The start of the NFL season always brings about renewed hope. Every fan thinks their team has a chance to win the Super Bowl, and every Fantasy owner is excited about their roster. Being the gifted blogger that I am (lol), it’s my duty to give you my predictions for the local squads. I’m sure the comments section will be buzzing after you, my closest readers (all 8 of you) share your comments.
I want to proclaim Eli Manning is going to throw for a bunch of yards and upwards of 30 touchdowns again this season. Ben McAdoo’s offense, Odell Beckham Jr.’s presence and Victor Cruz’s imminent return almost guarantees those things. One problem… the offensive line has looked awful in preseason. The issues that have plagued them last season continue to exist. They brought back lineman Will Beatty after cutting him in a salary clearing move in February. Flowers has shown next to nothing to get excited about. That said, Manning racked up stats last season (4,432 yards, 35 TDs) and it mattered little for a team that ended up finishing 6–10. I believe that Orleans Darkwa is an upgrade from the released Andrea Williams, but the running game doesn’t show promise unless Rashad Jennings can step up big. Jennings ended last season with an impressive four-game stretch of at least 100 total yards or a touchdown, and he looked the part of a featured running back. That should be his role this season as long as he's healthy. There are still questions about the Linebackers, Cruz and rookie Sterling Sheppard. The biggest question mark may be at tight end, where last year’s starter Larry Donell has been a disaster in the preseason. Can Will Tye be the answer? The rebuilt defense will be better. It can’t be worse. They now have the personalities and talent to smother opponents and morph quickly into one of the league's most feared units, if they can get quality aforementioned linebacker play.
The key for Big Blue will be getting off to a strong start. It won’t be easy with 4 of the first 7 on the road. Though the schedule gets much easier in the 2nd half. Manning and Beckham must stay healthy while that running game must emerge. The NFC East may be the worst division in the NFL. My head says 9-7, but Im going out on a limb and say they win the division at 10-6. Maybe that’s my heart talking.
If you ever watched “House,” you know that most episodes spent about 50 minutes building up to the good Doctor’s eureka moment, in which he suddenly would come up with an answer to his patient’s mysterious ailment. There was limited drama in the moment. And that’s about how the Ryan Fitzpatrick contract standoff went down, ending as just about everyone anticipated, with Fitzpatrick re-signing. Bringing back “Fitzmagic” cements the Jets as New England’s most prominent challenger within the division. The onus doesn’t fall solely on Fitzpatrick, however, to snap the Jets’ lengthy postseason drought. His primary targets, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, form one of the NFL’s deadliest tandems at wide receiver. Expecting another 12 TDs from Decker could be wishful thinking, but his undeniable command of the slot allows Marshall to establish the tone on the perimeter. Can the magic man stay away from those INT's?
Todd Bowles’ defense benefits from a luminous front four that includes Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson. In the secondary, Darrell Revis continues to close off one side of the field. Antonio Cromartie’s release arguably makes the perennial All-Pro’s job as hard as ever, because the Jets’ depth at corner appears iffy, very iffy. But I believe it’s the most dominant defensive line in football thats going to physically force its way into the playoffs. I say this team does pretty much the same as last year with one less win, at 9-7, but this time gets in the playoffs. Let me know when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady retire and I'll consider other possibilities.
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