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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Predictions

2015 Tampa Bay Predictions: 4th NFC South (2014 record: 2-14) Head Coach: Lovie Smith NFC South Division Odds: +600 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +7500 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 6 (-130), Under 6 (even) Key Additions: Jameis Winston (QB), Ali Marpet (OL), George Johnson (DE) Key Losses: Josh McCown (QB), Adrian Clayborn (DE), Michael Johnson (DE) It was pretty apparent that the tank was on for the Bucs last season. The experiment of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon under center was a failure; RB Doug Martin was horrible when he was actually able to make it onto the field; and the defense was one of the more porous in the league. Despite the failures, there was some light at the end of the tunnel in young players like WE Mike Evans, LB Lavonte David, DT Gerald McCoy, and CB Alterraun Verner. Adding #1 pick Winston certainly won’t hurt either. Defense We mentioned three great defensive building blocks above. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much it on this side of the ball. In fact, the Bucs have no idea who’s going be starting on the line alongside McCoy, as many of the other linemen from 2014 are gone and they have a slew of unknown names in camp vying for spots. George Johnson is probably the best bet to see the most time. He was solid as a part-timer in Detroit. Da’Quan Bowers was brought back for another year, though we fail to see why. He’s been a colossal bust since day one. David will again be the dominant player in the middle of the defense – and, quite possibly, the...

Atlanta Falcons Predictions

2015 Atlanta Falcons Predictions: 3rd NFC South (2014 record: 6-10) Head Coach: Dan Quinn NFC South Division Odds: +150 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +3000 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 8.5 (even), Under 8.5 (-130) Key Additions: Tevin Coleman (RB), Vic Beasley (DE/OLB), Adrian Clayborn (DE) Key Losses: Steven Jackson (RB), Jacquizz Rodgers (RB), Harry Douglas (WR) For the past decade or so, offense has never been an issue for Atlanta; weapons like Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Michael Turner, and the rest have always produced well under former head coach Mike Smith and his ‘Air Coryell’ style. Last season, despite the efforts of QB Matt Ryan, the team was unable to remain efficient on offense and that, when combined with another porous defense, spelled doom for the Smith regime. Enter defensive guru Dan Quinn and a new era for the franchise. Defense Quinn’s defenses have always been some of the most physical in the league, usually led by a strong pass rush and a dominant secondary. So it makes sense that the team’s first two draft picks were Beasley, who dominated at Clemson last season, and Jalen Collins, a big cornerback. If he wins that CB slot, he’ll start next to a really good, physical CB in Desmond Trufant. If not, he’ll be an upgrade in the nickel package. The safety position isn’t as fortunate; upgrades were needed by not addressed. Deep throws could be a problem, especially if the perpetually anemic pass rush doesn’t improve drastically. Twenty-two sacks in a passing league is completely unacceptable. Beasley and Clayborn should help immediately, especially if the latter has fully recovered...

Carolina Panthers Predictions

2015 Carolina Panthers Predictions: 2nd NFC South (2014 record: 7-8-1) Head Coach: Ron Rivera NFC South Division Odds: +150 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +3200 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 8.5 (+125), Under 8.5 (-155) Key Additions: Charles Tillman (CB), Ted Ginn (WR/KR) Key Losses: D’Angelo Williams (RB), Greg Hardy (DE) It was a tale of two seasons for the Panthers last year; the first season saw them go 3-8-1 and lose six straight at one point. The second saw them go 4-0, sneak into the playoffs, and make it to the Divisional Round against the NFC Champ Seahawks. The front office, true to form, decided to stay status quo by not addressing any weaknesses via free agency. Different year, same story for the Panther organization. Defense Many will point to the solid performance by the defense as the biggest reason for the turnaround last season, as they didn’t allow more than 19 points in any game over the final six contests. Considering, however, that they played the likes of Cleveland, Tampa, Minnesota…it’s not really surprising. They’re solid, but have the potential to be very good. The pass rush struggled a bit without the suspended Hardy; Charles Johnson was the only lineman to produce any consistent pressure. One of a trio of uninspiring youngsters will need to step up and help from the other side. DT Star Lotulelei will miss a bit of time with a foot injury, and fellow DT Kawann Short is suffering from back issues in camp. This leaves Colin Cole and Dwan Edwards as the only vet tackles on the roster; they’re a combine 69...

New Orleans Saints Predictions

2015 New Orleans Saints Predictions: 1st NFC South (2014 record: 7-9) Head Coach: Sean Payton NFC South Division Odds: +150 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +3500 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 8.5 (-130), Under 8.5 (even) Key Additions: C.J. Spiller (RB), Max Unger (C), Stephone Anthony (ILB), Andreas Peat (OL) Key Losses: Kenny Stills (WR), Jimmy Graham (TE), Pierre Thomas (RB), Junior Galette (LB) No team sent a bigger offseason shockwave through their fan base than the Saints did when the sent All World TE Jimmy Graham to the Pacific Northwest for an offensive line upgrade and a top draft pick. That was far from the only big roster move, however, as the Saints needed a defensive overhaul as well. There are a lot of new faces in the bayou; younger faces, and that should be the key to a return to the post season. Defense The Saints were supposed to have a dominant secondary last year, as they signed Jairus Byrd to team with Kenny Vaccaro. The problem? Byrd resorted back to his injury-prone years with the Bills and only played four games, leaving Vaccaro high and dry; he was just plain bad last season as he may have tried to do too much. Not much has changed for Byrd, as he’s been off the field more than on at camp; expect 3rd round pick PJ Williams to see some time alongside Vaccaro. The cornerback spot was strengthened by adding Brandon Browner, who will team nicely with incumbent starter Keenan Lewis. The front seven, who only produced 34 sacks and allowed over 2,100 yards on the ground, got...

Chicago Bears Predictions

2015 Chicago Bears Predictions: 4th NFC North (2014 record: 5-11) Head Coach: John Fox NFC North Division Odds: +1550 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +11,000 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 6.5 (-105), Under 6.5 (-125) Key Additions: Eddie Royal (WR), Kevin White (WR), Eddie Goldman (NT), Pernell McPhee (OLB/DE) Key Losses: Brandon Marshall (WR), Stephen Paea (DT), Lance Briggs (LB) The toxicity that is Jay Cutler spread even further last season. If he doesn’t care about winning football games then why is he even still around? New coach John Fox shouldn’t be quite the pushover that Marc Trestman was; perhaps he’ll have the stones to make Cutler take some accountability for his actions, or lack thereof. Defense OK, so the Bears failures weren’t completely Culter’s fault. The defense seemingly took another step backwards and allowed a horrid 28 points per game. Fox is switching to a 3-4 alignment, so a few growing pains could appear, but the personnel appears to be better suited for it. Goldman and incumbent DT Jay Ratliff should hold the interior of the line just fine. A return to health from DE/OLB Lamarr Houston is paramount to the pass rush, as fellow end Jared Allen’s game isn’t really suited for this shift. McPhee will be getting his first shot at a full-time roll, and was tutored nicely by the likes of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. There are worse mentors to have. He’ll be a nice addition to the pass rush. The secondary needs a healthy pass rush, as they were tested often last year. The safety spot is the biggest concern, and Giants import...

Minnesota Vikings Predictions

2015 Minnesota Vikings Predictions: 3rd NFC North (2014 record: 7-9) Head Coach: Mike Zimmer NFC North Division Odds: +650 Super Bowl Champion Odds: +4700 Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 8.5 (+140), Under 8.5 (-170) Key Additions: Mike Wallace (WR), Trae Waynes (CB), Adrian Peterson (RB-Back from suspension) Key Losses: Greg Jennings (WR), Matt Cassel (QB) If you thought that the Vikes could be competitive and win seven games without Adrian Peterson for 15 games, then you’re either a fibber or a savant. Either way, this was a different team when they handed the offense over to rookie Teddy Bridgewater. While he didn’t set the world on fire, he was poised and limited his mistakes in most games, giving the team a glimpse into a promising future. Defense Mike Zimmer’s defense improved greatly year over year – slicing nearly nine points per game off of their average (21.4 allowed in 2014). The secondary play was a big reason for the improvement, as safety Harrison Smith blossomed in Zimmer’s scheme, excelling in every facet of the game. Corners Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn were outstanding in coverage, and the Vikes made this an even deeper position by drafting one of the top corners available in Trae Waynes. There are some concerns amongst the front seven, though. Linemen Sharrif Floyd and Everson Griffin are solid and will provide good pressure on opposing QBs, but the other spots are lacking as Linval Joseph and the combo of Brian Robison (if healthy) and Scott Crichton have been disappointing. The linebacking corps has one glaring weakness, and that’s the steady and mysterious decline of...