Nov 15 2015

The 2015 NFL Hypothesis Report: Revisited

It’s time to revisit this year’s NFL Hypothesis Report. I’m going to jump right in here with the team-by-teams, but know that I’ve been assessing every team in some detail during their bye weeks at the Networks-United. All I’ll do here is list where each team is at midseason, where I had them for the season and biggest strength/weakness.

New England Patriots (8-0; predicted: 11-5, 1st) … Strength: Pass offense (QB Tom Brady leads NFL with 22 TD passes) … Weakness: Offensive Line (18 sacks allowed already; only 26 allowed all of last season) … Another division title for the Patriots would mark their 7th in a row, a feat only the 1970s Los Angeles Rams accomplished.

Buffalo Bills (5-4; predicted: 9-7, 2nd) … Strength: Run offense (Bills lead NFL in rushing with 142.3 yards per game, and they have 11 TD runs) … Weakness: Pass offense (Bills are 29th in NFL in pass offense, averaging only 200.3 pass yards per game) … The Bills are 5-0 when QB Tyrod Taylor stays under 30 pass attempts.

New York Jets (5-4; predicted: 7-9, 3rd) … Strength: Run defense (Jets allow 88.1 rushing yards per game, best in NFL) … Weakness: Special Teams (P Ryan Quigley is 30th in the NFL in net yards per punt, while K Nick Folk is on IR) … QB Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t take sacks, but his ability to return from thumb surgery will be a key factor in the team’s Wild Card chances.

Miami Dolphins (3-5; predicted: 6-10, 4th) … Strength: Pass offense (WRs Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews are on both on pace to exceed 1,000 receiving yards) … Weakness: Run defense (Miami allows 142.1 rushing yards per game, 31st in NFL) … The Dolphins changed the head coach and the defensive coordinator, and they’re the only AFC East team under .500 at midseason.  

Cincinnati Bengals (8-0; predicted: 9-7, 2nd) … Strength: Offensive Line (Bengals are 4th in sacks allowed and 3rd in fewest turnovers) … Weakness: Run defense (Bengals allow 4.9 rush yards per attempt, worst in NFL) … Bengals already have 3 more sacks this season than they had all of last season.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4; predicted: 7-9, 3rd) … Strength: Run offense (The Steelers are the only team in the league averaging more than 5 yards per carry) … Weakness: Pass defense (The Steelers are 26th in pass yards per game allowed) … The Steelers are having to rely on QB Landry Jones, RB DeAngelo Williams, LT Alejandro Villanueva, and C Cody Wallace a lot more than they thought they had to when the season started.

Baltimore Ravens (2-6; predicted: 13-3, 1st) … Strength: Special Teams (K Justin Tucker has 2 game-winning FGs this season, and P Sam Koch leads the NFL with 45.6 net yards per punt) … Weakness: Pass defense (Baltimore allows 283.9 pass yards per game, 29th in NFL) … Don’t be fooled by the close losses; this season was so bad that WR Steve Smith (Achilles-IR) may have to play another year.

Cleveland Browns (2-7; predicted: 5-11, 4th) … Strength: Special Teams (K Travis Coons hasn’t missed a FG, WR Travis Benjamin has a punt return TD, and P Andy Lee has been an upgrade) … Weakness: Run offense (RBs Isaiah Crowell and rookie Duke Johnson both average fewer than 3.5 yards per carry, and they have combined for only 1 rushing TD, scored by Crowell) … The Browns went from arguably the best pass defense in the NFL last season to bottom-10 with almost the same personnel.

Indianapolis Colts (4-5; predicted: 13-3, 1st) … Strength: Pass offense (WR T.Y. Hilton is headed for a 3rd straight 1,000-yard season) … Weakness: Pass defense (Indianapolis allows 279.3 pass yards per game, 27th in the NFL) … QB Andrew Luck went from 40 TD passes in Year 3 to barely more TD passes than INTs in Year 4, just like fellow former No.1 overall pick Matthew Stafford.

Houston Texans (3-5; predicted: 11-5, 2nd) … Strength: Pass offense (WR DeAndre Hopkins is averaging 108.8 receiving yards per game) … Weakness: Pass defense (Houston has allowed 16 TD passes this season) … DE J.J. Watt (8.5 sacks) isn’t getting a lot of help this season from NT Vince Wilfork (2 solo tackles), ILB Brian Cushing (0 takeaways), OLB Jadeveon Clowney (1.0 sacks), CB Jonathan Joseph (0 INTs), or FS Rahim Moore (1 INT).

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6; predicted: 6-10, 3rd) … Strength: Pass offense (After 9 seasons without a 1,000-yard receiver, Jacksonville is on pace to have 2 in WRs Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns) … Weakness: Pass rush (CB Aaron Colvin leads the team with 3.0 sacks, while the secondary doesn’t have an INT) … Head coach Gus Bradley hasn’t improved the defense in 3 seasons, especially against the pass.

Tennessee Titans (2-6; predicted: 4-12, 4th) … Strength: Pass defense (The Titans allow only 217.5 pass yards per game, 3rd-best in NFL) … Weakness: Offensive Line (The Titans have allowed 28 sacks and have 17 turnovers, both bottom-five figures) … The Titans cut the cord on head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who lost 31 of his last 35 games as an NFL head coach dating back to his last season in Arizona.


Denver Broncos (7-1; predicted: 13-3, 1st) … Strength: Pass rush (The Broncos are on pace to record 60 sacks, and they have forced 17 turnovers) … Weakness: Run offense (Denver averages only 88.1 rushing yards per game, 28th in the NFL) … Denver QB Peyton Manning (9 TD passes, 13 INTs) is showing his age, but the Broncos have the best defense in the league at midseason.

Oakland Raiders (4-4; predicted: 1-15, 4th) … Strength: Pass offense (QB Derek Carr is the most improved passer in the league, with 19 TD passes and only 4 INTs) … Weakness: Pass defense (Oakland allows 314.6 pass yards per game, most in the NFL) … The Raiders are relying on their top-10 offense to protect a leaky defense.

Kansas City Chiefs (3-5; predicted: 11-5, 2nd) … Strength: Special Teams (P Dustin Colquitt is one of the best punters in the league, and the Chiefs haven’t allowed a return TD in 3 seasons) … Weakness: Pass offense (WR Jeremy Maclin has more receiving yards than the other WRs on the team combined, 566-494, despite Maclin missing a game) … The Chiefs are going to need to protect QB Alex Smith better, especially with RB Jamaal Charles on IR due to another torn ACL.

San Diego Chargers (2-7; predicted: 2-14, 3rd) … Strength: Pass offense (QB Philip Rivers already has more than 3,000 pass yards this season) … Weakness: Run defense (San Diego has allowed 9 rushing TDs this season, and they rank 31st in rushing yards per carry allowed) … The Chargers need 10+ draft picks – at some point, the lack of depth needs to be addressed with injuries affecting San Diego on both sides of the ball more than most teams every season.

New York Giants (5-4; predicted: 6-10; 3rd) … Strength: Pass offense (QB Eli Manning has 19 TD passes and only 6 INTs, the best ratio of his career) … Weakness: Pass defense (The Giants allow 307.8 pass yards per game, 31st in NFL) … The Giants got DE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand) back, and they need him to be what he says he is – “the same Jason Pierre-Paul” that earned the franchise tag before his July accident.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-4; predicted: 14-2, 1st) … Strength: Run offense (Philadelphia had an embarrassing start to the season running the ball, but they’re right back in the top-10 now) … Weakness: Run defense (The Eagles are 21st in the NFL in rushing yards per game allowed) … QB Sam Bradford is on pace for the 1st 4,000-yard passing season in franchise history, but he also is on pace to throw as many INTs as TDs.

Washington Redskins (3-5; predicted: 5-11, 4th) … Strength: Special Teams (WR Rashad Ross scored Washington’s first KR TD in 5 years and is 4th in the NFL with an average of 26.7 yards per return) … Weakness: Run offense (Washington averages only 3.6 rushing yards per game, 29th in the NFL) … QB Kirk Cousins is still starting, but Washington has been overwhelmed in the running game on both sides of the ball over the last month.

Dallas Cowboys (2-6; predicted: 10-6, 2nd) … Strength: Pass defense (The Cowboys allow 240.6 pass yards per game, T-11th best in the NFL) … Weakness: Pass offense (QBs Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel have combined to throw 5 TD passes and 6 INTs while going 0-6 as starters) … Dallas has proven to be too shallow of a team this season.

Green Bay Packers (6-2; predicted: 13-3, 1st) … Strength: Pass offense (2014 MVP QB Aaron Rodgers has 19 TD passes and 3 INTs) … Weakness: Run defense (This is every year – Packers are allowing 125.1 rushing yards per game, 28th in NFL) … Green Bay has 4 straight division games, and they’re going into that stretch with RB Eddie Lacy backing up RB James Starks.

Minnesota Vikings (6-2; predicted: 11-5, 3rd) … Strength: Pass defense (The Vikings have allowed only 9 TD passes in 8 games) … Weakness: Pass offense (Minnesota averages only 188.2 pass yards per game, 30th in NFL) … RB Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing, but the Vikings need to see QB Teddy Bridgewater make more plays.

Chicago Bears (3-5; predicted: 7-9, 4th) … Strength: Offensive line (The Bears are in the top-10 in sacks allowed and turnovers) … Weakness: Pass Defense (Chicago has allowed 17 TD passes, while the secondary has 1 INT all season) … QB Jay Cutler has held it together for a team that has been among the most moribund in the NFL this season, on offense, defense and special teams.

Detroit Lions (1-7; predicted: 11-5, 2nd) … Strength: Pass offense (The Lions average 268.1 pass yards per game, 9th in the NFL) … Weakness: Run defense (The Lions have allowed an NFL-high 14 rushing TDs this season, after allowing only 8 all of last season) … The Lions have fired an offensive coordinator, two OL coaches, a general manager, and a president, but the sieve of a defense has been the biggest disappointment this season.

Carolina Panthers (8-0; predicted: 6-10, 2nd) … Strength: Run offense (RB Jonathan Stewart has been the feature back for the run-heaviest offense in the league, but QB Cam Newton has shouldered a rushing workload this season that some QBs won’t handle in a career) … Weakness: Run defense (The Panthers allow 4.2 rushing yards per carry, 19th in the NFL) … No team defends the pass better than Carolina this season, which gives them a chance to win every week.

Atlanta Falcons (6-3; predicted: 4-12, 4th) … Strength: Pass offense (WR Julio Jones leads the NFL with 1,029 receiving yards) … Weakness: Pass rush (Atlanta has only 10 sacks in 9 games, 2nd-fewest in the NFL) … RB Devonta Freeman has been a revelation this season, as he leads the league in yards from scrimmage (1,141) and total TD (11).

New Orleans Saints (4-5; predicted: 8-8, 1st) … Strength: Pass offense (WRs Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead and TE Ben Watson all have a shot at 1,000 receiving yards this season) … Weakness Pass defense (The Saints have already allowed 24 TD passes this season) … The Saints are asking QB Drew Brees to save them more than ever this year, as the defense ranks 31st in yards and points per game allowed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5; predicted: 5-11, 3rd) … Strength: Run defense (Tampa Bay allows only 3.7 yards per carry, 4th-best in the NFL) … Weakness: Pass defense (The Buccaneers are on pace to allow 38 pass TD this season, and just about all of the CBs have been benched at some point) … Rookie QB Jameis Winston has taken better care of the ball as the season has progressed, but he’s rarely had a full deck to work with either.

Arizona Cardinals (6-2; predicted: 3-13, 4th) … Strength: Pass offense (QB Carson Palmer has thrown 20 TD passes; he threw 24 in a full 2013 season) … Weakness: Special Teams (K Chandler Catanzaro has missed 2 PATs, rookie RB David Johnson countered his 108-yard TD with a lost fumble, and P Drew Butler is last in the NFL with an average of 34.5 net yards per punt) … The Cardinals have done a great job on the offensive line without any contribution from 2015 1st-round pick OT D.J. Humphries.

Saint Louis Rams (4-4; predicted: 7-9, 2nd) … Strength: Pass defense (The Rams have allowed an NFL-low 5 TD passes this season) … Weakness: Pass offense (The Rams average 177.1 pass yards a game, dead last in the NFL) … The combo of rookie RB Todd Gurley and WR Tavon Austin add some explosiveness to the ground game, but injuries to DE Chris Long (knee) and OLB Alec Ogletree (leg) will test the playmaking ability of the defense.

Seattle Seahawks (4-4; predicted: 12-4, 1st) … Strength: Pass defense (The Legion of Boom still is a force, as Seattle has allowed only 6 pass TDs this season and 186.4 pass yards per game, both 2nd-best in the league) … Weakness: Offensive line (The Seahawks have allowed an NFL-high 31 sacks this season) … The Seahawks have many of the same guys they need to win, but they need them to pick it up to close the season out.

San Francisco 49ers (3-6; predicted: 6-10, 3rd) … Strength: Pass defense (At home, the 49ers have allowed 5 TD passes while intercepting 5 passes, a key part of their 3-2 record at Levi’s Stadium) … Weakness: Pass offense (The 49ers average only 181.6 pass yards per game, and they benched healthy QB Colin Kaepernick after he failed to throw a TD pass in 5 starts) … The 49ers have the worst offense in the league, and the defense has been destroyed on the road, allowing 36.8 points per game outside of California.

(Dylan Young/Deeyung Entertainment)

(Dylan Young/Deeyung Entertainment)

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  1. NFL 2015 Week 11 Gameplan »

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