#1 Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs look to be the front runner in this division, given their success last year, and they have added a few good extra pieces, especially to their defense. I can see them potentially winning between 10 to 12 games this and ending up in the deep part of the playoffs.
#2 Los Angeles Chargers – The Chargers could possibly push the Chiefs for the top spot in the West, however my concerns are with the Melvin Gordon situation. Ekeler has filled in well, when given the chance. I believe they get into the playoffs this year.
#3 Denver Broncos – The Broncos are a team that could end up on the cusp of making the playoffs, depending on how the offense comes together during the season and how Joe Flacco plays. The running back corps might be the weak spot, along with the DBs. The defense might be their saving grace.
#4 Oakland Raiders – The Raiders are also a team that could push the envelope a little this year. The potential is there, but I’m not sure that they have enough team camaraderie yet. Antonio Brown is a piece of work, but is an amazing wide receiver. The young guys will put it together at some point, but I’m not sure it happens right away.
#1 New England Patriots – I think the Patriots will blow the rest of the division away this year and possibly sweep the division. They could be on track for another shot at a Super Bowl again. Bill Belichick always seems to be able to lose a piece of the puzzle, then easily just put another in its place. This is just another one of those years.
#2 Buffalo Bills – The Buffalo Bills are a team that could possibly pull off some unexpected upsets this year. I’m not saying they are playoff worthy, but they could potentially win a couple of games that people weren’t anticipating. They are probably a .500, or slightly less type team. The defense is decent and their offense can produce some big plays with Josh Allen’s big arm. Frank Gore is a nice insurance policy, as well.
#3 New York Jets – The Jets are a team similar to the Bills in the sense that there is potential for some upsets. I think their biggest factor will be relying on Le’Veon Bell to run down the clock. The big question is the Adam Gase and Sam Darnold experiment. I’m wondering if they can really piece together some wins, or will they get close, but still lose. I think they are competitive, but still lose tight games within close margins to often.
#4 Miami Dolphins – Sad to say, but the Dolphins are a major work in progress and I really can’t say they are even in progress yet. I’m not sure I can see this going to well for them this year. They might be able to come up with a couple of wins due to their schedule not looking so rough, but they are pushing the limits of even reeling off one or two at most. They practically traded away their entire team and are relying on Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen, with limited O-line talent, poor depth at RB, and a revamped defense. Their only positive right now might be their young guys, like Preston Williams, Devante Parker, Sam Eguaveon, Jerome Baker, Minkah Fitzpatrick, etc. That’s not enough to get it done on the big stage right now though.
#1 Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are a team that people seem to be assuming are going to be on a downhill slope without Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. I don’t think that’s the case at all. It might effect them a little, because those are two great talents to lose, but they will do just fine with Conner and Smith-Schuster taking their places. Their defense should be fairly stout and help out significantly. I believe they take the division this year.
#2 Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are a team in transition, but still have some key components in place to stay within contention. I’m not sure how the Lamar Jackson thing pans out for them, but it’s kind of interesting to see what they can produce with him behind center. Hopefully I can reminisce on the Tom Osborne days of Nebraska and watch them install an option style offense. That will get people on their toes.
#3 Cleveland Browns – The Browns have the star names all over the depth chart, but do they have the grit and determination that these other NFC North powerhouses have? I don’t think they do quite yet and that’s why they probably end up with a .500 type record, maybe slightly above, so I don’t foresee them taking the division just yet.
#4 Cincinnati Bengals – Unfortunately, I have a tendency to get high hopes for the Bengals each year and then there is always some type of let down that ends up disappointing me. They always have some potential to create some fireworks on offense with the Andy Dalton to A.J. Green combination. Tyler Boyd has stepped up real nicely and so has Joe Mixon. They haven’t really had a solid running back since the Corey Dillon days, so hopefully Mixon can keep the train going. However, they just can never seem to get the pieces to fall in line and it doesn’t seem to appear much different this year.
#1 Houston Texans – I can see the Texans and Jaguars battling it out for first place in this division, if the Jaguars get back on track. I’m just not quite sold on it happening yet, so I think the Texans take the division. They are actively trying to get everything in a line before the start of the season. The Clowney trade was huge, but they still have a solid defense without him. Adding Laremy Tunsil was big and Kenny Stills could be an underappreciated pick up. They have a lot of quality players and coaches to make this a successful year.
#2 Jacksonville Jaguars – Tough call. Are they who we think they can be? Or do they end up like last year? I don’t really think they have changed a whole lot from last year, or the year before. Why was there such a dramatic difference in the results in the previous two years? I don’t really think Nick Foles is the knight in shining armor that they believe him to be. He is a good quarterback and I use to think he belongs as a starter in the NFL and he got too much grief for his play back in Philadelphia, the first time around. With that, being starter quality doesn’t mean that you are a game changing signal caller either. This man is no Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady by any stretch. I don’t think that the scenario is a dramatic upgrade with Foles compared to Bortles honestly. With Bortles at the helm, they went to the AFC championship two years ago, then went to the near bottom with him, but it’s a team game, not a one man show in Jacksonville, so keep that in mind.
#3 Tennessee Titans – Solid defense with overrated offense. You could see it from a hundred miles away that Marcus Mariota was going to be overrated. Mariota has been given more chances to prove himself than most any player I’ve seen. If he wasn’t such a high draft pick, this guy would have been battling for a backup role a few years back. I’ve seen former starters and backups play better and more consistent than him on many occasions. He seems like a nice guy, but come on man, give it a rest already. Their offense will continue to suffer with him under center.
#4 Indianapolis Colts – Unfortunate news for the Colts about Andrew Luck’s retirement. This will simply be why the Colts will be near the bottom of the totem pole this year. Luck is the man who kept this team alive and it has shown time and time again. When he played, they were playoff caliber. When he was hurt and not playing, they were competitive losers.
#1 Los Angeles Rams – This could be a repeat of last year and it makes sense why. Great production from top to bottom on this team. From Goff to Gurley, to all the receivers, the o-line, d-line, LBs, DBs, Wade Phillips, Sean McVay. They are great all-around and that will be the case again this year. They should be back in Super Bowl contention, or deep in the playoffs.
#2 Seattle Seahawks – Tricky guess, but I say they are a playoff team, or close to it. The offense doesn’t look to be overly impressive, but the defense, along with Russell Wilson, can create some havoc in this division.
#3 San Francisco 49ers – I feel bad for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. The injury bug keeps ruining any potential they have. They keep battling the bug this year and eke out some good games and improve slowly, but ultimately lose most games and end up a little under .500.
#4 Arizona Cardinals – I like that they have added some and kept some great veteran talent around for the year. The problem is I don’t see the Kingsbury and Murray show flashing signs of brilliance, like a few expected. Murray will struggle and who is to blame then? I’d be surprised if the team buys into what Kingsbury is selling, but prove me wrong.
#1 Philadelphia Eagles – Playoff bound. The Eagles should certainly make the playoffs and contend with the best deep into the playoffs, possibly going all the way. The defense looks to be awesome, especially the front against the run. The offense should soar as well.
#2 Dallas Cowboys – Dallas is a hot contender, but likely barely makes it into the playoffs. Their defense on paper looks really nice, other than maybe the DBs. They probably get 9 or 10 wins and lose in the first round of the playoffs.
#3 Washington Redskins – Here is another team who continues to battle the injury bug. One after another they drop like flies. From Derrius Guice to Alex Smith, and Colt McCoy last year. Nothing ever seems to go right for too long and it’s unfortunate because they have some potential to cause a shakeup if all were healthy and had no lingering holdouts, and whatever else they have going on at all times.
#4 New York Giants – The o-line and defense continue to plague this team. Saquan Barkley is a stud. Daniel Jones probably gets an opportunity and does well this year, but doesn’t change the end result. They are probably similar in wins as the Redskins and either could pull into third, but neither probably make the playoffs.
#1 Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings should be a playoff contender. The offense is explosive and the defense is solid under Mike Zimmer’s control. I think they take the NFC North this year, but barely.
#2 Chicago Bears – You’ve got to love their defense. Chicago will be a tough place to battle, especially come snow season. Their offense shined last year, but I’m not sure if I’m all that sold on it completely. They have more proving to do, considering the changes at RB and I’m not overly impressed with the receiving corps. Trubisky played well, but I think he thrives as a system quarterback, so they better hope he stays in this same system and keeps learning.
#3 Green Bay Packers – I have always believed that this team doesn’t get anywhere near the playoffs without Aaron Rodgers. This year I am a little more impressed. They continue to build their defense with young talent and it could pay dividends this year. The running backs are usually not much to get excited for, but Aaron Rodgers makes up for it and Jones played well last year. They might be on the outside looking in at the playoffs, but might also just squeeze in.
#4 Detroit Lions – Another year of ups and downs. That seems to be the Lions motto and probably is exactly the same again this year. Likely to be a .500 type team.
#1 New Orleans Saints – More than likely to win the division. A lot of talented athletes on the team and they have tried to add more defensive talent recently. I liked that they just picked up Kiko Alonso, that should help out a little.
#2 Atlanta Falcons – The defense is always the question for the Falcons, not the offense. They can probably muster up enough to be playoff contenders, but I’m not sure they quite make it in.
#3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Déjà vu for the Bucs? Bruce Arians is a great coach, but I’m not sure he brings it all together this year. There might be some good moments to look back on after the year subsides, however, they probably end up around .500. The defense might be a little better this year. I enjoy watching Suh play. The running backs are weak, but the passing game might dial up a notch. The tight ends could be a big factor. Keep an eye out for Tanner Hudson, who is on my preseason standout list. He has shown smooth hands thus far and O.J. Howard proved his worth last year.
#4 Carolina Panthers – There are too many question marks for this team. Cam Newton’s health and new throwing motion? The defense with new addition Gerald McCoy? Sounds good, but is it? Christian McCaffery is the main bright spot on this team as of now, but teams will start to figure out that he’s being targeted 20, 30, or 40 times a game.