Football is back. Yes ladies and gentleman, summer may be winding down, but the NFL season is upon us. It’s incredible how much better life is when there is meaningful football on TV every week.
Sunday’s are now arguably the best day during the weekend. This day during the NFL season is more commonly spent rallying on a barstool all day following Friday and Saturday’s debauchery instead of laying on a couch in a scared state of mind counting the hours until work. Sports bars are packed with guys and girls sporting their team’s colors in outrageous ways. Random eruptions occur, while the rest of the bar tries to figure out what game people were watching that caused this commotion. The arguments, fights, and everything else that spontaneously happens with a passionate fan keep the day memorable.
Monday’s office-water-cooler is popping and the start of the workweek is caped with a primetime game. Thursday’s happy hours will have background noise of the sub-par matchup the NFL Network is showing, which matters more to Fantasy Football players – which reminds me – there’s Fantasy Football!
That dream job feeling of being an NFL GM amongst your friends while telling each other that, “I could definitely run an NFL team,” without knowing anything about actually running a team.
Spending time with family during the holidays is more enjoyable, and the list goes on and on.
I will be discussing my predictions for the NFL season, but before I get to that, I want to make this interactive. I love to argue sports with my friends, honestly more than anything in the world. My article is strictly what I think and I want to hear opposing views. Be straight up malicious – I don’t give a shit. But as a warning, I’m a die heart Philadelphia sports fan and will dish back insults ten fold. So, now it’s time to get to my predictions for the 2016 NFL season.
The NFC East
Being a Philadelphia fan living in Washington, DC, makes me absolutely hate that pathetic fan base. However, I will try to keep all bias out. As much as it pains me to say, the Dallas Cowboys and the Donald Trump of NFL owners, Jerry Jones, will host a playoff game.
The game is much easier if your trench play is strong. Eziekel Elliot will run wild, Dez is healthy, and Dak Prescott will hold his own while Tony Romo heals back from yet another injury. The defense is good enough to win football games, especially in the NFC East. This is the weakest division in football. The Giants spent a barrel of money on their defense, like how the Redskins used to over pay for outdated talent.
I still do not believe in Kirk Cousins and you may not like that, but the truth is they have a juggernaut schedule, and one player doesn’t fix a defense. I love my Eagles, but the offense needs work under first year coach Doug Pederson and ultimately their success falls onto the highest drafted NDSU player in school history, who could very well get a dose of reality with the Philadelphia fan base if he struggles early.
Even though this may not be the most talented bunch collectively, it’ll be a great division to watch. Big time football markets, that include big time positional players and watching Dez & Odell versus Josh Norman will add some drama.
The NFC North
This division will be decided by one game in Minnesota, and one game in Green Bay. Now, the Bears and Lions are not bad teams, but they are mediocre. If Jay Cutler is your starting QB, you will never win a Championship. I think he’s hilarious and would be great to slug a few pitchers of beer with, but he won’t win a Super Bowl. He does, however, have two tall, athletic WRs to air it out to.
Kevin White, team’s first round pick in 2014, missed all of last year with an injury. His return should help free up Alshon Jeffrey for an improved air attack, but the defense doesn’t have any household names like they usually do.
The Lions were trash last year and they just lost their best player in Calvin Johnson to an early retirement. Stafford’s an above average QB, but the surrounding support isn’t there. I’m sure Viking fans are still sick to their stomach after a missed by a mile 19 yard chip shot lost them their home playoff game to Seattle, but they will return to the playoffs as a wild card team. Look, I watched the Bachelorette, and even though Jordan Rogers didn’t speak highly of his brother, I think highly of his QB play. His favorite target, Jordy Nelson, is back and when it comes to Rogers vs. Bradford for the division, give me Rogers.
This division is full of talented players. The Panthers will not go 15-1 this year, but there’s no doubt that they will win the division. Cam Newton will have a better year this year, yeah that’s right, a better year than last. His favorite WR, Kelvin Benjamin, will be returning from an ACL tear last offseason, which will add a much needed star for Cam on the outside.
Yes, the defense lost Josh Norman, but it’s clearly still the best defense in this division. Matt Ryan is too inconsistent and the Falcons defense is so subpar. They have a pretty talented offense if Matt can have a pro bowl caliber year, but they are missing too many pieces. Maybe they’ll find those pieces in their new stadium.
The Saints are aging, even though I do think they will produce on the ground. They have depth at the RB position and their o-line is better, but unless Drew Brees can toss up 3-4 TDs a game, they’ll find themselves around the 7-8 win mark. Famous Jameis and the Bucs pose the only real threat to un-seed the reigning NFC Champions. If Doug Martin can be a consistent featured back, the Bucs offense could surprise some people, but expect the Panthers to win their division and the NFC crown for the second consecutive year.
I can’t wait to see how this division unfolds. Let’s just remove one team, the Chip Kelly lead San Francisco 49ers. They are horrible. I have the 49ers drafting first in the 2017 NFL draft, which will be held in no place other than Philadelphia. Oh how the NFL is funny….. I’m sure Chip will get a hero’s welcome.
Football is back in LA and the Rams are surprisingly an exciting team to root for, not to mention HBO’s Hard Knocks has been solid. However, Todd Gurley will see a decrease in production and first year QB Jared Goff will struggle in his first year, if he is the starter, in the state he played college ball in. This fan base should still be very excited for the future under hall of fame coach Jeff Fischer.
Now, the two teams that will be battling all year are the Seahawks and Cardinals. The Seahawks led by Russell Wilson and that tenacious defense will win the NFC West.
I know what you’re thinking; the Cardinals just won the division and are even better on defense. Robert Nkemdiche was a steal at pick 29 and adding former Patriot Chandler Jones just makes that front seven deadly. However, I don’t trust Carson Palmer and the offense will hold the defense back in what should be a fight to the finish for the division title.
As much as I want to pick the Ryan brothers to win the division, the team that everyone should hate just as much as the Cowboys, because they win all the time – the Patriots – will ultimately capture their 13th division title in the past 14 years.
That’s one hell of an on-going run. This won’t be the usual easy road as the division is improving. I love Rex and Rob Ryan leading Bills mafia, and not to mention a much improved Bills team. If Tyrod Taylor can show he is the real deal, lookout for a Bills wildcard berth. The Jets were one game away from the playoffs last year, and with the Harvard man back at the helm, anything is possible with two WRs like Marshall and Decker. Matt Forte will be an intriguing player to watch throughout the year and is a make or break player for this team.
Another new RB to watch is Dolphins’ Arian Foster. While I think the Dolphins will finish last in the AFC East, there is still a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Their front seven has some daunting names if they can play up to their potential (I’m looking at you Suh and Williams). If Tannehill can play consistent, maybe they’d have a winning record, but his best target is Jarvis Landry, who is no Odell, even though they have similar hairstyles and the LSU connection.
The AFC divisions are stacked this year, and this is another strong collection of teams. The Browns will find themselves at the bottom of the division, but don’t expect them to be an easy, free win. RGIII will have a bounce back year and if Josh Gordon can return to form, and Baylor rookie Coleman plays like his college days, he will have some serious weapons on the outside. Baltimore is interesting and their season comes down to their health. They won’t win the division, but will be in the mix when it comes to the wildcard. You just have to love the big mouths on both sides of the ball. Steve Smith is fearless and T Suggs is an absolute freak. This team needs to stay healthy to have a chance.
But yet again, the Bengals and Steelers will be fighting for the home playoff game, literally. The Steelers are an early season favorite to win the AFC. Their offense is stacked with Bell/Williams at RB, consensus number one fantasy selection AB, and if Ben can stay upright, he will have an MVP type season. The bad boys of Cincinnati shot themselves in the foot during last year’s sloppy, ugly playoff game vs. the Steelers. They had the game won, but alas, personal fouls and acting out cost them the home playoff win. At the end of the year, the better, disciplined team that has the experience (Pittsburgh) will win the division.
I can’t wait to watch the Oakland Raiders play football this year. As a WVU alum, there may be some bias towards this team with the addition of Bruce Irvin and first round pick Karl Joseph, but this team is pretty deep. This is why they will WIN the division. This means the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos will need to find a wildcard spot. That Denver defense is unreal and yes, Peyton didn’t do much to help that team win, but if your starting QB is Trevor Siemian – the 250th overall selection out of Northwestern – I just can’t place you as a division winner.
The Chargers will win a lackluster 6 – 7 games with an at best average team. I’m a big fan of the Chiefs. Like the Broncos, they have a great defense and with a healthy Jamal Charles, this team will compete, but my gut tells me Derek Carr will lead the Raiders back to glory. I see Trevor Siemian starting 6 games this year before they switch to Memphis alum and first round draft pick, Paxton Lynch, for the rest of the year.
Kansas City’s offense will end up being the ball and chain for this team. The Chargers may be able to spoil a few division games with a win, but I’m sticking with Oakland. However you look at it, this will be a division that you will want to tune in and watch. They’ll provide great entertainment for my east coast friends, whose team’s games will often end before these teams kickoff.
The division of young, franchise QBs: Brock, Marcus, Blake, and Andrew. Which one of these guys will be able to lead his team to a division title. This division is totally up for grabs. Tennessee has a much improved offense, especially with the RB combo of Demarco Murray and Alabama rookie Derek Henry. The one problem with the Titans is their defense. There isn’t much on that side of the ball that should intimidate offenses, which will be a huge factor and a reason why they won’t win the division.
Andrew Luck is the best QB in this division, but has an offense line that wouldn’t start for a high school team. He will be under pressure 24/7 and will be hit week in and week out. The over hyped popular pick are the Jaguars. Yes they are better, yes I like their young defense, and yes there’s actually a lot to be excited for if you are one of the few Jaguars fans that actually goes to the games, but they have a few years until they are considered a true contender.
Houston is the best team in this division and has the best player, JJ SWAT. DeAndre Hopkins will have another monster year and I believe in Brock. They greatly improved at the QB position, which has plagued the quote-on-quote QB Whisperer, Bill O’Brien, from really being a threat. Also, Lamar Miller will be huge. Draft this guy in fantasy if you can and expect a big season from the ex-Dolphin RB, who will receive the workload.
When it’s all said and done, Tom Brady will face off against the high powered Steelers offense in the AFC Championship, and Cam Newton will see everyone’s favorite Bachelorette champion brother, Aaron Rogers, in the NFC Championship. I intend to watch Cam Newton lift the Lombardi Trophy over his head, followed by a much happier post game press conference than the year before, as the Panthers revenge last year’s defeat to Denver, and beat Peyton Manning’s rival, Tom Brady, in Super Bowl 51 in Minnesota.
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