Are you ready for some football? Football is back ladies and gentlemen, and I think I speak for all of us when I say, it is about time! It has been a crazy off-season full of roster moves, shocking draft picks and suspensions. Now it is time to see if it all paid off: all the trades, signings and hard work that goes into an NFL off-season. Only one team will hold that Lombardi trophy come February, and I’m about to tell you who.
First off, though, I’m going to give my predictions for how each division will turn out, then give my wild predictions for each conference. Finally, I will tell you who will hoist the Lombardi trophy once the season ends.
Let’s start off with the defending champs, the New England Patriots. I don’t think anyone can argue this one. The Patriots will win the AFC East for the ninth straight year. The Dolphins made a good move by signing Jay Cutler because of his history with the Dolphins Head Coach, Adam Gase. However, the Miami Dolphins are a wild card team at best and even if Tom Brady were to get injured, Jimmy Garapolo in company are still better than the Dolphins.
We’re onto Cincinnati (and the rest of the AFC North). I expect the Steelers to win this division pretty single-handedly. The Bengals have a solid roster but as long as Marvin Lewis is still the head coach the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t winning squat. They are the Cowboys pre-Dak, mediocrity with a hint of suspensions. I like the Ravens, but I’m not in love with them. Ozzie Newsome has put together a solid roster, however they just lack star power. Unless Breshad Perriman winds up having himself a Pro-bowl type season somehow, the Ravens will be close, but no cigar.
Speaking of disappointments, let’s head over to the AFC South. Considering the fact that Andrew Luck will miss part of the season, coupled with the inability of the Colts management to surround him with a half decent supporting cast, most notably the o-line, the Colts would be smart to start preparing for next season. The Tennessee Titans will win the AFC South behind Marcus Mariota’s continued growth and that stout rushing attack. Don’t sleep on the Texans though, they will waste their time with Tom Savage until Bill O’Brien has the courage to throw Deshaun Watson in there. Only then will the Texans possibly sneak in as a wild card.
At this time, we’re going to take a ride on over to the AFC Wild, Wild West, and it will indeed be a wild ride. I believe this division is one of the tougher, if not the toughest, divisions in football. Any one of these teams could beat the other anytime, anyplace. However, the Raiders will come out on top. Oakland was playing great football till Derek Carr broke his leg last season, and I believe that’ll continue. The Chiefs are well-coached and have a great roster with tons of explosive weapons on offense. They’ll be a very tough wild card opponent. As for the Chargers and Broncos, I think the Broncos have a great defense led by Von Miller, however you’re not going to win anything with Trevor Simeon playing quarterback; I’m sorry. The Chargers, while they’re in a “moving” period right now, will be tough, but not tough enough.
Now that the AFC is all wrapped up, let’s talk about the highest paid man in the NFL. No, I wasn’t talking about Aaron Rodgers. Brady? No, not him. Carr? No, we just got done talking about the Raiders. Oh wait, yeah, Matthew “Money” Stafford. Stafford has been money, but his team has not. The Packers will win the NFC North behind league MVP Rodgers. The Vikings have a great roster except for the most important position, quarterback. Sam Bradford’s days in Minnesota are numbered.
As for Bradford’s former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, with all the new pieces in place I just don’t see a division title in the Eagles’ future for this season. I know the Giants have a shaky o-line, however, that defense is tough, and Odell is in a contract year. The Giants aren’t fooling anyone, they’re going to pass and they’re going to pass to number 13. The reigning division champs, the Dallas Cowboys, have lost a lot of players on their defense and it’s going to be a rough first half of the season with all these suspensions, especially if Zeke is suspended too.
I believe the Falcons will suffer the Ol’ Super Bowl Hangover, thus surrendering the crown to “Hard Knocks” star Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I do see Cam Newtown bouncing back from last year, but that Carolina defense was the driving force of that Super Bowl team from two years ago, and they haven’t been the same without Josh Norman. Plus, the NFC South seems to have a new division winner every year, so why not?
A division that won’t have a new winner this upcoming season will be the NFC West. I never was a Carson Palmer fan, and, quite frankly, they missed their window a few years ago. I love David Johnson, but he’s one man. Larry Fitzgerald isn’t getting any younger and that receiving corps isn’t getting any better. Although, I believe the Seahawks still have some unfinished locker-room turmoil i.e. Super Bowl 49; their team is solid all-around and Russell Wilson is a star. They win by default, I guess.
Note, if I did not mention your team above, don’t worry I did not forget. I meant to do it because your team is irrelevant and has no chance at winning anything important this season. As for the teams that actually matter, I believe the Chiefs and Texans will be the two wild card teams representing the AFC while the Eagles and Cowboys will represent the NFC. I believe the Texans will eventually turn the team over to first round draft pick Watson, thus solidifying their quarterback for the future. Even with all the suspensions and drama that seems to always surround Jerry Jones and the Cowboys, they are still the Cowboys, and you have to respect them. I like the additions the Eagles made, and I believe they’re headed in the right direction. Maybe I’m just speaking from my heart, but hey, they were 5-1 when Lane Johnson played last season, so I’m riding with that.
Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Your 2017-2018 Super Bowl Champions will be the Green Bay Packers. They will defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17. Rodgers will be too much to handle for the Pittsburgh secondary. Rodgers will be NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP. You heard it here first.
Ferris Berlin is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at FB845767@wcupa.edu.