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The NFC North should be quite entertaining for the 2014 season. Chicago, the champs of 2013 look to be the favorite, but will the neglect at the wide receiver position this offseason be their downfall? Can the Lions continue to turn around a dead franchise like last season? One of the oldest teams in the league, the Vikings could potentially make a run for the title as well, but this has to be their year. They made some huge moves this offseason by picking up Romo and Colston so they should be fun to watch on offense. Then, there are the Packers who have struggled heavily the past 2 seasons. Can a new coach and a solid group of rookies turn this franchise around?
Prediction to win the NFC North: Bears (10-6)
As usual, the NFC East looks to be the most competitive division in football. It will probably produce two 9 win teams, one 8 win, and one 7 win. The Eagles seem to be in the best position at this point with their firepower on offense, but the defense looks questionable, more specifically the d-line. Can Big Ben rape the competition once again or will he crumble under pressure? The Redskins made a big move in the offseason by move veteran CB Deangelo Hall; however, they still have RG3 to keep their playoff hopes alive. Dallas didn’t gain much in the offseason, but they didn’t lose much either. Look for this team to get hot at the beginning of the season with big help from Dez Bryant. The New York Giants made a huge move in the offseason to regain Victor Cruz from Seattle. However, they have a mess in the backfield and we’ll see how that pans out early in the season.
Prediction: Eagles (9-7)
The NFC South could be closer this season than last. The Buccaneers finally got a solid MLB in the draft when they picked up Jamaul Garcia in the 1st round. Do they have the star power to hang with ATL, NO, and CAR though? After a horrible season, the Falcons hope to bounce back in a big way. Their key acquisitions include WR Santana Moss, WR Ted Ginn, rookie CB Devin Orange, and rookie SS Efrem Sanders. The team that lost the NFC championship last season is probably the most improved team coming into this season. The Panthers have added superstar WR AJ Green, rookie FS Calvin Steele, and speedster HB Jabyess Crumley. In what looks to be Drew Brees last season, the Saints still have hope to win the South. They added rookie HB DeAndre Bailey, rookie CB Desmond Jones, and rookie RE Dwayne Patterson, but they will have to make a move for a better #1 WR if they want to make any noise.
Prediction: Carolina (11-5)
When you talk about the NFC West, of course you have to mention the reigning super bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. This team looks stronger than ever after acquiring talent via the #4 (CB J. Grey) and #6 (WR O. Smith) picks in the draft. They also added rookie DT Joseph Takatua and rookie TE Poppy Boyd. The only question mark for them is whether or not they have the talent to beat people in the passing game this year without V. Cruz. Then you have Arizona who had a quiet offseason but still added some valuable pieces in WR Golden Tate and rookie K Tyler Bandera. The 49ers hope to have a better season this year with their bone-crushing defense and power run offense. 6’4” rookie WR Bronson Rivers hopes to be a big playmaker for this team down the stretch. Winners of the Aarin Carroll sweepstakes, the St. Louis Rams look to strongly improve after a dreadful 2-14 performance last season. Don’t sleep on the Rams this year.
Prediction: Seattle (12-4)
The defending AFC champion, Buffalo Bills have proven to be a solid contender year in and year out, and you shouldn’t expect that to change this season. They had no needs to address in the offseason but still gained some depth at big positions like tackle, corner, and safety. Can this team compete without a solid 3rd receiver though? Our experts think yes. After an unexpected season in Miami, the Dolphins think they can win the division this season. They didn’t do much in the offseason, but the key is that they didn't lose anything either. This team will easily win 10 and maybe even 11. The New York Jets went straight for their needs and found immediate starters in the draft on both sides. This run game will be fun to watch this year. Look for Deangelo Williams to eclipse 1,500 yards in a solid season for New York. The New England Patriots were hit hard this offseason with news of Brady’s retirement. This fan base is use to failure by now, but can this new coach turn things around? We’re ready to see how they expect score without Brady and co.
Prediction: Bills (12-4)
The Denver Broncos got their guy in the 1st this year. Since his arrival, Kody Arias has had reported of excellent chemistry between himself, X. Waters, D. Thomas, and E. Decker. This could be a potential sleeper team in the AFC, but they made need one more season to compete. The San Diego Chargers are another team that found some immediate help in the draft. They picked up LOLB Ashton Blue (early favorite for AFC DROY) and LE Terrell Levingston. The Raiders have made some significant improvement at cetain positions, but lost some talent at others. Regardless, the addition of Clay Matthews is one that Arias, Dalton, and Vick will all feel quickly. Speaking of Vick, the Chiefs have made some huge changes after last season. The biggest was the fact that the head coach gave it up after producing 2 tremendous seasons for Chief fans. However, the new guy must be doing something right as he’s added Vick, and got this team believing in themselves after a big loss in the AFC Championship.
Prediction: Oakland (11-5)
The Texans hope to stay on top of the AFC South once again in 2014. After some bold moves by the head coach, this team has a now or never mentality. The defense looks to be one of the best in the league with additions of CB D. Hall, DT D. Peko, RE A. Smith, and SS D. Manning. Also, Brian Cushing will be back this year after a season long suspension issued by Goodell in week 1 of last season after Cushing had roid rage during their lunch together and power bombed Goodell through a table. Fans in Tennessee have high expectations this season after greatly improving the d-line with Justin Tuck and rookie DT Rudy Outlaw. The Colts played New York Yankees ball this offseason and outspent everyone to get their guys such as RE L. Castillo, DT C. Jenkins, and HB J. McKnight. Then you have the Jags, who could very well win this division. The head coach was on vacation all off-season, but he has reportedly been gameplanning for his division foes the whole time. Look for Jones-Drew and Mike Wallace to lead this team to at least 9 wins.
Prediction: Texans (11-5)
Much like the Broncos in the West, the Bengals have made some significant changes this offseason but could probably use one more year before becoming relevant. They did, however, get their franchise QB in the first in Kyle Angle. This team has a few more needs, but can still produce a 7+ win season if Angle can figure out the NFL d’s like he did in college. Cleveland has had a great offseason as well. They added WR Sidney Rice, QB Eli Manning, & TE Mark Pantages. Watch for a breakout season from Richardson as he makes the pro-bowl. The woes for Baltimore continue, but this new coach seems to have everyone on board for 2014. After losing superstar FS Ed Reed, the Ravens immediately reloaded by adding the ‘Honey Hawk,’ Tyreceous Lee. Just make sure he doesn’t go smoke that super harmful plant that has health benefits, or we’ll all be in trouble. He might KILL someone! Then, there’s the Steelers who had a terrific 12-4 campaign in 2013. Pittsburgh made news this offseason when they added Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jared Allen, and Luke Kuechly. However, they made news in a negative way when they traded away Clay Matthews. This could be a tougher season for PIT.
Prediction: Cleveland (11-5)