NFL season is upon us! This Thursday it all counts. All we have talked about, argued, made fun of, none of it matters, because its all for real. The men will start to get separated by the boys, and the pretenders will do their best to deflate the contenders.
Buffalo entered the off season on a high, added numerous weapons, and also caught the big fish, Rex Ryan. After a surprising 9-7 season, the Bills and their fans go back to work dreaming big. A simple 9-7 will not do, however that number will not matter as long as the franchise ends a very long drought, and enters the playoffs.
Defensively the Bills will be among the best, and a top 3-5 D is very realistic. The philosophy will not change too much, because Rex, like his predecessor at DC, likes to stop the run and get to the QB. My main concern here is depth in the defensive backfield and the quality of the linebackers. The D-line will be again among the best. This defense will win this team 8 games, hoping the offense can contribute.
Offensively this is a unit that has many question marks. A year ago they were among the most inept in the NFL, have they done enough to improve? On paper one assumes yes with the addition of weapons like McCoy and Harvin. However, the QB position maybe in worst shambles than it was a year ago. EJ has not improved at all, Tyrod and Cassel sucks a little more than Orton. To make matters worst, McCoy has a bad hamstring, and as I stated a few weeks ago, these do not heal quickly, especially for WRs and RBs that rely on quickness and sharp stops and turns.
How I see it? WRs are better and second year man Sammy Watkins should be even better, however, the lack of a QB will make this irrelevant; a slow start by McCoy will put this team in a 1-2 or possibly 0-3 hole. This may get the Bills to another 9-7, but no assurances on a playoff spot. This team will be as bad as 7-9 and as good as 10-6, but realistically I say 9-7 because the offense will win one game on its own.
The Dolphins have become a perennial 8-8 team under HC Joe Philbin. Can this year be any different? Yes, but very possibly no.
Defensively the Dolphins look to have improved by adding Suh to the line. A year ago this defense was able to stop the run only early on in the season, but when it mattered, in the second half, it was like running into jello, as teams accrued yards after yards. This is why so much money was dished out to the ex Lions great. The jury will remain deadlocked until the second half of the season, as the weather gets worst, teams run more, and only then will we be able to judge. My concerns are depth everywhere, except the DL. DB is very thin, and LBs are very suspect with little in the form of backups.
Offensively this team should be as good or better than it was a year ago. Gone are all of Ryan Tannehill’s excuses, and in comes a brand new set of weapons. Ryan is entering a make or break year, it is time to step it up and be the leader he is getting paid to be. Another 8-8 year will doom him as a mediocre QB, a la his backup Moore. The Dolphins’ best weapon may be at RB, where Lamar Miller has quietly emerged as a star. This team will need to rely heavily on Miller in order to finally have a winning season, or make the playoffs.
How I see it? Ryan Tannehill will step it up enough and take his game to the next level, mostly because the Dolphins will not rely on him too much, as Lamar becomes the central focus. I think this offense will win games. Defensively the Fins may not have improved as much as it is hoped, still too many question marks when the cold weather approaches. The Dolphins will need a very fast start to finish with a good record. I think they can be as good as 11- 5, and as bad as 8-8, but I think in the end they will save Joe’s job and finish at 9-7.
What a year this has been for the New England Patriots! The dumbest call in SB history and a real good play by Butler led to yet another SB. There has been more time spent discussing balls and gages than actual football. I for one am very ready to get back to football!
Defensively the Patriots are not the team that won the highest trophy in the land. The front 7 is adequate and enough to win with, however, when we get to the backfield, it’s a total mess. This team will give up yards, lots of them. This defense is lucky about one thing, they have one of the best QBs on the other side of the ball to outscore opponents.
Offensively this team has the most mediocre WRs and RBs in years, but, and a big but, Tom is still at QB. This is something that no other team in this division can say. This team will dink and dong you to death with short quick passes to Edelman and company. The running game has to rely on a player that was cut by the Patriots and Steelers just a year ago, and he’s not even playing week one. The OL is shaky, but Tom’s quick release will help.
How I see it? For all the deficits and lack of talent in many areas, there is still no team in this division that can match up weekly. The Patriots will once again win it, and a lot easier than most here like to think they would. As long as Tom and Bill and Gronk are playing, the opponents will need to really step it up. My guess is this team will play in a lot of close games, but win a lot more than lose. The Patriots will finish 12-4, but they can be as bad as 11-5.
The Jets are rebuilding, or not. The offseason has given this squad a lot more talent than it had a year ago. Gone is everyone that made decisions, including scouts. A few old friends returned, HC Todd Bowles, Antonio Cromartie and Mr. Island, Revis. The offseason still had some weird happenings, as the leftovers from the old regime try to learn how to behave in a professional environment. Slowly they are either changing their tunes or getting released.
Defensively the Jets have a totally revamped team, even with Sheldon Richardson out for the first four weeks. The DL will be as good as there is in the NFL. The LBs have both youth and experience, and the backfield is as solid as you will find. This defense is good enough to win 7-8 games on their own.
Offensively this team has more weapons everywhere. Jets will no longer field WRs called Salas, Graham and a hamstrung Decker. Ivory should flourish in a more imaginative offense, after all Morty under strict orders only ran, ran and ran some more. The short quick game that Gailey brings will open things up, and this team should score, unlike last year
How I see it? The defense will thrive, the offense is better, the HC is more level headed, the OC actually schemes, I guess it means great things? Yes and no. I think it will take some time for all to gel, but this team has the ability to win 10 games and lose 7. I will go with 8-8.
Thursday Night Football
Since my weekly AFCE predictions will come out on Friday, I will make my pick today for the Patriots game:
Steelers’s defense is a shadow of what it used to be, but they can score, even without LeVeon Bell. Pats at home are not easy to beat. Both teams will put up points and play in a mistake driven game. I see the Patriots winning this one 33-27
My Season Predictions
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