The NFL season officially kicks off 3 days from now on Thursday, September 7. I’ve got some bold predictions for the NFL that, if proven to be true, could make me look like a fortune teller. I’m going against many of my NFL fan peers.
2017 NFL Season Predictions
I’m really going against them. That’s the way it should be, right? Check out my 2017 NFL Season Predictions.
New England Will Not Win the AFC
The New England Patriots are currently at +325 to win Super Bowl 52. The odds are so low on the Patriots that you’re getting more than double the odds on the Green Bay Packers to win Super Bowl 52. The Packers are the favorites from the NFC.
Think about that. New England is such a lock to win the AFC that their Super Bowl odds are at just above 3 to 1. That’s like betting on the Kentucky Derby favorite. But, in this case, the Derby favorite must run 16 races, and then go into a single race elimination playoff.
No, I don’t believe the New England Patriots win Super Bowl 52. In fact, I don’t believe they win the AFC. Here are the reasons why New England loses out on back-to-back Super Bowl wins.
1. Mike Gillislee is not LeGarrette Blount
Gillislee so far hasn’t learned all he needs to learn to be an every down RB for the New England Patriots. I just don’t see Gillislee replacing Blount. Sure, Gillislee was great when he touched the football as a Buffalo Bill last season. He ran behind the second best rushing offensive line in the NFL. Only Dallas has a better O-line to run the football than the Bills have.
Things could be different in New England.
2. Brandin Cooks is not Julian Edelman
Cooks is an excellent receiver. But, there are a couple of difference. First, Edelman has better hands than Cooks has. Second, Cooks is a straight burner while Edelman is a catch and go receiver. Third, and most importantly, Edelman developed a great rapport with Tom Brady.
It’s hard to see Cooks replacing Edelman. Chris Hogan might. But, Brandin Cooks shouldn’t. That leaves New England without an Edelman WR to bail out Tom Brady.
3. New England’s Defense won’t be as good
New England’s D played bend but don’t break last season. The Patriots were the best team in the NFL at keeping opponents out of the end zone. I’m not sure that happens this year. Stephon Gilmore, who figures to start opposite Malcolm Butler at corner, can get burned. The front 7 won’t be as good without Rob Ninkovich.
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers Will Win the NFL MVP
Aaron Rodgers appears poised for another incredible season. He threw 40 TDs last season. He could throw more than 40 this season. The Green Bay Packers offense should benefit from TE Martellus Bennett while the rushing attack will be ready with Ty Montgomery serving as the RB1 from Day 1.
The real key to Rodgers’ likely NFL MVP run is Green Bay’s schedule. While the schedule isn’t easy, it allows Rodgers to make a distinction between himself and his NFL MVP competition. If he outplays Russell Wilson in Week 1 and Matt Ryan in Week 2, it could be tough to keep the MVP out of Aaron’s hands.
Green Bay is at Dallas and at Pittsburgh this season. Were Green Bay to win both games, Rodgers’ NFL MVP credentials would be bolstered even more.
NYG Will Win the NFC East
I decided that the Dallas Cowboys wouldn’t win the NFC East Division. My thinking is that even if Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t spend 6 weeks on the bench, Dallas’ offense won’t be nearly as effective this season as it was last season.
Last season, defensive coordinators had no clue how to deal with the Dallas offense. Those D-coordinators had planned to face QB Tony Romo. When Dak Prescott became Dallas’ starter, the defensive coordinators in the NFL couldn’t find a way to stop the Cowboys. Every defensive game plan was geared towards a Romo led offense, not a Prescott led offense.
But, that’s not the real reason to dislike Dallas. The Cowboys defense doesn’t appear to have gotten any better this season from last season. Since the D isn’t any better, it’s hard to pick the Boys to win the NFC East Division at low odds.
I wanted to pick Philadelphia. Second-year QB Carson Wentz could have a break out season. Plus, Philly’s D looks strong. The Eagles might need a year for all the pieces to fit, though.
I can’t back Washington to win the NFC East. Washington’s QB isn’t under contract after this season. It’s just not a sign that the team that plays in D.C. is all out to win the division. I also question how good Washington’s defense is.
The team that wins the NFC East are the New York Giants. Although the Giants’ offense must improve (RB Paul Perkins must turn into an every down back, TE Evan Engram must become a part of the offense, WR Brandon Marshall must take pressure off Odell), the defense is lights out awesome.
The G-Men allowed a low average of 17.8 points per game last season. I think the Giants’ defense is even better this season. Safety Landon Collins could be the NFL Defensive MVP if one of the favorites, JJ Watt and Khalil Mack, don’t perform as well as so many expect.
The Giants’ defense is what’s going to send them to the NFC East Division title.
Tennessee Will Win the AFC South
Tennessee had one of the best rush defenses in the NFL last season. The pass defense should be much improved with former USC cornerback Adoree Jackson filling in as a reserve, or starting in some games. Also, moving Kevin Byard to free safety, his more natural position, is huge.
The real reason that Tennessee wins the AFC South is because the rest of the teams in the division aren’t very good.
Indianapolis is going to end their franchise quarterback’s career if they don’t solve their offensive line issues. I’m surprised the Colts didn’t solve those issues during the off-season. Not only that, but the defense isn’t very good. I’m not sure Indy’s even trying to win this season.
Jacksonville has a dynamite defense. The defense in Jacksonville should be a Top 5 unit in the NFL. This is especially true because defensive back Jalen Ramsey goes into his second season. The Jags D should keep them in plenty of games, but, Jacksonville’s got some issues.
Who plays QB? That’s a rhetorical question. I know Blake Bortles is the starter, but, uh…it’s Blake Bortles. Also, I’m not in love with RB Leonard Fournette the way everyone else is.
That leaves Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans. Expect the Titans offense to be one of the top units in the NFL now that Tennessee drafted WR Corey Davis. The Titans should lead the NFL in rushing this season while Mariota has shown signs of being the league’s next great QB.
Green Bay Will Beat Pittsburgh in Super Bowl 52
Green Bay is the favorite to win the NFC. I believe in their offense. I also believe their defense plays much better this season than it did last season.
The Pack used their first 4 draft picks, 2 in Round 2, 1 in Round 3, and 1 in Round 4, on defensive players. CB Kevin King, S Josh Jones, DT Montravius Adams, and OLB Vince Biegel don’t even have to start to have an impact on the Packer D. All they must do is spell Green Bay starters during key points of a game so that the Pack has a fresh D going into the fourth quarter.
If Rodgers has the season I predict he has, Green Bay should be solid going into the NFC Playoffs. They can beat any other team in the conference, that’s for sure.
Pittsburgh doesn’t need RB Le’Veon Bell to win football games. The Steelers have proven that time and time again. The key for Pitt is going to be the defense. The Steelers grabbed CB Joe Haden off waivers after Cleveland cut the fantastic cornerback.
If Pitt’s D improves even slightly, and it should with Haden at corner, I see the Steelers beating New England in the AFC Championship. The rest of the teams in the AFC, with the possible exception of Oakland and Kansas City, shouldn’t touch the Patriots or the Steelers.