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 Arizona Cardinals Will…
…END an era, and not in a good way. With plenty of their important players getting on in age, the Cardinals threw dough at a few other veterans in a hope to have one last crack at a title. As their Super Bowl window closes a last hurrah for the likes of Palmer and HOF bound Larry Fitzgerald isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but a lot of things have to go right.
Breakout Candidate: Robert Nkemdiche, DL
DUE to Calais Campbell’s departure Robert Nkemdiche will have a much bigger role for the Cardinals this season. He has been concerns over Nkemdiche after his rookie campaign and his lack of work ethic and many are wondering if he can fill those massive shoes. If he commits to the task at hand not only will Arizona benefit in 2017, he will help them build for the future.
MVP: David Johnson, RB
ONLY one player has recorded 100+ yards from scrimmage in the first 14 weeks of the season. That same player tied Barry Sanders record for 15 straight such games at any point of the season a week later but fell shy of doing so in every game of the season thanks to an injury in the final week of the season. Don’t be surprised if David Johnson produces more of the same this year.
THE health of the quarterback is the biggest X-factor with Carson Palmer turning 38 before the end of the season. It’s not impossible to see a scenario they start hot claiming road wins over the Colts, Eagles and Rams before their bye. That scenario though isn’t one that I’m buying into and I’m predicting a nine-ten win season from the Cards.
Image from raisingzona.com
Los Angeles Rams
The 2017 Los Angeles Rams Will…
…NEED to help their young offensive cornerstones if they want success. With the youngest head coach at the helm, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley are the future of LA and if they are going to show signs of growth, they need those around them to help buoy them. They need the receivers to help take the pressure off the two studs and the defense needs to put them in a winning position.
Breakout Candidate: Tyler Higbee, TE
SAMMY Watkins arrival gives Jared Goff a great pass catching option, but they need more than one guy to make plays. Enter Tyler Higbee, a fourth rounder who played behind Lance Kendricks last season but should be ready to claim the full-time gig. With Gerald Everett arriving this offseason via a second round pick the pressure is on, however, I have confidence in Higbee’s growth and ability to hold down the starting job.
MVP: Aaron Donald, DE
PAY THE MAN!! The most important player on the Rams still hasn’t been to a practice this year and contractual issues seem set to keep him out of an LA jersey in week one. A defensive force in his 48 career games to date (163 tackles, 28 sacks and seven passes defended) the Rams are screwed without Aaron Donald. Pay the man and end this madness, he’s worth every penny.
Image from turfshowtimes.com
GOOD news Rams fans, the only way is up. While a playoff spot and a higher wins total aren’t impossible the success of the year will be judged by the growth of the team. Both coach and players are presented with a real chance to emerge in the first year without Jeff Fisher since 2011. It’s time for a new staff, new philosophy and new era to begin in Los Angeles.
San Fransisco 49ers
The 2017 San Fransisco Will…
…FINISH at the bottom of the NFC. They have the lowly New York Jets to thank them for not finishing last in the league, but with a lack of ‘blue chippers’ on their roster the 49ers seem slated to ‘beat out’ the Chicago Bears as the worst team in the NFC. Kyle Shanahan will be able to instil hope and at least some growth, but it won’t affect the win column enough.
Breakout Candidate: Carlos Hyde, RB
WHEN healthy Hyde has flashed his dominant self in the NFL’s running game. The downside is those healthy games appear too few and far between and in year four many are expecting him to eventually lose the starting job. If Hyde can stay on the field for all 16 games there’s no reason why Shanahan won’t have the ball in his hands as often as possible.
MVP: DeForest Buckner, DE
SOMEHOW even while missing a game DeForest Buckner managed to play more snaps than any other NFC defensive tackle last year. The 49ers can’t expect him to keep repeating those type of heroics though and need to continue to find tools to help Buckner be more aggressive and conservative in bursts.
I just don’t see enough good players on a San Fransisco roster for them to win over five games and even that might be a stretch. There is no doubt that they are in a better position than they were this time last year but they are in for a long rebuild until they find more skilled players on both sides of the ball.
The 2017 Seattle Seahawks Will…
…REMERGE as Super Bowl contenders. While I still have my doubts over their offensive game plan a defensive unit that boasts the likes of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor, K.J Wright, oh yeah AND now Sheldon Richardson.
Image from sportswire.usatoday.com
Breakout Candidate: C.J. Prosise, RB
PROSISE has showcased his ability to play as a dual threat receiver at the back end of 2016 for Seattle. The emergence of Prosise could see him be the final missing piece to a championship puzzle for the Seahawks, but he will have to beat out the likes of Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls if he wants to live up to the hype.
MVP: Earl Thomas, FS
YOU could really make the argument for about five defenders in Seattle as the team’s MVP. The defense was a step off and less intense last year with Thomas suffering a broken leg 12 games into the year, making opposing quarterbacks look like Tom Brady rather than Ryan Fitzpatrick. With him healthy, another Lombardi trophy is a reasonable goal.
A division banner is virtually a formality for the Seahawks barring any setbacks. With perhaps the best defensive group (on paper at least) and a Pro Bowl calibre quarterback everything is poised for Seattle to make their third Super Bowl appearance in five years and claim the franchises second championship. Expect to see them fighting it out for a spot in the big dance against the other candidate come NFC Championship Game time
Banner from thegamehaus.com