By Sean Simara @Sean_FootyMad @TLE_Sport
The NFL season kicks off next week. Here’s a preview of what (probably) to expect in the coming months.
AFC East: New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins
With all the drama surrounding Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, it would be a real sporting fairytale for them to go all the way back to the Super Bowl. It’s too early for such a prediction, but they will win the AFC East, with or without Brady. The Patriots will be a football team with something to prove. The New York Jets v Miami Dolphins is one of the Wembley games this year and given their divisional rivalry it should be a good one to check out.
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals
The AFC North will be very competitive this season. I’m going to side with the Pittsburgh Steelers and their wide receiver Antonio Brown to be the main man. Ravens have the pedigree to be there or thereabouts and Joe Flacco tends to turn it on in the winter, but I’m sticking with Big Ben Roethlisberger to deliver even with the Steelers’ poor defence. Johnny Manziel is still at Cleveland but does he have a future there? Time will tell.
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans
JJ Watt was knocking on the door of MVP last year, he has become one of the faces of the NFL and the leader of the Houston Texans. Jadeveon Clowney is on course for a week one return and with Brian Hoyer as Quarter-Back things are looking up for the Texans. However, the Indianapolis Colts are my pick to win this. They are too strong for this division and QB Andrew Luck is my early pick for MVP.
AFC West: Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs
The West may be a little tighter this year. The Chiefs and Chargers had exactly the same record last year and will be looking to close the gap on Peyton Manning who is another year older. However, experience will show here and Denver are my selection.
NFC East: Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants
There was huge controversy last year as Dez Bryant thought he had made the catch that would take the Cowboys to the NFC Championship game. They have now lost DeMarco Murray to the Eagles, but they could win this division by default. If you take away Odell Beckham Jnr from the New York Giants’ line-up then they lack firepower. Washington Redskins seem to be hell bent on imploding early, and with Chip Kelly at the Eagles it’s his way or the high way so anything can happen. The Dallas Cowboys are my winners.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears
Green Bay Packers would have been in the Super-Bowl last year but for one of the greatest collapses at Seattle. The first steps to their redemption starts here by winning the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers will have to prove once again why he’s one of the best QBs in the game, especially with Jordy Nelson injured. I expect the Vikings to improve too, but the Bears are in trouble with Jay Cutler collecting a big pay check and not doing a lot.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints surely can’t be as bad as the 7-9 they were last year? The Carolina Panthers won’t get as lucky, so that leaves the Atlanta Falcons. They should challenge more, but I’m going for the Saints to take the NFC South.
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks, St Louis Rams, San Francisco, Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks will ease through this division and with their strong home record, they should be knocking on the door to the Super-Bowl. They will certainly want to put right all the wrongs from last season’s showpiece.
So these are my picks for the coming season. Who do you think will win the divisions and who will get to the Super-Bowl? If you’re a new fan of the NFL hopefully this guide will give you someone to support. Follow me throughout the season for all the news and reviews from Stateside.