By Allan Erickson
Welcome all-the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here- Football season! For this post, I will predict division champions, as well as wildcard spots in the NFC and AFC, and the records of all 32 teams for the upcoming season.
We’ll start with the AFC West
Winner- Oakland Raiders: 12-4
If Derek Carr returns 100% and plays at the same level he did last season, the Raiders will win this division. I expect Carr won’t miss a beat, and the Raiders will get the #3 seed in the AFC. Oakland has 3 of their first 4 games on the road, and if they can get through that stretch, they will march to the division crown.
Kansas City Chiefs: 11-5 (Wildcard 1)
Say what you will about Alex Smith, but he will never be responsible for a loss. That being said, Kansas City’s defense and running game will lead them to another postseason birth. With explosive second-year player Tyreek Hill, a dynamic playmaker at tight end in Travis Kelce, and a three-headed monster led by Spencer Ware, the Chiefs have plenty of weapons, and the most responsible quarterback in the league. Look for them to make a run at Oakland, en route to a wild card birth.
Denver Broncos: 10-6
The defense that carried a half-decent Peyton Manning to a Super Bowl is still largely in tact. It will be tough to score on this team, but with a huge question mark at quarterback, the Broncos miss the playoffs this season.
Los Angeles Chargers: 6-10
Poor guys- Phillip Rivers is still a great quarterback, Melvin Gordon had an outstanding sophomore season last year, and Keenan Allen and Mike Williams could be a dynamic duo at wide receiver (barring Mike Williams’ injury status.) This team could surprise a lot of people, but I don’t think the Chargers will make too much noise this season.
Winner- Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6
LeVeon Bell holding out is a story, but not a big one. Rookie running back James a Conner is making noise in camp, and the Steelers still have the biggest plethora of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Antonio Brown is the best in the business, Martavius Bryant should see a full season, and a good opportunity to become the number 2 guy for Big Ben. Eli Rodgers emerged as a solid slot receiver last season, and Jesse James came into his own at tight end. This team will be exciting, as always, and will win the AFC North yet again.
Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7
The Bengals will have a dynamic offense, with rookie Joe Mixon thrown in with AJ Green, Gio Bernard, and Jeremy Hill. That being said, the Bengals are aging, Andy Dalton is far from elite, and the defense isn’t getting any younger. Another missed postseason for Marvin Lewis, will leave him jobless at the end of the season.
Baltimore Ravens: 9-7
I’ll just say that Joe Flacco is the most over-payed player in all of professional sports. Overrated, not a fan, don’t see them making much noise this year.
Cleveland Browns: 4-12
No comment necessary.
Winner- Tennessee Titans: 11-5
Marcus Mariota comes back strong, rookie wide receiver Corey Davis adds a speedster to the receiving core, and perhaps the best 1-2 punch in the NFL with running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, the Titans run through this division.
Wildcard 2- Indianapolis Colts: 10-6
Hopefully the Colts can figure out a way to stop someone on the defensive side of the ball. Offense is not the problem. Ancient running back Frank Gore still puts up solid numbers, Luck to TY Hilton is a deadly combination, and Moncreif on the other side makes plenty of weapons on offense, the only problem- they can’t stop anyone. Still, this division is weak, and based on a relatively easy schedule, I see Indy back in the postseason.
Houston Texans: 7-9
JJ Watt will return to defensive player of the year form, and Clowney will continue to develop into a great pass rusher. Their problem is the exact opposite of Indianapolis. Lamar Miller and Deandre Hopkins are terrific players, but the quarterback situation in Houston is like trying to actually keep up with the Kardashians. Nobody knows who it will be week 1, or week 5, for that matter. This team is a steady starting quarterback away from being a contender.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-12
Leonard Fournette will add a presence in the backfield, the defense is much improved, but Blake Bortles is the most inconsistent starting quarterback in the NFL, and nobody knows what you’re going to get. It won’t be a good year for the Jaguars.
Winner- New England Patriots: 13-3
Tom still playing? Enough said. (PS, I’m a Tom Brady hater.)
Buffalo Bills: 9-7
Where will the quarterback carousel land in Buffalo? Who knows? But with Shady McCoy and Sammy Watkins, this team should be solid on offense, good enough for 2nd place in the east.
Miami Dolphins: 7-9
So many weapons on offense, Ajayi, Landry, Clay, but the mediocrity at quarterback sets this team back at least another year.
NY Jets: 5-11
Todd Bowels was an excellent coordinator, however he hasn’t panned out as a head coach. Hackenberg and Brice Petty competing for the starting job at quarterback? Doesn’t look too good for the J.E.T.S. Jets Jets Jets
Time for the NFC:
Winner- New York Giants: 11-5
I know, I know, what about the Cowboys? Stop it. The Giants are the more experienced team, and the better team on defense. Eli will have a solid year, and the defense will win the Giants this division.
Wildcard 1- Dallas Cowboys: 10-6
Here, happy now? I believe in what the Cowboys have done, building a good team starts with hogmollies up front, and Dallas has the best offensive line in the NFL, paving the way for Dak and Zeke to have great sophomore seasons.
Washington Redskins: 9-7
Kirk Cousins will leave the Redskins after they low-balled him two years in a row with the franchise tag. His likely destination is San Francisco, and the Redskins will be in trouble. Though the addition of Tyrelle Pryor was nice, the skins lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, and that isn’t good for Washington.
Philadelphia Eagles: 8-8
As much as I like Wentz, I feel a drop off in production for his second season. He will throw a few more interceptions, and go through some growing pains this season. But look out, this team could be dangerous, with the addition of Alshon Jeffery.
Winner- Seattle Seahawks: 12-4
The Legion of Boom is back with a vengeance. Russell Wilson will play at an MVP level, and the Seahawks will run away from the lack of competition in the west.
Arizona Cardinals: 9-7
It’s almost time for Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald to retire, they compete for a wild card spot with the help of David Johnson, but not quite enough to make the playoffs.
Los Angeles Rams: 6-10
Somehow, the Rams will start Jared Goff at quarterback, and still aren’t the worst team in this division.
San Francisco 49ers: 4-12
Relax, Niner fans, your franchise quarterback is coming, just not until 2018… one more year in the cellar.
Winner- Green Bay Packers: 12-4
Aaron Rodgers, plain and simple.
Detroit Lions: 9-7
Stafford continues to put up solid numbers. Golden Tate is a solid number 1 option for Stafford, and the defense is close to being a force. They need a few more weapons on offense, but they better do it quickly, because Stafford isn’t getting any younger.
Minnesota Vikings: 9-7
Defense will not be the problem. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook should help relieve some pressure from whoever is taking snaps at quarterback for the Vikings. Bradford was up and down last year, Teddy Bridgewater may or may not suit up this season. There’s just too many unknowns for me to believe in this offense.
Chicago Bears: 3-13
The Bears will start the season with overhyped NC State alumni Mike Glennon, he’ll start 0-6, get benched for Mark Sanchez, who will go 0-5, who will then get replaced by #2 overall pick and UNC alumni Mitch Trubisky, who will finish the season 3-2, becoming the face of the franchise for the Bears! (Is my affiliation and love for thyou Tar Heels showing?)
NFC South- THIS HURTS
Winner- Atlanta Falcons: 11-5
So many weapons on offense with Matty Ice, Julio, Freeman, Coleman, and Gabriel, the defense is playing Dan Quinn type football, forcing turnovers, getting after the quarterback, Falcons repeat as NFC South champs.
Wildcard 2- Carolina Panthers: 10-6
The Panthers will get back to their winning ways in 2017. With all of the chatter coming out of camp about how good Christian McAfferey should be, it’s looking like the Panthers made a great pick in the first round. Stewart, Olsen, Benjamin, Funchess, and newcomer Curtis Samuel make this team dynamic on offense. Luke, Thomas Davis, Kawaan Short, Charles Johnson, Kurt Coleman, and the continued development of the young secondary, welcome back to the postseason, Carolina.
Tampa Bay Bucs: 9-7
This team is CLOSE. On the verge of breaking through and being a true contender, next year they make a run, just not this season.
New Orleans Saints: 7-9
Poor Drew Brees, this guy will go down as one of the greatest to ever do it, (as much as I don’t like him.) It’s time, however, for the Sean Peyton era to end in New Orleans. Tough division, the Saints dwell in the bottom of it, this season.
These are my predictions for the 2017 NFL season, share and comment with what you think is coming up. We’ve made it to football!!!!!!!