Yes, the NFL season technically kicked off on Thursday, but if you aren’t an Eagles or a Falcons fan then you’re waiting for Sunday to begin cheering and yelling and crying. With that in mind, let’s take a look at each of the NFL’s 32 teams and what their season outlook is by division.
Buffalo Bills: Trading away Tyrod Taylor signified a desire to go young at the quarterback position, but with number one pick Josh Allen having a rough preseason the duties fall to mister five INT Nathan Peterman. Other than that, the team is very similar to last year when they somehow made the Playoffs, but don’t expect a repeat performance. Shady will get his yards and the defense looks nice, but this is a team that lacks direction.
Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill is back, but top receiver Jarvis Landry and top back Jay Ajayi aren’t. The Dolphins’ offense is a mash-up of young players, and they didn’t do much to improve their mediocre D (besides drafting Minkah Fitzpatrick). Adam Gase still has yet to really prove himself in Miami, so this could be an important season for a team that doesn’t quite seem ready.
New York Jets: Sam Darnold brings the hype to a team that many are predicting to break out this year. They do have valuable young assets across the offense and their defense looks pretty solid. Could the Jets finally make it to the Playoffs?
New England Patriots: Tom Brady. Bill Belichick. The rest of the guys.
Cincinnati Bengals: They look the same as they have the past few years, which is to say extremely average. But this is the NFL, where you need to be better than average to compete. Expect another lost season for Ohio’s better football team.
Cleveland Browns: They’re like the Lakers of the NFL. Yes, they have some shiny new pieces and a lot of excitement, but they are still the Browns. They will certainly win a few more games than last year (ha), but they are nowhere close to thinking about the Playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens: They have a fearsome D and some playmakers on offense, but ever since they won their Super Bowl Joe Flacco has slowly declined, as has the team overall. They are still a threat in the North and could pull out nine wins, but they need some good breaks for that to happen.
Pittsburgh Steelers: If only they could clutch up in the Playoffs...they are a very similar team to last year, but without mainstay Ryan Shazier their defense will definitely take a hit. Still, they are one of the most talented squads in the AFC.
Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck is finally back, but he didn’t have the best preseason. With a bad offensive line and still no plan for a rushing attack, the Colts offense doesn’t look like it will be turning any heads this season. Their defense is quietly becoming very good, and with Malik Hooker set to return this year opposing teams should take notice.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Same team as last year, and I would expect similar results. Blake Bortles will never be a star, but he can at least turn into a game manager who defers to the electric Leonard Fournette. That defense is possibly the best in the League…
Houston Texans: Another team with a great defense, but the hype is surrounding the now-recovered Deshaun Watson. He looked almost like an MVP candidate in his limited time last season, and Houston fans are hoping he can repeat that.
Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota has been taking baby steps, so Tennessee is hoping this year can be his breakout. The Titans also boast a great defense, so this season is really all about their young quarterback.
Denver Broncos: The Paxton Lynch experiment is finally over. Case Keenum is in and hoping to repeat his career year, and the Denver defense looks to reload for another solid season. Many people are counting this team out, but I wouldn’t be so sure…
Los Angeles Chargers: They can’t draw fans, but it’s not because of the team. They had the worst luck of any franchise in the NFL last season, but they showed a ton of promise. Bosa and Ingram are wrecking the outside, Philip Rivers looks ageless and the receiving corps continues to improve. The Chargers have quietly built one of the better teams in the AFC.
Kansas City Chiefs: Quarterback has his best year ever, so they trade him in favor of a guy who they just drafted last year. Patrick Mahomes can make or break this team, but with an aging D the Chiefs are no longer the threat they used to be.
Oakland Raiders: Jon Gruden has made the Raiders possibly the most talked-about team this offseason, but the trading away of Khalil Mack certainly won’t help locker room morale. Derek Carr needs to prove he is worth his huge extension, and their defense - which features many high level players - needs to step up.
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott is a talented quarterback, but his future in the NFL isn’t so clear-cut. Ezekiel Elliott is also very talented, but with basically no receivers it will be hard for Dallas to move the ball this season. Their defense has always been below-average, and in many respects it still is. How Jason Garrett is still the head coach I don’t know…
Philadelphia Eagles: They won the Super Bowl and kept almost the same team. Watch out.
New York Giants: Saquon Barkley is a legitimate all-around offensive threat, and hopefully he can give a kick in the butt to Eli Manning’s career. The Giants are another team that has been slowly assembling a good D, and with some weapons on offense they should have a bounceback year.
Washington Redskins: They have a veteran quarterback coming off his career year, but without high-impact receivers or a real starting running back (sorry AD) they are going to struggle. Their defense lacks an identity besides penalties, and the whole team seems sluggish.
Chicago Bears: Mitch Trubisky is expected to make big strides this year, and adding Khalil Mack to an already legit D should improve the Bears. Now they just need some receivers…
Detroit Lions: Matt Patricia will try to restore the old-school tough-nose defense mentality to Detroit, and he has a few pieces to work with (especially emerging corner Darius Slay). On the offense, Matt Stafford continues to put up ridiculous numbers every year, but their running back continue to struggle. Can the electric Kerryon Johnson be the answer?
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers is back!
Minnesota Vikings: I respect Kirk Cousins and believe he can keep this Vikings team rolling, but $28 million a year is a lot to commit. Minnesota made a great run last year, and with a very similar team that now has a top quarterback, they are Super Bowl contenders.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They had one good season under Dirk Koetter and then Hard Knocks rolled into town. With Jameis Winston continuously regressing, the Buccaneers need to find a fix quick, because their franchise is going nowhere.
Atlanta Falcons: A weird team if I ever saw one. They certainly have the talent to go to the Super Bowl, but they don’t always play like it. Matt Ryan has been in a limbo since the second half of their last Super Bowl, so they’ll need him to step up and right the ship this season.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton is still a top threat in the League, and Christian McCaffrey proved himself as a rookie. Now it’s up to the defense to match that production. If Carolina can get consistent play on both sides of the ball, they could still contend.
New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees resigned and all of the sudden people are picking the Saints to win the Super Bowl. Their D took a huge step forward last season, and their running backs finally kept pace with Brees’s production. This is one of the most solid, complete teams in the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen isn’t starting yet, but don’t sleep on Sam Bradford (if he can stay healthy). David Johnson looks primed to make fantasy owners happy and the offensive line has remained strong, but with a diminishing defense the Cardinals are going to have a rough season.
Los Angeles Rams: They are the most talented team on paper, so now it will be up to the players to execute. We know their offense can dominate, but can the D step up? With a great secondary and strong pass rushers, the Rams could be making a very deep run this season.
Seattle Seahawks: The Legion of Boom Era has officially ended in Seattle. Pete Carroll has reportedly lost everyone but his QB Russell Wilson, and the defense is nowhere close to what it once was. Maybe the 12th Man can help them out a little…
San Francisco 49ers: Handsome Jimmy G.