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The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

2014 NFL season predictions

Predicting sports is never an easy task.

Each and every year, professional “analysts” try to pinpoint Super Bowl teams and their records, but in the end, it is all just a shot in the dark.

Last year, I’m sure no one was sold on Seattle, let alone crushing a team like the Denver Broncos in the big game. But that is the beauty of it- the unpredictability makes each and every game a thriller until February.

This offseason saw a ton of free agents switching teams, and on top of that was one of the deepest drafts in NFL history. Who comes out on top in the end is beyond me, but I will still take a stab at it.

AFC East:

Despite Buffalo gaining Sammy Watkins, arguably the most talented rookie wide receiver out of the draft, they still have a lot of question marks going into the season. The quarterback position is a toss up with the injuries to EJ Manuel last season, and losing Jarius Byrd does not make their defense any better. I am not sold on the Jets whatsoever, a team who has more uncertainty at the defensive backs position than the Cowboys, and I think Geno Smith is a turnover machine. As for Miami…they are Miami, 6-10 at best. That leaves New England the obvious winners in the division. Gronk will be back and Darrelle Revis brings Revis Island to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots take this one easily, possibly shutting out their entire division.

AFC North:

This division is a close one. We all know the hype surrounding Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns, but seeing his preseason play left a lot to be desired. I do not see him taking that needed NFL leap any time soon. Baltimore is a weird team to analyze. They go from Super Bowl winner in 2012 to a mediocre team last year at best. Granted they lost almost half of the talented players from that run, I do not see them playing at that high caliber anytime soon. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are dead even to me. The Bengals have the playmakers to be a great team, it is just a matter of if Andy Dalton can step up in January. I like the Steelers odds of being the division winners. Big Ben had a great ending to last year, finishing 6-2 to close the season. Add a few new players from the draft and they can open some eyes once again.

AFC South:

Hands down, Indianapolis takes this. Jacksonville gained some offensive weapons in the draft for sure, but they already said Blake Bortles would not be starting at all this season. Why? I do not know, because he has the most potential out of any QB drafted this year. Houston has not been the same since they missed out on the Super Bowl by a field goal in 2012. Andre Johnson is getting old, and their poor performances last year showed the definition of a collapse. Tennessee and Bishop Sankey will perform well I believe, but not enough to beat out the Colts for that top spot. Andrew Luck will have Reggie Wayne back from IR, and some new additions on defense will project them as division winners.

AFC West:

Denver Broncos. That is really all that needs to be said, but I will give a full breakdown like the rest. Oakland signed Maurice Jones-Drew, who I think will find his inner Pro Bowl instincts yet again, and Derek Carr is no joke. But with a strong division, they sit at the bottom. Kansas City had one of the best turn around seasons last year under Head Coach Andy Reid, and a huge collapse against the Colts in the playoffs last year kept them from progressing. Alex Smith just got paid the big bucks, so lets see if he slacks or proves his worth. San Diego is a team that is a firecracker. Surely an all-offense kind of team with Philip Rivers slinging 400-yard games like it is nothing, Malcom Floyd, Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal and Antonio Gates provide quite the offensive threat. However, we are all living in Peyton’s world, whether you like it or not. Their play in the Super Bowl was shocking, proving they needed to play an ounce of defense if they wanted to remain a threat. So what do the Broncos do? They sign DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward. Watch out, NFL.

NFC East:

Switching conferences, the NFC East is always a toss-up. There has not been a repeat division winner since the Philadelphia Eagles took the belt from 2001-2004. So speaking of the Eagles, I say this is the year they repeat as division winners, coming off of last season’s 10-6 record. Looking in depth, the Dallas Cowboys may go down as the team with one of the worst defensives in NFL history. Like with the Broncos, offense does not win Championships, and for the Cowboys, offense alone with Tony Romo will not win you more than six games. The Giants lost veteran leadership, and after the performance of Eli Manning, they will be down and out as well. The Washington Redskins have improved on both sides of the ball, but their team will rely on the health of RG3, and that has proven to be 50/50. When it is all said and done, the Eagles behind Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, and an improved defense are obvious winners of the NFC East.

NFC North:

Last year when Aaron Rodgers went down for a few weeks, they lost their fire that they usually gain around mid season. Key injuries to Clay Matthews as well kept the Packers limited with their performances, but still managed to win the division with a 8-7-1 record. If Rodgers stays healthy all year, they will crush everyone else. Chicago has a plethora of weapons on offense with Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but QB Jay Cutler keeps them grounded. Behind them are the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings. I cannot see the Lions taking that next step, despite Calvin Johnson tearing up defenses every week, and the Vikings can go only as far as Adrian Peterson takes them.

NFC South:

Carolina Panthers took the division last year with a 12-4 record, with the New Orleans Saints snagging the wild-card spot at 11-5. This year, I say those will be flipped. The Panthers lost their main WR core, and a rookie like Kelvin Benjamin will not be enough manpower to repeat their record. Their defense will be the reason they compete. The Saints added weapons on both sides of the ball, and rookie WR Brandin Cooks I predict will be Offensive Rookie of the Year. Tampa Bay and Atlanta will bottom out the division, giving it all they can, but that simply will not be enough to put up a decent fight.

NFC West:

Same situation as last year, Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers are the two obvious teams that will fight to the very end to claim the division. St. Louis lost Sam Bradford for another year, to yet another injury, and the Cardinals (after getting snubbed last year) yet again will not be able to make it out alive. The 49ers’ off-the-field issues this offseason may restrain the team from winning the toughest division in the league. That leaves Seattle as the favorite. Defense wins championships- that has been the saying for decades. Last year, that was proven 110%. Lets see how far Richard Sherman can talk the talk this year.

When the dust settles and the AFC/NFC Championship games are over, I am picking the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. From there, as much as I despise the thought of this, I think Tom Brady will claim his fourth Super Bowl ring, polishing off his 14-year career in the NFL.

About the Contributor
Frank Passalacqua
Frank Passalacqua, Opinion Editor
In his third year on The Beacon, Frank switches it up after the previous two years as Sports Editor. Now the Opinion Editor, Frank uses his journalism and public relations track to the newspaper staff. Frank is a senior communication studies major with a minor in art, and is involved in many other co-curriculars on campus. Out of the classroom, Frank owns a YouTube channel “randomfrankp” that provides user created video content for over 3 million viewers and his near 15,000 subscribers.