Are you ready for some football?
As summer winds to a close, football fans rejoice across the country as they prepare for another season of NFL football starting tonight in Denver. The rosters have been trimmed down to 53 as each franchise attempts to craft a winning football team. Who will emerge from the pack to capture a division title and most importantly the Vince Lombardi trophy?
Teams like the Jaguars and Raiders are looking to climb out of the cellar toward playoff contention. The Broncos will move on to life without Peyton Manning while Tom Brady serves his four game suspension. Cam Newton will be out to prove his doubters wrong after he pouted his way through the Super Bowl postgame interview.
We will aim to lay out some of the intriguing divisional battles that will unfold in 2016. The AFC South will be wide open as all four teams look improved. The Broncos will attempt to hold off the Chiefs and Raiders in the AFC West. Powerhouses collide in the NFC where the Cardinals and Seahawks will be battling for first. Because of the back injury Tony Romo suffered, there is no clear favorite in the NFC East.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) September 7, 2016
The first division that will be discussed is the AFC East. The Patriots will look to continue their long term dominance against their divisional opponents. New England is deep and talented at almost every position. Jimmy Garopollo will attempt to fill the shoes of Tom Brady for four games, leaning heavily on Matt Patricia’s defense. The Bills and Jets will provide a sizable challenge for Bill Belichick. It’s a toss up as to who might place second in the division behind the Patriots. It does seem that the Dolphins will remain toward the cellar despite an improved roster.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 6, 2016
The AFC North belongs to Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. As long as Pittsburgh remains healthy they should be considered Super Bowl contenders. The Bengals will be back looking to redeem themselves but Mike Tomlin’s offense should overpower Cincinnati’s offensive production. The Ravens were a bad football team devastated by injury in 2015. Baltimore will have Steve Smith back in addition to free agent acquisition Mike Wallace. The Browns culture may have changed with the arrival of Hue Jackson but they should still finish in the lower half of the division.
The AFC South is no longer a one horse race. It was considered to be the Colt’s division to win this past season but they didn’t even come close to meeting expectations. The dual threat of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns powered the Jaguars this past year. Marcus Mariota will be in his sophomore campaign with an improved offensive arsenal. Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray will look to pound the rock in their first year with Tennessee. The Texans offense adds Brock Osweiler and rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. Houston has a formidable defense that should power them to a divisional crown.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 2, 2016
The Broncos have been the best team in the AFC West for several seasons. The division will be turned on it’s head with the departure of Manning and Osweiler from the Broncos. The Chiefs will look to overtake Denver as the pride of the west. Andy Reid’s team is strong on both sides of the ball. The Chargers will be a challenge for their opponents in 2016. Players like Antonio Gates, Danny Woodhead, and Melvin Gordon will look to elevate their performance this year. The Raiders will look to contend for the first time since 2002, their last winning season. Derek Karr and Amari Cooper will attempt to establish a dangerous passing attack for Oakland. The Broncos will have a strong defense but it’s tough to have confidence in Trevor Siemian. The Chiefs are the best overall team in the division in 2016.
— NFL (@NFL) August 31, 2016
It was assumed that the Cowboys would have the upper hand in 2016. That was until Romo significantly injured his back in a preseason matchup. The Giants will compete behind the offensive efforts of Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Sterling Shephard. North Dakota star Carson Wentz will lead the Eagles offense into uncertainty this upcoming season. The Redskins achieved more than originally expected in 2015. Kirk Cousins took over the quarterback role emphatically. The injury to Romo opens the door to first in the division and the Giants are up to the task. New York will find themselves in first place by the end of the regular season.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 29, 2016
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have been preseason favorites for the past few years. Injuries to Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy limited the Packers and they fell short of the Super Bowl again. Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings looked like the most significant threat to Green Bay. Since Bridgewater blew his knee out it looks like the Packers have an easier route to the division title. The Bears and Lions should both finish in the bottom half of their division in 2016 while the Packers capture first place.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) September 7, 2016
The Panthers return after losing only one regular season game this past year. They failed to beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl but return again as Super Bowl favorites. The Bucs continue to move forward as Jameis Winston improves. Mike Evans is a serious threat to any defense and Doug Martin will be key to Tampa’s success. Julio Jones and Matt Ryan are a step behind the Panthers and Bucs. They struggled in key situations this past season and won’t be able to overtake the Panthers. The Saints still have Drew Brees but likely find themselves near the cellar at the end of the year. The NFC South is Carolina’s to lose.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 3, 2016
Seattle and Arizona both return as potential Super Bowl teams. With the home field advantage and a strong defense, the Seahawks remain as favorites to win the division. The Cardinals will be a strong team but Russell Wilson will maintain his control of the divisional crown. Los Angeles will host a football team for the first time in decades and Chip Kelly will look to prove himself in San Francisco. Both the 49ers and Rams should find themselves toward the bottom half of the division in 2016.
Looking ahead to the Playoffs
Seahawks are 8/1 to win the Super Bowl, tied for second behind the Patriots: https://t.co/Mla9IXeJiY
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) September 7, 2016
When the postseason rolls around several teams will posses a serious shot at capturing the Lombardi trophy. The Steelers and Patriots will separate themselves from the pack in the AFC. In the NFC, the Seahawks and Panthers will emerge as the top teams.
Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger will battle in the Super Bowl LI. The Panthers will fall short of winning it all for the second straight season. Roethlisberger will capture his second title and bring the Trophy back to Pittsburgh.