The NFL season is almost here and I wanted to give some predictions on what I think will happen this year. It will include the team MVP, offensive and defensive player of the year, and guys who I think will breakout.
1. Philadelphia Eagles 11-5 (4-2)
The Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champions but they are in a very unique situation. Carson Wentz is coming off an ACL tear and is unknown when he will return to the Eagles starting lineup, and Nick Foles looked underwhelming in the preseason. The defense is still going to be great again, and with Derek Barnett having a year of experience, as well as Sidney Jones coming back, this defense could be even better than last year. As long as Wentz doesn't miss many games. and the defense repeats what it did last year, I don't see why the Eagles won't be back in the Super Bowl again.
2. Dallas Cowboys 9-7 (4-2)
"America's team" returns their best offensive player in Ezekiel Elliott, but their pro bowl center Travis Fredrick is dealing with an auto-immune disorder. This offense desperately needs to stay healthy if they want to make the playoffs. The Cowboys are lacking receiving options around Dak Prescott, and really need their receivers to step up to make a deep playoff run. The defense has a bunch of young pieces that need to step up, and I'm optimistic that they will. If the Cowboys stay healthy and the receivers step up, then this team has the potential to make noise in the playoffs.
3. Washington Redskins 7-9 (2-4)
The Redskins are coming off an off season in which they lost their starting quarterback in Kirk Cousins, and replaced him with Alex Smith. They unfortunately lost their starting running back Derrius Guice to an ACL tear. The defense is led by pass rushers Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, but they traded their top corner Kendall Fuller. The Redskins must generate a run game if they want to be a playoff caliber team, they also need Jordan Reed to stay healthy the whole season. Josh Doctson could finally have his breakout year, pairing him with Crowder, and the deep threat ability of Paul Richardson Jr could make this offense dynamic. If the Redskins can run the ball efficiently, and their young defense steps up, they could be a surprise team.
- MVP: Ryan Kerrigan
- OMVP: Jordan Reed
- DMVP: DJ Swearinger
- Breakout: Josh Doctson
4. New York Giants-5-11 (2-4)
The Giants are coming off an injury riddled and disappointing season, and selected star running back Saquon Barkely. They get one of the most dynamic players in football back, OBJ and the return of the nifty slot Sterling Shepard. Evan Engram's progression should be something to watch this season as he was the Giants leading receiver last year. The offensive line doesn't look promising, but it looks better than it has the past few seasons. Eli hasn't been very good the past two seasons, and will likely be replaced next off-season. The defense is rough, especially in the secondary. Janoris Jenkins regressed and Eli Apple has more problems than football, they haven't been able to generate a good pass rush either. I think the Giants must have to throw short passes and run the ball very well to even sniff a decent season, unfortunately I'm not optimistic that happens this year.
1. Minnesota Vikings-13-3 (4-2)
The Vikings are coming off a magical season with the Minneapolis Miracle, and going to the NFC championship game with the unlikely rise of Case Keenum. All three of the Vikings quarterbacks left in Free Agency, and they replaced them with Kirk Cousins. The Vikings return Dalvin Cook from a season ending injury, and the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. The potential emergence of Laquon Treadwell in his third season will be something to watch for. The offensive line is the biggest weakness on the team, but it's not enough to derail the Vikings. The defense is always going to be good with Mike Zimmer, and adding Sheldon Richardson and Mike Hughes this offseason will make the unit that much better. I see the Vikings making it back to the NFC Championship barring injury.
2. Chicago Bears-9-7 (3-3)
The Chicago Bears made one of the biggest trades in the NFL in a few years adding Khalil Mack for a load of draft picks. They added Allen Robinson to come in and be the number one receiver, as well as adding Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton. The offense looks to have upgraded quite a bit at receiver and they have Howard and Cohen in the backfield, but how will Mitch Trubisky progress in year two? The defense added a top five pass rusher to put across from the young stud Leonard Floyd. Roquan Smith was their top pick this year in the middle of the defense, and that secondary with Kyle Fuller and Adrian Amos looks really good. If Trubisky progresses in year two they will be a playoff team, but if he doesn't then they will second guess themselves after trading their first round pick.
- MVP: Khalil Mack
- OMVP: Allen Robinson
- DMVP: Leonard Floyd
- Breakout: Eddie Goldman
3. Detroit Lions-8-8 (3-3)
The Lions got rid of Jim Caldwell and brought in former Patriots defensive coordinate Matt Patricia. The defense has been average the past few years and Patricia was brought in to fix that. They need more of a pass rush across from Ziggy Ansah, and for Jarrad Davis to stay healthy. Darius Slay is one of the most underrated players in the league and will have to be great once again. The offense has been too one dimensional the past few years with very little help from the run game. The good news is that they added young stud running back Kerryon Johnson to take the pressure off of Matthew Stafford. The Lions passing game will once again be great with Stafford, and the receiving corps of Marvin Jones and Golden Tate and the potential breakout of Kenny Golladay. The Lions need the running game to step up and the defense if they want to make the playoffs in the NFL's toughest division.
- MVP: Matthew Stafford
- OMVP: Marvin Jones
- DMVP: Darius Slay
- Breakout: Kenny Golladay
4. Green Bay Packers-8-8 (2-4)
The Packers get one of the best quarterbacks in the past decade back, and added Jimmy Graham to help across from Davante Adams. The Packers have a good young running back duo in Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, but are lacking receiving options aside from Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham. The defense needs to step up after a disappointing season in which they finished twentieth in turnovers. They added two corner studs, Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. They added vet Mo Wilkerson, who wasn't the same last year but is still fairly young and has potential. The pass rush needs to improve, and the young corners must show they can prove to be legitimate starters. Unfortunately the Packers have a below average roster, and are in the toughest division in football.
1. New Orleans Saints-10-6 (5-1)
New Orleans is coming off a heartbreaking playoff loss to the Vikings, but they were very young last year and will rebound. The defense's improvement last year was a huge part of the Saints success. Marshon Lattimore put himself in the top ten corner talk in his rookie season, and besides on bone headed play, Marcus Williams looked like a steal. The linebackers are their weakest link, but Alex Anzalone is returning and could be a contributor. The offense is always going to be good with Drew Brees, and the additions of Teddy Bridgewater and Cam Meredith. Micheal Thomas is a top five receiver and Alvin Kamara is one of the best young players in the league. Mark Ingram is suspended the first four games, so Kamara will have to show he can be an every down back for them. If the Saints stay healthy and don't slump after the playoff loss, then I wouldn't be surprised to see them deep into the playoffs.
2. Atlanta Falcons-10-6 (2-4)
Atlanta is two years removed from the stunning Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. Steve Sarkasian looked rough in his first season as Offensive Coordinator, so he will have to be better in his second year. Matt Ryan had an above average year, but not like his 2016 performance. Julio Jones had a down year, but I expect him and the Falcons offense to bounce back this year. The defense is young and features studs like Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, and Grady Jarrett. I expect the defense to be lights out again with the emergence of Grady Jarrett and other young talented pieces. If Sarkisian redeems himself from last year and Ryan has a bounce back year, the Falcons will be a playoff team.
- MVP: Matt Ryan
- OMVP: Julio Jones
- DMVP: Grady Jarrett
- Breakout: Takk McKinley
3. Carolina Panthers-9-7 (3-3)
Carolina is coming off a season in which they missed the playoffs after the Saints emergence. The additions of DJ Moore, Torrey Smith, and the return of Greg Olsen and Curtis Samuel will give Cam the best weapons he's had since he's arrived in Charlotte. The defense will miss Thomas Davis the first few games since he's suspended, but Luke Kuechly has stayed healthy and will help ease the loss of him. The secondary is still really young, but Donte Jackson and James Bradberry give a good young duo to build around on the back end. The offensive line is the biggest problem, but Darryl Williams is already practicing and Matt Kalil getting injured may be a blessing. Unfortunately, the Panthers play the Saints and Falcons twice a year, so making the playoffs will be a very hard task this year.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-4-12 (2-4)
The Buccaneers are in a bad place with Jameis Winston being suspended for the first four games of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starter over the first four games, the running game will need to pick up but Ronald Jones struggled in the preseason. They have a great receiving corps with a top ten receiver in Mike Evans, a potential breakout Chris Godwin, and a great young tight end in O.J Howard. The offensive line has struggled and they desperately need to protect Jameis when (or if) he comes back. The defense added Jason Pierre-Paul to the defensive line, pairing him with Gerald McCoy, but the secondary has been poor the last few years. They really need Vernon Hargreaves to step up and their other young guys as well. The Bucs are in a bad spot without their quarterback, but I think Winston has his best season as a pro and bounces back. Unfortunately it may not be enough for Dirk Koetter to keep his job.
- MVP: Jameis Winston
- OMVP: Mike Evans
- DMVP: Gerald McCoy
- Breakout: O.J Howard
1. Los Angeles Rams-11-5 (4-2)
The Rams made a flurry of moves this off season, including re-signing Aaron Donald to a massive contract extension. They bring back the great young tandem of Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, as well as the addition of Brandin Cooks. The offense will be just as dynamic as last year if not more, and it will be interesting to see how much improvement Jared Goff makes. The Rams added Ndamukong Suh in free agency to make one of the most dynamic defensive line pairings in some time. The linebacker position is a major weakness, but I think the Rams will be fine with that great defensive line. The secondary also added Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib, one of the league’s best corner duos. Peters and Talib are both legit top 10 corners in the league, and with Joyner and Johnson beside them they could make some major plays. If the Rams stay healthy I see the Rams making a playoff push, and maybe even a Super Bowl berth.
- MVP: Aaron Donald
- OMVP: Todd Gurley
- DMVP: Marcus Peters
- Breakout: John Johnson III
2. San Francisco 49ers-10-6 (4-2)
The 49ers got what looks to be their franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. The offense added Jerrick McKinnon, but lost him to an ACL injury in practice. They added Alfred Morris, Dante Pettis, and return Pierre Garcon from injury. The offense has the potential to be very good, with the Jimmy G to Goodwin connection. The defense is another young group with Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner, and Arik Armstead all manning the front seven. Reuben Foster is one of the best young linebackers in the league, but he will be suspended the first 2 games of the season. The secondary added Richard Sherman, and with the young talent of Tartt, Colbert, and Witherspoon, they should be fine against the pass. Many people think the Niners are one year away, but I think they will surprise people and make the playoffs this year.
- MVP: Jimmy Garoppolo
- OMVP: Marquise Goodwin
- DMVP: DeForest Buckner
- Breakout: Solomon Thomas
3. Seattle Seahawks-6-10 (3-3)
The Seahawks had a rehaul this offseason with Kam Chancellor retiring, and Michael Bennett getting traded to the Eagles. The Seahawks added first round running back Rashaad Penny to take the pressure off of Russell Wilson, but Chris Carson looks like the starter and a potential break out candidate. The recievers aside from Doug Baldwin aren't very good, and the loss of Jimmy Graham will sting a bit. The offensive line is one of the worst in the league, and they will need to improve a lot if they team wants to win. The defensive line is rough besides Frank Clark, but they have a great linebacker duo in Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright. The secondary is very much a work in progress besides Shaquill Griffin and Earl Thomas III, and they don't have the pass rush to take the pressure off of the corners. The Seahawks are definitely in a rebuilding season, and will need some young players to show what they have for the future.
- MVP: Russell Wilson
- OMVP: Doug Baldwin
- DMVP: Bobby Wagner
- Breakout: Shaquill Griffin
4. Arizona Cardinals-4-12 (1-5)
The Cardinals drafted their franchise quarterback this offseason when they added Josh Rosen. He won't start immediately, but Bradford is probably going to get hurt so he could see playing time early. They get their best player back with David Johnson coming back from injury, and Larry Fitzgerald has showed no signs of slowing down. Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones provide a good young talented pass catching duo. The offensive line is rough and will struggle to protect either quarterback. The defense is bringing back the reigning sack leader, Chandler Jones, and other young stars. Robert Nkemdiche needs to step up in a big way this season if he ever wants to live up to his first-round selection. They have youth and speed at linebacker with Haason Reddick, and Deone Bucannon, plus Budda Baker and Patrick Peterson in the secondary. I think this team is still rebuilding, but will be a team that could rise in the next few years.
- MVP: David Johnson
- OMVP: Larry Fitzgerald
- DMVP: Chandler Jones
- Breakout: Budda Baker