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Ten Predictions For The Upcoming NFL Season

The new NFL season is right around the corner and Craig Farrell is here to put his head on the chopping block and provide us with ten bold predictions ahead of the new campaign.

1. New Orleans will win the Super Bowl

The strength of New Orleans passing and their emerging running game will help them grind down defenses, which they have never really been able to do.

The Saints allowed Darren Sproles to venture elsewhere as second year back Khiry Robinson is emerging as a talented rusher. Mix him in with the duo of Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram and the Saints have a rusher trio that offers a slice of everything.

The biggest offseason move New Orleans made was headhunting Jairus Byrd – who, forgive the pun, is a ball hawk. All he does is create turnovers. He has great speed, awareness and coverage. 3 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and 22 interceptions. Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro have the potential to be a dynamic defensive duo. They both have great range and coverage and will cause havoc for opposing offenses.

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2. Philadelphia Eagles will win the NFC East

The Eagles made so many headlines this offseason with the biggest shock coming with their decision to release DeSean Jackson. DJax was their star receiver last season – and the handful of a season that came prior to that. Despite this strange revelation the Eagles are still head and shoulders above the rest of the NFC East.

Dallas are a lame duck based on their defensive issues, while neither the Giants nor the Redskins have a QB in place that can drive them atop of the division. Eli Manning and the offense is struggling to say the least, while Robert Griffin III is feeling the pace coming back from injury – and it has been a very long time since RGIII has scored a rushing TD – you have to go back as far as the first half of his rookie season.

The Eagles welcome back Jeremy Maclin, who will nestle into the void that Jackson left. McCoy is one of the best rushers in the league at the moment, while Riley Cooper is a great compliment at the No.2 WR spot. The defense is slowly but surely moulding into a very strong, cohesive unit and without over exaggerating the Eagles can not end anywhere other than first in the NFC East.

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3. Dallas Cowboys will not win more than 6 games and will fire Jason Garrett

Dallas are going to be horrendous this season, there is no doubt about that. Their defense is practically nonexistent. They lost the heart of the defense for the year when Sean Lee dropped in training camp. Tie in the loss of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher and it just spells disaster.

The offensive side of things in Dallas are not too bad. They have a decent running back in Demarco Murray, one of the best wide receivers in the league in Dez Bryant, one of the most reliable tight ends in Jason Witten, and a very capable QB in Tony Romo, who if he is not forced into a throwing rampage, can be extremely productive under center.

However, with the defense being so poor, and having yet another new defensive coordinator calling the shots, the team is going to fall behind so frequently that the offense is going to be forced to throw more often than not – which diminishes any running game that could potentially be a threat and also tends to lead to mistakes being made from No.9.

The last three years Dallas has split their wins and losses; this year they will be lucky to reach parity again. Garrett’s reign was under scrutiny last season, his seat will practically be in flames this season it is such hot.

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4. Drew Brees will be MVP

Brees has never thrown for less than 4,300 yards in a season since joining the Saints back in 2006. He has only missed a single game in all of those eight years. He is a TD throwing machine. He has gone three years consecutively with over 5,000 yards passing and will make that four years this coming season with New Orleans.

Brees has Jimmy Graham who is undoubtedly the best TE in the league – and might as well be considered a WR. Not only did Brees throw the most TD passes to a single player in Graham and have him go over 1,200 yards receiving, he even managed to get his backup Ben Watson in on the action getting him over 200 yards.

Brees then has his No.1 WR in Marques Colston and No.2 Kenny Stills who combined for over 1,500 combined yards. Add into the mix a rookie in Brandin Cooks who looks primed to set the league ablaze and Brees has a multitude of hands to hit on his way to collecting the MVP.

Peyton Manning won’t be able to reach the heights of last year making whatever he achieves this season seem as a failing, while Aaron Rodgers has a proper running game in support in Eddie Lacy, so his arm won’t have to take the brunt of the attack this season. The Saints will go as far as the Texan gunslinger will take them – which I feel is another Super Bowl.

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5. Jadeveon Clowney will be Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year

There was a huge debate about who the Texans should take with the overall No.1 draft pick – but it has already been proven that they made the right decision as Clowney is eating up offensive linemen in preseason.

Clowney is a monster – he stands at 6”5’ and weighs over 260 lbs – but he has the speed of a track runner. Once he gets moving forward there is just no stopping him. Teams can try to double team the rookie but then there is the threat of JJ Watt to worry about .

Clowney was a defensive end in college but has the athleticism to convert to outside linebacker in the pros and will do so with tremendous results. And when one looks at some of the teams he has to stand across from; the Bills, Browns, Raiders, Redskins, Cowboys, Titans (twice), Jags (twice), Clowney will feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory swatting Oompa Loompas out of his way.

Clowney will play on the weakside, which means he will be coming at the QB’s blind side (facing away from his path) and he could easily get into the teens in sacks, and maybe even Hit the twenty mark.

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6. St. Louis Rams will go winless

This season was always going to be tough on St. Louis being stuck in a division with Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona. It has turned practically impossible with the news that the Rams will be without Sam Bradford for the entire season. The QB suffered yet another knee injury during the preseason that will put him out for the upcoming season – having missed half of last season with a similar infliction.

The wideout duo of Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin are not the sort of receivers who are blessed with raw talent to go out and make plays happen – so the Rams can’t just plug any QB into Bradford’s void and expect results.

The Rams have a solid O-line and have a good back in Zac Stacy, but he certainly is not in the calibre of running back that the Rams could tie their wagon to and ride for the season. The Rams have playmakers on D in the shape of Chris Long, Robert Quinn and James Laurinaitis, who will give the offense every chance to win – but that offensive may need every chance plus more to succeed.

The Rams have two chances to pick up a W – all coming from NFC East teams. The Cowboys and Giants travel to St. Louis which will be their most likely opportunity for a scalp, but the Rams have 0-16 written all over them.

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7. Carolina Panthers will go from first to last in NFC South

The Panthers had a horrendous off-season in terms of wide receiver personnel. The Panthers lost Steve Smith – who was the heart and soul of the offensive unit. The face of the franchise is Cam Newton but Smith brought the passion and desire to the offensive core. Not only that but he made plays and hit opponents in the face.

Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. also departed from Carolina. Brought in to replace them was Jason Avant; a lanky target from the Eagles but one that offers very little in terms of speed down field.

New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers reject – which says it all really – Jerricho Cotchery also entered the fray. There is only a single 1,000-yard season between those two receivers.

In fact the former has never surpassed 700 yards in a single season. The pair share just 42 touchdowns in 18 seasons of play.

The entire passing game rests on the shoulders of rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin – which, despite his bright preseason, is a tough ask on anyone, yet alone a rookie. The Panthers will be heavily reliant on their defense being steelier once again. However, there will be very few leads to defend for this Panthers team.

New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Atlanta have all gone out and improved on their areas of concern, where the main area of weakness for Carolina last season has somehow been further depleted.

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8. The AFC Championship will be Denver versus New England

This is simple science. Make a list of the five best offensive teams in the AFC and both of these teams are on the list, if not sitting at the very top. Now do the same with defense and again these two teams come to the fore.

Do the same with QBs (not only in the AFC but for the entire league) and again Denver and New England make the list; a toss up between which one is better.

New England have their division wrapped up prior to playing any game of football. Their main concern will be whether Rob Gronkowski can get back to full fitness, perform at the levels the Pats are accustomed too, and remain healthy.

Denver’s offense won’t be as ‘hell for leather’ as last season but it will set the scoreboard alight nonetheless. Both teams have set out on improving their defense this offseason and did so wonderfully. Denver brought in DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward and Aqib Talib while New England captured Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Patrick Chung. It is a crying shame that this game won’t be the deciding game for the Super Bowl.

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9. Brandin Cooks will be the standout rookie wide receiver

Brandin Cooks is in the perfect environment to prosper in his first season. The main reason that rookie wideouts tend to struggle in their first couple of years is because either they have a noodle arm throwing them the ball or else they are just so low on the depth chart that they don’t even get the scraps, and only receive crumbs.

Cooks has the perfect arm passing the ball in his direction. He is also in an offense that plays with a lot of three and four receiver sets so Cooks will see a lot of time compared to that of other rookies. He is also gifted by having Jimmy Graham as his tight end so the focus will be on stopping the big TE so that Cooks will see single coverage all day.

He is slight, but as fast as a rocket. He was on the college track team given his speed and will be a very deep threat for the Saints, one that Brees will not be afraid to target. Cook could easily be the 7th rookie receiver since 1998 to go over 1,000 yards.

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10. Johnny Manziel will be the No.1 QB by week 8

The Browns have their bye week in week 4, so Manziel will the the starting QB within 6 to 7 games of Hoyer under center. Considering the QB carousel that took place in Cleveland last year it is easy to see Johnny Football under center prior to the bye week.

Cleveland have no receivers. Josh Gordon went off and did something stupid again so he will most likely miss a lot of time due to his checkered past. So that leaves Miles Austin – a Dallas cast away who can’t stop his hamstrings from going; Andrew Hawkins – a wideout who did little to nothing in Cinci, and Nate Burleson, who hit his heights in the early 2000’s and has been slumping ever since.

So the wideout core is filled with duds and the featured back of Ben Tate has looked less than inspiring in preseason. Hoyer is going to have his work cut out for him to make an type of productive offensive tick this season. And it is not that Manziel is a better passer or a better QB, it is just that he is the QB the fans want to see.

When the Browns are 1-4 or 2-5 the fans’ rally cry will be for Johnny Football and at that stage the Browns will have nothing else to lose. The Browns face Pittsburgh twice, New Orleans, Baltimore and Tennessee in their opening five games – the dog pound is going to be dog tired at 0-5, 1-4 at best.

Craig Farrell, Pundit Arena.

Do you agree with Craig’s predictions? let him know by commenting under this article, or tweeting @PunditArena.

Featured Image By Ianmccor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.