Right about now seems to be the perfect time to start making calls about how teams will fare for the upcoming season. Depth charts are starting to smooth out and players are indicating they're ready to breakout. I've tried to make some predictions more daring than others, but not for the sake of it. I'd love to hear your thoughts, and if you make a prediction in the comments I'll mention it at the end of the year and see if you were right.
So without further adieu...
Prediction: The Bills make the playoffs as a wildcard, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starter...
I know it seems like Buffalo instill within themselves a false sense of hope before every season, but they're actually building a team using some hint of logic this time around. The league completely ignored C.J. Spiller's impressive late-season surge after Fred Jackson broke his leg, and the team now finds themselves with arguably the best top two running backs on a single team (possibly better than the Arian Foster-Ben Tate duo). In addition, the Bills' O-Line is now above-average, even with the sizable loss of Demetriuss Bell. However, it's the defense that will make this team competitive; the Bills will have an uber-talented defensive line led by impact player Mario Williams along with Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mark Anderson. Chan Gailey will find out that Anderson can't play every down, but they'll survive. In addition, the Bills have one of the more unheralded secondaries in the league, Aaron Williams showed promise last year and Stephon Gilmore has had a fantastic camp while Terrance McGee will man the slot. The real gem is Jairus Byrd, who is actually playing better than when he recorded 8 interceptions in his rookie year. Unfortunately, the passing game is shaping up to be pretty pedestrian. Fitzpatrick is an average-level QB at best, Stevie Johnson is a great no. 2 receiver masquerading as a primary target and the supporting cast of Donald Jones, Scott Chandler and Derek Hagan shouldn't really be starting in this league (although Hagan is underrated). Gailey will stick with Fitzpatrick because he knows that they're going down together, and that will be enough for the team to just slide into the wildcard spot in a weak division.
Breakout Player: C.J. Spiller... He'll ease Jackson into more of a backup role.
Prediction: Matt Moore loses his starting job by Week 10.
I like Matt Moore, moreso than Fitzpatrick, but he placed a lot of faith in Brandon Marshall last year, and he'll be working with the worst wide receiver corps in the league this season. Right now, it's a distinct possibility that Chad Ochocinco leads the Fins in receiving yards, although Davone Bess should take that role and that says a lot about the team because Bess is, in reality, a short-yardage specialist. The Dolphins are reaping the rewards of **** drafting, and they now find themselves relying on players who are being forced onto the field more than their talent probably deserves (Anthony Fasano and Brian Hartline come to mind). Before Week 10, Jeff Ireland and Stephen Ross will come to the realisation that playing Moore is a waste of time, and they'll bring on Tannehill mostly because they would rather him get rid of the nerves this year and to keep Dolphins fans from tying a brick to their ankles and jumping into the nearest lake. The defense could be decent with players like Karlos Dansy, Kevin Burnett and Richard Marshall, but the truth is that Miami don't have the pieces in place yet to actually kick-off their rebuilding phase - which has been in place for about 20 years.
Breakout Player: Richard Marshalll... Coach Joe Philbin says he'll play the slot this year, but the guy can literally play anywhere in the back. He's too good to only be the slot cornerback on an underacheiving secondary.
Prediction: The New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl, and Tom Brady will break the record for passing yards in a season.
I seriously don't get the whole idea that New England will struggle somehow to make the Super Bowl again. I think this passing attack could arguably go down as one of the greatest ever in a single season - Gronkowski, Welker, Hernandez, Lloyd and Gaffney will lead a frightening group of passcatchers. New England's running attack will be more dangerous, and the defense should really improve, especially if Andre Carter returns and plays somewhere near his level last season. The pass-rush will rely on new guys like Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and the underrated Trevor Scott to pressure the QB, but their job will be a lot easier because the NE offense can realistically expect to put up 35 points a game. If Patrick Chung and Ras-I Dowling play to their potential, the secondary could turn into a strength. Furthermore, the media will be breathing down the New Orleans Saints' necks and Brady will quietly churn his way through opponents week-by-week.
Breakout Player: Trevor Scott... He could find himself as the primary pass rusher in this defense, much like Tully Banta-Cain was.
Prediction: Rex Ryan is fired at the end of the 2012 season.
There are way too many reasons as to why this will happen. First off, the defense will probably play great, and Rex deserves full credit for that (having Darrelle Revis helps), but he has completely ruined what should be a perfectly functional offense. The key in my eyes is the offensive line, which is now a weakness, and features the worst right tackle to start for a few years in the form of Wayne Hunter. Santonio Holmes is being treated like he's Rex's first son, which would explain why he hasn't eaten him yet, and that whole situation is asking to be criticised in the locker room. The players love Tim Tebow already, and they kinda hate Mark Sanchez (it doesn't help that his girlfriend is Kate Upton), but neither of them can win the division. Shonn Greene is one half of a committee backfield, except Ryan expects him to be both halves. Did I mention Wayne Hunter? Seriously, the coach's stubborness will be his undoing, it's like he's just waiting to win a Super Bowl so he can say 'I told you I knew what I was doing! **** the diet!'. The Jets front office won't wait around that long. It's a shame, because he clearly has potential in the league as a coach, and maybe he'll learn from this. It's more than I can say for his brother, sheesh.
Breakout Player: Muhammad Wilkerson... Say what you want about him, Rex Ryan knows defense, and Wilkerson is following up an impressive rookie season with a fantastic training camp. The nature of his position means he probably won't light up the stat sheet, but the Jets won't be complaining.
- 1. New England.
- 2. Buffalo.
- 3. New York.
- 4. Miami.
Once again, please comment and if you write a prediction I'll post it at the end of the year and see if you were right.