NFL Preview

By kaplanssportstory
Aug. 10, 2017

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

With less than one month to go, the New England Patriots will open the NFL season against the Kansas City Chiefs. Once again New England will have a target on their back. Can anyone dethrone the Patriots in the AFC or will some in the NFC have to do that? Super Bowl LII will take place in Minnesota.

Rookies look to make a name for themselves in the NFL. Some players will have a chip on their shoulder this season like Le'Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, Kirk Cousins, and Jared Goff.

The Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, and Miami Dolphins were surprises last season in the NFL. Who will be this season's surprises? The Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, and Indianapolis Colts were disappointments last season in the NFL. Who will be this season's disappointments?

NFC East: 1. New York Giants (12-4): This might be the Giants best team since they won Super Bowl XLVI. Eli Manning will have a very dangerous receiver core to throw to in Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard. Manning even might have a dangerous fourth option by mid-season in rookie tight end Evan Engram. The offensive line will get better as the season goes on. Landon Collins emerged as a superstar on defense last season. They could also have one of the most dangerous pass rushes in the NFL.

2. Dallas Cowboys (10-6): Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott took the Cowboys and the league by storm last season. They lost in the second round to Green Bay last season. The defense played better than expected. Will Elliott be suspended for his off the field issues or will be able to play all 16 games? I don't expect any sophomore slumps for the both of them. However, too many guys on defense are suspended for them though.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): Carson Wentz played well as a rookie last season and he looks to take a step forward in his second season. The defense got better in the offseason, but they have to go up against the Giants, Cowboys, and Redskins offense two times each. The Eagles biggest concern is how healthy will their offensive line be.

4. Washington Redskins (8-8): Kirk Cousins will have plenty of options to throw the ball to. The issue with the Redskins is both the offensive and defensive line. One week they could be solid and another week they could be way off. As for the Redskins defense, the secondary is a major concern after Josh Norman at corner. They have talent to win games, Washington doesn't have enough to make the playoffs.

NFC South: 1. New Orleans Saints (11-5): The Saints haven't made the playoffs the past two seasons and they will break out of that slump this season. The Saints schedule isn't all that difficult. Drew Brees won't have to throw the ball as often this season with having a possible three-headed monster backfield in Adrian Peteson, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara. I don't think losing Brandin Cooks is a big deal for the Saints. In ways, it might be a good thing. Michael Thomas broke out at wide receiver last season and he was way more consistent than Cooks was. I think the defense will be more physical as well.

2. Atlanta Falcons (9-7): Could the Falcons have a superbowl hangover after blowing a 28-3 lead? They may, but their offense is high powered enough to win them enough ball games to possibly get them back to the postseason.

3. Carolina Panthers (9-7): This a big season for the Panthers to prove themselves that last season was a fluke and nothing else. Cam Newton needs to bounce back in a big way. Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel will upgrade the offense in a big way. Can the defense sustain losing Kony Ealy in a trade to the New England Patriots?

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): The Buccaneers made positive strides last season especially on the offensive side of the ball. Jameis Winston could maybe break out into an MVP candidate in 2017. He has Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate to throw to. The issue with the Buccaneers is their running game and defense.

NFC North: 1. Green Bay Packers (10-6): Aaron Rodgers will probably single handedly carry the Packers into the playoffs once again. They could have possibly the worst defense in the NFL this season. The Packers will win the division because the Vikings, Lions, and Bears have there issues.

2. Minnesota Vikings (7-9): It is unknown whether Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater will be the starting quarterback in 2017. They started well last season but they faded. The defense was on the field a lot because the offense struggled to score. If the offense struggles, it won't be a good thing for the Vikings. Also the post Adrian Peterson era begins with Dalvin Cook at running back.

3. Detroit Lions (4-12): Matthew Stafford was one of the main reasons why the Lions made the playoffs last season. The post Calvin Johnson era began and it actually wasn't that bad. The issue is the Lions lost key players and at some point Matthew Stafford can't do it all for them.

4. Chicago Bears (4-12): Mike Glennon will finally get his shot as a starter, but that doesn't mean rookie Mitch Trubisky can steal it in a heartbeat. They don't have the greatest receiving core in the world, but they have a bunch of solid second and third receivers in Victor Cruz, Markus Wheaton, and Kendall Wright. Jordan Howard will be a solid running back for them once again this season. The Bears defense is average at best.

NFC West: 1. Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Carson Palmer had a rough season in 2016. I expect him to bounce back in 2017. This is last chance to win it a championship. Larry Fitzgerald was supposed to retire after last season, but he decided to come back for another season. David Johnson is the freakiest running back in the NFL. He can catch run the ball and catch it with ease. The defense is bound to bounce back.

2. Seattle Seahawks (9-7): There was some offseason turmoil in Seattle and how will it translate on the field this season? Eddie Lacy will help them in the backfield, but he can't seem to stay healthy. The offensive line isn't that great and the defense isn't what it used to be. They will compete for a playoff, but it will be questionable if they make it.

3. San Francisco 49ers (4-12): The 49ers were bad last season, but they won't be much better in 2017. There won't be any Kaepernick distractions for them anymore. Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley will be the starting quarterback for them this season. Carlos Hyde is one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL. Rookies Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster will make an immediate impact on defense for them.

4. Los Angeles Rams (3-13): The Rams had one of the worse offenses in the NFL last season. With a new head coach that is offensive minded, can it get any worse? I don't think it can but it will all be up to Jared Goff. Todd Gurley is also due for a bounce back season. Aaron Donald will be a possible defensive player of the year candidate.

AFC East: 1. New England Patriots (12-4): Whoever says the Patriots will go 16-0 need to relax a little bit. They are a very good football team and are the defending champs for a reason, but there schedule won't allow them to go undefeated. They have to travel to Pittsburgh, Denver, Oakland, Buffalo, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay. They could very well lose three to four of those games. Tom Brady is 40 years old and he will still play at an elite level. However, I don't know if the Cooks trade and signing Stephon Gilmore will be all that great.

2. Buffalo Bills (10-6): The Bills will be majorly improved in 2017. They signed Anquan Boldin and will compete for a playoff spot. LeSean McCoy is also one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL. The defense will be more disciplined because the Ryan brothers are now gone and not coaching them.

3. Miami Dolphins (5-11): Adam Gase was one of the reasons why the Dolphins made the playoffs in 2016, but they will take a step back in 2017. Jay Ajayi is the most inconsistent running back in the NFL and it will cost him his starting job at some point. Jay Cutler will be the starter because of Ryan Tannehill get hurt. However, I expect Jarvis Landry to have a better season at wide receiver. The defense will also be very inconsistent.

4. New York Jets (1-15): They could be the worst team in the NFL this season. Quincy Enunwa was injured in training camp and he is out for the season. The receiving core could be the worst in the NFL. The Jets offense could be a stale mate all season long. The only talent this team has is its defensive line.

AFC South: 1. Tennessee Titans (12-4): Marcus Mariota could break out into an MVP candidate in 2017. Corey Davis, Eric Decker, and Rishard Matthews will be a solid receiving core to throw to and also Delaine Walker at tight end will be a reliable option for Mariota. They also have one of the best offensive lines in the league and that sets up DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to have success on the ground. The front seven will be solid on defense, but the secondary will make it or break it for the Titans in 2017.

2. Houston Texans (11-5): DeShaun Watson should be the Texans starter in 2017. Will Fuller being injured will hurt them in the passing game, but DeAndre Hopkins will be just fine. Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue will be solid running back options, but D'Onta Foreman could break out. The Texans defense could be one of the best in the NFL this season.

3. Indianapolis Colts (5-11): Chuck Pagano might be on the hot seat this for the Colts. It is questionable whether Andrew Luck is ready to start the season or not with a shoulder injury. If he isn't ready, it will spell trouble early for them. Scott Tolzien isn't the answer at quarterback and Colin Kaepernick would be a better answer for them, but it is obvious no one wants him. Also the running back and offensive line isn't strong once again. The defense is average at best.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): Blake Bortles will probably hold the Jaguars back once again this season. Leonard Fournette might struggle in his rookie season at running back. The defense has the potential to be good, but it might be on the field too much.

AFC North: 1. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): The Steelers could have one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL this season. Le'Veon Bell is a work horse in the backfield. If Martavis Bryant is reinstated in time for week one, teams can't afford to double team Antonio Brown and it will make their offense even more dangerous. Eli Rogers and/or JuJu Smith-Schuster will also add talented depth to the Steelers receiving core. The Steelers front seven will create havoc. It will be there secondary that makes or breaks this defense.

2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7): If Joe Flacco isn't healthy, the Ravens could be in for a tough season. They don't have the greatest depth on offense in the world to begin with. Justin Tucker and their defense will single handedly win them many games, but not enough to make the postseason.

3. Cleveland Browns (6-10): The Browns only won one game last season, but they will be surprisingly competitive and pull out more victories in 2017. Cleveland will either start Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer, or Brock Osweiler at quarterback. They will be an upgrade from Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. The Browns retooled their offensive line. Rookie Myles Garrett could be turning heads on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary is solid too.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (5-11): The Bengals will be undisciplined once again in 2017 under Marvin Lewis. Vontze Burfict always seems to cause chaos to this team. At some point it won't be tolerated. Andy Dalton might have another rough season. Joe Mixon might actually win the starting running back job over Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard.

AFC West: 1. Oakland Raiders (12-4): Derek Carr is on a mission this season for the Raiders. They want to show the rest of the AFC that if Carr didn't get injured last season they would have won the AFC. Oakland has one of the most underrated receiving cores in the NFL in Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Seth Roberts. Beast mode returns this season at running back and it will help the Raiders offense. Khalil Mack can make a game changing play at any moment for the Raiders defense. The secondary will be better as well this season.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): The Chiefs have been solid ever since Jamaal Charles got injured a couple of seasons ago. Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West have been solid running backs. Tyreek Hill can score from anywhere on the field whether it's special teams, running the ball, or catching the ball. Travis Kelce will be a solid target for Alex Smith once again this season. The defense will be ball hawking.

3. Denver Broncos (10-6) Trevor Siemian played well in his first year as a starter last season. He has room to improve in his second season, but it will be up to the offensive line to protect him. Denver's running backs can never seem to stay healthy. DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders is one of the most electrifying receiving cores in the NFL. Von Miller can change the game for the Broncos defense at any moment and they have one of the best secondaries in the NFL.

4. Los Angeles Chargers (6-10): Phillip Rivers isn't getting younger and his receivers seem to get injured. He will have one of the top tight end targets to throw to this season in Hunter Henry. The Chargers defense is a concern other than Joey Bosa.

Playoffs: AFC Wild Card: (3) New England Patriots over (6) Houston Texans and (4) Tennessee Titans over (5) Kansas City Chiefs.

NFC Wild Card: (3) Arizona Cardinals over (6) Atlanta Falcons and (5) Dallas Cowboys over (4) Green Bay Packers.

AFC Divisional Round: (1) Pittsburgh Steelers over (4) Tennessee Titans and (2) Oakland Raiders over (3) New England Patriots.

NFC Divisional Round: (1) New York Giants over (5) Dallas Cowboys and (2) New Orleans Saints over (3) Arizona Cardinals.

AFC Championship: (2) Oakland Raiders over (1) Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFC Championship: (1) New York Giants over (2) New Orleans Saints.

Super Bowl LII: (1) New York Giants over (2) Oakland Raiders.