2017 NFL Predictions

The 2017 NFL Season is around the corner, so it’s time for another round of predictions. For the third-straight season, I correctly predicted one of the two teams in the Super Bowl last year: the New England Patriots. However, I had them losing to the Arizona Cardinals, who missed the playoffs entirely. So this year, I’ll try to do a little bit better, but odds are, I will be wrong more than I’m right once again.

AFC

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Patriots 13 – 3 Steelers 11 – 5 Titans 10 – 6 Raiders 12 – 4
Dolphins 8 – 8 Ravens 8 – 8 Texans 9 – 7 Chiefs 11 – 5
Bills 6 – 10 Bengals 6 – 10 Colts 7 – 9 Chargers 9 – 7
Jets 2 – 14 Browns 4 – 12 Jaguars 5 – 11 Broncos 9 – 7

Wild Cards: Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers

AFC East: The Patriots are the class of the AFC East, and it’s not even close. Tom Brady and co. will once again wipe the floor with the Dolphins, Bills and Jets, running away with yet another division title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Jay Cutler is sneakily an upgrade over Ryan Tannehill and will lead Miami to respectability, but their defense still needs a few pieces, leading to the ‘Fins just missing a Wild Card berth. The Bills are rebuilding in year one under Sean McDermott, especially after trading Sammy Watkins, and there just isn’t enough there to compete. Meanwhile, the Jets are as close to overtly tanking as an NFL team can be, hopeful to land the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

AFC North: The Steelers’ offense is among the best, if not the best in football, and with an improved defense, Pittsburgh will win the AFC North for the second-straight year. Baltimore will remain competitive, but Joe Flacco can only take the Ravens so far, especially with the Ravens’ poor pass-rush, anchored by 34-year-old Terrell Suggs. After years of competing with the Steelers and Ravens, the Bengals will take a step back this year, if not two or three. Cincinnati’s offensive line lost too much, and their defense isn’t what it used to be to expect more than 6-8 wins. The Browns will be much improved, as they finally have some talent, but there’s still more needed in Cleveland, especially at the QB position, where Hue Jackson and co. must determine if DeShone Kizer is the answer.

AFC South: Marcus Mariota is going to be good, real good. The Titans are putting together the makings of a Super Bowl contender, and while they’re not completely there yet, they’ve got the talent to win a lackluster division. Tom Savage has won the starting job in Houston, but it won’t be long before Deshaun Watson takes over. With a terrific defense, they’ll compete, but Watson needs a year of seasoning before they’re back in the playoffs. Andrew Luck’s health issues are a serious issue in Indianapolis, as, without Luck, the Colts are probably a cellar dweller. With him, the Colts are always a threat, but their defense is still a year away, talent-wise. And Watson’s early returns in Houston will make Jacksonville regret passing on the rookie QB, with Blake Bortles finally proving he won’t cut it with another last place finish, even with all the talent surrounding him.

AFC West: The AFC West might be the most talented division in all of football. Derek Carr and Khalil Mack have Oakland looking like a contender, one that could knock off New England in the playoffs. In Kansas City, while Patrick Mahomes is waiting in the wings, Alex Smith is still fully capable of guiding the Chiefs to 10+ wins and another playoff appearance, especially with Andy Reid and the Chiefs’ defense. And this could be the year the Chargers finally break through, even with their horrible luck, after improving the offense around Philip Rivers and getting Keenan Allen back from injury. Finally, the Broncos defense will keep them in the playoff hunt, but the question is, is Trevor Siemian good enough? I’m not so sure, especially with Denver’s lackluster offensive line.

NFC

NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Giants 10 – 6 Packers 11 – 5 Falcons 10 – 6 Seahawks 12 – 4
Cowboys 9 – 7 Vikings 7 – 9 Buccaneers 9 – 7 Cardinals 10 – 6
Washington 8 – 8 Lions 6 – 10 Panthers 7 – 9 Rams 5 – 11
Eagles 8 – 8 Bears 4 – 12 Saints 6 – 10 49ers 4 – 12

Wild Cards: Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys

NFC East: Everyone’s talking about Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys, but behind one of the best defenses in football, and a bounce-back season from Eli Manning, the New York Giants will take the NFC East crown. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will still be good enough for a Wild Card berth, but regression is coming for Prescott and Elliott, and Dallas has too many issues on defense to win the division. Kirk Cousins will again keep Washington relevant and in the race, but they’re just not on the same level, yet, as the Giants and Cowboys. And while the Eagles improved around Carson Wentz, second-year struggles from the QB will relegate Philadelphia once again to the bottom of the East, but not by more than a game or two.

NFC North: Nobody’s beating Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in this division. Though their defense will never be among the NFL’s elite, Rodgers and an improved offense are good enough for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The Vikings will go as far as Sam Bradford can take them, and that’s no better than 7-9 wins, even with a terrific defense guided by Mike Zimmer. And after a surprise playoff berth, the Lions will take a step back this season unless their defense can dramatically improve; they were one of the worst in the NFL last season. Finally, the Bears’ defense will keep them in games, but neither Mike Glennon nor Mitchell Trubisky is going to win many of them. Question is, when does Trubisky take over for the journeyman Glennon?

NFC South: The Falcons will experience a Super Bowl-hangover, but Matt Ryan and co., along with an improved defense, are too good not to win their second-straight division title. Jameis Winston will lead a dynamic offense in Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers and their defense are still a year away from making the playoffs. Who knows what Carolina’s going to get from Cam Newton, and with their defense aging, it’s another year on the outside looking in for the Panthers in the NFC South. As for Drew Brees and the Saints, the offense will be high-octane, as usual, but until they figure out their defense, New Orleans isn’t headed back to the playoffs anytime soon.

NFC West: Could this be the last hurrah for Richard Sherman? Maybe, but either way, the Seahawks defense will be as good as ever. And with an improved offensive line, Seattle will once again sit atop the NFC. Adding Budda Baker and Haason Reddick will only make the Cardinals defense better, and Carson Palmer, in potentially his last season in the NFL, will do just enough to get Arizona into the playoffs. The Rams are at least two years away, but after getting railed during the offseason, Jared Goff will prove why he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2016. And Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have the 49ers on the right track, but until they get their QB (See: Cousins, Kirk) and rebuild a once-vaunted defense, San Francisco will be relegated NFC West cellar.

PLAYOFFS:

Seeding:

  • AFC: Patriots, Raiders, Steelers, Titans, Chiefs, Chargers
  • NFC: Seahawks, Packers, Falcons, Giants, Cardinals, Cowboys

Wild Card Round:

  • AFC: Steelers over Chargers and Chiefs over Titans
  • NFC: Falcons over Cowboys and Giants over Cardinals

Divisional Round:

  • AFC: Patriots over Chiefs and Raiders over Steelers
  • NFC: Giants over Seahawks and Falcons over Packers

Conference Championships:

  • AFC: Raiders over Patriots
  • NFC: Giants over Falcons

Super Bowl LII

  • Raiders over Giants

Awards:

  • Super Bowl MVP: Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders
  • Offensive MVP: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
  • Defensive MVP: Tyrann Mathieu, FS, Arizona Cardinals
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texas
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
  • Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders
  • Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers

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