2014 NFL Preview and Predictions

Aaron Rodgers

AFC East

Miami Dolphins 10-6: The Miami Dolphins have been creeping towards an AFC title for a few years, increasing their win total by one for three consecutive seasons. While the NFL is not so logical to allow this trend to continue, the Dolphins are, indeed, better than they have shown. While the perception is that Knowshon Moreno was made successful by Peyton Manning, he won’t be asked to shoulder the whole load of the running game. Finally, Ryan Tannehill may put up the least sexy numbers by a quarterback, but he is consistent and solid. Considering the only team with which the Dolphins may have to compete for the AFC is the Patriots, Miami can finally make the jump atop the East.

New England Patriots 10-6 Wild Card: Despite Tom Brady’s season featuring the fewest totals for touchdowns and yards in the last five years, the Patriots still managed to win twelve games. In fact, the Patriots have achieved double-digit wins in eleven straight seasons. Assuming Tom Brady bounces back (an ironic term considering the offense ranked seventh in the league in yards), the streak will continue once more, although this time, as a wild card team.

Buffalo Bills 7-9: What kind of player is E.J. Manuel? Is C.J. Spiller finished or on the rise? Is Mario Williams still feared? Was it worth trading up in the draft to select Sammy Watkins? The Bills actually have an onslaught of talent spread throughout their roster, but there has been no indication that they will put it all together. They won’t be the laughing stock of years past, but they won’t be challenging New England or Miami, either.

New York Jets 6-10: The same methodology used to describe the Dolphins could be recycled for the Jets. Six wins. Eight wins. Ten wins? Not quite. The Jets have improved over the past two seasons, but the perception is that they vastly overperformed last year. The truth is, the Jets featured a defense good enough to keep them in every game. A few good bounces (or a roughing the passer penalty) could be as responsible for the team’s eight wins as the talent on the field. Remove the luck, insert the second year quarterback who looked underwhelming at times, surround him with… nobody… and you have a six-win team.

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Mario Mergola
Mario Mergola is a writer, avid sports fan, former ESPN Radio producer, husband, and father who specializes in finding the hidden gems of the less-explored option. Follow @MarioMergola

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