|Posted by Radatz on March 14, 2017 at 4:00 PM|
Rash predictions in the midst of organizational turmoil are the perfect thing to stay away from, and here's one more reason to think that way. We're partway through FA with an initial flutter quieting down but big moves still happening. The draft is coming with teams' picks still to be determined due to trades... which means trading is ongoing. NFL.com has listed its latest mid-frenzy power rankings. In most cases they're not shocking, but some are. That's an inspiration to do our own midstream-swami act, isn't it? The premises are, of course,
1. look at what's happened so far,
2. go with your gut instincts, and,
3. of course, don't put money on it.
As usual, we're sticking to divisions. Picking anything else at this stage is too silly for... well... for us. Everybody else is doing it. Fake news. At least we're less fake. Maybe.
AFCE: No highly anticipated changes here. I'll list 'em anyway.
1. NE: They likely could lose Butler and Hightower both. At least we'll presume that. Probably Blount and Long too. Vollmer was cut. Ryan, Bennett, Sheard... all gone. They've made acquisitions. Gronkowski coming off IR (again) will add to that. Looks like a quasi-rebuild year on paper for the champs. Like most years. So why are they here? Same reason as usual... they seem to know what they're doing better than anybody else. BTW NFL has them at #1 in the power rankings, ifs notwithstanding.
2. MIA: The Fins have made a little noise, Timmons for example. They think they're on the way up. Could be. They've sputtered to a one-year illusion a couple of times in the recent past. Is this time different? Could be. Or not.
3. BUF: What have the Bills done that's good? They lost Woods. They got Brown. They resigned Tyrod and Alexander. Are they rebuilding or debuilding? Why are they ranked 3rd? Well, they seem to be working on maintaining their position.
4. NYJ: The Jets probably ought to be stockpiling picks. They dumped Mangold. Marshall went crosstown. They give the impression of going into what seems to be a much-needed rebuild. Then they apparently get serious about Hightower. He's not old, but he's expensive. Are they serious? Is it just a move to weaken NE by either signing him or driving his price up? Sure, but they have two other teams to worry about first.
AFCN: No reason whatsoever to go into specifics. This division is as it was. Wake me up when you see something. For now it's
AFCS: Ah haaa. Something changing? Could be. Or not.
1. TEN: Could be close. The Titans have been stocking up to bolster their defense. Might put them over the top. It could happen. A lot depends on Mariota. He has to keep improving, running game or not. I don't like Mariota. But so far he's better than what the other guys are flashing. Houston's gotten a respect-bump by virtue of their performance against NE in the playoffs. Good grief, they lost by 18. They even trailed after a first half they seemed to own. The afterglow is wearing off.
2. HOU: With everyone seeing the Titans on the way up, we note that they already have their QB. The Texans dumped theirs and now have Savage. We assume that's not the grand plan. We also assume JJ will be back. Those two moves alone could push them over Tennessee. But what if it's Savage after all? Well... they don't seem interested in free agency so far. They never seem interested in quarterbacks, and they play poker like Pee Wee Herman.
3. JAX: The Jags have lost some guys and I know I'm going to kick myself for doing this, but there's one reason for it...
4. IND: The wheels have fallen off. And you know what that means. The league will facilitate sending Andrew Luck to Denver. Why hasn't Elway done anything to fix his QB problem? Because he knows. Betcha. You watch. Conspiracy theory #1 of 2017. You saw it first. Don't clap, send money.
AFCW: It's tough to figure some of this, but we'll try. This is all pending no rigged monster move (like Luck) in Denver. Most unstable division in football. LA? LV?
1. Oakland: Yeah, I picked KC at the top in my 'objective' rankings. Yeah, Oakland looked like trash without Carr. No, that shouldn't have happened. But there's a method to this and it has nothing to do with the offseason...
2. KC: The more I think about Andy and Alex, the less I think the Chiefs can change their spots. Gut feel, right? Caveat: Raider move to Las Vegas flips the teams. And it seems to be happening.
3. DEN: Ware gave his 2-week notice. They mysteriously sit pat with two half-decent kids at QB. Something's fishy.
4. SD/LA: What could possibly help these guys? Their coach is gone. They've left lovely San Diego for the smog-ridden dregs of LA. They're resigned to the life of the Clippers, filling seats with fans who can't get tickets for the Rams.
NFCE: As usual, very interesting.
1. PHI: Say what? Everybody knows the Boys will dominate. Not so fast. NFL picks the Giants! Figures, but it tells you Dallas isn't the sure thing Dak lovers would have you think. Meanwhile, the Eagles have Wentz in year 2, and now with Foles returning home to back him up(?). How about the rest? Up in the air a bit, but presuming they manage to improve slightly while growing up on offense, this is doable.
2. DAL: Yeah, they're still pretty much loaded, but the OL has taken some hits. Romo hasn't gone anywhere yet. Dak suddenly has question marks all around him as analysts look at history and see pan-flashes. Could go either way. But Book One is out and he'll have to either get perfect protection or read those Ds. He'll need coaching. He doesn't know it yet. From a team owned by Buffalo Bob and coached by Howdy Doody.
3. NYG: Don't tell me adding Brandon Marshall is going to bring maturity to the Giants' WR Brat Pack. And how often do they have two good seasons in a row?
4. WAS: Gut feel, remember. Of all these teams, the one that gives the most tentative vibes is in DC. Could be wrong.
NFCN: Another division that defies upheaval. But there's some news.
1. GB: Are the Pack overrated? Probably. Are they overrated in their division? Probably not. Was Bennett a good idea? Good question. Got depth? Time will tell.
2. DET: They haven't done anything to make you think they can hold off Green Bay so far. But they do look poised to at least finish second, even with Caldwell, because...
3. MIN: The big news won't be Peterson leaving. It'll be Teddy staying on IR. Reports are he won't play this year. Maybe not ever. That would be a rotten ending for him, but it'll be just as rotten this year for Minnesota. Sam I am.
4. CHI: Maybe da Bears will improve enough to get past Minny. Nah. Ok, very maybe.
NFCS: Every year it looks like we have a winner, folks. Half the time we have a loser. Is Atlanta consistent enough?
1. ATL: The NFC is theirs to lose now. What could stop them? Super Bowl hangover? It's happened before.
2. TB: Much as I don't like them, what logical options do you have?
3. NO: Why would I pick these guys 3rd? They lost Cooks. But they knew that was coming. Payton's a smart guy and the GM surely won't make a move he doesn't like. Is Butler coming? Brees is back. That's good for something.
4. CAR: Isn't this their rebound year? They've been patching up the D. But one thing they can't patch up is Kuechley. He'll be back, but he's become concussion-prone. He's their hardest hitter and their best player, fan opinion notwithstanding. That's bad. Worse than losing Norman if it happens. And they're still led by a grinning tight end with a rocket arm who can't read defenses. Or take adversity. They've made him an institution. As he goes, so they go.
NFCW: A division in upheaval and general decline may undergo more of the same.
1. SEA: For all their issues they're in decline. Lacy isn't the next Lynch. But they'll win the division.
2. ARI: They finished a bad season strong. But the clock's ticking. Just don't see it.
3. LA: Hard to see 'em getting much better, but the remnants of a team built to beat its division (and no one else) will produce some wins. No Fisher. Could hit second if the decline above happens fast.
4. SF: They can't stay lousy forever. Will Shanahan stop the coaching carousel? Will they be happier without Kappy, their 'spiritual leader'? If you have money to spare, put it on them. Be like winning the lottery. In every way, including likelihood.
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