That's right, you read that right here. This is the first of my predictions for the coming NFL Season, and I have great confidence in it. For 13 years now, there has a been at least one team that scraped the bottom of the barrel in their division one year only to come back and win the division the very next year. In 2013, it was the Eagles. A year prior it was the Lower Potomac Indigenous Peoples of Ruddy Hue. In 2011, it was my beloved Tebow-bewitched Broncos. Way on back in 2001, it was the New England Belichicks, who not only went worst to first, but won the Big Game. This has been a nice run, and truly validated at least the illusion of the league's interest in 'parity'. My opinion, of course, but this year it ain't gon' hap'n.
Last year's also rans were these clubs: Bills, Browns, Texans, Raiders, 'Skins, Falcons/Bucs, Vikings and the Rams. For purposes of analysis, you can immediately rule out the Raiders and Rams. Not only do they play in the strongest divisions but those divisions play each other. I put little stock in grading schedule strength based on last season's results, but if one does cotton to such, the Raiders have the toughest schedule in football. I think the Rams are about number 4. Offseason moves have done little but to solidify the hold on division and conference displayed by the Broncos, Niners and Seahawks. I like what Jeff Fisher is doing with the Rams, but it isn't enough.
The Browns have lost whatever they had established as a form of stability. Their chance to win the conference went away with coach Chudzinski, OC Turner, their best receiver Josh Gorden (likely suspended for the year) and the loss of one of the league's best safeties, TJ Ward. But on the plus side, they have Johnny Football, and the attendant media circus. I'm not a fan of Manziel. He's got an almost freakish ability to escape pressure and pull wins out of his hat. But I watched what a pro-style defense (LSU) did to shut him down. His performance wasn't very pretty.
The Texans should, should mind you, have a terrific pass rush defense. But beat the Luck of the Colts? No. I'm not convinced that they can. I'm not convinced that they can beat an equally aggressive and improving Jaguars squad.
The Vikings have the misfortune of playing in a division too talented by far. The Vikes have the best running back in football. But the Lions have the best reciever in football, the Bears have the best recieving duo in football and the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. I just don't see the Vikings going to the top.
The NFC East is wide open with possibility. The Giants have a new offense, and the weapons to make it work. Tony Romo is still one of the most talented quarterbacks in the game. Chip Kelly has that Eagle offense clicking, and I don't think they will miss Desean Jackson. Nor will the 'Skins be able to take advantage of his skills in the way that Nick Foles did. The Skins have RGIII contemplating the spirituality of his shoe color. I don't think Yin-Yang feet translates to a division championship.
That leaves the Bucs, the Falcons and the Bills. The Bills still play in the Belichick division and Tom Brady is still the robot king. Derrell Revis is primed to shut down anyone and Buffalo just doesn't have the weapons yet. The punditry is high on the Bills going WtoF, but that is mostly hype. They can't beat the Patriots twice, they can't beat Denver, they likely won't beat San Diego or KC, and they won't have an easy time with Houston. This isn't going to happen.
The Buccaneers are actually intriguing. Lovee Smith is a quality coach who got his team to the Super Bowl with questionable talent. They have a superior running back in Martin, and I think they will settle on Glennon as the QB of the future. Still ...
The Falcons have all the talent necessary to be a Super Bowl Team. Their implosion last year was due to injuries and lack of confidence. Matty Ice is still great, Julio Jones will be back and Roddy White is primed. They won't have Gonzoles, but that won't matter, will it? Yes, it really will. Both the Bucs and the Falcons have to contend with a team that swelled with determination, the HULK of the NFC South. New Orleans, baring injury has this thing locked up. Their sights are set on Seattle, and neither Tampa Bay or Atlant, and most certainly not Carolina will stand in their way.
Nope. I'm calling it right now. Let the pundits attemopt to create what drama they will, but this is the first year in over a decade that no team goes 'worst to first'. If, in 6 months, I am proven to be wrong, please feel free to let me know. But I tell you true, It ain' gon' hap'n.