No NFL season is the same as the next due to injuries, free agency, the draft, trades, and players retiring (ask the 49ers about this one) so we look at the changes teams have gone through and predict what the upcoming season will hold. Can Peyton Manning stave off old age for another go at a championship? Can Tom Brady come back from the deflate gate mess and suspension and pull a rabbit out of his hat one more time for Super Bowl win number 5? The Bills and Jets had impressive off-seasons, but will that translate into any more wins, especially since they’re lacking in the quarterback department? We will go through our 2015 NFL predictions and try to make sense of the season ahead.
- The Saint Louis Rams will make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
That’s right, the last time the Rams made the playoffs the price of gas was $2.10, President George Bush was being elected to his 2nd term in office over John Kerry, Mark Zuckerberg launched a social networking website ‘Facebook’, Lance Armstrong was still revered after winning his 6th consecutive Tour de France, Martha Stewart was sentenced to 5 months in jail, and yes, Bruce Jenner was still a man.
The Rams added quarterback Nick Foles, running back Todd Gurley, and defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Nick Foles and Todd Gurley should add enough offensive fire power to keep them in every game with that dominant defensive line that only gets better with the addition of Nick Fairley, who came over from Detroit. The Rams will sneak in as the 6 seed in the NFC.
- NFC Playoff Picture
1. Seattle Seahawks (traded Max Unger for Jimmy Graham)
2. Green Bay Packers (re-signed Randall Cobb)
3. Philadelphia Eagles (traded for Sam Bradford and Kiko Alonso, added DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews)
4. Carolina Panthers (added Michael Oher)
5. Arizona Cardinals (added Mike Iupati)
6. St. Louis Rams (traded for Nick Foles, added rookie Todd Gurley, and added Nick Fairley)
*The 49ers have too many new and moving parts to succeed next season under new head coach Jim Tomsula. Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Justin Smith, and Anthony Davis have retired from the game and those are four key players the 49ers can’t easily replace.
*The Dallas Cowboys can say the running game was all the offensive line, but Darren McFadden will not be any kind of answer nor will his sub-par play be magically fixed even with an impressive offensive line. Dez Bryant is unhappy and Greg Hardy won’t be available until he serves his 10 game suspension. Sorry Cowboy fans, but time to start a new playoff drought.
*The New York Giants could easily sneak into this playoff picture. They got some offensive line help for Eli and Victor Cruz should be back and ready to go which will give the Giants some serious offensive fire power to go along with Odell Beckham Jr.
*The Lions lost Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the middle, but did replace them with Haloti Ngata. How much does Ngata have left? Can the Lions really make the playoffs two years in a row? We say no.
- The Buffalo Bills will make the playoffs for the first time since the Music City Miracle in 1999.
What was going on in the world when the Buffalo Bills last made the playoffs in 1999? Gas prices were $1.22, Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France, the Columbine shootings happened on April 15th killing 15, Boris Yeltsin resigned as President of Russia and was replaced by Vladimir Putin, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder for giving a lethal injection in a case of voluntary euthanasia (assisted suicide), impeachment proceedings were brought against President Bill Clinton, the U.S. women’s soccer team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship, and Myspace and Napster were introduced.
The Buffalo Bills added a new head coach in Rex Ryan and a wealth of new talent in LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, and Charles Clay to go along with outstanding wide receiver Sammy Watkins. They already have a dominating front seven and made sure that stayed intact by re-signing Jerry Hughes in the off-season. Rex Ryan will get the most out of an already talented group and with the weapons he has on offense all he will need at quarterback is someone to not turn the ball over. However, we aren’t sure if he even has that at quarterback with Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel battling it out for the starting spot.
- AFC Playoff Picture
1. Indianapolis Colts (adding Andre Johnson and Frank Gore put them over the top)
2. New England Patriots (lost Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Alfonzo Dennard in the secondary)
3. Denver Broncos (lost Julius Thomas and added rookie Shane Ray)
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (Troy Polamalu retired)
5. New York Jets (added Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Brandon Marshall, and rookie Leonard Williams)
6. Buffalo Bills (added LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, and Charles Clay)
*The Miami Dolphins added Jordan Cameron and Ndamukong Suh which means they will be tough to contend with in the AFC and AFC East specifically, but something about Joe Philbin just doesn’t say playoffs to us.
*The Baltimore Ravens lost Torrey Smith and Haloti Ngata with no great replacements which may be too much to overcome in the much improved AFC.
*The Cincinnati Bengals are a strong team, but Marvin Lewis’ message has to be getting stale and Andy Dalton’s development has halted, meaning the Bengals playoff hopes have as well.
*The Kansas City Chiefs will make a good run at the playoffs with new wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, but as long as Peyton Manning is in the AFC West we can’t see them beating out the legend for the top spot. A wild card is still an option, but we feel the other teams have more weapons to make a more serious run.
*The San Diego Chargers had so many injuries last year it’s hard to judge just what this team is and can be. They also have a new running back in the backfield in rookie Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin. Can Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates make one last push to lead this team to a playoff run or has their time run out?
- Super Bowl L (Levi’s Stadium) – Colts vs. Seahawks
The Colts will take the AFC this season with the Patriots having lost too much in the secondary to deal with Andrew Luck, TY Hilton, and Andre Johnson as well as having to stay honest against Frank Gore in the backfield. Meanwhile in the NFC, the Seahawks were already the team to beat before they traded for one of, if not the best, tight ends in the game in Jimmy Graham. They also added another weapon at wide receiver and in the return game when they drafted Tyler Lockett out of Kansas State. The Seahawks will win Super Bowl L to right the wrong of losing to the Patriots on a last second interception by Malcolm Butler.