Welcome to another season of NFL football. As you can see…this makes me happy. No, that isn’t me above, that’s Homer Simpson, who is also happy about this news. But I’m doing the same thing, a bit lighter skin, more hair.
Nobody likes a guy who dicks around and doesn’t get to the point, and I’m really tired, so let’s get this going.
1. NY Giants
Your NFC East champion, by default….the New York Giiiiiiiants! I had the Cowboys here pre Romo injury and even then I was thinking “man this division sucks”. Now, I REALLY think this division sucks! The Giants should benefit from the coaching change, the D and O-line should be improved, JPP won’t be the distraction he was last season, and Eli Manning is still capable of being a top 10 QB. I’m not saying he is that consistently (obviously), but he does still have the ability when he has time to throw the ball.
I kind of feel dumb having them 2nd, because even when Romo does return, how can you trust him anymore? He’s pure glass. And I’m sorry, but I don’t believe Dak Prescott is some amazing revelation. I think he’ll be a solid backup in his career, but I can’t see him being anything more than that. HAVING SAID THAT…I do believe with their schedule having some cupcakes in the first 9 weeks that 4-4 is doable for the rookie. And maybe Romo will be back before week 9, but you have to go worst case scenario. But even if Prescott is the real deal, that D still has to get off the field and that may not happen.
The default champions of the NFC East from last season I don’t think will repeat. They weren’t a good team, Kirk Cousins wasn’t that great of a QB, and I don’t think they’re that much improved. Josh Norman might be a bit of an upgrade in the secondary, but if he was THAT good the Panthers wouldn’t have let him go. Many will now have them repeating as division champs, but they were lucky to be that last season and I just don’t see them getting that lucky two years in a row.
They bent the Vikings over big time in the Sam Bradford deal, but I think it’s an awful mistake to start Carsen Wentz in week 1 like they’re going to do. Why in the hell did they give Chase Daniel all that money if the plan was for him to be the 3rd string guy?! It worked out, because they got a 1st and a 4th out of doing it (in a way), and they have a great plan B, but make no mistake this organization had zero clue what they were doing to end up in this scenario. They just threw shit against the wall, and it looks like it’ll stick. I liked the Doug Pederson hiring, but it’s a rebuild in Philly.
1. Green Bay
Well with Bridgewater out, and me not being anything of a Sam Bradford guy, the Pack should win this division with relative ease in my mind. Jordy Nelson being back is huge, but I don’t know how that D is going to hold up, as normally seems to be the question in Wisconsin.
There are always teams who come out of nowhere to make noise. Everyone always picks the same teams to do that, and then it isn’t a surprise, and we’re never right about it. Well nobody is liking the Bears to do anything this season, but I think they could make some noise. For all the flack Cutler gets, he’s capable of being a high end QB at times, he’ll have rookie WR Kevin White at his disposal this season, and John Fox is a very competent head coach. Just saying…keep an eye on them. With no Teddy Bridgewater, this division got a lot weaker.
I wasn’t buying all the hype last season, but I was wrong and the hype was right. If not for a nightmare of a missed chip shot from Blair Walsh, who knows how far this team may have gone. Likely only to the next weekend which would have been against the Cards, but you never know. But now they have no Teddy Bridgewater, and made what’ll likely go down as one of the worst trades in NFL history for Sam Bradford. People are now trying to go the other way (as I usually do) on this deal and defend it. Colin Cowherd whose opinion I respect as much as anyone’s is leading that charge. I don’t see it. I saw Bradford struggle in a Chip Kelly offense. Not seeing many QB’s do that! Yes his numbers looked solid at the end of the season, but it was because that system makes everyone’s numbers look good!! How have we not learned this yet?! The Vikings organization is very solid, but they got fleeced and I don’t think Bradford makes them much better than Shaun Hill.
Feel bad for Lions fans. Things were looking so good just two seasons ago, and now Suh is gone, Johnson is gone, and it’s all on Matthew Stafford’s shoulders. I don’t think they’ll be awful, and I actually believe Stafford is going to have a much better season than most expect. But they’re in a bit of a rebuild yet again.
The offense was virtually unstoppable without Kelvin Benjamin. Now he’s back, not to mention Devin Fuchness is a year older. By that logic, Cam Newton should repeat as league MVP, and this team should go 14-2 or 15-1 again. But I wonder if ego won’t creep into the locker room a little bit. It usually does with teams like this. But that doesn’t mean I think they aren’t winning the division. No, they’ll still win the division and likely be the top seed in the NFC again. I just expect them to do that going 12-4 or 13-3 this time around. It will be tough to bounce back from a crushing loss in the Super Bowl though.
2. Tampa Bay
This is basically all about Jameis Winston. I said it before the draft, this kid is the exception to the rule and in his first season he looked just like that. He is that extremely rare kid who is brilliant and stupid all at the same time. He makes some really dumb decisions off the field, but on the field the kid shows just how intelligent he really is. And to go with that talent he is a great leader, has good size, a great arm, great footwork, simply everything you want in a franchise QB. I think he’s going to make a major mark on the league this season, and in doing so he’ll drag the Bucs into playoff contention.
3. New Orleans
This team is really in no man’s land. Drew Brees isn’t what he was, I’m a big Sean Payton guy but it really feels like a change is needed both for him and the team, and that D is still pretty weak. Brees and Payton should get them to 7-9 or 8-8, but they can’t elevate the rest of the average roster like they could 5 years ago.
I don’t really dislike the Falcons at all, but I just see them as the worst team in this division, which now might be the best division in the NFC, at least 1-4. They’ve built it all wrong around Matt Ryan. He isn’t one of those QB’s that you just try to out score everyone with. He needs a running game, he needs protection and he needs stops on D. Every QB does, but in a cap word you can’t have everything. Until the Falcons put more around him, I can’t see him being able to drag them back to the playoffs.
I think this team is just too talented and too well coached to not finish 1st in the division despite the Seahawks being a beast of a team. This is likely the most complete team in the NFL. The only question they have is whether or not Carson Palmer can get it done when it matters most. He was pretty shaky against the Packers in the playoffs, and then of course he and the team imploded against the Panthers in the NFC title game. But for right now, this is about the regular season. Tyrann Mathieu is healthy and Chandler Jones joining that defense is a scary thought and may allow a guy like Palmer to play a similar role to that of Peyton Manning in 2015.
I was really tempted to put the Seahawks 1st in the division, mainly due to how they ended last season. They discovered that Russell Wilson is amazing. I know they knew he was really good, but they finally took the kid gloves off and what do you know, he was incredible. And while that D isn’t what it was, they’re still damn good and capable of shutting anyone down. The running game is obviously the big question mark here, but if they’re at least competent this squad is capable of winning another Super Bowl.
3. Los Angeles
I had this as St. Louis, glad I caught that mistake! The Rams are back in L.A. but I don’t think that’ll change much of what they’ve been. Jared Goff isn’t going to change anything this season, and as of writing this they have him 3rd on the depth chart (as he should be, they’re being a lot more intelligent with him than the Eagles are with Wentz, and Goff is the more ready of the two). That D is real good, don’t sleep on the impact Todd Gurley could have this season, but with Case Keenum as their starting QB I just don’t see them winning anymore than seven games for the 5th time in 7 years.
4. San Francisco
Do not sleep on this team being…respectable. Most thing they’ll be a tire fire again. Chip Kelly is a massive upgrade over Jim Tomsula, and in a coaches league that is a big deal. I know, Blaine Gabbert was a total bust in Jacksonville. But he looked OK last season, and that was under Tomsula! Other than Sam Bradford, Kelly has made a lot of average QB’s look phenomenal in his three seasons in the league. Still a lot of talent on this roster too. If you’re looking for a deep darkhorse to make the playoffs this season, you might want to look at the Niners. Having said this, logic says they’ll finish no higher than 3rd in this division, and likely 4th.
1. New England
It is the biggest lock in all of sports that the Pats will win the AFC East. Even when Tom Brady rides off into the sunset I’m not sure it’ll change that fact. Speaking of him, did you hear he got suspended for deflating balls? Likely not. So Jimmy G goes in the first four games and after seeing the Cardinals on Sunday night, the next three games are all at home and winnable. So…nothing changes. I bet Garoppolo goes 2-2 for sure, and maybe 3-1. The D should be at least as good even without Chandler Jones, and that is always the key to the Pats winning a Super Bowl. when their D is great, they win.
2. NY Jets
This team is pretty loaded everywhere, except QB. And have you noticed how much I’ve talked about everyone’s quarterbacks and virtually nothing else?? That isn’t by mistake, that isn’t me not knowing the rest of the rosters. It is VITAL. I don’t see Ryan Fitzpatrick giving them the type of season he did last year, which wasn’t good enough to get the Jets in the playoffs. They’ll be a total bitch to play, and Todd Bowles is a great coach, but I think they just miss the playoffs yet again.
This is another team that is getting ZERO attention either way, and have some of the pieces to sneak up on people. Adam Gase in as head coach seems like a good hire, but then again Joe Philbin seemed like a good hire. Ryan Tannehill…I’m not a believer, but he hasn’t been awful either so perhaps if the mix is right he can emerge. The D is pretty good, and Ndamukong Suh actually had a real good season last year despite popular belief that he was another Albert Haynesworth. I got them 3rd, but for me they’re the AFC version of the Bears. I don’t THINK they’ll be much different, but just keep your eye on them.
They have much more talent than the Dolphins, but it feels like a mess is going on in Buffalo. Rex Ryan is not a good head coach, but his players will go through a wall for him. The Tyrod Taylor extension was absurd. I’m not a big believer in the kid, I just think he was competent for them. He isn’t a guy who is going to lead the Bills to anything, and those are the QB’s you want. This organization hasn’t known how to get it right at quarterback since the Doug Flutie disaster. That D is elite though with Marcell Dareus out the first four games it’ll leave a big hole. The running game is solid although no more Karlos Williams. I just think this season has big potential to go off the rails in a hurry for the Bills.
Why fight it? I don’t like this team at all, but they’re elite…at least in the regular season. Marvin Lewis is a very solid coach, Andy Dalton can’t get it done in big spots but he wins in the regular season, and that D gets overlooked a lot when it comes to the top units in the league. As we saw in January, they can’t keep their heads when they need to. But in the regular season, they’re fine. It’s a bit of a joke to me that people don’t think they’ll win this division again.
This isn’t Chuck Noll or Bill Cowher’s Steelers that’s for sure. This team will put up a ton of points. Ben Roethlisberger is among the elite QB’s in the NFL, Antonio Brown is one of the top WR’s in the game, and when he returns from suspension Le’veon Bell is one of the top RB’s in the game. That’s a great trio. But the key word with Bell is suspension, as it is with Martavis Bryant who is out of the season. Also, that secondary is BRUTAL. So they’re really talented, but really flawed. They’ll be a lot of fun to watch!
I picked them to go to the Super Bowl last season…OOOOOOOOOPPPPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Man, EVERYTHING went wrong for this squad. Joe Flacco was awful, Steve Smith got hurt (and he was the one guy they couldn’t have go down), 1st round pick Breshard Perriman was out of the season, it was just horrendous. It shouldn’t be this bad again this season. John Harbaugh is a real good head coach, and Flacco is a solid QB. So right there that should get them to 7-9. But I think they’re too flawed and not talented enough to overcome those flaws like the Steelers might be.
It just never ends being horrific for the Browns. I really wish they could turn it around at some point. I liked the Hugh Jackson hiring a lot. But then I hated the trade down with the Eagles. This is a team that desperately needed a kid like Carson Wentz. Still could have had RGIII to bridge the gap and buy Wentz a season or two on the bench. They draft awful, they sign awful, they hire awful, they’re just AWFUL.
If Andrew Luck stays healthy, they win this division. This team is flawed, and they seem to be a total shit show in the front office. But Andrew Luck is an elite QB and that can fix a ton of flaws. He is great, and he has a lot of good weapons to play with at wideout. The O-line still isn’t great, and the defense still isn’t great. But with him at QB, and in this division, I still like the Colts to win the division and put up a 10-6 type season.
I think this team has maybe found an identity with this running game. DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, Marcus Mariota and a very talented O-line. This team will be able to really run the football. Rookie Tajae Sharpe looks like he could have been a major steal for them in the 1st round. I’m not a Mike Mularky fan at all, but I think he’s good enough to get this situation turned around. This is a bit of a shock pick putting them 2nd, but I’m not real high on the division.
I haven’t been as big on the Texans as a lot of people the last few seasons, and I’ve been wrong. But I’m sticking to my guns. I’m not at all high on Brock Osweiler, and so they have to live off their D yet again. And that D is going to get old one of these days and it could be soon. Lamar Miller should be a solid RB for them, but he’s not anything special. So to sum up, I expect them to fall back to being a 7-9 type of team.
On paper I originally liked this team to make a big jump up this season and challenge the Colts for the division title believe it or not. The talent they’ve now amassed is ridiculous. Yet they still look like shit. I’m starting to think that Gus Bradley isn’t the right coach for this team, and while Blake Bortles is real good, he isn’t a culture changing type of guy like say Kurt Warner was in St.Louis and Arizona.
1. Kansas City
So I had this as the Raiders since about the draft. I LOVE the Raiders this season. But let’s think about this logically, shall we? The Chiefs played the Pats tough in New England in the playoffs. This was after they rattled off 11 straight wins. 11 straight. And yet this team is getting pissed on entering this season. Well, maybe not pissed on, but not getting the love they deserve. Where have they downgraded? Yeah Alex Smith isn’t sexy, but he can win. Their D is elite, their run game is elite, their coaching is elite. Chiefs are going to win the division.
It’s going to be a massive step forward this season, but it’s just a matter of how big. I think 9-7 or 10-6, and the playoffs are a real possibility. It’s great to see because this franchise has been down and out for SO FREAKING LONG. It is one of the most iconic organizations in sports, and the NFL is better when the Raiders are good. I love Derek Carr, and I love him more with Amari Cooper at his disposal, and I love him still more with one of the best offensive lines in football protecting him. And then how can anyone not love Khalil Mack? The guy is an elite LB, and he’ll be in the discussion for defensive player of the year. They’re really talented, and going to be a Super Bowl contender shortly.
“Peyton Manning sucked and got the Broncos a Super Bowl so anyone can do it.” Nope. Just you watch, Manning had a MUCH bigger impact on that team then a lot of people are giving credit for. He’s an elite leader who was able to check his ego at the door and let that defense win games (though it took him until week 17 to figure it out). Trevor Siemian is going to be eaten alive. I do think this roster is talented enough to get them to .500, but nothing more.
4. San Diego
Sports Illustrated has them making the playoffs (at least Greg Bedard does), but I just don’t see it. If Melvin Gordon can emerge as a top 10 running back in the league, and Joey Bosa has a big rookie season, then perhaps they can make some noise. But there are just far too many question marks with this team, and I think the threat of moving is going to be a massive distraction for this team.
NFC Wildcard Winners
Seattle – Hands down if they aren’t winning the division then they’re winning a wildcard spot.
Chicago – Yep. It’s REALLY off the board, and I’ll very likely end up looking like a moron in saying this, but someone has to come out of nowhere so why not a team with a good coach, talented QB and some real good young talent?
AFC Wildcard Winners
Oakland – As I said, I love them like most others do this season. It’ll be a big disappointment at this point if they don’t make the playoffs.
Pittsburgh – A lot of people have them winning the North, but with the suspensions and the secondary, they just seem too flawed to win the division. A wildcard spot though is within reach.
NFC Title Game
Seattle at Carolina
While I don’t like the Seahawks to win the division, I do like them to advance further than the Cards and get to the NFC title game to face the defending NFC champs. Panthers prove to be too much for the Seahawks in the end.
AFC Title Game
Oakland at New England
I didn’t have the Raiders winning the division, but I have to have them doing something big! I just think they are built to be a great playoff team. Talented QB, great offensive line and what should be a damn good defense. That’s a great mix to win when it matters. But they won’t go any further than this, and the Pats go back to yet another Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LI
Carolina vs New England
In what SHOULD be Tom Brady’s final Super Bowl appearance, they meet the Panthers. Both teams looking for redemption all season. Brady in regards to deflate gate (I despise that name), and the Panthers looking to avenge their disappointing Super Bowl 50 performance. I would likely pull for the Pats in this one, but this time around I think Cam Newton gets it done in the big game.
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