The NFL season officially begins tonight and our BSO staff ready already making Super Bowl predictions… Can you tell that we’ve been awaiting this day?
Here are our predictions for the Super Bowl XLVIII:
Rob: Atlanta 35 – Denver 27
Glenn: Denver 28 – Dallas 24
Greg: Washington 23 – Cincinnati 14
Vashti: Denver 27 – San Francisco 24
Phil: Denver 31 – Atlanta 24
Ron: Denver 38 – San Francisco 34
Kel: Seattle 21 – Denver 17
Now that you’ve seen our Super Bowl predictions our staff you can go bet now! We have also decided to answer some of the most intrigiuning questions heading into the NFL season.
1. Will last year’s impressive rookie QB draft class avoid a sophomore slump?
Rob – The Youngin QBs. It isn’t just last year group, but the last 2-3 years of Youngin QBs are going to be fascinating to me. Who is going to start to separate themselves from the pack? Cameron, RG3, Russell, Kap, Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder-Steele (ok that was a joke), 74 year old Brandon Weeden or maybe someone out of the blue like a Jack Locker? To answer the question I think they all will have their ups and downs, but since they are so talented I don’t think you will see a slump, but I do think separation will come from the pack.
Kel – I believe the NFL is built for these young QBs to succeed. All of last years rookie/first time starting QBs have big arms and mobility. Even Ryan Tannehill played WR for two years at A&M before he took over at QB. The rules don’t allow for QB to get hit like they once were and receivers no longer have to fear big hits either. The QBs are all in position to get better.
Vashti – No. And I only say that because it’s easier to prepare for an opponent that have a years worth of film to study. Although I don’t expect any of their play to decline tremendously, I do expect we will see a small drop in their numbers. And with the success of last year’s rookie class and the expectations that come with it, a drop even though slight, will be deemed a sophomore slump.
Greg – Yes they will. I think this group could be a once in a generation draft class. Luck, RGIII, and Trent Richardson get all the headlines but Matt Kalil, Doug Martin, and Alfred Morris had big time rookie years too. I expect all of the standouts to have better years than their rookie season barring injury.
Glenn- Last years rookie class will continue where they left off. Andrew Luck will be sensational. RG3 should be more efficient and a lot smarter. Russell Wilson will probably have the better year out of the whole group.
Natasha – I don’t think they will because their supporting cast is right for what they need. In addition, their teams’ identity won’t change. The continuity in the coaching staff is pretty much the same so I doubt we will see any slumping.
Ashley – Yes and no, I don’t think RG3 will be nearly as impressive as he was last year. But I think we’re going to see players like Wilson and Luck elevate exponentially.
Phil – I think for the most part, they will. For two of the more well-known members of the stellar class (RG3 & Luck) because of a philosophy change. Luck has his old offensive coordinator from Stanford who has always had a run-first mentality. The Redskins will be looking to limit RG3′s exposure to hits, so expect to see him in the pocket a lot more this season.
Ron - I think Andrew Luck will struggle. Russell Wilson and RGIII have better teams around them to take some of the pressure off.
2. How will the Patriots respond after a tumultuous off-season.
Rob – I don’t think the Patriots will miss a beat. As long they have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick they are going to be a factor. Does that mean they are going to the Super Bowl, that might be a stretch but they will be in the mix as always.
Ashley – Regardless of Hernandez I always figured the Patriots were a shell of theirselves. Brady is always going to make you look better than what you are so they’ll have a good to great reg season but post season will be an easy out.
Vashti - I know that the Patriots have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but with all of the off-season drama how would a team not be affected? The Patriots will not have a dismal season, but I’m sure the tumultuous offseason has had an impact and it will show on the field. The Patriots dynasty is officially over.
Kel – The Pats will be a top the AFC, but this is because the AFC is horrible right now. I don’t have confidence in the Pats heading back to the Super Bowl Nd I believe they get bounced early in the playoffs.
Greg – To me the Patriots are very overrated but there is no one in the division to challenge them. It will only be a matter of time before Tom Brady is not able to carry a rag tag bunch of receivers to greatness. They could band together as a team after dealing with all the off season drama but I just don’t see the talent being there to make a deep run.
Glenn – As long as the Patriots have Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork, they’ll be fine. 6 weeks from now, you won’t even remember the terrible off-season of 2013.
Natasha – The Patriots aren’t going to falter. They always seem to find a way to do what people presume they won’t be able to do. The Patriot Way is almost a way of life that NFL teams can follow to get through adversities.
Terrance – I’m just simply not going to bet against Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., I’ve seen him turn water into wine one too many times in regards to turning average receivers into offensive weapons. I think their defense will be better and if Gronk can recover from his multiple injuries, even better. They will miss Aaron Hernandez in theory, but in reality they’ll keep it moving like they always do.
Phil – Anytime you combine Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, you’re looking at 10+ wins. Add the fact that they play in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, they’ll be just fine. Ron – The Patriots are one of the toughest mental teams in the league and it all starts with Bill Belichick. They are always good at finding unknown players to step up and contribute.
3. Will defenses figure out how to stop the read option?
Rob – What makes the read option effective is the QBs that run it can actually pass. So, as long as the youngin QBs keep their accuracy and remember they are passers first it will be still be hard to stop. I think defenses will be more prepared and the objective will be simple “The Quarterback Most Go Down and Most Go Down Hard” RIP Al Davis. Hard to run, if you are hanging with Dr. Andrews.
Vashti - I don’t think any defense will ever figure out how to completely stop the read option. A quarterback that can make plays happen with his arm and his legs would give anyone a problem. But I do think defensive coordinators will be more prepared.
Greg – No.Defenses will continue to try and stop it using the Ravens blueprint from the Super Bowl last year. Meaning every time the QB hands off to the RB, he gets popped. The problem for defenses is, if you have a mobile QB who can make plays with his arm it is nearly impossible to stop. Long live the read option and NFL opening its mind to different styles of offense.
Kel – The read option isn’t the wildcat, it’s a schematically sound football package. The only way to beat the read option is to have a defensive end, which is left unblocked purposely in the design of the offense, that is more athletic than the opposing teams backfield. Even though the NFL has amazing athletes at DE none are as athletic as these mobile QBs & their running backs. The “new” style of QB in the NFL is just too athletic for the system to be stopped consistently.
Glenn – Defenses already know how to stop the read option, but only those defenses with the proper personnel will truly be able to put a dent in the read option. You have to take away the read, which is the quarterback. So expect to see linebackers blasting the quarterbacks, and forcing the handoff or pitch.
Natasha – Yes because the same guys that they continue to draft have been defending the read option in college. Every year pro coaches are leaning on college coaches to learn how to defend the read option play. The life of the read option will be determined by how offensive coordinators help it evolve.
Terrance – I hope so. All I heard last year from the “experts,” was that with a full off-season to prepare, defensive co-ordinations will have an answer for the devastating read option but it’s easier said than done. I don’t NFL defenses will completely shut down the RO, but I don’t expect it to be as effective as it was last season.
Ashley – For larger QB’s like Kapernick no. But for tiny injury prone ones like RG3 yes, defenses will catch up and they will have to alter their style
Phil – I rarely doubt the defensive coordinators in the NFL. Remember the Wildcat craze that was sweeping the league a few years ago? How often do you see that anymore? Expect to see flashes of the read-option moving forward, but also expect defenses to be much better prepared for it.
Ron – Defenses will adjust, but teams such as the 49ers, Seahawks, and Redskins are going to be able to combat that adjustment due to their quarterbacks being great passers. Taking away their running threat from that formation won’t hurt them.
4. Will Tony Romo live up to the lofty expectations that come with his new contract?
Rob – Tony Romo is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, if he doesn’t lead them to a Super Bowl it won’t matter if he is getting paid $10 million or $10 Billion Cowboys fans won’t be satisfied. Since I don’t think the Cowboys are a Super Bowl team, I don’t think he will meet expectations.
Kel – I believe that Tony Romo has an elite set of skills at the QB position. With that being said he isn’t an elite QB and that’s how he’s being paid. The Cowboys window is closing believe it or not. They have a lot of young talent but zero young leadership. Strong veteran leadership is a quality all of the recent Super Bowl champs have had and in a few season that presence will be gone. The time for Romo to earn his money is now.
Vashti - The answer to this question is short and sweet. No. Tony Romo hasn’t been able to lead the Cowboys past the playoff wild card round (that is when they make the playoffs), what makes you think his contract would change that?
Greg – He already earned that contract with his stats. Now he just has to lead his team to some playoff wins. Ultimately, he will be judged by whether or not he wins a Super Bowl since he is the QB of the Cowboys which isn’t fair. Therefore he will not live up to the lofty expectations.
Glenn – Yes Tony Romo will finally live up to expectations. Romo will be in the MVP race, the Cowboys will make a deep playoff run.
Natasha – Definitely not. The Cowboys and Jerry Jones have ensured that Romo will never be successful. Jones is the equivalent of a micromanging boss in corporate America and the employees never respond well. That’s Romo and Jones’ relationship.
Terrance – Absolutely not. I’m still trying to figure out what Jerry Jones was thinking but it’s his money. Tono Romo is awesome in spurts but after seven seasons of teasing fans with his talent but crumbling when it matters most, I think it would be a surprise if he were to actually lead the Cowboys anywhere.
Phil – It depends on your expectations for Romo. Will he live up to $108 million? Probably not. Will he give the Cowboys a shot to win their division and make the playoffs? I believe so.
Ron – Tony Romo is a good NFL quarterback but he tends to d too much when the game is in the line. A lot of that has to do with a nonexistent running game and weak offensive line. The Cowboys fix those two holes and Romo will have them playing through January.
5. With their big off-season changes, do the Ravens have a shot at defending their title?
Rob – I don’t think they will be awful, but let’s be frank they weren’t that great of a team last year, but caught fire at the right time. They deserve all the accolades for winning that title, but that chances of that happening again are slim and none.
Vashti - The Ravens started clicking at the right time last season and were lucky to make it past the Broncos in last years AFC divisional round. With all of the changes I don’t think they have a shot of defending their title.
Greg – Absolutely not. I don’t have them making the playoffs. I have the feeling that Joe “cashed out” Flacco is glad Rev Ray is gone but they will miss his leadership.
Glenn – Yes the Ravens have a shot at defending their title. Torrey Smith will take the next step as a receiver. Flacco will be better. The defense even with their losses, will be even better with Elvis Dumervil
Natasha – No, they don’t have a solid number one receiver. I just don’t think Jones or Smith are it. Smith isn’t a #1 right now. He falters when compared to big name receivers like Bryant, Johnson, etc. In addition, the defense isn’t anywhere near where it was last season. Ray Lewis was the heart and soul of the defense and there isn’t anyone that seems to have stepped up to lead in his absence. Now that Ray isn’t there, who will be there to give the team motivation? Elam is a good rookie from Florida but he won’t be able to step in immediately and give what Ed Reed gave the team’s secondary.
Terrance – They definitely have a shot, just because of the quality pieces they brought in. Everyone talks about the departures of guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, as being major blows but I think there’s enough veteran leadership on the team to at least win the division, although I have the Bengals edging them. Not a fan of Flacco but he showed and proved last season, can he duplicate it? I guess we’ll see.
Ashley – The AFC north is so weak I don’t see why not. The Steelers and Bengals both are question marks.
Phil – Everything for the Baltimore Ravens last season just went amazingly right at the right time. Ray Rice’s amazing 4th down conversion, Ray Lewis retirement announcement that gave the team an emotional burst, and Joe Flacco playing like a top 5 quarterback in the playoffs. They’ll be in the conversation, but I don’t think the ball will bounce this team’s way again.
Ron – I don’t think so. It seems they’re taking this year to get players such as Flacco and Suggs experience in their leadership roles and get used to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed’s voices/leadership not being in the locker room.
6. How well will RGIII return from knee surgery?
Rob – If he doesn’t learned to slide and protect himself, it won’t go well at all. Unlike some of these bigger QBs like Cameron or Ben Rothlisberger, RG3 is built like a Sprinter. I think physically he’s fine, but he won’t make it through the season unless he and the Redskins change up some things.
Kel – I’ve picked RGIII as my fantasy QB in almost every league…Enough said.
Ron – RGIII will be fine. If he learns to slide and get out of bounds to avoid the big hits, Washington can go far.
Phil – According to all reports, RGIII’s knee is 100% as we head to the season opener. As long as the Redskins don’t open him up to as much punishment (looking at you Shanahan) expect the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year to pick up where he left off a season ago.
Terrance – RGIII should be fine as long as he refrains from taking the same hits he took last season, which isn’t necessarily something he has complete control over. I think he’ll have a slow start to the season after missing all of preseason but I expect him to terrorize defenses this season like he did last year.
Natasha – He will regress a little. The fact that he wasn’t able to test the knee out during preseason will hurt him. While his season won’t be a slump, it just won’t be up to par as last season.
Glenn – RG3 will run less, continue to be spectacular , and put up even better numbers than last season.
Greg – RGIII will have an MVP caliber season IF he stays healthy. The offensive line is shaky but I believe RGIII elevates the play of his teammates based on the excitement he brings to the game. I expect big things from the team from Washington.
Vashti – We’ll see how he takes that first hit. I don’t expect there will be any middle ground. Either he will pick up where he left off and continue to exceed expectations, or he will have a very bad season. One way or the other, he has to realize he doesn’t have the size of a player like Cam Newton and he just can’t eat the blows like a larger QB would.