NFL Crystal Ball: Predicting Each Division Winner In 2014

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2014 | 0

With the 2014 NFL season set to pop off next Thursday (September 4, 2014), the year will never be fuller of fresh and exciting possibilities. But as the weeks and games wear on, it will become increasingly clear that only a few teams actually have a legitimate shot at winning their division and punching their ticket to the playoffs.

As we’ve seen in years past, anything can happen and the truth could be the exact opposite of we thought would happen.

Yet top-level teams still find a way to persevere through the hard times, emerging atop their division to extend their season towards the Super Bowl.

Here are the teams that are poised to win their division in 2014:

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals

AFC North:

After winning the division in 2013, the Cincinnati Bengals will look to build on their success from last year by repeating. After signing surprising quarterback Andy Dalton to a new deal in the offseason and drafting running back Jeremy Hill, the Bengals have all the pieces in place.

Losing defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer hurts, but the Bengals are still stacked on D and poised to give the middling offenses of the NFC North fits. The Bengals are undoubtedly the most balanced team in the AFC North, making them the clear favorite to win it in 2014.

Andrew Luck

AFC South:

Amidst a sea of teams in disarray, the Indianapolis Colts may have the easiest road to a divisional championship in 2014.

The maturation of quarterback Andrew Luck along with the coaching expertise of Chuck Pagano should build on their results of 2013, when they won the division and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

Their defense has a few things to work on, but those deficiencies will be masked by the fact that they will play the Texans, Jaguars, and Titans, teams all struggling to find their identities.

The Colts are the easy pick here.


AFC East:

Another easy pick, the New England Patriots are once again far and away the favorite to win the AFC East. They may not be as dominant as Patriots teams of the past, but they have an improving defense that will regain starting tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo.

With legendary quarterback Tom Brady leading the fray, the Patriots will be a Top 5 team in the NFL this year, signifying that they’re miles ahead of their divisional rivals the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets.

It’s going to take something more than special to knock New England off their throne.


AFC West:

A division with a bit more parity than the AFC South and East, the West still has a rather clear-cut favorite in the Denver Broncos.

That’s not to say that the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City won’t give them a run for their money; they certainly could. But when the chips are down at the end of the year, Peyton Manning and his arsenal of offensive weapon will come out on top.

They greatly improved their defense in 2014 by adding cornerback Aqib Talib and rush end DeMarcus Ware. Although they have a much tougher schedule than they did last year, expect Denver to be playing on deep into the postseason.


NFC North:

The NFC North will be a dogfight this year, but there’s one clear favorite on paper, and that’s the Green Bay Packers. With All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the helm and an absolutely loaded offense at his disposal, the Packers are going to score a ton of points.

Second-year running back Eddie Lacy is going to produce a ton of yards and touchdowns, while wideouts Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb will be all over the field.

Their defense may leave something to be desired, but not many teams put up as many points as the Packers. They’ll receive some stiff competition from the Lions and bears, but at the end of the day, Green Bay will win the NFC North.


NFC South:

The NFC South is another division that could feature some strong competition in 2014.

The obvious favorite is the New Orleans Saints, but the Atlanta Falcons are poised for a bounce back season and Carolina can never be counted out with their stout defense and All-Pro quarterback Cam Newton.

However, it’s just going to be so hard to beat the Saints in the Louisiana Superdome, making them the favorite in the South. Quarterback Drew Brees is once again locked and loaded for another incredibly productive year with a bevy of talent supporting him on offense.

Atlanta will give them a run for their money, but New Orleans has a slight edge in overall talent. They have fewer question marks on the offensive line and defense, making them the close pick to win the NFC South yet again in 2014.


NFC East:

The NFC East is a bit unpredictable given that none of the teams really have a defense that can stop much. But three of the four teams have an insane amount of talent on offense, meaning that we should be in for some very high-scoring games.

If history would tell you anything, it’s that Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles will prevail.

With rising quarterback Nick Foles and star running back Lesean McCoy cranking out a ton of plays in Kelly’s system, the Eagles will be tough to beat, especially in a division without much defense.

Dallas could get hot and take over the lead, but Washington and New York seem to be messes right now. Philly gets the nod here.


NFC West:

The last division on our list may be the most competitive in all of football. Obviously the Super Bowl champion Seahawks sit at the top of the heap, but they also have the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers nipping at their heels.

San Francisco has been just a hair behind Seattle in recent years, but they have experienced a bit of a regression by losing some key members of their heralded defensive unit.

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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