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Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015 NFL Preseason Preview

A new NFL season is about to begin.  That means it is time for the Banshee Sports 2015 NFL Preseason Preview.

For the past two years, I put together a meticulous, mathematical evaluation.  That technique only resulted in five correct playoff picks in 2013 and six correct picks in 2014.  I had better results in 2012, so for the 2015 NFL season, I am returning to a preseason prediction column based on gut feelings and eye tests.

AFC East:  Few things are guaranteed in this world.  Among those are: death, taxes and the Patriots winning the AFC East.  So, let's move along to the real questions in the division.  Will a wildcard come out of the East?  If so, who will it be?  The Miami Dolphins are getting a lot of sleeper love from the experts, but I predict that the Buffalo Bills will finish second in this division and make the playoffs as a wild card.  Sure, the Bills have issues at quarterback, but that didn't stop Rex Ryan during his successful years with the Jets.  Division Winner: New England Patriots     Wild Card: Buffalo Bills

AFC North:  For the better part of a decade, the Ravens have ranged between very good and pretty good.  This year, I believe the Ravens will be very good.  Good enough to win the division.  The Bengals will be respectable, but will take a step back from the success they enjoyed over the past few years.  It might take the Steelers a few weeks to overcome suspensions and adjust to injuries, but by season's end, the the Steelers' offense will be good enough to earn a wild card.  Division Winner: Baltimore Ravens    Wild Card: Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South:  The Indianapolis Colts are a media darling to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50.  I'm not ready to get that excited just yet, but I do believe that the Colts will win the AFC South.  The Titans and the the Jaguars will be tough opponents every week, but they are still works in progress.   The Texans were pretty decent in 2014, and they should have a stout defense.  But, with the departure of Andre Johnson and the constant injuries that plague Arian Foster, the Texans will fall short of the playoffs again this season.  Division Winner: Indianapolis Colts

AFC West:  Up until now, these picks have been pretty plain Jane vanilla.  Now is the time for a little shakeup.  The Denver Broncos are the Vegas favorite to win the division yet again, but I am picking the Kansas City Chiefs to unseat the Broncos this year.  I have faith in the combination of Andy Reid and Jamal Charles, regardless of who the quarterback happens to be.  If healthy, the KC defense is also a formidable force.  It is hard to pick against Peyton Manning, but in this case, I am not picking against Manning.  I am picking against a decimated offensive line, a diminished receiving corps and a mediocre defense.  All those factors will lead to a winning season that ends with the Broncos watching the playoffs from their couches at home.  Division Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

NFC East:  It goes against every fiber in my body, but after last season, I have to believe in the Dallas Cowboys.  The Cowboys will not only win the division, but they will challenge for the best record in the NFC.  Demarco Murray left, but the offensive line remains.  If we have learned one thing over the last five years in the NFL, it is that you can plug in any running back behind a solid line and there will be success.  The Cowboys will also benefit from the struggles of their division rivals.  The Redskins are poised to be truly horrible, and the Giants will be totally mediocre.  The Eagles are evidently banking on addition by subtraction leading to increased success this season.  I don't see it that way.  Division Winner: Dallas Cowboys

NFC North:  The NFC North is probably the best division in the conference.  Aside from the Bears, this is a loaded division.  The Green Bay Packers took a hit with Jordy Nelson's season-ending injury, but they are still the Packers.  The Green Bay offense still has Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy.  The Packers will win the division.  The real question is who will be able to snag a wild card.  My answer is the Vikings and the Lions.  That's right.  I predict that the NFC North will take half of the NFC's playoff berths.  Division Winner: Green Bay Packers     Wild Card: Minnesota Vikings     Wild Card: Detroit Lions

NFC South:  The NFC South is a bizarre and crazy division.  Teams rise and fall at precipitous rates from one season to another.  Picking this division feels a lot like throwing darts while blindfolded and riding a tilt-a-whirl.  My shot in the dark in this division is the Atlanta Falcons.  I have believe that the new coaching staff in Atlanta will be able to rekindle some of that Matty Ice magic.  Really though, I have more faith that the other teams in the division will be lousy.  Division Winner: Atlanta Falcons

NFC West:  If I had to bet my house on one division winner this year, I would pick the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West.  For several years, the pre-season debate was between the Seahawks and the 49ers.  But, San Francisco's offseason smelled worse than a tire fire.  The Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams both have solid teams.  They will be in the running for wild card berths right down to the final weeks of the season, but both of these teams have fatal flaws that will ultimately hold them back.  I predict that the Seahawks will win the NFC West and no other team will make the playoffs.  Division Winner: Seattle Seahawks

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