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2016 AFC West Predictions

2016 AFC West Preview and Predictions Denver Broncos (2015 record: 12-4): Say it with us: This was NOT Peyton Manning’s team last year…this was NOT Peyton Manning’s team last year. No, Denver won the title because of its stunning defense. They completely obliterated the best offense and the best offensive player by owing the line of scrimmage. Von Miller and company return mostly intact; they did lose two key pieces in DE Malik Jackson and LB Danny Trevathan. While the list of potential replacements isn’t very appealing, there is enough talent to cover a slight decrease in production from those two spots.  They’ll rival the Cards for the best squad in the league. The offense will be led by Trevor Siemean. That’s ok; we’d never heard of him either. Apparently, he was a 5th round pick in 2015. We know that he’s just keeping it warm for Paxton Lynch who shouldn’t see the field this year if at all possible. The line lost some key pieces in Evan Mathis and Louis Vazquez and though Russell Okung was signed, he’s missed a lot of time over the past few seasons.  The rest of the line could prove to be problematic; not good for a new QB. Poor line play will also hamper a suspect running game, though rookie Devontae Booker could prove to be a steal. They’re fine at WR with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.  The Broncos should be ecstatic that they won last year; the rest of the division is catching up to them. Kansas City Chiefs (2015 record: 11-5): So we finally saw Alex Smith toss some...

2016 AFC South Predictions

AFC South Preview and Predictions Houston Texans (2015 record: 9-7): People calling Brock Osweiler a franchise QB need to relax just a bit. Sure, even a trained gibbon would be better than Brian Hoyer was (especially in that brutal playoff loss to the Chiefs), and Osweiler will have some fantastic receivers at his disposal – but we need a bigger sample size. If Brock can be the savior, then the Texans will be a force in the AFC. But Houston scored a much bigger offensive weapon when the signed Lamar Miller away from Miami. He was sorely underutilized by the Dolphins and has the ability to really blossom in Texas. WR DeAndre Hopkins and rookies Braxton Miller and William Fuller will rival what Brock had in Denver. Hopkins is one of the top three receivers in the league and will benefit from fewer double teams.  The line should be better as well; it added G Jeff Allen and drafted C Nick Martin in round two.  A better, more consistent offense will only help make the defense that much more dominant. The team needs to spell the best defensive player on the planet a little more frequently. JJ Watt entered the offseason battered, and will barely be ready to start 2016. Unfortunately, there is no help on the line, so Watt will be counted on to play more downs than he should. The linebackers and secondary should be fantastic once again, with the former mercilessly punishing quarterbacks and the latter providing excellent coverage and run support. Another playoff appearance should be in the cards, if Brock can handle a full...

2016 AFC North Predictions

2016 AFC North Preview and Predictions Baltimore Ravens (2015 record: 5-11): The number of injuries that the Ravens’ offense was dealt in 2015 was unreal . QB Joe Flacco, WRs Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, TE Dennis Pitta, and RB Justin Forsett all missed significant time with various breaks and tears. Flacco is back and healthy, but he may struggle as he did last season, as his receiving corps is lackluster. Smith is 37 and Achilles tears are so hard to come back from. Perriman appears healthy but is basically a rookie. FA TE Ben Watson, who had a career year in New Orleans last year, was brought over for to help the offense; already blew out his own Achilles. Pitta should be OK, but is injury-prone himself and can’t be counted on for a full season. Kamar Aiken had a nice breakout last season and should have a solid campaign.  Mike Wallace was signed, but he hasn’t been relevant in years. The RB slot is in flux as well, as Forsett was released; this leaves the uninspiring trio of Javorius Allen, Terrance West, and Kenneth Dixon.  The line is solid and added first round stud Ronnie Stanley via the draft. Defensively, though, the line is the main area of concern. They did add some talent and depth in the middle rounds of the draft in Bronson Kaufusi and Willie Henry; the squad needed some youth.  The secondary is hoping that CB Jimmy Smith is healthy; his foot issues rendered him very beatable last season.  The middle of the defense will be led by star LB CJ Moseley, a...

2016 AFC East Predictions

2016 AFC East Preview and Predictions New England Patriots (2015 record: 12-4): Now that Deflategate and all of the drama surrounding it are done, the Pats can shift focus back onto the field. Jimmy Garapolo will man the QB spot for the first four games, and shouldn’t do much worse than 2-2 as three of the games are at home.  His weapons return intact from last season, though the loss of third-down specialist Dion Lewis for the first couple of months does sting.  The Pats are deep at the position, though, and it shouldn’t have too big an effect on the offense. As for Brady, he shows no signs of slowing down at 39; he had one of his best seasons ever last year, despite all of the hoopla. We expect him to ne in the MVP conversation once he returns; he feels he has a score to settle. The line needs to play better than it did against Denver in the playoffs and two of their better players, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, missed time with injuries. Depth concerns were not addressed in the offseason. The defense took a big hit when DE Chandler Jones was traded; Chris Long is not a serviceable replacement at this point in his career.  Terrance Knighton is also new to the line; he’ll be a nice run stuffer, but has also seen better days. The loss of Jones may also have an effect on the secondary as a weak pass rush often does.  It’s a good unit, but may give up a few more plays than they did last season. Luckily, the...

2016 NFC West Predictions

2016 NFC West Preview and Predictions Arizona Cardinals (2015 record: 14-2): The Cards definitely didn’t stand pat after a tremendous 2015, as they made vast improvements in two significant need areas; the offensive line and the pass rush.  The former was addressed by adding Evan Mathis, one of the best guards in the NFL. The success of the offense is predicated on the safety and health of Carson Palmer, and Mathis will help keep Carson upright.  Palmer’s weapons remain intact, and they are really good weapons. Everyone is aware of WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. We can’t wait to see what a full season of RB David Johnson looks like, especially behind improved blocking. He’s also a very good pass catcher out of the backfield and could be in line for a monster year. The pass rush (28 sacks without the departed Dwight Freeney) got one of the best in the game when the Patriots curiously dealt the Cards DE/OLB Chandler Jones.  Jones is coming off of a career-high 12.5 sacks and could thrive in this defense, especially if draft steal Robert Nkemdiche keeps his nose clean and continues to work hard. Reports have him looking great in camp and he should definitely be an impact player. The rest of the defense remains excellent, especially if CB Tyrann Mathieu returns at 100% from his ACL tear.  No reason to think that the Cardinals won’t be in the hunt all season long. Los Angeles Rams (2015 record: 7-9):  QB Jared Goff must be royalty, because the Rams paid a king’s ransom to get him. Seems that they completely forgot...

2016 NFC South Predictions

2016 NFC South Predictions and Preview Atlanta Falcons (2015 record: 8-8):  Under ‘teams ready to implode,’ we see the Falcons. Long an offensive juggernaut, they have only two true weapons left in QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones. For some reason, they vastly overpaid for Mohamed Sanu; he’s never been a consistent threat, though he was often overshadowed by AJ Green and Marvin Jones. They finally think they found Tony Gonzalez’ replacement at tight end, albeit a few years late. Austin Hooper is athletically gifted, but may not contribute much as a rookie. The running game is overrated, as the league caught up to Devonta Freeman in the second half of the season. Neither he nor Tevin Coleman are full time backs, and may not even be a serviceable tandem.  The line got a nice upgrade by nabbing center Alex Mack. Though the guards around him are merely OK, the tackles on the outside are decent. The line should be solid as a whole. The defense is another story, if the story was titled ‘Unmitigated Disaster.’ Aside from the corners, the defense is completely void of quality and depth. The pass rush was non-existent, registering only 19 sacks last year. The line needs former first rounder Vic Beasley to step up and earn his paycheck. The Falcons drafted two new linebackers, but it’s tough to have too much youth on that side of the ball. If Falcons fans thought that the second half of 2015 was tough to watch, they’re in for a rough ride this year. Carolina Panthers (2015 record: 15-1):  We really liked the Panthers going...