First and 10

We’re nearing the time of the summer (it is summer now, right?) where everyone and their brother is going to come out with a “bold predictions” column for the 2014 NFL season. Might we do one of those down the road? Sure, why not? But for now no one’s ready to truly lay it all on the line — or at least they shouldn’t be in late May.

Instead, let’s take a look at ten scenarios, five from the AFC and five from the NFC that could play out this year. There’s no pressure to put your mortgage on any of the following, but they are at least things to consider. The NFL more than any other league is widely unpredictable season after season. So rather than dismissing something as “there’s no way that can happen,” take a second, relax, realize it’s almost the weekend and try to envision the following going down.

While we’re not willing to guarantee any of them, you can put pretty good odds on at least a few of these playing out. After all, who had Atlanta and Houston finishing last in their respective divisions a year ago? No one, that’s who. And did anyone see the Panthers and the Chiefs in the playoffs? Please send us a 2013 pre-season predictions link if so.

With that in mind, here are ten things that wouldn’t shocked us if they occurred during the 2014 season or postseason.


10. San Diego, not Denver, wins the AFC West

Tourek Williams, Peyton Manning

The Chargers played the Broncos well in 2013

The Chargers were very strong against the Broncos a season ago, going 1-2 but being a few plays away from going 3-0. The high-powered Denver offense scored just 28, 20 and 24 points against San Diego in three contests, and never seemed to establish themselves as the all-time great group they were in most other games. Philip Rivers seems to be completely rejuvenated under Mike McCoy and the Chargers have a (third place) schedule that’s a chunk easier than the Broncos’ (first place) slate this year. It’s likely going to take an 11-5 campaign from the Bolts, but if they can at least split with Denver and in a perfect world steal the other game, they’ve got a chance of being crowned AFC West champs in 2014.

9. Atlanta is the NFL’s most improved team

These two are prepared to return to their 2012 status

As mentioned above no one envisioned the Falcons, a Super Bowl pre-season pick by many, being so bad in 2013. Injuries derailed their season and spiraled Atlanta to a dismal 4-12 finish. But, Julio Jones and Roddy White are back, Matt Ryan’s ready to prove the doubters wrong and the defense likely won’t be starting multiple (sometimes un-drafted) rookies again. What’s the ceiling for this team? We’ll say flipping the record and going 12-4. While that might not happen — the Falcons finishing 11-5 or 10-6 and finding themselves back in the playoffs wouldn’t shock us at all. An improvement of six, seven or eight wins would almost assuredly make Atlanta the most improved team in the NFL.


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  1. I could buy 9,6,5,3,1 and perhaps 2. San Diego’s secondary was pure garbage last season. I don’t think Verrett can turn it around himself. SD should be solid though. Oakland a .500 team? Not sure about that one. Schaub was solid in Houston with a great run game and o-line, neither of which the Raiders possess. Also, Oakland still has some improvement potential on defense. Quite a bit actually. Matthew Stafford for MVP? No way. Megatron would and should get consideration there. Pats missing the playoffs? Haven’t we said that before? (Yes) Look at what happened. Bills lost Byrd and Pettine, how is that in improvement? Jets have two mediocre to bad QBs, that doesn’t equal one good one. If any other east team gets in, it’ll be the Dolphins.
    As far as Seattle or San Fran go, St Louis has an injury prone QB and a coach that lives in mediocrity. If Arians can continue to work his magic, AZ might have a chance with their revamped secondary.

  2. I could see some of these happening, but New England will make the playoffs. If they were able to do it with the entire middle of their defense out due to injury and a bunch of receivers who couldn’t catch, they should be able to do it this season. And no way St. Louis or Arizona leap ahead of San Francisco and Seattle. St. Louis has no QB and Carson Palmer still turns the ball over too much. And finally, Cleveland would need a miracle to win the division. Anything is possible, but that’s a reach.

  3. I can see a few of those things happening like arizona winning their division. They went 10-6. With a few of their losses were by a touchdown or less. They should have been 12-4. With palmer, fitz, their line, and their draft picks, they not only have a chance but they could go deep into the playoffs. Now sd finishing ahead of denver not gonna happen. And even though I dont like the pats, they always seem to get into the playoffs.

    • Nick Perry

      Possible, the Cardinals are playing a 3rd place schedule. That doesn’t always translate to a easy schedule, especially in that division. Those 4 teams will all beat the hell out of each other all season long, good for other teams in the NFC.

  4. The Chargers have what they need for the playoffs, and to beat Denver. Gonna be much tougher with the schedule this year, but the bolts proved anything can happen after last year!

  5. The MN-Vikes may surprise a few people this season. Namely their opponents. If the Offensive line does their job and the QB avoids sacks, they will surprise a number of the teams in their tough schedule. And their low rankings in offense & defense from last season will be very much improved. That won’t shock me in 2014 but it may others.