-Written by Alex Flum-
If you vastly enjoy the comedic gold of Will Ferrell’s movies like I do, then you have probably seen my favorite movie of all time: The Other Guys. Mark Wahlberg plays a disliked cop whose successful career spiraled downward after he accidentally shot Derek Jeter, while Ferrell plays his partner who feels much safer working at his desk on paperwork than pursuing cases and criminals out in the field. The movie begins with top cops Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson busting some criminals, while Wahlberg and Ferrell, stuck in the office filing paperwork are touted “The Other Guys”.
Now how does this relate to the NFL? In the NFL, you’ve got the teams that perennially bask in the spotlight: the Patriots, the Seahawks, the Saints, etc. Then, you have the other guys; the teams that trudge through a bruising sixteen game schedule just hoping that maybe for once they can defy all critics, push their way into the playoffs and join the elite crew in the league. I give you the NFL other guys of 2014.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs went a dismal 0-8 in the first half of last season. Through that dry spell, they lost star sophomore running back Doug Martin, had a fall out over their quarterback situation and struggled mightily defensively despite boasting a significant amount of talent. Lovie Smith, the man who went to the super bowl with Rex Grossman as his quarterback is taking over the reigns and should implement his elite defensive scheme. The Bucs also boast several defensive players entering their prime with elite potential in linebacker Lavonte David, defensive lineman Gerald McCoy and safety Mark Barron. I think that this team has the potential to resemble the Bears of 2006, however, playing in a tough division with the Saints, Panthers and Falcons could prove to keep them out of the playoffs when it is all said and done.
Best-case scenario: 11-5, earns fifth seed in NFC
- Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have a secret weapon in their backfield, his name is Andre Ellington. He is on the verge of a major breakout, I would be surprised if he is not a top ten, if not top five running back by the end of the season. A strong rushing attack will pave the way for a revived display through the air. This will enable quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Larry Fitzgerald to have late career resurgences. A strong front seven and a deep secondary will certainly help the Cardinals as they face the toughest task of any team in the NFL, beat out the Seahawks and 49ers. If the Cardinals can snag two wins in a combined four games against those two teams, I believe that they can make their way into the playoffs. Bruce Arians led this team in a strong performance last year but they may be ready for a breakthrough performance.
Best-case scenario: 11-5, edge out the Niners to make the playoffs out of the NFC West
- New York Jets
Upon hearing news reports regarding the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan, the thought always crosses my mind: how is this guy still coaching this team? Then I come to the realization that despite the craziness, the ballsy comments he makes and the pressure of the big stage, Ryan’s squads actually produces success. Well, some success. Aside from a 6-10 effort in 2012, each of Ryan’s teams have been in the playoff hunt down to the last week or two. Two of those teams even made the playoffs. Either Geno Smith or Michael Vick is bound to step in and play well. Don’t count out the Jets…
Best-case scenario: 10-6, squeeze into the AFC playoff picture
- Washington Redskins
If you looked up worst-case scenario in the dictionary, you would find the 2013 Washington Redskins. The team rushed back the face of the franchise Robert Griffin III, a hierarchical problem arose, the defense was subpar and special teams was probably the worst in NFL history. The Redskins rid of the Shanahans and replaced them with Jay Gruden. They also added deep threat DeSean Jackson after the division rival Philadelphia Eagles released him. If Gruden’s can gain the respect of his team and RGIII can return to his rookie form, the Redskins could be unstoppable. If not, we may just see a different regime but the same result.
Best-case scenario: RG3 is reborn, Redskins win NFC East
- Houston Texans
The Kansas City Chiefs went from being the worst team in the NFL two years ago to a playoff team last year. There is no reason to say that the Texans won’t repeat this process. They have the perfect mold to do so. They return offensive weapons in Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. They boast one of the most feared defenses in the NFL, featuring J.J. Watt, number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney and company. Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the best option at signal caller but he is not terrible. As I said in the Jets blurb, the AFC will be weak this season. After the Patriots, Colts, Broncos and whoever comes out of the AFC North, it’s wide open.
Best-case scenario: Colts struggle, Texans edge them out and win the AFC South in bounce back year
Bonus: Jacksonville Jaguars
This is a very compelling team. They were once the laughing stock of the NFL. Could they possibly become the surprise of the upcoming NFL season? Well, after starting the season 0-8, the Jaguars posted a .500 record during the last part of the season. Toby Gerhart has potential to breakout, while the Blake Bortles era may be starting soon. In addition to that, the Jags defense is feisty led by head coach Gus Bradley. It’s not likely, but the Jaguars could turn a lot of heads this year.
Best-case scenario: Jaguars earn last playoff spot in a weak AFC finishing 8-8