The Hot Corner
NFL: Predictions for 2014

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J.T. Grugen

JT Grugen

The rustling of leaves in the wind, fewer hours of sunlight, and the cool autumn breeze have signaled the onset of fall, which only means one thing: football is back. This season could mark a change in the guard as new, young quarterbacks take center stage and attempt to break out as the next elite player. In this edition of The Hot Corner, Knight Times editor and sports writer J.T. Grugen breaks down his predictions for this season, division by division. This week we look at the AFC North and East Divisions.

AFC NORTH

CincinnatiBengals

Projected Finish:

1. Bengals 10-6

2. Ravens 9-7

3. Steelers 7-9

4. Browns 3-13

The NFC North has been a two horse race for a decade now. Baltimore and Pittsburgh have continuously battled for the division crown, this year though, both squads are experiencing notable deterioration, opening the door for a young Cincinnati team.

The defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens return without first ballot sure-to-be Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, as well as receiver Anquan Boldin. Similar to New England, the Ravens have lost the majority of their receivers from last year and are in danger of becoming one dimensional.

Meanwhile in the Queen CIty, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green remain one of the best QB-WR connections in football. With a solid running game with the addition of Giovanni Bernard in the draft, the Bengals offense can contend with any team in the AFC. If they manage to win the critical division games, they’ll march to the NFL Playoffs in January.

AFC EAST

Projected Finish:

1. Patriots 10-6

2. Dolphins 7-9

3. Bills 5-11

4. Jets 5-11

After the recent debacle of the New York Jets, the Patriots have found themselves running away with the AFC East division title for the past few seasons. However, this season could leave New England shell shocked. Tom Brady is without his usual cast of characters: Wes Welker left for the Broncos, Rob Gronkowski is battling injuries, and Aaron Hernandez was released following criminal charges. The receiving core for Brady has become amazingly thin.

A bubble playoff team from last year could easily dethrone the Patriots, but the New England squad is still more solidified than any other team in the division. The newly created duo of Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace in Miami will make some waves once the two develop chemistry. For now though, Miami is still several playmakers away. The Bills and Jets rebuilding process is in full swing, don’t expect either team to challenge for anything.

photo source: NFL.com

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