While I was asked to write about baseball for this site, here I am writing this blog at 12:30 in the morning the day of football finally being back. I'm like a kid on Christmas, sitting up in bed not being able to sleep. I'm just too excited to watch meaningful football again. With that being said, I would like to share my thoughts on every team and what each division will look like (standings and estimated wins) for those out there who care what a custodian from Windsor Locks thinks.
New England Patriots- The Patriots will win the division for the 16th time in 18 seasons because they are simply better than everyone else in their division. They have Tom Brady, and even though he is 41 years old he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down yet. In the Super Bowl last year he went 28-48 with 505 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns. While he could have completed a better percentage of passes, that stat line is great for a 40 year old in a Super Bowl. Tom isn't the only reason they will win 12 games this year. They have Gronk who is an absolute monster, Bellichick who is the best coach ever, and I think their pass rush will be better this year with the additions of Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton. Not to mention they are getting Dont'a Hightower back, and I think a lot of people forget just how good their linebacking corps can be when he is the defensive signal caller. I can see this Pats team winning 11 or 12 games.
New York Jets- The Jets are young, but the Jets will get there. Not this year though. There will be some growing pains for Sam Darnold throughout the first few weeks going up against a Matt Patricia defense in Detroit, a revamped Browns defense and the vaunted Jags defense. They probably won't sniff .500 this year due to the fact that they lack a pass rush and NFL offenses will take advantage of that. Especially when you play QB's like Brady, Rodgers, Stafford, Cousins, Watson and Luck. They will pick apart their above average defensive backfield with enough time. As much as Jets fans want this year to be different, it won't be. Another 5 or 6 win season is on the horizon.
Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins have no buzz whatsoever going into their week one game against the Titans, and it is for good reason. There is nothing sexy about this team. Tannehill is coming off a major knee surgery, they no longer have Jay Ajayi, Suh isn't going to be penetrating opposing teams O-Lines, and one of their "Key Additions" is 35 year old RB Frank Gore. He has more miles on him than a 1963 Corvette. Also, who is going to be their WR1? Kenny Stills is mediocre, Devante Parker might be able to show out now that Jarvis Landry is in Cleveland. Either way you go, I don't like their wide receiver corps. Oh yeah, and that Amendola signing only makes their team better looking, he won't produce without Brady throwing him the pigskin. A mere 4 to 5 wins sounds about right for this team.
Buffalo Bills- Buffalo is coming off an improbable playoff appearance where they backed their way into the playoffs thanks to Andy Dalton finally remembering how to quarterback. The thing I don't understand is trading Tyrod Taylor who lead you to the just good enough record that got them in. We all saw what Nate Peterman could do last year, which is throw the ball to the team wearing the colors he wasn't. Then they go and botch the draft in April and pass on Josh Rosen to pick a guy that played at Wyoming and has the worst accuracy I've ever seen in Josh Allen. While I do think they have a good coach in Sean McDermott they just will be flat out terrible this year. Not knowing if anything will happen legally with McCoy I can see this team only winning 3 games.
Pittsburgh Steelers- The Steelers go into the year with a sticky situation on their hands. The best running back in the NFL has yet to report to their facilities and we are 4 days away from their season beginning. Not to mention this is a very touchy subject around the locker room with multiple offensive lineman speaking out against Bell this week. So without him for this weekend and what might be multiple weeks into the season the Steelers will have to rely on James Conner who isn't terrible by any means. But without Bell you can see them losing a couple more games than they would if he were there. This is a tough thing to read. If he's there AB has a great once again, if he isn't AB will get all the attention and be a little less productive with double coverage. They still have an up-and-coming star with JuJu at WR to help on offense and Big Ben is still one of the best in the game so this team will be fine no matter what. 10 or 11 wins for the Steelers this year.
Baltimore Ravens- Another tough team to get a read on is the Ravens. They will finish with a top 5 defense when the year ends, but what is going to happen with their offense. Joe Flacco has been bad for a couple of years now, but with the team drafting Lamar Jackson I want to see if it lights a fire in Flacco. He has Michael Crabtree and John Brown as a solid set of receivers and a young TE so who knows what this year will bring for Baltimore on offense. Don't forget about Collins running for them, he will be a solid back all year. Looking like 8 to 9 wins and fighting for a Wild Card spot.
Cleveland Browns- While Hard Knocks has me excited about the Browns, I'm not about to believe all of the hype around this team. Tyrod will play well with this team, but they have to block for him. Losing a cornerstone on their offensive line in Joe Thomas will be tough, but I think the offense will do well. This team has two studs at wide receiver with Jarvis Landry coming in this offseason and finally a full season of Josh Gordon who can be the best wide receiver in football. Not to mention they have a three headed dog coming out of the backfield with Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson Jr., and Nick Chubb. On the defensive side of the ball they have a full year of Myles Garrett, Jamie Collins is still a stud, and they have new cornerbacks who could be good. Looking at 6 or 7 wins which is a big step in the right direction for this franchise.
Cincinnati Bengals- The Bengals are the Bengals. Don't know what to say about them honestly. How does Marvin Lewis still have his job? This is a serious question here.. He needs to go. Well now they have to play football under his direction for another year. It won't be pretty, but they will have some bright spots this year. Joe Mixon is going to be a stud, Green is going to have a bounce back season, and maybe Andy Dalton will figure it out? Looking at 5 or 6 wins for the Bengals.
Houston Texans- Really like the makeup of this team coming into 2018. The Texans will once again be a contender in the AFC. Watson is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season and he will be throwing the ball to DeAndre Hopkins who is a specimen and Will Fuller who has burners. Houston also has a pretty healthy defense to start the season. They will have Watt, Clowney, Mercilus and of course a big offseason acquisition Tyraan Mathieu. If these guys stay healthy, look out opposing offenses. This is a team with a high ceiling and when healthy they will reach it. Can win 11 or 12 games when it's all said and done.
Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags had a great year last year, but I just think they take a step back this year. The defense is obviously legit, but is the offense going to score enough this year? With Marqise Lee going down with a season ending knee injury, who will Bortles throw the ball to? Dede Westbrook is solid, but I just can't see them having a legit passing attack which will hurt their run game. Granted Leonard Fournette is a big downhill runner, but he can't do it all by himself. The only way this team wins games is if their defense holds teams to field goals, and I think they can do that. Wild Card team at 10-6
Tennessee Titans- Don't know what will happen under new coach Mike Vrabel, but I expect this team to be solid again. They have reinforcements on the defensive side of the ball, bringing in Malcolm Butler who the Patriots let walk after benching him in the Super Bowl. He will be a big addition to a team that gave up a lot of passing yards last season. They also brought in another ex-Pats player in Dion Lewis on the offensive side of the ball. These guys might as well be renamed "Patriots South". And let's not forget about Derrick Henry running downhill all year. Talk about a grown man, Henry will be a tough matchup for most defenses so expect a breakout year for him. Another team fighting for that second Wild Card spot.
Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck is back which is great news for Colts fans, but don't let that distract you from the fact that their defense stinks out loud. Hopefully with drafting Quenton Nelson the offensive line will keep Luck upright this year so he can get the ball out to T.Y. Hilton. They still don't have a real run game, so who knows what to make of this team. Going with 5 wins for the Colts.
Los Angeles Chargers- THIS IS THE YEAR! They finally get out to a hot start again that is. The Chargers have been a team that have come out cold to start the year and then turn it on just a little too late to make the playoffs. I believe they come out of the gates hot and win this division for the first time since 2009. Rivers still puts up numbers, Keenan Allen was finally healthy last year and he balled out, Mike Williams is healthy for the full season this year so they have a really good WR2, and Melvin Gordon is a freak out of the backfield. It won't just be their offense that takes them to the next level however. That defense is legit. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram causing havoc in the backfield and Casey Hayward picking balls off in the secondary, this team is solid all around. Hopefully for them they found a kicker this offseason who can actually make a kick. Another team that will be around 11 or 12 wins.
Kansas City Chiefs- Alex Smith is gone and that is a lot of consistency headed to Washington, but Patrick Mahomes is going to fit in perfectly with this offense. He obviously has a rocket arm, but he also has great chemistry with Tyreek Hill as we saw in the preseason games. Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, and Sammy Watkins round out an offense filled with weapons. The only problem I see this team having is their defense. They are getting older and they traded one of the best corners in the league to the Rams. Look for this team to be in the 9 to 10 win group with the Ravens and the Titans fighting for the last postseason spot.
Denver Broncos- Case Keenum is a solid QB and obviously an improvement on anything they had last year, but who knows if the Case Keenum from the Vikings will show up. Royce Freeman will be a solid back for them and they have Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders still. They can put up some points, but they can't compete with the teams at the top of their division. Probably going to win 7 games in 2018.
Oakland Raiders- The Raiders. Oh the Raiders.. They went out and got Jordy Nelson this offseason which is a good pickup because he will have a good bounce back year. Maybe that will rub off on Amari Cooper and he might be good this year too. Carr will be solid if healthy, but their offense needs Marshawn Lynch to have a beastmode type year or else they will not be able to move the ball all that well. On the other side of the ball they have players. Nothing good you can say about the defense since they decided paying the second best defensive player in football was a bad idea and shipped him to Chicago. They will be terrible and will lose a lot of games because of it. And how can we forget they signed John Gruden to a 10 year deal to run this team into the ground because he has never coached the present game of football. He was good back in the day, but he'll be abysmal this time around. Looking like 4 to 5 wins. Woof.
Philadelphia Eagles- They're the defending Super Bowl Champions, never thought I'd type those words, and they look like they will have a shot to repeat this year. Granted it will be very difficult going through a very tough NFC, but they will be up to the task. Wentz will come back soon enough and their offense will be very high powered and he'll contend for the MVP which he should have won last year. Defense won't be a problem for them either with a solid and deep front seven and Malcolm Jenkins playing over the top. Expect this team to win 11 games once Wentz and Jeffery are healthy.
New York Giants- Odell secured his bag and the Giants will win football games because of it. They play well when he's on the field and he should be all year. Manning is getting older but he has a ton of weapons now. Obviously Odell, then you have Shepard, Evan Engram, and of course the young should be stud Saquon Barkley. This team will put up points if their offensive line can actually block this year. Spending money on Nate Solder was a wise investment and will help bolster the line. Who knows what their defense will produce this year, but they do have Landon Collins who will help keep everything together. Big bounce back year for these guys. Maybe even a Wild Card spot with 9 to 10 wins.
Dallas Cowboys- Interesting team are the Cowboys. They have a lot of holes on defense and on offense. They have no proven targets for Dak this year. Well I guess Hurns is, but who knows how their chemistry will be. Zeke will run all over everybody once again this year so maybe they can win a decent amount of games. Maybe 6 or 7.
Washington Redskins- Another team like the Dolphins that hasn't had much buzz around them this preseason. They traded for Alex Smith and they signed Adrian Peterson. Smith will be solid with the team they have around him. Jamison Crowder is a good slot receiver, Josh Doctson can be due for a breakout year, Chris Thompson is good at catching the ball out of the backfield, and Alex Smith loves throwing to tight ends so hopefully Jordan Reed can stay healthy. On the other side of the ball they have Josh Norman who is still a top tier corner and Ryan Kerrigan so the defense can be solid. I picture this team being in the same boat as the Cowboys around 6 or 7 wins.
Minnesota Vikings- This team is loaded from top to bottom. Probably my favorite to win the Super Bowl this year. They went out and spent big money on Kirk Cousins who finally is in a good situation without being franchise tagged every year. Now he has Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen as wide outs and they proved last year that they are one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. Not to mention they have Kyle Rudolph who is one of the best red zone targets in all of football. He always finds a way to get separation down in scoring position and Kirk Cousins will love him after seeing what he was able to do with Jordan Reed. Plus they are returning pretty much their entire defense and they added another pass rusher in Sheldon Richardson. Wouldn't be surprised if they have the DPOY in Everson Griffen too. Look for this team to win 12 or 13 games this year.
Green Bay Packers- Everything with this team depends on Rodgers staying healthy. If Khalil Mack doesn't land on his shoulder it could be a good year for Green Bay. Rodgers will contend for the MVP and Davante Adams will have double digit touchdowns. Jimmy Graham is a big pick up if he can stay healthy too. He is a big target in the red zone that Rodgers will look for often. Their run game is in a bit of a strange place with Aaron Jones being suspended to start the year. Jamaal Williams will start the year in the backfield and who can forget about the Ty Montgomery experiment. It'll be a crowded backfield when they are all on the active roster. Now for the defense, it'll be a different story. They are young and unproven in most positions so we will have to wait and see what happens with them. This can be a Wild Card team if all goes according to plan. 9 to 10 wins this year.
Detroit Lions- Matt Patricia is at the helm now and we will see how he translates into being a head coach. After years of tutelage under Bill Belichick his defensive wizardry will now be on full display in Detroit. I hope he does well out there. He has a good offense that just needs a run game to be great. On defense he has Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay to build around. Let's say 8 wins for the Lions this year.
Chicago Bears- The Bears are close to being a good team. Give Mitch another year to develop with Allen Robinson and Jordan Howard around him and you have a good offense. The defense will only get better now that they have Khalil Mack. Just don't think that will be enough this year. Look for them to be in the same spot Detroit is, right around 8 wins.
Atlanta Falcons- Not many teams repeat as the NFC South champs so that is why I have Atlanta up here at 1. This is Steve Sarkisian's second year calling the plays on offense so you figure the offense will be better. They've had a full season to get acclimated and now it's time to roll. Julio Jones will catch more touchdowns this year and they will score loads of points. On the other side of the ball, they have young players that will be ready for another solid campaign. The last time we saw them play, they held the Eagles to 15 points. These guys can play. I'm looking for them to win 11 games.
New Orleans Saints- The Saints are going to be good once again. They were the Minneapolis Miracle away from going to Philly for the NFC Championship game. I think they will still be good this year, but I don't know if I am ready to trust this defense. A Drew Brees lead offense will always score points, so they will win plenty of games. Look for them to be in the Wild Card hunt with 9 or 10 wins.
Carolina Panthers- Cam Newton goes every other year on whether he wants to be good or not. This year it's his turn to be bad. At least thats what I feel. Thats why this recap will be short and sweet. 7 wins for Riverboat Ron and the crew.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jameis Winston has been nothing but a disappointment since he has entered the league. He turns the ball over way too often and is very immature still. He also is suspended so they will have no shot at winning those games Ryan Fitzpatrick going up against the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. Mike Evans will be a star wide out per usual, but who knows about their run game with Peyton Barber taking all of the snaps now. They added JPP to their defense so maybe he will help their pass rush. Still looking at a bleak 2 or 3 wins.
Los Angeles Rams- It seems as if the Rams are right there with the Vikings when it comes to powerhouses in the NFC. They went out and made a ton of moves this offseason to bolster their roster. Brandon Cooks has been a consistent 1,000 yard receiver since he got into the league with the Saints and the Patriots. Now he joins an offense with Todd Gurley, the best back in the game when Bell is holding out, Robert Woods who will be good on the other side of him, Cooper Kupp who is a good slot receiver and Jared Goff who is on his way to become a great QB. On defense they are going to be scary. They have the best defensive player in football in Aaron Donald wrecking havoc alongside Ndamukong Suh. Then they went out and got Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Those are two lockdown corners along with an elite pass rush. It's going to be scary. 14 win season for LA.
San Francisco 49ers- Jimmy G is going to be good, and he hasn't yet lost an NFL game so all signs point to him going 16-0 this year. The only problem is, there are many holes in this teams roster. Their wideouts aren't the best, Alfred Morris seems to slot in as their starting running back now that McKinnon is out for the year with a torn ACL. Also, their defense is a bunch of linebackers that seem to get arrested every year, so it's only a matter of time until that happens again. Looking at a 7 win season in San Francisco.
Arizona Cardinals- I desperately want the Cardinals to be good this year, but Bradford will get hurt and Rosen will have to play before he's ready. I like David Johnson a lot, and Larry Fitzgerald is an ageless wonder at wide receiver. On the defensive side of the ball Chandler Jones is one of the best pass rushers in the league and Patrick Peterson is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Just don't think it will be enough. 5 wins with an upside of being .500 if they are lucky.
Seattle Seahawks- Don't like the makeup of this team. Wilson has to do it by himself too often. They have a good storyline on defense with Shaquem Griffen being a starting linebacker now, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the Legion of Boom is dead. Richard Sherman is gone, Kam Chancellor is retired and Earl Thomas is getting older and injury prone. On offense Baldwin will be good, but they don't have a solidified run game, so it's not looking good for Seattle. Wouldn't put it past them to just win 4 games this year.
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: PATRIOTS 31 - CHARGERS 24
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: VIKINGS 21 - RAMS 13
SUPER BOWL: PATRIOTS 27 - VIKINGS 24