The 2014 season gets underway soon. Here are some bold NFL prediction to keep in mind as the festivities begin.
The St. Louis Rams field the #1 overall defense
At long last the RGIII trade has yielded its bounty to the St. Louis Rams and their roster is loaded for bear because of it. Nowhere is that clearer than on defense. Jeff Fisher and Les Snead have constructed a unit with talent on every level but concentrated on the defensive line. Already boasting star defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long, the Rams added dynamic defensive tackle Aaron Donald to the mix. If quarterbacks weren’t afraid before, they should be now. With that group controlling the trenches, the back seven should force a feast of turnovers and the Rams as a team should benefit. At the end of the day St. Louis will have the best defense in the land, eclipsing their rivals in Seattle and San Francisco.
The Chicago Bears field the #1 overall offense
Say what? When has such a thing like this ever happened? It’s true. For decades the Chicago Bears have been all about defense but for the first time they have the pieces in place to field one of the best offenses in the NFL. A year ago, which was their first in the system under new head coach Marc Trestman the Bears had the 8th overall offense and ranked 2nd in score. Keep in mind that was done with a backup quarterback playing a long stretch of the season and having to carry a pitiful defense. Now a group that features star power across the board like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Kyle Long will be entering the second year in the system, as will quarterback Jay Cutler. That is the first time that has happened for Chicago since 2011 and should yield impressive results. That could become especially true if the defense improves like many believe it will. All these factors will help the Bears outdistance teams like Green Bay, New Orleans and Denver to become the best offense in football.
Derek Carr will be the first rookie quarterback to start
The debating has already begun, which is no surprise. The 2014 NFL draft class featured a host of rookie quarterbacks going in the first two rounds and it’s only a matter of time before they all see the field. Aside from their success, a running bet is happening on which of the top names will see the field first. Obviously it centers around the three first round picks in Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. So here’s a curveball. None of them will win that bet. That honor will go to Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders. The 2nd round pick is currently slated to backup veteran Matt Schaub but after watching what happened last year in Houston it’s hard not to feel like he’s lost whatever magic he had when he took over that team. Oakland also doesn’t have the talent the Texans had so why would people think Schaub would have any more success with this team anyway? Carr meanwhile has stirring intangibles and a cannon arm that are certain to get him in the good graces of the coaching staff early. All it will take is one pick six from Schaub and don’t be surprised if the rookie takes the helm from there.
Bishop Sankey will rush for over 1,000 yards
Of the three prominent names that occupied the best running back in the draft debate, Washington standout Bishop Sankey frequently held a slight edge. The reason was he was arguably the most complete football player of the group. In addition to being a good runner he was probably the best receiver and blocker at his position as well. That is why the Tennessee Titans made him the 54th pick overall. Now he must help the team move on from the Chris Johnson era. Expectations aren’t very high as most of the focus will be on the quarterback battle brewing between Jake Locker and Zach Mettenberger. That’s a shame because it won’t be them that carries the offense in 2014 but Sankey. Running backs almost always have success earlier in their careers than quarterbacks do and Sankey has the advantage of playing behind a well-constructed offensive line featuring talents like Chance Warmack, Brian Schwenke, Andy Levitre and now Taylor Lewan. That is a group built on size and power, perfect for run blocking. Sankey will see his share of open lanes in 2014, and before it’s all said and done he will top 1,000 yards rushing.
The AFC West and NFC West will meet again in the Super Bowl
Not that this prediction will make fans very happy following the snoozer Super Bowl that took place in February but there is a real chance that the AFC West will send another representative, most likely the Denver Broncos to the big game in Arizona where one of the powerhouse teams in the NFC West will be waiting. It’s hard to say whether that will be the Seahawks. While they are the champs and remain a force in the division, teams like San Francisco and St. Louis have improved considerably since last season. Either could easily make a run of their own, as could the Arizona Cardinals who would be the first team in NFL history to host a Super Bowl. Whether Denver can overcome any of those challenges is up for spirited debate following their productive off-season but it’s clear this is a very real possibility.