3 New Teams IN-
Minnesota Vikings– Prior to last year, the Vikings brought in Kirk Cousins to put them over the hump and into the Super Bowl after a devastating loss to the Saints the year prior. Last year, their gamble did not pay off like they hoped it would. However, it wasn’t all Cousins fault that they couldn’t make the playoffs, he didn’t have bad numbers. Defensively they were 3rd against the pass and 15th against the run, which is unusual for them, but not horrible. The one stat that does stand out is their lack of run game, Minnesota ranked 30th in the league. I think they will improve on that even if Dalvin Cook can’t stay healthy once again. Their rookie Alexander Mattison will be enough to bump them into the 20-25 ranked range, and let the passing game do the rest. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will be back doing damage again for the Vikings, and their run defense will do better this season. They squeek into the playoffs this year as a wild card.
Cleveland Browns– Easily the most talked about team during the off season this year, thanks to the Browns trading for Odell Beckham from the Giants. With that trade the Browns have arguably the best 1-2 punch in the NFL at wide receiver with Jarvis Landry on the other side of Beckham. The young TE Njoku,should be set up to have a solid year. Baker Mayfield seems to be a legit Quarterback going into his sophomore season, everybody is expecting big things from this kid. Same to be said for Myles Garrett on the defensive side of the ball, all eyes will be on him with expectations that the DE will have a huge year. They also brought in Sheldon Richardson to solidify the interior of the line, and the pick up Olivier Vernon gives them another pass rush threat on the other side of Garrett. Cleveland will live up to the hype and make it in the playoffs this year and everybody knows it.
Cincinnati Bengals– I know, I know, I know, Andy Dalton is still leading that offense, but have you seen how stacked they are around him? Dalton is going into this year set up for success, and to have the best year he has ever had in his 9th season in the league. Having A.J. Green go down 9 games in, might have been the best thing for this team, making Tyler Boyd have to step up in his absense. Joe Mixon had himself a great second half of the year as well, and it will continue into this year. The Bengals got rid of Vontaze Burfict this year and Pacman Jones is no longer there, so they should have no issues on the defensive side of the ball. The Bengals will quietly sneak into the playoffs and may even beat out the Browns for the division win.
3 of last years teams OUT-
Houston Texans– They have the talent to get there, I don’t think they have the right coach. Lamar Miller is not the answer at running back, the offensive line is questionable, and so is their secondary, Texans fall short, Colts take that division.
Baltimore Ravens– I see Lamar Jackson as a one year wonder. Teams will be ready this season for it. The defense will be solid, but that doesn’t do anything if the offense can’t move the ball, Ravens no more.
Philadelphia Eagles– I am betting on the probability that Carson Wentz is in fact an injury prone player and will not play all 16 games once again. Eagles made the classy move letting Foles go be a started, but it will turn out to be the wrong move. Cowboys win that division.