Hello, August. Fall is not in the air, kids are complaining about not wanting to go back to school (as are teachers!), but football is right around the corner!
I’d like to get things started here on Bench Points by doing a comprehensive, if short, team-by-team preview. You can get longer ones at ESPN and such, where people who do this for a living write more in depth. I’ll get more in depth once the season rolls around.
Welcome back from the Dead Zone – let’s get to it!
The NFC, for a long while, was the conference said to have more talent and better teams than the AFC. I no longer know that to be true, as both conferences now have plenty of crappy teams that cycle themselves in and out of the playoffs. However, the NFC does have the benefit of dropping the designated hitter… wait, no, wrong article. Let’s look at the 15 teams that will be vying to take on the Eagles in the NFC Championship game.
49ers – Congratulations, you’re going to get a full season of Jimmy Garappolo. Too bad there’s no talent for him to give the ball to. Defense may be okay.
Cardinals – Bruce Arians saw the writing on the wall and retired. Unfortunately, Larry Fitzgerald didn’t. Now he’ll either catch passes from a rookie or zombie Sam Bradford. They may get to 2nd in the division now that they don’t have to rely on Blaine Gabbert.
Seahawks – lol. They’re rebuilding.
Rams – Spent up to their eyeballs because L.A. likes a winner. They’ll get the division and at least a wild card weekend playoff spot. It’s not going to make much difference because I don’t care if a combination of Bum Phillips, Rex Ryan, and Bill Parcells are coaching him, Ndamukong Suh is a locker room cancer. Also, they need to somehow scrounge up the money to pay Aaron Donald, who is not happy. They’ll start the season strong, implode, and get to 9-7.
Packers – Aaron Rodgers is back to scramble like a madman behind an offensive line so bad, Green Bay had to sign Marcedes Lewis to block for them. He may win the division, but look out for…
Lions – The amazingly-named coaching combo of Patricia and Cooter are going to light up their division this season, because while Detroit has usually had an at least decent offense thanks to Matt Stafford, they’ve never had a defensive scheme to complement it. That changes and this team is a wild card contender.
Vikings – One of my favorite stories last year was this team. I hope they get bitten in the butt a bit this year because they let their savior QB walk in free agency, though. I have a feeling Kirk Cousins isn’t the answer they were looking for but their defense gives them a good chance here.
Bears – I will never be convinced that Mitch Trubisky is a good QB until he puts up MVP style numbers. I don’t think that will happen with a first-year head coach, a coordinator that was the guy who followed Chip Kelly at Oregon, and their starting two wide receivers that maybe have one good knee between them. The Bears will continue to suck.
Redskins – Knew they were losing Cousins, traded for Alex Smith. Not a bad move, but not enough to consistently make a difference here. They’ll be an “ok” team that wins a couple games they shouldn’t.
Giants – Can’t be any worse than last year.
Cowboys – They finished 9-7 but it seems like their season was more of a dumpster fire than their record indicates, partially because of Zeke Elliott. Dez Bryant’s gone and their defense is crap so I’m sure they’ll get a middling record this year as well.
Eagles – Can they keep their dominance going? Probably. They have a good core in place for a couple more years at least. If I’m an Eagles fan, I’m hoping they don’t push Wentz out too fast though.
Saints – Their window is back open, for now, with the influx of drafted talent from the last couple of years. They still need to get through Atlanta, though.
Falcons – Their defense is going to be one to talk about this year, it seems. If they can keep Matt Ryan and Julio healthy this year, maybe they’ll make it further than round two of the playoffs.
Panthers – I don’t really know what to make of this team, because they hired Norv “the guy that follows me is better than me” Turner to coach their offense. Really? It’ll be pretty great to see Cam get frustrated at his coaching around week four or so.
Bucs – lol
Let’s all say it now: the Patriots are not going to have a good year. No matter how much TAHM thinks he can do to get the team out of games, there are too many up-and-coming good teams and too much talent that left New England to say the Patriots are a favorite. Myles Jack wasn’t down.
Chiefs – I’m not sure I understand the wisdom of replacing your established veteran QB with a second-year guy, but for the amount they got out of the Redskins, you can’t blame the Chiefs. They should be pretty good this year, until they mess up and suck right when they need to qualify for the playoffs.
Chargers – Does anyone care about this team? They’re already on like their fourth-string tight end and it’s August. Once, I read about how Philip Rivers rides in a car for like two hours each way from San Diego to L.A. to practice every day. That’s gotta suck.
Raiders – Man, Jack Del Rio was messed over. They shouldn’t have fired him but here we are with the glitzy name of Jon Gruden, who hasn’t stood on an NFL sideline in ten years. This team is going to be a freak show and they won’t pay Khalil Mack. That move to Vegas is looking pretty good, at least they can legitimately gamble on all their players showing up there.
Broncos – They brought in Case Keenum to be the franchise QB which is not a bad move, but they haven’t really done much else. So we’ll chat again later when Keenum’s putting up 400 yards a game but the defense can’t stop anyone.
Browns – You can cover up a turd with ice cream but there’s still a turd in there.
Bengals – You can cover up a… wait, I already used that. They’ll be like 5-11.
Ravens – The most interesting thing to happen to the Ravens since Ray Lewis killed a guy is that they drafted Lamar Jackson. Now, Joe “lol throw football to whatever” Flacco is apparently having a Training Camp Renaissance, meaning of course he’ll go 1-3 in the first four games and the fans in Baltimore will pressure the coaching staff to start Jackson, who will then scramble and look exciting but it’s because the Ravens’ line sucks.
Steelers – The Team That Refuses to Pay Players Not Named Roethlisberger will once again be an AFC powerhouse. Then they’ll get beat in the second round of the playoffs because Steelers.
Bills – I’m not sure how they made the playoffs last year, but they sort of backed into it. They won’t have that opportunity again this year, with a serious downgrade at QB and one of their statistically best linemen going nuts (again) and retiring (again). Plus, they changed coordinators or something.
Dolphins – In a foreign country, “Ryan Tannehill” can be translated to “papier mache bones.” Also, they tried to change their locker room culture or something, letting one of their best wideouts walk to the Browns (lol) and getting rid of Suh. So they’ll be a happy 6-10.
Jets – Drafted yet another quarterback, traded one of the quarterbacks they drafted to another team where he promptly got cut, didn’t do much in free agency, kept the same coaching staff. Oh, and they announced they’re getting new uniforms next year this offseason (why?). Who cares, it’s the Jets.
Patriots – Will surprise everyone by winding up in the 3rd or 4th playoff slot this year. Look, I’m not saying there’s merit to everything but where there’s smoke there’s generally fire, and Hoodie’s World is gonna look more and more dysfunctional, especially when TAHM “I want another ring, Bill! whine” BRAYDY winds up leading the team to a wild card weekend playoff loss.
Texans – I’m not saying they’re rushing Deshaun Watson back too soon, but they’re rushing Deshaun Watson back too soon. They don’t exactly have anything behind him, but man, I really hope he doesn’t hurt his knee worse. As a Jaguars fan, I despise the Texans, but as an objective writer (lol), I like the Texans offense. Its defense is overrated, but the offense can put up some points. They may make a push for the division.
Colts – So what did we determine one of the causes of Andrew Luck’s injury to be? The fact that his line sucked. What was the last GM bad at? Drafting linemen. If I was the new Colts GM, I’d spend every draft pick on linemen and find guys to protect Luck/Brissett. But they didn’t do that. Luck will never be the same again, and will also face quite a few sack-happy defenses this year, including Jacksonville twice. Indianapolis is gearing up for another exciting four-win season.
Titans – The Titans are a joke. They hired a head coach from the Belichick tree which always goes well, right? Oh, and he’s never held a head coaching job, and been a coordinator for all of two seconds. This will end well.
Jaguars – Well, here we go. The best, as they say, for last. The hype is huge in Jacksonville and the Jaguars are returning almost everyone from their surprising 2017 season. Barring a significant injury, this team should be one of the best in the league. We’ll see what happens, but it’s nice to be able to write about Jacksonville without a cloud of doom hanging over the team. They’ll likely win the division and make a very deep playoff run.
WAY TOO EARLY PREDICTIONS!!!
1. Philadelphia (East winner)
2. Atlanta (South winner)
3. Los Angeles (West winner)
4. Minnesota (North winner)
5. Green Bay (WC)
6. Detroit (WC)
1. Jacksonville (South winner)
2. Pittsburgh (North winner)
3. Kansas City (West winner)
4. New England (East winner)
5. Denver (WC)
6. Houston (WC)
Am I right? Am I wrong? We’ll see! See you back here in a few weeks!