Rant Sports 2013 NFL Season Predictions
Predictions for the 2013 NFL Season
The 2013 NFL Draft is over and now it's time to look ahead to the upcomding season, which should be a dandy if last year's playoffs were any indication. There are several young, hungry teams -- Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals -- looking to finish what they started in 2012. To say guys like Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick were disappointed with their seasons is an understatement, even though Kaepernick wasn't the starter until Week 11. Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck overachieved in their rookie seasons and they'll be looking to take the next step this year, which will include wins by their respective teams.
On the defensive side, all eyes are on the defending champs, who lost half their lineup but did a nice job of reloading. The 49ers' defense will look to remain on top while other perennial defensive titans -- Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers -- will look to get back to their stifling ways.
Basically, this season is as wide open as the last one, if not more. However, the heavy hitters aren't going out easily. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are out to make statements, although they'll have to get through each other to do so. In other words, it's going to be very interesting.
So let's get to it. Here are the predictions for the 2013 NFL season. Let me know if you agree or disagree by commenting below!
Ravens 10-6 (4)
Bengals 10-6 (5)
The Ravens re-loaded well enough this offseason to still be considered favorites in this division, although the hungry young Bengals will give them a run for their money. If Joe Flacco does his best Dan Marino impersonation again, the defending champs could go for a repeat, but don't bet on it with Anquan Boldin no longer around. Instead, Andy Dalton should be the one to break out with a new weapon in Tyler Eifert, so pick him for your fantasy team.
Pittsburgh is the sleeper here, but don't bet any money on the Steelers -- they'll ride Le'Veon Bell until he breaks down, which will come sooner than you think. Cleveland should improve with Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson both with a year of experience under their belts, but don't expect a Cinderella playoff run.
Colts 11-5 (2)
Texans 10-6 (6)
Contrary to popular belief, the Colts are the best team in this division and they almost upset the Texans last year; they won't come up short this time around with Andrew Luck one year wiser. Houston is overrated from the start and Indy should improve on both sides of the ball with Chuck Pagano healthy and ready to take this team to the next level.
The Titans will continue to be mediocre until Chris Johnson returns to form unless Jake Locker absolutely breaks out this year, which is unlikely. The Jaguars will remain cellar dwellers because they have Maurice Jones-Drew and nothing else. Luke Joeckel should open a few extra holes for MJD, but not enough to increase Jacksonville's win total.
Patriots 11-5 (3)
Another year, another division title that is the Patriots' to lose. New England won't be quite as potent as recent years without Wes Welker and possibly Rob Gronkowski, but neither of the other teams in the AFC East can challenge the Pats in 2013.
Miami will come the closest with its loaded offense and an older, wiser Ryan Tannehill, but the Dolphins are still a year away from contending for the division crown. The Jets and Bills are going to learn the hard way that both Geno Smith and EJ Manuel will be huge busts. New York will be even worse this year with Smith and/or Sanchez at the helm while Buffalo will revert to Kevin Kolb at some point in the season just to avoid going winless.
Broncos 13-3 (1)
Broncos, Broncos and more Broncos. No one will challenge Denver this year. Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning and now he has Wes Welker at his disposal. Not to mention, the Broncos' defense is stout as well. Can you say Super Bowl or bust?
The Chiefs will make a huge turnaround this year with new coach Andy Reid and new quarterback Alex Smith to run Reid's version of the West Coast offense. Give them a year or two and they'll be division contenders…after Manning retires, of course.
San Diego has come to face the fact it's just a mediocre team and this season will be Philip Rivers' last with the Chargers. Meanwhile, the Raiders are going to be about the same with Matt Flynn under center instead of Carson Palmer. Don't expect a breakout year for the most prized backup in football over the past half-decade.
Packers 10-6 (3)
This is arguably the toughest division in football. The Packers will win once again win it with the addition of Eddie Lacy to offset the improvements of the other teams. And as long as Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers, how can you pick against the Pack?
The Bears are going to be even more disappointing this year than they were last year and the harmony between Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall is going to disappear. Meanwhile, the Vikings will stay about the same and realize that improvement is going to be tough with Percy Harvin now gone. Finally, the Lions will get back to mediocrity, but not back to playoff form while Reggie Bush proves he's not a franchise running back.
Falcons 11-5 (2)
This division is still the Falcons' to lose, but the Saints will improve with Sean Payton back on the sidelines. Matt Ryan and Atlanta's high-flying attack will be enough to win the division again, but the Falcons will lose at least once to New Orleans.
Doug Martin will become a superstar in his sophomore season, but the Bucs won't be a division contender and will begin to look elsewhere for a quarterback when Josh Freeman tanks. Cam Newton's crew will improve by one game, but he still has a ways to go before he's an elite NFL quarterback.
Giants 11-5 (4)
Cowboys 10-6 (6)
No, the Redskins will not win the division again in RG3's sophomore season. Eli Manning and company had their usual down year after a surprise Super Bowl run, so they'll be back for more this year and that means no playoffs for Washington.
The Cowboys will break the .500 mark for the first time since 2009, but they'll be nothing more than a one-and-done playoff team. Finally, the Eagles will start three different quarterbacks this season and that never ends well. It's a hard knock life for LeSean McCoy.
49ers 12-4 (1)
Seahawks 11-5 (5)
Everybody improves in this division, but the defending NFC champs remain at the top. The 49ers-Seahawks rivalry will elevate to a new level this year, but San Francisco is still big brother for now.
The Rams are going to feel the void left by Steven Jackson, although Tavon Austin will help to ease the pain some. Arizona should be better with Carson Palmer, but he's just a placeholder until the Cardinals find a franchise QB for the future.
Wild Card Playoffs
Patriots over Texans
Same song, second verse. Houston got blasted by New England in the playoffs last year and the same thing will happen this year. Wade Phillips' overrated defense will get gashed by both phases of the Patriots' offense, especially if Rob Gronkowski is healthy.
Packers over Cowboys
The Cowboys won't be around in the playoffs for long; expect Aaron Rodgers and company to take care of business.
Ravens over Bengals
These two teams will battle for the third time this season in an overtime thriller won on an interception returned for a touchdown by the Ravens' defense.
Seahawks over Giants
This will be a really intriguing matchup with the Giants looking like Super Bowl contenders again, but Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin will connect on a late touchdown to win it.
Broncos over Ravens
Here we are again at the same time a year later, except this time the Ravens won't be close enough enough to throw a game-winning touchdown with seconds left because the game will be decided by the halfway mark in the fourth quarter. Call it Peyton's revenge.
49ers over Seahawks
This is the battle everyone wants to see and it will be a dandy. Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson will get into an individual rushing battle, which is won by the third-year 49ers quarterback. Wilson will have to wait one more year before Seattle is ready for a Super Bowl run.
Colts over Patriots
An old rivalry is renewed with Andrew Luck stepping into Peyton Manning's place as Tom Brady's rival in Indianapolis. Unlike their first meeting, this one will feature bombs from Luck to T.Y. Hilton and a big game from Donald Brown (no, seriously) in a Colts playoff win. In other words, the torch has passed.
Packers over Falcons
In another high-scoring affair, the Packers win in the Georgia Dome to end Tony Gonzalez's career and make the Falcons start to question their future with their current core.
Broncos over Colts
Everyone wanted this matchup and they'll finally get it this year at much higher stakes than previously imagined. However, Peyton is still the main man and Luck will have to wait one more year before Indy is ready for a Super Bowl run.
49ers over Packers
Colin Kaepernick won't run for 180 yards against the Packers again, but he'll do plenty of damage on the ground and in the air to give the 49ers the win. Eddie Lacy will show that he's still a rookie in this game, but he'll take the next step in his sophomore season.
Super Bowl XLVIII
Broncos over 49ers
The best offense in the NFL will square off against the best defense in a battle for the ages. With Peyton Manning, the old pocket passer on the one side and Colin Kapernick, the young, hot shot scrambler on the other, there will be plenty of fireworks in this title bout. However, it will be the Broncos' defense -- not the 49ers' -- that makes the decisive play. With under a minute to go and his team down by four, Kaepernick will get blindsided by Von Miller while releasing a pass that will get intercepted to make Manning the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different teams.