Connor’s Corner: NFL division titles, Super Bowl prediction

Seattle Seahawks place-kicker Steven Hauschka’s tightly laced cleat pounding a regulation pigskin into the night sky was music to my ears and marked the start of the National Football League season Thursday night.

As the ball fluttered through the air, the notion that “this is our year” echoed through many fans’ minds, but I’m here to tell you which supporters will have their aspirations come true.

The AFC North will have two teams making the playoffs in 2014. The Cincinnati Bengals will remain the division champions and the Pittsburgh Steelers will follow close behind. The Browns and Ravens will have down years, which will allow both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati to make a run at the Super Bowl.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will prove he was worth his big offseason contract and not only get into the playoffs, but he will win his first career postseason game.

The AFC East will surprise many fans this season with four quality teams. Perennial champions, the New England Patriots, stumbled in week one against the Miami Dolphins, but there is no need to worry for Pats fans.

Bill Belichick is the best adjustment making coach in the league, and New England will adapt and ascend up the standings to another AFC East championship.

The other surprise out of this division will be the Buffalo Bills under new ownership. The mixture of young talent on offense and a dominant defensive line will help the Bills end their 14-year playoff drought. Buffalo will capture the final wild card spot in the AFC.

The week one matchup between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts featured the AFC North and South champions. The Broncos improved by adding defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a team that was one win away from being world champions.

The NFC West will be the Seattle Seahawks’ division. The Hawks have the most stifling defense in the NFL, and will rely on Russell Wilson to develop into an elite quarterback. By the end of his career we will be talking about Wilson next to the all-time greats.

The San Francisco 49ers will take the top wild card spot out of the NFC. The 49ers will rely on big defensive stops from Patrick Willis and Co., and will make for a difficult out in the playoffs.

As long as Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson stay healthy, the Detroit Lions will take home the NFC North title. Detroit has the most dynamic scoring offense in the league with so many athletic weapons.

The Green Bay Packers will be one of the wild card teams in the NFC. The Packers are a veteran team with many Super Bowl-winning players on their roster and will need the defense to take them to the playoffs.

The New Orleans Saints will shore up some defensive problems and work their way toward an NFC South championship.

The Philadelphia Eagles will come out of the NFC East. Nick Foles has had a year with Chip Kelly’s system, and will continue to develop into an elite passer.

Super Bowl Prediction: New England Patriots 24, Seattle Seahawks 21.


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