I’m back for a 5th season of shenanigans, wacky predictions, a bit of humor, and perhaps even some useful football knowledge. As a reminder, these first posts are very long every year, so if you want a cliff notes version, read everything but hold off on reading analysis on EVERY team. Just pick a few you’re interested in.
Other than the fact that it’s FMQB and it’s fun to get pumped for the football season, why should you read this? Take a brief look at 2 of last year’s predictions and figure out why:
- I successfully predicted the Super Bowl winner, picking the Patriots. (albeit I had them defeating the Bears, oops)
- I correctly predicted 4 teams records on the nose. And was only 1 win/loss on 12 others. That’s half the league!
- Bonus prediction: I had Nick Foles as the league MVP (his team didn’t even make the playoffs)…you win some you lose some
Sam Bradford will tear it up in Philadelphia, taking the team to the playoffs
Darren McFadden wins comeback player of the year (over Adrian Peterson, but he won’t get it due to NFL politics)
Jimmy Graham will struggle with the Seahawks. <5 TD’s and under 700 yards.
Marcus Mariotta will far out-perform Jameis Winston
DeMarco Murray will drop off drastically, LeSean McCoy will out rush him in their new respective teams
Ben Roethlisberger will lead the league in Yards and/or TD’s thrown this year
My rookies to watch:
Melvin Gordon (Chargers) will become a 3 down back by Week 4, and rush for 1000 yards and 15 TD’s.
Maxx Williams (Gopher TE) will be a fantasy sleeper by the end of the year
DeVante Parker (Dolphins) will thrive with Ryan Tannehill
Surprise teams to make playoffs:
Surprise teams to miss playoffs:
Two most Overrated teams:
Seattle and Denver (but both will still limp into the playoffs)
Two most Underrated teams:
Bills and Rams
Recap of Names (including a couple new ones):
I sort of got away from the nicknames last year, but am vowing to stick to it this year. Here is a recap of a few of them below
Detroit Cecils (new)
Philadelphia Nightmares (still that “Dream Team” that Vince Young proclaimed, just 4 years later)
Kansas City Chieves
New England Deflatriots (new)
Los Tramposos (Giants, from many years ago. It’s Spanish for “cheaters” I considered switching this to the Patriots nickname but won’t to avoid confusion).
I may be forgetting some, bonus points if anybody can toss some of the older ones my way…
After all the talking, drafts, controversies, training camps, etc.; it is almost a relief to actually get to playing football. I’ve said it in the past, but why are top notch tight ends in this league so hard to guard? If I was facing Rob Gronkowski, I would put my top cornerback on him every time. If he decides to block, worst case scenario you’re only giving up a chunk of running yards. But the first TD last night literally had nobody across the line from Gronk. The second, he easily ran past 2 safeties who were 5 yards behind him chasing him. The 3rd one, after a shift, a linebacker a good 12 inches shorter than Gronk found himself one on one on the outside. How does this seriously keep happening when everybody knows where the ball is going?
Team by Team Predictions:
Patriots (2014: 12-4)- Super Bowl defending champs, and unfortunately they look to be strong again this year. They lucked out that Brady can play Week 1, and they should cruise to a first round bye in the playoffs despite being in a tougher division. Look for another deep playoff run despite some controversies or worries in the middle of the season. 11-5
Dolphins (2014: 8-8)- I think the Dolphins are a team on the rise, although they severely overpaid Tannehill to stay. But getting Suh will beef up their defense. This is one of those teams where a few bounces of the ball determines whether they go 6-10 or 10-6. So I’ll have them finish at 9-7, barely missing out on the playoffs.
Jets (2014: 4-12)- Geno Smith getting punched in the face may have been the best thing that happened to this team in the offseason. However they probably got the top coach of the offseason as well, which should shore up their defense. In saying that, having a backup QB the first 6 weeks of the season, they’ll be out of it before Geno even comes back (not that he’s much of an improvement). I think their D wins them a couple games, otherwise they’ll have a high draft pick with a 3-13 rebuilding season.
Bills (2014: 9-7)- Rex Ryan is the best thing that has happened to the Bills since Marv Levy. I think their 15 year playoff drought ends this year, even with the revolving QB door they seem to have. They look to field a strong defense, and Ryan’s energy should be enough to push the team over the hump. I have them being a surprise team and stumbling into the playoffs at 10-6.
Bengals (2014: 10-5-1)- The Bengals have surprised me every year being in probably the toughest divisions in football. The Ravens and Steelers have been to (and won) recent Super Bowls with very similar casts, yet Cincinnati has made the playoffs the last 4 years (despite not winning a game). They will field another strong team this year, but I think the Bengals barely miss out on a tiebreaker with a 10-6 record.
Ravens (2014: 10-6)- The Ravens are one of those teams that quietly field a very strong team each year. I think this is going to be an epic battle at the end of the season for who takes the division, but with an aging cast of characters and no big names on offense otherwise, I think the Ravens hit 9-7 and barely miss out.
Steelers (2014: 11-5)- The Steelers had an explosive offense last year, and even with some early suspensions to big players (Bryant and Bell), I think the division is theirs. Early loss to New England, but they’ll finish at a similar 11-5 this season.
Browns (2014: 7-9)- The Browns should have another rough season. Josh McCown is with his 3rd team in as many years, and who knows if Manziel has actually turned over a new leaf, or if he’ll be the same ‘ol same ‘ol. Josh Gordon somehow got suspended for the season for drinking alchohol (while Brady got off scott free for cheating, but that’s a whole other blog). I actually see a regression and Mike Pettine losing his job. Look for 4-12.
Broncos (2014: 12-4)- This is still the Broncos division, but it’s sad to watch Manning slowly age. Each year it seems like his arm strength dwindles and throwing into tight windows becomes more of a chore. With Kubiak as the new head coach, expect a heavy running attack to take pressure off of Peyton. I’m putting this as the last competitive year in his career, but not enough to go deep into the playoffs. They’ll take the division at 10-6, but enjoy Peyton’s last run at a title.
Chiefs (2014: 9-7)- I battled throwing the Chiefs in the playoffs again this year. Andy Reid and Alex Smith are a good combo for their “2nd careers.” They also have the defense that could potentially make a push, but overall I don’t see them being an explosive team that can hang with the strong AFC. They’re also in a stronger division, so I’m actually going to go in the other direction and predict 7-9.
Raiders (2014: 3-13)- Despite a measly 3-13 season, I think the Raiders are going to slowly turn the ship around. I really like Derek Carr, and they got him the top WR in the draft and Michael Crabtree to bolster the offense. I could see them turning heads a bit in a few games, but still finishing last in the division at 6-10.
Chargers (2014: 9-7)- Despite starting 5-1, the Chargers fizzled to end the season. I love the addition of Melvin Gordon, and think that he could be a key cog in the wheel for that team in the very near future. I have the Chargers slipping into the playoffs at 10-6.
Houston (2014: 9-7)- The Texans had a surprising run last year after having the #1 overall pick. I challenge you to name their starting QB…because I couldn’t. It’s down to Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. I was on the Hoyer bandwagon last year in Cleveland, but he didn’t live up to expectations. Now with Foster missing some time and Andre Johnson gone, could be a tougher year. 5-11.
Indianapolis (2014: 11-5)- I can’t decide how I feel about Indy’s new offense. Reggie Wayne is gone, and replaced by a 34 year old Andre Johnson. Frank Gore is always solid, but he’s also 32 (although anybody is an upgrade from Trent Richardson. Overall I think that Andrew Luck can will almost anybody to win, and they’ll see another solid season. I think they limp in at 10-6 but then go on a tear to make it to the Super Bowl.
Tennessee (2014: 2-12)- I’m a bit excited about the Titans this year, to the tune that I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Mariotta was similar to RGIII and took his team to the playoffs his rookie year. I’m not expecting that quick of a turnaround though, but watch them to surprise a heavy hitter or two, and at least improve upon last season ending at 6-10.
Jacksonville (2014: 3-13)- Bortles is an NFL style (and sized) quarterback, but he threw way too many picks last year. He’s pretty much the only bright spot on a Jacksconville team that hasn’t seen any success since David Garrard. More of the same, ending at 3-13 for a second straight year.
Washington Redskins (2014: 4-12)- The best thing that happened to the Redskins was RGIII getting hurt in the preseason. Kirk Cousins showed flashes last year despite not winning. The turmoil of RGIII will continue to be a constant headline in Washington, which is sad because he has a pretty solid team around him. Watch Cousins start the first 7 games and have RGIII finish out the season, ending at 5-11.
New York Giants (2014: 6-10)- Another disappointing season. The Giants seem to be one of those teams that are stuck in mediocrity until they make the playoffs. Manning alone makes this team competitive in games, and Beckham, Cruz and Jennings should add some flash. But they have a sieve of a defense, including one player who “don’t know how many fingers I lost.” They’re also in a pretty competitive division, and I struggle to see them improve over last year, finishing 7-9.
Dallas Cowboys (2014: 12-4)- The talk of the team will be their Offensive line again. While not “sexy” draft picks, last year showed just how good a team could become with a solid line. DeMarco Murray is gone, but I think Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden will be a very nice supplement. As most readers know, I think Tony Romo is a Super Bowl caliber QB (which most people don’t agree with). Dallas should easily take the division at 12-4, and very well could make a Super Bowl run this year.
Philadelphia Eagles (2014: 10-6)- The Eagles could be really interesting this year. I’m still completely on the Sam Bradford bandwagon, and feel like with a good supporting cast around him he is a legitimate QB in this league, but he’s also been unfairly plagued by injuries. I think this is finally his year to prove himself to the league, and I see him taking the team to the playoffs as a Wild Card at 11-5.
Green Bay Packers (2014: 12-4)- The Packers are definitely the team to beat in the division, if not the conference as a whole. Jordy Nelson’s injury hurts them, but I like DaVante Adams and what he brings to the table on top of Randall Cobb. Aaron Rodgers alone makes nearly any team 8-8 at the worst. I just really can’t foresee any hiccups with the squad this year, and see them cruising to another 12-4 record.
Minnesota Vikings (2014: 7-9)- The Vikings are very intriguing to me this year. I think Mike Zimmer could turn into a great coach in the league, and he seemed to get the team going in the right direction the second half of the season last year. Teddy Bridgewater also matured a lot and very quickly, and now Adrian Peterson is back all season (with hopefully no distractions for the team). I’m really battling on whether they can make the playoffs, but I think they have one more year (although solid) before that happens. They’re on the bubble at 9-7.
Chicago Bears (2014: 5-11)- Well, I was totally off on the Bears last year as they completely tanked. I’m still not giving up on Cutler, and I think the addition of John Fox as the coach could pay dividends. But with Brandon Marshall gone and Matt Forte aging, I think there are a couple years of struggles before righting the ship. I actually see a slight regression, going to 4-12 this year.
Detroit Lions (2014: 11-5)- The Lions were solid last year, but also lost 2 key pieces on their defensive line including Suh. There’s also no more Reggie Bush on offense, and Calvin Johnson isn’t as explosive as he was 2 years ago. I think the Lions put up another solid year, but have a few teams squeak past them in the playoffs while ending 9-7.
San Francisco 49ers (2014: 8-8)- If there’s a team that crashed and burned more than the 49ers have in a 2 year span, I’d love to hear who that was. They went from a team that made 3 straight NFC Championships and a Super Bowl, to 8-8 last year, losing their stud head coach, a handful of their best players surprisingly retiring very young. I don’t see much for optimism coming from this team anymore as it is a mere shell of the team that was in the Super Bowl. I’m expecting a pretty rough go and a 4-12 finish.
Seattle Seahawks (2014: 12-4)- The Seahawks came 1 yard away from repeating as Super Bowl champions last year, and they definitely still have a target on their back. They kept a lot of key pieces around them, but I’m calling an upset this year. I think they make the playoffs but don’t win the division. I see them finishing 11-5.
St. Louis Rams (2014: 6-10)- Ahhh the Rams. Every year I come in super excited about our team, and I’m moreso intrigued this year. I loved the Todd Gurley draft pick, and I’m still disappointed in the Sam Bradford loss, but still interested to see what Nick Foles does with the team. The defense is extremely strong, and I think we could have an interesting dynamic. Without a strong receiving corps, and Gurley out until November, I don’t see the Rams as a playoff team. But could definitely see a decent outing as well as playing spoiler a bit while finishing 8-8.
Arizona Cardinals (2014: 11-5)- The Cardinals are my dark horse team this year. I went to Nevada and placed a Super Bowl bet on Arizona. With Palmer healthy, a great D, strong WR’s, excellent coach, and a bit of the “under the radar” piece; I think they could make a deep run. I even have them beating out the Seahawks for the division at 12-4.
Atlanta Falcons (2014: 6-10)- Atlanta is an odd team to me, and it seems like their biggest flaw is that the bounce of the ball completely tips the scales on their entire season every year. New coaching staff and they definitely struggled last year, however Matt Ryan and Julio Jones aren’t anything to mess with. I’m seeing a similar season though, ending at 7-9.
New Orleans Saints (2014: 7-9)- The Saints always have the chance to be explosive, and they’re in a terrible division again this year. I see a 9-7 team winning the division this year, and I think the Saints are it. Mark Ingram may also show the league that he deserves to be an every down back.
Carolina Panthers (2014: 7-8-1)- Kelvin Benjamin’s injury was devastating to this team, as he should have been a receiver to watch this year. I also think Cam is going to struggle with injuries again this year which will hurt the team. So I’m seeing a 6-10 campaign.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014: 2-14)- The best part about getting the #1 overall pick is it’s hard to do much worse. But watching Jameis Winston in the preseason was tough. He does have weapons around him though with Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, and Doug Martin. I see Winston leading the league in interceptions, but improving the team to 4-12.
Best Fantasy Names of the Year:
The Walking Dez
JPP You’re a Firework!
When it Waynes, It Gores
Stat of the Week:
By the end of the 2014 season, Sam Bradford will have started 49 games for the Rams, and missed 31 games. All while earning $65 million. IF he starts in 2015, it will be 23 months since he played in a game that counted.
*Vikings and Lions on the bubble
2: New England
5: San Diego
*Cincinnati and Baltimore on the bubble
Colts vs Packers (Packers Win): It’s Super Bowl 50, how cool would it be to bookend the first 50 years with the Packers winning #1 and #50.