(Courtesy of Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)
TORONTO- Hey Football Fans! It’s that time again! Football season is back. Here’s my season prediction for the upcoming NFL Season, which kicks off tonight beginning with a Super Bowl rematch between the defending champs Denver Broncos (minus Peyton Manning of course) and Carolina Panthers.
New England Patriots
Even with Tom Brady out for the first four games with a suspension, the Patriots will still compete when their starting quarterback returns. Bill Belichek is a great head coach. They have weapons on offense with WR Julian Edelman coming back from injury and TE Rob Gronkowski is a beast, as long he stays healthy.
The Bills may have seemed to found their franchise quarterback with Tyrod Tyler. Head Coach Rex Ryan helped improved their defense. WR Sammy Watkins has shown the potential to be a number one receiver. But they will rely on RB LeSean McCoy to stay healthy and look to find his groove like his old days in Philly.
New York Jets
They have a brutal schedule to start their season, as they will face 5 playoff teams to start. It could be a tight race in a tough division. Their defense may be the only reason why the Jets will compete thanks to the return of CB Darrelle Revis. But with no solution at quarterback, that can be difficult to see the Jets compete for a wild card spot.
New head Coach Adam Gase will look to solve all of the Dolphins problems. QB Ryan Tannehill has a sold receiving core with Jarvis Landry, but did lose RB Lamar Miller, who signed with Houston. Their front four is solid with Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, but their secondary struggled last season. They hoping that CB Byron Maxwell can rebound and improve that department after struggling last year with the Eagles.
Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown could be the best QB-RB-WR combo since the 1990s Cowboys’ triplets with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. They got pass rushing and an explosive offense. If their secondary improves, they can be a threat to win a Super Bowl.
Andy Dalton may have the best season of his career last year. But can he still get over his playoff hump. A.J. Green is still one of the top wide receivers in the game. Their defense is underrated led by DT Geno Atkins. But the key for them is to win when the game matters the most, the playoffs.
The good news is that their reliable veterans like QB Joe Flacco, WR Steve Smith and OLB Terrell Suggs are all returning from injuries. The bad news, this team is far away from competing. They need better protection from their offensive line and their defense need to improve. With the Bengals and Steelers compete, it may be too much for the Ravens to burden
Robert Griffin III is hoping that a change of scenery should redeem himself after dealing with multiple knee injuries. If he can revive himself, then the browns may have found something. Look for Josh Gordon to bounce back after dealing with drug abuse.
Coach Bill O’Brien has gone 9-7 twice without a consistent quarterback play. Lamar Miller is their new tailback. And of course, they have the monstrous DE J.J. Watt who gives opposing quarterbacks nightmares.
QB Andrew Luck is back and that is great and all. But their offensive line struggled and cost Luck to miss a majority of the season with injuries. Their wide receiver core with underrated T.Y. Hilton and Calvin Johnson.
The Jaguars may have take their next step forward with QB Blake Bortles leading the way. DE Dante Fowler Jr. is back from an ACL injury and that should help the pass rush. They continue to stockpile talen through free agency and draft, including 1st Round pick Jalen Ramsey. They may look to break out their playoff drought for the first time since 2007.
The Titans seems committed give their franchise QB Marcu Mariota some help. RB DeMarco Murray joining the Heisman Trophy tandem of Mariota and RB Derrick Henry. But their defense not that good to compete with the Texans, Colts and Jaguars.
With Peyton Manning retired, they are hoping that Trevor Sieman could help Denver retain their Super Bowl title. They still have OLB Von Miller to lead his defense. But the question is going to be the production of the quarter back. At least WR Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Saunders should help that out.
It’s hard to believe that the Raiders could make the playoffs. They are looking very good with third year stars in DE Khalil Mack and QB Derek Carr. WR Amari Cooper has shown potential as a star receiver. Finally, there may be hope in Oakland after all.
Kansas City Chief
The Chiefs’ defense is very good, but suffered a loss of OLB Justin Houston with an ACL injury. They will be in the hunt within the division. But their division may be tough to overcome the Broncos and Raiders.
San Diego Chargers
They finally solve the Joey Bosa’s contract dispute. But they are far from competing. Sure they have QB Phillip Rivers and WR Keenan Allen, but his supporting cast won’t do them any favours.
New York Giants
Eli Manning has a lot of weapons with Odell Beckham and company to outscore their opponents. They spend a lot of money to improved their defense with Olivier Vernon to help with their past rush. In a very weak division, the Giants may have the most complete team within the NFC East.
With RGIII gone, look for Kirk Cousin to be the man in the nation’s capital. Able to sign CB Josh Norman to get in Beckham’s head twice this year. They may have a brutal schedule in the second half of their season, but could be a tight race with the Giants
Already America’s team lost Tony Romo due to a broken bone in his back. As exciting as RB Ezekiel Elliot and QB Dak Prescott and a healthy WR Dez Bryant are, that a lot of pressure being put on for two rookies to carry the load. Defensively, they are a mess with Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain out due suspensions. Even if Romo somehow come back, its too much to burden for the Cowboys
Good news is that they traded away Sam Bradford to the Vikings for a 2017 1st round pick. The bad news is, they are still rebooting. Carson Wrentz will get a shot as starting QB, but he doesn’t have many weapons around him.
Green Bay Packers
As long as Aaron Rodgers is around at QB, the Packers should be a very good this year. Jordy Nelson is back and their defense is solid. But can they get back to their Super Bowl stardom like they did in 2010? Will be tough but are still in contention.
Losing QB Teddy Bridgewater is a devastating loss, but they are hoping that newly acquired Sam Bradford could still allow the Vikings to retain their division title. RB Adrian Peterson may be 30, but he can still carry run the football.
QB Matthew Stafford will miss his top WR Calvin Johnson. Stafford is still a solid playmaker but he needs some weapons around him. Iggy Ensah is one of the top pass rusher, but the rest of the defense is shaky. It will be tough overcome the loss of Johnson.
QB Jay Cutler turned things around this season. Receiving core is solid with WR Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White. They did lose RB Matt Forte and their defense is concerning.
The reigning NFC champs is now tempted to take the next step to win a Super Bowl. QB Cam Newton is looking to lead his team to bring the Vincent Lombardi trophy back to Carolina. Offense is dangerous good with the return of WR Kelvin Benjamin. Losing Josh Norman is huge but they still have a great defense with Kony Ealy.
The Falcons had a promising start with a 6-1 record but struggled in the 2nf half with a 2-7 finish. WR Julio Jones had a monster year and Matt Ryan is a good quarterback. Their pass rush needs to improve as they had a league low 19 sacks in total.
New Orleans Saints
There no telling in which the Saints are heading. They can compete with head coach Sean Payton and QB Brees still remaining since their 2009 Super Bowl victory. Or they can struggle with their defense ranked 2nd worst and allowed the most touchdown passes with 45. If their defense turns things around, then maybe the Saints surprise a lot of people.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Jameis Winston had a productive rookie year thanks to his receiving core with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. But a poor second half cost Lovie Smith’s job as head coach. They promoted Dirk Koetter as Smith’s next successor. The pressure is on Winston to take the next step forward.
The Seahawks are a good team, but lost their wow factor like they did when they won the Super Bowl in 2014. QB Russell Wilson remains of the game’s best callers and their defense still look good with an insane CB Richard Sherman. But they need to adjust without RB Marshaun Lynch.
The Cardinals have the most compete offense with RB David Johnson and WR Larry Fitzgerald to help the late blooming QB Carson Palmer. They’re defense is also solid in pass rushing and their secondary is a solid core with CB Patrick Peterson. Could be a two-team race for the NFC South title.
Los Angeles Rams
Relocating from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Rams are hoping that Californian QB Jared Goff to be their superstar. Their found a new fearsome foursome led by Aaron Donald to sack opposing quarterbacks. RB Todd Gurley overcame an ACL injury to become the top runner in the NFL. If only their receiving core can help Goff to be productive.
San Francisco 49ers
With Blaine Gabbert being named starting QB, Colin Kaepernick may look to find his way out of San Francisco. Kaepernick already cause a distraction by not standing up for the national anthem. They could finish with the worse record and may look to compete for the number one pick for the 2017 NFL Draft.
NFL MVP: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Offensive Player of the Year: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Chicago Bears
Comeback Player of the Year: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl Champion: Carolina Panthers over Pittsburgh Steelers