Friday, August 18, 2017

Denver Broncos - 2017 NFL Season Preview

DENVER BRONCOS                                            

2016 Record -  9-7-0
Head Coach -  Vance Joseph

Offensive Rank - 27th  (323 yards per game, 20.8 points per game)

Defensive Rank - 4th  (316 yards allowed per game, 18.6 points allowed per game)

Trevor Siemian took the bulk of the snaps at quarterback a year ago and passed for 3,401 yards with 18 touchdowns and ten interceptions. Paxton Lynch had 497 passing yards with two TD and one pick.
The running backs are C.J. Anderson (437 yards and four TD) and many others, including Jamaal Charles, who is looking to resurrect his career after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs following another knee injury. Also in the mix is Devontae Booker (612 yards, four TD), who is on the injury list as training camp wrapped up.
The wide receivers are Demaryius Thomas (90 receptions for 1,083 yards and five TD) and Emmanuel Sanders (79, 1,032, five TD), Jordan Taylor and rookie Carlos Henderson (Louisiana Tech). Virgil Green (22, 237, one TD) is the tight end.
Linebacker Von Miller leads the defense and is coming off another Pro Bowl season in which he led the AFC with 13 1/2 QB sacks. Shane Ray (eight sacks), Brandon Marshall, Derek Wolfe, rookie DeMarcus Walker (Florida State), Aqib Talib (three interceptions), Darian Stewart (three INT) and T.J. Ward are the other big play makers for a stellar defensive unit.

OUTLOOK FOR 2017 - New Head Coach Vance Joseph will have a choice to make at starting quarterback between Siemian and Lynch as neither one showed much brilliance in the 2016 season that saw the Broncos go from being Super Bowl champions in 2015 to no playoffs at all.
There are questions at running back as well as Anderson was hurt last year and Booker is also on the injured list as the regular season is looming closer and closer. The Broncos have Jamaal Charles in camp and if they can catch lightning in a bottle with him, that would be a huge plus for the upcoming season.
The defense is rock solid and barring injuries to any key personnel, the Broncos should be one of the best defensive teams once again this season. They forced 27 turnovers last year (14 INT and 13 fumble recoveries) and they allowed less than 19 points per game, yet missed the playoffs, again showing the offense must step it up in the new season.
An 8-8 season appears to be in the cards for Denver this year unless the offense catches fire and doesn't put it all on the defense to win games.

Week One - vs. LA Chargers
Week Two - vs. Dallas
Week Three - at Buffalo
Week Four - vs. Oakland
Week Five - BYE
Week Six - vs. NY Giants
Week Seven - at LA Chargers
Week Eight - at Kansas City
Week Nine - at Philadelphia
Week Ten - vs. New England
Week Eleven - vs. Cincinnati
Week Twelve - at Oakland
Week Thirteen - at Miami
Week Fourteen - vs. NY Jets
Week Fifteen - at Indianapolis
Week Sixteen - at Washington
Week Seventeen - vs. Kansas City

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Washington Redskins - 2017 NFL Season Preview

WASHINGTON REDSKINS                                     

2016 Record -  8-7-1

Head Coach - Jay Gruden

Offensive Rank - 3rd  (403 yards per game, 24.8 points per game)

Defensive Rank - 28th  (378 yards allowed per game, 23.9 points allowed per game)

After putting up big numbers last year, quarterback Kirk Cousins was franchised by the Redskins and will be back again this season. Cousins passed for 4,917 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Colt McCoy looks to be the primary backup.
Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson and Matt Jones did the bulk of the running last season and that appears to be the same this year.  Kelley led Washington in rushing last year with 704 yards and scored six touchdowns.
The wide receivers  corp will be completely new this year as Pierre Garcon and Sean Jackson are gone. In their place will be Terrelle Pryor (77 receptions, 1,007 yards and four TD with Cleveland), Jamison Crowder (67, 847, seven TD) and second-year player Josh Doctson, who will likely start. Brian Quick (41, 564, three TD with Rams) provides depth. The tight ends are Jordan Reed (66, 686, six TD) and Vernon Davis, who had 44 receptions for 583 yards and two scores.
The defense lost linebacker Trent Murphy (nine QB sacks a year ago) for the season to a knee injury. However, Ryan Kerrigan (11 sacks) is back at linebacker. Also in the fold will be defensive back D.J. Swearinger (three interceptions with Arizona last year), Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland (four INT) and rookies Johnathan Allen and Ryan Anderson (both from Alabama). Allen is a defensive end and may very well be a starter.

OUTLOOK FOR 2017 -  The Redskins just missed the playoffs last season, so Head Coach Jay Gruden will be expecting big things this season from Kirk Cousins and company. However, Cousins lost two big weapons, so it remains to be seen how things will work out as the season goes along. The running game may go with the committee look again as Washington averaged 106 yards per game on the ground.
The defense must play better in crunch time as the Redskins lost four games by one score or less a year ago. Improvement against both the run (120 yards per game allowed) and the pass (258 yards allowed per game) is a must if the Redskins want to get back to the playoffs.
It will come down to how well Cousins plays as he is surrounded by new receivers. His go to guys could be the tight end duo of Reed and Davis. Pryor, a former quarterback, came out of nowhere at wide receiver in Cleveland last season, so that should be a plus.
The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants (even Philadelphia) will likely loom large in the NFC East, so the Redskins will be hard pressed to succeed. A 7-9 finish seems likely as questions will abound following the season as to whether Cousins will stay with the team.

Week One - vs. Philadelphia
Week Two - at LA Rams
Week Three - vs. Oakland
Week Four - at Kansas City
Week Five - BYE
Week Six - vs. San Francisco
Week Seven - at Philadelphia
Week Eight - vs. Dallas
Week Nine - at Seattle
Week Ten - vs. Minnesota
Week Eleven - at New Orleans
Week Twelve - vs, NY Giants
Week Thirteen - at Dallas
Week Fourteen - at LA Chargers
Week Fifteen - vs. Arizona
Week Sixteen - vs. Denver
Week Seventeen - at NY Giants

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Baltimore Ravens - 2017 NFL Season Preview

BALTIMORE RAVENS                                                  

2016 Record - 8-8-0

Head Coach - John Harbaugh

Offensive Rank17th  (348 yards per game, 21.4 points scored per game)

Defensive Rank 7th  (322 yards allowed per game, 20 points allowed per game)

Quarterback Joe Flacco returns as the starter for his tenth season in Baltimore. Flacco passed for 4,317 yards a year ago with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Journeyman Ryan Mallett is the backup.
Terrance West (774 yards and five TD) will the primary running back while Danny Woodhead comes over from the Chargers after missing nearly the entire 2016 season. Woodhead is a versatile back who is excellent at receiving passes out of the backfield.  The wide receivers include Mike Wallace (72 receptions for 1,017 yards and four TD), Breshad Perriman (33, 499, three TD), Jeremy Maclin (44, 536, two TD with Kansas City) and Chris Moore. The tight ends are Benjamin Watson and Nick Boyle.
The defense is led by linebacker Terrell Suggs (eight QB sacks), Brandon Williams, C.J. Mosley (four interceptions), Eric Weddle (four INT), Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson. Rookies Marlon Humphrey (CB from Alabama) and linebacker Tyus Bowser (Houston) may get some playing time early on.

OUTLOOK FOR 2017 -  The Ravens finished second to Pittsburgh in the AFC North division a year ago and if they want to get back to the post-season, the offense has to improve. Flacco is needed to come through once again and the running game needs to help balance out the offense. The Ravens averaged only 91 rushing yards per game last season.
The defense was among the top ten and will look to continue the success, especially against the run as they allowed only 89 rushing yards per game. The secondary gave up some yardage, but also accounted for 18 picks last year as the Ravens were a plus-five in the turnover category.
If they can remain healthy and get some consistency running the football, the Ravens should improve upon last season's finish.  A 9-7 finish might be enough to get a wild card spot and that would be an improvement for the Ravens this season.

Week One - at Cincinnati
Week Two - vs. Cleveland
Week Three - at Jacksonville (London, England)
Week Four - vs. Pittsburgh
Week Five - at Oakland
Week Six - vs. Chicago
Week Seven - at Minnesota
Week Eight - vs. Miami
Week Nine - at Tennessee
Week Ten - BYE
Week Eleven - at Green Bay
Week Twelve - vs. Houston
Week Thirteen - vs. Detroit
Week Fourteen - at Pittsburgh
Week Fifteen - at Cleveland
Week Sixteen - vs. Indianapolis
Week Seventeen - vs. Cincinnati

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Minnesota Vikings - 2017 NFL Season Preview

MINNESOTA VIKINGS                                                  

2016 Record - 8-8-0

Head Coach - Mike Zimmer

Offensive Rank - 28th  (315 yards per game, 20.4 points scored per game)

Defensive Rank - 3rd  (315 yards allowed per game, 19.2 points allowed per game)

Sam Bradford is the starting quarterback after passing for 3,877 yards with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Case Keenum (2,201 pass yards with nine TD and 11 INT) comes over from the Rams to provide depth as Teddy Bridgewater looks to come back from a terrible knee injury.
Running back is getting an overhaul in Minnesota as Adrian Peterson went to the New Orleans Saints, leaving either rookie Dalvin Cook (Florida State) or Latavius Murray (788 yards with 12 TD with Oakland) as the primary runner. Jerrick McKinnon, who had 539 yards (two rush TD) and also 43 receptions with two scores, is another option in the backfield.
Wide receiver has Stefon Diggs (84, 903, three TD) as a key player along with Adam Thielen (69, 967, five TD). The tight end is Kyle Rudolph (83, 840, seven TD). Second year receiver Laquon Treadwell is also in the mix.
Dannielle Hunter (12 1/2 QB sacks), Everson Griffen (eight sacks) and Brian Robison (7 1/2 sacks) head the defensive front while Xavier Rhodes (five interceptions) and Trae Waynes (three INT) lead the secondary for the NFL's number-three defense last season, which also netted 27 takeaways in the 2016 season.

OUTLOOK FOR 2017 - The Vikings finished at .500 last season and Head Coach Mike Zimmer would like to see the offense pick it up a few notches this year after ranking near the bottom of the NFL. Sam Bradford came over from Philadelphia and had a decent season (statistically) but the offense averaged just 20 points per game, putting too much pressure on a solid defensive unit.
If the team wants to get back to the playoffs, they must score more points and Bradford will lead the way along with two new running backs and a variety of receivers. It seems like there are too many questions facing the team heading into the season, especially on offense.
The key will be how the Vikings do against their division foes this year (2-4 in division games in 2016) as well as the offense having more balance as they averaged just 75 yards rushing per game.
It looks like another 8-8 season in Minnesota this year, unless the offense steps it up.

Week One - vs. New Orleans
Week Two - at Pittsburgh
Week Three - vs. Tampa Bay
Week Four - vs. Detroit
Week Five - at Chicago
Week Six - vs. Green Bay
Week Seven - vs. Baltimore
Week Eight - at Cleveland (London, England)
Week Nine - BYE
Week Ten - at Washington
Week Eleven - vs. LA Rams
Week Twelve - at Detroit
Week Thirteen - at Atlanta
Week Fourteen - at Carolina
Week Fifteen - vs. Cincinnati
Week Sixteen - at Green Bay
Week Seventeen - vs. Chicago

Monday, August 14, 2017

Indianapolis Colts - 2017 NFL Season Preview

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS                                            

2016 Season Record -  8-8-0

Head Coach - Chuck Pagano

Offensive Rank - 10th  (364 yards per game, 25.7 points scored per game)

Defensive Rank - 30th  (383 yards allowed per game, 24.5 points allowed per game)

Quarterback Andrew Luck is coming off shoulder surgery following last season, when he passed for 4,240 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Backing him up (or possibly starting if Luck isn't quite ready for the season) is Scott Tolzien. The running game has Frank Gore (1,025 yards and four TD) back again along with Robert Turbin (164 yards and seven TD) and rookie Marlon Mack (South Florida).
The wide receivers are led by T.Y. Hilton (91 receptions for 1,448 yards and six TD) and a training camp battle for the other starting spot between Phillip Dorsett (33, 528, two TD), Donte Moncrief (30, 307, seven TD) and former Baltimore Raven Kamar Aiken, who had 29 catches for 328 yards. The tight ends are Jack Doyle (59, 584, five TD) and Erik Swoope.
Many changes abound for the defense as seven players left the Colts from last year's team while eight new faces will be on the defense for the 2017 season, including DT Johnathan Hankins, LB Jon Bostic, DE Margus Hunt, NT Al Woods and rookies Malik Hooker (safety- Ohio State), Tarell Basham (DE- Ohio) and cornerback Quincy Wilson (Florida). Darius Butler is the returning safety who had three interceptions last season.

OUTLOOK FOR 2017 - Obviously, a lot hinges on the health of QB Andrew Luck, who has done very little football activity following off-season shoulder surgery.  Improving the running game (102 yards per game a year ago) would also be a big boost. If Luck is back to his old form, it may be enough for the team to challenge Tennessee and Houston for the AFC South title.
There are far too many questions on the defensive side of the football as the season nears. The Colts have to fill the gaps with the new players taking over this season. If the defense (ranked 30th in 2016) can fit together quickly, the Colts will be in business.
Head Coach Chuck Pagano survived the firing line last off-season and will be looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time in three years. Another .500 finish (or worse) likely will not cut it this time around. That may very well happen as a 7-9 finish appears to be in order this season.

Week One - at LA Rams
Week Two - vs. Arizona
Week Three - vs. Cleveland
Week Four - at Seattle
Week Five - vs. San Francisco
Week Six - at Tennessee
Week Seven - vs. Jacksonville
Week Eight - at Cincinnati
Week Nine - at Houston
Week Ten - vs. Pittsburgh
Week Eleven - BYE
Week Twelve - vs. Tennessee
Week Thirteen - at Jacksonville
Week Fourteen - at Buffalo
Week Fifteen - vs. Denver
Week Sixteen - at Baltimore
Week Seventeen - vs. Houston

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Arizona Cardinals - 2017 NFL Season Preview

ARIZONA CARDINALS                                                

2016 Record -  7-8-1

Head Coach -  Bruce Arians

Offensive Rank9th  (367 yards per game, 26.1 points scored per game)

Defensive Rank 2nd  (305 yards allowed per game, 22.6 points allowed per game)

Back for another season to start at quarterback will be Carson Palmer following last season's effort when he threw for 4,233 yards with 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Blaine Gabbert (925 passing yards, five TD, six INT) comes over from San Francisco and will battle it out with Drew Stanton for the reserve spot.
David Johnson (1,239 rushing yards and 16 TD, also 80 receptions for 879 yards and four TD) is the primary running back and will be backed up by Kerwynn Williams and rookie T.J. Logan (North Carolina). The wide receivers will be Larry Fitzgerald (107 receptions, 1,023 yards and six TD) and John Brown, who had 39 grabs for 517 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie Chad Williams (Grambling State), J.J. Nelson (34, 568, six TD) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (37, 391, two TD) will also be relied upon this season.
The defense has pass rush stalwarts Markus Golden (12 1/2 QB sacks) and Chandler Jones (11 sacks) leading the way for the NFL's top sack defense, which recorded 44 last season. Veterans Frostee Rucker and Karlos Dansby are in the fold as well.
Patrick Peterson (three interceptions) leads the secondary along with Antoine Bethea, Tyrann Mathieu and rookies Budda Baker (Washington) and Rudy Ford (Auburn) for the Cardinals, who intercepted 14 passes a year ago while giving just 210 passing yards per game.

OUTLOOK FOR 2017 - Arizona slipped to a losing record in 2016 a year after reaching the NFC Championship Game, so they will be looking to rebound behind Palmer and company on offense while the defense will be looking to maintain their level of solid play. Running back David Johnson's 20 touchdowns led the NFL last season.
The Cardinals ranked second overall on defense last year and also led the league with 44 quarterback sacks. There has been a lot of roster moves in the off-season as several new faces are in camp this year replacing no less than six defensive players from last season. The key for Arizona will be maintaining health as they are one of the older teams in the NFL as far as key personnel is concerned.
Head Coach Bruce Arians is one of the better ones in getting through his message to the team and they play hard for him. Whether or not that translates to enough wins this season remains to be seen, but the Cards will likely be in the mix for the NFC playoff race in 2017. Expect the Cardinals to make a push as they probably go 9-7 this season.

Week One - at Detroit
Week Two - at Indianapolis
Week Three - vs. Dallas
Week Four - vs. San Francisco
Week Five - at Philadelphia
Week Six - vs. Tampa Bay
Week Seven - at LA Rams (London, England)
Week Eight - BYE
Week Nine - at San Francisco
Week Ten - vs. Seattle
Week Eleven - at Houston
Week Twelve - vs. Jacksonville
Week Thirteen - vs. LA Rams
Week Fourteen - vs. Tennessee
Week Fifteen - at Washington
Week Sixteen - vs. NY Giants
Week Seventeen - at Seattle

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Buffalo Bills - 2017 NFL Season Preview

BUFFALO BILLS                                                        

2016 Record - 7-9-0 

Head Coach - Sean McDermott

Offensive Rank16th  (354 yards per game, 24.9 points scored per game)

Defensive Rank 19th  (357 yards allowed per game, 23.3 points allowed per game)

Tyrod Taylor will be the starting quarterback again this season. Taylor passed for 3,023 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions and also rushed for 580 yards with six scores. T.J. Yates and rookie Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh) will back up.
LeSean McCoy rushed for 1,267 yards with 13 TD and also caught 50 passes out of the backfield and will be the primary running back again. Jonathan Williams and Cedric O' Neal provide depth. The wide receiving unit went through a major change as Sammy Watkins was dealt to the Rams. Anquan Boldin (67 receptions, 584 yards, eight TD with Detroit), Andre Holmes, Philly Brown and rookie Zay Jones (East Carolina) will be the primary targets along with tight end Charles Clay, who had 57 receptions for 552 yards and four touchdowns last year.
The defense features Kyle Williams (five QB sacks), Jerry Hughes (six sacks) and Marcell Dareus (3 1/2 sacks) on the front line along with pass rushing linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who had 12 1/2 QB sacks a year ago, which was third best in the NFL. Rookie Tre'Davious White (LSU) will look to man a cornerback spot along with Leonard Johnson following the trade of Ronald Darby to Philadelphia.

OUTLOOK FOR 2017 -  The Bills appear to be in transformation mode with the recent deals made and new Head Coach Sean McDermott will look to Taylor and McCoy to spark the offense, which was decent a year ago, averaging just under 25 points per game.
The defense can get after the quarterback and did intercept twelve passes a year ago, but the run defense was weak, allowing 133 yards per game. That has to improve to keep opposing offenses honest.  The Bills will not challenge New England for the AFC East title this season, but a .500 finish is not out of the question if the offense clicks once again.
The future will likely be better for Buffalo as they hold a ton of draft picks in the next couple of years. Look for a 6-10 mark this season as they build for future success.

Week One - vs. NY Jets
Week Two - at Carolina
Week Three - vs. Denver
Week Four - at Atlanta
Week Five - at Cincinnati
Week Six - BYE
Week Seven - vs. Tampa Bay
Week Eight - vs. Oakland
Week Nine - at NY Jets
Week Ten - vs. New Orleans
Week Eleven - at LA Chargers
Week Twelve - at Kansas City
Week Thirteen - vs. New England
Week Fourteen - vs. Indianapolis
Week Fifteen - vs. Miami
Week Sixteen - at New England
Week Seventeen - at Miami