By Phillies Fan 1969
With the 2017 NFL draft in the rearview mirror and start of training camp just around the corner, it’s time for the annual early predictions. Which teams are expected to be the best? What divisions will be most closesly contested and who will be the cellar dwellars?
Looking at the AFC, it’s clear that the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are at the top. Tom Brady contiues to cruise along and is seemingly defying age. In a relatively weak dvision, the Patriots could easily win 12 or 13 games and run away by 4 games. The Dolphins are the only other team in the division with a legitimate chance at a .500 or better sesaon.
The Steelers in the North and the Radiers in the West are the only other teams in the conference that I believe will reach 10 wins. Look for a the AFC South to be a highly conested divsion, not due to overall strength but most will hover around the .500 marki. In the end, the Colts and Andrew Luck should battle it out against the Texans and even better defense with the return of J.J. Watt.
The Ravens, Chiefs and Broncos will also likely be in the mix for a post season appearance, while the Browns, Jaguars and Jets will be at the bottom of the conference. The Browns will improve, but hard not to improve upon their dismal 2016 performance, but expect 4 or 5 wins and worst record in the conference.
In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks appear to be the cream of the crop. With Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson at the helm, those three teams will be a threat all season. Dallas will be strong in the NFC East but will not be as dominant as a year ago, as the Giants and Eagles have improved in the draft and free agent moves. Expect the Eagles to challenge, given the addition of Alshon Jeffery and LeGarrette Blount as additional weapons for second year quarterback Carson Wentz.
Also in the mix should be the Carolina Panthers, who should rebound from a terrible season. The Panthers finished first three consecutive seasons before last year and a healthy Cam Newton and rejuventated defense will put them in the mix for a post season appearance.
The also-rans in the league will be the San Francisco 49ers who will try to recover from the Chip Kelly debacle. Also clearly in a rebuilding stage are the Chicago Bears, who will likely win 5 or 6 games and battle the 49ers for worst record in the conference.
Certainly too early to make a Super Bowl predcition, but why not? Let’s go with the Patriots and Steelers battling in the AFC and the Packers and Seahawks in the NFC. It’s easy to put arguably the best two quarterback in the game today and the wily veteran in the Super Bowl. I will call it the Packers versus the Patriots. The predictions are subject to change as the season gets underway.