AFC Teams To Watch For:
New England Patriots: The Patriots are arguably the best offensive and defensive team in the NFL. With Edelman out, look for more throws to Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan, as well as more focus on the plethora of running backs at Brady’s disposal. The defense will take a few weeks to gel, but once the cornerback duo of Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler gets going, this defense will be among tops in the league. If this team stays relatively healthy, a trip to Minneapolis in February is likely.
Pittsburgh Steelers: If this is Ben Roethlisberger’s last NFL season, the Steelers will do their best to send him out a champion. His health is a huge factor. If he can avoid the injury bug, along with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, the offense could put up record points. The young secondary has to be more consistent in their play, though; they were exposed badly in last year’s playoffs. If they improve, the Steelers will be in the running to get Roethlisberger his third ring.
NFC Teams To Watch For:
Green Bay Packers: As long as Aaron Rodgers is here, the Packers will be in contention. The addition of Martellus Bennett gives Rodgers the tight end he’s needed the last five seasons. Now with the offense complete, the focus shifts to the secondary. They gave up 270 passing yards per game last year, good for second-to-last in the NFL. The defense also gave up close to 25 points per game, which will be an area of improvement too. If the defense can perform somewhere in the middle of the league, Rodgers will take care of the rest. His excellent play should be enough to get the Packers deep into the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks: Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson goes to an already stacked defense, making Seattle’s unit among the best in the league. The passing game will be fine with Russell Wilson, who will be throwing to mostly familiar faces. The question is at running back. After being in the top five for three straight years for rushing, the Seahawks plummeted all the way to 25th in 2016. A lot of the blame can be placed on injuries. They’ll be putting their hopes on slimmed-down Eddie Lacy, along with a healthy CJ Prosise and Thomas Rawls this year. If Lacy impresses and Prosise and Rawls play to their potential, the Seahawks will be poised for a deep playoff run.
AFC Playoff Teams: 1. Patriots 2. Steelers 3. Raiders 4. Titans 5. Chiefs 6. Broncos
Wild Card Round: Raiders over Broncos. Chiefs over Titans. Divisional Round: Patriots over Chiefs. Steelers over Raiders. AFC Championship: Patriots over Steelers.
NFC Playoff Teams: 1. Packers 2. Seahawks 3. Giants 4. Falcons 5. Cowboys 6. Buccaneers
Wild Card Round: Giants over Buccaneers. Falcons over Cowboys. Divisional Round: Packers over Falcons. Seahawks over Giants. NFC Championship: Packers over Seahawks.
Super Bowl LII Pick: Patriots over Packers.