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Fifty Prognostications, Pontifications & Ponderings on the 2014 NFL Season

| August 25th, 2014

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Last year’s column saw my predictions ONCE AGAIN surpass the 50% mark though down slightly from the previous year’s 67%. But as my daddy always said, “If you’re right half the time, that’s better than being wrong a bunch.”

Here are 50 prognostications and thoughts for the 2014 NFL season. Every team gets their moment. The Bears get more.

1. If Jay Cutler stays healthy he’ll throw for 4,000 yards but come up short of his career high 4,526. 

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2. In a deliciously dramatic moment, Devin Hester will break the all-time return record not against the Chicago Bears but against his former head coach Lovie Smith on week four’s Thursday Night Football installment.

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3. If the Broncos beat Seattle the third week of the season I give them a more than plausible chance to go undefeated. The offense is a machine. The defense is going to be terrific.

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4. Bears tied the Jacksonville Jaguars for fewest sacks in football last year with 31. (Carolina had 60 last year. That is DOUBLE!) This year they move to mid-table and finish the season with 45.

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5. Kelvin Benjamin will win offensive ROY because of this depth chart:

Panthers WR

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6. I completely agree with Brandon Marshall’s assessment on Jay Cutler. If he stays healthy he is going to have an MVP-type season this year. But there is no way the writers will give Cutler the MVP. None.

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7. Never rent an apartment from a guy calling himself Tom Benson! From Scambook:

The so called Tom Benson claims to be the doorman of an apartment complex that is situated just across from the Crowne Plaza. He mentions that he is the doorman and that the owners are away for vacation but that they rent the home. He then goes on to send you pictures and says that he will even offer a free airport shuttle. This is an illegitimate offer and the Department of Homeland Security has already investigated this crime. I sent out a money transfer, only to then quickly cancel. I was lucky and I hope that this helps other people as well.

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8.  Sammy Watkins (and all NFL fans) will wake up midseason and wonder aloud, “Why did he have to end up in Buffalo?” Bills will be forced to get Watkins the ball on bubble screens and underneath when they realize EJ is both afraid and unable to get him the ball over the top.

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9. Every season a team goes from worst to first they tell me. This season that will not happen. I repeat: this season that will not take place.

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10. Tampa Bay will have them some…

11. Martellus Bennett’s last two seasons: 55-626-5  & 65-759-5. This year? 68-810-9. I’d expect Trestman/Cutler to target Bennett far more in the red zone this year than a year ago.

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12. My prediction for breakout seasons?

Offense: Ryan Tannehill. Last year Tannehill quietly improved in almost every statistical category with the exception of interceptions. (I’m a firm believer that interception total is an overrated stat. If TDs increase, INTs will too.) I believe he’ll eclipse the 4K mark for yards and see each of his other numbers improve as well.

Defense: Blue Island’s Rob Ninkovich. He’s improved every season under Belichick and this is the season he receives Pro Bowl/All Pro consideration.

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13. A lot of us wanted the Bears to select De’Anthony Thomas. The reason is illustrated well by our old Bear buddy and current Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub:

“His burst, his ability to make the first person miss—he’s got that,” Toub said. “The same thing that Devin Hester had. The thing that we need to work on with him right now is his catching and his ball reads. You’ll see him in practice occasionally have to run late to make a catch and it’s just a matter of him seeing the ball where it’s going to be and have the ball chase him and him not chase the ball.”

Couple those skills with Toub’s guidance and Thomas should have a massive year in the return game.

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14. If the Bears beat the Niners as the Niners open their new stadium in primetime, I will firmly believe that THIS season they are capable of a Super Bowl run.

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15. Linval Joseph was struck by a stray bullet exiting a bar in Minneapolis during the preseason.

I am thirty-two years old. I have gone to bar, barring illness, at least once a week since I turned twenty. That adds up to probably high hundreds when it comes to bar total. At no point have I been struck by a stray bullet. At no point have I been in danger of being struck by a stray bullet. So I ask this. Why are millionaire football players drinking at establishments where this is a possible issue?

Where’s the prediction? I say Minnesota will lead the NFL in number of players hit by stray bullets, preseason and regular season combined.

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16. The fulfills my obligation to say something about the Green Bay Packers.

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17. Will Hill is going to be a productive safety for the Ravens over the second half of the season. (Bears note on this: Emery made a mistake here. Bears have sound leadership and an orderly locker room. They would have easily handled Hill and Hill would have thrived at the back of this defense. Signing Santonio Holmes and NOT Hill doesn’t make sense to me.)

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18. One of the worst takes on the Redskins name change comes from former Skins player Gary Clark:

“If it really bothered Native Americans, do you not think they would not be like blacks, gays, Hispanics, and march on Washington?” Clark asked at one point. “Of course they would. Of course they would. You say the word ‘Redskins,’ most people think of the Washington Redskins football team. You’re talking about 90 percent of the population does. The Washington Redskins is the only team in the National Football League whose name actually has meaning to it. And [that’s] why we played so hard to represent that brand.”

Ummm…the only team name with meaning? Cleveland Browns? Pittsburgh Steelers? Houston Texans? San Francisco 49ers? New England Patriots? Should I keep listing teams with meaningful names?

But Clark is right about one thing. Washington has the most unique name in the sport. They have the only racist one since the West Texas Wetbacks were removed from the league. This name changes before the start of the 2015 season.

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19. I was in a bar in Denver, talking football with a guy wearing a Tennessee Titans jersey. I asked him what he thought of the club this year and he responded, “Well, Whisenhunt should make them a lot better.”

I followed up, “Why?” He didn’t have a reason.

This sums up my 4-12 Titans prediction this year.

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20. I get the power of Stafford-to-Johnson. But Nick Fairley is checked out. Ndamukong Suh is pricing houses in 30 other cities. Still no secondary. New head coach I don’t quite believe in. Lions finish below .500.

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21. The Dallas Cowboys will be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season.

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22. Great point made by Bart Hubbuch on Twitter. In the first seven weeks of the season the Jets face Rodgers, Cutler, Stafford, Rivers, Peyton and Brady. Their best corner is Dee Milliner. They’ve got a great defensive line but I don’t think it’s great enough to get them out of that stretch at any better than 3-4. (2-5 may be more likely.)

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23. Brandon Marshall will have more catches and yards than Alshon Jeffery.

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24. Jeffery will have more touchdowns.

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25. MVP prediction: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts.

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26. The most surprisingly productive wide receiving corps in the NFL will be Kenny Britt, Brian Quick and Tavon Austin in St. Louis. (Disclaimer: Sam Bradford must stay healthy for this to be the case.)

Note: It takes me a few weeks to create this post. This was written about a week ago. I am leaving it up to show much I believed in a Bradford-led Rams.

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27. The best tight end in the NFC this year will be Greg Olsen.

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28. I don’t think the Giants are going to be any good. The last two times I didn’t think the Giants were going to be any good they won the Super Bowl. So…go to Vegas?

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29. Charles Tillman will be responsible for at least a half dozen turnovers.

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30. Chris Johnson will have a terrific year for the New York Jets.

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31. Offensive Player of the Year: Matt Forte. Cutler will have a magnificent season but Forte seems primed to thrive. He almost broke the 2,000 yard total yard threshold a year ago. If he stays healthy he flies by it this season.

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32. Someone explain to me what Gus Bradley needs to see from Chad Henne we haven’t seen every day of his career to this point. Even a productive season from Henne is counterproductive to the Jaguars future. But Jags open at Philly, at Washington, home Indy, at San Diego, home Steelers. There’s a legitimately good chance they don’t win any of those games. Blake Bortles starts no later than October 19th, at home, Cleveland.

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33. Matt Schaub has been just about the worst player in the league this preseason but that’s of no concern to the Raiders.

“I seem to get that question a lot, but I’m confident with where we’re at offensively,” Allen said. “I know our group is confident with where we’re at. I know Matt Schaub is confident with where he’s at.”

Derek Carr should start opening day but that would deprive the football loving public of Schaub vs. Texans the second week of the season.

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34. Rest in peace, Sweetness.

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35. Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Pass rusher, Houston Texans. Once offensive coordinators start seeing Clowney destroy tackles on tape, they won’t know who to block. Watt will prosper.

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36. By the middle of the season the Bears will be doing everything possible to get Jeremiah Ratliff and Will Sutton on the field at the same time.

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37. Tony Romo’s back is in such bad shape he has given up his passion: the game of golf. From a column at PFT:

Romo was once a good enough golfer that he won amateur tournaments and came close to qualifying for the U.S. Open, but Romo says that his offseason back surgeries the last two years have caused him to give up on the sport.

It’s been awhile,” Romo told the Dallas Morning News of his golf hiatus. “Almost a year and a half.”

Romo said he doesn’t view forsaking golf as a sacrifice, just as something he wants to do to become the best Cowboys quarterback he can be.

Romo didn’t play golf like you or I play golf. He played golf competitively which means he practiced golf religiously. (I play multiple times a week and I have an elaborate stretching routine to just keep the pain minimal.) No part of the body breaks down quicker on competitive golfers than the back. Couple that with taking hits as a quarterback and you have a recipe for a wheelchair. What does this mean? I think it means Romo has no chance of playing sixteen games this year.

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38. If Russell Wilson gets hurt the Seahawks will miss the playoffs. Tarvaris Jackson is still in the league? How is that possible?

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39. You know who might be the most important player in the NFL this season? Darrelle Revis. Think about it. Pats have fielded one of the worst secondaries in the sport for a half decade and still find themselves winning playoff games. If Revis finds form and eliminates half the field the Patriots could be a contender for the title.

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40. Pat O’Donnell will make the Pro Bowl (of my heart).

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41. Look at how the Cardinals end their season: at Seattle, at Atlanta, home Kansas City, at St. Louis, home Seattle, at San Francisco. If they’re not 7-3 heading into that stretch I think they are in trouble.

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42. The most underrated acquisition of the off-season was Stevie Johnson in San Francisco. He is one of the best route-runners in the sport and has a history of beating the elite corners, i.e. Revis twice a year for a half decade. He’ll make Kaepernick better in the pocket. (And Kaepernick needs it.)

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43. Kyle Fuller will lead the Bears in interceptions.

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44. Shea McClellin will have 4-6 sacks and 2-3 interceptions on the season.

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45. Top five picks in the 2015 NFL Draft: (1) Tennessee Titans (2) Oakland Raiders (3) Dallas Cowboys  (4) Houston Texans (5) New York Giants

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46. AFC Playoff Teams: Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Miami. (San Diego is the team I just can’t figure out at this stage. Just a basic lack of information but wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a serious playoff run this year.)

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47. NFC Playoff Teams: Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Green Bay. (Atlanta is the team worth watching over the first six games or so. The organization was happy to write off last year’s futility to injury but it would be interesting to see how they handle some early adversity. Either way I rate them as second best in that division and a playoff contender.)

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48. The Chicago Bears will win at least ten games.

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49. The Chicago Bears will win the NFC North.

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50. The Chicago Bears will win a playoff game.

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DaBearsBlog would like to firmly apologize to the Cleveland Browns organization and fans for not mentioning them in this post. The reason is simple: they stink. And for a stinky team they’ve already received far too much air time.

 

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