It's here! It's finally here! Football fans can rejoice -- today, Thursday, Sept. 4, marks the beginning of the 2014 NFL season. The Seattle Seahawks will raise their first-ever championship banner tonight, prior to hosting the Green Bay Packers, in a rematch of the infamous "Fail Mary" game two years ago.
A lot has happened since the Seahawks trounced Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last February -- the Winter Olympics have come and gone, as has the World Cup. California Chrome won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but came up short at the Belmont. Baseball season began and is now in its stretch run. LeBron James led the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals, but lost to the Spurs -- but then decided to opt out of his contract, and return to Cleveland. The Los Angeles Kings won their second Stanley Cup title in three seasons, perhaps laying the foundation of a dynasty.
But for football fans, none of that matters anymore -- it's football season. Will the Seahawks repeat? Will Peyton Manning break his own records? Will Peyton Manning actually win another Super Bowl? What about the Patriots -- can Tom Brady win his fourth, or will younger quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill take over the league?
Well, we don't know right now, but we're going to find out. Here's my fearless predictions for the 2014-15 season.
AFC East -- New England Patriots. Is there any doubt that the Patriots will win at least 11 games, probably 12-13, and earn a first round bye? Didn't think so.
AFC North -- Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals will win the division almost by default; the Ravens and Steelers simply aren't that good, and the Browns are still a year away from being a legitimate threat.
AFC South -- Indianapolis Colts. Is this the worst division in football? The Texans are better than the 2-14 team they were last season, but they're still not a good football team. The Titans and Jaguars aren't quite ready to hang with the Colts over a full 16-game season.
AFC West -- Denver Broncos. Nothing to see here.
AFC Wild Cards -- Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers.
NFC East -- Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants and Redskins will both be better, but the Eagles are still the team to beat.
NFC North -- Green Bay Packers. Even without Aaron Rodgers for seven games last season, the Packers went 8-7-1, and qualified for the playoffs.
NFC South -- New Orleans Saints. The Panthers just won't have the offense to hang with Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints this season.
NFC West -- San Francisco 49ers. Seattle ousted the Niners in the NFC title game last season, but the 49ers get (some) revenge this year, by stealing the division crown.
NFC Wild Cards -- Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears.
AFC Championship Game: New England over San Diego
NFC Championship Game: New Orleans over Green Bay
NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Brandin Cooks
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jadeveon Clowney
Super Bowl: New England over New Orleans
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