NFL Preview: Who Will win Super Bowl 52?

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NFL Preview: Who Will win Super Bowl 52?

Andrew Bailey, Reporter

Starting this weekend, the greatest league in the world will return for its 52nd go-around. The NFL is back, baby! Here’s my predictions for all 32 NFL teams:

Arizona Cardinals: No offensive players make the Pro Bowl

Arizona ever really had 3 opportunities for a Pro Bowler on offense: David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Carson Palmer. But with Johnson, a star last season as he racked up 2000+ total yards rushing and receiving, out injured, 37 year old QB Palmer is stripped for options on offense besides the 34 year old Fitzgerald. It means more targets for Fitzgerald, which means more coverage for Fitzgerald, which means more interceptions off throws going Fitzgerald’s way. This could be a bad season in Arizona.

Atlanta Falcons: Offense ranked lower than defense

The Falcons had one major weapon that helped turn their offense into the machine it was last season, and its name is Kyle Shanahan. However, Shanahan left the Falcons for the 49ers open head coaching spot this offseason, and Steve Sarkisian is is not on the same level as Shanahan. And with a potentially explosive defense filled with talented young players, this Atlanta team could be a powerhouse- just not on the side of the ball you would expect.

Baltimore Ravens: Top 5 ranked defense, offensive line

Why offensive line? Because Marshall Yanda is the best left guard in football, and the second-best right guard. Why defense? Because the Eric Weddle-Tony Jefferson combo at the safety spot is the second best in football, and with the additions of Tim Williams, Marlon Humphrey, and Tyus Bowser through the draft, and Brandon Carr in free agency, expect this defense to be explosive and reliable throughout 16 games. Plus, their front seven, led by inside linebacker CJ Mosley and Defensive Tackle Brandon Williams, isn’t too shabby, either.

Buffalo Bills: Trades LeSean McCoy before next season

After trading away top cornerback Ronald Darby to the Eagles, and top receiver Sammy Watkins to the Rams, it’s time for the Bills to fully commit to full-scale rebuild mode under Sean McDermott. Best way to do that? Trade away their 29 year old star running back while they can still get good assets for him.

Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, Offensive Rookie of the Year

The reason McCaffrey will win this award over Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette? Although Fournette will see more touches in the run game, McCaffrey is a bigger threat in the passing game, and is also a skilled kick and punt returner. Carolina’s Swiss-Army knife type weapon will compile the most total yards and touchdowns from those 3 facets above all other rookies, and for that will be honored as the top Offensive Rookie in the NFL.

Chicago Bears: Jordan Howard leads NFL in rushing yards

The Bears’ Quarterback depth chart is led by Mike Glennon. His backup? MARK FREAKING SANCHEZ. Not only will the Bears scrap their plan of “Red-shirting” rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky, but until that happens, the Bears receiving corps, led by Cameron Meredith (that’s how bad it is), will see small amounts of targets and poor passes when it does come their way. The Bears will pound the ball with Jordan Howard, giving him 30-40 touches per game out of the backfield. Surely with 30 touches, Howard can pace the NFL in rushing yards.

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis fired before start of 2018 season

After 2 seasons of disappointment in Southwestern Ohio, Marvin Lewis is walking on thin ice this season. And after a less than encouraging start to the season, we could see another embarrassing year for the Bengals. If that is so the case, then no way will Lewis stay on for what would be his 15th year in Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns: DeShone Kizer outperforms all Rookie QBs

Kizer looked like the real deal in his debut, a 21-18 loss to Pittsburgh. But Kizer gave the Browns hope. He threw for 222 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception, and carried the ball for 17 yards and a touchdown. Kizer may not be the solution to the Browns’ historic troubles at the Quarterback position, but he certainly looked the part on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys: Byron Jones makes his 1st Pro Bowl

In his 3rd NFL season, Byron Jones is ready to become a breakout star in the Lone Star State. The explosive safety-cornerback hybrid is young, talented, and ready to take a bigger role in Dallas’ depleted secondary ranks. Expect a great season from Jones, and possibly his first Pro Bowl or All-Star appearance.

Denver Broncos: 4th in AFC West

The Denver Broncos, Super Bowl 50 champions, missed out on the playoffs last year, going 8-8 and bested in their division by the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. And with an first-game loss to fellow divisional rivals LA Chargers, and a QB depth chart led by Brock Osweiler, who was cut by Houston and Cleveland this offseason, the future is bleak in the Mile-High City.

Detroit Lions: 4th in NFC North

With Matthew Stafford having just signed a historic contract, all the pressure will be on his Lions to sneak into the playoffs behind Green Bay. But with a poor offensive line and aging receiving corps, I don’t like their upside. And pressure is coming from all around them. The Minnesota Vikings are a talented, young team, and the Chicago Bears have a strong O-Line, a good defensive front seven, and an exciting young 1-2 punch out of the backfield. Detroit’s loss could be the other teams’ gain.

Green Bay Packers: Super Bowl 52 Champions

This is the year that Green Bay’s talent talent culminate together. Aaron Rodgers is looking for a new contract. Ty Montgomery is looking to prove that he can lead an NFL running game as a converted wide receiver. And their defense is looking to prove that they can be a real force after being written off as lacking real talent at cornerback and edge rusher. All these factors, plus a new weapon in the form of tight end Martellus Bennett, could make this a big year for the cheeseheads.

Houston Texans: #1 defense in NFL

The Texans have one factor that will turn a defense ranked 11th in points allowed last season? A stronger, healthier, thinner JJ Watt. The 28 year old defensive end has been training all offseason to make himself as prepared as possible for the new NFL season, all all his hard work may lead to turning Houston into a defensive machine next season.

Indianapolis Colts: Best passing attack in Football

Donte Moncrief and TY Hilton at wide receiver. Jack Doyle and Brandon Williams at Tight End. Marlon Mack and Frank Gore at running back. Andrew Luck throwing the passes. I’ll promise you something- the Colts’ problems won’t be in the air.

Jacksonville Jaguars: 5 defensive players make All-Star team

After a very encouraging fist game, where they held Houston to seven points, made them fumble (and lose the ball) three times, picked them off once, and sacked the two Quarterbacks a total of 10 (!!!!!!!!!) times, this young Jags defense could be deadly. Watch Calais Campbell (who had 4  total sacks in this game alone), Abry Jones, Myles Jack, AJ Bouye, and Jalen Ramsey to all make the Pro Bowl, and everyone else on their defense to challenge for an All-Star or Pro Bowl roster spot.

Kansas City Chiefs: AFC Champions

After beating the returning Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, 42-28 on the road, the sky is the limit for Andy Reid’s team. With serious talent on both sides of the ball, and a dominant special teams unit, Kansas City could be dominant, especially in cold-weather playoff conditions where big defensive plays can make a game. And trying to defend Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, and Chris Conley all at once, with Alex Smith or Patrick Mahomes tossing them the rock? Forget about it.

LA Rams: Aaron Donald wins DPOTY

Aaron Donald is the NFL’s biggest defensive line threat. He’s 26 years old, 6 foot tall, 284 pounds, and is now a defensive end after having switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 base defense under Wade Phillips. His pass-rush and run-stopping instincts are second to none. And now is his time to dethrone JJ Watt as the biggest name for NFL defensive players. This is his time to win his first award since 2014 DROTY.

LA Chargers: Melvin Gordon has most yards from scrimmage in NFL

Running Back Melvin Gordon is a freak of nature. The 24 year old runs an 11 second 6 yard shuttle, a 4.5 40 (but plays faster), and broad jumps 10 and a half feet. He’s explosive, and a big play-maker out of the backfield. And he can catch passes. With David Johnson out injured, it is entirely possible for him to take the crown as the NFL’s scrimmage yard leader. And why not? San Diego have no other help in the run game, and their receiving corps have injury troubles.

Miami Dolphins: AFC East Champions

I know, I know. “But what about the Patroits?”, you might ask. But Tom Brady is 40, and his favorite receiver is injured. And Miami have all the tools to challenge for a playoff spot. Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake are a great 1-2 punch from the backfield. DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Jarvis Landry are the best receiving trio in the league, and they’re all 25 or under. This team could easily challenge for a playoff spot, and maybe even an AFC East Championship.

Minnesota Vikings: Stefon Diggs racks up top 10 receptions for Wide Receivers, Kyle Rudolph leads all Tight Ends

Minnesota’s starting QB this season, Sam Bradford, loves to throw short cross-field slant passes, and throws them more accurately than any other NFL QB. Stefon Diggs can hold his own in the red zone, and excels when given the ball and asked to create yards after the catch. Kyle Rudolph is arguably the league’s best tight end not named Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce, especially in the passing game. These two Vikings pass-catchers might not eclipse 1000 or 1200 receiving yards, but they will have plenty of catchable throws.

New England Patriots: Four offensive players retire after 2018 season

New England are the greatest dynasty in the history of football. Their playoff dominance is unrivaled by any team ever. But this may be the last ride for many Patriots players. Danny Amendola has been plagued by injuries, is 31, and has been pushed down the depth chart by younger receivers. Julian Edelman will be 32 before he returns from a debilitating ACL tear, and was never getting any faster. Tom Brady is 40 years old, and clearly showing it, having only completed 16 of his 36 passes against the Chiefs. And Nate Solder is 30, has been protecting Brady’s blind side for years and publicly flirted with retirement this offseason. Expect as least two of these players to make 2017 their final ride as NFL players.

New Orleans Saints: Draft Drew Brees’ replacement in 2018

The 2018 Quarterback draft class is absolutely stacked- so good that Baker Mayfield isn’t even in the top three. The Saints will have a first round pick in the 8-15 range, where they could easily nab a QB like UCLA’s Josh Rosen or Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. And if they decide to address other issues in the 1st round and pick a signal-caller in the 2nd? Then Washington’s Jake Browning or South Florida’s Quinton Flowers will probably still be available for New Orleans to choose from.

New York Giants: Leads the league in QB hits

Jason-Pierre Paul and Olivier Vernon make up one of the best edge-rushing 1-2 punches in the NFL, and are certain to both get at least 10 sacks each and meet at the QB multiple times per game and hit him. And with Damon “Snacks” Harrison creating QB pressures from Defensive Tackle, Jonathan Casillas making plays from weakside Linebacker, and Landon Collins exploding from the Strong Safety spot on secondary blitzes, expect the Giants to wreck havoc on opposition QBs after the throw.

New York Jets: 0-16

The New York Jets are simply awful. Their starting QB has a career 18-43 record. Their best receiver is out for the season with a neck injury. Their 2nd best receiver is suspended for the next few games. Their defense is filled with replacement-level players in every spot except safety and defensive end. This Jets team have the inside track for the #1 pick in the 2018 draft, and possibly even the joint-worst record in league history.

Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr wins MVP

Carr is a 26 year old QB ready to enter his prime years in the NFL. He was a candidate last season before he broke his leg at the bookend of the year, and this year, he is returning with all-new weapons at Tight End, Wide Receiver, and Running Back. This could be Carr’s year for the MVP race.

Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz eclipses 4000 yards

Carson Wentz was easily the best rookie in the NFL last year for the first six weeks, before he started throwing picks. Now, Wentz has cut out some unnecessary mistakes in his game, and is ready to compete for an NFC East title. With the emergence of Nelson Agholor and the addition of Alshon Jeffrey, the Eagles could be a trendy pick for an NFC Wild Card spot. If that happens, Wentz will be a key factor.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown in top 10 for MVP voting

LeVeon Bell is the NFL’s top rusher, and Antonio Brown is the league’s best pass-catcher. There, I said it. With Ben Roethlisberger slinging them/handing them the football, I believe they will both eclipse 1400 total yards. If they both do that, it could be the year that one of them finally break the streak of QBs always winning MVP.

San Francisco 49ers: Trade up, grab Josh Allen in 2018 Draft

The 49ers look like a 5-11 team right now. In order to have a pick in the top 5 of the Draft, where QB Josh Allen of Wyoming will certainly land, they will need to move up. A trade could look a little something like this:

Indianapolis Colts get: LB NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers 1st round pick (#7 overall, Selection: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College), San Francisco 49ers 2nd round pick (#38 overall)

San Francisco 49ers get: Indianapolis Colts 1st round pick (#2 overall, selection: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming)

Seattle Seahawks: Lose in Playoffs 1st round

The Seahawks are stacked in every position on the field, except for one: Offensive Line. Russel Wilson won’t be able to do anything if he gets hit every other play. His lack of good protection, especially at Left Tackle, will lead to the ‘Hawks’ downfall in round one of the Postseason.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans leads NFL in touchdowns

Mike Evans is the ultimate red-zone threat Wide Receiver. He’s 6’5, 225 pounds, and standing vertical jumps almost one meter. He can out-body any opposing Cornerback in the NFL, and almost every Safety too. Expect Evans to use his incredible physical tools to his team’s success, especially in matchup red zone spots.

Tennessee Titans: 5 offensive players make Pro Bowl or/and All-Star game

The Titans are stacked with offensive weapons, especially in the run game. Their three top offensive linemen, Center Ben Jones, and Tackles Jack Conklin and Taylor Lewan, are all All-Star caliber players. And because of their dominant O-Line, QB Marcus Mariota almost never gets sacked, and always has time to scramble and make a throw or use his record breaking speed from QB (he ran a 4.52 40 at the 2015 combine, the fastest time of any QB ever) to avoid defenders. As well as that, RB DeMarco Murray almost never gets tackled for a loss, or crushed by Defensive Tackles 100 pounds heavier than him. All five of these men have the talents and the right situation in order to make the All-Star or Pro Bowl games this year.

Washington Redskins: Turn on Rebuild Mode after the season

This year’s QB draft class is incredibly talented, and Redskins QB Kirk Cousins is 28, and set to become a free agent this summer. The Redskins could choose to move on from Cousins and his franchise-tender contract and tank, in order to be in the conversation for a QB like Josh Allen or Sam Darnold. From a business perspective, it’s a good idea. Getting younger and cheaper at the world’s most important position is smart, but it will also usher in rebuild mode, and most likely a head coaching change.