It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No it’s not Christmas, it’s football season. Well if you switch egg nog, Christmas movies, and presents with Bud Light, NFL Redzone and your favorite team scoring touchdowns then it may as well be Christmas season. The night before week 1(yes I know, technically that was Wednesday night but Sunday is the one that matters ok) of the NFL football season is the closest we’ll get to the excitement that was Christmas Eve as a kid. The air is filled with so much excitement, curiosity, and happiness that it’s impossible to get any sleep. Well as a young adult that Christmas excitement is long gone. We lay awake at 3am for a different reason, yes because we just stumbled in from the bar and devoured 2 hot pockets and a plate of bagel bites, but also because 2016 football is upon us! Instead of running downstairs in my PJs to check the presents, I’ll be running downstairs in my NaVorro Bowman jersey to turn on Fox NFL Sunday and set my fantasy lineup. Now while this season doesn’t necessarily look too promising for my 49ers, there’s still a lot to look forward to with a new season. The NFL is so unpredictable that only a silly person would try and make predictions. With that being said, here are my predictions for the 2016-2017 NFL season.
One of the strongest divisions in the NFL, this was a tough one to pick. Lots of people are going away from Denver due to their quarterbacks. Well Peyton Manning was pretty awful last year and they won the Super Bowl. Defense wins games and Denver has the best defense in the league. However, I wouldn’t be surprised by any of the top three teams winning the division. The Raiders have a really strong young core on offense and defense and will be worth watching.
I think the Patriots can manage to go 2-2 without Tom Brady putting them in good position for the division. While the jets have built a much-improved roster, once Brady is back the Patriots will be the Patriots again.
The Steelers have the best running back and wide receiver in the NFL. Even without Bell for the first 3 games the Steelers will be in good hands with DeAngelo Williams who excelled in replace of Bell last year. And that Antonio Brown guy is pretty good too.
I personally think the Jaguars have put together a really really nice young squad. A QB emerging into a stud, an elite receiver in Allen Robinson, a pair of high quality backs in Ivory and Yeldon and a young tenacious Defense, I think the Jags can win the division. They are probably 2 or 3 more years away from really competing for a Super Bowl but they are certainly on the right track. Keep an eye on the Texans this year too. They added a dynamic running back in Lamar Miller and a serviceable (anything is better than the guys they had last year) quarterback in Brock Osweiler. They also have a guy by the name of JJ Watt, you might’ve heard of him.
Wild Card Round: Chiefs over Broncos; Bengals over Jags
Divisional Round: Steelers over Bengals; Patriots over Chiefs
AFC Championship: Steelers over Patriots
It pains me to pick my 49ers to finish last in the division but that’s how the times are. Anytime I get sad about the 49ers I just remember the Warriors signed Kevin Durant and that distracts me and makes me happy. But anyway, you could go either way with the Cardinals and Seahawks but I like the Cardinals offense a little more than the Seahawks.
Cowboys would’ve ran away with this division if Romo hadn’t got hurt. But with the way things are, I like the Redskins and their offense to take the division. I’m expecting a huge season from Odell Beckham Jr (I have him on my fantasy team)
The Packers have the easiest strength of schedule in the NFL. The Vikings losing Teddy Bridgewater for the season made this choice an easy one.
Returning with pretty much the same roster that went 15-1, I see no reason why the Panthers shouldn’t win the division. The Saints should also be much better this year. Along with emerging star WR Brandin Cooks and RB Mark Ingram, the Saints drafted a big receiver in Michael Thomas in the 2nd round and added Coby Fleener to improve the tight end position. Expect that offense to carry them to 9 or 10 wins.
Wild card round: Seahawks over Panthers, Redskins over Saints
Divisional round: Cards over Seahawks, Packers over Redskins
NFC Championship: Cards over Packers
Super Bowl: Cards over Steelers
Defense wins championships. While I love this Steelers team and their top-notch offensive talent, this Cardinals team is just too lethal. They have a young star running back in David Johnson, they have an elite WR group with Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown and they have an already elite defense that traded for proven pass rusher Chandler Jones in the off season. Cardinals are my pick to win Super Bowl 51.
NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive player of the year: Antonio Brown (Almost picked him to be MVP)
Defensive player of the year: Khalil Mack
Coach of the year: Gus Bradley
Offensive rookie of the year: Ezekiel Elliot (duh)
Defensive rookie of the year: Jalen Ramsey