Last week, I asked you to pick which 12 teams will make the playoffs this season. Here are my playoff picks and Super Bowl prediction.
1. Los Angeles Rams. They added three big-time defensive players during the offseason: Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh. But, the Rams still have holes on defense, and lack enough maturity offensively to win the Super Bowl. This team is a year away.
2. San Francisco 49ers. This team is at least a year away. DeForest Buckner needs help. He’s the only great player on the defense. Cassius Marsh is the team’s best edge-rusher and he’s not a good edge-rusher. Plus, he’s a liability against the run. He can’t play on first down or second down or third and less than seven. Otherwise, offenses will run him over. This is a 9-7 team.
3. Seattle Seahawks. They’re falling apart, but still have the best quarterback in the division — Russell Wilson. They’ll win eight games.
4. Arizona Cardinals. They have a new head coach and a new starting quarterback — Sam Bradford — who almost certainly will get injured. The question is how soon? The Cardinals should be decent while he’s healthy. A 7-9 team.
1. Green Bay Packers. They added three quality tight ends — Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Lance Kendricks — who will help the pass game. They drafted two corners — Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson — who will help the pass defense. They signed defensive tackle Mohamed Wilkerson, who will help the run defense. They FINALLY got rid of defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who was washed up. They replaced him with Mike Pettine, who’s not bad. And they’re getting back Aaron Rodgers, who missed nine games last season with a broken collar bone. The Packers better win the division this year. If they don’t, they probably will fire head coach Mike McCarthy.
2. Minnesota Vikings (Wild Card). They have an excellent roster, but also have a new quarterback (Kirk Cousins) and a new offensive coordinator (John DeFililppo). How long will those two take to get comfortable with each other? A week? A month?
3. Detroit Lions. New head coach Matt Patricia’s first task: force offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter to run the freaking ball.
4. Chicago Bears. They have a good defense and a talented young quarterback (Mitch Trubisky), but still are a ways away. They’ll win six or seven games.
1. New Orleans Saints. They always had a good offense. Now, they have a good defense, too. Marshon Lattimore is a shut-down cornerback. The 49ers could have had him, but drafted Solomon Thomas instead. Oops!
2. Carolina Panthers. New Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been around the league 100 times, but never has coached a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton. Turner will get the most out of the him. The previous offensive coordinator, Mike Shula, was a dud.
3. Atlanta Falcons. Julio Jones’ contract dispute and holdout will cost the Falcons a playoff berth. No wonder they drafted a wide receiver in the first round this year. They probably anticipated this problem with Jones.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They could go 8-8 and still finish last. Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension hurts.
1. Philadelphia Eagles. They won the Super Bowl last year with Nick Foles, and now they’ll have Foles and Carson Wentz. And they still have an excellent coaching staff. But, teams will have a book on the Eagles. They caught the league by surprise last season.
2. New York Giants (Wild Card). They have a rookie running back, Saquon Barkley, who probably will be the Rookie of the Year. They have Eli Manning, who still has life. They’re getting back Odell Beckham Jr., who was injured last season and missed 12 games. And they have a new head coach, Pat Shurmur, who will bring a much more positive attitude than the previous head coach, Ben McAdoo, a real downer.
3. Dallas Cowboys. Dak Prescott has no one to throw to.
4. Washington Redskins. Even though they got Alex Smith, I can’t get excited about this team. It has no defense.
1. Los Angeles Chargers. They clearly have the most talented team and the best quarterback in the division. Can they stay healthy? The Chargers seem to lose their players before the season even starts. They already lost their tight end, Hunter Henry. He tore his ACL during OTAs.
2. Kansas City Chiefs. They got rid of lots of key players on defense, including Marcus Peters, the best corner in the NFL. They also have an inexperienced quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, who’s basically a rookie. He started only one game last season. The Chiefs will take a step back.
3. Oakland Raiders. The defense still stinks. Same story every season with this team.
4. Denver Broncos. Vance Joseph will be the first head coach to get fired next season. John Elway won’t sit and watch his team deteriorate like last season.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers. They lost their offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, but still are the only playoff team in this division.
2. Cleveland Browns. The Browns have Haley now, and he knows this division well. Plus, they have quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who took the Bills to the playoffs last season. The Browns could push the Steelers for the division title.
3. Baltimore Ravens. John Harbaugh better make the playoffs this year or he’s out. He hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014. His offense puts me to sleep. And his quarterback, Joe Flacco, is relentlessly mediocre. They need some explosion. They need to start rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.
4. Cincinnati Bengals. I have no faith in their quarterback, Andy Dalton, or their head coach, Marvin Lewis. They always find ways to louse things up.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars. They have a great defense and a great running game. They’re like the Seahawks from five years ago, minus Russell Wilson. But their quarterback, Blake Bortles, isn’t that bad. The Jaguars got him under control. Their head coach, Doug Marrone, is a tough guy, and so is Tom Coughlin, who runs that team. The Jaguars will be fine as long as those two run the show.
2. Houston Texans (Wild Card). DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and quarterback Deshaun Watson made the offense extremely explosive last season before he injured his knee. He supposedly is ready for training camp.
3. Tennessee Titans (Wild Card). Marcus Mariota is a less-exciting version of Watson, and the Titans are a less-exciting version of the Texans. Both teams are very good, though.
4. Indianapolis Colts. I assume Andrew Luck won’t play until I see him actually throw a ball.
1. New England Patriots. The Patriots own this division until Bill Belichick and Tom Brady go away.
2. Miami Dolphins. Who are they?
3. Buffalo Bills. They have a new quarterback, A.J. McCarron. Big whoop.
4. New York Jets. They are the Jets.
SUPER BOWL: New Orleans Saints over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Saints have Drew Brees, and the Jaguars don’t.