Lots of storylines are abound in the 2015 season.
How will #DeflateGate affect the New England Patriots? Is there an NFC team that will get in the Seahawks’ way? Will Jordy Nelson’s injury ruin Green Bay’s Super Bowl hopes? Will anyone challenge the Patriots in the AFC?
I’m so friggin’ excited – and I just can’t hide it (“no, no!!!”)!
This year’s NFL preview will be a bi-divisional affair, culminating in the 2015 playoff/Super Bowl prognostications.
Today I will change things up a bit and start the two worst divisions in the NFL: the AFC and NFC South. So without further ado…
- Indianapolis Colts (13-3)
- Houston Texans (9-7)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
- Tennessee Titans (3-13)
Analysis: The football gods must have blessed the Colts because they have the easiest road to a division title. The other teams in this division has a viable QB. The other teams do not have enough talent on offense to score more than 20 points consistently. Basically all Indy has to do is score more than 25 points in a divisional game and it’s an automatic win.
As for the other teams, I’ll say this. The Texans do have a very good defense. The Titans and Jaguars have their QBs of the future. As a matter of fact, Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota (and another rookie QB that was taken before him – more on him in a moment) is featured in a Football Betting Center article on which QB will suck less (and no, I’m not kidding).
- New Orleans Saints (9-7)
- Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
- Carolina Panthers (7-9)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
Analysis: While the AFC South is a weak one-horse division, the NFC South is the lousiest division in all of humankind. This division was flat out atrocious last season, and may figure to be that way again.
That said, I’m looking for the Saints to rebound this season. They sustained lots of injuries last season, especially on the defense. With the addition of safety Brandon Browner, coupled with the motivation of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to right a wrong from last season, I think the Saints will be better defensively and that should be enough to get them over the top. Besides, as long as they employ Drew Brees, the offense will always score a plethora of points.
Hell, the Saints should win this by default. The Falcons have no defense. The Panthers have only QB Cam Newton and TE Greg Olsen on offense. The Bucs are fielding a rookie QB in Jameis Winston, and will have to pray for more than three wins.
Not because a commissioner of the most popular sports league in America had his ass handed to him and was put in his rightful place. Not because a player courageously took on and eventually took down the big, bad bully thus setting a legal precedent where players have a way to escape the commish’s punishments.
It’s because I am happy that a player from the New England Patriots named Tom Brady was the one who defeated NFL commissioner/warden/playa hater/dumbass Roger Goodevil.
For those of you who do not know, I hate the Patriots. In recent years I’ve hated them as much as the Cowboys, which I never thought would be possible. And I REALLY hate Brady (and his cheating ass coach Bill Bellicheat).
However, I also pride myself on being fair. This #DeflateGate bullshit had no damn business being newsworthy today. Goodevil should have handled it with a fine and kept it moving.
Instead, Goodevil had to flex his muscles and try to bully Brady over something that required no more than a substantial fine. I really can’t blame Goodevil for doing so since the NFLPA inexplicably gave him all that power!
Instead, Judge Richard Berman’s ruling against Goodevil and the NFL has potentially all but striped the commish of ALL his power. Berman based his ruling on one basic axiom: common sense.
There was no smoking gun that linked Brady to any deflating of footballs. Hell, even the infamous Wells Report did not produce a smoking gun. All Goodevil did was use his bully pulpit to make an example out of Brady to please the other owners – and perhaps most of the players.
Instead Goodevil has egg on his face because a judge did not kowtow to his wishes based on innuendo and suspension alone.
Goodevil did not budge in a settlement with Brady, even though Brady offered to be suspended for a game instead of four. And when Judge Berman, the ultimate “settlement judge”, could not get Goodevil to offer ANY settlement with Brady, he ruled against him.
And make no mistake, Goodevil’s ultimate power was crushed. This was also a huge victory not only for Brady, but for the players.
Now players do not have to sit and take any guff or punishment from Goodevil. They could easily take any punishment handed down from the league to the courts to get the justice they feel they deserve.
Pandora’s box is now WAY the hell opened…
(What a helluva topic to choose for my 800th blog rant!)
In addition to this being a more high-level preview of the “Power Five” conferences, the “Group of Five” conferences’ predicted champs are included. Click on the links to the power conferences for more detailed previews in case you missed them the first time around. My predicted records for the independents (sorry Irish fans, no double-digit wins this season) are included as well.
Y’all may be surprised with my predicted national champions will be – well, maybe not.
“Power Five” Conferences
ACC Champion: Florida State Seminoles
Big 12 Champion: TCU Horned Frogs
B1G Champion: Ohio State Buckeyes
Pac-12 Champion: USC Trojans
SEC Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide
“Group of Five” Conferences
American Athletic Conference
- East Champ: Cincinnati
- West Champ: Houston
- Conference Champion: Cincinnati Bearcats
- East Champ: Marshall
- West Champ: Louisiana Tech
- Conference Champion: Marshall Thundering Herd
Mid American Conference (#MACtion)
- East Champ: Bowling Green
- West Champ: Northern Illinois
- Conference Champ: Northern Illinois Huskies (what a phat football field they have!)
Mountain West Conference
- Mountain Champ: Boise State
- West Champ: San Diego State
- Conference Champ: Boise State Broncos (will the Big 12 or Pac-12 send them an invite already???)
Sun Belt Conference Champion: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
- Notre Dame (9-3)
- BYU (8-4)
- Army (5-7)
2016 College Football Playoff
- Who’s In?
- Ohio State (well, DUH)
- Florida State
Who Wins it All: Ohio State Buckeyes (ain’t nobody beating these boys this season)
Welcome to the Southeastern Conference, ladies and gentlemen. The SEC, aka “the Beast” is far and away the best college football conference in the land.
- South Carolina
Analysis: I keep picking Georgia over Missouri for the East division title the last couple of seasons, but Missouri (and Georgia) proved me wrong every time. While my instincts say that I should go with the Tigers, my gut still says “Bulldogs will win the East”. Even though Georgia has a new QB in Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert, it has a ton of talent on offense, including a Heisman candidate in Nick Chubbs.
Tennessee is a team to watch in this division. I like the what coach Butch Jones is recruiting and getting his guys to believe. I just think the Volunteers are maybe a season or two away from seriously contending in the division.
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
Analysis: Even though both have question marks at QB, my gut says Alabama over Auburn for the division. Auburn has only a handful of cats coming back on offense, and its defense was nothing to write home about last season. Sure Will Muschamp arrives as the new defensive coordinator to save the day, but it will not be enough to knock off ‘Bama.
The rest of the division will be mediocre at best. Outside of Arkansas, I see the other teams taking steps back in this division.
2015 SEC Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide
While the Pac-12 does not get the attention as it deserve (hello, east coast bias), the South division is going to be one to watch. Most of the teams finished last season with AT LEAST NINE WINS!
- Oregon State
- Washington State
Analysis: Oregon is the fave, but it won’t be without a fight from Cali, Stanford, and Washington. Do I think Oregon will be the dominant force of the last two seasons? No. While I like QB Vernon Adams, I think he will face an FCS-to-FBS adjustment period which will may cost him in the Michigan State game as well as games against Utah, Arizona State and Stanford.
Again, based on talent alone I think this is the Ducks’ division. It’s just that they won’t be as dominant this season.
- Arizona State
Analysis: Against my better judgment, I’m rolling with USC in the South division. USC has let me down and made me look absolutely silly the last two seasons, but after surveying the landscape the Trojans are the most talented team.
By the way, this is by far and away the best division in all of college football. Even my predicted fifth-place team Arizona State should win at least eight games. Poor Colorado…
Pac-12 Champion: USC Trojans
One season it is considered arguably the weakest conference in college football. The next season it has a team that bagged a national championship – the first in the College Football Playoff era – and the perception changes a little bit.
What a difference a year makes!
With the addition of Jim Harbaugh to Michigan, along with Urban Meyer bringing back a loaded Buckeye team, this will make for an interesting season.
Without further ado…
East (not “Legends”) Division
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
- Penn State
Analysis: No need for major analysis here. Ohio State is not only the best team in the country headed into this season, it is by far the best team in the Big Ten.
Sure Michigan State and its nasty defense could give the Buckeyes fits. James Franklin has Penn State in the right direction. And last but not least, Jim Harbaugh will turn Michigan around sooner rather than later. But let’s be real about one thing: the East Division – and B1G – is Ohio State’s world and everyone else is living in it.
West (not “Leaders”) Division
Analysis: This division may be the red-headed stepchild of the conference, but at least it’s not as top-heavy as the East. This division should be a three-team race between Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota. Nebraska should do well under coach Mike Riley, but I think Wisconsin is just too talented to relinquish the West.
The biggest question for the Badgers is will they actually show up in the B1G Championship game against the Buckeyes this time around?
2015 B1G Champion: Ohio State (what, were you expecting anyone else?)
Who’s looking to stay in this conference? Who wants to join? Why would they want to join? Would Texas allow them to join?
Why doesn’t Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby just move the Big 12 headquarters to Austin, especially since the Longhorns are running things anyway?
Oh and about that “one true champion” thing, looks like Bowlsby got some egg on his face while trying to stump for TWO teams (TCU and Baylor) for the College Football Playoff. Memo to Bowlsby: try mixing in a conference championship game and a bit of expansion (Cincinnati and BYU, c’mon down!).
What a joke this conference has become. It’s going to be fascinating to see what will happen to this conference 5-10 years from now.
Alas, this conference still has two powerhouses in TCU and Baylor. The problem is those squads are not named Oklahoma and Texas.
Uh, at any rate…
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- West Virginia
- Texas Tech
- Iowa State
Analysis: TCU and Baylor are still running things in the Big 12. And while both of those squads are fabulous, they do not carry a prestige of Texas and Oklahoma.
Let’s be real about something, if either TCU or Baylor were named Texas and Oklahoma, do you REALLY think Ohio State would have jumped them in the final College Football Playoff poll? I didn’t think so.
Speaking of Oklahoma and Texas, the Big 12 would look even better if those two schools mattered again. Oklahoma had a decent season, but got their asses kicked by Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Meanwhile Texas was mediocre at best, culminating in getting curb-stomped by Arkansas in their bowl game.
Back to TCU and Baylor. Baylor has to go to Fort Worth to play TCU, and I like the Horned Frogs chances at exacting revenge. Thankfully Bowlsby and Co. got smart and moved the game to near the end of the season when EVERYONE would tune in.
In the meantime, memo to Baylor coach Art Briles: try scheduling REAL teams outside of your conference. SMU, Rice and the immortal Lamar will not impress the Selection Committee, bro…