USA Today 2017 NFL Predictions

Written By: Conner Pack

 

After taking a month off and taking a little vacation it’s time to get back to work. For some NFL teams training camps are already under way and for others they’re about to begin. With that being said, yesterday USA Today released their preseason NFL Predictions. Now I know this is just predictions, but it’s still dead season so this gives us sports people something to talk about.

– What Stood Out

Four things that caught my attention were: the Patriots going undefeated, the Titans going 12-4 and winning the AFC South, the Buccaneers going 10-6 and being an NFC wild card team, and the Cowboys going 11-5 and winning NFC East.

– Patriots 16-0?

Coming off their impressive comeback Super Bowl victory, USA Today is predicting the New England Patriots will go 16-0 in 2017. Looking at their schedule, it’s quite possible that could actually happen. Last season the Patriots only lost two games. One of the games was to the Bills and Jacoby Brissett started at quarterback. The second game was an overtime thriller to the Seahawks.

So it’s not all that far-fetched to believe 16-0 won’t happen, they did it before. Not to mention they have the best quarterback; Tom Brady and the best head coach; Bill Belichick. But me personally I don’t think they’ll end up 16-0. I think they’ll slip up and lose a close game maybe to Oakland or Pittsburgh. But come January 1st it wouldn’t be surprise if the Patriots are sitting at 16-0 heading into the playoffs.

– Titans Go 12-4?

Last season the Tennessee Titans took major steps forward finishing 9-7 and barely missing the playoffs. The running back tandem of Murray and Henry played a major role in the efficiency of their offense. By having a solid running game and an elite offensive line Mariota was able to show off his passing abilities. The Titans offense finished eleventh in total offense last season. However their defense was another story, particularly their horrendous secondary.

Now, 12-4 in my opinion is a bit of a stretch. Is it possible? Most definitely. But for the Titans to finish 12-4 and win the AFC South they’ve got to take care of business in their division. For years they’ve split with teams or have been swept by teams within the division, last season the Titans were 2-4 in the division. Losing to the Colts twice and splitting with Texans and Jaguars. To be a contender you’ve got to win in the division. Finally, the Titans have got to beat the Indianapolis Colts. They’re 1-15 over the last eight years. Beating the Colts will tell us if this team is for real or not.

– Buccaneers Making the Playoffs

It’s been quite awhile since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a playoff team. With Jameis Winston entering his third season, the Buccaneers are in a great position to contend for a possible playoff position. Adding DeSean Jackson an experienced speedy receiver with rising star Mike Evans is huge. Two very dynamic play makers Winston has at his disposal. Not to mention they draft Alabama tight end OJ Howard. Another big target who can streak down the middle of the field.

 

My biggest concerns with this Buccaneers team is defense and running back. They’ve had their defensive struggles for a couple of years now. And with Doug Martin not all the way checked in they really don’t have a proven running back. But I do think they’ll have enough to be in the playoffs this season. Their division could be wide open depending on if the Falcons have a Super Bowl hangover.

– Dallas Cowboys 11-5 and Win NFC East

The rookie duo of running back Ezekiel Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott took the league by storm last season. Elliot led the league in rushing as a rookie and Prescott was one of the top quarterbacks in the league last season. However, all of that was “last season”. I’m not taking anything away from their success because what they did was very impressive.

 

That leads me to this, I don’t think the Cowboys will have the same success they had last year. Yes, I do still think they should be the favorite to win the NFC East. But I think it’s going to be a dog fight amongst all of the NFC East teams, especially the Giants and Eagles. Something else to factor in is the sophomore slump. Dak and Zeke were awesome last year, it’s going to be hard to repeat the same success. Now that teams have seen them play and there’s film on them teams can game plan a lot better for them now.

Finally, this offseason has not been all that great for the Cowboys, there have been several incidence where players have been arrested or caught up in negative situations. With a lot of it surrounding Ezekiel Elliot. We still don’t know how many games he’ll be suspended if he even gets a suspension. That’s another factor to add to why the Cowboys won’t be as successful.

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