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2017 NFL Season Preview

It is upon us once again — football season is finally here!

There are a boatload of storylines for this NFL season. Can the Patriots go 19-0 (Answer: they can’t)? What is going on with Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension? Are the Falcons still on a Super Bowl hangover? Will the Jets win a game?

For all of these, only time will tell. Here at The Intersection, we focus on three teams: the Giants, Jets, and Patriots. Two of these teams have high expectations. The other has high expectations for a high pick in next year’s draft. What will go down? We’ll just have to wait and see. However, we can further speculate, analyzing each and every game for these three teams and figuring out who wins what, including individual awards.

Giants

A dreadful offense got three huge boosts this offseason. To start, they acquired Brandon Marshall to run the outside along Odell Beckham. The Giants haven’t had a large, reliable, and physical target like Marshall since Plaxico Burress. They tried it with Ramses Barden, but that was a disaster. Make no mistake about it, either: Marshall can still ball. Just two seasons ago, he put up 1,500 yards with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback, and he torched Richard Sherman in a Jets loss last season. He will finally be the guy that the Giants need to draw attention away from OBJ.

In the draft, they selected Evan Engram in the first round. Engram was selected to the first-team All-SEC as a TE; his 4.42 40 time is faster than Beckham’s. He possesses a great set of hands, is a good route runner, and will immediately be a factor running up the seam for a Giants offense that struggled so mightily in that area last season. One knock on Engram is his blocking, but he looked solid during preseason, and his role will increase over time.

The third boost came from internally: Paul Perkins. Too many times in 2016, Rashad Jennings would not hit a hole and get stuffed for no gain. This bonehead running is now behind Big Blue. Perk shined in a limited role last season, even totaling over 100 yards on the ground against Washington in his only start. Perkins is a shifty back, something the Giants haven’t had since Ahmad Bradshaw. He should provide a good boost to a formerly struggling ground game.

As far as the defense goes, don’t fix what isn’t broken. Despite losing Jonathan Hankins, Jay Bromley has taken big strides and seems fit to be the #2 DT. Behind him on the depth chart is second-rounder Dalvin Tomlinson. Darian Thompson has returned from injury and is a ball-hawking machine, and every other position remains consistent with the 2016 unit. They should continue to be a top unit in the NFL.

Where this team finishes depends entirely on the offensive line. The Giants must keep Manning upright and create some holes for Perkins. If not, the offense is as stagnant as it was last season, and they won’t truly be considered a powerhouse. Ereck Flowers needs to have a good season or he could be out of the league by 2018. Bobby Hart has looked good, but it’s only preseason. Pugh and Richburg are fine, and Jerry is meh.

Record Prediction

Week 1: @ Dallas Cowboys — W, 31-24

Week 2: vs. Detroit Lions — W, 28-17

Week 3: @ Philadelphia Eagles — L, 27-19

Week 4: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers — W, 34-31

Week 5: vs. LA Chargers — W, 28-20

Week 6: @ Denver Broncos — L, 19-17

Week 7: vs. Seattle Seahawks  — W, 27-17

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: vs. LA Rams — W, 30-10

Week 10: @ SF 49ers — W, 35-14

Week 11: vs. KC Chiefs — L, 28-24

Week 12: @ Washington Redskins — W, 26-23

Week 13: @ Oakland Raiders — W, 31-28

Week 14: vs. Dallas Cowboys — W, 24-17

Week 15: vs. Philadelphia Eagles — W, 27-14

Week 16: @ Arizona Cardinals — L, 23-17

Week 17: vs. Washington Redskins — W, 30-14

 

So there you have it: 12-4. Some of you will question why I had them losing against bad teams like Philadelphia, yet beating teams like the Raiders. If there is anything I have learned with the Giants, it’s that they show up in big moments, but can’t do the simple things. They cannot win in Philadelphia; I have come to terms with the fact that the Eagles game a little trip down I-95 will result in an L every time; any time it is not is a pleasant surprise.

12-4 puts them in position for the #1 seed; they should win the division, as they are the most complete team. Knowing the Giants, they could easily puke themselves and lose in the first playoff game they play. However, they also show up in big games, so for them to go on a run is not unexpected in the least.

Jets

The Jets are back…and are even worse. After a brutal 5-11 season, the Jets enter a rebuilding year that could go southbound quicker than a Tyreek Hill punt return. They pretty much tore apart the whole team by letting Eric Decker, Nick Mangold, Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Sheldon Richardson, and more, go for practically nothing but cap space. Unfortunately, this is just what’s necessary for a rebuilding team.

Offensively, Bilal Powell looks to finally claim the starting RB role. He has shown a lot of promise in the past few seasons, and could be one of the very few bright spots on this team going forward. They also added Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Kerley to play wide receiver along with Robby Anderson; McCown (and who knows by week 4) will at least have some solid options to throw to.

Quarterback remains a problem; many fans are upset with the decision to start Josh McCown, and for good reason. Why not give the youth a shot? Just another Jets thing…who knows, maybe Tebow will be brought back at some point?

Although the offseason was a tough one for many fans, the one positive was drafting safety Jamal Adams out of LSU. Adams will immediately boost a weak secondary, with only Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne being the two names that fans may have heard of before.

Wilkerson and Williams still remain on a strong D-line, however. Expect that unit to also shine out amongst the turmoil within this organization.

Record Prediction

Week 1 — @ Buffalo Bills: L, 27-17

Week 2 — @ Oakland Raiders: L, 34–17

Week 3 — vs. Miami Dolphins: L, 27-21

Week 4 — vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: W, 28-25

Week 5 — @ Cleveland Browns: W, 24-23

Week 6 — vs. NE Patriots: L, 30-23

Week 7 — @ Miami Dolphins: L, 26-21

Week 8 — vs. Atlanta Falcons: L, 38-20

Week 9 — vs. Buffalo Bills: W, 20-17

Week 10 — @ TB Buccaneers: L, 28-13

Week 11 — BYE

Week 12 — vs. Panthers: L, 28-27

Week 13 — vs. Chiefs: L, 27-16

Week 14 — @ Denver Broncos: L, 23-10

Week 15 — @ NO Saints: L, 35-27

Week 16 — vs. LA Chargers: W, 30-21

Week 17 — @ NE Patriots: L, 35-10

 

Now I know that everyone wants to know: will the Jets actually not win a game all season? The short answer is no. There’s a reason why only one team has done it before, and also why a team like the Browns miraculously squeaked out a win versus the Chargers for their only win of the season. The Jets will win 3 home games — obviously not good but somewhat respectable, and steal a win in Cleveland against another atrocious team. A bad 4-12 record that looks a lot better given the bleak outlook for Gang Green going into the year.

4-12 will only get you a high pick, not a playoff spot. Maybe they get Darnold, who knows. But, they won’t sniff the playoffs.

Patriots

Well, at least we know they won’t go 19-0…

The Patriots’ season got off to a brutal start, falling 42-27 to the Kansas City Chiefs. The defense was heinous, the offense was stagnant in the second half, and they lost their banner game, which almost never happens to any team.

However, let’s slow down a little bit. The Patriots aren’t going anywhere; they still are the best team in the AFC East, if not the whole league. On paper, that is. As I write this, they’re the worst team in the league, but that will change in a matter of hours. Anyways…

The Pats had a big offseason, acquiring Brandin Cooks to play wide receiver, and managing to keep Malcolm Butler. Cooks should be the deep threat that the offense has needed for the longest time. Beside him are veterans Chris Hogan, Juli-oh, that’s right…

The Patriots have an injury problem. Dont’a Hightower is sidelined with a head injury. Edelman tore his knee up in the preseason and is done for the year. Malcolm Mitchell won’t be back until late October at the very earliest. Danny Amendola has a concussion. Rob Gronkowski looked a little sluggish in his first meaningful game action since last season.

There are some serious depth problems with this team that were masked by 19-0 hype. What once was a deep and plentiful receiving group is now Cooks, Hogan, Gronk (who could go down at any given moment), and Phillip Dorsett. If Gronkowski goes down, this is a weak group. When the Pats run into a team with a good corner, all they’d have to do is shut down Cooks; no Gronk leaves Hogan and Allen, and that isn’t exactly a terrifying thought for defenses.

The defense needs a lot of work, and having Hightower out doesn’t help, but once he returns, he can captain the unit back to playing good ball. All they need to do as a unit is to hold down the fort enough for Brady to do his thing.

Which brings me to another point…maybe Tommy is on the decline? Before you freak out, let me explain: the man is 40. Peyton Manning had the greatest season of all time at QB when he was 38, and was out of the league by 40. The decline is sharper than one may think. I’m not suggesting that Brady is a liability at QB; maybe he’ll decline enough that he isn’t quite the same as before. However, a decent QB is all the Patriots need. If they can stay healthy, they’re deadly.

Record Prediction

Week 1 — vs. KC Chiefs: L, 42-27 (not a prediction, I know…)

Week 2 — @ NO Saints: W, 35-31

Week 3 — vs. Houston Texans: W, 24-17

Week 4 — vs. Carolina Panthers: W, 27-21

Week 5 — @ TB Buccaneers: W, 38-35

Week 6 — @ NY Jets: W, 30-23

Week 7 — vs. Atlanta Falcons: L, 31-28

Week 8 — vs. LA Chargers: W, 34-24

Week 9 — BYE

Week 10 — @ Denver Broncos: W, 17-16

Week 11 — @ Oakland Raiders (Mexico City): L, 31-24

Week 12 — vs. Miami Dolphins: W, 26-23

Week 13 — @ Buffalo Bills: W, 28-24

Week 14 — @ Miami Dolphins: W, 30-27

Week 15 — @ Pittsburgh Steelers: L, 35-28

Week 16 — vs. Buffalo Bills: W, 21-13

Week 17 — vs. NY Jets: W, 35-10

 

12-4. They easily win the AFC East again, but the loss to KC could prove big when it comes down to tiebreakers. I have them losing to Atlanta because Atlanta will want so badly to avenge the blown Super Bowl; their offense is loaded with talent, the defense is healthier than it was in February. If they were in a position to win that game then, they sure can be now. Besides, to a lesser degree, Seattle did it last year as well.

They’ll lose on the road to Oakland as well; two high-altitude games back to back against good teams makes it easy to say that they’ll probably lose one of those games. It could be either, but I think it’s Oakland. They’ll also lose to Pittsburgh in the Steel City.

 

Awards and Champions

Sam’s Picks

Super Bowl: Giants defeat the Chiefs 28-23

MVP: Aaron Rodgers

DPOY: Earl Thomas

 

Leighton’s Picks

Super Bowl: Patriots over the Packers 30-24

MVP: Aaron Rodgers

DPOY: Justin Houston

 

Alex’s Picks

Super Bowl: Patriots beat the Packers 35-31

MVP: Aaron Rodgers

DPOY: Joey Bosa

 

Jonny’s Picks

Super Bowl: Patriots trounce the Cowboys 31-17

MVP: Cam Newton

DPOY: Khalil Mack

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