2013 - 2014 Post-Season Predictions
Sure, it may not even be Week 1 yet, but is it ever really too early to start making picks?
Instead of going over all the reasons why we think the 2013 - 2014 season will pan out this way, let's just explain some of the "bolder" predictions:
Saints and Flacons Miss the Playoffs
Overall, we believe that the return of Sean Payton is being significantly over-valued. The Saints’ struggles last year were almost exclusively due to the horrendous play of the defense. We know Payton won't improve the defense, so the question is how much can he improve an offense that still ranked 2nd in total yards last year? Not that much.
While the Falcon's were the #1 seed last year, they didn't really play like it, falling into a lot of close wins against bad teams in games that shouldn't have even been close to begin with (wins against the Panthers, Raiders, Cowboys, Cardinals, and Bucs were all by less than a TD). Considering how much the rest of the division improved this off-season, it shouldn't be too surprising when this team is watching from home next January.
3 Teams from the AFC North
It is uncommon but not unprecedented for 3 teams from the same division to make the playoffs. Given the general weakness of the AFC, we expect 3 teams to come out of the North, which is the best division in the AFC by quite a wide margin. The ot
her divisions will have significantly easier schedules, but all of them also have clear cut favorites in the Patriots, Broncos, and Texans, with no other playoff worthy teams. An argument could be made for the Colts considering that they made the playoffs last year, but we would argue it was a fluke enabled by an easy schedule and enhanced motivation.
Broncos go one and done
For the second year in a row, and for the 9th time in his career, Peyton Manning will only play in one playoff game. Despite a hall of fame resume, Manning has been historically bad in the post-season, posting a career record of 9-11. Whether it be his bad play, the defense’s bad play, or just poor roster construction, the fact remains, Peyton Manning led teams do not do well in the playoffs. We expect this trend to continue.
The Seahawks are better than the 49ers?
The short answer, is no. The 49ers are a better team with better depth at every position except DB and, of course, QB. The long answer is that these two teams will be so equal that the only separating factor between the two will be the exceptional play of Russell Wilson, who showed more poise and better leadership in his first year as a starter than Kaepernick did. Ultimately, Wilson’s play in close games and the playoffs will elevate the Seahawks above otherwise comparable competition.
Patriots are still the best team in the AFC
Take away over 80% of the receptions from last years offense and what do you get? A better offense and a better team. While the off-season headlines focused on the losses of Welker, Hernandez, and Gronkowski, key additions were lost in the noise. So far this pre-season, we have seen Amendola quickly replace Welker, Vereen replace the versatility of Hernandez, and Sudfeld provide an excellent understudy for Gronkowski. Furthermore, this all excludes the emergence of Kenbrell Thompkins as a bonafide X receiver, something the Patriots haven’t had since Randy Moss. The Patriots also return a Top 5 running game (7th in yards, 1st in scoring) and one of the youngest defenses in the NFL, which should improve dramatically. On paper, this may be the best Patriots team since 2007.