First and 10

2. Neither Seattle or San Francisco wins the NFC West


Both St. Louis and Arizona are really good football teams

Not only could any of the four teams in the NFC West win the divsion, all could win the Super Bowl — it’s that good of a group. You already know about the Seahawks and Niners, but what about the Cardinals who finished 10-6 a season ago and saw two teams with worse records than them in the conference make the playoffs? Or how about the Rams, who finished first in forced fumbles (24) and third in sacks (53) in the entire NFL? While their defensive strengths might be different, both Arizona (secondary) and St. Louis (front seven) have two of the best units in the league. Since Seattle won the NFC West with a stout defense and serviceable offense in 2013, why can’t either the Rams or Cardinals do the same in 2014? Unlike most divisions, all four teams truly have a chance in this one.

1. Cleveland wins the AFC North, or at least makes the playoffs


Johnny Football knows how to win

Because the Browns are the Browns your average NFL fan doesn’t realize just how good this team can be in 2014. Cleveland had five Pro Bowlers a year ago, and arguably won the draft by picking up the best cornerback (Justin Gilbert) and best quarterback (Johnny Manziel) in the class. The signings in free agency of Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby and Ben Tate were also very strong. But, let’s go back to Johnny Football. The dude won in college, going 2-0 in his bowl games, winning the Heisman Trophy once and finishing fifth the other time, and, oh yeah, beating Alabama in 2012 in Tuscaloosa, handing the Tide their only loss in a year they won the National Championship. You might doubt him because you don’t like him, but he’s done nothing on the field thus far to show that anyone should.

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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.