The NFL season is coming up much quicker than many fans realize. The NFL Draft has already come and gone and all of the top tier free agents have been nabbed up by new suitors. With all of this in mind, one question that arises is who will be the division winners for this upcoming season? With many teams having a new framework and/or having new big name players on their roster, there could be some big shakeups around the league this season. Without further adieu, here are my division winners for this coming NFL season.
It is taking every fiber of my being to say this. However, my Denver Broncos will not win the AFC West. Instead, I am predicting the Kansas City Chiefs will defend their crown led by the reigning MVP in Patrick Mahomes. Another year of familiarity with Mahomes’ receivers will assist in Kansas City taking another step in competing with New England for the championship. The addition of Tryon Mathieu should also help shore up the secondary of the Chiefs and make them more of a threat throughout the rest of the league.
This division may be the most intriguing of all. As “sexy,” it is to pick the Cleveland Browns who have gotten an absolute makeover, we still do not how the new team chemistry will affect them this coming year. With this in mind, I am going with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers will have a chip on their shoulder after the Antonio Brown saga and are more than capable of filling the void of Le’Veon Bell with James Conner, who had a breakout season last year rushing for 1,470 yards, at the starting halfback position. Not to mention, Big Ben still has a year or two left in the tank which the franchise will want to make use of every minute they can.
This prediction should come as no surprise. The AFC East is still arguably the weakest division in all of football. Therefore, the New England Patriots are going to win the division yet again. They are the defending champions for a reason and despite losing a key player such as Gronk, they still have a good foundation in place. Tom Brady is still the best quarterback in football and Bill Bellicheck is still the best coach in football. Not to mention, New England has always had an overlooked defense which could be the case again this year led by corner and Super Bowl savior, Stephon Gilmore, who was ranked as the best corner in football last season according to Pro Football Focus.
This is a division which is becoming more and more interesting as the years go on. With the return of Andrew Luck last year, the Texans are no longer a no-brainer pick for the division. Not to mention, the Tennessee Titans could play the role of the dark horse as well. I am predicting the Indianapolis Colts will reverse roles with Houston this upcoming year and be the division winner whereas the Texans will be a wild card team. Andrew Luck proved his value as a top 10 quarterback last season finishing with over 4,000 yards passing and 39 touchdowns. With some extra help coming in on the defensive side, the Colts can play spoiler to a championship contender or two in the postseason.
The NFC West is a good example of how the mighty have fallen. What was once one of the most competitive divisions in the league is now a race between the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are returning from a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss and have beefed up their defense ever more despite being loaded last season. The addition of Eric Weddle will make their already deadly secondary even more lethal. Not to mention, Clay Matthews can still show us a thing or two despite getting older and will no longer have to shoulder the load on his own like he did in Green Bay. Meanwhile, Seattle still has a lot to do considering Russell Wilson can only do so much.
The Bears may have had a great season last year, but they also lost a ton of firepower. Not only did they lose Bryce Callahan (ranked in the top 15 corners by Pro Football Focus for last season), they also lost Vic Fangio, the architect of the number one defense last year. He is now the head coach of the Denver Broncos. They also lost their star safety Adrian Amos (who finished last year with 73 combined tackles and two interceptions) to their arch rival, the Green Bay Packers. With this in mind, the Packers are in store for a bounce-back season. Aaron Rodgers has some help after the Pack reloaded and finally made some moves to shore up the porous defense. Do not be surprised if Aaron Rodgers finds a way to lead the Packers back to postseason glory. He is still a top-five quarterback in today’s NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys have a nicely constructed team to repeat as division champions. Dak Prescott is back as the quarterback. He is coming off a year where he threw for nearly 4,000 yards and will have a full season with Amari Cooper, who caught 53 catches for 725 yards as a member of the Cowboys last season, as his number one weapon at wideout. Not to mention, the defense is extremely young and just going to get better with time as they become more familiar with each other. As long as key players can avoid legal trouble, which we have seen a lot with the Cowboys in recent years, then they should be able to outlast the Philadelphia Eagles for the division crown.
Another competitive division. The Saints are the reigning champs of the division, but the Panthers and Falcons are still not to be taken lightly as they are led by Cam Newton and Matt Ryan, both former MVP’s. Not to mention, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to improve some time. However, the Saints still seem like the most “complete,” team out of the four NFC South squads. One could make a case that Drew Brees was snubbed for the MVP last season as he threw for 3,992 yards, 32 touchdowns to five interceptions and finished with a quarterback rating of 115.7. Not to mention, they still have an extremely talented running back in Alvin Kamara. Their defense was also elite led by Cameron Jordan on the front line and will most likely be back with a vengeance this year after the extremely controversial NFC Championship game. I would not be surprised to see the Saints represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this coming year and with that, I have them repeating as the NFC South champions.