The 2017-18 NFL regular season is rapidly approaching and it has a little over two months since Vegas has released their NFL record odds. In that span most have digested from very little to a lot of news on their personal favorite teams. News ranging from QB job dramas unfolding, the emergence of new top teams.
New England Patriots: 12 wins
The bandwagon for another 16-0 Patriot season are not as high as it was when the NFL schedules were released earlier this year. With New England's schedule, it is definitely not out of the possibility to see the Pats gloriously win sixteen games. What's even scarier is that the Pats have arguably had another top five offseason for another year. The offense will be noticeably better with a healthy Rob Gronkowski and the addition of Brandon Cooks. The stability of their defense, if all else works properly, will stay solid.
Which is why I have them winning sixteen games. Though there are points in their schedule where Brady and the boys could drop a game. Dolphins, Jets and the Bills, are all teams that don't seem anywhere ready to steal a win off the Pats.
Miami Dolphins: 7 wins
There is no way that the Dolphins' late season energy was a trick. Adam Gase is a very talented coach who is only getting started. Ryan Tannehill, an average QB, is above average with Gase. Secondly, their schedule is much softer than last year's. Though I find a few holes in Tannehill's game, he'll do enough to push the Dolphins to 7 or 8 wins.
Buffalo Bills: 6 wins
Possibly the toughest to predict out of the bunch are the Bills. Their McDermott hire is a plus on their offseason exploits, and the offense has solid pieces. Do not be surprised if they push for seven wins.
New York Jets: 4 wins
It is no secret that the Jets would be fine winning under five wins in the upcoming year. The possibility of Sam Darnold leaving USC after next year sure is enticing to a team like the Jets to tank and swoop in for the guy. Personally, I believe Sam will, and should stay at USC another two years. In any case, even at the Jet's best four games seem too much.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 10 wins
Roethlisberger and his Steelers put together an impressive streak in the previous year, so I understand if ten wins seem a tad low for most. Consider the intangibles; Big Ben injury prone as he is, could miss a game or two this year. This roster is supremely talented, but I believe Tomlin's coaching hasn't brought the best out of this roster yet.
Baltimore Ravens: 9 wins
I am unapologetically an individual who believes playoff Flacco is damn sure more impressive than regular season Flacco. Before the Maclin signing, Baltimore was on the fence of 7 or 8 wins. Currently, I'm more confident to say that they are a possible 10-win team. They are less one dimensional, and the fact the Bengals and Browns aren't getting noticeably better, this only helps the Ravens.
Cincinnati Bengals: 6 wins
This team seems to have hit its zenith in terms of performance. Excluding Dalton and Green, there isn't much noteworthy about this team. What's worse is that neither their defense nor offensive line are improving. There are arguments that they're degrading.
Cleveland Browns: 4 wins
This is another ball team that confuses me. They have acquired interesting prospects such as, Cody Kessler, Zeither, Jason McCourty, and JC Tretter can establish somewhat a roster foundation to lead, but they are still leagues away from a playoff appearance.
Houston Texans: 10 wins
Right off the bat, there are little chances that the Texans' QB play is going to be worse than the previous year. With a below average QB, and Watt out the entire year they still bagged 9 wins. The Texans are now more than able to win ten games this upcoming season.
Indianapolis Colts: 11 wins
The load on Andrew Luck's back has lessened, and he is surrounded with more help. Both at the executive end and on the field. Secondly, the Titans are looking to take a small slide going into this year, which will help Indy take the #2 spot in the division. Luck is one of my MVP finalists for this year, and to solidify that he'll need probably 11 wins.
Tennessee Titans: 8 wins
These Titans have only surpassed 9 total wins twice since 2004 and as good as Mariota looks so far, there isn't enough around him to break that barrier right now. The hype around this team has not stuck with me right now, but I am all for surprises.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 5.5 wins
Blake Bortles isn't even the best quarterback in his division, and I don't see him securing anymore than five wins this year. Their emerging defense is their best trait going into the 2017-18 season.
Oakland Raiders: 9 wins
I want to give them ten wins, but it seems too high for a team that had nine games decided all by one possession. They secured eight wins in that nine game statistic, but that kind of play is unrealistic and unsustainable. They do have one of the four best offensive lines in the league, and with Carr leading the charge they will be in the playoff hunt this year. On a side note, let's not forget the possibly impact of the team changing location. The moving of fanbases will have some sort of impact on their season.
Kansas City Chiefs: 11 wins
Most analysts and writers after last season put most of the blame for the Chief's postseason hurdles on Reid and his clock management. I'd like to think that is only a small part and it ignores all the good Reid does. He turns Alex Smith from a slightly above average QB into a top 15 or 10 QB. Secondly their roster top to bottom is still one of the best in the NFL and is one my locks for the playoffs where their real challenges remain.
Denver Broncos: 7.5 wins
The Broncos should be prepared for a slide this year. As of right now I have them at 8 wins, and it is totally possible for them to underachieve and do much worse. Their QB situation is still in the air, and the defensive without Wade Phillips running the helm will be a larger hit than what most expect.
San Diego Chargers: 9 wins
This is one of those teams where their record didn't reflect their talent last year. The veteran Rivers will be leading a healthy team this year, and will explode out of the gates.
Dallas Cowboys: 10.5 wins
The cowboys face a, winning-team's schedule this year, much tougher, more traveling, and I think it will take its toll more than the off-the-field antics and missteps dealing with Elliot and Dez. The Cowboys and Giants will end up fighting for the top spot of this division.
New York Giants: 11 wins
Unlike the other teams in this division excluding Dallas, there will be some regression in Washington and Philadelphia. Eli is degrading before our very eyes, and his numbers have been what they are now because of OBJ. Although Eli and the coaching staff will need to be conservative with OBJ and his usage considering the team has a losing record when OBJ collects over 100 yards in a game. The defense will keep them close in games where Eli and OBJ are off their game.
Philadelphia Eagles: 8 wins
I am still a firm believer that Wentz is a better QB than Dak. Dak is put in a much better position to succeed than what Carson has been put in. Still, they are another year away before sniffing the playoffs. Too many holes on the defensive end of the ball.
Washington Redskins: 7 wins
Washington did attempt to make moves to sure up their defense, and with Kirk on another contract year, this team is able to overachieve and get 8 wins. The loss of two of their top receivers will only hurt so much, but the offensive's explosiveness will be noticeably duller.
Green Bay Packers: 13 wins
Rodgers is still the Green Bay Packer's QB. It's that simple. Arguably one of the top two QBs right now will lead the packers to the best record of the NFL season. My only two worries are that in the past two years, one could say Rodgers had more bad games than good games. Second, Rodgers' relationship with the team and the coaching staff. Those reasons will dictate their success more than not.
Minnesota Vikings: 10 wins
The Vikings are back to the playoffs. Their young defense will take another step forward in developing, and Sam Bradford will now have a full season to adapt to a Adrian Peterson-less offense.
Detroit Lions: 7 wins
One of the main reasons they bagged 9 wins last year was because of the Vikings and Bears' sudden collapse. They won a lot of close games which I have aforementioned is a very delicate statistic.
Chicago Bears: 4 wins
Not only will the Bears will be on the bottom of the division, but it'll be a dismal spiral down to the bottom. This team's biggest mystery is their QB position, and until that is solved their position will not rise.
Carolina Panthers: 11 wins
I believe Cam will wise up this season and utilize the team's new acquisition Christian McCaffery that will give the offense a nice boost this year. If Cam can raise his terrible completion percentage and stay upright in the pocket, the Panthers will see some playoff success. Their defense's attitude and identity still continued to be a very big question.
Atlanta Falcons: 9 wins
The loss of Kyle Shanahan and the Super Bowl loss will take a lot of wind out of their sails. It'll show on the field and this year will be a step taken back, but their cushy schedule outside of the division will keep them afloat.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8.5 wins
The Bucs have a chance to run into the playoffs if their defense continues their dominant play from the second half of last season. Secondly, I'm confident that Winston is ready to take another step forward as a more accurate QB. If he can help put out 17 or 20 points a game, and the defense stays solid, they'll win more than 8 games.
New Orleans Saints: 7 win
Here we have another Saint's season where an aging Drew Brees is forced to backpack the team with his offensive prowess. The team's defense shows no signs of improvement, and Sean Payton needs to seriously think about take coaching offers after this year.
Seattle Seahawks: 9 wins
I predict another underachieving team this year. Wilson's injuries may be behind him, but the team's identity and personalities, contrary to popular belief, do matter and it will spill over onto the field this year. Regardless of the roster being stacked with talent up and down, this may be an underwhelming 10 win season.
Arizona Cardinals: 11 wins
Palmer may be aging fast, but he's still a better QB than what the 49ners and the Rams offer. Secondly, this division is very iffy from top to bottom and wouldn't be surprised if Palmer has a career year.
Los Angeles Rams: 7 wins
Teams need to watch out for the Rams this year. They may not be a playoff team, but expect flashes of solid football. Wade Phillips will have a field day with that stacked defensive roster, and my faith in McVay is increasing.
San Francisco 49ers: 3 wins
Hoyer is an average QB who will run the offense effectively, but there will be no sparks of light in this tunnel. This team is arguably a tad better than last year, but their roster is practically empty of any notable playmakers to win more than 4 games.
The 2017-18 season will answer a number questions about the top teams such as Dallas, New England and the Packers. The storylines will be plentiful as always, but it all starts with performance.