Thursday, August 28, 2014

AFC EAST PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

By: Connor Glowacki

With football season right around the corner, it's time to go and make predictions on how well each team will fare during the regular season. Today we take a look at the AFC East, a division where 10 of the last 11 seasons has seen the New England Patriots crowned as the division champions. Will New England reign supreme once again or will the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, or Miami Dolphins shock the NFL world this season? Let's take a look and make some predictions for the upcoming 2014 season. 
courtesy of businessinsider.com

1.) New England Patriots. They will always be the favorites to win this division because of three key components. Head coach Bill Belichick, star quarterback Tom Brady and an excellent front office. New England did not have the best roster last year and had tons of injuries. Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed nine games last season due to injury and wide receiver Danny Amendola and cornerback Aqib Talib also missed portions of the season with injuries. Not to mention former tight end Aaron Hernandez was out of the picture due to being indicted on first degree murder charges back in 2013! 
courtesy of usatoday
     That being said, the Patriots' offense was still very good last season. They finished 10th in the league in passing, with an average of 255.4 yards per game, and 9th in rushing, with an average of 129.1 yards per game. With limited weapons around him, Brady threw for for over 4,300 yards and 25 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. It's amazing to think Brady is 37 years old and is a 14 year NFL veteran with career numbers of 49,149 passing yards and 359 touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 95.7.    
     All of the top receivers return for the 2014 campaign, including wide receiver Julian Edelman (105 catches, 1056 yards, 6TDs), Amendola (54 catches, 633 yards, 2TDs), wide receiver Aaron Dobson (37 catches, 519 yards, 4TDs) and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (32 catches, 466 yards, 4TDs). Running back Stevan Ridley returns to lead the Patriots rushing attack after he ran for 773 yards and seven touchdowns on 178 carries last season. 
     The defense was inconsistent last season and continues to be a work in progress. The unit ranked 18th against the pass (239 yards per game) and 30th against the run (134.1 yards per game). The defense will be led once again by nose tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Chandler Jones (team high 11.5 sacks last season), linebacker Rob Ninkovich (8 sacks last season), linebacker Jerod Mayo (55 total tackles), and cornerback Logan Ryan (team high 5 interceptions last season). 

Big Questions: Several key players left the Patriots in free agency such as Talib, and running back Legarette Blount (153 carries, 772 yards, 7TDs). Meanwhile, New England failed to go after a number one receiver. Even though the Patriots overachieved last season and made it to the AFC Championship game, is this a team that can win a Super Bowl before the looming day that Brady calls it quits?
courtesy of theshadowleague.com

Bottom Line: This is the New England Patriots we are talking about! Brady is one of only a few quarterbacks that can succeed with anyone who surrounds him on offense and makes those players better. Belichick is arguably the best coach in the league and knows how to handle his players.  
     The Patriots acquired cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in the offseason and they will be more than enough to replace the loss of Talib. 
courtesy of theonion
     I expect the defense to improve this season because of all the experienced playmakers it now has. If Gronkowski can stay healthy, he has proven to be a number one receiving threat for Brady in the past. In just seven games last season, Gronkowski had 39 catches for 592 yards and four touchdowns. Imagine what he could do again if he stays healthy. The offensive line also returns talented blockers in left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. 

Prediction: (11-5). The other teams in the AFC East still haven't caught up to New England yet and with early games against Buffalo, the Minnesota Vikings and the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots have a great chance to get off to a fast start once again. 
courtesy of nypost.com

2.) New York Jets:It's hard to believe that this will be the sixth season where Rex Ryan has been the head coach for the New York Jets. It's been a roller-coaster ride, to say the least, as Ryan currently has a 42-38 record over five seasons. When former quarterback Mark Sanchez injured his shoulder in the preseason, the team's chances at success in 2013 looked lost. But with a great defense and a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith, the Jets were able to surprise many NFL fans in turning out an 8-8 season. 
      New York's rushing game was pretty great last season finishing sixth in the NFL with an average of just under 135 yards per game, but  the passing game struggled and finished second to last (31st) with an average of 183.3 yards per game. Geno Smith had a rough rookie season where he threw for 3,046 yards, but also 21 interceptions compared to just 12 touchdown passes. He also only had a 55.8 completion percentage in 2013. However, Smith also ran for 366 yards and six touchdowns last season. Leading the rushing attack were running backs Chris Ivory (182 carries, 833 yards, 3TDs) and Bilal Powell (176 carries, 697 yards, 1TD). 
courtesy of espn
     No one clear star receiver emerged from the Jets last season, but there were several contributors, including wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (43 catches, 523 yards, 3TDs), wide receiver David Nelson (36 catches, 423 yards, 2TDs), tight end Kellen Winslow (31 catches, 388 yards, 2TDs), and wide receiver Stephen Hill (24 catches, 342 yards, 1TD). 
     New York's defense was also a mixed bag last season, finishing 22nd against the pass (246.7 yards per game), but an impressive third against the run (88.3 yards per game). Defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson had a phenomenal rookie season, where he clogged up numerous running lanes and finished with 10.5 sacks. Defensive end Calvin Pace added ten sacks of his own and linebacker David Harris led the Jets with 70 tackles. Cornerbacks Dee Milliner and Antonio Cromartie, as well as safety Ed Reed, each had three interceptions lasts season. 

Big Questions: Will Geno Smith improve in his second season with the Jets? He finished last season out strong and has veteran quarterback Michael Vick as his back-up to provide more competition this pre-season. Also, can the secondary improve enough to make the Jets' defense one of the best in the NFL?
courtesy of fansided.com

Bottom Line: Rex Ryan's teams have always been based around running the ball and stopping the run. They did a great job with both last season. On offense, both Ivory and Powell return in the running game AND the Jets added running back Chris Johnson in free agency. Johnson has run for almost 8,000 yards in his career thus far and ran for 1,077 yards and six touchdowns last season with the Tennessee Titans. The combination of these three running backs will make Smith's job a lot easier at running this offense. 
     New York also added wide receiver Eric Decker from the Denver Broncos in free agency. Decker becomes a true number one receiving threat for the Jets after he caught 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Yes, Decker is catching passes from Geno Smith this year and not Peyton Manning, but having him in the passing game will again help Smith's development as an NFL quarterback. On defense, the front seven looks loaded again for a great season. With Cromartie and Reed leaving in free agency though, it'll be up to cornerback Dimitri Patterson to help Milliner in the secondary. 

Prediction: (9-7). New York has a very tough start to the season with games games against the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, Patriots and Broncos all within the first half of the season. IF they survive this stretch with a .500 record, the latter half of their schedule allows them to make a run with games against the Bills, Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. The running game and defense will be the Jets strengths once again this season and if Smith improves as a quarterback, they could be a dark horse team in the AFC. 
courtesy of palmbeachpost.com

3.) Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins were the epitome of an inconsistent team last season as they started 2013 with three straight victories, which would then lead to four straight losses and two straight losses at the end of the season to drop their overall record to 8-8, even though they had a chance at a playoff berth. Miami had plenty of distractions last season, most notably the bullying drama between offensive lineman Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. It seemed that head coach Joe Philben struggled with providing leadership within the locker room. 
     As far as on the field, the Dolphins offense struggled in 2013. They were just 20th in passing (222.9 yards per game) and 26th in rushing (90 yards per game). Despite an inconsistent season, quarterback Ryan Tannehill seemed to be making progress in his second year in the NFL. He threw for 3,913 yards and 24 touchdown passes, compared to 17 interceptions. Running backs Lamar Miller (177 carries, 709 yards, 2TDs) and Daniel Thomas (109 carries, 406 yards, 4TDs) led an overall weak Miami Dolphins rushing attack last season. 
     Miami did have several standout receivers including wide receiver Brian Hartline (76 catches, 1,016 yards, 4TDs), wide receiver Mike Wallace (73 catches, 930 yards, 5TDs) and tight end Charles Clay (69 catches, 759 yards, 6TDs).
    Miami's defense was also pretty mediocre last season finishing 16th against the pass (234.5 yards per game) and 24th against the run (124.9 yards per game). Defensive ends Oliver Vernon and Cameron Wake combines for almost 20 sacks last season and cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll combined for seven interceptions. 

Big Questions: This could be a year for Tannehill. Can he prove that he is Miami's franchise quarterback for the present and the future by leading them to a winning season and possibly a playoff berth? And do they simply have enough talent on both sides of the field to challenge the Patriots and Jets in the AFC East? 
courtesy of palmbeachpost.com

Bottom Line: With Incognito and Martin both gone, Miami can focus all of their attention towards the field this season. The Dolphins added running back Knowshon Moreno in free agency and he ran for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns last season in Denver. The defense added cornerback Courtland Finnegan and safety Louis Delmas in the offseason as well. Tannehill has plenty of weapons now to work with in the passing game and take the next step at becoming a top quarterback in the NFL.

Prediction: (8-8). The Dolphins are ranked below the Jets for me because I think their defense has the potential to be much better than Miami's and if the two teams played head-to-head, I think the Jets are the better team. That can definitely change. Early games against Buffalo, the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars will help their chances at getting off to a solid start. 
courtesy of huffingtonpost

4.) Buffalo Bills: The last time the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs was back in 1999! That misfortune did not change last season as the Bills finished with a 6-10 record and a last place finish in the AFC East. The Bills rushing attack was fantastic last season finishing second in the NFL, with an average of 144.2 yards, but were just 28th in passing, with an average of 193.9 yards per game. Buffalo was forced to use multiple quarterbacks last season due to rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel suffering numerous injuries. In ten games played in 2013, Manuel threw for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. He also ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns, but had three fumbles. 
     The big bright spot for the Bills offense in 2013 were their two running backs C.J. Spiller (202 carries, 933 yards, 2TDs) and Fred Jackson (206 carries, 890 yards, 9TDs). They have been a terrific thunder-lightning combination for the Bills the last few seasons. 
courtesy of wikipedia
     However, Buffalo didn't have a clear standout in their receivers last season. Tight end Scott Chandler led the way with 51 catches for 655 yards and two touchdowns. Other contributors included wide receiver Robert Woods (40 catches, 587 yards, 3TDs) and  Jackson (47 catches, 387 yards, 1TD). 
     Buffalo's defense also had mixed results last season. They were an impressive fourth against the pass (204.4 yards per game), but 28th against the run (128.9 yards per game). Safeties Aaron Williams, Jairus Bryd and Jim Leonhard each also had four interceptions last season. Defensive lineman Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes and Kyle Williams combined for an impressive 33.5 sacks in 2013. 

Big Questions: Can Manuel stay healthy for a whole season and be the franchise quarterback that the Bills desperately need? The injuries that kept him out of six games in 2013 limited Manuel's growth at the quarterback position and as a passer. Also, with all of the talent on the defensive line (Mario and Kyle Williams, Hughes, Marcell Dareus), shouldn't they be posting up better stats and numbers of defending the run? The Bills have one of the more talented defensive lines in the game and it's surprisingly been their secondary that has been the strength of this unit. 


courtesy of charlotteobserver.com
Bottom Line: Buffalo needs Manuel to stay healthy for the offense, and the team in general, to have any success in 2014. They took him in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft and have invested their future in him. He should have more help though in rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins, whom the Bills traded up for in May's draft. 
     Watkins had an incredible year at Clemson last season with 101 catches for 1,484 yards and 12 touchdowns. He obviously has the talent, but he's already been fighting through several injuries to his ribs during the preseason. If he and Manuel stay healthy, the running attack of Spiller and Jackson makes Buffalo's offense much more formidable. 
     The Bills lost Byrd in free agency, but were able to pick up linebacker Brandon Spikes, which should help Buffalo create even more of a pass rush against opponent's passing games. 

Prediction: (5-11).  Manuel and Watkins need to show me that they can stay healthy for an entire season. The first four games will determine how the Bills season will go. Road games against the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans, as well as home games against Miami and San Diego could put Buffalo in an early 0-4 hole. If they play well during those games, then they will exceed my expectations, but I don't see it happening. Maybe if Jon Bon Jovi becomes the majority owner of the Bills, the fans will get a free Bon Jovi concert after a home game this season!

courtesy of people.com





Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

NFC SOUTH PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

 By: Connor Glowacki
    
     With football season right around the corner, it's time to go and make predictions on how well each team will fare during the regular season. Today we will be focusing on the NFC South where for the last three seasons, a new division champion has been crowned. Will the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Buccaneers bounce back after disappointing 2013 campaigns? Do the New Orleans Saints still have enough firepower to make a Super Bowl run? And can the Carolina Panthers, led by fourth year quarterback Cam Newton, duplicate the success they had when they won the NFC South in 2013?
courtesy of pocketdoppler.com

1.) New Orleans Saints: This was a tough call because the Panthers were great on defense last season, but the Saints only lost out to them for the division title by one game. New Orleans finished 11-5, compared to Carolina at 12-4, and they continued to keep their core group of stars together once again this season. 
     The passing game was the second best in the NFL last season, averaging over 307 yards per game. Star quarterback Drew Brees remained the anchor for this team as he threw for a whopping 5,162 yards and 39 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions on a 68.6 completion percentage. 
     He had many weapons on offense last season, which included tight end/wide receiver Jimmy Graham (86 catches, 1215 yards, 16TDs), wide receiver Marques Colston (75 catches, 943 yards, 5TDs), wide receiver Kenny Stills (32 catches, 641 yards, 5TDs), and running back Pierre Thomas (77 catches, 513 yards, 3 TDs).     
      However, the running game finished just 25th last season with an average of just over 92 yards per game. Running backs Thomas and Mark Ingram combined for just 935 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while running back Khiry Robinson added 224 yards and three touchdowns of his own. 
     The defense made major strides in 2013 as the unit ranked 2nd against the pass, giving up just 194 yards per game through the air, and 19th against the run, giving up over 111 yards per game last season. Cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Malcolm Jenkins combined for six interceptions and defensive end Cameron Jordan and linebacker Junior Galette combined for 24.5 sacks last season. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan received a lot of praise for turning around the Saints' defensive unit by utilizing numerous blitz packages to get after the quarterback.

Big Questions: Can the Saints realistically make a run in the playoffs if their offense is based through the passing game? While they do want to get more production out of the running game this season with Thomas and Ingrham, the Saints did win a Super Bowl in 2010 due to success of Brees and the passing game. But the Saints did lose running back Darren Sproles to free agency this offseason and he was a big contributor to the offense last season after rushing for 220 yards and two touchdowns as well as 604 receiving yards through the air with two receiving touchdowns. Will the loss of Sproles negatively impact this offense? Can the Saints rushing defense improve to make them one of the top units in the league?
courtesy of sportstalkflorida.com

Bottom Line: The New Orleans Saints have won at least 11 games in the regular season for four of the last five years. And that one year was when head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season due to his knowledge of the infamous 'Bounty-Gate' scandal. But the Saints have proven consistent in the Sean Payton era. Brees has thrown for over 5,000 yards in each of the last three seasons and I expect the passing game to continue its dominance again this season, as long as Brees stays healthy. 
     Losing Sproles will slightly hurt, but the Saints' offense is a well-oiled machine and Thomas, Ingram and Robinson should be able to give Brees more support in the running game in 2014. The defense did lose Jenkins to free agency this season, but they were able to acquire veteran cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Jairus Byrd. The defense should thrive in a second year under Rob Ryan. 

Prediction: (11-5). This division will be closer than most people think. I believe that the Panthers, Falcons and even the Buccaneers will duke it out this year and will make the NFC South one of the more interesting divisions to watch. BUT, the Saints have stable leadership, consistency, and the combination of Brees and Payton. Plus, the Saints have a great opportunity to start the season 6-0 with winnable games against the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and even the Falcons and Buccaneers. 
     Their schedule gets more challenging later in the season as they'll have games against the Cincinatti Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, and the Panthers, but the Saints have almost everyone coming back this season and they should win the NFC South. 
courtesy of businessinsider

2,) Carolina Panthers: Even though the Falcons have more firepower on offense, the Panthers have a MUCH better defense and that will be the difference between second and third place in the NFC South in 2014. Carolina finished the 2013 season with a 12-4 record, which tied for their best regular season record in franchise history and was the first time since 2008 that the Panthers made the playoffs. They would go on to lose in the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs. 
     Quarterback Cam Newton experienced a breakthrough season in his third year in the NFL by throwing for 3,379 yards and 24 touchdowns, compared to 13 interceptions. Newton also ran for 585 yards and six touchdowns on 111 carries. Despite Newton's improvement as a leader and a playmaker, the Panthers finished only 29th in passing last season and Newton was sacked a whopping 42 times. The running game fared better last season, finishing 11th in the league with an average of 126.6 yards per game on the ground. Carolina had a stable of running backs led by Newton and backs Deangelo Williams (201 carries, 843 yards, 3TDs), Mike Tolbert (101 carries, 361 yards, 5TDs), and Jonathan Stewart (48 carries, 180 yards). 
     As mentioned earlier, the Panthers defense became one of the best units in the entire NFL last season, finishing 6th against the pass (214.3 yards per game) and 2nd against the run (86.9 yards per game). Defensive ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson combined for 26 sacks last season, while linebacker Luke Kuechly and free safety Mike Mitchell each had four interceptions. Other standouts included linebacker Thomas Davis, who posted 85 tackles last season and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn who had two interceptions. 

Big Questions: During the offseason, Newton underwent ankle surgery. Newton is a big guy who can take hits, but how long can he keep it up before a serious injury could knock him out for most of the season? Should he continue running the ball as often as he has been? Meanwhile, the Panthers lost THREE of their best wide receivers to free agency with Steve Smith (64 catches, 745 yards, 4TDs) and Brandon LaFell (49 catches, 627 yards, 5TDs) and Ted Ginn Jr., (36 catches, 556 yards, 5TDs). How will the passing game work between Newton and the new wide receivers he has to his disposal?
courtesy of the huffingtonpost

Bottom Line: Carolina has one of the better offensive lines in the league, led by center Ryan Kalil and left tackle Byron Bell. That should allow the running game to flourish once again this season with all of the running backs returning to the team. 
     Top receiving target from last season, tight end Greg Olsen (73 catches, 816 yards, 6TDs) is back and Carolina added wide receiver Jerrico Cotchery in free agency and selected wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, out of Florida State, in the second round of the NFL draft back in May. It will take some time for Newton to feel comfortable throwing to his new targets. The Panthers did lose Mitchell and Munnerlyn to free agency, but they added safety Roman Harper this past offseason.

Prediction: (9-7). There are several tough games at the beginning of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks that could put this team in a bad spot early in the season. Success in 2014 will depend on how quickly Newton can connect with his new wide receivers and if the defense can continue the success that they had last season. I think the Saints' offense will continue to be a juggernaut and with their defense improving, they are slightly better than Carolina right now. 
courtesy of usatoday

3.) Atlanta Falcons: How could a team that in 2012 had a 13-3 record and has finished the last three seasons a combined 36-12, turn right around and completely stumble to a 4-12 record in 2013 last season? That was the question on every NFL fan's mind and there were plenty of factors involved, which included injuries, a league worst running game, and an overrated and overexposed defense. 
     Again, the offense finished dead last in the NFL in 2013, averaging just under 78 yards per game. Top running back Steven Jackson was injured most of the season and only finished with 543 yards and six touchdowns on 157 carries. Jacquizz Rodgers (96 carries, 332 yards, 2TDs) and Jason Snelling (44 carries, 164 yards, 1TD) also failed to provide any spark offensively. The Falcons fell behind in games last season and that forced quarterback Matt Ryan to make a lot of throws. 
     The passing game finished 7th in the NFL last season, but considering how much Atlanta had to throw, it isn't much of a shock. Ryan posted solid numbers in 2013, throwing for 4,515 yards and 26 touchdowns, but also 17 interceptions. In 2012, he threw 32 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. The Falcons lost top wide receiver Julio Jones early in the season to injury and could never recover. Roddy White (63 catches, 711 yards, 3TDs), Harry Douglas (85 catches, 1067 yards, 2TDs) and tight end Tony Gonzalez (83 catches, 859 yards, 8TDs) were the top receiving threats last season. 
     The defense also struggled finishing 21st against the pass (243.6 yards per game) and a dreadful 31st against the run (135.8 yards per game). The Falcons did not have a single player with a double digit sack total last season, with the highest belonging to defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who had 7.5 sacks. Safety William Moore led Atlanta with three interceptions last season.

Big Questions: Injuries. Will Steven Jackson and Julio Jones return healthy at one hundred percent this season? And now the Falcons have lost left tackle Sam Baker to a season ending knee injury. Will the offensive line provide Ryan enough time to give him the opportunities to make plays? And can the defense make any strides of improvement this season?

Bottom Line: The Atlanta Falcons will move their number six overall selection from the 2014 draft, offensive tackle Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M, to Baker's position and hope that he can perform quickly. What Atlanta has going for it is a dynamic passing game. Ryan has been durable throughout his career and has generally performed very well. If Jones is healthy, the Falcons have three great receivers in Jones, White and Douglas. However, they did lose Gonzlaez to retirement this offseason, so new tight end Levine Toilolo will have to step up. Outside of Umenyoira and linebacker Sean Witherspoon, the Falcons don't have many standouts on the defensive side of the ball.
courtesy of buffaloramblings.com

Prediction: (6-10). Losing Baker is a huge blow to this offense since he has protected Ryan's blind side throughout their careers in the NFL. The first two games against the Saints and Bengals could very well put Atlanta in an early 0-2 hole and in a division with New Orleans and Carolina, it's going to be tough to catch up and compete. 
     Unless the running game improves and the defense finds more playmakers, it'll be a long season for the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan is a very good quarterback with talented wide receivers, but they'll only be able to score so many points.


courtesy of athlonsports.com
4.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The last time Tampa Bay made the playoffs was back in 2007. They have had two winning seasons since then, but have not had at least a .500 record since 2010. A 4-12 record in 2013 put an end to the Greg Schiano era in Tampa and the Buccaneers hired head coach Lovie Smith in the offseason. 
     Tampa Bay's offense struggled last season, to say the least. The Buccaneers passing game finished dead last in the NFL last season with an average of just 176.4 yards per game and the rushing game finished 22nd with an average of just over 100 yards per game. Last year's starting quarterback Mike Glennon had a solid 2013 season where he threw for 2,608 yards and 19 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. However, he completed less than sixty percent of his passes, committed four fumbles and was sacked 40 times. 
     After a phenomenal rookie season where he ran for nearly 1,500 yards, running back Doug Martin played in only six games in 2013 and ran for only 456 yards and one touchdown. Running back Bobby Rainey was the leading rusher last season as he ran for 532 yards and five touchdowns on 137 carries. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson had a strong campaign last season (78 catches, 1,224 yards, 7TDs), but the Buccaneers failed to find a solid number two option. Tight end Tim Wright (54 catches, 571 yards, 5TDs) and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood (24 catches, 440 yards, 4TDs) were the next best options. 
     The defense, meanwhile, made some strides in 2013. They were 17th against the pass (237.9 yards per game) and 15th against the run (110.1 yards per game). Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is proving to be one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL after leading Tampa Bay with 9.5 sacks last season. Linebacker Lavonte David and defensive end Adrian Clayborn also combined for 12.5 sacks. David also led the team with five interceptions, while linebacker Mason Foster and cornerback Johnthan Banks each had three interceptions. 


courtesy of bleacherreport
Big Questions: Who will be the quarterback this season? The Buccaneers acquired veteran quarterback Josh McCown during free agency and McCown had a memorable 2013 season with the Chicago Bears where he came off the bench and threw 13 touchdowns compared to just one interception. Glennon was drafted recently in 2012 as the quarterback of the future. It will make for an interesting quarterback battle during the preseason. Also, Tampa Bay has a lot of young playmakers on defense. Can they take the next step to become an elite unit  in the NFL?

Bottom Line: Tampa Bay actually has some good talent on both sides of the ball, they just don't have the experience of winning. The team drafted wide receiver Mike Evans, out of Texas A&M, in the top ten of the 2014 NFL Draft. That should make it harder for opposing defenses to figure out how to defend not only Evans, but Jackson as well. McCoy will anchor the defense once again and look for free safety Dashon Goldson to make a big impact this season.

Prediction: (5-11). Tampa Bay will have tough division games this season as each of the other three teams have won the NFC South over the last three seasons. If Martin can stay healthy, he easily has the talent to come close to his 1,500 yard rookie season from 2012. It will all come down to how the quarterbacks and if either McCown or Glennon can command the offense and keep the unit on the field. Right now, I think they'll finish behind Atlanta because the Falcons have previous experience of winning big games. But if certain players step up, Tampa Bay could make a run for a .500 record this season. 

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comment section below!