It’s that time of the year again folks. We are in the midst of our yearly sports drought, where NFL fans around the globe must resort to viewing a baseball game or golf round to quench their athletic entertainment. Not to worry sports fans! The NFL season is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than by making some bold predictions.
For the past 15 years, an average of 5 new teams have entered the NFL playoff picture without appearing the year prior. Last year, the Raiders, Dolphins, Lions, Falcons, Giants, and Cowboys all made the playoffs as “new” teams. Unfortunately, not all teams end up happy, because for every team added, another has to be taken out. For these predictions, I will be choosing 3 teams from each conference who will break through into the playoffs, as well as 3 teams who will fall short of last year’s success.
Get your skeptical faces ready, because it’s time to see into the future…
We start off in the AFC due to its stability at the top. Teams like the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have established themselves as Super Bowl contenders. Towards the bottom, however, is where a lot of change could take place.
I figured it would be easiest to begin with a fan favorite of SFE. That way you can be less angry with me later on (Trust Me You Will). The Titans surprised most last season with their stellar offensive line, which was ranked 4th in the league going into next season, according to Pro Football Focus. If they can protect QB Marcus Mariota’s legs (too soon?) and lead the way for RB Demarco Murray, the Titans should be favorites to win a division full of question marks.
I know, I know. How could I possibly trust a team like the Bills? They did lose 4 STRAIGHT Super Bowls after all. Maybe you didn’t hear, but the Rex Ryan Circus is over now. As inconsistent as WR Sammy Watkins has been, he is playing in a contract year. Money can be a great motivator in this league without too many guarantees. I’m betting on the new regime and Shady McCoy’s shifty moves to quietly earn Buffalo a wild card berth.
Los Angeles Chargers
A change in scenery can work wonders, but so can a franchise QB who is tired of being overlooked. Philip Rivers is better than what the Chargers’ record has shown the past few years, and it’s time for him to prove it. Remember when he would battle it out in the playoffs with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady? I think that guy still has a little fire left inside. Don’t be fooled by the “tough” AFC West either. The Broncos don’t have a quarterback and the Chiefs could be rebuilding sooner rather than later.
Many comparisons can be made between the Texans and Broncos. Both teams have a great defensive unit but lack a sure deal QB to lead the way. Houston has been fortunate to compete in a lackluster division, but that might change if the Titans young core plays up to their potential. Speaking of playing up to potential; isn’t there a QB in this division that was taken 1st overall to replace Peyton Manning? He might play well too, causing the Texans to invest more in their offensive next offseason.
To be honest, replacing the Dolphins with the Bills isn’t that big of a deal. When you are in the same division as Tom Brady, a wild card berth is possible, but it doesn’t get you very far. Like most people, I have no idea what Ryan Tannehill will play like on a weekly basis. He does have plenty of weapons around him, but that defense looked pretty dreadful against the Steelers in the playoffs. Adam Gase seems like an up and coming head coach though, so let’s call this one a toss-up.
Kansas City Chiefs
Every year we have at least one team from each conference that just disappoints. My money is on the Chiefs in the AFC. Trading up in the first round to take a gunslinger project QB doesn’t boast the confidence of a contender. If they were in a win now mode, adding some youth to their aging defense lead by Tamba Hali, or some firepower to a somewhat boring offense would have been a better use of their draft picks. Andy Reid is a baller, but this isn’t the NBA. Better luck next year Chiefs fans.
There you have it! Stay tuned for my next prediction article for the 3 teams in and out for the upcoming NFC playoffs. Hope you enjoyed! If you agreed, disagreed, or have your own predictions, please leave them in the comments below. If you have any suggestions for future article topics, let me know as well.