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The 2015 NFL season started out with a bang from free agency to all of the surprising trades and resigned players. There were some big splashes from free agency that bolstered certain teams’ rosters and All-Pro players staying put that reassured playoff teams from last year. Although we expect teams like New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts to stay on top of the NFL, there are three teams that can cause havoc in their division and interrupt the scheduled program of not making the playoffs!
1) Buffalo Bills- 2014 record (9-7)
The Buffalo Bills were on the outside looking in the playoffs although they were in the hunt for most of the season. The defense carried them all year by ranking 4th overall and 4th in points scored against by allowing a ridiculous 18.1 ppg. The offense provided a few sparks with rookie standout wide receiver Antonio Watkins but like the last several seasons, they weren’t been able to generate enough offense. The quarterback position has been unstable and their head coach Doug Marrone essentially quitting on the team by opting out of his contract had 2015 looking bleak for the Bills.
The 2015 offseason became Christmas for the Bills. They started by adding the flamboyant coach Rex Ryan who fits their city and that very good defense. Then Rex worked his magic by landing LeSean McCoy in a trade. McCoy will bring the big play back to Buffalo including a stable running game and with his pass catching ability, it should limit the stalled drives which haunted the Bills last year. They also brought in another big play threat in Percy Harvin who will fit in nicely with the ball control offense that Ryan loves to run. Let’s not forget to mention tight end Charles Clay who can also help move the chains. They really haven’t made any significant changes to the QB position by bringing in Matt Cassell and Tyrod Taylor, but the QB competition with E.J. Manuel for the stating job should be interesting. Rex has more talent than ever on offense and defense which should have them contending for a playoff spot.
2) Chicago Bears- 2014 (5-11)
This is the most talented roster on this list but yet still they were 5-11 with more talent than they have now. Marc Trestman couldn’t find the correct recipe for success which at times looked as if the team quit on him. Yes, many can say the injuries to Charles “Peanut” Tillman, Lamarr Houston, and veteran Chris Conte hurt the Bears, but let’s be real, the defense and the team “sucked.” The offense that was expected to blow teams away seemed destructible at times. Jay Cutler had all of the tools a quarterback dreams of but couldn’t lead the troops to the promise land. The team underachieved and many believe that it will happened again next year. The Bears have cleaned a section of the house by firing the general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman, didn’t resign former Pro bowl player Lance Briggs and traded away Brandon Marshall.
The Bears look to rebound in 2015 by starting at the top with new general manager Ryan Pace. They also hired coach John Fox to restore the roar in the “Monsters of The Midway.” Fox brought a first class coaching staff featuring Vic Fangio (defensive coach of the San Francisco 49ers 2011-2014) and highly coveted Adam Gase to be the offensive coordinator (OC for the Denver Broncos 2012-2014). With the defensive minded coach implementing his toughness, he plans to install a more ball control type offensive which will be more suitable for Cutler. Matt Forte will also be able to benefit from the more run based offense especially since he’s been underused in the past. Although they’ve lost their top receiver in Marshall, Alshon Jeffery is looked upon to step up and be the No. 1 receiver. They’ve added depth at the wide receiver position in adding Eddie Royal to be the slot guy and drafted Kevin White out of West Virginia to possibly be the No. 2 receiver. And all seems to be well with the Bears organization and Martellus Bennett. Fox came in with a few toys to play with on the defensive side in defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamar Houston, Willie Young and cornerback Kyle Fuller. They’ve also added linebackers Pernell McPhee, Mason Foster and safety Antrel Rolle who will bring his veteran presence to add stability to the secondary. With Fox expertise in taking multiple teams to the playoffs and Super Bowls, the Bears have a good chance of surprising the NFC.
3) New York Giants- 2014 (6-10)
The New York “Football” Giants had a dismal year in 2014. They dealt with injuries, nail biting losses and embarrassment last year. Eli Manning had his best season last year despite learning a complete new offense (the west coast) dealing with drop passes that turned into interceptions and injuries to significant weapons including his favorite weapon Victor Cruz. Cruz tore his ACL in week 6 and missed the rest of the season. Their newly acquired running back Rashad Jennings also missed 5 games due to injuries hindering the Giants from getting a nice rhythm going offensively. The only bright spot besides Manning was Odell Beckham Jr who dazzled fans with his spectacular catches and incredible stats that included 91 catches and 1,305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in only 12 games. The defense was ranked 29th giving up 25 ppg.
2015 seems promising again for the Giants. With another year of experience running the offense, the “G-Men” should be more comfortable on the field. Manning should have plethora of options when passing the ball. Cruz who is expected to be 100% at the start of the season shouldn’t see any more double teams due to the fact that Beckham Jr will see lots of double and some triple coverage. Jennings and the the sophomore bruiser Andre Williams showed signs last year but picking up free agent Shane Vareen gives them incredible depth and a running back who excels catching out of the backfield. Although Jason Pierre-Paul has lost a finger due to a fireworks incident, he is playing for a new contract and is finally healthy (I guess since he lost the finger). Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be a nice CB tandem and the defense should play better with another year of experience playing with each other. Tom Coughlin and the Giants looks to be primed for another suprising deep run in the playoffs with talent across the roster.