I am still not over the Super Bowl. The pain still pierces me through like a knife. The colossal collapse by the Atlanta Falcons have, for the first time, made me less than excited about the 2017 National Football League (NFL) season which kicks off tonight. I am not ready for it. People tell me that the Falcons can still do it or they will come back and win it this year. I am not convinced. It is a long season. It all starts over again. Last year I picked Green Bay over New England in the Super Bowl which came close to happening.
My 2017 predictions appear below. I do not have some fancy computer system to determine these picks. I go through each team’s schedule, look at the rosters, draft picks and new players and then I throw in my own gut feelings for each team. This is what I have come up with:
New England (12-4) – One magazine picked the Patriots to go 16-0. I don’t think so. They’re still good and still have Brady which is more than enough to win the division.
Miami (8-8) – Jay Cutler? Seriously? Don’t expect the same from the Dolphins this year but good enough for second.
Buffalo (5-11) – The Bills still have some holes to fill. After some promising seasons, I expect them to take a few steps back.
NY Jets (4-12) – Another year of rebuilding for the Jets. They have a lot of “players for the future” but not enough to dig out of the cellar.
Pittsburgh (9-7) – I don’t much like picking the Steelers but they are the best team in the division but they won’t run away with it. If Roethlisberger is healthy and running game is as good, it will be enough.
Cincinnati (9-7) – How much longer will the Bengals be patient with Head Coach Marvin Lewis? Somehow he keeps staying around. If the team can avoid the injuries they had last year, they should give the Steelers a run for the division.
Baltimore (8-8) – I think the Ravens will be lucky to finish .500 even with a healthy Joe Flacco.
Cleveland (5-11) – If the Browns ever find a solid quarterback – well – when have they ever?
Tennessee (9-7) – High expectations in Nashville for the Titans and with good reason but the defense against the pass could be a glaring weakness.
Houston (9-7) – The Texans might have a totally different look if DeShaun Watson is running the offense.
Indianapolis (8-8) -The Colts have been on a continuing slide and I expect the decline to continue.
Jacksonville (3-13) – It’s going to be a long season in Jacksonville but they are a pesky bunch and their three wins will probably come from Tennessee and Houston.
Kansas City (12-4) – They were a good team last year but stumbled in the playoffs. The Chiefs should be right back in it again this year.
Oakland (11-5) – The Raiders are back and will challenge for the division. I’m not sure that adding Marshawn Lynch was such a good idea.
Denver (9-7) – The Broncos still need a quarterback. They still have one of the best defenses in the NFL. If the offense can improve, look for the Broncos to move up.
Los Angeles Chargers (6-10) – Whether San Diego or Los Angeles, it really doesn’t matter. The Chargers should have redrafted a new team in the move.
Dallas (11-5) – It will be interesting to see how Dak Prescott responds this season. I think he’s the real deal. If the defense tightens up, look for big things in big D.
Washington (9-7) – I still don’t think Kirk Cousins is the answer at quarterback for the Redskins – and can someone please change the name of this team?
New York Giants (8-8) – Even with Eli Manning, the Giants’ offense is still not much to talk about. The defense will win games but the offense will lose some.
Philadelphia (7-9) – The Eagles have an identity crisis. They need to figure it out or it might be a long season in Philly.
Green Bay (11-5) – The Packers looked to be Super Bowl bound last season but completely unraveled against Atlanta in the playoffs. They will pick up where they left off and run away with the division.
Minnesota (7-9) – The Vikings need help. You can’t blame injuries on it now.
Detroit (6-10) – Matt Stafford can only do so much.
Chicago (4-12) – It’s going to be a long season in Chicago. Not much to work with here and they traded for Mike Glennon? He’s good but definitely needs help.
Atlanta (10-6) – It will be interesting to see how they respond to the Super Bowl collapse. Historically, the Falcons bottom out after a great season. I’m going to buck the tradition this time.
Tampa Bay (9-7) – The Bucs are for real and will give the Falcons a run for the division. If the Falcons falter, look for this team to move up.
Carolina (9-7) – The Panthers totally flubbed out last year but they will rebound and make this division a 3-team race.
New Orleans (7-9) – How long before the Saints realize their Super Bowl win is years behind them now? They can’t win with only Drew Brees.
Seattle (11-5) – This could be the Seahawks’ last run. No doubt they are better than the rest of their division. Expect them to clinch the division early.
Arizona (7-9) – The Cardinals are a mystery. Which team will show up this year? I’m not expecting much but good enough for second in the division.
Los Angeles Rams (6-10) – The move back to LA did nothing really and yet another losing season for the franchise. I wish they would trade Todd Gurley to a good team. He’s wasting his time there.
San Francisco (2-14) – Well, we will see just how good Kyle Shanahan is with his first head coaching gig. Hint: He’s not going to be the answer in San Francisco.
AFC Championship: New England over Kansas City
Yep, I expect the Chiefs to get a little closer but the Patriots just seem to have too many weapons to be denied yet another trip to the Super Bowl.
NFC Championship: Dallas over Green Bay
Okay, I’m going against conventional wisdom here and picking the Cowboys. I’m expecting the Packers to run out of gas yet again just short of the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl: Dallas over New England
If there’s one team that I think can dethrone New England, it will be a healthy Dallas Cowboys team.
There you have it. Place your bets in Vegas now! I am, by no means, an expert and even the experts get it wrong. These are just expectations but, as we are always reminded – this is why they still play the game. Anything is possible – except maybe the Browns winning the Super Bowl.