After an offseason dominated by corruption and lies from a modern day Hitler, justice was partially served and the season finally kicked off. The biggest headline during this entire season is the NFL’s celebration of its 50th season in the modern era culminating with Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco. Past and present Super Bowl champions will be honored and the 50 yard lines will be in gold as the NFL and its fans celebrate this milestone.
After winning an epic Super Bowl XLIX, the question for the New England Patriots is the same question for every Super Bowl champion: Can they repeat? Of course, the Patriots were the last team to accomplish in 2003 and 2004, so it’s not unfamiliar territory to 4 time Super Bowl champion and 3 time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady. The main concern for the Patriots this season is defense. The losses of Darelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Vince Wilfork will have a significant impact, but will also give players like Devin McCourty and Malcolm Butler a chance to prove their worth in the secondary. The Patriots got off to a good start with a win over Pittsburgh, and I expect an 11-5 season in an extremely competitive AFC East.
Speaking of the AFC East, for the first time in the Tom Brady era I legitimately believe this could be the year for someone other than the Patriots to win the division. Tom Brady has the East 11 consecutive times as the starter, and usually it hasn’t been particularly close. I mentioned that there were concerns on defense for the Patriots, but that isn’t the case with other 3 teams. The revitalized Bills led by Rex Ryan looked dominant in shutting down Andrew Luck, the Jets reunited with Darrelle Revis, and the Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh to an already strong pass rush. If I have to pick someone other than the Patriots to win the AFC East, I’m picking the Dolphins because they are the most complete team of the three since they have a decent QB. I think Miami can win 10 games and secure at least a wild card.
The other main storyline in the AFC for me is Peyton Manning. The Broncos are off to a 2-0 start, but Manning has not looked good for the most part and really playing like a 39 year old QB. The question is whether Manning can play well enough with a great defense behind him to still compete for a Super Bowl. This may very well hinge on the run game with C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, who have not performed to this point and will have to get going to keep the pressure off Manning.
I expect the AFC North to be competitive as usual minus the Browns, while the Colts should run away with the AFC South again. The West will be competitive minus Raiders, and much like the East may be the year for someone other than the Broncos to steal the division.
In the NFC, Seattle will be looking to capture its 3rd straight NFC title. A big obstacle for them this year will be its own division. The Rams acquired Nick Foles and drafted Todd Gurley, and already defeated the Seahawks this year. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy for Arizona, they will certainly be a contender for the division. On the other hand, the Seahawks defense is still great and Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch run the offense with addition of Jimmy Graham, so I expect them to win 12 games again this year and take the NFC West.
The loss of Jordy Nelson to a season ending injury is a huge deal to the Packers, but with Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, and plenty of weapons at receiver, Green Bay should still take home the NFC North that doesn’t feature much competition.
Dallas and Philly will battle for the East as Demarco Murray looks to take down his former team and Sam Bradford takes the helm as Eagles quarterback. In the NFL’s worst division, the NFC South, the loss of Kelvin Benjamin is a big blow to the Panthers and I think the Falcons and Saints will compete for the division.
3. NEW ENGLAND
6. KANSAS CITY
1. GREEN BAY
SUPER BOWL: PHILADELPHIA OVER INDIANAPOLIS