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'Madden NFL 15' season predictions

Hey everybody, the Madden predictions are back! Why all of the long faces? Oh, because of what I just wrote -- the Madden predictions are back. Well, don't be so glum. Thankfully, many of the Broncos fans who were upset with me because I predicted a Seahawks blowout in this space last season know that it's not my fault.

Although, I did repeat my Seahawks blowout pick in this space here and I wasn't asked to participate in the reindeer games because I was the closest. Oh well, such is life.

Here are my predictions for the coming season. Feel free to let me know what an idiot I am down below. Don't worry, I'm a big boy. I can take it.

AFC WEST


Could Peyton Manning have another MVP year? Adam Rank thinks so. (EA Sports)

Denver Broncos

Overlook: The Broncos advanced to Super Bowl XLVIII and (spoiler alert) it didn't turn out so well. Well, if you didn't totally call it.

Highest rated player: Peyton Manning (98)

Player most likely to get a boost: Montee Ball. The Broncos seem committed to get him the football.

Prediction: Peyton Manning takes on the NFL this season like he's playing on rookie level as he exceeds his gaudy numbers from last year.

Kansas City Chiefs

Outlook: The Chiefs surprised many with a solid run to the playoffs. Many were not surprised when Andy Reid's team once again failed in the playoffs.

Highest rated player: Jamaal Charles (97)

Player most likely to get a boost: Travis Kelce. Have you seen him run? Dude outruns defensive backs.

Prediction: The Chiefs fall back to the pack to finish 4-12.

Oakland Raiders

Outlook: The Raiders made a huge impact in free agency, and are a definite threat to win the 2009 AFC West crown.

Highest rated player: Marcel Reece (92). The Raiders' highest-rated player comes from a position of a bygone era. Makes sense.

Player most likely to get a boost: Derek Carr. He's going to end up starting a ton for this team.

Prediction: The Raiders hang for most of the season, especially in games that start before the early-bird special. The team goes 8-8.

San Diego Chargers

Outlook: The Chargers made the playoffs under first-year head coach Mike McCoy and upset the Bengals in the first round. Well, if you consider beating the Bengals in the playoffs an upset -- most do not.

Highest rated player: Eric Weddle (94)

Player most likely to get a boost: Keenan Allen has just begun to reach his potential. Last year's rookie breakout didn't even begin the season as a starter and had monster season.

Prediction: The Chargers challenge the Broncos for the AFC West title and finish with the second-best record in the AFC. But they have to go on the road, and beat the Bengals again.

NFC WEST


This year's Seattle Seahawks team is younger and hungrier than last season. (EA Sports)

Arizona Cardinals

Outlook: The Cardinals finished 10-6, but missed the playoffs. Funny, I'm trying to recall the outrage of a 10-6 Birds squad missing the playoffs while the 8-7-1 Packers hosted a playoff game. Oh, that's right, nobody cares as long as it screws a West division team.

Highest rated player: Calais Campbell (96).

Player most likely to get a boost: John Brown. He's been the talk of training camp. The Birds could end up with the best three-man team in the NFL with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Brown.

Prediction: The Cardinals finish 10-6 and make the playoffs this time. Carson Palmer for 5,000 yards? It's a proposition that has picked up speed. So go ahead and put me down for it.

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St. Louis Rams

Outlook: Things were looking up for St. Louis before Sam Bradford.

Highest rated player: Robert Quinn (97).

Player most likely to get a boost: Tavon Austin. He could have a bunch of plays drawn up for him this season.

Prediction: St. Louis loses a bunch of 12-3 games, but the defense is one of the best in recent history.

San Francisco 49ers

Outlook: The 49ers have reached the NFC Championship Game for three consecutive seasons, which included a Super Bowl appearance.

Highest rated players: Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman (96).

Player most likely to get a boost: Carlos Hyde. Los looks like the man to pick up the torch when Frank Gore puts it down. Well, if he ever does.

Prediction: The 49ers miss the playoffs for the first time in four years. The defense has sustained too many injuries on defense and end up in a ton of shootouts.

Seattle Seahawks

Outlook: The Seahawks are coming off the first championship in club history, and are poised for another strong performance this season.

Highest rated player: Richard Sherman (99)

Player most likely to get a boost: Jermaine Kearse. Had a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and he will be the guy who emerges from Percy Harvin's shadow to shine this season. Russell Wilson would be here, but he's very high already.

Prediction: The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl again. Maybe. But the team is not going to have any noticeable drop off. Pete Carroll knows a thing or two about getting a team to repeat a championship season. This team is younger and maybe a little bit hungrier.

AFC EAST


Adam Rank believes Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will make yet another Super Bowl run. (EA Sports)

Buffalo Bills

Outlook: The Bills made a splash in the draft when they traded up to get the exciting Sammy Watkins. But EJ Manuel.

Highest rated player: Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams (91). I can't imagine the Bills have a bunch of dudes rated over 90.

Player most likely to get a boost: Robert Woods. Having Watkins to draw attention should make his job much easier. Put him in the slot and let it fly.

Prediction: The Bills will beat the Patriots this season. Still won't make the playoffs.

Miami Dolphins

Outlook: The Dolphins kind of seem to reside outside the realm of consciousness of most NFL fans, but have been quietly building a winner.

Highest rated players: Cameron Wake, Brandon Fields (96). I almost didn't list the punter.

Player most likely to get a boost: Knowshon Moreno. He seems to be counted out every preseason. And yet, he always seems to come through by the end of the year.

Prediction: The Dolphins are one of four teams competing for the final AFC Wild Card spot, but are knocked off by the Jets. Again.

New England Patriots

Outlook: The Patriots continue to be one of the most dominant teams in the AFC, and again figure to compete for the conference crown.

Highest rated player: Darrelle Revis (97)

Player most likely to get a boost: Tim Wright is a pretty good fit for this offense and will play alongside Rob Gronkowski and thrive.

Prediction: The Patriots reach the AFC Championship Game. Again. They knock off the Chargers to reach the Super Bowl where they face off against the, well, I don't want to spoil some NFC team's prediction.

New York Jets

Outlook: Some might say Rex Ryan had the best coaching performance of his career last season when the team finished 8-8. He'd better hope to be that good again.

Highest rated player: Muhammad Wilkerson (96). You were expecting Geno Smith?

Player most likely to get a boost: Geno Smith. Hey, he was somewhat decent last year. Stop laughing, he really was.

Prediction: The Jets go 8-8 again. And knock off the Dolphins to keep them out of the playoffs. Again.

NFC EAST


Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has a rating of (94), but Adam Rank has the Cowboys finishing 4-12. (EA Sports)

Dallas Cowboys

Outlook: The Cowboys have been pretty even over the past couple of years with multiple 8-8 finishes. That might be an optimistic outlook with this offense.

Highest rated player: Dez Bryant (94). Don't worry, Tony Romo was a 91. I have no judgment.

Player most likely to get a boost: Terrance Williams. Well the Cowboys defense didn’t do well last year. And it could be worse this year. But that means more chances for the Cowboys to throw the ball, which means Williams is going to have a prolific season.

Prediction: The Cowboys finish 4-12, and somebody will have to take a fall. GM Jerry Jones, appears safe, so my conjecture is it will be Jason Garrett. And then begins the courtship of Nick Saban.

New York Giants

Outlook: The Giants have a brand new offense. And it doesn't look very good. Seriously, it looks like a television pilot that's about to be canceled. Yet, you can't stop watching.

Highest rated player: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Pierre-Paul, Victor Cruz (87). Wow. Nobody in the 90s. This should be a fun year in New York.

Player most likely to get a boost: Rashad Jennings has been underrated at just about every stop along the way.

Prediction: Oh boy, horrifically bad season for the Giants. Then the speculation begins on if the Giants should consider a quarterback of the future.

Philadelphia Eagles

Outlook: Chip Kelly walked into the NFL and revolutionized the way the game is played. Now, the Eagles have a full season under Kelly to improve the offense. That's scary to think about.

Highest rated player: LeSean McCoy (97). I wonder what Chip Kelly's coach rating would be?

Player most likely to get a boost: Darren Sproles has been productive for a lot of years, but he's about to reach unprecedented heights for his career.

Prediction: Back-to-back NFC East titles.

Washington Redskins

Outlook: Washington has a new coach, Jay Gruden! Not Jon Gruden, mind you. Jay Gruden. Yeah, how many meetings do you think the team's brass went through before they realized, "Wait a minute, this isn't the guy who coached the Bucs! I thought he looked different from 'Monday Night Football.'"

Highest rated player: Trent Williams (95).

Player most likely to get a boost: Freddy Morris. You've been robbing him for years!

Prediction: Kirk Cousins starts this season. And not because of an injury.

AFC NORTH


Johnny Manziel is the most talked about rookie in 2014, but that doesn't mean success on the field for the Cleveland Browns. (EA Sports)

Baltimore Ravens

Outlook: The Ravens missed the playoffs after winning their second title.

Highest rated player: Justin Tucker (93). But hey, he's a great kicker!

Player most likely to get a boost: Torrey Smith. Just a feeling. If Gary Kubiak wants to get another head coaching gig, he needs to throw the ball. That means Joe Flacco. And Flacco can't get it down without Smith.

Prediction: Bernard Pierce crushes it right out of the gate, and that other guy doesn't get much of a chance to work back into the mix.

Cincinnati Bengals

Outlook: Andy Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs in his first three seasons. And yet, some people wonder why he was given a contract extension.

Highest rated player: Geno Atkins (96). Yeah, I thought it would be A.J. Green (95), too.

Player most likely to get a boost: Mo Sanu. He's given the opportunity because of injuries, and he will make the most of it.

Prediction: The Bengals win the AFC North again. And all of the haters won't give Dalton any credit when he finally breaks through to win a playoff game.

Cleveland Browns

Outlook: Just when it looked like the Browns were about to make some noise, Josh Gordon.

Highest rated player: Joe Thomas (98). If you think the Browns are bad, they have way more guys in the 90s than the Giants.

Player most likely to get a boost: No, not Johnny Football. It's got to be Terrance West, who is going to be a beast behind this offensive line.

Prediction: West wins rookie of the year and the Browns are much more competitive than people will imagine.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Outlook: The Steelers are getting older, slower and are in danger of missing the playoffs once again.

Highest rated player: Antonio Brown (92). He's one of the most underrated players out there.

Player most likely to get a boost: Markus Wheaton will flourish opposite Antonio Brown.

Prediction: The Steelers miss the playoffs, which is starting to become the norm in the 'Burgh. Seriously, the Pirates are a much more legitimate contender than the Steelers. But Antonio Brown leads the league in receptions.

NFC NORTH


Adrian Peterson has a (98) rating this year. However, the Minnesota Vikings will still be the Minnesota Vikings. (Jed Jacobsohn/NFL)

Chicago Bears

Outlook: It's year two of the Marc Trestman show in Chicago, and this offense seems ready to explode. But is the defense, once again, going to be a liability?

Highest rated player: Brandon Marshall (96). Matt Forte is a (95), which is higher than his NFL Network Top 100 rating (91).

Player most likely to get a boost: Alshon Jeffery. He made the leap during his second season, but could reach even greater heights this season.

Prediction: Jay Cutler plays 15 games and the Bears offense leads the team to the NFC North title. The team will face the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.

Detroit Lions

Outlook: The Lions sacked coach Jim Schwartz, and have instead decided to do a complete 180 and hire Jim Caldwell. That ought to inspire them.

Highest rated player: Calvin Johnson (99). He's just a 99 because he can't be rated any higher.

Player most likely to get a boost: Joique Bell. He's been the understudy to Reggie Bush for long enough. Bell will step up to be the top running back for the Lions.

Prediction: The Lions won't be as entertaining, what without a coach willing to get into the face of an opposing coach. But the Lions will be as even-keeled as their coach to finish 8-8.

Green Bay Packers

Outlook: The Packers will once again be considered one of the favorites in the NFC thanks in part to QB Aaron Rodgers.

Highest rated player: Aaron Rodgers (98). Of course it's him.

Player most likely to get a boost: Jarrett Boykin. The third receiver in the Packers' offense is still better than the top receiver of some offenses.

Prediction: Aaron Rodgers will make more commercials. Too bad it won't mean any more playoff victories.

Minnesota Vikings

Outlook: New coach Mike Zimmer makes his long-awaited debut as a head coach. And look, the team is playing outdoors again!

Highest rated player: Adrian Peterson (98). The only upset is he's not a 99.

Player most likely to get a boost: Cordarrelle Patterson. He's going to be the Josh Gordon (without the suspensions) of 2014 thanks to the guidance of Norv Turner.

Prediction: The Vikings won't be terrible, but they are the third-best in one of the league's best divisions. And playing in the snow is going to make the team rethink its position to have an indoor stadium. But probably not.

AFC SOUTH


Andrew Luck and the Colts will have some stiff competition in the AFC South. (EA Sports)

Houston Texans

Outlook: Well, it can't be much worse than finishing 2-14 last season. What's that? Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback? Oh wait, it can be.

Highest rated player: J.J. Watt (99). He's the best.

Player most likely to get a boost: Yeah, the Jadeveon Clowney rating is kind of a joke. If you leave him at linebacker. Move him to the defensive line and he's in the 90s. You won't have to go to such extremes after this season.

Prediction: Another down year for the Texans, but don't worry, Brett Hundley is on the way!

Indianapolis Colts

Outlook: Two years with Andrew Luck, and two consecutive trips to the playoffs. The Colts look poised to make it a third time.

Highest rated player: Robert Mathis (93). But uh, yeah, never mind.

Player most likely to get a boost: Wait, how am I supposed to take a shot at Trent Richardson here? How about Andrew Luck, though? He's just an 88? What's your deal, Madden?

Prediction: The Colts get sweated by the Jaguars, but make it three-for-three in the Luck era.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Outlook: The Jaguars have struggled for a few years, but the team is headed in the right direction under the leadership of Gus Bradley.

Highest rated player: Josh Scobee (90). Cecil Shorts III is an 84. Don't worry, this team is on the rise.

Player most likely to get a boost: Allen Hurns. The Jaguars drafted two receivers, but Hurns has been the talk of training camp.

Prediction: The Jaguars make the playoffs. You heard it here first.

Tennessee Titans

Outlook: Ken Whisenhunt is in his first year as coach of the Titans after he helped with the rebirth of Philip Rivers.

Highest rated player: Jurrell Casey (93). Makes sense. Seriously, turn off the snark, I have no complaints.

Player most likely to get a boost: Justin Hunter. He's poised for the patented second-year breakout.

Prediction: Jake Locker makes significant strides this season and remains healthy for most of the year.

NFC SOUTH


Can Cam Newton lead the Panthers to another division title, or will Riverboat Ron's luck run out? (EA Sports)

Atlanta Falcons

Outlook: The Falcons walked into 2013 with hopes of a Super Bowl, but injuries derailed the dream. Does the team have enough defense for another run this season?

Highest rated player: Julio Jones (92). Just stay healthy, dude.

Player most likely to get a boost: Devonta Freeman. The only way he won't get on the field is if Steven Jackson is healthy. So in other words, expect to see a lot of Freeman.

Prediction: Mike Smith starts wearing real shoes at some point.

Carolina Panthers

Outlook: The Panthers were one of the surprise teams of 2013, as they went on to win the divisional crown. But the NFC South has never had a repeat division winner.

Highest rated player: Luke Kuechly (94). But yeah, Cam Newton doesn't even crack the 90 mark, as he chalks in with an 88. No way.

Player most likely to get a boost: Kelvin Benjamin. This guy is the real deal.

Prediction: The Panthers miss the playoffs. Riverboat Ron Rivera gets another season, even though he was nearly run out of town the previous season. How do you not see where this is going?

New Orleans Saints

Outlook: The Saints battled through injuries in 2013, but are fully healthy this season.

Highest rated player: Jimmy Graham (97). Hmmm. I'm not sure I can get down with this. He might be the best player in the game. IN. THE. GAME.

Player most likely to get a boost: Mark Ingram. The former bust from Alabama has looked really good during the preseason and figures to have a lock on the No. 1 running back spot.

Prediction: The Saints will win the NFC South. And Graham will set an NFL record with 25 touchdown receptions this season. And he'll go for the dunk on the 24th and pull the goalpost down to cause a 16-minute delay which will lead him to get suspended for the playoffs, which the Saints will lose.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Outlook: Lovie Smith takes over as coach of the Buccaneers, and he will have this team ready to go sooner rather than later.

Highest rated player: Gerald McCoy (95). He should just be the player most likely to get a boost, too.

Player most likely to get a boost: I just said McCoy! Oh, you want another one? All right. LaVonte David (93) is poised to be the best at his position very soon.

Prediction: The Buccaneers start a touch slow, but finish strong, challenging the Packers for the final playoff spot. But it's just not to be.


Will the Seattle Seahawks repeat? Or will another champion be crowned? (EA Sports)

FINAL PREDICTIONS:

AFC West: Denver

AFC East: New England

AFC North: Cincinnati

AFC South: Indianapolis

Wild cards: San Diego, Jacksonville

NFC West: Seattle

NFC East: Philadelphia

NFC North: Chicago

NFC South: New Orleans

Wild cards: Arizona, Green Bay

Super Bowl: New England vs. Seattle

Champion: New England

MVP: Peyton Manning (seriously?)

OPOY: Matt Forte

DPOY: Von Miller

Rookie: Brandin Cooks

- Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank

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