The Schein Nine  

 

Oakland Raiders, Chip Kelly, Marcus Mariota will rise in 2015

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I've already predicted a Green Bay-over-Indianapolis result in Super Bowl 50. I've already declared my love for the Ravens, and forecast that Tom Brady is about to go on the greatest middle-finger tour in sports history.

But right now, as we get ready for the 2015 season, I'd like to slap on the prognosticator's hat once again, and provide nine strong predictions about what we will be talking about at season's end.

1) Oakland is a real team moving in the right direction.

Understand: I think the Oakland Raiders will indeed finish in last place in the AFC West for a third straight year. But I fully expect them to compete all year and look like an actual NFL team. When was the last time you could say that? I think the Raiders will win seven games -- and I won't be surprised if they win more.

At the end of the year, we will be talking about how Jack Del Rio is an upgrade over Dennis Allen, with the latter just being a bad memory for Raider Nation. Khalil Mack will be one of the best young defensive players in the game, anchoring a legit front seven. And we will be talking -- a lot -- about the Derek Carr-to-Amari Cooper connection as a staple of Raiders football for years to come. Cooper will win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

This team is about to undergo a massive shift of tone -- and it'll be great for the Raiders, their fans and the league as a whole.

2) Chip Kelly is indeed a genius.

I love the Philadelphia Eagles this year. Kelly's high-volume makeover of Philly will prove to be epic. DeMarco Murray will be a better fit than LeSean McCoy in the Eagles' offense. Nelson Agholor will be in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Sam Bradford will shed the "Big Foot" label I gave him, as he'll be seen/heard from as the ideal fit at quarterback in Kelly's offense. Lastly, offseason pickups Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell will aid the defense.

Peering into my crystal ball, I see the Eagles flying to an NFC East title as the team's hardcore fans embrace Kelly's ways, allowing the coach to become fully entrenched in Philadelphia.

3) Marcus Mariota is better than Jameis Winston.

I said it in February. I said it multiple times before the draft. I said it right after the draft. And I pointed out Mariota's immense promise throughout the preseason.

I believe that everyone will believe in the Titans QB after this year. He's a savvy, versatile and tremendously gifted player. A guy without any baggage. The exact kind of guy you want to build a team around. Marcus Mariota will have a better rookie season than Jameis Winston, a harbinger of things to come for both in their respective careers.

4) The Giants need an overhaul.

This isn't about Tom Coughlin. I think he's a fantastic head coach who will end up with a bust in Canton. No, this is about the New York Giants' complete lack of requisite talent to compete at a high level. The Giants' defense lacks skill, depth and an identity. The offensive line is hardly a strength.

By season's end, general manager Jerry Reese's future will be a big topic of discussion around New York -- especially if Coughlin and Giants ownership come to an agreement that it's time for the coach to call it a (brilliant) career.

5) Robert Griffin III is done.

And by done, I mean done. I think RGIII will be an ex-Redskin shortly after he's cleared medically. I don't think he will ever take another snap for Washington. And with his poor play and magnetism for drama, he shouldn't.

Bigger picture here: I don't think Griffin, for the aforementioned reasons, is a guy you want as your backup quarterback. I believe this is the true beginning of the end for RGIII, who simply doesn't seem to get it. I see the former No. 2 overall pick and Offensive Rookie of the Year being completely out of the league in a few years.

6) Jadeveon Clowney can play.

I'm very high on the Texans' defense this year -- and Mr. Clowney is a huge reason why. He's returning to the field in Week 1. And with the dominant J.J. Watt by his side, Clowney will never be the focal point for the opposition.

Bill O'Brien still believes in Clowney, and so do I. He will live up to his No. 1 overall draft-pick pedigree.

7) Ndamukong Suh is ... worth every penny.

Suh was a big-ticket item for the Miami Dolphins this offseason. But he's a huge difference maker, a true game changer.

Miami is flawed. For one thing, I don't think Joe Philbin is a great coach. But Suh changes every level of the defense. And by substantially enhancing the D, he will take the pressure off young QB Ryan Tannehill, who is poised for big things if handled correctly. Miami will make the playoffs via the wild card; Suh will shift the annual heartbreak conversation in South Beach to one with a far happier tone.

8) The Cowboys need a running back.

I think the Dallas Cowboys fall just short of the playoffs, in a year where the fans and the organization believe this is a Super Bowl team. The ghost of DeMarco Murray will haunt Dallas. Even with the best offensive line in football -- bar none -- Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and Christine Michael will fail to provide Tony Romo with any balance.

9) Mike Zimmer is definitely the man for Minnesota.

Every game, all season

I love Zimmer. He was No. 2 on my preseason list for Coach of the Year (behind only the aforementioned Chip Kelly). I think he is a hard-nosed, excellent head coach.

With Adrian Peterson back in the fold -- and the star running back's domino effect on Teddy Bridgewater -- I think the Vikings win 10 games and make the playoffs. And, as I wrote back in June, they could provide the kind of upstart excitement recently seen from the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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