By the numbers, this the 95th season for the NFL, the 49th season for the Dolphins and the first season since the takeover of the league by Johnny Manziel, who might or might not start for a bad team but whose jersey sales rank No. 1 in the nation because we as Americans are easily impressed.
Manziel being drafted by the Browns and LeBron James returning to the Cavaliers makes it a joyous time for Cleveland sports fans, whose unbridled buoyancy is offset only by the fact they still awaken daily to the soul-pounding reality that, “I live in Cleveland.”
Anyway, when it comes to NFL predictions and me I always accentuate the positive because that is generally less embarrassing than the unadorned reality. In that spirit. I would note that on this page a year ago, my top 15 teams featured eight of the 12 that went on to make the playoffs, including a No. 3 ranking for eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle. Not terrible, right?
That spin sounds a lot better than admitting the team I rated No. 1 overall last year went on to finish with the worst record in the league at 2-14. Seriously. Houston, you had a problem. I just didn’t foresee it.
(See, Cleveland. I make fun of myself, too!)
My division-by-division capsules, playoff forecast and Super Bowl pick will appear Sept. 5 on the first of our Friday NFL prediction pages.
For now, here is my 2014 ranking of the 32 teams, with last year’s regular-season and playoff records in parentheses. As always, these teams’ cooperation in helping to make this ranking as accurate as possible will be both hugely appreciated and thoroughly unexpected.
Spoiler alert: The Dolphins will make the playoffs! No, seriously.