2017 NFL Predictions: Who Wins The Divisions?
Picking some playoff teams, as is our wont.
With the National Football League season just around the corner, who’s ready for some 2017 NFL predictions?
Those eight divisions aren’t going to pick themselves, you know. It’s an annual end-of-summer rite where we, the self-appointed sports media, make predictions. In time, these will inevitably be discredited. Until that time, however, there’s plenty to read and ingest.
Over the course of the season, the NFL playoff picture will develop. Here’s our best read on how that will look on January 1, when all the games are done.
2017 NFL Predictions: NFC East Order of Finish
New York Giants (Division champ): It doesn’t matter that they struggled in the preseason. This is a veteran team coming off of a playoff bid in 2016. They do have a fairly difficult schedule, but they get teams like Oakland, Kansas City, Seattle, and Detroit at home.
Dallas Cowboys (Wild Card): The Zeke Elliott suspension hurts, but suggesting that they’re going in the tank is perhaps an overreaction. Dallas still has a talented quarterback and good line play. As long as they don’t lose every game he misses, they will be fine.
Washington Redskins: If Su’a Cravens retires, that’ll hurt the defense that much more. Washington has a couple playmakers, like DeAngelo Hall and Alabama rookie Jonathan Allen. However, more is expected of them now.
Philadelphia Eagles: If you’re expecting a sophomore slump for Carson Wentz, it wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened. Even if he doesn’t, the Eagles seem to be a year or so away in their current form.
2017 NFL Predictions: NFC North Order of Finish
Green Bay Packers (Division Champion): Aaron Rodgers? Check. That’s basically all they need. This team will hear about its embarrassing loss to Atlanta in the playoffs, and it will fuel them.
Detroit Lions: The Lions are becoming a more steady playoff contender. Not yet ready to compete with the big boys, but this has the look of a team that’s second best in their division. As Matt Stafford goes, so go the Lions.
Minnesota Vikings: Minnesota has defense, we know that, but the offense is in need of improvement. If they get it, it’s entirely possible they will leap over Detroit.
Chicago Bears: Da Bears are starting over with a new quarterback (or two). John Fox is in huge trouble if they don’t improve upon 3-13, but I don’t see a big leap.
2017 NFL Predictions: NFC South Order of Finish
Atlanta Falcons (Division Champion): Atlanta will never, ever, ever live down Super Bowl LI. They can, however, focus on putting together a good 2017. There is no reason to think they aren’t good enough to win the NFC South again, and it’s expected.
Carolina Panthers (Wild Card): 2016 was a travesty for Carolina, who have the roster weaponry to get back to the playoffs. They may not be the juggernaut Atlanta is, but this team is good enough to sneak in at 10-6.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay is about as interesting a case as there is in the NFC this year. They are a borderline playoff team, but Carolina getting better may scupper their chances. Their making the playoffs is not out of the question.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints are young and restocking their talent. Drew Brees will always be equipped to put up big numbers, but the team around him must cooperate. It comes down to the Saints defense, which was near the bottom of the league in 2016.
2017 NFL Predictions: NFC West Order of Finish
Seattle Seahawks (Division Champion): That defense keeps rolling, and Russell Wilson is exceptionally capable of leading Seattle to the playoffs and beyond.
Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer’s health is the big question, and we can’t answer it before Week 1. One thing is for sure: they will not make the playoffs in 2017 if they look anything like last year’s team. Too many key players, like Palmer, were spotty. Bruce Arians is a good coach who can turn it around, but they’re not better than Seattle.
San Francisco 49ers: This is a rebuild job; expect a wide berth between second and third in the NFC West. San Francisco added some offense talent, but this isn’t a year they expect to contend.
Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff is in year two, but head coach Sean McVay is in year one of this reboot. The erstwhile St. Louis Rams have a long way to go.