Tomorrow, September 8, 2016, starts the brand new season for the NFL. The defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos open the season against the team they defeated in Super Bowl 50, the Carolina Panthers. This should be a fascinating game. Will Panthers Cam Newton choke again, and pout after the game? Will Denver’s defense be as good as last year? The Broncos are handing over the team to rookie QB Trevor Siemian, who’s never thrown a pass in the NFL. This should be very interesting. I think the Broncos take it, by a score of 24-10.
I normally would be very excited about the new season, but not this year. Unless you have been living under a rock, QB Tom Brady of the New England Patriots started his 4 game suspension for his alleged role in Deflategate, the dumbest sports scandal ever. I am absolutely disgusted. For nearly two years, the NFL pursued Brady over such a minor infraction. I thought I was observing a real life version of Les Miserables. This suspension is a travesty.
The purpose of this blog is to preview the upcoming 2016-17 NFL season. I will give you my playoff teams, and Super Bowl LI pick. Hope you enjoy the blog.
American Football Conference
Analysis: Can Brady’s suspension open up the Division for the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and the Buffalo Bills? If backup QB Jimmy Garappolo struggles, and costs the Patriots games, yes. Since Tom Brady will regain his starting job Week 5, I don’t think so. Brady will be playing with a huge chip on his shoulder. Bill Belichick hasn’t forgotten how to coach, and this Patriots defense has the look of something special. That’s bad news for the division, and for the NFL. The Bills are dealing with a desperate head coach, and suspensions of their own. The Miami Dolphins have yet, another new coach. QB Ryan Tannehill better improve under new coach, Adam Gase. New York Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has “bet on himself,” but in all the years he’s been in the NFL, he’s never lead a team to the playoffs. I wouldn’t bet on him to do that this year, either, based upon his past performances.
- New England Patriots: 12-4
- New York Jets: 8-8
- Miami Dolphins: 7-9
- Buffalo Bills: 6-10
Analysis: This division is ggoing to be hard to handicap. The Indianapolis Colts made QB Andrew Luck the highest paid QB in the NFL. The Houston Texans paid former Denver QB Brock Osweiler $78 Million. The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans both improved their rosters. In my opinion, the Texans look really good, even though I am not sold on Osweiller. Fortunately, star defender J.J. Watt will be available Week 1, so that will boost their defense. The Jags have improved, but they need to stop falling behind by 20 points. I think the Colts will return to the playoffs, but Luck has to play better, and slide. That offensive line must be fixed.
- Houston Texans: 11-5
- Indianapolis Colts: 10-6
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 9-7
- Tennessee Titans: 8-8
Analysis: This will be a very interesting divisional battle between the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs, and according to several experts, the Oakland Raiders. The Oakland Raiders are what we horse racing fans would call the “Wise Guy horse,” or in this case, team. In other words, the Raiders appear to be the team picked by the experts to come up big this year. All three looked pretty good this preseason. I was very impressed with the Chiefs. I expect the Denver defense to once again carry the team. They do have a rookie QB, so I expect some growing pains. The Chargers are a mess. QB Philip Rivers is awesome, but the uncertainty of the future location of the team will hover over them.
- Denver Broncos: 11-5
- Kansas City Chiefs: 10-6
- Oakland Raiders: 9-7
- San Diego Chargers: 7-9
Analysis: This is the hard knocking division, literally. Can the Baltimore Ravens rebound after a disastrous season last year? Can the Cincinnati Bengals finally make the playoffs? Can the Pittsburgh Steelers keep QB Ben Roethlisberger upright? Can the Bengals AND the Steelers BEHAVE when they play each other? Can the Cleveland Browns win a few games for new coach Hue Jackson? Can Robert Griffin, III and Ben Roethlisberger both stay healthy for their respective teams? Can Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell stay off the weed? We shall see.
The Ravens looked like their old selves, especially on defense, this preseason. QB Joe Flacco is coming off a torn ACL, so we will see how much his mobility will be limited. The Steelers look very good on offense in the third preseason game. Their defense is up and down, and their backup QB situation is not all that great. The Bengals look to have another fantastic season, but they have to shake that playoff bugaboo. The Browns are the Browns.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5
- Cincinnati Bengals: 10-6
- Baltimore Ravens: 7-9
- Cleveland Browns: 5-11
National Football Conference
Analysis: This is the most enjoyable division to analyze. There is so much drama amongst these four Drama Queens, it’s not funny. We have Washington, with their offensive name. They couldn’t even make a long term deal with Kirk Cousins, their QB. We have the Philadelphia Eagles, who dumped that Chip Kelly, and had to undo all his damage, by getting rid of various players. Heck, you have former Eagles executive Joe Banner taking shots at the New England Patriots over the Eric Rowe trade. I wonder if Banner is still mad about Super Bowl 39? You have the New York Giants and their wife-beating kicker, Josh Brown, to whom King Roger Goodell handed down a one game suspension. Finally, you have the Dallas Cowboys. “America’s Team.” Holy cow. QB Tony Romo, who I genuinely like as a QB, and as a person, goes down again with a back injury. Now, a rookie, Dak Prescot, has to take over. Oh, Lord.
From looking at these teams in preseason, the Eagles look about these best. Did I also mention that they traded away QB Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a 1st and a 4th, due to Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater’s injury? Did I mention that 16 1st round draft pick Carson Wentz will be starting? The Eagles defense looked good. Dan Prescott looked good in the preseason for the Cowboys. Let’s see what happens in the regular season. The Giants look horrible on both sides of the ball. That offensive line looks especially bad. Washington looks pretty good.
- Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
- Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
- Washington: 8-8
- New York Giants: 7-9
Analysis: From the looks of things, it appears that Saints QB Drew Brees and the team are closing in on a new deal, per Profootballtalk.nbcsports.com. I do wonder if it is wise to give a ton of money to an aging player like Brees, age 37, as great as he is. The team has made some minor changes. Atlanta didn’t look all that impressive in the preseason. Tampa Bay looked fine, but I think they’re a year away from contention. Even though the Panthers looked pathetic offensively in the 3rd game in preseason, I still think they win the Division.
- Carolina Panthers: 12-4
- New Orleans Saints: 8-8
- Atlanta Falcons: 8-8
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-10
Analysis: This division is a two team race between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. The Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers have very little to no chance to win the division, at least based on their past performances. I saw a Seattle Seahawks team , this preseason, that looks like it could go all the way to the Super Bowl, as much as I am tired of the prospect of seeing there. Arizona looked good, as well. However, from looking at Carson Palmer in the third preseason game, I’m not sure if I’m seeing the continuation of Palmer’s poor performance in the NFC Championship game from last year. With the 49ers engulfed in the Colin Kaepernick situation, and the Rams in a new place, but the same team, I think the Seahawks take the division.
- Seattle Seahawks: 12-4
- Arizona Cardinals: 11-5
- Los Angeles Rams: 8-8
- San Francisco 49ers: 6-10
Analysis: It is really a shame that instead of preparing for the season opener, Sunday, September 11th, on Thursday, Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater will be in surgery to repair his dislocated knee, torn ACL, and other damage he suffered during a recent practice. I think that it would have made for a great battle for the division between the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. After all, the Packers were getting WR Jordy Nelson back from a torn ACL. Now, the Vikings have traded for San Bradford, who has a terrible history of staying healthy, himself. I know it’s a “win-now” league, but I think the Vikings gave up way too much.
That being said, I do think the Vikings still have a shot to make the playoffs as a Wild Card. After all, the team does have RB Adrian Peterson. I don’t see the Lions doing too much, especially since their top WR Calvin Johnson retired. They didn’t do much with him on the team. The Chicago Bears still have Jay Cutler as QB, so that’s not going to change. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is going to do his thing, and hopefully, the playcalling doesn’t get in the way.
- Green Bay Packers: 12-4
- Minnesota Vikings: 10-6
- Chicago Bears: 7-9
- Detroit Lions: 6-10
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTIONS
AFC: New England Patriots defeating Pittsburgh Steelers
NFC: Seattle Seahawks defeating Green Bay Packers
SUPER BOWL LI PREDICTION:
New England Patriots defeating Seattle Seahawks
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