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The Blue & Gray Press | December 12, 2018

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In the endzone: Post kick off predictions for the season

By NATE MARKLE

The NFL is back! With week one in the books, we will briefly recap each team’s game and project how the season will unfold.

Arizona Cardinals: Finally, the Cards have someone who can get Larry Fitzgerald the ball, making the NFC West even stronger than a year ago.

Atlanta Falcons: Supremacy in the NFC South must be earned this season, and the Falcons learned that the hard way, after falling to the Saints this past Sunday.

Baltimore Ravens: Not enough offensive talent, and not enough defensive leadership to make a trip back to the Super Bowl foreseeable.

Buffalo Bills: Critics slammed the Bills for drafting EJ Manuel so early, but the former Florida State quarterback demonstrated great intangibles and athleticism against New England last Sunday.

Carolina Panthers: The good news: the defense looked surprisingly strong. The bad news: the offense looked surprisingly stagnant.

Chicago Bears: People forget the Bears won 10 games last year. Great defense is a given, but the fact the Bears did not allow Jay Cutler to be sacked once should really scare NFC North rivals.

Cincinnati Bengals: All the pieces are in place on defense. Any dreams of the Super Bowl will depend on Andy Dalton’s ability to raise his game to the next level.

Cleveland Browns: If new offensive coordinator Norv Turner can get his offense clicking, this could be the Browns’ year to finish above Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have not beaten the Giants at home or reached the playoffs the past few seasons. Maybe Sunday’s victory is a sign of changing times.

Denver Broncos: No Von Miller. No Champ Bailey. No problem for this chic Super Bowl pick, who looks poised to bring the AFC Championship Game back to Mile High.

Detroit Lions: The offseason acquisition of Reggie Bush is already paying dividends as the Lions aim to make fans forget last season’s 4-12 mark.

Green Bay Packers: The defense played better than the box score reflects, and further improvements could push the Pack deep into the playoffs.

Houston Texans: The Texans won, but if Phillip Rivers can tear up this secondary, imagine the damage Manning or Brady could do in the playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck has never heard of a sophomore slump.

Jacksonville Jaguars: After the Jags pitiful performance, Alex Bryant, a University of Mary Washington Business Major, believes the team might be “the worst team in the NFL.”

Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid has this group looking like a completely different team. With Alex Smith managing the game and Jamaal Charles racking up rushing yards, the Chiefs are a viable Wild Card threat.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins got the win, but running back Lamar Miller was extremely disappointing rushing 10 times for only three yards.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings lost their opener to division rival Detroit, which raised the eyebrows of some. Freshman business major Melissa Dudleson said, “With a mediocre quarterback like Ponder, the Vikings need to utilize Adrian Peterson.”

New England Patriots: A more convincing victory would have been nice, but the Pats are still the toast of the AFC East.

New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton is back and Rob Ryan is in charge of the defense. The duo’s impact was felt by the Falcons Sunday, and it appears the NFC South is going to be a two horse race.

New York Giants: The Giants’ sloppy play should not have fans pressing the panic button. It is what the Giants do. They are prone to ugly, mistake ridden games. What is important is they usually produce even more solid, impressive showings.

New York Jets: The Jets’ defense is drastically underrated. Sunday’s victory over the Buccaneers is proof of that. If rookie, Geno Smith can minimize his mistakes the Jets could pull out more wins than most expect.

Oakland Raiders: The defense is horrible, the offensive line is in shambles, and the star running back is beyond injury prone. It’s a good thing Terrelle Pryor can run, because he’s going to be doing lots of it.

Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly’s offense was as good as advertised. Ultimately the defense will determine the team’s success.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Tim Yonger, sociology major at UMW, best summed up the Steelers’ deficiencies, “The passing game is missing a stud wide receiver, and Isaac Redman really struggled. The offense is just bad.”

Saint Louis Rams: The Rams are a team that can best be described as average. An 8-8 season is probably the best projection, unless this young, unproven offense can break out.

San Diego Chargers: In the first half, Phillip Rivers fans flashed back to 2008, when Rivers tossed 34 touchdowns and surpassed 4,000 passing yards. Then, Rivers promptly reminded everyone watching that it is 2013. He completed one mere pass in the fourth quarter and fired a costly pick-six to Brian Cushing.

San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick has proven he can beat you with his arm or legs. Take into account the team’s stellar defense and there’s no reason to believe the 49ers cannot get back to the Super Bowl.

Seattle Seahawks: These Birds are widely considered San Fran’s biggest obstacle in repeating as NFC Champs. Be sure to tune in to their week two matchup Sunday night at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers did not look like a team ready to take the next step. A below .500 season may be in store for the Tampa faithful.

Tennessee Titans: The Titans will not do anything that blows you away, but they will play solid football and should manage to win around half their games.

Washington Redskins: RGIII showed plenty of rust in the first half. The Redskins should be encouraged though, during the second half, Griffin looked like the franchise quarterback he is.