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15 Bold Predictions for 2014 NFL Season

Bold Predictions for 2014 NFL Season

NFL
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The 2014 NFL season starts on Thursday, Sept. 4. With fans everywhere excited for the season to start, here are 15 bold predictions on team records, player performances, coach performances and individual awards. Although these predictions may not all be verifiably true, some of these predictions may end up coming true once the season unfolds.

15. RGIII Does Not Win Comeback Player of the Year

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and head coach Jay Gruden
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15. RGIII Does Not Win Comeback Player of the Year

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and head coach Jay Gruden
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Fans and analysts around the league have made the obvious choice as labeling "RGIII" as the clear-cut candidate to win the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award. Griffin is the favorite, but he will not win the award if he does not perform to expectations. "RGIII" will have to take the 'Skins back to the playoffs in 2014 in order to win the award, which does not seem very likely with new coaches and a below average offensive line.

14. AFC North Sends 3 Teams To the Playoffs

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis
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14. AFC North Sends 3 Teams To the Playoffs

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis
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This happened in the 2011 season, and it could easily happen again in 2014. The Bengals, Steelers and Ravens all appear primed for strong seasons in 2014; the only other legitimate threats for a Wild Card appearance would be the Kansas City Chiefs, who look bound to regress; the San Diego Chargers, who would need to repeat a season in which they overachieved and the Miami Dolphins, who have struggles on both sides of the ball.

13. Rob Gronkowski and/or Julio Jones Finish 2014 Season Injury-Free

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots tight end
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13. Rob Gronkowski and/or Julio Jones Finish 2014 Season Injury-Free

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots tight end
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This prediction is more for the Fantasy Football players out there, as Gronkowski averages the most fantasy points per game at the tight end position, but constantly struggles staying healthy. Jones, meanwhile, was poised for an insane 2013 season until he suffered a season-ending injury for the second season in his first three. One or both of these two players could surprise and play through the 2014 season without sustaining a single injury.

12. Second Legitimate Team Arises in AFC South and/or AFC East

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback
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12. Second Legitimate Team Arises in AFC South and/or AFC East

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback
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The AFC South and AFC East have been the weakest divisions in football since the 7-9 Seahawks won the NFC West in 2010. Only the Patriots and Colts seem able to win games, and a weaker team is bound to emerge as a threat in 2014. Although the Jaguars and Titans won't likely make it to the playoffs this season, these two teams seem the most likely to take a step towards becoming a contender; however, the AFC East still looks to be weak in 2014.

11. Chris Johnson Rushes for 2,000 Yards

Chris Johnson, New York Jets running back
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11. Chris Johnson Rushes for 2,000 Yards

Chris Johnson, New York Jets running back
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Chris Johnson, once known as "CJ2K" for his second NFL season in which he rushed for 2,006 yards, looks to make an impact for the New York Jets this season. Rex Ryan has been able to get a lot out of running backs in years past, and Johnson is still capable of making big plays although he's almost 30. The biggest obstacles between Johnson and 2,000 yards would be the Jets' running back by committee approach and a big question mark at quarterback.

10. Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers Miss the Playoffs

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers quarterback and Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback
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10. Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers Miss the Playoffs

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers quarterback and Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback
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Both teams played great football last year, but the Panthers have struggles in the secondary and at receiver, while the 49ers have to deal with suspensions to Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald as well as an injury to Navorro Bowman. The Bears, Vikings and Cardinals all look more likely to make the playoffs than these two teams. Although these two teams could make the playoffs, it at minimum will be extremely challenging to overcome these obstacles.

9. Jets, Giants Miss Playoffs; Ryan and/or Coughlin Fired

Rex Ryan, New York Jets head coach and Tom Coughlin, New York Giants head coach
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9. Jets, Giants Miss Playoffs; Ryan and/or Coughlin Fired

Rex Ryan, New York Jets head coach and Tom Coughlin, New York Giants head coach
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This seems like a very realistic prediction; although the Giants went 5-0 in the preseason, their team does not look as good on film. Coughlin will have to coach for his life this season, as he already seems to be on the hot seat entering the 2014 season. On the other hand, the Jets' offense doesn't look too bad but their secondary looks atrocious. Rex Ryan will have to help the Jets win seven or more games, or he will likely be fired.

8. NFC North Replaces NFC West as Best Division in Football

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback and Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears quarterback
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8. NFC North Replaces NFC West as Best Division in Football

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback and Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears quarterback
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Since the 2011 season, fans and analysts have called the NFC West football's best division; however, this year, the NFC North will pass the West as the NFL's best. The Seahawks still look good, but the Niners look like they will regress. The Cardinals could be good, and the Rams' loss of Sam Bradford eliminates the chance of the Rams making the playoffs. Meanwhile, all four teams in the NFC North have the potential to make the playoffs.

7. Bishop Sankey Wins Rookie of the Year

Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans running back
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7. Bishop Sankey Wins Rookie of the Year

Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans running back
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Sankey is an underrated breakout candidate. Despite the fact that he sits fourth on the Titans' depth chart, none of the three running backs in front of him have nearly the potential that Sankey possesses. Once Sankey gets some carries, he will surprise Titans fans and give them hope for the future. Sankey's only competition at this point seems to be Sammy Watkins and Kelvin Benjamin, who both play on offenses that struggle in the passing game.

6. Seahawks Fall Short of NFC Championship Game

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks head coach
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6. Seahawks Fall Short of NFC Championship Game

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks head coach
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The Seahawks look like a rare candidate to repeat as Super Bowl Champions; however, their luck will run just short. With the Saints, Packers, Bears and Eagles all boasting talented rosters and great coaching (not to discredit Pete Carroll or the Seahawks' roster), the Seahawks will not make it past the second round of the playoffs. However, if Christine Michael and/or Robert Turbin emerge as Lynch ages, the Seahawks could contend for years.

5. J.J. Watt Wins Defensive Player of the Year

J.J. Watt, Houston Texans defensive end
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5. J.J. Watt Wins Defensive Player of the Year

J.J. Watt, Houston Texans defensive end
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J.J. Watt, fresh off of a new contract, has been a dominant force in the NFL since 2011. He won the D.P.O.Y award two seasons ago, but he should win it again this season. Watt is tough; he keeps playing when injured and puts up big numbers season after season. With newly drafted Jadeveon Clowney on the line with him, Watt will be even better this season. Watt will become the first player to win D.P.O.Y on a losing team since Jason Taylor in 2006.

4. Richard Sherman No Longer Considered League's Best Cornerback

Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
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4. Richard Sherman No Longer Considered League's Best Cornerback

Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
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Sherman has been dominant since entering the league and is considered the NFL's best corner by many; however, someone else will surpass him this year. Whether it's Patrick Peterson, who recently decided to focus all of his time to playing corner; Joe Haden, who will play alongside stud rookie Justin Gilbert or Darrelle Revis, who is no longer confined to playing in the Bucs' Tampa 2 defense is still unknown. However, someone else will be on top.

3. Cincinnati Bengals Win First Playoff Game Since 1990

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback
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3. Cincinnati Bengals Win First Playoff Game Since 1990

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback
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The Bengals have made the playoffs four out of the past five years, and 2014 seems to be the season when all the pieces come into place. The Bengals have seven potential Pro Bowlers, they locked up Andy Dalton over the offseason and the team's best defensive lineman, Geno Atkins, will return from injury in Week 1. Hue Jackson will use the run game efficiently to take the pressure off of Dalton, and the Bengals will finally win a playoff game.

2. Non-Quarterback Wins NFL MVP

Adrian Peterson, Minnesotta Vikings running back
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2. Non-Quarterback Wins NFL MVP

Adrian Peterson, Minnesotta Vikings running back
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Quarterbacks win the majority of NFL MVP awards, but it is not very uncommon for a running back or wide receiver to win. Four non-quarterbacks have won the MVP award since 2000, all running backs. However, almost every NFL analyst has predicted for Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Philip Rivers to win the MVP award. Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or LeSean McCoy could easily win MVP after a solid 2014 season.

1. New Orleans Saints Win Super Bowl XLIX

New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl 2010
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1. New Orleans Saints Win Super Bowl XLIX

New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl 2010
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The Saints have quietly become the most talented team in the NFL; Drew Brees leads an explosive Saints offense that puts up historic numbers, while Rob Ryan has turned the Saints' defense into a top five defense. Add Jairus Byrd at free safety and Brandin Cooks at wide receiver, and the Saints look extremely scary to opposing teams. If they gain home field advantage in the playoffs, they will be a lock to make the Super Bowl.

Connor Howe is a Cincinnati Bengals writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @CHoweSports, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.