NFL: Teams that are on the rise and fall
With the NFL season upon us and just about to start, 32 teams will be fighting for a Super Bowl title but only one will come out on top. Here are four teams on the rise and four on the fall.
On The Rise
Atlanta Falcons (4-12 in 2013)
The Atlanta Falcons were probably one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL last season but a lot due to injury. With an offensive line that was beat up and wide receivers who were hurt as well, quarterback Matt Ryan took a lot of hits last year standing in a pocket that was just not there. If the Falcons stay healthy and running back Steven Jackson can rebound from a down year, look for the Falcons to win the NFC South.
Buffalo Bills (6-10 in 2013)
The Buffalo Bills are a team that is loaded with potential. Quarterback EJ Manuel is entering his second year as the starter and showed flashes last year that he could potentially be the guy in Buffalo. With a defense that is only getting better and adding a huge piece on offense in wide receiver Sammy Watkins, look for the Bills to compete in a lot of games this season.
Green Bay Packers (8-7-1 in 2013)
The Green Bay Packers only had this record in 2013 due to the fact that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was hurt with a broken collarbone. With him healthy, wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordan Nelson still going strong, and running back Eddie Lacy being the missing piece to their running game, the Packers are loaded to have a strong 2014 season if the “discount double-check guy” can stay of the injury report.
Washington Redskins (3-13 in 2013)
Well, the only way they could get worse is by winning less than three games this season and that won’t happen. Even though quarterback Robert Griffin III hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass this season, the new offense will start to click as him and wide receiver Deshaun Jackson will work to get on the same page. The key factor in this though will be if Griffin can just stay healthy, and learn to slide.
On The Fall
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8 in 2013)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been known for their defenses and last season, they had one of their worst seasons in a long time. After being ranked 13th in total defense last season and getting torn up this preseason, the Steelers young defense will be tested and exposed in a lot of games this season. Offensively, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be down a weapon as wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is now in Denver. This means receiver Antonio Brown will be the main target in the passing game and defenses will be keying on him. Look for the Steelers to finish with a record below .500.
St. Louis Rams (7-9 in 2013)
This is probably an obvious one after quarterback Sam Bradford suffered another ACL injury to the same leg he hurt last year. With him down, veteran Shaun Hill will be stepping in to try and replace Bradford. Hill does have experience and is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the game, but to try and match a record of 7-9 last year will be difficult to do. Yes, Bradford was out last year and they went 4-5 without him, but in a division as tough as the NFC West, it will be a surprise if the Rams can win seven games this season.
Carolina Panthers (12-4 in 2013)
The Carolina Panthers are in a spot that has shown to be hard to do. Since the NFC South was made in 2002, there have been no repeat winners of the division and I envision that staying true. Quarterback Cam Newton has been roughed up in the preseason, adding on to the fact that he is coming off of ankle surgery. To make matters worse, the top four receivers from last year are no longer with the team. While drafting wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin out of Florida State is a nice piece, it will be a lot to put on the shoulders of the rookie in his first season. While the Panthers do have one of the top defenses in the game, the offense will be scoring less than they did last year as Newton will be forced to throw more from the pocket and not use his legs so much.
New York Giants (7-9 in 2013)
The New York Giants have looked terrible this season on offense when it comes to the first team. Don’t let the 5-0 record in the preseason fool you, the starters have been lackluster when it comes to their performance and I don’t see it improving this season. The Giants did find a groove last year after a horrendous start, but to think they will match seven wins again is something that may not happen. The only way it could happen is if the offense can somehow turn the tide and sharpen up during the regular season. Also, if quarterback Eli Manning can cut down on the interceptions and the running game can pick up the slack then maybe they can get more than eight wins, but for now they have to show me otherwise