IN the week leading up to kickoff for the 2017 NFL season, it’s time to break down each of the 32 teams preparing for the upcoming season. As we hurtle closer each day to the season opener check out the division by division primers to find out where your team is heading in the upcoming season!
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The 2017 Buffalo Bills Will…
…NEED to find their feet with new head coach Sean McDermott at the helm. After spending the last five years building the start studded Panthers defensive units McDermott gets a shot to turn around the fortunes of this mediocre franchise. I may be the only person on Earth who has faith in Tyrod Taylor as well and I hope that he can continue to improve in year three as a starter.
Breakout Candidate: Zay Jones, WR
MAKING a rookie a breakout candidate might seem taboo, but with Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods gone, there are plenty of targets on offer. Jones has shown that he can be a prominent route runner and can lead the team in most receiving stats. Shaq Lawson was injured plagued in year one and should develop into a difference maker this season as well.
Image from newyorkupstate.com
MVP: LeSean McCoy, RB
SHADY McCoy nearly has 9,000 rushing yards to his name in eight pro seasons, placing him 37th all-time so far. He single handedly won them games last year regular pounding the rock and chalking up the fourth most rushing TD’s (13) in the league. Without him, the Bills would be lost.
DOUG McDermott has his work cut out for him in year one at Buffalo. Not all hope is lost though with the Bills owning competent players on both sides of the ball, yet they lack a heavy amount of blue chippers. If they opt to sell before the deadline at the end of October then this W/L ledger may look different, but I’m predicting another rough season.
The 2017 Miami Dolphins Will…
…DEPEND solely on Jay Cutler, what a time to be alive. The Dolphins broke away to a playoff berth in 2016 and are tipped by many to take a step backwards with Ryan Tannehill once again injured. However, Adam Gase has shown that his squad can survive with a backup at the helm and I expect them to fight and scrap to a few wins that they probably shouldn’t have otherwise get. Defensive monsters Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh will make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks and Jay Ajayi has a real shot to claim the rushing yard title after a breakout 2016.
Image from sun-sentinel.com
Breakout Candidate: Xavien Howard, CB
FORGET the ‘sexier’ DeVante Parker, my monies on Xavien Howard to have a big 2017. Injuries derailed the season for Howard in his rookie campaign last year, but he still managed to start six games. Howard looked more than capable of being the Dolphin corner of the future and if he takes another big step this year it will help Miami immensely.
MVP: Jay Ajayi, RB
SORRY to the sack machines on the defensive line, but Ajayi is the Dolphins MVP at the moment. Ajayi burst onto the scene with three games last year of over 200 yards and has shown that he can swing a game with his own play. More games like that can help to keep the Dolphins in the playoff race.
SOME tough road games towards the end of the season will define the season for Miami with visits to Carolina, New England and Kansas City. Remember that they do play the Bills and Jets twice which means that they will still compete and should bump .500. Don’t be surprised if they pull off a few upsets along the way (beware New England).
New England Patriots
The 2017 New England Patriots Will…
…GO 19-0. You may not believe that statement, but you and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen. Any team with Tom Brady under center is instantly a chance to win it all and as we learned last season, the scenario doesn’t matter. A somewhat new look receiving corp and a remixed defense doesn’t worry fans as Yoda (aka. Bill Belichick) weaves his magic on whoever is in a Pats uniform.
Breakout Candidate: Mike Gillislee, RB
OPTING to join the Patriots this offseason from a division rival, Gillislee should be called upon to take most of LeGarrette Blount’s snaps. An overflowing running back room may see his impact capped, that mixed in with the fact that of course, Belichick loves to do weird shit all the time. Gillislee should still be a regular in the end zone, which makes him a feature of the Patriots offense.
ROB Gronkowski’s health is super important for the Patriots, but everything New England begins and ends with Tom Brady. His heroics in SuperBowl LI the limits of what Brady can achieve have no ceiling and it’s likely that he produces again this season, even at the age of 40. His decline will happen sooner or later, but don’t expect it to come in 2017.
BELICHICK isn’t stupid enough to let a perfect 19-0 season distract him from his ultimate goal of another SuperBowl title. I’m anticipating a few L’s along the way for New England, that will ultimately be part of his master plan. Besides games visiting Denver, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Tampa Bay could all end with a loss.
New York Jets
The 2017 New York Jets Will…
…BE awful. This is no surprise to anyone with at least some NFL knowledge as New York prepares to embark on yet another dismal season. With injuries robbing them of competent receivers (with the exception of newly acquired Jermaine Kearse) and the quarterback situation, well, f*cking abysmal. 2017 is going to hurt Jets fans.
Breakout Candidate: Darron Lee, LB
THE first round pick from Ohio State in 2016 may just about be the best defender the Jets have. Tough boots to fill for someone who has only played 13 professional games of football. With the middle of New York’s defense severely lacking decent ball players though Lee could very well take the leap to becoming an up and comer at his position.
Image from nj.com
MVP: Leonard Williams, DE
IT is a tough ask trying to find Jets players worthy of the title of MVP, but Williams is definitely one who comes into consideration. In his third pro season, Williams will likely make the leap to become a double digit sack guy and in turn helping New York fans find at least one reason to smile.
GIVING New York one win might be generous, but I have faith in their ability to grind out a W. Maybe they can take down the Bills in one of their two matchups, or they will topple the Browns or Saints. The rest of the season however, close your eyes Jets fans.
Banner from thegamehaus.com