Since the NFL draft began in 1936, no QB drafted 1st or 2nd has ever had a winning record as a starter in their first year. Best was 5-6-1 in 1955 by George Shaw. Of the rookie QBs starting this year, it would be safe to assume Luck and Griffin are the two best. Further, the only rookie starter on a “decent” team from last year who is playing in a weak division is Russell Wilson. RG III is on a decent team, but a murderous division!
I can not see any rookie QB leading their team to the playoffs, so that rules out:
Russell Wilson, Seahawks; Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins; Brandon Weeden, Browns; RG III, Redskins; Andrew Luck, Colts.
These are the 2nd year starters, and not many players have avoided the sophomore slump. Further, the two best teams that have 2nd year starters (Panthers and Bengals) play in probably the two strongest divisions, so any slip by them would make it difficult on their playoff chances.
For the reasons above, I am eliminating all the 2nd year QBs and their teams from post-season consideration:
Christian Ponder, Vikings; Jake Locker, Titans; Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars; Andy Dalton, Bengals; Cam Newton, Panthers.
That eliminates 10 (Seattle, Washington, Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee, Indy, Jacksonville, Miami, Cleveland and Cincinnati) of the 32 teams.
Of the 22 teams that are left, 10 are in the AFC, 12 in the NFC. Starting with the NFC, these are the 12 teams left, by division, and the reason I exclude a team from the playoffs:
*New York. Hang over, schedule, troubles on the OL, but the biggest reason I leave them out, schedule. It was between them New Orleans and Atlanta for the 6th playoff spot. They play the AFC North, the Falcons and Saints play the AFC West. The Giants and Saints have the 1st place schedule, Falcons have the 2nd place schedule. I am giving the Falcons the South because of the schedule, and because the Giants have to play in New Orleans, I am giving that game, and the tie-breaker to New Orleans.
*Dallas. Their schedule is murder. Final 5 games of the season are Philly, @ Bengals, Steelers, Saints, @ Washington (and we all know how they play in December). They also play (obviously) the Giants twice, Chicago, @ Baltimore, @ Atlanta.
*Detroit is an offensive juggernaut but, they can not keep high scoring teams down with that defense of theirs. Chicago is improved, and will score on them, Packers will score on them at will. They are 3rd in that division, and will have problems qualifying for the playoffs. Their saving grace is they play the AFC South this year, and they should go (at least) 3-1 against them. However, the Lions are one Stafford injury away from not being able to outscore many opposing teams, and with a questionable running attack, he is looking at lots of pressure.
*Tampa Bay is heading in the right direction, but Freeman is a question mark, and the defense has many backside problems. This is a team that was -207 last year in point differential. Did they make enough changes to overcome sloppy play, inconsistent QB play, and no pressure on opposing QBs? They are heading in the right direction, but not this year.
*Arizona’s QB situation is an absolute mess.
*St. Louis is still a mess (although Fisher will have them playing better).
My NFC predictions (in order of seeding):
Division Winners: San Francisco, Green Bay, Atlanta and Philly.
Wild Cards: Chicago and New Orleans
Atlanta Vs. New Orleans
Chicago Vs. Philadelphia
Bye: San Francisco and Green Bay
San Francisco Vs. New Orleans
Green Bay Vs. Philadelphia
San Francisco Vs. Green Bay
One question, will the Pats lose a game? Wow! NFC West, and one of the 1st place AFC teams from last year is Denver. Their schedule reminds me of a college football teams, 8 cupcakes and 3 division rivals. They have three tough games, @ Baltimore, Houston and San Fran. Of those 3, two are at home, and both are in December (and neither team is a cold weathered team, how convenient).
*Both Buffalo and Hew York are having huge troubles! They will both suffer two loses to New England. They play the NFC West, so they could go 3-1 against them, but if you can’t score you can’t win. Buffalo has more potential.
Gave the Steelers the division because of the Ravens 1st place schedule. The difference between the Pats or Jets and the Texans or Titans could prove pivotal should the Steelers and Ravens split their head to head games (and each sweep the Browns and Bengals) and it come down to the AFC common opponents tie-breaker.
Tennessee Jacksonville Indianapolis
They luck out, easiest division. Their season will rest on two games for the number 1 or 2 seed, how they do at home against the Ravens and @ the Pats.
Based on schedules, I am giving the West to the Chiefs, with SD sneaking in. I was tempted to put the Bengals in, but Cincinnati has to play in both KC and SD. I think that cost them the final spot.
*Denver. Schedule. Just to much. Ouch! I can see them starting off 0-7, 1-6.
*Oakland. Just to many trips east, 5.
My AFC predictions (in order of seeding):
Division Winners: New England, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City
Wild Cards: Baltimore and San Diego.
Pittsburgh Vs San Diego
Kansas City Vs Baltimore
Byes: New England and Houston
New England Vs. Baltimore
Houston Vs. Pittsburgh
(Okay, I am a homer with both these picks, but I can’t see two teams who have not been tested all year long coming up against two tough, hard nosed teams, and coming out on top)
Pittsburgh Vs. Baltimore
Pittsburgh Vs. San Francisco
Well, were you expecting anything different? :)