2014 NFL Preview

In the movie Groundhog Day, reliving February 2nd over and over again is Phil Connors' nightmare. For me it's a fantasy. You see it was on that very day that the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII. To some it was a surprise, but to all(?) of you who read my 2013 preseason predictions it was a mere formality. The time has come again for me to ruin another NFL season for you with shockingly accurate picks both for the final standings in the text to follow and for each game on a weekly basis. Don't believe me? Believe this:

That's right, I'm officially a world champion football prognosticator. What you knew in your heart all along has finally been validated with a comically oversized trophy. But hey, that was last time, this is this time. And with that in mind, let's get started on this time.


AFC East
New England   12-4
Miami   8-8
Buffalo   7-9
New York Jets   7-9

AFC South
Indianapolis   10-6
Jacksonville   7-9
Houston   6-10
Tennessee   4-12

AFC North
Baltimore   9-7
Pittsburgh   9-7
Cincinnati   8-8
Cleveland   6-10
AFC West
Denver   12-4
San Diego   10-6
Kansas City   7-9
Oakland   3-13

NFC East
Philadelphia   11-5
Washington   6-10
New York Giants   6-10
Dallas   5-11
NFC South
New Orleans   12-4
Atlanta   7-9
Tampa Bay   7-9
Carolina   6-10
NFC North
Green Bay   11-5
Chicago   9-7
Detroit   7-9
Minnesota   4-12

NFC West
Seattle   16-0
San Francisco   11-5
Arizona   7-9
St. Louis   6-10

As you may or may not have surmised I've predicted 9 of the 12 playoff teams from last year to return to the postseason. That would be an unusually high number in today's NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (feel free to do your best Ron Jaworski impression every time you read NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE in these posts from now own). But I'm just courageous enough to thumb my nose at logic. So which three teams don't make it back, and why not?

Bengals - There will be too much pressure on Andy Dalton; from opposing defenses, because of his contract extension, and on his lower intestine (all the nerves will lead to constipation). He'll take some time to reevaluate things in the offseason and return for 2015 finally sporting black stripes in his hair.

Chiefs - Their soft schedule was a major factor in their 9 game improvement last season. They had one victory over a winning team. A tougher slate in 2014 will force them back under .500 and leave them with no choice but to recognize what cowards they are.

Panthers - A top notch defense can get you far in this league. Then again sometimes it can't.

Now let's take a look at the playoffs, or as I like to call them the "payoffs" cause that's where the money's made. Did I decide to call them that because of what now seems like a fortuitous typo? It would be foolish for any of us to hazard a guess. Anyway, here we go:

Wild Card Round
Baltimore over San Diego
Indianapolis over Pittsburgh

San Francisco over Philadelphia
Green Bay over Chicago

Divisional Round
Denver over Indianapolis
New England over Baltimore

Green Bay over New Orleans
Seattle over San Francisco

Championship Round
New England over Denver

Seattle over Green Bay

Super Bowl XLIX
Seattle over New England

So there you have it. A repeat. My sincerest apologies to Phil Connors.


Mock of Ages

Well, draft coverage has been non-existent this year on HCM.  I haven't really had any time to watch anything but Super Bowl highlights so my insight into this year's class is severely lacking.  That being said, I know everyone would be extremely disappointed without seeing my mock draft for 2014.  Here it is in all it's glory.  After reading it and agreeing with all of it, do yourself a favor and read the next post down the page and relive Erik's Super Bowl breakdown.  But hey, enough of my yakin'.  Whattaya say, let's boogie!

1. Houston – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. St Louis – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. Jacksonville – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
4. Cleveland – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
5. Oakland – Khalil Mack, DE/LB, Buffalo
6.  Atlanta – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
7. Tampa Bay – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Minnesota – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St
9. Buffalo – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
10. Detroit – Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
11. Tennessee – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
12. NYG – Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
13. St Louis – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St
14. Chicago – Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
15. Pittsburgh – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St
16. Dallas – Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame
17. Baltimore – HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
18. NYJ – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
19. Miami – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St
20. Arizona – Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio St
21. Green Bay – CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
22. Philadelphia – Kyle Fuller, CB, Va Tech
23. Kansas City – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
24. Cincinnati -  Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
25. San Diego – Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
26. Cleveland – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
27. New Orleans – Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
28. Carolina – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
29. New England – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
30. San Francisco – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU
31. Denver – Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
32. Seattle – Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA.


NFL Picks - Super Bowl XLVIII

Seattle vs. Denver
So here it is. The Game. As you all know by now we're left with a fascinating match-up between the league's top offense and the league's top defense. These teams have followed similar paths, going 13-3, becoming the #1 seed in their respective conferences and winning two home games to reach the Super Bowl. The few losses they do have are startlingly similar in nature. They each lost by 6 in Indianapolis, dropped a close game on the road in what was their toughest match-up of the season (Denver by 3 at New England; Seahawks by 2 at San Francisco), and were stunned at home by a divisional foe (Denver against San Diego; Seahawks against Arizona, both by 7). But outside of those contests, they're a combined 26-0, meaning on Sunday it should be exciting to watch dat action. The way I see it, the key to the game for the Seahawks is generating pressure up the middle and forcing Manning to move in the pocket. This means Michael Bennett needs to have a big game in what could be his last in a Hawks uniform. As for what the key to the Broncos' defensive game plan should be: get out of the way. And that's about all I've got, I suppose there's not much more to say now, except for this.

Seahawks 29-23


NFL Picks - Conference Championships

If you were to ask me before the season what match-ups I thought we'd see in the conference championships these would be them. Or, more accurately, nobody asked me before the season what match-ups I thought we'd see in the conference championships, but I went ahead and wrote my predictions anyway, and these were them. Anticipation has reached a boiling point, and even though I've used this clip before, it seems to be most appropriate right now.

New England @ Denver

Interesting quarterback match-up here between the two tallest back-ups in the game. Mallett (6'6") vs. Osweiler (6'8"), who will prevail? The fans, that's who. Unfortunately for us, these two beanstalks probably won't see the field and we'll be stuck watching Brady vs. Manning for the 15th time. It's like, we get it already! As always when dealing with Manning this late in the season it's necessary to look at the weather report. High 40s and sunny bodes well for Peyton and the Broncos. Brady and Belichick have been to seven AFC championship games together, losing only twice. One of those losses was last season and the other was on the road against Peyton Manning. Then again, they've also beaten Manning twice in the playoffs, once in the conference championship game. So either way history will be repeating itself, which is just so typical of history, it's totally unoriginal.

Broncos 31-26 

San Francisco @ Seattle

It had to happen this way, there was never an alternate timeline in which it didn't. In every possible permutation of how the events of the past 19 weeks played out, it was always these two at the end. One piece of analysis for this game: the 49ers' opponents have botched a would-be pick six in each of their playoff games so far; the Seahawks dropped three interceptions in their divisional round win. Surer hands could lead to a game-changing play this week. As for the rest of this contest, I predict noise and pain. The wait is over (if you're reading this at 3:30pm PT on Sunday), let's go.

Seahawks 20-13


NFL Picks - Divisional Round

Caution: Pretty much all of the links contain a form of cursing; so heads up if you're at work or some kind of a wimp.


New Orleans @ Seattle

Look, I'm not going to say that I saw this divisional round match-up coming before the season even started, but that's exactly what happened. Last week in Philadelphia the Saints managed to get their first road win in franchise history, and proved in the process that they're capable of beating a quality team outdoors away from home. And for that I offer them a hearty congratulations. Now, however, they're headed back to the CLink, the site of their worst loss of the season. While I don't expect the Hawks to steamroll New Orleans in quite the same fashion this time around, I do believe it will be another win for the home team; which would be pretty cool.

Seahawks 27-17

Indianapolis @ New England

Oh baby! Manning vs. Brady! Er, wait a minute ... not so fast! This tale as old as time has a brand new rhyme (It's best not to think about that one for too long). All season long the Colts have dug themselves holes in the first half, managing to climb out of them with uncommon regularity. Of course, last week was their coup de grace, with their overthrow of the Chiefs' governance of that game being quite the coup d'etat. Tom Brady and the Patriots are certainly capable of saddling Indy with another large deficit this week, however, with Belichick on the sideline it's tough to imagine the type of schematic breakdowns and bumbling clock management that plagued Kansas City being an issue for New England.

Patriots 38-24  


San Francisco @ Carolina

Going into last week's wild card match-up between the 49ers and Packers it was hard to know what to expect with the weather being what it was. One thing I did know for certain though was that Colin Kaepernick would not wear sleeves. Not in an effort to prove that he's tough, but simply because he's far too vain to let his arms be covered in front of a national television audience. The Panthers have had a great season to this point, but I believe their lack of playoff experience will hurt them here. I mean, they're probably unaware of how the playoffs even work, I'm not sure that they know they don't get to play another game if they lose. Like I said, these guys do not have much playoff seasoning.

49ers 17-16

San Diego @ Denver

Here we go again, Peyton Manning coming into a cold playoff game as a heavy favorite. What could possibly go wrong? Seemed like a recipe for disaster until I just looked up the weather report for Sunday in Denver and it turns out the high will be 45 degrees. Advantage Manning! Also, the Chargers have already come into (Sports Authority Field at) Mile High and shocked the Broncos once this season. While that might seem beneficial to San Diego I think it just means that Denver's guard will be up. In fact, the three other teams remaining in the AFC playoffs are the only teams that the Broncos lost to this season. Man, their guard is gonna be so high. Advantage Manning! Also, Wes Welker, who did not play in these teams' last match up, will be back on the field Sunday. Advantage Manning!  As we all know, three advantages equal a playoff win; tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme.

Broncos 31-23


NFL Picks - Wild Card Round


Kansas City @ Indianapolis

Two weeks ago these teams met in a triple P (Possible Playoff Preview). Now that game has become a DPP (Definite Playoff Preview). Will it be an ROLT (Repeat Of Last Time) or will it be a T-DOG (Totally Different Outcome, Guys)? Even though the last game was played in KC the Colts prevailed 23-7. With this one being played in a climate controlled Lucas Oil Stadium it would stand to reason that Indy should win again. So to recap, in regards to a Colts victory, the reason that it stands to reason is the game they played earlier this season.

Colts 24-17

New Orleans @ Philadelphia

My pick for this game comes down to one overriding factor: I trust the Saints on the road less than I do this guy. They had three wins away from home in the regular season, and none were against a winning team (they did beat Chicago who was .500). So clearly a win at Philly would be breaking their tendency. I'm not saying it won't happen, I'm just predicting exactly that.

Eagles 30-20


San Diego @ Cincinnati

These Chargers are hot! Four straight wins, including one over the Chiefs' back-ups that only took them 72 minutes of game action to complete. Yikes. That is not promising. Neither is the fact that the Bengals are the last team to beat the Chargers and they did it in San Diego. Also, Cincinnati has not lost at home this year. To me it seems like it's adding up to a Bengals victory, and I kick ass at math.

Bengals 21-14

San Francisco @ Green Bay

Shockingly the Packers are having trouble selling out this game, and are in danger of having the game blacked out locally. A playoff Stinger? That's unheard of! Except for the fact that it could also happen in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Pretty pathetic gang. However, for the folks in Green Bay it becomes a bit more understandable when you take into account the fact that it is expected to be about zero degrees during the game. But if you can't sell this game out in those weather conditions you officially can't brag about, wax poetic about, or refer wistfully to the "frozen tundra." If it's so awesome then buy a ticket and go check it out already ya wimps (full disclosure: I've never been in a place with temperatures that cold, let alone sat outside in them for 3+ hours). While Aaron Rodgers did pull out the win last week in Chicago, he looked pretty shaky at times. That was against the Bears' defense, which is not nearly as good as San Francisco's. On the other side of the ball, expect the Niners to run the ball often against the Packers' shoddy D. Either that, or they'll step on the field and decide it's just not worth it, too cold.

49ers 20-17 


NFL Picks - Week 17

As the season winds to a close I thought it might be fun and humiliating to look back at the record I predicted for each team at the start of the year. And if you don't think it's going to be fun then you're definitely much cooler than I am, meaning you should be out skateboarding or high fiving, not reading this. So now who's lame? I feel like we got sidetracked, let's get started.

Sunday Morning

Carolina @ Atlanta

Carolina: 7-9
Looks like I underestimated the Panthers. I don't blame myself (a phrase I'll only use once), it was hard to imagine Ron Rivera leading a team to a division championship and a first round bye. Yet here we are in a world where that is a possibility, and it scares the hell out of me.

Atlanta: 11-5
I was way off on this one too. I don't blame myself.

Panthers 24-16

Baltimore @ Cincinnati

Baltimore: 8-8
With a Ravens loss I'll be right on the nose. If it happens I'll certainly be putting it on my resume. I'm not being facetious, "Correctly predicted the Baltimore Ravens 2013 record" will go right below my three Summers at Staples.

Cincinnati: 11-5
Looks like a Bengals win makes me two for two here. You probably think that means that I'll pick Cincy, don't you? Well you're pretty smart (and attractive).

Bengals 27-17

Houston @ Tennessee

Houston: 10-6
How was I supposed to know that Matt Schaub would decline so sharply? What do I look like, a guy who watches a bunch of football and should see these things coming?

Tennessee: 6-10
Pretty close. I can spot lousiness like nobody's biz!

Titans 22-19

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis

Jacksonville: 3-13
They've already reached 4 wins, making their season a success. Expectations will be higher next season for Gus Bradley & co. Better put up at least 6 wins or the Jaguars fan(s) will start to grumble.

Indianapolis: 8-8
I can't blame myself here. Their erratic play from last season has only continued in 2013, but somehow they find ways to win more often than not. Usually it involves outscoring the opponent in the time allotted for a regulation football game.

Colts 31-17

New York Jets @ Miami

New York: 3-13
Boy I really thought these guys would stink, and I'm not so sure they don't. I know they say they're 7-8 right now, but has anybody delved a little deeper to see if it's true? I certainly can't remember watching them win seven games. I'm going to pull the loose thread on this one and see how far it unravels. Stay tuned gang.

Miami: 8-8
Close, but I think the Dolphins will get the win this Sunday to go 9-7 and grab the #6 seed in the AFC. Which is impressive, because you wouldn't think that Dolphins would be able to grab anything.

Dolphins 19-13

Detroit @ Minnesota

Detroit: 7-9
Bingo! The late season collapse of the Lions has me within striking distance. I have only Turbo Redface (Jim Schwartz) to thank. You're the real hero.

Minnesota: 5-11
Regardless of whether or not the Vikings win this Sunday I'll miss by a half game. If that isn't the best argument for abolishing ties in the NFL than I don't know what is.

Vikings 30-27

Washington @ New York Giants

Washington: 8-8
Not gonna blame myself on this one. While I did think that RG3 would struggle to stay healthy I had no idea that he would miss the final three games of the season due to ... well, I'm still not sure. Maybe because he's a Republican.

New York: 10-6
I had the Giants winning the division, and knowing this group, I wouldn't count them out just yet. Take your "mathematics" and shove it. These guys never say die!

Giants 38-31

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh

Cleveland: 9-7
Can't blame myself. Who in their right mind would have predicted that the Browns, the Cleveland Browns, with Brandon Weeden at quarterback, would have a losing record? Boggles the mind.

Pittsburgh: 10-6
They still have an outside chance of making my playoffs prediction correct, but they'll need a lot of help. That's so typical of our society today, everybody's looking for handouts. Show me a team that pulls itself up by its bootstraps and I'll show you a winner.

Steelers 23-13

Sunday Afternoon

St. Louis @ Seattle

St. Louis: 8-8
Well they're 7-8 right now. I've never wanted to be wrong about anything more in my life. Ok, maybe that time I thought I had the plague. But even with that it's a toss-up.

Seattle: 16-0
Still not sure how I didn't nail this one.

Seahawks 21-7

Green Bay @ Chicago

Green Bay: 11-5
I blame the discrepancy here on Aaron Rodgers' left cllllavicle. If he hadn't suffered that injury I would have been exactly right. Let's just take that comment at face value and not examine that any further.

Chicago: 8-8
A loss on Sunday and that will be their record. Unfortunately for the Bears, and really the rest of the NFC, I think that's exactly what will happen. Time to hibernate gents, sleep well.

Packers 31-24

Denver @ Oakland

Denver: 12-4
Close, but no cigar. Well guess what hot shots, I don't smoke cigars. So now who's laughing? Hmm, actually it doesn't seem like anybody is. I mean, I know I'm not, and I doubt you are. Hey, how about this. There, now we're all laughing.

Oakland: 2-14
I went too low on this squad, and I apologize. Congrats Raiders, you got 4 wins and you proved me wrong. Mission accomplished!

Broncos 38-20

Buffalo @ New England

Buffalo: 5-11
The Bills got their sixth win last week, so it looks like I'll be one shy. SHIT!

New England: 11-5
They'll likely win this week and get to 12-4, which should really just be my default prediction for them as long as Bill Belichick is alive. No, not as long as he's coach, as long as he's alive.

Patriots 35-17

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans

Tampa Bay: 7-9
I think you and I both know that if they had started this sicko in Week 1 they'd have at least 7 wins.

New Orleans: 10-6
They'd have to lose to Tampa to make this record a reality. At home, with a playoff spot on the line, I just don't see it happening. And if it starts to happen I'll close my eyes so that I don't have to see it happening.

Saints 27-14

San Francisco @ Arizona

San Francisco: 10-6
I stand by this prediction. I think they lose this week and the NFL eventually strips them of a previous victory. It could be years down the road, so my accuracy on this one may be TBD for quite some time.

Arizona: 6-10
I've made a terrible mistake.

Cardinals 20-17

Kansas City @ San Diego

Kansas City: 7-9
I thought they'd improve, but I didn't see this coming. But if somebody had predicted 11 or 12 wins for the Chiefs prior to the season we would have called them an asshole. Or at least I would have, you probably would have wimped out and been like, "Yeah I could see that."

San Diego: 6-10
Lesson learned: underestimate Philip Rivers and live to regret it. How has it taken me this long to realize that?

Chargers 34-24

Sunday Night

Philadelphia @ Dallas

Philadelphia: 6-10
Can you blame me? I know I can't.

Dallas: 7-9
Missed it by that much. I knew the Cowboys would be pretty mediocre, for some reason I didn't predict them to be exactly mediocre.

Eagles 29-21