Mocking the Draft writers Dan Kadar, Matthew Fairburn and myself, are going to be putting out our predictions for the upcoming NFL season over the course of today. I'm up first, so here's a few of the predictions for the season ahead.
NFC Championship Game: Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions.
As much as the homer in me would love to put the Redskins here, I just can't see it in Griffin's rookie year. but next year watch out!!! But anyway, I see the Packers and Lions as the two most powerful offenses in the NFC this year, and like last year, I can't see too many teams being able to keep up with them. The Bears could push their divisional rivals close; but With Matt Forte coming off a big injury and the offensive line still questionable, I think the Lions sneak past them.
The Texans nearly managed to get to this point last year with T.J Yates as the starting quarterback while Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart were sidelined with season-ending injuries. If Jacoby Jones hadn't mishandled a couple punts, then they probably would have reached this point. With Schaub back at the helm and the defense moving into its second year in the 3-4 scheme run by Wade Phillips, I like the Texans chances this year. The Patriots with Brady are always hard to bet against. I love the versatility and creativity they have with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Add in a good draft on the defensive side of the ball, and they look in good shape again this season.
Super Bowl Match Up: Houston Texans vs Green Bay Packers
I think the Texans have the all round offensive talent along with a underrated defense to shock the Pats and make it to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile the Packers offense is just the little bit more high-powered than the Lions, outscoring them in a shoot-out win.
Super Bowl Winners: Green Bay Packers
I think in the Super Bowl, the elite quarterback with Super Bowl experience will take the day. Matt Schaub is a very good quarterback, and runs the Texans system extremely well, but he's not someone I consider as part of the 'elite' quarterback category.
Top Five Draft Order:
2. Cleveland Browns - They have more young talent than you would originally think. But its all still pretty raw. Brandon Weeden has been very up and down in preseason, and his ceiling is limited. The feature man of the offense, third overall pick Trent Richardson, is already struggling to stay healthy. It remains to be seen how he can hold up throughout a long NFL season.
3. New York Jets - My surprise pick here is the Jets. I just don't like what I see on offense. Sanchez isn't consistent enough, and their run game has regressed from when it took them to back to back AFC championship games. I think Tim Tebow will be too big of a distraction and when he see's the field, he won't be anywhere near as productive as he was with the Broncos.
4. Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals still can't find that quarterback to replace Kurt Warner. John Skelton 'beat out' Kevin Kolb for the starting role, but it was more of a choice between the lesser of two evils.
5. St. Louis Rams - They are improving, but with it being the first year under Jeff Fisher, and the first year in new schemes, I don't see too much success for them this year. But this is a team for the future. With this pick, and the Redskins first rounder, they should be able to find another two starters and be ready to make a jump next season.
1st Overall Pick: Dolphins trade down with the Cardinals. Cardinals select Matt Barkley.
Ok, so this is a bit out there. But as the Dolphins spend the number eight pick on Tannehill back in April and a guy like Matt Barkley on the board, it makes sense to trade out. The Cardinals have been desperate for a quarterback since Warner retired, massively over-spending on Kolb. Time to trade up and grab the quarterback of the future.
Rookie Of The Year: Robert Griffin III - I honestly think he has the best chance given his play-making ability with both his arm and his legs.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Andrew Luck - If Griffin gets rookie of the year, Luck will take offensive rookie of the year. Luck has looked pretty comfortable in his transition to the NFL so far, and I think he'll be right at home playing big league ball.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Stephon Gilmore - Another slightly surprise pick, but I like Gilmore and think he has a high ceiling. I'm higher on Gilmore than Claiborne (definitely no bias there...) and I think Mark Barron will find it hard to shine in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that looks poor on paper.
Low Round Rookie With Biggest Impact: Chris Rainey - I was high on Rainey going into the draft, I think his speed and versatility make him a threat at running back, with the ability to motion outside to slot receiver. I envision him having a Darren Sproles-esc role, and if he can be anywhere near as effective as Sproles, then its a huge hit out of a fifth round pick. Also as an added bonus, keep an eye out for Redskins sixth round running back Alfred Morris. We all know Mike Shanahan's history with late round backs, and Morris has the potential to be the next one on the line of productive backs in the zone-blocking system.