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America's game is back and NFL backyards are set

19 de Octubre de 2021 a las 10:50

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Article by Scott Churchson IG: @schurchson
New York. - Another season about to start and its time to start thinking of BBQ, Tail Gates, Giant Screens but especially the fantacy pools. Here is some of the things you have to look out for.
AFC 2021: What to Expect, What to Hope For, What to Be Afraid of & What I'm Predicting

NFL is back folks! The long awaited return of the National Football League gets underway on Thursday with the Super Bowl champs the Tampa Bay Bucs taking on the Cowboys at home. The true national pastime of the United States (sorry baseball fans) is undergoing some changes this year, first and foremost with the new 17 game schedule. Money talks, and today we're breaking down the AFC; what to expect, what to hope for and what to be afraid of.

First, What To Expect:

In what can be described by some as a surprising loss in last year's Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs saw themselves embarrassed to the Tampa Bay Bucs 31-7. Patrick Mahomes struggled in particular, completing barely over 50% of his passes with no Tds and 2 INTs. That will be a young man out to prove what happened in February was a fluke but doing so with a rebuilt offensive line that consists of two rookies and a first year. Can they protect Mahomes or will his numbers dip for the first time in his career? Barring something unexpected, I think there are few that would be surprised if KC doesn't end up back in the Super Bowl; quite possibly against Tampa but more on that when I cover the NFC tomorrow. My prediction: 13-4, 1st overall and lose in Super Bowl LVI.

What To Hope For:

For me, a rebound year for Tyrod Taylor. The journeyman QB by all accounts sparkled in his 3 years as a starter in Buffalo to a 92.5 QB rating from 2015-2017 but injuries have plagued him throughout his career. Now that he's been named the Texans new starter he gets the chance to prove himself once again. This will be anything but easy as Houston is expected to go nowhere on both ends of the ball but here's hoping he can do enough and stay healthy enough to impress that he can latch onto a more competitive team next season. My prediction (unfortunately): He gets injured early on and only ends up playing 5-6 games while the Texans battle it out for a top pick in next year's draft. Hoping I'm wrong.

What To Be Afraid Of:

The New England Patriots. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Belichick household as he watched the playoffs from the couch for the first time since 2008 with a losing record for the first time in 20 years all while watching his former QB win it all with a new team. This team made the smart move in grabbing Mac Jones at 15th in the draft this year and giving themselves a legitimate QB of the future after Tom Brady. With Cam Newton now out in New England Mac will be starting at home against Miami game one. It will be a growing year for Jones no doubt however they have the benefit of a softer schedule this year with 4 of their first 7 games coming against weaker teams which should provide growth and confidence for the (just turned) 23 year old. The AFC East is Buffalo's division to lose until I see otherwise, but I could absolutely see the Pats back in the playoffs this year, especially after upgrading that defense. My prediction: They go 10-7, back door into the playoffs.

My Final Predictions for the AFC:

Until I see otherwise, this is Kansas City's conference to lose. I don't see them being as strong as last year and teams like Buffalo and Cleveland will go neck and neck with them through week 17 but in the end KC goes 13-4, wins the AFC, but loses the Super Bowl a second year in a row.

NFC 2021: What to Expect, What to Hope For, What to Be Afraid of & What I'm Predicting

First, What To Expect:

A year ago Tampa Bay snagged the biggest free agent in NFL history in Tom Brady as well as the unretired Rob Gronkowski. Didn't do much; they simply took a team that hadn't been to the playoffs in a dozen years to a 31-3 Super Bowl win over the defending champs. Now word got out that the GOAT played the entire season with a torn MCL in the left knee. Supposedly he's healthy after off-season surgery and with a new contract it's his conference to lose. The Bucs have all 22 starters coming back again and as luck would have it also have the 4th softest schedule in the NFL, plus no Brees to contend with this season. 13-4 if Brady stays healthy.

What To Hope For:

A winning New York football Giants season. I've been a fan of this team for 40 years and football in the New York area where I'm from has been an embarrassment for a decade. This is Daniel Jones's make or break year. Jones has shown occasional signs of genius as well as blistering speed (although him tripping falling over on that 80 yard run on that Thursday night game still gives us pain) but this year he could be out of excuses and he and GM Dave Gettleman could be out the door if he struggles. Much of his offense is officially listed as questionable for game one but the Giants went out of their way to add options for the 24 year old; adding a WRs Kenny Golladay via free agency and drafting Kadarius Toney with their 1st pick. The NFC “Least” is still a joke of a division and while overall the NFC East has improved the division could be won with a sub-.500 record for the second year in a row. My team has gone 18-46 in the past 4 years and one single playoff game in the last 9 seasons (yet the Jets are worse). Give me something here, anything. Who am I kidding? 8-9, miss the playoffs AGAIN.

What To Be Afraid Of:

Aaron Rodgers & the Packers. There was a ton of drama in Wisconsin this off-season as rumors circulated Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay but it appears at least some of that is behind them at this point. It stands to reason that the 37 year old 3 time MVP could challenge for the NFC title as this has now also become a contract year for him and a potential curtain call in Packer-nation. It's still a soft division despite improvements by Chicago and the Vikings and until I see otherwise, this is the team that will challenge the Bucs for the NFC. 12-5 this season, wins the division.

My Final Predictions for the NFC:

Again until I see something different Tampa is the team to beat. If Tom Brady can stay healthy or otherwise not pull a Brett Favre year one vs year two in Minnesota I see no reason why that team can't repeat as champs. However the NFL is a long season that just got a little bit longer and the man is 44 years old. Going to keep it simple, Tampa repeats as champs and further cements that the city is the place to be if you want to watch winning sports (check out my future article on how Tampa sports deserves so much more love than it gets).