I have been working at Prettyman Broadcasting since 2010, doing a little bit of everything, but my passion is Sports! I graduated from Shepherd University in 2010, with a degree in Mass Communications and New Media. I hosted a sports radio show there for 3 years. I love sports writing too, so expect some fun articles on this blog. I love talking NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA. Make sure you comment on the blogs too, because I love discussing sports. Please Note: The opinions, analysis, and/or speculation expressed on wepm.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or labled as such do not represent the opinons or policies of Prettyman Broadcasting.
The AFC East has been dominated by the New England Patriots for over a decade. I don't expect to see that change in 2014. The Jets, Bills and Dolphins could all improve, but the Patriots added All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis in the offseason. He is a game changer.
1. New England Patriots (14-2)
Tom Brady has not won a Super Bowl in a long time, but the Patriots are always close. This could be the year they get back, after adding Darrelle Revis to their defense. The Patriots honestly were not a great team in 2013, yet still made it to the AFC Championship Game. Who knows how far they can go now, as they are a much improved team.
2. New York Jets (9-7)
The Jets improved in the offseason, adding RB Chris Johnson and WR Eric Decker, plus drafting TE Jace Amaro to help Geno Smith and the offense. The Jets season will likely come down to how good Geno plays. If he does well, they could make the playoffs. If he takes a step back, they could be at the bottom of the NFL. They also have question marks at cornerback. They are still the second best team in the AFC East though.
3. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Ryan Tannehill needs to take that next step in 2014. I am not sure he will though. Miami is a decent team, but still has plenty of holes. Not sure how good they can be in 2014, but they are similar to the Jets. If things go well they could challenge for a playoff spot. If things go bad: they could go very bad. I am not sure how much longer Joe Philbin has in Miami.
4. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
The Bills just signed QB Kyle Orton to a 1 year, $5 million deal. What was that about? Are they worried about EJ Manuel? I know that I am. Another team with a strong defense, they need their offense to step up. Drafting Sammy Watkins should help, but QB play is very important. Looks like Manuel could be on a short leash. We will see.
The AFC North is always one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL and that will continue in 2014. I literally could see any of the four teams winning the division, including the new look Cleveland Browns. We will see what the Bengals, Steelers and Ravens have to say about that.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
I picked the Steelers to win the division last year and they made me look bad. I am going to give it another try this year though. Despite the terrible start to 2013, the Steelers finished strong. I think that will carry over to 2014. Big Ben Roethlisberger looks as healthy and lean as he ever has. The defense is getting younger and stronger too. Pittsburgh returns to the playoffs as AFC North Champs this year.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
The Bengals will also make the playoffs in the AFC North. They are a strong team but they keep losing once they make the playoffs. Is this the year they get their first playoff win in over 20 years? I don't think so, but you never know. They definitely have all of the tools to make a playoff run. QB Andy Dalton was paid well this offseason. Now he has to earn it!
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
Joe Flacco and the Ravens failed to make the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl the year before and I think it will be tough for them to do it again this year. Like I said, all four teams in this division could end up winning it if the ball falls their way, but I give a slight edge to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati over the Ravens.
4. Cleveland Browns (7-9)
Johnny Football time!!!!!!!!!! Well, not just yet. New Browns Coach Mike Pettine named Brian Hoyer starting QB for the season opener against the Steelers. Eventually Johnny Manziel will take over. The Browns roster is stronger than people think. If they can get some offensive production, their defense could carry them to the playoffs.
The AFC South is another question mark division. You know you have the high-powered Indianapolis Colts, but what about the rest of the divsion? Can the Titans, Jaguars and Texans improve in 2014? I think so.
1. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
Look for Andrew Luck and the Colts to run away with this division in 2014. They are a strong team, who should only get better with time. Luck is entering his 3rd season, so he should be entering his prime soon. Reggie Wayne is back and healthy too. If the Colts defense can play better, they can compete with the Broncos for the AFC Crown.
2. Tennessee Titans (8-8)
I like Jake Locker. He started to play really well before his injury last season. This will likely be his last chance to succeed in Tennessee and I think he will step up to the challenge. They have a strong defense and a decent running game with Shonn Greene. The Titans will upset a few top teams this season. They are capable of winning more than people think.
3. Houston Texans (7-9)
Last year, the Texans finished dead last in the NFL. This year with the addition of #1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney to add to the already powerful pass rush of JJ Watt, the Texans defense should be strong. The offense still has Arian Foster and Andre Johnson too. We will see how their QB play is with Ryan Fitzpatrick. They will be a better team.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
I think the Jaguars will also be an improved team in 2014. Not quite playoff ready, but their defense is better than it was. Blake Bortles will be on the bench, so Chad Henne will start the 2014 season. Maybe a year or two away, but the Jaguars are headed in the right direction. That is a good thing too, since they have been lost for a couple years.
The AFC West has the defending AFC Champs in Peyton Manning and the Broncos, two Wild Card teams in the Chargers and Chiefs and a new look Raiders team. Looks like a very exciting 2014 for this division.
1. Denver Broncos (16-0)
The Broncos are back and better than they were in 2013. Hard to believe, but it is true. Just like 2013, I feel their only real competition is the New England Patriots. Look for Peyton Manning to have a good season, but not record breaking like he had last year. There is no need. Save it for the playoffs. They improved their defense with Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware and upgraded from Eric Decker to Emmanuel Sanders on offense. I like where the Broncos are headed.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
I like Andy Reid and I like Alex Smith, but after last year's playoff loss to the Colts, I am not sure how they will rebound in 2014. The Chiefs are still a top team in the West and have a top defense. They are a few steps behind the Broncos, but there is nothing wrong with that. I think they will return to the playoffs in 2014.
3. San Diego Chargers (8-8)
The Chargers were a surprise playoff team last year. They defeated the Bengals and played the Broncos tough. I think they will take a slight step back this season, but perhaps not. They are an interesting team to try to predict. They could actually take a step forward. It is nice to see Philip Rivers playing well. If he continues, then the Chargers can return to the playoffs.
4. Oakland Raiders (5-11)
Not too sure about the Raiders here. They added a bunch of veterans in the offseason, including Maurice Jones-Drew and Matt Schaub, but I am not sure how much better they will be this season. Rumors are that rookie QB Derek Carr will start this season. Maybe even Week 1 at the Jets. He should. He is the future.
Oh boy. The NFC East is an interesting division in 2014, as it is every season. Chip Kelly and the Eagles look to repeat as division champs, as the Redskins, Giants and Cowboys try to get back on track. Should be fun to watch!
1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
I am not sure anyone else in the NFC East can compete with the Eagles in 2014, but there is always a surprise in this division. The Eagles offense, led by Nick Foles, will be tough to stop. Their tempo is so fast, it can sometimes hurt their defense, but that should not be too big of an issue as the Eagles will score a lot of points. I think the Eagles have chance to make a big splash in the playoffs too. Dare I say Super Bowl?
2. Washington Redskins (9-7)
Jay Gruden takes over as Head Coach in DC this season. He should improve the Redskins, but that is not saying much, as they were pretty bad in 2013. I expect Robert Griffin III to answer his critics and play well this season. Their defense is a huge question mark though. Offensively, I really like the Redskins. Plenty of weapons including: Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson. The defense could hold them back though. I expect the Redskins to challenge for a Wild Card spot.
3. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
The Cowboys always end up (8-8) so why would I change that this year? Well, maybe because their defense is in shambles and QB Tony Romo is coming off back surgery. Still, I think Dallas will put enough together to not be terrible in 2014. Things could fall a part quick, but things could also go well too. I guess I went with the glass half full.
4. New York Giants (7-9)
Not too sure about the Giants this year. I think their offense is going to struggle and that their defense is also in transition. That normally does not add up to a successful season, but if you know the Giants, things don't always add up with them. Since I am ranking them last in my preview, they will probably win the NFC East. Maybe the Super Bowl.
The NFC North is a very strong division. It may even be underrated at the moment. I look for the Green Bay Packers to compete for a Super Bowl championship this year, but I don't think the Chicago Bears are too far behind. The Detroit Lions are getting a fresh start and I expect them to play strong. The Minnesota Vikings are a team who will surprise people too.
1. Green Bay Packers (12-4)
Aaron Rodgers is back and 100%. Not a good thing for Packers opponents. The Packers defense is also improved, though losing BJ Raji for the season hurts them. People forget they actually played pretty well without Rodgers last season. Having him back will spring the Packers forward to a successful season. Eddie Lacy also helps take pressure off of Rodgers. A good balance can keep both of them fresh for a long playoff run.
2. Chicago Bears (11-5)
I really like the Bears this year. I feel like I do most seasons and they end up disappointing me, but they should be tough to beat in 2014. Jay Cutler has Matt Forte in the backfield, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and newly added Santonio Holmes to throw to, and a strong defense to back him up. Look for the Bears to give the Packers a tough challenge for the NFC North crown.
3. Detroit Lions (8-8)
The Lions have a new coach in Jim Caldwell, so we will see how he changes the team from the Jim Schwartz era. I think it will take time for the Lions to get on track, but Matthew Stafford to MEGATRON Calvin Johnson never hurts to have. Reggie Bush is also a great weapon and they added former Seahawk Golden Tate too. The Lions will be okay this year. Their defense needs to improve though.
4. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)
The Vikings also have a new coach in Mike Zimmer. He has decided to start Matt Cassel over Teddy Bridgewater. We will see how long that lasts. Any team with Adrian Peterson has a chance to break out at any moment. I expect their defense to be improved too. The Vikings could be even better than I expect. Tough to predict.
I am not as high on the NFC South as other people are. I really like the New Orleans Saints. I think they have a chance to compete for a Super Bowl title this season, but I am not too sure about the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
Drew Brees is primed for another great season with an explosive offense, but I am more impressed with Rob Ryan's defense. If the other team is not scoring many points, it makes it even easier for the offense. Sean Payton is a great coach and I expect the Saints to continue to play well in 2014. As a Wild Card team last year, they won a road playoff game in Philadelphia. I think that will give them even more confidence in 2014.
2. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
Last year was definitely Hard Knocks for the Falcons. In 2012 the Falcons were the #1 seed in the NFC. Last year, things fell a part quickly. Atlanta still needs to improve their defense, but I think a healthy Roddy White and Julio Jones will help Matt Ryan a lot. Still, he has lost his safety blanket with Tony Gonzalez retiring. It will be interesting to see how the offense shifts without him there.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Head Coach Lovie Smith is a big addition to Tampa Bay. They honestly have not had a good Head Coach since Super Bowl winner Jon Gruden. Tampa Bay should have a strong offense with new QB Josh McCown. They have plenty of weapons, including: Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin. They also should have an even better defense in 2014. They will surprise some people and contend for a playoff spot. They might be a year away, but they are close.
4. Carolina Panthers (9-7)
I have a lot of question marks for the Panthers this season. #1: Can Cam Newton finally take that step and become an elite QB? He needs to for them to succeed. #2: Who are going to be their WR's? They lost most of them from last season. I like Jericho Cotchery, but not sure he can carry this unit. Their defense will keep them in games, but I am worried for the Panthers. There is a trend in the NFC South of going from First to Worst. I think it happens again.
The NFC West is the best division in the NFL. No doubt about it. All four teams would make the playoffs if they were spread across the NFL. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals, and Rams: That is not the case. It did not hurt the Seahawks too much in 2013, as they went on to become Super Bowl Champions. I think that could happen again in 2014.
1. Seattle Seahawks (15-1)
The defending Super Bowl Champions are going to be tough to beat this year. It might sound scary, but I think this team is better than last year. Possibily a lot better. If QB Russell Wilson takes the next step, I think the Seahawks could become the next dynasty in the NFL. I think he will too, so expect Seattle to be competing for a championship every year, for the next decade. Don't forget about the Legion of Boom and their defense overall. Marshawn Lynch held out briefly, but he is back, and should continue to rack up yards. What about a healthy Percy Harvin? Wow, Seattle is stacked. Clearly my Super Bowl favorite.
2. San Francisco 49ers (10-6)
The 49ers offense definitely has not looked great in the preseason, but it is called the preseason for a reason. I think San Francisco will get it together as the season starts, and have another great season. They are not as good as Seattle though. I don't feel they made the right moves to go ahead of them either. Jim Harbaugh is a great coach though, so I still expect them to succeed this season. I am still not sold on Colin Kaepernick.
3. Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
The Cardinals had a great 2013 season, finished (10-6), but it was not enough to make the playoffs. I think they take a step back in 2014, but will still be a competitive team. You have to wonder how much Carson Palmer has left? The offense will be a question mark. I still think their defense will be one of the best in the NFL, but in a tough division, it will be difficult for the Cardinals to make a playoff push in 2014.
4. St. Louis Rams (6-10)
Listen, this was a tough pick for me, but Sam Bradford being lost for the season is a big loss for the Rams. They have a great defense, just like the rest of the NFC West, but losing your starting QB is big. How much of a drop off is Sam Bradford to Shaun Hill? Hard to say. Might not be as much as people think, but it might be enough to cost them. They have weapons on offense though. If Hill plays well, you might be able to flip them from (6-10) to (10-6).
SUPER BOWL XLIX PREDICTION:
I think we are going to have a re-match of last year's Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos vs. the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos will play much better than they did last year, but it will not be enough to stop the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS from repeating as Super Bowl Champions. It should be a great season, folks! Thanks for reading. Can't wait to get things started on Thursday.
7:00: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets
Andrew Luck and the Colts are looking to have a big year. Can they take that next step and make a Super Bowl push? The Jets on the otherhand, are just hoping to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Can they do it? If not, Rex Ryan could be coaching elsewhere in 2015.
7:30: New England Patriots at Washington Redskins
Tom Brady won't play tonight and as we all know: He does not need to. The Patriots are set this year and should be front-runners to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Although I am sure Peyton Manning and the Broncos have something to say about that. As for the Redskins, it is a start of a new era. The Jay Gruden era. Hopefully RGIII is 100% healthy now and can step his game up in 2014. I see the Redskins as a potential playoff team.
7:30: San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens
This game sounds familiar doesn't it? Hopefully M&T Bank Stadium's lights stay on the whole time. The 49ers hope to return to the Super Bowl this year. It won't be easy with the defending champion Seahawks in their division though. As for the Ravens, they suddenly are in a very competitive division. Can they return to the playoffs after missing in 2013? Tonight they can start that journey.
9:00 Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos
Again, I have seen this game before. I think there is potential to see it again in February too. There is no reason the Seahawks or the Broncos can't return to the Super Bowl. You could argue both are better teams now than they were last year. Tonight should be fun to see both teams back on the field.
10:00: Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers
I put this game on my preview because you can watch it live on NFL Network tonight. Tony Romo won't be playing for the Cowboys tonight and I have to be honest: it could be a tough year in Dallas. Their offense should be okay, but the defense may really struggle. The Chargers are coming off a surprising playoff season, but their schedule looks very tough in 2014. If Philip Rivers continues to show he can be a top QB, you might just see them in the playoffs again this year.