Clock Dodgers NFL Split 10
(Top 5 – Bottom 5)
Written By: Eddie Cepeda (@eddiecee23)
So here we are, the start of another highly anticipated NFL season. As usual this off-season gave us free agency surprises, draft night disappointments, and the all too familiar player run-in with the law (All eyes on you Mr. Talib). Add a Tom Brady finalized suspension, give the fans another reason to hate Goodell and Viola! Thursday night couldn’t come any sooner. As usual, America’s favorite game dominated the off-season and left the other major sports’ executives wondering how they can gain popularity at the rate professional pig skin does. Keep those think tanks stewing fellas, it’ll be a long time before that crown gets snatched off the Shield’s head. Enough of my ranting, you didn’t click the link to hear how much I adore the NFL’s ability to be relevant without playing a game for months. The stands have been cleaned, the turf is laid down, and the fields have been painted (Hopefully with the good paint this time amirite?!). Without further ado, I present the preseason Split 10 for 2016.
1. Carolina Panthers, 2015: 15-1
Let me level with you, this one hurt. Anybody who has met me in real life, or follows me on any social media knows I’m a die-hard Broncos fan. There is nothing I would love more than to put the noble steeds in the top spot, but this is all about giving the best information possible. The Panthers weren’t the flashiest team this off season, in fact they gained some negative press from rescinding Josh Norman’s Franchise tender and shocking the football world. However, I was a fan of the move. Can 10% of NFL followers outside of North Carolina honestly say they held Norman in high regard before his breakout season? Is it at all possible that he gained favor in the media under the tutelage of one Ron Rivera? Either way, I have great confidence that their secondary will be just fine. Especially since their pass rush is returning all key parts. Give Cam Newton a dynamic Wide receiver back, and I’d say their offense at leasts keeps pace with how well they did last year. I expect the Panthers to be a top 2 seed this year.
2. Seattle Seahawks, 2015: 10-6
We witnessed this team balance out offensively in 2015. Russell Wilson had been a good young talent for the years leading up to last season. He really came into his own in the latter half of 2016. Partially pushed into it by the injury of the tank we call Marshawn Lynch, Wilson adapted well to the transition into a balanced passing offense. Paired with a stout defense that doesn’t seem to regress, write the Seahawks in for the 2nd top seed in the NFC.
2016 Prediction: 12-4
3. Green Bay Packers, 2015 10-6
I feel the Packers owe Screamin A. Smith some sort of endorsement contract. I can’t say their name without hearing, “He’s a BAAAAAAD MAN,” in the back of my head. 3821Yds, 31TDs to 8INT, plus 344Yds and 1TD rushing and Aaron Rodgers had a “down year.” Well, I don’t count on that happening again. Nor do I expect Cobb and Lacey to have such pedestrian years again. Add Jordy Nelson back into the mix and I think Green Bay will have to follow that favorite Rodgers’ quote of theirs. R-E-L-A-X
2016 Prediction: 12-4
4. New England Patriots, 2015: 12-4
Is it the “ Patriot way?” Or the AFC being a bunch of question marks across the board? These last two teams both hail from the AFC, and they both scare the bejezus out of me. The Pros, you can’t ask for a more consistent team than New England. 5 straight AFC title appearances will attest to that. Additionally, Hoodie seems to be the MacGyver of throwing together contending defenses. Give that man a paperclip, rubber band, and a Sharpie and that will be a top defense of 2016. Cons, we all know about the suspension, and I’m not sold on Jimmy G. Brady could come back to a 1-3 record. On top of that, at some point his royal quarterbackness has to become a regular human. There’s a great chance this is not that year, but would we be surprised if it is? Those doubts aside, they have the best coach in the league. It would be wrong to leave them out due to a regression that may not happen.
2016 Prediction: 11-5
5. Denver Broncos, 2015: 12-4
WHO YOU CALLING A HOMER?!?!?! Yeah, yeah, yeah so I put the defending champs as a top 5 team. SUE ME. My question is, who’s going in ahead of them? The only AFC team I believe can argue more talent than Denver is the Steelers. However, the only thing they’re better at than football is failing drug tests and getting injured. Oakland? Yes, they’ve done more in the past two years to put a winning team on the field than in the last ten. That said, they still have yet to post a winning record in the Facebook era. I am inclined to wait. The truth is, Denver is no stranger to bad QB play. Their season starter threw two interceptions for every one touchdown in the regular season. Outside of the first half in the AFC championship game, there wasn’t much difference in his playoff performance. Am I saying Siemian is the second coming? No, I am saying that John Elway has proven over his five years that he can play the long game while still fielding a contending team. Let’s all slow down on the Broncos will be terrible for the next 5 years talk.
2016: Prediction: 12-4
28. Cleveland Browns, 2015: 3-13
Out of the entire bottom five, I feel the most optimistic about this team. Hugh Jackson has performed above average in every stop he’s made. You may point at his last stint as a head coach in Oakland. I ask you, how would any other coach fare with that roster? I think we forget that Hugh made JASON CAMPBELL a legitimate starter before he went down injured. Sure, he mortgaged Oaklands next 3 years to get Carson Palmer. I say again, how would any other coach fare?! That roster was laughable and we all know it. Hugh changed the way we talk about Andy Dalton while he was in Cincinnati. Before Dalton went down, he was slinging it as well as anybody else in the league. Now on to Jackson’s latest conquest. Look, they’re bottom five no doubt, I’m just a believer that this year will be a step in the right direction. For now, it’s a sub-par roster with a tradition of losing. There’s always growing pains when trying to break that tradition.
2016 Prediction: 6-10
29. San Diego Chargers, 2015: 4-12
Remember that thing about draft night disappointments? Well, it wasn’t so much draft night as much as it was post draft depression. The last thing the Chargers needed was another thing for the football world to point and laugh at. Let’s hope Joey Bosa brings that fire that merited him being picked #3 overall. All members present and accounted for, the Chargers are in for a long season facing a division that continues to get stronger.
2016 Prediction: 4-12
30. Tennessee Titans, 2015: 3-13
It’s been quite some time since we could say any good about this team. This ranking is set in hopes that former Alabama star running back Derrick Henry can make some difference for them. With a roster that is not overwhelmed with talent, the Titans also have an uphill battle in a division that looks to be trending in the right direction.
2016 Prediction: 4-12
31. San Francisco 49ers, 2015: 5-11
One thing kept this team out of the bottom spot, Chip Kelly. Most mainstream media would like you to believe he’s an outmatched college coach that’s in too deep. I encourage everyone to form their own opinion on every subject. I for one, see an unorthodox coach that has a good system in theory. His execution needs to change to adapt to the NFL talent. It’s not that it can’t work, it’s that you can’t handle grown men like you would student-athletes. That said, this is another roster that needs some work done to get it back to the well-oiled machine it was just a few years ago. We will see if Kelly can get them back on track.
2016 Prediction: 5-11
32. Los Angeles Rams, 2015: 7-9
Man, just typing that name felt weird. The NFL finally achieves it’s goal of getting back into a market they abandoned two decades ago. If only they got something good in there right? Well, what’s done is done. Like my parents used to say,”Be happy you got anything at all. There are starving kids in China that would love to have it.” No offense Mom and Dad, I think even the Chinese children might spit the Rams out in disgust. Remember that thing I said about the Niners and their Coach? Well, it’s the opposite with the Rams. 2016 seems to finally be bringing the world around to what I’ve been saying about Mr. Fisher for years. The guy has gotten way too many chances in a league that doesn’t seem to like giving second chances. On top of that, the Rams extended him after a season of 7-9?! Well, enjoy the mediocrity for years to come. The Rams bottom out my Split 10 this preseason, and I’m fairly confident in Jeff Fisher backing my prediction. That’s about all I’m confident in him for.
2016 Prediction: 2-14
Well, there you have it. That’s my Split 10 and I’m sticking to it! Just kidding, who would want to read an article that has the same 10 teams in it 16 weeks straight? Like life, the season is ever-changing. I’ll see you back here next week to tell you why I was wrong, but not REALLY wrong.
Written By: Eddie Cepeda – Follow Eddie on Twitter: @eddiecee23
Don’t agree with Eddie’s Split 10 – Let him know in the comments below or on Twitter!