NFL 2015: Four Team on the Rise and Four Team on the Slide
The end of the NFL season is less than 24 hours old and the playoffs are on the horizon. For 12 teams in the league, it is the most wonderful time of the year. For 20 other teams, it is a time of question and reflection.
While there were some teams that were just good enough to make the post season, there were enough teams that were bad enough to stink it up most of the year.
Then, there were those that played hard enough to give its fan bases hope for next season.
By the same token, there are teams that have been good for so long, but the wheels may come off next season, despite making the plays or being a solid team for so long. Here is a look at four teams that will rise in 2015 and four that will fall.
ON THE RISE
ST. LOUIS RAMS - Jeff Fisher knows how to get the most out of his roster. The offense got better, the defense because a stalwart and the Rams will be a team that will compete for a playoff berth in 2015. Look for the Rams to figure out their quarterback situation and add more offensive weapons in the offseason.
BUFFALO BILLS – I really like what Doug Marrone has done with this team. The offense could be very exciting next season Sammy Watkins is exciting. The running game has been solid and the play of Kyle Orton has been inspiring. Buffalo showed it could use its tough defense to set the tone for games and let the offense do enough to win.
CLEVELAND BROWNS – Everything depends on the quarterback position. There is a report out that the Browns think Johnny Manziel’s career might be in trouble and that he may not be the future of the franchise. Mike Pettine may not have been the first choice of this franchise as head coach, but he proved he could coach this team toward the future.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS - This is a team the NFC North should be worried about. Teddy Bridgewater and his receivers plus good running backs will make things interesting next season. Mike Zimmer has built this team in the image of his own personality. With a new stadium and solid fan support, I like the Vikings next year.
ON THE DOWNSIDE
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - How the mighty have fallen. At the beginning of the season, there was talk Drew Brees would play forever and break every passing record there is. This year, he has looked mortal and the offense at times just “ok.” Now, with a defense that has been bad and lack of production from Jimmy Graham, could this season be a sign of what is to come?
BALTIMORE RAVENS - For a team that could have one of the better passing games and has a running game that has been revitalized, the Ravens are not the juggernaut they could be. Add to the fact both offensive and defensive lines could be dominant and Joe Flacco is not the top tier quarterback he could be, this is a slightly above average team. Cleveland could move up next season and Baltimore could be the worst in the AFC North, despite making the playoffs this season.
DENVER BRONCOS - In the second half of the season, Peyton Manning has had moments of being “average.” Yes, I said that. And the Patriots have been vulnerable. The team still runs the football by committee and has important free agents to re-sign like Julius Thomas. Denver could also lose one or both of their coordinators. Let’s see what happens.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - At some point, the mighty have to fall. This may have been Bill Belichick’s best coaching season and the Patriots’ Tom Brady responded with mastery. The meltdown two months ago was the perfect motivation for this franchise.
But as all good things come to an end, at some point this team will take a step – or two – back. The 2015 season may finally be that time.