It's that time of the year. The third preseason games are just about wrapping up as of this writing, which is the only real time someone could make logical predictions about the season. Instead of going team by team, because that takes too damn long, I'm going to just go division by division and of course the playoff picks right after that. Let's get to it....
NFC East: Every year you must consider the 'Rule of 5' which stands for the average number of playoff teams from the previous year that don't make the playoffs the following year, just the law of averages. By this rule the Washington Redskins would be the most obvious NFC East team to fall into this formula. Granted I love that they franchised Kirk Cousins this year instead of dishing out a Redskin like contract. We'll eliminate the Philadelphia Eagles too, because who the hell is their QB (And that part was written even before the Bradford trade)? So this leaves us with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. I'll give the nod to the Giants to win the division, seeing as they added some much needed pieces on defense like Oliver Vernon and Janoris Jenkins. Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott might absolutely light it up this year, but the Cowboys defense will still be a problem, perhaps a wild card for them though?
NFC North: The Green Bay Packers will win this division with a healthy Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy in a contract year, so let's put that baby to bed. As for the Minnesota Vikings? A first rounder for Sam Bradford? Is Bradford really that much of an upgrade from Shaun Hill? Still the Vikings have AP and a good defense, so that could still be enough for a wild card. The Chicago Bears actually made some nice moves by adding Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman, Jay Cutler will be a mixed bag as always, but I could see the Bears at least hanging around the wild card race this year. The Detroit Lions look destined for another last place finish, might be time to move on from Matt Stafford.
NFC South: Like the North, the Carolina Panthers are a shoe-in to win this division, so no need to waste time there. The Atlanta Falcons will be the last place team I believe, last years collapse was a sign of things to come in my opinion. Which leaves us with the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints could be a nice option for a bounce-back year after a few disappointing seasons and The Bucs could be headed in the right direction with famous Jameis and new Coach Dirk Cutter (Yeah I know that's not how his name is spelled, but it should be). I'm going to give 2nd place to the Bucs as the higher upside team, gotta take a few chances in these season previews.
NFC West: So, we'll immediately eliminate the San Francisco 49'ers and Los Angeles Rams. I have no logical idea what the 49'ers front office thinks (ever) and the Rams will forever be stuck in 7-9 purgatory until they have a real QB, not a good sigh that Jared Goff isn't starting right away. I like the Arizona Cardinals to once again win this division, the addition of Chandler Jones will be huge for their pass rush and we know the offense will keep putting up points with all the talent on that side of the ball. The Seattle Seahawks could be an interesting case, I don't know why but I could see them as a surprise team to not make the playoffs, maybe they're just due for a bad year.
NFC Playoff Teams: 1. Green Bay Packers 2. Carolina Panthers 3. Arizona Cardinals 4. New York Giants 5. Minnesota Vikings 6. Dallas Cowboys
NFC Wild Card: Arizona over Dallas, New York over Minnesota
NFC Divisional: Green Bay over New York, Carolina over Arizona
NFC Championship: Green Bay over Carolina
AFC East: Even with the four game Tom Brady suspension and a banged up offensive line, the Pats will still win this division no problem. Not really feeling the other three teams in this division at all. The Jets should will get Fitzpatricked, since he always stinks after a good year, this may be an exact science. I would probably like the Buffalo Bills a little more if they weren't so injured and lacking depth at certain areas. Which leaves us with the Miami Dolphins. Screw them, screw them hard. I had them making the playoffs last year and they made me look like a jackass. Last place again for them.
AFC North: So let's just throw this out there, I'm kinda biased for my favorite team the Baltimore Ravens and yes I have them getting back to the playoffs like they usually do after a bad season, but I'm not biased enough to have them win the division over one of the most complete teams in the league, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals defense is one of the best in the league, they may miss Mo Sanu and Marvin Jones, but they'll get by fine without them. Does this mean the Pittsburgh Steelers could miss out on the playoffs? The defense will still be a problem and they might Martavis Bryant more than most people think. Although I see a third place finish for them, the AFC is weak this year, so we could easily have three teams come out of this bad ass division. Which leaves us with the Cleveland Browns... it seems like they may finally be headed in the right direction, but how many times have we heard this before?
AFC South: So the Houston Texans easily fit the "Rule of 5". Although I love the Lamar Miller addition, I can't say the same for Brock Osweiler, I'm calling it "Bustville". The Indianapolis Colts would be the logical choice to win this division with a healthy Andrew Luck coming back, but can he stay healthy for long behind that O-Line? We'll see. The Jacksonville Jaguars are that sleeper team that isn't really a sleeper team. I was watching a lot of their 3rd preseason game against an elite opponent at home in Cincinnati and I wasn't impressed at all. Weak offensive line and not much of a running game and from what I've seen Blake Bortles is a better fantasy QB then real life QB. This leaves us the Tennessee Titans. You want a real deal sleeper team, I give you the Titans! Why not right? Weak division, should have an incredible running game with Demarco Murray (in a system that fits his talents) and rookie Derrick Henry (perhaps a younger version of Demarco) Marcus Mariotta will take the next step and light the league on fire. The Titans win the South!
AFC West: The defending champion Denver Broncos might possibly miss the playoffs this season. Brutal schedule, lost a few players of last years incredible defense, and some guy named Trevor Siemian is starting at QB. Granted, Peyton Manning was awful last year, so the QB won't need to do much in theory, but it will be impossible for Denver's D to have a repeat of last year. Therefore, Denver will have to play from behind a little more than last year, which won't be ideal for how they're set up. I like the Kansas City Chiefs to win this division, they're the most complete team of the four. The Oakland Raiders are in the same category as the Jags. With both of those teams I need to see it first before I can start slotting them for playoff births. And of course the San Diego Chargers are just kind of there, hopefully their O-line doesn't get Phil Rivers killed.
AFC Playoff Teams: 1. Cincinnati Bengals 2. New England Patriots 3. Kansas City Chiefs 4. Tennessee Titans 5. Baltimore Ravens 6. Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC Wildcard: Kansas City over Pittsburgh, Baltimore over Tennessee
AFC Divisional: Cincinnati over Baltimore, New England over Kansas City
AFC Championship: Cincinnati over New England
Superbowl 51: Green Bay over Cincinnati
So there it is. Somehow I always seem to have the Packers winning the SB in these things. I have the Bengals finally getting over their playoff drought, and with the pressure of that off, they'll take it even a step further than that. My apologies to