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AFC

Tennessee Titans 2017 Outlook

During the 2016 NFL season, the Tennessee Titans made solid strides tripling their win total to 9 from just 3 during 2015 and barely missing out on the playoffs.

This season the Titans appear to be poised to contend for the title in the AFC South. Tennessee has Marcus Mariota, its franchise quarterback, and Jon Robinson the general manager has stockpiled offensive skill-position weapons around him, while at the same time upgrading the Titans defense that struggled at times last season.

If Tennessee is able to address those weaknesses of last season and remain healthy then a postseason berth is very possible.

The offense is led by the talented Mariota who threw 26 touchdown passes last season. However, the second-year quarterback saw his season cut short for a second straight year due to injury. He should be fully recovered to start the season, but Matt Cassel a veteran signal caller was signed as his backup.

DeMarco Murray returns as the big threat in the running game behind an improved offensive line. Last season his 1,287 rushing yards led the AFC. Derrick Henry the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama is also in Tennessee’s backfield.

The wide receivers corps has been revamped with two draft picks Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor that should give Mariota plenty of weapons to pass to, including returnees Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews. Eric Decker was signed as a free agent and his experience will help as well. Delanie Walker at tight end returns following a second straight Pro Bowl appearance.

Defensively, Tennessee made strides last season, but more work is need. Jurrell Casey will anchor the line, with DaQuan Jones at one end, but the others spots remain open.

The starting outside linebackers include Brian Orakpo a Pro Bowl selection and Derrick Morgan. The two combined for 19.5 quarterback sacks last season.

The secondary was nothing less than terrible last season. Jason McCourty was released as was Valentino Blake. Two new corners will start this season including Logan Ryan who came from the Patriots and Adoree Jackson a first round draft pick from USC.

The Titans have the offensive weapons to stay with any team in Mariota, Murray and a host of receivers but the defense will determine the fate of this team. A postseason trip look with odds makers giving the Titans a chance at a wildcard berth.

Tennessee Odds

AFC South – 3 to 1

AFC Championship – 20 to 1

Super Bowl LII – 30 to 1

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Thursday, August 17th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Tennessee Titans 2017 Outlook

Indianapolis Colts 2017 Outlook

While star quarterback Andrew Luck recovered from shoulder surgery during the offseason, his teammates on the Indianapolis Colts went through sweeping changes as the organization looked to change the things that left the team just 8-8 for two straight seasons and no playoff appearances during that period.

A defense that continued to deteriorate and an inability to get the right players on the offensive line to give Luck protection forced Jim Irsay the team owner to shuffle the front office. Ryan Grigson was ousted and Chris Ballard replaced him as general manager.

Irsay kept Chuck Pagano the head coach in place and Ballard will determine his fate following the 2017 season.

Ballard released Arthur Jones a veteran defensive tackle and signed over a dozen different free agents. However, the immediate future of the Colts depends entirely on their quarterback Luck. Most expect Luck to be 100% for the team’s season opener in September.

Ballard brought in a number of players to give Luck more protection. Jack Mewhort will return at left guard, but the right side of the line will be determined during training camp.

Skill position weapons on offense the Colts have. T.Y Hilton is one of the league’s best deep threats and Jack Doyle has been a huge bright spot at tight end.

Frank Gore returns at running back after rushing last season for over 1,000 yards at age 33. Robert Turbin will back him up with rookie Marlon Mack having an opportunity as well.

The pass rush has been almost non-existent of late in Indy. Johnathan Hankins, at nose tackle might be the best anchor on the line the Colts have had in years. Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford two defensive ends will look to return to their form of two seasons ago.

New linebackers brought in include Jabaal Sheard, Sean Spence, Barkevious Mingo and John Simon. The four combined last season for 11.5 sacks for their respective former teams, including five by Sheard with New England.

Vontae Davis returns at one corner and but Mike Adams was lost to free agency. Malik Hooker was drafted out of Ohio State for one safety spot.

The season is a big unknown for the Colts until Luck has a few games under his belt and it can be determined if his shoulder surgery is affecting his arm strength.

Indianapolis Odds

AFC South – 2 to 1

AFC Championship – 14 to 1

Super Bowl LII – 50 to 1

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Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Indianapolis Colts 2017 Outlook

Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 Outlook

The Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping the addition of rookie running back Leonard Fournette will help them become more competitive this season.

The Jaguars played well in their first preseason game versus New England winning 31-24 but have a long way to go to become competitive.

Blake Bortles remains the top quarterback. He has worked on his mechanics, but his decision making under pressure is what needs work. However, it appears he will be the top signal caller when the team opens its season on September 10.

Fournette is expected to be a main focus on offense. He ran well during the first preseason game against New England but is battling a foot issue and will likely be treated with great care the rest of the preseason, since they are counting on him to be the biggest part of the offense.

Big questions about the offensive line need to be answered during the preseason or Bortles will have a long season under center.

Cam Robinson will definitely start, and the others are expected to be Brandon Linder, Patrick Omameh and Jeremy Parnell. Others pushing to gain a starting role will be Jeremiah Poutasi and Luke Bowanko, who has played well at times and could be a starting center when the season begins.

The tight end position is one that is a big unknown. Marcedes Lewis a veteran will be the blocking tight end, but after him any one of three others could see playing time and or start.

Ben Kovack, Mychal Rivera and Neal Sterling all will battle for playing time. Kovack played well at the end of last season and appears to be a popular target of Bortles.

On defense, Myles Jack will move to middle linebacker, while Paul Posluszny will move to outside linebacker.

A.J. Bouye was signed in March to play cornerback for Jacksonville and he will pair up with Jalen Ramsey to give the Jaguars one of the best young duos at cornerback in the NFL.

The Jaguars are notorious for starting slow as they are 7-24 during September dating back to 2009. Slow starts have put them out of any playoff hope and they must avoid that next month.

However, it does not appear they have the weapons to be any higher than third or fourth in the AFC South.

Jacksonville Odds

AFC South odds – 6 to 1

AFC Championship – 33 to 1

Super Bowl LII – 80 to 1

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Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 Outlook

Houston Texans 2017 Outlook

The Houston Texans will try to win their third straight AFC South title in 2017.

The Texans have been nothing short of consistent in the three years Bill O’Brien has been head coach, with three straight seasons of 9-7, including winning the last two titles in the AFC South.

When one thinks of the Texans often times the first thing to come to mind is J.J. Watt. The talented defensive end missed most of last season, but the unit was still No. 1 in the NFL. However, three starters were lost to free agency and that could hurt.

When thinking of the Houston offense, one thinks off the problems the team has had at quarterback. Tom Savage has been given the nod as the starter, but rookie Deshaun Watson played very well in the first preseason game and his play could change the minds of coaches quickly.

The offensive plays will be called by O’Brien this season after going No. 29 in total yards and No. 31 in red zone offense last season.

Without a strong quarterback the past few seasons, the Texans have relied on running the ball. Lamar Miller returns from a 1,073-yard season last year, while rookie D’Onta Foreman, who had over 2,000 yards rushing at Texas last season, will push Miller for playing time.

DeAndre Hopkins will lead the receiving corps, with Braxton Miller and Will Fuller completing a sound corps.

Mike Vrabel is the new defensive coordinator while Romeo Crennel will be the assistant head coach, after he led the defense to No. 1 last season.

With Watt back healthy again and Jadeveon Clowney with one more year of experience and maturity under his belt, the Houston defense could be better than last season.

With Watt at one end and Clowney at the other, D.J. Reader will be the nose tackle which might represent the best defensive line in football.

Benardrck McKinney and Whitney Mercilus are the two top linebackers and Brian Cushing is back for his ninth season and represents the unit’s heart and soul.

The secondary will have Kevin Johnson back after he went down last season with a season ending injury, but A.J. Bouye was lost to free agency. Both Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph have started 6 seasons at cornerback giving the Texans an experienced secondary.

If Houston can get average to above average play from their quarterback, the AFC South title is theirs. If not second place might even be a struggle.

Houston odds

AFC South – 9 to 4

AFC Championship – 9 to 1

Super Bowl LII – 30 to 1

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Monday, August 14th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Houston Texans 2017 Outlook

Kansas City Chiefs 2017 Outlook

The defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs fired their general manager this summer despite reaching the postseason in three of the four years John Dorsey was the GM.

The Chiefs did confirm their confidence in head coach Andy Reid by giving him a contract extension in June.

The Chiefs draft picks this year may need some time to show any dividends. The team traded next year’s first round draft pick so they could move up to draft Patrick Mahomes the strong arm quarterback from Texas Tech. For many, Mahomes was the most physically gifted quarterback in the draft.

He will sit behind veteran starter Alex Smith, which will give him time to learn and adjust to the NFL intricacies and work on his mechanics. › Continue reading

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Sunday, August 13th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Kansas City Chiefs 2017 Outlook

Los Angeles Chargers 2017 Outlook

The Los Angeles Chargers hope to stay abreast with the other three teams in what is expected to be a highly competitive AFC West division.

While the Chargers must share their new stadium with the Rams starting in 2020, the team leased a huge office and over 3 acres of land for its training facilities for preseason.

The Chargers will have several old faces return mixed with new faces for the 2017 NFL regular season. Antonio Gates was expected to retire, but the 37-year old tight end and future Hall of Famer has returned.

The Chargers nonetheless drafted Hunter Henry from Arkansas to replace Gates, and this will give Henry a chance to learn the position from the best. › Continue reading

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Saturday, August 12th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Los Angeles Chargers 2017 Outlook

Denver Broncos 2017 Outlook

The Denver Broncos enter training camp for the 2017 regular season with a quarterback battle on their hands. Last year’s starter Trevor Siemian is competing against Paxton Lynch for the starting signal caller.

However, it is the defense of the Broncos that is their strength. Leading that group is Von Miller. Like most of the best players on the defense his goal is to make opposing quarterback’s lives miserable and he does a superb job if it.

Back to the defense later, the offense for Denver concerns many in the organization. New head coach Vance Joseph will lead a team that just two season’s again won a Super Bowl.

The offensive coaching staff is strong with years of knowledge, but the unit has had its problems putting points on the scoreboard.

Last season the team had the fourth most three and out possessions and was No. 27 in rushing, and No. 26 in touchdowns from the red zone. Siemian is expected to start. Last season he was 8-6 as the starter with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. › Continue reading

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Friday, August 11th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Denver Broncos 2017 Outlook

Oakland Raiders 2017 Outlook

The AFC West is the toughest division top to bottom in the NFL with three teams the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos all with a chance to win the division crown and reach the postseason.

Oakland just missed out winning the division last season to Kansas City. Behind the strong arm of quarterback Derek Carr and the team’s explosive offense the Raiders are back this season to make amends.

Carr returns with a lucrative new contract after throwing for 3,937 yards and 28 touchdowns. This season the Raiders weapons that Carr has to throw to should be better than last season.

Jared Cook a tight end is now with Oakland. He will complement wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper who combined for close to 2,200 receiving yards last season. Cook’s experience playing with playoff contender Green Bay will help the young offense of the Raiders.

If the passing attack was not enough, the Raiders added un-retired Marshawn Lynch to their backfield. Lynch will take over for the departed Latavius Murray, who joined the Minnesota Vikings. Lynch is a powerful proven commodity in the backfield, but he has not played since the 2015 season.

If Lynch can return to his previous form, the passing lanes will be wide open for Carr to start dissecting opposing secondary alignments.

Oakland’s first round draft pick Gareon Conley has been cleared as an Ohio district attorney has decided not to seek charges against the cornerback in an alleged sexual assault case that has proven to be a mistaken identity.

Now that the weight of his possible indictment is behind him, Conley can help focus on making the Oakland secondary much better.

Defense reinforcements came via the draft during the offseason. The Raiders have one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Khalil Mack, but now will have a safety from the second round in Obi Melifonwu and Eddie Vanderdoes a defensive tackle taken in the third round.

Last season the defense was last in quarterback sacks with 25 but with Mack returning and the new additions that should change this season.

With the news additions on both sides of the ball, Oakland appears to be the favorite to win the AFC West.

Oakland Odds

AFC West – 9 to 5

AFC Championship – 8 to 1

Super Bowl LII – 10 to 1

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Thursday, August 10th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Oakland Raiders 2017 Outlook

Cleveland Browns 2017 Outlook

One team will also finish last and for the NFL’s AFC Central division that team has been the Cleveland Browns on a regular basis of late.

That trend is likely to continue as last season they finished 1-15 and have still not answered the lingering question of who their starting quarterback will be.

Brock Osweiler acquired during the offseason will start for the team’s first preseason game this week under center, but head coach Hue Jackson has said the he has not selected the starter for the opening game..

Six different players played quarterback for the Browns last season and this season besides Osweiler there will be Cody Kessler, who started eight games last season, and rookie DeShone Kizer battling for the signal caller job.

Cleveland did invest in its offensive line with the signing of free agents JC Tretter and Kevin Zietler and giving a long term extension to Joel Bitonio. The anchor on the line remains Joe Thomas their All-Pro at left tackle.

A better offensive line will allow the team to commit to its running game and could help to take pressure off the quarterback. Leading the running backs this season should be Isaiah Crowell. He ran well for the Browns last season and showed he is a capable NFL running back.

Kenny Britt was signed as a free agent wide receiver to take the place of departed Terrelle Pryor, while the team will look to Corey Coleman its first round pick from a year ago to step up.

Defensively, the Browns fired Ray Horton their defensive coordinator and brought in Gregg Williams. The Browns used their first two picks in the draft to shore up the defense. Myles Garrett could become an elite pass rusher but is only 21. Jabrill Peppers is a strong safety but has played linebacker and could play the nickel back position as well.

Both Peppers and Garrett will need to learn the NFL quickly, but both bring much needed athleticism to the Brown defense.

Jamie Collins returns at linebacker as the defense’s anchor, and the team hopes Christian Kirskey a fellow linebacker improves his play. On the defensive line, look for Emmanuel Ogbah and Danny Shelton to stop the run.

Joe Haden is expected to take a leadership role in the secondary, while Jamar Taylor looked strong late last season.

While the roster is improved from last season, the Browns will be playing for the future this season and likely remain in the AFC Central cellar.

Cleveland Browns odds

AFC Central – 33 to 1

AFC Championship – 100 to 1

Super Bowl LII – 300 to 1

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Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Cleveland Browns 2017 Outlook

Cincinnat Bengals 2017 Outlook

The AFC North is expected to be a competitive division for the top three places, with the Cincinnati Bengals expected to finish second or third behind the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Last season was a big disappointed for the Bengals who finished 6-9-1, but Andy Dalton returns under center and hopes are they will once again be very competitive. The defense will once again be their strength.

Poor playoffs showings have overshadowed that Cincinnati was one of the most consistent NFL franchises between 2011 and 2015. The team played in the postseason each of those five seasons and won 10 games or more four times.

Quality veterans once again left the team via free agency during the offseason which has pressured the draft selections to produce the last two seasons. › Continue reading

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Monday, August 7th, 2017 2017 NFL Comments Off on Cincinnat Bengals 2017 Outlook

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