Football is just around the corner, so that means there will be conversation, analysis, and predictions – the 2016-2017 NFL season is already underway. The high draft pick acquisitions certainly upgraded a few team’s roster, and thus give a higher ceiling for the teams that are on the playoff-bubble; here is my breakdown and projections for this upcoming NFL season.
1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Washington Redskins
3. NY Giants
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Cowboys under Tony Romo, being that he is at 90-95% healthy, will lead a Cowboys team with an elite passing game and along with a fully-reloaded running game. Along with their quarterback, the impact of Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas should have the strongest attack in NFC – however my prediction could be in jeopardy with the recent breaking news Saturday, NFL.com stated that Tony Romo broke a bone in his back once again.
There is no official timetable for Romo’s injury, but NFL.com reported an estimated return will be mid-season – a similar situation to last season, except the season hasn’t even officially started and he already injured.
With Tony Romo set to be out for weeks, it looks like another predictable outcome for Dallas; Elliot and the prestigious O-line will need to help carry the load for Romo’s absence. The Redskins have the chance to win the NFC East once again with their recent upgrades on both sides of the ball, they will be a hard team to beat in the NFC.
The New York Giants’ roster is similar to the Dallas Cowboys, they always have the potential to go playoff bound and further, but the question is if they will allow themselves top do so. The Giants always have a shot to be threat in the East with Manning as their QB, the concern will be if they can expand their full-potential.
The Arizona Cardinals are deservingly in the conversation to win the NFC West, but I give a slight edge to the Seahawks because of their versatility at quarterback. It is well known based on last season, that the 49ers have to prove a lot, certainly with the QB battle still being discussion with Kaepernick and Gabbert. Yeah, Blaine Gabbert.
New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons remain questionable, and with the respect to Drew Brees, Saints get slight favorite over Falcons. Tampa Bay, yes Tampa Bay, is one of my sleeper teams this 2016-2017 NFL season.
Vikings are improving under Mike Zimmer, and if it weren’t for a 27-yd missed chip shot, they would’ve gotten out higher on this list and gained more respect throughout the league. For the Vikings, unfortunately this is a tough division, and they find themselves just a fraction away.
The Lions remain the most questionable in the NFC North, especially with the retiring of their superstar Calvin Johnson, someone will need to help fill the wide-receiver vacancy.
Packers have their secret weapon back – Jordy Nelson, and always are in the Super Bowl discussion with Aaron Rodgers. Their division rival, Bears are improving under John Fox, and will be interesting to see how Kevin White along the emerging wide receivers will compliment their defense.
Despite Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, Patriots’ 11-consecutive winning seasons under the Belicheck era speak for itself.
Jets are starting to come up with the new identity under Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall had Montana/Rice-like chemistry last year, and are considered one of the best pass duos in the league.
I give the Dolphins a slight, slight edge over the Bills – Miami may as well be tied with Buffalo. Tannehill is rising and has been productive, but still has a lot to prove in my perspective.
Bills could surprise the league with a better record than Jets and the Dolphins, but remain suspect with their young quarterback-tandem and rigorous schedule.
Probably the biggest surprise in this year’s prediction is: Raiders winning the AFC West, partly due to the suspect QB situation in Denver, but Oakland’s captain Derek Carr gives the team potential with great quarterback play. Broncos still have a Super Bowl defense, but again questions remain on the offensive end.
The Chargers have young talent and great prospects for the future, however under Rivers’ recent decline, San Diego remains under-construction.
Andrew luck is due for another breakout season, and will be reminiscent to the Andrew Luck we are accustomed to seeing. The Jaguars’ re improving each year, and now are taking huge strides for success with the potential from Bortles & company, along with their recent high draft picks. Not much has changed for Titans this offseason, Mariota has high ceiling but team is suspect.
Roethlisberger is aging, but the Antonio Brown chemistry is still there, and remain one of the elite passing threats in the league. Ravens remain a consistent all-around, physical and experienced team with another shot to make a run to the playoffs.
Browns are another sleeper team with great potential, with higher ceiling under Robert Griffin III leading the offense and their superstar Josh Gordon to make his long awaited return.
Photo by Pete Sheffield (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons