After three months of endless speculation and drudgery, the 2017 NFL season is finally upon us. Tonight the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will open up the season against the Kansas City Chiefs. With the 2017 season kicking off tonight lets take a quick look at all 32 teams and see where they stand in my mind.
1. Patriots (14-2)
The Patriots are the best team in the NFL, even with the losses of the Julian Edelman and rookie Derek Rivers. Tom Brady will continue to perform at an elite level and their offense is as dynamic as perhaps it’s ever been (yes, including 2007). This team is in win now mode and win they will.
2. Dolphins (9-7)
The Dolphins made the playoffs last year for the first since 2008 under first year head coach Adam Gase. They should sniff that territory once again as they have a talented receiving core, running back and one of the NFL’s better offensive lines. The loss of Ryan Tannehill should not damper their production, as Jay Cutler is perfectly capable of running their offense (He has his best professional season under Gase in 2015). Their defense is somewhat inconsistent, but not enough to spoil the season.
3. Bills (5-11)
The Bills were a team I thought could be a potential playoff dark horse. This however was before the trades of both Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby. It seems the new staff wants to put a stamp on their team’s personnel. This mixed with Tyrod Taylor’s skittish health and their lack of commitment to him has me down on the Bills this year.
4. Jets (1-15)
The Jets are the worst team in the NFL. They are in a complete rebuild and I only gave them one win because I like Todd Bowles.
1. Steelers (12-4)
The Steelers are a close second to the Patriots, and the recent additions of JJ Wilcox and Joe Haden to the secondary have them closer to that crown than ever. The offense is elite and can score with the best of them. Not winning the division would be surprising in Pittsburgh.
2. Ravens (10-6)
The Ravens missed the playoffs by the skin of their teeth last year. Their sturdy defense only improved in the offseason, especially with the addition of S Tony Jefferson. Joe Flacco has some new shiny toys as well with Jermey Maclin and the vastly underrated Danny Woodhead. I expect Baltimore to be back to the wild card round in 2018.
3. Bengals (8-8)
The Bengals suffered from a slow start last year and it cost them any chance at a successful season. Adding an elite talent in rookie Joe Mixon to the backfield is definitely enticing, and AJ Green should be in opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. That being said, they are relying on an inexperienced, young offensive line and I think their defense is just average.
4. Browns (6-10)
The Browns are taking the right steps to turning the page on 15 years of brutal disappointment. It’s now rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer’s turn to lead this team. If they can run the ball with Isiah Crowell behind their impressive offensive line, Cleveland will not be the stepping stone it has been in years past.
1. Titans (10-6)
The Titans were one of last year’s surprises, having missed the playoffs in part to Marcus Mariota’s season ending broken leg in week 16. They return an impressive offensive attack, and a competitive defense. I think this will be enough to win them the south.
2. Colts (8-8)
If I was to write this article a month ago, I would have picked the Colts to win this division. Sitting here on September 5th, the Colts look like they’re headed for another down year. Andrew Luck is out for at least week one and perhaps for longer. He is the only thing that isn’t a question on this team; his absence however long, will be missed.
3. Jaguars (6-10)
This team would be this division’s juggernaut if it weren’t for Blake Bortles’ inability to play quarterback. Jacksonville will improve on last year but sadly Bortles will bring them down.
4. Texans (6-10)
The two time reigning division champs are in for a down year. Their defense has regressed, especially in the secondary, and Deshaun Watson will not be able to save the season no matter what week he makes his first start.
1. Chiefs (10-6)
I expect the Chiefs to come out on top in the AFC’s best division. While they’ve lost Dontari Poe and Jeremy Maclin, I trust the culture in Kansas City and while Alex Smith is not a elite quarterback, he’s proven that he has all the requisite tools to lead a team to a competitive record.
2. Chargers (10-6)
The Chargers are the official darling of the Backjudge. I believe this is the year when all of their chakras will align. The offense around Phillip Rivers is as good as its been since LT retired. They’ll combine this with a very good defense to give LA a playoff debut.
3. Raiders (9-7)
The Raiders are riding a wave of hype and expectation that hasn’t graced Oakland since Super Bowl week 2003. While Marshawn Lynch puts this offense in the NFL’s upper echelon, I think there are legitimate concerns on defense.
4. Broncos (6-10)
The Broncos’ window has closed… for now. Trevor Siemien can at best get this team 9 wins and unfortunately their defense will not be able to win them as many games as they will need them too.
1. Giants (12-4)
The Giants have an offense and defense that rivals every team in the NFL. Their biggest hole is on their offensive line, and while I don’t necessarily have much faith in their line, I feel their team is too talented to disappoint.
2. Cowboys (10-6)
The Cowboys have the NFL’s toughest schedule and they will be without Ezekiel Elliot for six games. This will not be enough to unseat their talent, which is among the league’s best. While they have new faces on defense, I trust Rod Marinelli’s ability to mold something into nothing like he has so many times before.
3. Eagles (9-7)
The Eagles will take that next step in Carson Went’z sophomore campaign. They have new weapons on offense and an improved defense. Unfortunately that won’t be enough to tip the scales their way in the end.
4. Redskins (6-10)
The Redskins are a good team, if they were in the AFC South they very well could win the division. I believe however the Redskins will be victims of their division and schedule.
1. Packers (12-4)
Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the game and that is a good problem to have. The Packers will once again win the division, and will have a good chance at getting Rodgers a second ring.
2. Vikings (8-8)
Sam Bradford is driving the bus once again in Minnesota and it’s all going to fall on his shoulders. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook should carry the proverbial torch left by Adrian Peterson and this defense is one of the best the league has.
3. Lions (7-9)
The Lions are no doubt a talented team. However, their playoff season last year was defined by their ability to win games in the last two minutes. I simply do not believe that luck will bless them again this year.
4. Bears (4-12)
The Bears have some talented young pieces on their roster. Mike Glennon’s career will slowly die before our eyes and Mitchell Trubisky will be thrust into action. Another top five pick is looking more and more evident in next April for Chicago.
1. Falcons (11-5)
The defending NFC champs lost OC Kyle Shannahan this offseason, no doubt a blow, but this team has great talent on both sides of the ball. I believe this team will return from the Super Bowl letdown with a vengeance to win this division.
2. Buccaneers (10-6)
The Buccaneers were another team that impressed last year. I’m picking them to make the playoffs this year as Jameis will take the necessary steps to joining the elite quarterbacks.
3. Panthers (9-7)
The Panthers had a disappointing 2016 following a Super Bowl run the previous year. While they have added talent on offense to help Cam Newton, I still think this team is the third best in the division and are in for another year out of the playoffs.
4. Saints (7-9)
The Saints have an elite passing attack even with the loss of Brandin Cooks. They shouldn’t have trouble putting up gaudy numbers this year like they always do. The defense, and their secondary in particular is abysmal and will be the demise of this teams potential success.
1. Seahawks (10-6)
While I believe that the Seahawks are the most overrated team in todays NFL, I think the mediocrity of this division will allow them to ascend to the top with another playoff berth.
2. Cardinals (9-7)
The Cardinals no doubt have the talent to win this division and they very well could. Nonetheless when the chips are down I have more faith in Seattle than in Arizona.
3. Rams (7-9)
The Rams have done everything in their power to give Jared Goff the tools to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. I think these tools will yield seven wins for Los Angeles.
4. 49rs (4-12)
The 49rs are another team in rebuilding mode. Brian Hoyer is their guy right now, I doubt that will last for long. Kyle Shannahan sees his team improve by two wins in his inaugural year.
Patriots v Chargers
Steelers v Ravens
Packers v Buccaneers
Giants v Cowboys
Patriots v Steelers
Packers v Cowboys
Steelers v Cowboys
THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS ARE YOUR 2017 CHAMPIONS