Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Team-By-Team Predictions for the 2014 Season: Miami Dolphins

With the 2014 NFL season coming closer, it is time to prognosticate how each team will fare. Previously, we covered the New York Jets, a team in the AFC East.  Now, we will cover a rival of the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins!

Before we discuss anything else about the Dolphins we should discuss the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito scandal that occurred last year.  Because Incognito made some rather unfortunate mistakes in his handling of the situation, I'm glad that he has not been signed yet.  However, Jonathan Martin should have a prime opportunity in San Francisco to reestablish his career.

While the scandal put a dark cloud over the Dolphins organization, general manager Jeff Ireland and other members of the franchise's staff were fired.  Only a few others and head coach Joe Philbin, remains with the team, and even that could change after this season.  To put it simply: This is a make or break year for Philbin. If he can get his team to the postseason or do substantially better this year than 8-8, then he'll remain with the Dolphins.  If he can't, he'll probably be fired and the Dolphins will have to restart their rebuilding process.  Philbin has led his team to a 7-9 record his first year and 8-8 last year.  The Dolphins were a win away from making the postseason last year, and might be able to make it if they can do these three things.

1. Support Ryan Tannehill in the passing game
I believe if the Dolphins can support quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who will be in his critical third year as a starter in the NFL, they have a very good chance of making the postseason.  However, supporting their quarterback means that they have to find a way to improve the chemistry between last years' free agent pickup Mike Wallace and Tannehill.  Their support of Ryan Tannehill will also need to come from their offensive line.  Last season, the Dolphins' offensive line (with the Martin/Incognito fiasco) gave up 58 sacks.  Tannehill had very little time to throw and develop his presence in the pocket.  If the mostly new offensive line can work together relatively quickly under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, then Tannehill will be able to do many things he wasn't able to do last year.

2. Get more out of Dion Jordan
While Tannehill was Miami's first round draft selection in 2012, Dion Jordan, Miami's 2013 draft selection, needs to make substantial improvements if the Dolphins are to make the postseason.  The Dolphins traded in the 2013 draft all the way to the third pick to select Jordan.  This trade significantly increased expectations for him for the season.  Before the season even started, Jordan underwent surgery to repair his torn labrum.  As a result, Jordan did not enjoy the rookie year that every analyst was expecting from him.  Even as a player that had only two sacks last year, Jordan could be the difference between a good and a great defense.  If Jordan becomes the wrecking machine he was drafted to be, we can expect anywhere from 8-12 sacks as a reasonable expectation for this season.

3. Develop a running game
Last season, many expected the Dolphins to have one of the best rushing attacks because of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas.  Instead, the two struggled in pass protection, making it harder for the Dolphins to score.  Now, Thomas is not even a lock to make the roster, and the team has added Knowshon Moreno from Denver.  While Moreno is recovering from an injury, the Dolphins also have some minor additions that should boost Miller.  If the Dolphins can find a way to support their offense with a solid rushing attack, Tannehill will be able to make substantial improvements in his play that will get his team to the postseason.

Here are my predictions for the Dolphins this season for each game.  Instead of predicting the scores, I'm going to go through the schedule and state why I think the Dolphins will win or lose.  I will bold the winner of each game.

Week 1: New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins beat the Patriots at home last year in what some considered a major upset.  However the Patriots have made some drastic improvements to their secondary and are getting some great players back from injury.  I'm going with the Patriots here.

Week 2: Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills- For some reason, many analysts have the Bills making the playoffs this season.  While I think Sammy Watkins and EJ Manuel will become one of the NFL's better QB-WR duos, I have major questions about their defense with Jarius Bryd in New Orleans and Kiko Alonso injured for the year.  Former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is also now head coach of the Browns.  I think the 'Phins will get their first win on the road in a crucial divisional game.

Week 3: Kansas City Chiefs @ Miami Dolphins- This is a team that the Dolphins can beat because of matchups.  The Chiefs don't have the best receiving corps, and I think that the Dolphins will get after Alex Smith more than once in this game.  Because the Chiefs have lost so much talent to free agency and the salary cap, their secondary is not as stellar as it was before.  I'm going to give this to the Dolphins.

Week 4: Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders- This a tough game for both teams because it is part of the NFL's international series in London.  The Raiders have to travel a much longer distance and will be more fatigued than the Dolphins.  As a result, the Dolphins should win this game, giving them a 3-1 start.

Week 5: Bye Week- the Dolphins start out the season 3-1.

Week 6: Green Bay Packers @ Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins will have 2 weeks of rest to prepare for the rest of their season.  However, Aaron Rodgers is a freak of nature and will likely light up the Dolphins.  However, I think the Dolphins can learn a lot from this tough home loss.

Week 7: Miami Dolphins @ Chicago Bears- As we saw last season, the Bears' defense is a shell of what it used to be.  However its offense is a juggernaut that can deal serious damage to any team with a mediocre defense (note Bears' shellacking of Cowboys on MNF).  This is a tough road loss for the Miami Dolphins, putting them at 3-3.

Week 8: Miami Dolphins @ Jacksonville Jaguars- Personally, I feel as though the Jaguars will be highly competitive within the next two years because of Gus Bradley's coaching.  However, I have the Dolphins winning this one to escape their losing streak.

Week 9: San Diego Chargers @ Miami Dolphins- When these two teams faced last season, the Dolphins beat the Chargers 20-16.  Desperate to escape the confines of mediocrity they have been stuck in for the last several years, the Dolphins beat the Chargers in a very close contest.

Week 10: Miami Dolphins @ Detroit LionsAs I have mentioned many times on this blog, the Lions and Cowboys are the most inconsistent teams in the NFL.  As a result, the Lions have given up some very winnable games (think back to their games against the Giants, Steelers, Buccaneers, and the Vikings).  I think the Dolphins can take advantage of their inconsistencies and win an important road game.

Week 11: Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins did not do very well against the Bills last year (got shut out once and a close loss at home), but need a rebound against a franchise that has done very well against them.  I think the Dolphins will get it done and advance to 7-3 for the season so far.

Week 12: Miami Dolphins @ Denver Broncos- Going up against one of the league's best teams and AFC Champions, the Dolphins will have a tough time beating Peyton's Broncos.  I'm giving the Broncos an easy victory against the Dolphins.

Week 13: Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets- In their first matchup of the season, the Jets get their revenge on the Dolphins after the Dolphins nearly shut out the Jets in Metlife last year.

Week 14: Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins- The Ravens narrowly beat the Dolphins last year in Miami.  However, the Dolphins have more at stake this time because they look like legitimate playoff contenders.  I think they win this one.

Week 15: Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots- This is the Dolphins' victory of the season.  A late season win against the Patriots in Gillette Stadium should light the Dolphins' hopes for a playoff berth.  This is going to be a huge upset.

Week 16: Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings- To be honest, this has a Dolphins loss written all over it because of the cold weather that the 'Phins will have to deal with.  However, the Vikings used to be a dome team, and this will be one of their only seasons outdoors.  I'm giving this to the Dolphins.

Week 17: New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins have a chance to end with an 11-5 record, but lose a close one at home to a very hungry Jets team.  The Dolphins finish with a 10-6 record, which should qualify them for the playoffs.

Final record: 10-6
Home Record: 4-4
Away Record: 6-2

I think the Dolphins have a playoff ready roster.  All it will take is some great coaching and great talent to come together for the Dolphins to return to the postseason.  If the team can't come together, Joe Philbin may be on another team and the Dolphins may be forced to draft a quarterback next year.  Regardless, this is a crucial year for this organization and whatever path this season takes will ultimately affect the direction of the franchise for the next several years.

We will continue our coverage of AFC East teams with the Buffalo Bills later this week.  If you agree, disagree, or are somewhere in between, I would really appreciate it if you could state your thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Team-By-Team Predictions for the 2014 Season: New York Jets

The NFL season is right around the corner!  After the end of free agency and the draft, all of the NFL teams are beginning to prepare for the 2014-2015 season.  Some teams have drastically improved their rosters, while others have lost key contributors.  Although the season's start is still months away, we can begin to prognosticate each team's success or lack thereof.  We shall begin our team predictions with the New York Jets.

Some might argue that the Jets had a better than expected season in 2013 by ending .500 or 8-8. However, the Jets were a mediocre team throughout the season, never earning a winning streak until the last two games of the season.

Offensively, the Jets were incompetent throughout the season.  Their quarterback, Geno Smith, did not have the weapons needed to thrive in the AFC.  Smith, a rookie last season, carried the team to spectacular victories over the Falcons, Patriots, Saints, and Raiders.  However, he cost his team brutal losses against the Dolphins, Bills, Ravens, Bengals, and Panthers.  Fortunately for him, Jets' general manager John Idzik has given him new offensive weapons in Eric Decker and Chris Johnson.  Idzik also added tight end Jake Amaro, Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans, and Quincy Enunwa in the 2014 draft.   If the Jets can put together an offense that doesn't consistently turn the ball over, then they have a significantly better chance of making the postseason.

While the team had inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball, it had more success on the defensive side of the ball.  With a stout defensive line, the Jets constantly pressured opposing quarterbacks like Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees.  Sheldon Richardson, who will now be in his second year in the NFL, had a major impact in rebuilding his team's defensive "trench".  However, the Jets had some significant issues in the secondary.  With Antonio Rogers Cromartie in Arizona, the Jets might have some issues with a position they used to have no problems with.   The Jets drafted Dee Milliner last season and added Calvin Pryor, Dexter McDougle, and Brandon Dixon in this year's draft.  The secondary might prove to be the Jets' weakness this season because of the departure of Cromartie.

Let's examine the Jets schedule week by week.
(Bold indicates Prime-Time)
(Italics indicates win)

Week 1: Oakland Raiders @ New York Jets
The Jets will be hosting their season opener at home against a team that did not finish very well last year (4-12).  However, the Raiders have made some serious moves in free-agency and the draft to try to improve the roster.  This should be a good indicator of how good the Jets will be against mediocre teams.
Raiders 20
Jets 31

Week 2: New York Jets @ Green Bay Packers
This is a tough game for the Jets to put it simply.  Going against one of the better teams in the NFL on the road is no easy task.  Facing the arguably best quarterback in the game doesn't make it any easier, but I do think the Jets can put up some points against the Packers' defense.
Jets 17
Packers 35

Week 3: Chicago Bears @ New York Jets
Facing two NFC North opponents in a row will not be easy for the New York Jets.  However, they have the pass rush that Chicago desperately needs.  In what should be one of the better Monday Night Football match-ups, the Jets win a close one at home.

Bears 17
Jets 21

Week 4: Detroit Lions @ New York Jets
The Detroit Lions are one of the league's more puzzling teams.  With so much talent on both sides of the ball, one has to wonder when the Lions will step up and become one of the league's contenders.  Nevertheless, the Jets match up well against turnover prone Matthew Stafford.  The Jets win this one in a larger than expected victory.

Lions 14
Jets 30

Week 5: New York Jets @ San Diego Chargers
After finishing one of the easier four game stretches of the schedule, the Jets face an AFC contender in the San Diego Chargers.  The Chargers made significant improvement on all sides of the ball last season and should win against the Jets.

Jets 17
Chargers 27

Week 6: Denver Broncos @ New York Jets
The Denver Broncos, last years' AFC champions, were dominated in a 43-8 rout in the Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium in February.  They return to Metlife Stadium to face the New York Jets for an early season matchup.  After their success last season against some very good teams, I think the Jets pull off a stunning upset at home.

Broncos 27
Jets 33

Week 7: New York Jets @ New England Patriots 
The Jets return to Foxborough for a prime-time matchup against the Patriots.  Coming off a win at home to a very good Denver Broncos team, the Jets will have a very difficult time winning this game. While the Jets normally face off well against the Pats, they will narrowly lose this one.

Jets 20
Patriots 26

Week 8: Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
The Jets take advantage of a weak AFC East to win a critical divisional game.  The Jets did well against Buffalo at home last year, and I think they can do it again.

Bills 6
Jets 28

Week 9: New York Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Jets, coming off of a critical divisional win, travel to Kansas City for a midseason matchup.  The Jets match up well against the Chiefs, touting a tough front seven and a great running game.  The Jets win again on the road.
Jets 21
Chiefs 13

Week 10: Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Jets
The Steelers beat the Jets in Metlife Stadium last year in one of the Jets' only two home losses last season.  The Steelers have rebuilt their defense during the last few seasons and are ready to return to playoff contention.  I simply can't see the Jets winning this one.

Steelers 24
Jets 10

Week 11: Bye Week
The Jets will be 6-4 in their bye week.  The Jets are now valued as a wild-card contender in their division.

Week 12: New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
After a bye week to rest, the Jets travel to western New York to face the Bills.  This should be a tough game for the Jets, who haven't done very well in Buffalo for the last two seasons.  Nevertheless, the Jets lose a critical road game to a divisional opponent.

Jets 18
Bills 21

Week 13: Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets 
The Jets ended the Dolphins' season last year in Miami, while the Dolphins nearly blew out the Jets in a 23-3 rout in Metlife Stadium last season.  The Jets have the defensive line needed to rush Ryan Tannehill.  In the Jets' final prime-time appearance, they win a critical game at home to restore playoff hopes.

Dolphins 13
Jets 20

Week 14: New York Jets @ Minnesota Vikings
Coming off of a short week won't be easy for the Jets after beating the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.  The Jets will have to deal with stopping Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, and possibly Teddy Bridgewater.  This is a tough loss for the Jets.

Jets 10
Vikings 27

Week 15: New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans
Two road games in a row aren't easy, and the Titans squashed the Jets last year in Tennessee.  However, the Jets should be better this year and probably will beat the Titans.

Jets 17
Titans 13

Week 16: New England Patriots @ New York Jets
As lucky as the Jets were last year when they faced the Patriots at home (remember that call in overtime), they do have home field advantage in a late season matchup.  I think this game will be one of the Jets best games of the season, but they will ultimately lose by a field goal.

Patriots 26
Jets 23

Week 17: New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
The Jets ended their 2013 season by preventing Miami from going to the postseason.  This year, the Jets, on the brink of a playoff berth, finish the regular season with a division win.

Jets 20
Dolphins 16

The New York Jets end their season with a 9-7 record.  They might make the playoffs in a weak AFC and have the potential to make some noise with a playoff experienced head coach Rex Ryan (he led the Jets to two AFC Championship appearances in his first two years as head coach).  Ultimately I think the work John Idzik and Rex Ryan have done with this team should get them in the playoff mix.  However, we have to remember that the Jets' secondary is very questionable with many new faces and departures of crucial veterans.  If Dee Milliner and Geno Smith, two 2013 Jets draft selections, can step up their performance, then this team can do very well.   I would really appreciate it if you leave a comment, question, or concern.  Or if you feel that the Jets are going to collapse, just let me know in the comments section.

We will continue our offseason coverage and prognostications with the Miami Dolphins in the next few days.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why the 49ers need to re-sign Anquan Boldin

After reaching the NFC title game for the third year in a row, the 49ers will be sitting home watching the Super Bowl.  While they did not make the "Big One" for a second year in a row, the 49ers had a fairly successful season.  With Colin Kaepernick entering his first complete year as a starter, the 49ers needed to provide him with more offensive firepower for the 2013 season.

Anquan Boldin proved to be the weapon the 49ers were looking for.  In his 19 games with the 49ers this season, Boldin caught for 1406 yards and 8 touchdown passes, giving his team the leadership they needed after losing the Super Bowl in the 2012-2013 season.  Boldin and Vernon Davis helped Kaepernick for the first half of the season while Michael Crabtree recovered from injury.  Without having a "security blanket" like Bolin, the 49ers might not have made the playoffs.

So why does that make re-signing Boldin crucial to the 49ers success next year?  Boldin will be needed because of the lack of depth at the wide receiver position.  Currently, the 49ers receivers include Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin, Kassim Osgood, and Anquan Boldin.  Manningham, who didn't contribute significantly this year, is also a free agent this year and will probably not re-sign with the 49ers.  As a result, if the 49ers pass on re-signing Boldin and Manningham, they will be left with Crabtree (whose contract ends next year), Patton (a sophomore receiver), Jon Baldwin (a recent addition from Kansas City), and Osgood (a special teams ace whose contract is also ending).  Without retaining Boldin, the 49ers passing game will suffer even more after finishing 30th in the league.  The 49ers will also lose leadership, a "go to" receiver, and one of the most physical players in the league.

Although Bolin is aging (he is currently 33), he remains one of the most physical, experienced, and talented wide receivers in the league.  If the 49ers want to return to the Super Bowl they must re-sign Boldin or find another way to add more weapons to their offense.  Otherwise these 49ers could end up like the Philadelphia Eagles of the early 2000s without a single Lombardi trophy in five NFC championship appearances.

Monday, November 18, 2013

NFL Power Rankings and Playoff Predictions: Who are the Contenders? Who are the Pretenders?

Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
       As the NFL regular season is beginning to reach a close, the playoffs are becoming more and more important.  However, compared to last year, this year's playoffs look to be much different, at least in the NFC.   

         Last year's division champions, the Redskins, 49ers, Packers, and the Falcons, have all taken steps backwards in the 2013 season.  For the Redskins, a conflict between the coaching staff and the players has begun to have an effect on the performance of this team.  Look for Mike Shanahan and his staff to be fired at the end of December.   Meanwhile, the 49ers are struggling in the passing game, thus making them one dimensional.  The 49ers, who have lost to good teams, are out of the race for the NFC West crown, but remain in the hunt for the wildcard.  While the 49ers remain in the hunt, the Packers are losing momentum with the loss of Aaron Rodgers.  If the Packers can work together to earn several victories before Rodgers comes back, then they'll stand a good chance at another playoff appearance.  While the 49ers and Packers are still competitive, the Falcons are counting the days until the season ends.  In what was supposed to be their Super Bowl season, the Falcons have crashed to a 2-8 record.  

Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson
      While last year's NFC superpowers fall, new ones are rising.  Seattle, 10-1, has a firm grasp over the NFC West and possibly home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.  In the NFC South, Drew Brees and Sean Payton have returned the Saints to stardom with an 8-2 record.  The Lions, led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson Jr., look like a lock for the NFC North crown.  While the other three divisions are somewhat solidified, the NFC East is extremely fluid.  While Philadelphia is in front with Nick Foles running Chip Kelly's offense, the New York Giants have won their last four games, resulting in an interesting race for the NFC East crown.  

Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning
In the AFC, Denver, New England, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis rule supreme.  The Broncos look like a team headed for success with Peyton Manning at the helm of a 8-1 team.  In the AFC East, Tom Brady has turned rookie wideouts into stars, resulting in a 7-2 record.  Replacing the Houston Texans in the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts have beaten the best of teams including San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. With Andrew Luck at the lead, this team looks to have great success in the coming years.  Like the Colts, the Bengals are also beating elite teams including the Patriots, the Packers, and the Lions.  While Andy Dalton may not be the "guy", he has led his team to seven wins and a coming division title.
Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady

If the playoffs were held today, this is how I believe they would play out:

1. Seattle Seahawks
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Detroit Lions
5. Carolina Panthers
6. San Francisco 49ers

1. Denver Broncos
2. New England Patriots
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Indianapolis Colts
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Wild Card:
49ers @ Eagles
Panthers @ Lions

Wild Card: 
Steelers @ Bengals
Chiefs @ Colts

49ers @ Seahawks
Panthers @ Saints

Chiefs @ Broncos
Colts @ Patriots

Saints @ Seahawks
Patriots @ Broncos

Super Bowl:
New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos

Here are my NFL Power Rankings for this week. 
Average grade: 72.75
Bold Indicates 1st Place in Division
Italics Indicate 2nd Place

1. Seattle Seahawks 97            
2. Denver Broncos 96            
3. Kansas City Chiefs 95            
4. New Orleans Saints 95             
5. Carolina Panthers 90             
6. New England Patriots 93
7. Cincinnati Bengals 89            
8. Detroit Lions 87                        
9. Indianapolis Colts 86             
10. San Francisco 49ers 84              
11. Philadelphia Eagles 83 
12. Dallas Cowboys 82             
13. Arizona Cardinals 79             
14. New York Jets 78                        
15. Chicago Bears 78                        
16. Miami Dolphins 77             
17. New York Giants 75            
18. Baltimore Ravens 73^           
19. Pittsburgh Steelers 69^          
20. San Diego Chargers 69             
21. Oakland Raiders 67            
22. St. Louis Rams 67             
23. Tennessee Titans 65            
24. Cleveland Browns 65^           
25. Green Bay Packers 64             
26. Buffalo Bills 64                        
27. Minnesota Vikings 64            
28. Washington Redskins 62 
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 60 
30. Houston Texans 59 
31. Atlanta Falcons 56 
32. Jacksonville Jaguars 55 

^Cleveland, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh are all currently tied for second place in the AFC North.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Predictions and Thoughts: The NFC East in 2013

Written by Rishab Jain
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Comprising of the Redskins, the Eagles, the Cowboys, and the Giants, the NFC East is one of the more competitive divisions in the NFL.  Last year's division champions, the Washington Redskins, are looking to repeat as division champions this season with Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan leading the way.  However, the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys are all looking to beat the Redskins for the title.  Below, I list the records of the four teams in 2012.

2012 NFC East Records:
1st Place: Redskins 10-6
2nd Place: Giants 9-7
3rd Place: Cowboys 8-8
4th Place: Eagles 4-12

For much of the 2012 season, the New York Giants looked as if they were going to maintain their title as NFC East Champions after winning the Super Bowl in 2011.  Unfortunately for the Giants, a late season collapse against the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons and a late season surge from the Washington Redskins changed the outlook of the NFC East.  The Redskins won their last seven games to represent the NFC East in the 2012 playoffs.  In the playoffs, the Redskins faced the Seattle Seahawks and opened with an impressive 14 point lead.  However, the Redskins faced a major setback when franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III, was injured twice in the game.  Griffin tore his ACL and LCL and could not help the Redskins win the game.  Without Griffin, the Redskins allowed the Seahawks to score 24 unanswered points, which sent the Seahawks to Atlanta in the divisional round.  Not only did the Redskins lose the playoff game, but they also lost Griffin to serious injury.

While the Giants and Redskins ended with winning records in 2012, the Eagles had a disappointing season.  The Eagles did not take off in 2012, after winning only four games in the entire season.  The Eagles lost Michael Vick to injury for most of the season and had to play Nick Foles.  The Eagles' head coach, Andy Reid, was subsequently fired after the season as the franchise wanted to head in a new direction.  The Eagles, looking for a fresh start, selected Chip Kelly from Oregon to lead the team.

Kelly is known distinctly for his "up-tempo" offense, which speeds up the tempo of the offense. Kelly's playbook also consists of a heavy reliance on a strong run game, which can be achieved easily through LeSean McCoy.  The Eagles are also hosting a battle for the starting job at quarterback between Michael Vick, Nick Foles, and Matt Barkley.  Currently, it looks like Vick will get the job as he has played better than Foles and Barkley in pre-season.  Here is one of my earlier predictions of the Eagles I made earlier in this off-season.  The Eagles remain one of the more interesting teams to talk about simply because no one knows what to expect.

While the Eagles had a very disappointing season, the Cowboys simply collapsed at the end of the season.  While this team faced significant injuries on both sides of the ball, it failed to play consistently throughout the season.  Some blame the Cowboys' collapse on Tony Romo, who actually had a fairly impressive season.  Romo threw for 4903 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 90.5.  Romo has the weapons and talent to help this team win games.  The defense of the Cowboys has also gone under some changes this offseason.  Now led by the mad scientist Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys will have a much better defense this year.  This side of the ball also has a lot of talent but needs to maintain mental strength and focus to win games.  This team has the potential to be a 12-4 team but needs to remain focused to do so.

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for....
The Rishab Report's Predictions for NFC East for the 2013 Season

Washington Redskins 11-5:

The Redskins will remain one of the top teams in the league this year.  Even though they have a harder schedule, Robert Griffin III will lead his team to some great victories this season.  The Redskins may have problems with the secondary this year, but they should still win this division.

New York Giants 10-6:
The Giants may or may not make the playoffs, but they should still be considered a dangerous team.  Eli Manning and his explosive offense have the potential to win many games this season, but questions remain on defense, especially the linebacker position.

Philadelphia Eagles 7-9:
Expect the Eagles to be a very high scoring team this season.  However, I do not believe that the defense will be able to keep up with Kelly's high tempo strategy.  The Eagles have issues at wide receiver and quarterback, and may solve both of those after this season.

Dallas Cowboys 6-10:
The Dallas Cowboys will have significant issues keeping their mental focus together.  If Tony Romo cannot repeat his performance then this team will take a step back in 2013.  On a positive note, this team will have a great defense for this year.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Team-By-Team Predictions for 2013: The San Francisco 49ers

Team-By-Team Predictions for 2013: The San Francisco 49ers
Written By Rishab Jain

After getting all the way to the Super Bowl last year, the 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens in a great game 34-31.  Fortunately for this franchise, glory is on the horizon.  The 49ers struck gold with Colin Kaepernick, who replaced Alex Smith midseason to lead San Francisco to a 7-3-1 record including the post season.  The 49ers have built their franchise in the draft, and have made appropriate additions in Free Agency to give themselves the best chance to win games.  In addition, having Jim Harbaugh as head coach gives this team the inspiration and discipline needed to build a long lasting dynasty in the NFL.  When we'll look back at the 49ers in ten, twenty years, this franchise will be called the team of the decade.  

The 49ers also have one of the most well balanced offensive systems in the NFL.  This balance is created by a dependency on a strong running game, and a fast paced passing attack.  The 9ers have benefited from the excellence of Frank Gore, and may build his successor in Marcus Lattimore, a 4th round pick in the 2013 Draft. As I mentioned previously, the 49ers have Colin Kaepernick to manage the offense, and he has shown much potential with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions within a total of 8 regular season games.  Kaepernick also aided the team in two post-season victories against the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons.  Kaepernick in 2012, had passing weapons in Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, and several other players.  This year, Crabtree is hurt, but the 49ers were lucky in bringing in Anquan Boldin beforehand.  This year, the 49ers are hoping AJ Jenkins, Quinton Patton, and other wide receivers step up to fill Crabtree's absence.  

While the 49ers have an elite offense, their success has largely stemmed upon the defensive side of the ball.  This unit has the pure talent, with star players in the secondary and defensive line.  The 49ers have Aldon and Justin Smith to help lead the line, while Carlos Rogers, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Tarrell Brown work as cornerbacks.  Other key defensive ends including CJ Spillman and Chris Culliver also help the overall defense of this team.  This team has one of the best, if not the ultimate defense in the NFL.  

Let's examine and predict the 49ers season.

Week 1: Packers @ 49ers
After losing to the 49ers in the playoffs and regular season last year, the Packers will definitely give San Francisco a run for its money in this matchup.  I find it very intriguing that the NFL is trying to create a rivalry with these two teams.  It is very possible that these two teams might meet again in the playoffs this year.  
Packers 36 49ers 41
Record: 1-0

Week 2: 49ers @ Seahawks
The Seahawks embarrassed the 49ers last December in a 42-13 victory, and will look to beat San Francisco again at home.  Tension has really been building here as of late, as these teams are even insulting each other in the offseason.  I like the Seahawks in this matchup as they were undefeated at home last year, and have Russell Wilson as quarterback.  This game, unlike the one in December, will be significantly closer.
49ers 16 Seahawks 20
Record 1-1

Week 3: Colts @ 49ers
Andrew Luck faces Colin Kaepernick in what should be a great intra-conference duel.  Expect the 49ers to have complete control over this game from defensive and offensive standpoints.  The Colts were 4-4 on the road, but were 7-1 at home.  
Colts 20 49ers 37
Record 2-1

Week 4: 49ers @ Rams
Overshadowed by the Seattle-San Francisco rivalry, the 49ers-Rams rivalry is also very intense.  The 49ers were 0-1-1 against the Rams last season, tying at home, and losing at St. Louis.  I believe Sam Bradford will lead the Rams to a close victory in this one.  
49ers 22 Rams 25
Record 2-2

Week 5: Texans @ 49ers
I'll be the first to admit, the Houston Texans are a very good team, but will have problems against the 49ers.  The defenses for both teams are very menacing, but this game will come down to which team has a better quarterback.  Expect a very close, low scoring, and hard hitting game.  
Texans 16 49ers 22
Record 3-2

Week 6: Cardinals @ 49ers
The Cardinals will be making significant improvements with Carson Palmer at quarterback in 2013.  Unfortunately, they have much to do before they can get a chance at the division winner for the last two years.  
Cardinals 18 49ers 41
Record 4-2

Week 7: 49ers @ Titans
The Tennessee Titans have made many offseason moves to improve the team, notably by signing Delanie Walker from the 49ers.  Unfortunately for them, it is highly likely that they will lose to the 49ers at home.
49ers 29 Titans 20
Record 5-2

Week 8: Jaguars @ 49ers
Facing the league's worst team is a gift.  The 49ers and all of the other NFC West teams were lucky this year in getting to face the AFC South.  
Jaguars 3 49ers 45
Record 6-2

Week 9: Bye Week- The 49ers are 6-2 and are widely expected to make the playoffs at this point, but the division title is a mystery.  

Week 10: Panthers @ 49ers
I think the Carolina Panthers are going to win a wild card spot in the playoffs this year, but Carolina's defense will not be able to stop Colin Kaepernick.
49ers 28 Carolina 17
Record 7-2

Week 11: 49ers @ Saints
The 49ers have won the last two games in this series, but Drew Brees will have Sean Payton to help the Saints win this one in an overtime victory.
49ers 24 Saints 27 OT
Record 7-3

Week 12: 49ers @ Redskins
The 49ers and the Redskins have a very similar offense, but the 49ers have a Super Bowl caliber defense, as we observed last season.  The 49ers may have problems against Robert Griffin III, but the Redskins will have problems with Kaepernick.  This is definitely a game to watch this season.
49ers 30 Redskins 28
Record 8-3

Week 13: Rams @ 49ers
The 49ers will take the Rams on in a late season matchup that will definitely have implications for the playoffs. The defenses of both of these teams are very elite, so expect a low scoring, yet very intense game.
Rams 12 49ers 17
Record 9-3

Week 14: Seahawks @ 49ers
Out of all the games this season, this is on my top 5 games to watch.  This game will be the second in the 49ers/Seahawks rivalry this season, and will be critical in determining the winner of the division.  In this matchup we have 2 great quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.  Expect a very emotional game in week 14, but expect the 49ers to win this one by a field goal.
Seahawks 38 49ers 41
Record 10-3

Week 15: 49ers @ Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is one of a few teams that could go something like 10-6 or 6-10, but will lose an important home game against the 49ers.  The 49ers will earn a playoff berth in this win.
49ers 26 Buccaneers 7
Record 11-3

Week 16: Falcons @ 49ers
In another close game, the Falcons, angered by their loss in the NFC Title game, make a 4th quarter comeback to beat San Francisco.  Matt Ryan will put up amazing numbers in this game, and we could see these two teams fight it out again in the playoffs.
Falcons 33 49ers 27
Record 12-4

Week 17: 49ers @ Cardinals
In a rematch of last season's end, the 49ers are heading back to Arizona for the final game of the season.  Expect the 49ers to rest their starters in anticipation for the playoffs, but come up with a win, clinching the division for the third year in a row.  
49ers 16 Cardinals 10

Division 4-2

Playoff Seeding-
1. San Francisco 49ers 12-4
2. Green Bay Packers 12-4
3. Atlanta Falcons 11-5
4. New York Giants 11-5
5. Carolina Panthers 10-6
6. New Orleans Saints 9-7

Divisional Round- Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers
In a great rematch of the regular season and last year's NFC Title game, the 49ers will have no problems defending home territory.  I don't believe the amazing receiving squad we saw on the Falcons last year will be healthy in the playoffs, and Michael Crabtree will likely return to help his team in this one.
Falcons 17 49ers 23

NFC TItle Game- New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers
Giants in the title game again?  Yes, but this time, they won't have the same defense they did two years ago in their victory in San Francisco.  With Colin Kaepernick against Eli Manning in what should be a great game, the 49ers squeak it out by a win in overtime.  
Giants 28 49ers 34 OT

Super Bowl- San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals
I know some of the readers may find the fact that I have the Bengals as the AFC Champion surprising, but I believe the team has a great defense and a solid quarterback in Andy Dalton.  In a modern day matchup of Super Bowl XVI, two great defenses will make the game much more interesting and low scoring.  Add in the quarterback matchup where both quarterbacks came from the 2011 draft, and the game gets even more intense.  
49ers 21 Bengals 13
Super Bowl XLVIII Champions- San Francisco 49ers
MVP- Colin Kaepernick 18/25 throws, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown, 0 interceptions

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Team-By-Team Predictions for 2013: The New York Giants

Team-By-Team Predictions for 2013: New York Giants
Written By Skylar Darel and Rishab Jain

For the next three months, the Rishab Report will provide predictions for each team in the NFL.  Each post will go through the entire team's schedule from September to beyond, and will focus on week by week predictions.  
We will start our new series with one of our local teams, the New York Giants!
Eli Manning
The Giants are easily the most difficult team to predict every season, because of how inconsistent they play.  For instance, this team played its best games against the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Philadelphia Eagles, while losing badly against teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, and Atlanta Falcons.  However, seeing as the core of this team is still intact the Giants are still an elite team, with Eli Manning at the helm.
Manning benefits from tons of offensive weapons, a great offensive line, and a decent defense. The Giants are looking to split the running responsibilities between David Wilson and Andre Brown.  Meanwhile, the Giants can still benefit from having Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz on the field to make game changing catches. On the offensive line, Justin Pugh will infuse youth into an aging group and Will Beatty is turning into a superb left tackle.
The real questions for this team are on defense. But if Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and Damontre Moore can generate a pass rush, this defense will be a lot harder to stop. The defensive tackles have a mixture of youth with Jonathan Hankins and Marvin Austin, and experience with Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins. However, the defense is dependent on 3 players to come up big: Dan Connor, Prince Amukamara, and Corey Webster. If Amukamara and Webster regain their form as cover corners, and if Connor plays well in the middle of the defense, this team can really go far.
Let's examine and predict the Giants Season.
Week 1: Giants  @ Cowboys 
The Giants are 4-0 at Cowboys Stadium.  Tony Romo might put up strong numbers, but Eli Manning should control this game.  
Giants 33 Cowboys 25
Record: 1-0
Week 2: Broncos  @ Giants
The Manning Brothers face off in the Giants' home opener.  This might be the best game of the season, but Peyton Manning will outplay his brother.
Broncos 28 Giants 21
Record 1-1
Week 3: Giants @ Panthers
The Giants head to the Carolinas for a rematch against the Panthers.  The Giants defense will step up in this game to limit Cam Newton yet again.
Giants 26 Panthers 17
Record 2-1
Week 4: Giants  @ Chiefs 
The Giants face the daunting Alex Smith, Andy Reid, and the new Chiefs, but win in a classic 4th quarter comeback to stay undefeated on the road.
Giants 21 Chiefs 20 
Record 3-1
Week 5: Eagles @ Giants 
After humiliating the Eagles last season, the Eagles give the Giants a real fun for their money, but the Giants win at home for the 1st time in 2013.

Eagles 22 Giants 24

Record 4-1

Week 6: Giants @ Bears 

The Giants struggle against the Bears and lose their first game on the road.  Chicago's new offense will prove too much for New York's defense.

Giants 14 Bears 28

Record 4-2

Week 7: Vikings @ Giants 

The Giants beat Minnesota in clean fashion, and step up to stop Adrian Peterson on Defense.

Giants 45 Vikings 21

Record 5-2

Week 8: Giants @ Eagles 

The Giants outscore the Eagles in a shoot out, the Giants will be 5-3 before the bye week.

Giants 38 Eagles 36

Record 6-2

Week 9: Bye Week

Week 10 Raiders @ Giants

The Giants win this game in a blowout, and preform very well on all sides of the ball.

Giants 51 Oakland 10

Record 7-2

Week 11:  Packers @ Giants

After wrecking the Raiders, the Giants cannot contain Aaron Rodgers, and lose their 2nd home game.

Giants 27 Packers 38

Record 7-3

Week 12: Cowboys @ Giants

The Giants win a Thanksgiving Game against the Cowboys in an almost magical 4th quarter comeback by Manning.

Giants 32 Cowboys 23

Record 8-3

Week 13: Giants @ Redskins

The Giants face a healthy Robert Griffin III in a very tight contest, but the Giants lose their 2nd away game of the season.

Giants 16 Redskins 24

Record 8-4

Week 14: Giants @ Chargers

9 years after the 2004 NFL Draft, Eli Manning has proven himself to be better than Phillip Rivers, and does so yet again in San Diego.

Giants 28 San Diego 13

Record 9-4

Week 15: Seahawks @ Giants 

The Giants Defense will be stuck in neutral against Russell Wilson.  The Giants have now lost 3 home games.

Seahawks 19 Giants 14

Record 9-5

Week 16: Giants @ Lions

The Giants should be able to handle Matthew Stafford, and should trump the Lions in Detroit.  The Giants earn a playoff berth with this win.

Giants 29 Lions 20

Record 10-5

Week 17 Redskins @ Giants

The Giants play the 10-5 Redskins to decide the winner of the division.  Robert Griffin III is close to perfect, and leads the Redskins to an upset.  The Giants in turn, lose the division to the Redskins, but win a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

Redskins 25 Giants 24

Final Record 10-6

Home- 4-4
Away- 6-2

The Giants win a wildcard spot and have to face the Atlanta Falcons in the 1st round of the playoffs.  The Giants would then lose to Atlanta, sending the Falcons to the divisional round.