I figured with the Hall of Fame Game coming up next weekend, along with the Hall of Fame ceremony itself, (congrats again Jason Taylor) it was time to shed some light on who I feel will win each division and move on to the most watched season in sports: the NFL Playoffs.
Being raised in Minnesota, I’m excited for the Land of 10,000 Lakes to get the Super Bowl in their amazing new stadium. I went to the first Vikings game ever played there, which was a thrilling victory over our rival Green Bay Packers. Stephon Diggs had a monster night, and new Viking Sam Bradford looked sharp in leading the team to victory.
There was also an amazing tribute to Prince, who is no doubt Minnesota’s most famous native.
If anyone gets a chance to attend the Super Bowl this year in Minnesota, I can guarantee the Stadium will impress the shit out of you. What I can’t guarantee is that you’ll have good weather.
Enough preamble, let’s get to the 2017 Season!
My 2017 NFL Football Picks
****Note, this release is dated August 1 and does not take into account any injuries or personnel changes that could happen prior to the start of the season. I’ll update my picks should something major happen in future blog posts. Current betting odds per the Las Vegas Westgate can be found on ESPN.com.
Let’s start with the AFC, since they have the defending Champion New England Patriots. The AFC East should be a breeze this year. I mean seriously, who is going to compete with Tom Brady? Sure, he just turned 40, but he was once again the MVP of the Super Bowl less than 9 months ago. Bills? Dolphins? Jets? Please, this is the easiest division in football and it’s not even close.
AFC East Projections:
- New England
- New York Jets
Next, let’s move on to one of the more gritty divisions in the NFL – the AFC North. The Steelers are the most probable pick to win the division according to recent odds, but they will have to fend off the resilient Cincinnati Bengals as well as the never say die Baltimore Ravens. I don’t predict this division to be a runaway by any means, but I do feel the Steelers will win it, even if that means it’s on the last day of the season. With Martavis Bryant coming back as well as a healthy Leveon Bell, this team as is dangerous as they come on offense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is contemplating retirement, and you know he’ll stop at nothing to try to lead his team to the Super Bowl once again.
AFC North Projections:
The main question is, who will drop a game to the lowly Browns? It seems they sting a divisional opponent, or two, in one of their few wins each year.
The AFC South is probably the closest division in football when it comes to parody and predicting a winner this year is difficult for many reasons. First off, you have a Tennessee Titans team that is certainly trending upwards. With a backfield of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, you simply can’t count them out of any game. However, team leader and QB Marcus Mariota is coming off an injury, and it’s yet to be determined how his play will suffer. They did add Minnesota native Eric Decker to the mix, and he will help instantly on offense, provided he can stay free of injuries.
Jacksonville is rebuilding. I feel like this is a yearly statement. The addition of a solid running back in Leonard Fournette is great, but I still don’t anticipate much of an improvement from the Jaguars. The Texans went an entirely new direction in changing quarterbacks, but can a Rookie (Deshaun Watson) lead them to a division title? Before you say no, remember that Dak Prescott did this just a short year ago. He’ll still have to make the formality final by beating out Tom Savage, so let’s take things as they come. The team has a lot of pieces, and did make the playoffs last year, so they will be a team to watch.
The Colts being the last team in this division, it’s really hard to say what they will do. Andrew Luck was once the next Tom Brady, and while he hasn’t fallen as far as Colin Kaepernick, his stock has dropped. For him, it’s due to injuries and poor protection, and his status to start the season is questionable. I feel like the Colts ship sailed, and while they can be a dream team one week, I think this year they fade. I officially feel bad for Frank Gore, he’s an all time legend and deserves to play for a contender.
AFC South Predictions:
That’s officially my long shot pick to overcome the odds. Tennessee is supposed to finish third, but I think their running backs will flourish in season two together. Questions at quarterback for the other contenders makes this long shot easier to justify.
The NFC should have won the Super Bowl last year. Actually they won the game, in my eyes, but the Falcons beat themselves. A middle school coach could have called better plays in the second half and led the Falcons to victory, but what’s done is done. It only built the legend of Tom Brady, so I’m fine with it. Plus, Atlanta beat Minnesota on a bullshit missed kick back in the late 90’s to go to the Super Bowl, so I really don’t feel sorry for their fan base.
Let’s start right there with the NFC South. This division features a lot of explosion on offense. With Adrian Peterson in New Orleans, the Saints COULD emerge as a contender if they can shore up their defense. That is, if the old AP is back at it. I’ll never count that guy out. Cam Newton had a down year in 2016, but the addition of Christian McCaffrey should boost his arsenal on offense. The versatile running back can play wide receiver and catch passes out of the backfield and my money is on him to win the Rookie of the Year on offense as long as he stays healthy. Tampa returns many players and added a very solid tight end out of Alabama who will boost Jameis Winston to elite status if he delivers in the NFL. I do like the Falcons team, but will they be as magical as they were in 2016? It’s hard to imagine they can be as high flying, but with Julio Jones in the mix, that’s really what Falcons do – they fly.
NFC South Predictions:
- Tampa Bay
- New Orleans
If Cam Newton regains form, it’s his division once again. He was hurt a lot last year, and if he’s healthy, I think they take the division from Atlanta. That’s another one that goes against Las Vegas, but hey, you gotta roll the dice sometimes.
The NFC West is a two team race. Seattle vs. Arizona. This one is going to come down to who stays healthier. Sorry to be captain obvious, but really, do you see LA winning this division? How about San Francisco? Case rested.
NFC West Predictions:
- San Francisco
This isn’t my favorite division, and I am cheering for Larry Fitzgerald to make a post season run, but that’ll be up to his health as well as his veteran quarterback, Carson Palmer. My money is on the younger Seattle Seahawks.
The NFC NORSE – err – North. For starters, let me say that this is the division I follow the closest. Always have, and always will. I look for Sam Bradford and Stephon Diggs to keep their momentum going, and I look for the defense the Vikings had in the early parts of last season to resurface, and I pray that we don’t lose our entire offensive line like we did last year. If that happens, this one will be a good one for the Vikings. The Packers lost Eddie Lacy, and honestly, I could not have been happier about that. The Bears are the Bears, so we’ll not worry about them. It’s been a while since we had to actually worry about them winning the North. Detroit is a threat because of their quarterback, but I just see this as a two team race once again. It’s going to be Aaron Rodgers and his air show versus the Minnesota D to see who advances with the crown.
NFC North Predictions:
- Green Bay
The NFC East is always a fun one, thanks to the national attention it gets with the annoying Joe Buck calling all these Cowboys games. I really hope the Cowboys implode this year, just so I can see Joe Buck make excuses. Rooting for the Giants to get the East this year and old off young Carson Wentz, mainly because I think the Eagles song “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” is about as annoying as their fan base. (I have many friends who like the Eagles – you know who you are.) I can’t take the Redskins seriously because they can’t get serious about choosing a quarterback, so I’m going to say they finish last. This is going to turn some heads, but my predictions are as follows.
NFC East Predictions:
- New York
This leaves us with simply the playoffs (playoffs……? Jim Mora) to go. I’m going to wrap that thought up on another blog post and link you to it later this month!