This is going to be something that I am going to try and keep up this season. Each week I will be giving my picks for the week(I will actually be making these picks on pigskin pickem on ESPN). I will also be giving my eliminator challenge pick. So on Wednesday, I will be giving my pick for the Thursday night game, and my eliminator pick if it comes from that game, as well as either a summary of the previous week or some kind of fantasy analysis for the next week. Friday or Saturday should be picks for the rest of the Sunday and Monday games. So without further ado, here is the first Thursday pick, and my 2015 NFL Season Preview(AFC)
Patriots over Steelers
This one was a lot easier to pick than it may seem at first glance. Both of these teams made the playoffs last year, and look like strong contenders to return there this year. I say it is easy to pick the Patriots because of one person: Tom Brady. Oh boy, he has had this date circled on their calendar for months. Ever since he got suspended for four games, he has been waiting to finally be able to take the field in a meaningful game, with the sole purpose of embarrassing the league and the commissioner. In fact, he decided to not even attend the game Thursday night. Tom Brady is going to come out firing Thursday Night and really I feel bad for the Pittsburgh defense. The Patriots should be pumped and ready to go for this game, and should win by double-digit points.
NFL Season Preview
So since the season gets underway tonight(I’m writing this on Thursday afternoon before the game… what can I say I procrastinate), there is no better time to do my AFC season predictions than now(NFC will come when I pick the rest of the week 1 games). So here goes nothing:
So I think four of those teams, Colts, Patriots, Broncos, and Ravens, are very easy playoff calls just from looking at their teams right now. They will be in the playoffs, if they don’t win the division they will be wildcards. The Colts play in a very weak division and should have no problem running away with it again. They also have one of the league’s best offenses. I think that they should end up with home field advantage. Besides their six conference games, they also have to play the weak NFC South, as well as games against the AFC East.
While the Bills, Jets, Dolphins are all very decent teams, I think the Colts should be able to win at least two of those three games. The Patriots game will be ugly for Colts fans(get ready for cries of deflated is balls again that week. its the story that just won’t go away #ballgazi). They also play the Broncos and Steelers, and I don’t think win both of those games as well(the steelers D is not good, and who knows what the Broncos will look like at that point). Now does this mean the Colts will go 15-1? Hell no! They play the games for a reason, but 13-3 does not sound crazy to me.
Wow that was a lot on the Colts, so let’s speed through the rest of the playoff teams. The Patriots are pissed off and are about to start a four month period of just annihilating people. There will be one bad loss, but that will even motivate them even more. 12-4 feels about right. Watch out for the Patriots, they are in F you mode as Bill Simmons would like to say(3 weeks until we get Bill back!!!). You can call me a sucker, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, but I kind of like the Broncos this year. Yes I am taking a lot of stock in some older players staying healthy for a whole season, but I still like them. I wrote back in January that I thought Manning would be back, and the main reason he played so poorly down the stretch last year was his torn quad. With CJ Anderson, or Hillman if they prefer him, Manning has a lot of pressure taken off of him. Owen Daniels is a better receiving option than you think. The Ware/Miller combo can get pressure on opposing Qbs. I think like 10/11 wins isn’t crazy.
The Ravens appear to be a very rock solid team, and 10 wins seems like just the right amount. They will again have a very solid defense, and if the secondary can stay healthy(like nearly every S and CB got injured for them last year). I’m not the biggest Joe Flacco or Trestman fan but they will do well together. This will be a Ravens team that is very hard to beat, so watch out. The Steelers and Dolphins are my two picks for the wild card spots. It’s not that crazy to think that the Steelers could have the league’s best offense in 2015, I wouldn’t pick them but its not crazy. There defense needs some help, but they can hang around with nearly any team. The Dolphins could be a very solid team. Suh and Wake are a great combo on the defensive line. Brent Grimes is a good corner. I also like the offense, as Ryan Tannehill looks like he has the pieces around him to make a leap. DeVante Parker could be pretty good, Jarvis Landry is also good. Lamar Miller is also a very solid RB. I think each of these teams wins 10 games.
For the other ten teams that don’t make the playoffs here is one, semi-serious thought each. Bengals: Will Dalton be in Cincy this time in a year? Jets/Bills: Can either team convince Kyle Orton to play just one more year? Texans: Is JJ Watt human? If not, can he play QB? Chiefs: We know a WR will catch a TD, but when will it be? Chargers: Do they have one last playoff run in them as the SAN DIEGO Chargers? Raiders: Can they make what may be their potential last year in Oakland look competent? Browns: What percentage of Browns fans would trade Manziel for Cardale(or any college qb) right now? I bet the number is higher than you would think. Jaguars: Is this the year we see sparks of life down in Jacksonville? Titans: Mariota: the next college star qb to flop in the NFL, or the one to break the trend?
Playoff Predictons: The Ravens and Broncos will win the Wild Card games. The Ravens will upset the Colts, and move on to play the Patriots. What could be better than a Ravens/Patriots AFC title game. I think the Ravens are going to be really good this year(warning: whenever I predict Baltimore sports teams to do well, they flop. This was the first year I thought the Orioles would win the AL East. Consider yourself warned). But, the Patriots are just so locked in and while I may be very far in on the Ravens, I am all the way in on the Patriots. The Patriots are my pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
look for NFC, Super Bowl, and Award predictions later this week(Saturday?), twitter: @TVG_5 for debates/disagreements(don’t be a jerk, I have no problems just blocking you)
Ted Van Green
Spark Sports NFL Analyst