The 2017 NFL Season is almost underway, and it’s time to take a look at how each team will finish.
I’ll be previewing all eight divisions, the playoffs, and the Super Bowl. Let’s start with the AFC.
This is by far the easiest division in the NFL to predict. As we know, there are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and the Patriots winning the AFC East. New England is the clear team to beat in the AFC until someone else proves otherwise. The Dolphins will be missing Ryan Tannehill, and they barely made the playoffs last season. Don’t expect Jay Cutler to be able to lead them back. Buffalo has been the epitome of mediocrity for years. LeSean McCoy is solid, but Tyrod Taylor is average at best. The Jets may very well be the worst team in football. Will it be Josh McCown or Cristian Hackenberg at quarterback? Doesn’t Matter. It will be Sam Darnold next season either way.
As much as it pains me to pick the Steelers to win the division again, they are clearly the best team in the AFC North at this point. The Bengals offense should be better with a healthy A.J. Green and the additions of John Ross and Joe Mixon, but their O-line is a major question mark, and their secondary is aging rapidly. Baltimore has the best defense in the division, but I don’t expect them to be a contender, especially with Joe Flacco missing significant time. Cleveland could actually improve a bit this season, but that isn’t saying much for them.
The Titans look to have all the pieces for playoff contention. A promising young quarterback, a solid running game, and a pretty good defense. As for Houston, we know how good the defense is. How well their offense does will depend on how soon Deshaun Watson starts, and how quickly he can adjust to the NFL game. In Indianapolis, it’s Andrew Luck and everyone else. He had little to no help last season, and the front office did little to address that. Jacksonville has to prove something before they can be taken seriously. Blake Bortles is looking like he might be a bust.
Oakland could have made some real noise last season if Derick Carr hadn’t been injured. With Carr healthy, I see this team as the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. Beast mode might not be the player he once was, but he’s still better than anything the Raiders previously had at running back. The Chiefs will be the Chiefs. Denver’s defense is still stout, but how much can we really expect from an offense led by Trevor Siemian? The Chargers have a new home, but the same old problems. They have very little talent surrounding Phillip Rivers. He can’t play forever.
1st seed: Patriots
2nd seed: Raiders
3rd seed: Steelers
4th seed: Titans
5th seed: Chiefs
6th seed: Texans
Wild-Card round: Steelers over Texans; Titans over Chiefs
Divisional Round: Patriots over Titans; Raiders over Steelers
AFC Championship: Patriots over Raiders