Green Bay is a favorite to win the AFC North every year, and that will likely remain unchanged as long as Aaron Rodgers remains at the helm of the office. Mr. Discount Double Check is as consistent as they come and 2017 will be no different. Barring injury, this division is Green Bay’s to lose.
Matthew Stafford and Detroit’s offense suffered with the loss of Calvin Johnson. Stafford threw for eight fewer touchdowns and three more interceptions in 2016 than he did the prior season. Unfortunately, Detroit also is home to the NFL’s worst rushing attack. Are the Lions’ offensive line changes enough to close the gap in the NFC North?
Minnesota may have a QB battle on their hands when Teddy Bridgewater returns to the club. Sam Bradford showed moments of brilliance last season as did Bridgewater in 2015 and the preseason. Is this a good problem to have or will it serve only as a distraction for a team that’s had enough of them? Looking at you, AP.
The Bears threw their fan base into an emotional tailspin when they traded up in the draft to select Mitch Trubinsky with the second overall pick. Chicago parted ways with Jay Cutler and signed Mark Sanchez, who may be competing for a starting job? The addition of Victor Cruz gives da’ Bears a good option at WR.
Dak and Zeke look to repeat their magical rookie season in which they led the Dallas Cowboys to a NFL-best 13-3 record. However, even with Ezekiel Elliot’s six game suspension upheld, being able to play in game 1, he and Prescott are due for sophomore slumps. All teams will be looking at Dallas as the team to beat.
Eli Manning is a happy QB after the New York Giants signed WR Brandon Marshall this offseason. After unexpectedly releasing WR Victor Cruz and RB Rashad Jennings, Marshall is a great addition to an offensive unit that struggled to put points on the board in 2016. With Jason Pierre-Paul returning to the defensive unit, Big Blue looks to build on last year’s 2nd place NFC East finish.
The Washington Redskins entered the offseason with what should have been one clear goal: Resign Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal. They didn’t do that. What they did do is fire most of their defensive coaching staff and placed the franchise tag on Cousins (again). The Skins have shown glimmers of hope with Cousins at the helm. Is this their year?
Philadelphia made some big moves this offseason, particularly on the offensive side. The Eagles signed WR Torrey Smith, WR Alshon Jeffries, QB Nick Foles, and RB LeGarrette Blount. Carson Wentz had an impressive rookie season and showed the mechanics of a solid NFL quarterback despite their 7-9 finish. These additions will surely help.
Atlanta choked in epic proportions in the second half of Super Bowl XLI. The good news for the Falcons is they play in the NFC South. Atlanta should be able to make its way back to the playoffs if they play like they did last season. Will Matt Ryan and Co. redeem themselves and get a second shot at glory? I do not think so.
Tampa Bay has surrounded Jameis Winston with offensive weapons. The Bucs signed WR DeSean Jackson and drafted the best TE in the class. O.J. Howard, out of Alabama. The Bucs have a real shot to give the Falcons a run for their money in the NFC South. However, the offense is too dark for my liking, and the defense is a joke.
After months of trying to find a team, Adrian Peterson finally landed in New Orleans. The Saints are a pass-first offense, so it will be interesting to see how a running back like AP fits in. Will AP be the same player he was before falling from grace? No, he will not be.
After losing to the Broncos in the Super Bowl, the Panthers finished dead last in their division in 2016. Carolina had the second best rushing offense in the league and worked to retain those key pieces. Too bad Cam Newton remains at QB. Denver exposed his throwing inability.
This is Seattle’s division to lose. No other team in the NFC West has shown to be reliable enough to bet on long-term. After getting bounced from the playoffs, the Seahawks picked up Eddie Lacy to fill the void left by Marshawn Lynch’s early departure. Look no further. This is the team to beat…..I guess?
Arizona is in a position where they need to win soon if they’re going to win at all. QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald are 37 and 33 years old respectively. The drop-off in talent after these two is significant. It’s a must-win season for Arizona. If they don’t make a deep playoff run this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Palmer hangs them up.
The Rams are a very young team, with only three players over 30 years old. A young team, with skilled players, in a new city. Don’t bet on them to rush towards the playoffs this season. Take a close look next season.
It’s hard to believe the 49ers played in a Super Bowl less than five years ago. This team has become a punchline. They’ve done very little to dig themselves out of the NFC West basement. They will remain there after this season and beyond
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