Football’s back, baby!
Thursday, September 7th’s game featuring the New England Patriots defending their home field against the Kansas City Chiefs marks the opening day for the 2017-18 NFL season. This season is gonna be a whole lot of fun to watch (which really means something coming from a fan of a team as bad as the Jets like myself), and football fans everywhere are thrilled to return their enthusiasm to the gridiron.
In anticipation of the season’s beginning, here are my personal predictions as to how this year in football will pan out.
Let’s start off with the season’s final standings.
- New England Patriots (1st seed)
- Miami Dolphins
- Buffalo Bills
- New York Jets
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd seed)
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
- Tennessee Titans (4th seed)
- Houston Texans (Wild Card #2, 6th seed)
- Indianapolis Colts
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Oakland Raiders (2nd seed)
- Kansas City Chiefs (Wild Card #1, 5th seed)
- Denver Broncos
- Los Angeles Chargers
- New York Giants (4th seed)
- Dallas Cowboys (Wild Card #2, 6th seed)
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Washington Redskins
- Green Bay Packers (1st seed)
- Minnesota Vikings
- Detroit Lions
- Chicago Bears
- Atlanta Falcons (3rd seed)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Wild Card #1, 5th seed)
- Carolina Panthers
- New Orleans Saints
- Seattle Seahawks (2nd seed)
- Arizona Cardinals
- Los Angeles Rams
- San Francisco 49ers
Playoffs?!? You want to talk about playoffs? Well if you do, check out my picks for who’s gonna win each game.
AFC Wild Card Round
- Pittsburgh Steelers over Houston Texans
- Tennessee Titans over Kansas City Chiefs
NFC Wild Card Round
- Atlanta Falcons over Dallas Cowboys
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers over New York Giants
AFC Conference Semi-Finals
- New England Patriots over Tennessee Titans
- Oakland Raiders over Pittsburgh Steelers
NFC Conference Semi-Finals
- Green Bay Packers over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Seattle Seahawks over Atlanta Falcons
- New England Patriots over Oakland Raiders
- Green Bay Packers over Seattle Seahawks
Super Bowl LII
- Green Bay Packers over New England Patriots
Now that we’ve got all of the strictly team-based things out of the way, here are my picks for each of this season’s individual awards.
Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Offensive Player of the Year: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets
Comeback Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders
Finally, here are some of my rather bold predictions about this coming NFL season, some of which apply to things I’ve mentioned above, others are thoughts I have regarding other aspects of the game.
Derek Carr will come in 3rd in MVP voting behind Rodgers and Tom Brady
Rodgers and Brady are the obvious top 2 options to win the MVP this season and you can’t really go wrong with picking either one. However, I see Oakland QB Derek Carr giving them a serious run for their money this year. One reason for this is that Carr has steadily improved from an individual standpoint during each of his seasons in the NFL. Another thing to keep in mind is that he now has the best supporting cast around him of his career, with a borderline-elite wide receiver in Amari Cooper and the return of Marshawn Lynch to the NFL. The Raiders are gonna be nice this year, and Derek Carr will be their backbone.
The Tennessee Titans will escape mediocrity by improving every aspect of their offense
The Titans haven’t won the AFC South in a decade, but I think that changes this year with the biggest reason being a huge step up from Marcus Mariota. The former 2nd-overall pick is budding into a superstar right before our eyes, a trend which will take a big leap this season due to the Titans’ stellar offensive line and the addition of Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker to the team’s receiving core. I also see Tennessee’s run game looking differently this year. DeMarco Murray, despite having an excellent season last year, is approaching the dread 30-year hump for NFL running backs. While Murray will still be the lead back, expect a bigger role in the offense from former Heisman-winner Derrick Henry. Given Murray’s age and injury history, we could potentially even see Henry take over as the team’s primary running back.
Neither Rob Gronkowski or J.J. Watt will miss more than 2 games this year
Gronk and Watt are two of the most dominant football players the NFL has ever seen, but both are injury-prone to a huge fault. Both players are coming off big time back surgeries, but if they stay healthy, they’re going to tear their opponents apart. Gronkowski is looking healthier than ever right now (he was even on the field this preseason, which almost never happens) and Watt is as capable as anybody of returning to top form right off of season-ending surgery. While I don’t find it safe to say that both of these guys will play in all 16 games, expect them to be on the field far more often than not and for both of them to be as good as ever.
Jamal Adams will beat out Myles Garrett for Defensive Rookie of the Year
While Myles Garrett was taken 1st overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2017 NFL Draft and will be an amazing player in his own right, Jamal Adams is in the best position to succeed right now of any defensive rookie. The Jets absolutely cleaned house this off-season, dedicating to a full rebuild that will likely take years to payoff. With the cutting of team-staple David Harris and future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis, as well trading away Sheldon Richardson, Adams is primed to be the focal point of the Jets’ defense. Considered by many to be the most overall talented player in the 2017 draft class, look for Adams to immediately become one of the league’s best young defensive backs.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are gonna be an offensive powerhouse
If the Bucs had a better defense, I’d have them just eke out the Falcons for the NFC South title, but they don’t, so I won’t. I think the Falcons will regress slightly but not enough to keep them from winning the division. However, Tampa Bay’s offense is primed to explode this season. Much like Mariota, Jameis Winston has improved tremendously and has the makings of a potential star quarterback, and now he’s got the weapons to make that a reality. Mike Evans is a bonafide superstar receiver and is only getting better and the addition of deep-threat DeSean Jackson will help expand the field tremendously. The backfield of Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Charles Sims, while not exactly filled with superstar potential, works very well when all of its members are healthy and not suspended. Tampa will take a big leap forward this year, and look for them to take the division in 2018-19.