Finally, the start of the football season is right around the corner. Two weeks of the preseason have come and gone, we’re just about to finish up week 3, and we’re less than two weeks away from the opening game. In this year’s NFL Preview, instead of just jam packing it into one big post, I’ll be writing a few preview articles full of my predictions on several topics. Up first, teams to watch for that could break out and make a run for the playoffs in the NFL.
1. Cleveland Browns
It looks as if I was a year to early to get onto the Browns bandwagon. Last year I proclaimed many times on the podcast that the Browns were on the upswing, and then they went on to finish 0-16. That doesn’t mean I’m getting off of it this year. Myles Garrett is an absolute stud (that could win DPOY, and they made a few really good additions. On offense, if incoming QB Tyrod Taylor can provide steady play, their offense can be really good. Jarvis Landry an be a legit #1 receiver, and that’s alongside Josh Gordon (if he’s right) and Corey Coleman. They also have three legit options at running back in Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, and rookie Nick Chubb. The Browns have earned their reputation as the laughing stock of the NFL, but they have the talent on paper to turn it around and contend for a playoff spot.
2. Houston Texans
The Jaguars came out of nowhere last year to win the AFC South, but a lot of that had to do with the injuries of the Texans. JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney all come into the year healthy again, so the defense should be stacked once again. The success of this team however, will fall onto the arm of Deshaun Watson. He stormed onto the scene last year until he unfortunately tore his ACL. This year, he’s expected to be at 100%, so I’d expect him and DeAndre Hopkins to be near the top of the leaderboards in their respective positions, which will lead to them reclaiming their spot at the top of the division.
3. New York Giants
Man, did the Giants stink up the joint last year or what? Their offense was atrocious, due to the fact their o-line was a joke, they had no running game, and they definitely weren’t helped by losing Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard early on in the season. With those guys back healthy again, and with the addition of Saquon Barkley, I would expect their offense to be a lot better this season. Also, even with the loss of JPP, I couldn’t imagine their defense being as bad as it was last season. I think a lot of that had to do with their offense being so abysmal.
4. Chicago Bears
As much as this Packers fan hates to say it, I really like what the Bears did this last off-season. They drafted Mitch Trubisky the year before, and this summer they did everything they could to get him help. Signing Allen Robinson and Trey Burton were two huge moves, and Roquan Smith should be a beast in the NFL. If Trubisky progresses like they expect him to, the Bears could be the next team in the NFC to show they’re coming.
5. Oakland Raiders
I’m super intrigued by this year’s Raiders team. Gruden back as the head coach will be fun to watch, and I’m looking forward to see the work he can do with Derek Carr. Some of the off-season moves were head-scratchers (I’m looking at you Doug Martin), but Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant will make this offense a much bigger threat than it was last year. The AFC West is wide open this year, but they’ll have to count on bounce back years from Amari Cooper and Marshawn Lynch, along with actually giving Khalil Mack the contract he deserves.