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2014 NFL Predictions

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AFC

Top Seeds: 1. Patriots 2. Broncos 3. Colts 4. Bengals 5. Steelers 6. Chargers

Wild Card: Colts over Chargers, Steelers over Bengals

Divisional Round: Patriots over Steelers, Broncos over Colts

AFC Championship: Patriots over Broncos

NFC

Top Seeds: 1. Packers 2. Saints 3. Seahawks 4. Eagles 5. Panthers 6. Bears

Wild Card: Seahawks over Bears, Panthers over Eagles

Divisional Round: Packers over Panthers, Saints over Seahawks

NFC Championship: Saints over Packers

Super Bowl

Patriots over Saints 31-21

 

Analysis

 

Starting in the AFC, it looks like everything is stacked for the Patriots to take the number one seed in 2014. A schedule where their most difficult game, vs. Broncos, will again be in Foxboro. Their next two toughest games however will be on the road, @ Green Bay and @ San Diego. But with the strengthening of the secondary over the offseason (see Revis, Darrelle) it would seem that Belichick has finally at least somewhat recreated the kind of defense that won him three Super Bowls.

 

For the Broncos things won’t be so easy. Having to play all of the NFC West is not an easy task for any team, never mind one coming off of a pretty embarrassing Super Bowl loss. Traveling to Seattle early in the season will be a good benchmark for where they are.

 

Then again it’s  still the Patriots and Broncos conference and they will once again both easily make it to the championship, only this time it will be in Foxboro.

 

On the NFC side, it’s time for a reality check for Seattle. With new rules and emphasis on defensive holding and pass interface, the kings of committing those penalties without getting called (AKA The Legion of Boom) will come crashing back to Earth as they finally get called for those. Seattle games will probably be unwatchable at the beginning of the season as Richard Sherman and co. adjust to playing the game cleanly. They still manage to win the division but get rolled by the Saints in the second round.

 

The return of Aaron Rodgers means the return of the Packers to the conference title game, but the lack of offensive weapons behind Jordy Nelson means the Saints make it Glendale to meet New England in the Super Bowl.

 

The Patriots lead the Saints by 3 with under a minute left. Drew Brees is driving his team down the field. On a third down at midfield with 50 seconds left, Brees looks for Brandin Cooks but the pass is picked off by Darrelle Revis who returns it for a touchdown and the Patriots exorcise the demons in Arizona after their last trip their for a Super Bowl in the 2007 season, and take home number four.

 

 

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The Patriots should trade Mallett

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When the Patriots selected Ryan Mallett out of Arkansas in the third round of the 2011 draft I, like many others, believed he was the heir apparent to Tom Brady. But as one of my favorite sayings go, conditions on the ground have changed. Brady is still playing at a high level, and keeping Mallett on the bench for much longer is not just bad for Mallett himself, but it is bad for the team.

 Whether you want to admit it or not, Mallett is not going to be the man to replace Brady when he hangs up the cleats. The longer they keep him on the roster, the harder it will be to actually find someone that can replace one of the greatest to ever play the game. Mallett is currently set to become a free agent in 2015 at the end of his rookie deal, while Brady just signed a deal that would make him a Patriot until the end of the 2017 season. Those numbers don’t match. I simply don’t see Mallett signing another deal to stick with the Pats when he could easily sign with another team with the opportunity to start in the NFL and I don’t see him replacing Brady while Tom is still under contract.

 Bill Belichick does what is best for his football team, and what is best for the Patriots is to dump Mallett and get something in return while they still can. The team has a mere 5 picks in this years’ draft and nothing in between the 3rd and 7th rounds. A team in need of a QB could give the Patriots possibly a second rounder in next years’ draft and maybe a fourth in this years’. That’s pretty good value for someone taken in the third round.

 This is also what is best for Mallett. Ryan came on to the Patriots’ team with all sorts of question marks about his maturity. As of this writing he has remained a true professional and the best way to reward that is to give him a true opportunity to follow his true dream, to play starting quarterback in the NFL. The longer he sits on the bench, the less chance he will have of fulfilling that dream, Belichick gave Mallett his first shot in the NFL, now it’s time to give him another.

 According to reports early this morning, the Patriots were fielding phone calls about the availability of Ryan Mallett. A trade will probably not happen tonight, although it would not shock me, but the Patriots should pull the trigger and dump him. Maybe a team like the Raiders, or the Eagles who really still aren’t set at the position would be willing to give the kid from Arkansas a chance by giving up some picks to New England; and if the deal is right, Belichick shouldn’t hesitate.