Pre Pre-Season Predictions: These are my predictions of the coming 2017 NFL season before the Pre-Season and injuries pile up. I will make an updated prediction following week 4 of the pre-season.
1. New England Patriots (13-3): The defending Super Bowl champs are going to be tough to beat this year. They added so much talent in the off-season with people like Stephon Gillmore, David Harris, and Brandin Cooks. This team didn’t need more fire power but they got it. They might have lost Blount but they got Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. This team is potent and will be a team to watch for the Super Bowl. I mean Bill is god is a fair expression to describe this team's continued success.
2. Buffalo Bills (10-6): The Bills got better just by letting Rex Ryan leave before the season ended. Then they were smart and drafted Zay Jones since they allowed Robert Woods to leave. They got a defensive genius as their head coach and I believe they are better this year defensively and are giving Tyrod faith which should provide him the confidence he needs. They went and also got him Patrick DiMarco and Mike Tolbert at full back to help protect him and the run game. I think if the Bills can find some offensive spark they are sitting in 2nd well. The real test is do they become a offensive team or is it defense only because they need to find the fire power.
3. Miami Dolphins (9-7): I have heard a lot of positive news around DeVante Parker showing even more improvement. I also read that Tannehill is seemingly healthy again and if these reports are true I could be wrong by putting them in third but I am relying on the pre-season to see what they really have. I am very happy to see Raekwon McMillan in the middle for this team moving forward as he is their potential superstar defensively. I will be watching them carefully during the pre-season. This is the final year Tannehill has to prove he was worth a first round pick in my mind because so far he has failed to reach that level.
4. New York Jets (3-13): I mean worst team in the league this year is all I can really say. They have the worst QB competition battle I have ever seen in the NFL for the starting job. They have no WR’s because I believe Enunwa is good but I do not believe he is a number one WR like they are relying on him to be this season. Their secondary is a nightmare and their linebackers took a major step back with the loss of David Harris. Sorry Jets fans but you will be enjoying the 1st pick overall if you need the silver lining. Todd Bowles should have never taken this job because Woody Johnson is giving him nothing to work with at all. Jets fans should brace for years of nothing at this pace.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): I wanted to put the Steelers at 12-4 but Ben normally misses a game so it seems due to taking so many shots through his career and I believe that’s the difference between 12-4 and 11-5. This season they get Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Big Ben healthy and no suspensions entering the pre-season on offense and that is a huge positive for them. A lot of people are sleeping on this defense and I personally believe their defense is going to be like Atlanta’s last year start shaky and become top level by the end of the season.
2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7): The Ravens scare me to give them an above .500 record because they have 1 WR that they can rely on and that’s Jeremy Maclin. I like Mike Wallace I worry about him tailing off at the end of the season last year and his age. Perriman can’t figure out how to be healthy nor can he catch the ball consistently. They lost Pitta already due to a hip injury and Tavon Young a top corner to an ACL injury. Their defense is sexy good with the exception of their cornerbacks but I think they could survive with Weddle and Tony Jefferson at safety to help. They need to pray for no more injuries. IN Ozzie they trust, so they claim. Let's see if that is still what they claim if they miss the playoffs again.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): The Bengals could compete for the division, but they apparently thought an offensive line wasn’t important and left Andy Dalton poised for a season of running away from the pocket. He does have a potent set of weapons to throw the ball to and he has a great trio of backs behind him. The Bengals will need to rely on the defense if they want to be competitive this season. This will be a team to keep an eye on at least in front of Dalton in the pre-season. Sorry Bengal fans but your hopes and dreams of losing in the first round of the playoffs is going to fall short this season.
4. Cleveland Browns (6-10): The Browns could be better than 6-10 but I need to see that Kessler or Kizer can really lead this team offensively. Their defense is set and almost completely ready to go for a run at the division but their offense needs a little more depth at tight end because if anything happens to Njoku they have nothing else to rely on. I also believe they are using two platoon number 2 talent RB’s as their starters and they could use improvement there. But they have built a great team and would love to see what they have in a year or two. Lets hope they stick with this current system because it could work but with their ownership who knows.
1. Houston Texans (11-5): They might start slow as Savage is a good NFL QB but I believe if Watson gets the chance mid-season at some point he will help this team sky rocket but I do believe they are a good team even with Savage. I love their defense because this year we get Watt and Clowney together for a full season (hopefully). They have a complete offense if they can all stay healthy with Brock Osweiller not holding them back. This team could be a title team to watch if they can figure out the one question that this roster has which is who is QB and can they solve their issues from last year. Now Watt can finally enter the realm of greatness if this team can get to the Super Bowl. In Savage/ Watson I trust.
2. Tennessee Titans (10-6): The Titans are that team to watch that are flying under everyone’s radar but they could easily sneak in and steal this division and make a playoff run. I mean Mariota is a complete freak especially under pressure and I am so excited to see how this team develops moving forward. I am glad to see this team is finally ready to go and make a big run and if they fall short of the playoffs this year I personally consider it a let down. Mariota in the Red Zone is the king of the Red Zone and pressure situations.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7): Yeah the Jaguars not the Colts! This team is going to have the top defense in the league if they can stay relatively healthy. This offense is slowly, very slowly, coming along but I believe Fournette if he can remain healthy will help put a spark into this team especially with Yeldon as a back-up RB. I hope the offensive line can help Bortles stay up-right and find time to throw the ball to his weapons. I really like the Jaguars as a sneaky pick this year, I wish we could see them on hard knocks this season because this would be fun to watch.
4. Indianapolis Colts (6-10): Because regardless of Andrew Luck, offensive line and defense are important and their front office has seemed to forget that. I am sorry Colts fans but your own front office has completely left you out to dry because they are not building anything around Luck entering his prime years. I feel bad because his talent is through the roof but besides Hilton they have nothing for him to rely on and their line was abysmal last year. The defense makes me laugh when they face a top team especially since their top corner, Vontae Davis, has had a hard time staying healthy. This team truly worries me as long as their front office doesn't have a complete overhaul including ownership. This team is a mess mentally they just have failed to build a roster.
1. Oakland Raiders (12-4): The Raiders have the most potent offense in the AFC West and a defense that is growing more and more and I believe they are the team to watch in this division as a contender with the Patriots. I like Carr a whole lot and believe Marshawn successful or not will bring that spark to this team and leadership that could help them reach that next level. They are in the toughest division in the league but they will survive it and show off their talent. Too bad you built a team for your fan base and can't stay with them. So sad.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): The Chiefs have their normal lethal defense and I believe their tight end is the 2nd best in the league. I love Kareem Hunt more than any entering rookie RB and believe if he proves himself in camp like he has the skills to do he could become a top RB in the league, a lot like Jordan Howard. I like Alex Smith as a game manager but the Chiefs have Tyreek Hill and they need an exciting QB which Mahomes gives them next year when I believe he will take that job. But this year I believe strongly Alex Smith will help this team reach a shot for the division. This will be fun a full season of Tyreek Hill and potentially Hunt that could make this team explode. Game manager QB just won't be enough to reach the super bowl this team has the talent to reach.
3. LA Chargers (9-7): The Chargers are getting to the point where they could run away with this division. But I believe they are a season short as they need to build their offensive line a little bit more and hopefully Mike Williams can become healthy. They still have Melvin Gordon and hopefully he is healthy because they still have Antonio Gates and a young freak in Hunter Henry. I love what the Chargers have done and I think their new coaching staff gives them an excellent chance to compete all season. I hope they stop letting us down as fans of good football. This is the season that tells us how close they are to where they should be. Welcome to LA you will be the best team in this city football wise this year.
4. Denver Broncos (7-9): I like what the Broncos have but I hate their QB battle. Look he did okay last year but Siemian is far from the answer that they need to reach a division title but they still apparently believe he could be that piece and I think that is crazy. I like Paxton Lynch a lot heck I believe Chad Kelly is better than Siemian personally. Now to the rest of the team, adding Jamaal Charles made their RB’s depth insane and their defense is crazy good as always. I personally believe if they could solve their QB issue then they could actually become a contending team where they belong but you can’t enter every week wondering who is taking the snaps. Maybe the pre-season will be more telling. Remember this isn’t my final prediction. Elway says he know's QB's but since he has gotten there he got Manning, not like it was hard to know he was talented, and then now this mess at QB? Does he really?
1. New York Giants (11-5): I really doubted them a lot last year and even more during the off-season but I keep looking at their roster and I believe they are the best in this division. They have an amazing trio of WR’s and they got a machine in the draft at TE in Evan Engram. I personally like Paul Perkins and believe if that offensive line can protect him he will become a top 10 RB in the next year or two. The Giants defense last year got so good at the end of the year and they are a feisty 11. I absolutely love what Steve Spagnuolo brings to his team as a defensive coordinator. The Giants could be a top 5 team in the league. Odell needs to keep his childish act under control.
2. Philladelphia Eagles (9-7): Wentz grew last year but he couldn’t do it all with no ground game and WR’s who drop every pass, can you really blame him for the tailing off of stats? Well that is over because the Eagles got Blount to run with Sproles, Pumphrey, and Smallwood. They added Alshon to pair with a healthy Jordan Matthews and for depth they have Torrey Smith’s speed and depth abilities. Their defense is silently great as long as they remain healthy in the secondary that should remain. I personally believe the best part of the Eagles is going to be their offensive line as I believe they are the best offensive line in the league. Watch out for the one team everyone is sleeping on this year. The Corners are the only part of this team I worry about. In Philly the fans will finally have a winning team again.
3. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Look I got no idea what is going on with Zeke and that makes a significant impact in my eyes to their first few games of the season. I also believe they have no WR’s behind Dez that Dak can rely on weekly. I also do not believe Dak is a top QB like everyone was claiming. He is in the spotlight and Zeke carried that team on his back last year. I personally believe Dak will level off now that teams have figured him out and he is a Russell Wilson-esque QB but with a slightly less complete skill set. I do believe he is a good QB just not top 8 like everyone went on claiming last year. That being said their defense is a big worry this year as they lost Carr and Claiborne who were stand outs last year for the Cowboys. Defensive schemes are easy now, cover Dez and stop Zeke it will be solved this year a bit more than last year too. I can be wrong of course but just their defense and the lack of WR's and TE's behind Witten makes me just say they don't have the depth this year to compete offensively or defensively. Skip will probably disappear if this happens.
4. Washington Redskins (7-9): I love Cousins but he has no desire to be there and they lost a lot with Jackson and Garcon both leaving. I thin Jordan Reed has to step up even more because they have Crowder and Pryor then it gets questionable as far as options go. Their defense is good but not top of the line. I personally believe they are going to have to start finding pieces for another weapon at WR and they need to get Rob Kelley out of the top spot and move Perine to the starting job so they can see what they have at RB. I also believe this team could prove me wrong because they have upsides but I worry about them with a QB who has no desire to be here. This team won't win another Super Bowl in a player drama filled era if Dan Snyder stays as owner of this team because he isn't well liked.
1. Green Bay Packers (12-4): The Packers are scary good. I believe their ground game got a huge plus when they let Montgomery take the reins because he is impossible to game plan for because he can run or scat out for a pass it basically forces a team to always line up a spy on him at all times. They have the deepest WR corps in the league and their tight end position go a whole lot better with the addition of Martellus Bennett. The defense had secondary issues beyond belief last year but they drafted Josh King and added Davon House to give the Pack a set of 3 corners that can hold their own on the roster now along with Damarious Randall. I really think they are the best competition for the Patriots this year. If the secondary falters then they are doomed and so should Capers job.
2. Detroit Lions (10-6): The Lions have a sneaky good defense and their offensive line got better when they added T.J. Lang and they have a complete 5 to protect Stafford. I believe they have a very good sleeper on their roster in Kenny Golladay. I am really always a Matt Stafford fan and believe he could really show that he still has even more to prove this year because of the weapons his team has provided him and if Abdullah can stay healthy watch out. Mo-Town might have a team again to get behind. Maybe Calvin left too early because they could make him look like a fool.
3. Minnesota Vikings (9-7): The Vikings defense will be the stellar defense we all know. Their run game should be pretty great this year but I have no idea who their QB is this year because Bridgewater might not be ready week one but he could be by week 6 who knows. I am a big fan of Stefon Diggs but I worry about the rest of the receiving corps. This team could be competing with the Packers or could fall short and hit 3rd in this division with the offense being such a mystery they are hard to call. Hope they realize Bradford completion % last year was a diluted stat with his lower pass attempt numbers and length of his passes. Sorry Vikings fans you better hope Bridgewater is back soon.
4. Chicago Bears (5-11): Look I have no idea. They have a decent defense and their offensive line is good along with their ground game. The issue I am having is simply WHO IS THEIR QB. I get that they traded to get Trubisky and does that say he will become their QB this year or is it going to be Mike Glennon like they originally planned for the whole season. I am just torn by this along with the loss of Alshon as well as Kevin White never being healthy so far. This team could see a nightmare season and Bears fans should brace themselves for a rough season. The Bears are who we thought they were.
1. Atlanta Falcons (12-4): This team proved their worth last year and they are only going to get better because their defense is young and hungry and growing more and more. I love what Dann Quinn brings to this team and yes they lost Shannahan but they will be fine because their offense is so potent. I am thrilled to watch this team this year and week 2 Green Bay vs Atlanta could be the NFC Championship preview. Just no 28-3 blown leads this year is all that we can hope for or the memes won't ever go away.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5): The Buccaneers will give the Falcons a run for their money as their defense will continue to improve and the weapons for Winston are unreal. This team if they can get a ground game going are going to be one to watch out for as a stealthy dark horse for the Super Bowl. Mike Evans is going to break into the top 4 WR conversation with Julio, Odell, and Antonio. Everyone needs to wake up and watch this team because they are coming and are no longer a bottom division team and won’t be again any time soon. We will get an exclusive inside look of this roster and their progress as Hard Knocks will be featuring them. August 8th is the premier date for that on HBO.
3. New Orleans Saints (10-6): The Saints are going to be nipping at the heels of the Buccaneers but I believe their defense hasn’t been built enough just yet to hang in there long enough. I love their offense because they have Ingram and AP splitting the work load behind Brees. While Drew has one of the best young WR’s in the game in Michael Thomas who I see becoming a top 6 WR this year and cementing his name into Saints record books before the end of his career. I love what their offense has and their defense is coming close to competitive so this team deserves a bit of attention as they could really be top of division at seasons end if their defense surprises the world. Brees don't get hurt or they are doomed.
4. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Eh this team has pieces but their defense is okay nothing like it used to be and their offensive line isn’t too great. Cam lost me last year as a believer and Ted Ginn was important to this team and letting him walk was kind of shocking to me. This team has issues I believe they failed to address in the off-season which is their secondary and line. I really got no clue what they thought they had this year but the holes they have will show against their division and other top opponents. Guys Cam's lack of top level play isn't funny just ask his back-up.
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): I love this team’s defense and their WR’s and the showing of Jimmy Graham excite me but then they signed Eddie Lacy and I have no idea why. Lacy isn’t a number one and I personally don’t think he is better than Rawls, not even close to me. The biggest issue is the Seahawks believed paying other positions was more important for the past few years and they forgot offensive lineman help their ground game and QB and only have 2 truly good OL-man. This team could collapse if they can’t protect Russell. There are two young guys to watch that have excitement factors to them on this roster C.J. Prosise and Amara Darboh! Guess they thought they could trade Sherman and save money for Lacy's appetite?
2. Arizona Cardinals (9-7): I think their defense is going to have to carry them because Carson Palmer went MIA last year and that worries me at his age. David Johnson can’t carry this team forever they need to get this passing game going again and find the perfect balance if they do so with this defense they will become a contending team. I think this year tells the story of do they need to find a QB or are they okay for a year or two longer. Maybe it is time for Carson to retire again and the torch to be passed.
3. LA Rams (8-8): Too many people were negative about Goff but it was a learning process and I believe we will see development this year and improvement on last year’s stats. I have no clue why a player can’t have a down season without it being oh he was a one year wonder but I believe Gurley will be back to his rookie form this year and I hope he personally shuts every doubters mouth this year. I love the Rams defensively and their new coaching staff is actually set to give them the best outcome for the future. Hang in their Ram fans your time is coming again soon just give Goff another year.
4. San Francisco 49ers (6-10): Hey don’t sleep on the 49ers for too long as John Lynch did an incredible job in the off-season addressing their issues. I love what this team could develop into and personally they made a sneaky pick when they drafted who they have called their “possible Franchise QB” CJ Beathard as he could become their QB late in the season as he learns because this guy is a freak. Now I have heard reports Carlos Hyde might be a surprise cut this pre-season and that kind of has me saying how in the hell do you do that. I guess they like Joe Williams as a rookie incoming RB enough to replace Hyde? The defense is a good unit with a lot of potential to become a top half defense this year in points allowed. I don’t see them putting it all together this year but they are surely better this year just with John Lynch and Kyle Shannahan on the staff alone. I believe they are a year away from being able to make a run at the division. We shall see.
- Matt Koontz
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