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2016 NFC North Predictions

2016 NFC North Predictions and Preview Chicago Bears (2015 record: 6-10): Just when it seemed that inconsistent QB Jay Cutler had found an OC that he connected with in Adam Gase, he lost him to the Dolphins.  Despite a nice slew of receiving weapons at his disposal, look for Cutler to continue his roller-coaster career and take a step backwards. Also affecting him this season will be a horrible line in front of him. The only above-average lineman, Matt Slauson, was inexplicably released when the team drafted Cody Whitehair in round two of the draft.  Some quality depth would’ve been nice for Cutler, who was already getting hit too often. The line issues won’t help RB Jeremy Langford either, as he assumes the top spot for the departed Matt Forte. Langford was merely OK last season and appears to be more suited to a back-up role. The defense, unlike the offense, made some nice upgrades and should be significantly better. The LB corps was completely overhauled, adding Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan via free agency and drafting Leonard Floyd in the first round.  The line was revamped as well, and the new front seven should be able to put some more pressure on the QB. The beleaguered secondary would welcome any help, as they struggled last year because of the inconsistent pass rush.  The defensive improvements alone should mean that the Bears are better, but they may not be enough to overshadow the O-line woes. Detroit Lions (2015 record: 7-9):  The retirement of Calvin Johnson hurts. Badly. The free agent WR class was subpar, and Detroit had pressing needs...

2016 NFC East Predictions

2016 NFC East Predictions and Preview Dallas Cowboys (2015 record: 4-12): The key to the Cowboys’ 2016 season can be summed up in two words; Tony Romo. Until rookie Dak Prescott is ready to take the reins, the beefy offensive line has to keep Romo healthy and upright if they are to become relevant again. The rest of the offense around him should be near excellent. RB Ezekiel Elliott was the perfect ‘need’ fit for this squad and should have no problem leading all rookies at the position – though he was drafted way too early. The receiving corps is thin but when Dez Bryant leads the group, you don’t a bevy of uber-talent behind him. He’s coming off of his own injury issues, but is a stud and will prove it this year. The defense took a couple of hits in the offseason, as Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Rolando McClain simply refuse to grow up and will miss chunks of games due to suspension.  There are question marks in every faction of the defense. The pass rush is lacking, the secondary is void of talent, and the linebacking corps is wafer thin, with rookie Jaylon Smith’s debut earmarked for 2017 after ripping his knee to shreds in the Fiesta Bowl. Luckily, the rest of the division is underwhelming. This should help the ‘Boys win the division. **LATE NOTE: Romo could miss up to two months with a back injury. Prescott is slated to be the starter. NY Giants (2015 record: 6-10):  The Giants went into the offseason with far too many holes to fill, especially on the...

San Francisco 49ers Predictions

2015 San Francisco 49ers: 4th NFC West (2014 record: 8-8) Head Coach: Jim Tomsula NFC West Division Odds: +1800 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +5000 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 6.5 (+130), Under 6.5 (-160) Key Additions: Reggie Bush (RB), Torrey Smith (WR) Key Losses: More than half of the starting defense, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, Frank Gore (RB) The 49ers offseason can be summed up in one word; ugh. It seemed like another starter was either traded or retired every day for about a month straight at one point. Add to it the imploded relationship between Harbaugh and the front office, and the disaster that was the 2014 season looks to have sent the Niners spiraling into full rebuild mode just two years after reaching the NFC Championship game. Defense Unbelievably, San Francisco lost six starters from this unit in the offseason, and the replacements that were brought on board don’t even come close to the level that departed. On the line, draftee Arik Armstead and the regressing Darnell Dockett appear to be the front runners to start alongside the underwhelming Glenn Dorsey. The linebacking corps will get NaVorro Bowman back, but one has to believe that his knee will never be the same after the gruesome injury he suffered to it. Corey Lemonier is going to be given one more shot; he’s been an annual disappointment. Aldon Smith returns as well, but one has to wonder how long he’ll be able to stay out of trouble. He’s saying and doing all of the right things in camp, so perhaps he’s finally grown up. The secondary lost two...

St Louis Rams Predictions

2015 St Louis Rams Predictions: 3rd NFC West (2014 record: 6-10) Head Coach: Jeff Fisher NFC West Division Odds: +700 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +3500 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 8 (+130), Under 8 (-160) Key Additions: Jimmy Graham (TE), Cary Williams (CB), Frank Clark (DE/OLB) Key Losses: Byron Maxwell (CB), Max Unger (C), Malcolm Smith (LB) Key Additions: Todd Gurley (RB, Nick Foles (QB), Nick Fairley (DT), Akeem Ayers (LB) Key Losses: Sam Bradford (QB), Zac Stacy (RB), Jake Long (OT), Joseph Barksdale (OT) The Sam Bradford saga finally came to an end, as the Rams finally tired of his inability to stay healthy and shipped him Philly for Nick Foles. But that was the least of the Rams worries last season, as the annual lack of a consistent running attack again doomed them. The defense held up their side more often than not, and will again be counted on to carry the team due to some new offensive challenges. Defense The latest edition of The Fearsome Foursome makes the line of the Rams, again, one of the best in the league – and if they get the Nick Fairley who is interested in playing football rather that loafing about, they’ll be even better. The returning Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers, and Aaron Donald will continue to be stellar against both the run and the pass. Those five linemen will continue to make the secondary look very good, and they aren’t terrible in and of themselves. CB Janoris Jenkins did struggle a bit last season, but he’s now fully recovered from a knee injury and should...

Arizona Cardinals Predictions

2015 Arizona Cardinals Predictions: 2nd NFC West (2014 record: 11-5) Head Coach: Bruce Arians NFC West Division Odds: +450 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +2500 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 8.5 (-105), Under 8.5 (-125) Key Additions: Jimmy Graham (TE), Cary Williams (CB), Frank Clark (DE/OLB) Key Losses: Byron Maxwell (CB), Max Unger (C), Malcolm Smith (LB) Key Additions: Mike Iupati (OG), DJ Humphries (OT), Sean Weatherspoon (LB) Key Losses: Antonio Cromartie (CB), Dan Williams (NT) Again, it was a tale of two halves for the Cardinals in 2014, just like the previous year. Last season, however, a fast start was destroyed by the loss of their top two QBs as both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton were injured. The defense just couldn’t keep enough points off of the board and a disappointing first-round loss to Carolina couldn’t be avoided. The o-line was improved so we’ll see if improved protection can keep Palmer on the field this year. Defense The Cards defense performed admirably last year, holding their opponents to 20 points or less in a fantastic thirteen games. Unfortunately, they lost key members in Williams and Cromartie and didn’t make significant upgrades in deficient areas. Cromartie actually outplayed Patrick Peterson last year, but Peterson was dealing with some health issues that have since been resolved. He should be back to his top shelf self. Unfortunately, there is nobody to play alongside him, and the roster is paper thin at the position. Safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon, though very young, should be improved after experiencing some growing pains last year. A replacement for the mountainous Williams wasn’t found...

Seattle Seahawks Predictions

2015 Seattle Seahawks Predictions: 1st NFC West (2014 record: 12-4) Head Coach: Pete Carroll NFC West Division Odds: -500 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +300 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 11 (-125), Under 11 (-105) Key Additions: Jimmy Graham (TE), Cary Williams (CB), Frank Clark (DE/OLB) Key Losses: Byron Maxwell (CB), Max Unger (C), Malcolm Smith (LB) The Seahawks were one bone-headed play call away from becoming the first repeat NFL champion in a decade. Instead, they had to travel back to Seattle with their tails tucked between their legs and find a way to recover from that inexplicable gaffe. Enter TE Jimmy Graham, a perfect complement to the offensive weapons that remain in place. Defense The squad that limited the opposition to just under seventeen points per game returns almost completely intact. The lone exception is the tradeoff of former Eagle Cary Williams for Byron Maxwell at corner. They’re very similar, but nobody will notice because the rest of the secondary is dominant; nobody can match the triumvirate of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas. The rest of the defense returns and is equally outstanding – and they get a (literally) big piece back from a late-season injury. DT Brandon Mebane missed the last couple of months and the playoffs with a bad hammy; Carolina and Green Bay were able to run successfully in his absence, and he’ll be a welcomed returnee. The Hawks also added another pass rushing threat by drafting Frank Clark for some added depth. Nobody was able to step in for Michael Bennett when he was injured against the Pats and it was...