I have to go with the home field advantage.
NFC Championship game
Atlanta at Green Bay – I thought hard about the 49ers, but I just feel like Kaepernick is going to take a bit of a step back this season and that it is just so damn tough to go back to the Super Bowl these days, so they get bounced at home in divisional round, perhaps by the Falcons who probably should have beat them last year in the championship game. Meanwhile the Packers are coming into the season a bit under the radar but if Eddie Lacy can stay healthy and they get him established that will be a HUGE addition come January. Remember, when they won in 2010 RB James Starks stepping up was a very vital piece to the puzzle. However, I just like the Falcons to be this year’s Ravens, Giants, Packers, etc, etc.
Denver vs Atlanta – This one will be a shootout. 2 high flying offenses in a dom….oh wait, its in New York in what is expected to be brutal weather. Let’s hope that isn’t the case. This would have the makings of a classic Super Bowl, not to mention it is the rematch of Super Bowl 33…check that, XXXIII. If this is a regular season game in Denver OR Atlanta, I’m picking the Broncos. And I LOVE Peyton Manning, always been a huge fan of his. But we have seen just too many times him try to do too much in big games and it coming back to bite him. Again, I feel like the Falcons are just going to be that team which nobody is expecting to do much to start the season and will be that sleeping giant going into the playoffs, and Matt Ryan is the latest QB to make the jump from great to elite.
Andrew Luck – Last year I took Tony Romo….ugh….seriously I actually did that. I need to make up for that. But I still love going off the board a little bit and Andrew Luck is a little off the board. People like him, but I don’t think they realize just how special this kid is. If the Colts make that jump this season and win the division and end up 12-4 or 13-3 like I believe they could, then he’ll get all the love for that.
Offensive Player of the Year
LeSean McCoy – Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, on and on and on. So many choices that are safer than McCoy. So why him? Simply, Chip Kelly. That offense is going to put BIG points on the board, and I really believe Shady is going to fit perfectly for that system. He runs the ball great, he is a great reciever out of the back field, he is in his prime, and he was great for Andy Reid despite limited use. It is a hunch, but I like the ingredients here for McCoy to have a huge season.
Defensive Player of the Year
Ndamukong Suh – YEP! 2nd year in a row I’m saying this and like the Romo pick last year it was humiliatingly horrific! But it makes more sense this season. Hearing that Suh is in phenominal shape, as is Nick Fairly. Ziggy Ansah has looked terrific in the preseason, so that defensive line is really primed for a big season and if they do, it will be Suh who shines the brightest. Easily the most talented DT in the NFL, he just has to stay focused. If he can, he’ll get a lot of attention for an award like this.
Tavon Austin – I’m expecting BIG things out of this kid. I don’t care how small he is (and make no mistake he is SMALL), he is just difficult to catch. I believe he will be the featured guy right out of the gate in St.Louis and the big reason they’ll make the playoffs this season in the very difficult NFC. A little like Chris Johnson for Jeff Fisher and if you recall in his rookie year the Titans went 13-3 because Jeff Fisher used him so well.
Barkevious Mingo – I simply love this kid and I believe the media will too. Cleveland will have a very good defense this season, and Mingo while he has huge talent, will have that talent enhanced by what is around him. When the Browns are hanging around in the wildcard hunt in the AFC come December it will be largely because of their defense, and Mingo will be looked at as the biggest reason that defense is so good.
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