The NFL season kicks off in just over 48 hours and as part of a time honored tradition with Matt Luppino and myself, we have picked the entire NFL season, game by game, for all of 2015. There are some surprises without a doubt and there are some no-brainers. Check back in tomorrow to see Matt’s picks.
Analysis: Pittsburgh will struggle early in the season without Bell but an easy schedule should see them return to the postseason. Baltimore only has one receiver on the roster with more than 30 catches a season ago. Andy Dalton’s spotty play will finally cost the Bengals big time and the Browns are a bit of a ways away from competing. For the first time in a while, the Steelers are the only AFC North team headed to the postseason.
Analysis: Everyone is chalking this up as the NFL’s toughest division this year. They aren’t wrong as all four teams finish above .500. The Jets need to play consistently well but with an easy schedule, featuring the AFC South, Cleveland, Washington and Oakland, 10 wins is achievable. Miami plays well but a tough schedule and an even tougher division will bar them from the postseason. Buffalo just misses out on ending their postseason drought. Don’t be surprised if the final standings are this close and end in just about any order after the Patriots on top.
Analysis: The Colts could probably start resting their starters after Week 12 and still win the AFC South. Indy’s defense should be good enough for the offense to outscore just about anyone. Arian Foster missing the beginning of the season will be too much for the Texans to overcome. The Titans and Jaguars still have a lot of rebuilding to do as neither team will improve on their previous campaigns.
Analysis: Denver continues its reign atop the division but only after a close call with Kansas City. The running game will be a factor in Denver winning football games and this defense will play well after feeling like their were slighted a year ago in terms of credibility. The Chiefs bolstered their secondary with Marcus Peters and the return of Eric Berry. Not to mention Jeremy Maclin should probably catch a touchdown this year. San Diego finds that playing without Antonio Gates is really tough on an offense that lacks a go to receiver. Oakland looks better but still isn’t ready to compete.
Analysis: It has been the Packers and then everyone else for quite some time now. The Lions made a push last year but the losses of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are monumental. Matt Stafford is still inconsistent at best. The Bears are in a tailspin and even John Fox cannot turn them around in one year. The Vikings will be the closest challenger this year with Teddy Bridgewater taking another step forward and Adrian Peterson back on the field. However, the Packers still reign supreme, even without Jordy Nelson, due to a relatively friendly schedule.
Analysis: It probably won’t matter who starts in Washington if the defense is still as bad as it is. The Giants turn in another average year as the defense cannot keep up with the offense. Philly takes another step forward, going 11-5, but still misses the playoffs in a really tough NFC. The Cowboys repeat as division champs even without DeMarco Murray. Tony Romo will lead the Cowboys to some key wins against a light schedule.
Analysis: The NFC South will experience a major shakeup in 2015. The Bucs rise out of the basement after adding some good value in the draft and in free agency. Games against Tennessee, Washington and Jacksonville comprise an easy first half followed by a much tougher second half. Atlanta gets back to its winning ways with an improved defense and running game. New Orleans is in the midst of a really odd rebuild and find themselves at a crossroads. Carolina drops way down, unable to overcome the losses of Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Hardy.
Analysis: 15-1 probably seems lofty for the Cardinals but with only 5 games against 2015 playoff teams and Carson Palmer back under center, Arizona means business. Seattle will still be in the playoffs, and will actually be the only team to beat Arizona this year. The Rams will have a great run game to occasionally bail out their lack of a passing attack. San Francisco simply will not be able to keep up with the number of exits they had this offseason.
- Indianapolis Colts
- Denver Broncos
- New England Patriots
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Kansas City Chiefs
- New York Jets*
New York wins the tie breaker with Buffalo due to a better record against division opponents (3-3 vs. 4-2).
- Arizona Cardinals
- Green Bay Packers
- Dallas Cowboys
- Atlanta Falcons
- Seattle Seahawks
- Minnesota Vikings**
Minnesota wins the tie breaker over Philadelphia based on strength of victory (.416 vs. .325).
Check back in at the end of the week to see who me and Matt select as the Super Bowl Champions.