2015-16 NFL Predictions

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The NFL is finally here! Now we can focus on the actual season and games that matter instead of the ridiculous deflategate story. I must say I am sick of hearing about it, in the grand schemes of the NFL, the issue should have been a no issue – like the Atlanta Falcons pumping crowd noise into their stadium. Hand down a reasonable punishment in the beginning and it goes away. Brady should have simply been fined, and the story should have ended.

As usual, I will have my weekly NFL picks with the spread posted each week of the season. But before we begin the season, let’s get to how I see the 2015-16 NFL season finishing up:

AFC East
1. New England Patriots
2. Miami Dolphins
3. Buffalo Bills
4. New York Jets

Comments: A motivated Tom Brady will aim to stick it to the NFL and they should win another division title. Ryan Tannehill doesn’t get the credit he deserves and with the improved defense, they will challenge the Patriots this season. Rex Ryan moves to another AFC East team, and he will face the same problems he did with the Jets – great defense, solid run game, but inconsistent QB play. The Jets are just a mess.

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Cleveland Browns
4. Cincinnati Bengals

Comments: Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best QBs in the game and Antonio Brown could be considered the best WR in the game, add to that LeVeon Bell, a top 5 RB and the Steelers should have a good year. The Ravens will struggle more on offense this season without Torrey Smith to take the top off the defense. The Browns and Bengals could finish either way, but I’m going to take the Browns and say that I think their defense is terrific and that Josh McCown will be stable and able to control the offense a la Alex Smith.

AFC South
1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Houston Texans
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Tennessee Titans

Comments: The Colts will win this division easily, and hopefully that doesn’t hurt fantasy football players if the Colts decide to bench Andrew Luck during the end of the season. The Texans defense will be no joke with J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork and Jadeveon Clowney. The Jaguars will continue to slowly improve, but they are still at least a year away from seriously challenging for the playoffs. I am not sold on Marcus Mariotta leading the Titans in his first year, he will need more time to adjust to the NFL game.

AFC West
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Denver Broncos
3. San Diego Chargers
4. Oakland Raiders

Comments: This division is one of the most difficult to predict this season. The Chiefs did not throw a TD pass to a Wide Receiver last season, and I think that changes in a big way with the addition of Jeremy Maclin. Maclin is a far better receiving threat than Dwayne Bowe and with TE Travis Kelce, the passing game should improve greatly. I think this is the season that Peyton Manning starts his regression, we saw it at the end of last season and I think it continues this year. The Chargers could win this division if Melvin Gordon is the answer at RB, but based on the preseason, I’m not convinced of that for this season. The Raiders will be much improved and they could be a real threat next season. David Carr and Amari Cooper will both put up solid numbers this season.

NFC East
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Dallas Cowboys
3. New York Giants
4. Washington Redskins

Comments: The Eagles will look to prove to everyone that they are not crazy by letting their best WR (Maclin) leave, trading their best RB (LeSean McCoy) and trading for a QB that cannot stay healthy (Sam Bradford). As crazy as it sounds, I think Chip Kelly knows what he is doing. The combination of Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor at WR will be a top 5 combo in the NFL and the tandem of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles at RB will be borderline unstoppable. The Cowboys addressed their defense needs and once Greg Hardy finishes his suspension, they will really start to click. The New York Giants could be great this season, if everything works out perfectly, but I think that Odell Beckham Jr. will regress from his rookie season as he gets more attention. I’m not sold that Victor Cruz makes a full recovery back to his normal self and I don’t think Rashad Jennings stays healthy for the full season. The Redskins are a mess and it will show in the standings.

NFC North
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Detroit Lions
4. Chicago Bears

Comments: I liked the Packers to win the Super Bowl this season, until Jordy Nelson got injured. But I still think they are good enough to get their without him as long as they have Rodgers running the show. Don’t sleep on the Vikings this season, with Adrian Peterson returning to action fresh and motivated (see his season after the ACL injury) the Vikings will challenge for the playoffs this season. Teddy Bridgewater is a solid young quarterback and the addition of Mike Wallace will definitely help. The Lions are going to be good this season, but can Calvin Johnson stay healthy will be a major concern. The Bears will live and die by Jay Cutler’s inconsistency. I think Vic Fangio improves the defense, but you can only do so much, he will need to have some more talent.

NFC South
1. Atlanta Falcons
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Tampa Bay Bucs
4. Carolina Panthers

Comments: The Falcons offense has never been the problem, and I think Dan Quinn will bring enough to the table to improve the defense enough to win a weak division that saw the winner last season have a losing record. The Saints will greatly miss Jimmy Graham, but I think Drew Brees has a bounce back season and that Brandin Cooks makes big strides this season. The Bucs made the right choice by choosing Jameis Winston and I think his skills combined with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson will greatly improve the offense this season. Without Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers are going to struggle to score in a major way. As good as their defense has potential to be, I just don’t see them scoring enough points to win games.

NFC West
1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. St. Louis Rams

Comments: This division will continue to be one of the best divisions in the NFL. The Seahawks added some firepower with Jimmy Graham, but their offensive line will struggle. The Seahawks are not locks to win this division this season, but it’s hard to go against the back-to-back NFC champions. The Cardinals, assuming that Carson Palmer remains healthy, will challenge the Seahawks this season. Their defense is terrific, and John Brown is going to have a breakout year. The 49ers will not be the total collapse everyone is writing them off to be this season. They had a horrible offseason, but Carlos Hyde is no slouch to replace Frank Gore. And although they lost Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, they do get All-Pro Navarro Bowman back this season, and he had a great preseason showing. The Rams will be good, and I think each team could finish above .500 this year. Nick Foles will be solid, as I think he was underrated in Philadelphia, and their defense should be Top 5 in the NFL this year.

Wild Card Weekend
3. Steelers over 6. Broncos
4. Chiefs over 5. Ravens

Divisional Round
1. Colts over 4. Chiefs
2. Patriots over 3. Steelers

AFC Championship
1. Colts over 2. Patriots

Wild Card Weekend
3. Seahawks over 6. Vikings
5. Cowboys over 4. Falcons

Divisional Round
1. Packers over 5. Cowboys
2. Eagles over 3. Seahawks

NFC Championship
1. Packers over 2. Eagles

Super Bowl 50
Colts over Packers

NFL Honors
MVP: Andrew Luck (Colts)
Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer (Vikings)
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson (Vikings)
Defensive Player of the Year: Mario Williams (Bills)
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Nelson Agholar (Eagles)
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Vic Beasley (Falcons)
Comeback Player of the Year: Navarro Bowman (49ers)

[Photo Credit: OpposingViews.com]

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