NFL Season ReviewOwen Fulda - 17:02, 15th February 2017
As the dust settles on the New England Patriots’ enthralling 34-28 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl 51 it seems like a good time to put together our NFL season review. Our NFL tipster Owen Fulda made a healthy profit with his tipping over the course of the season and read on to see where it went wrong and right throughout the AFC and NFC divisions..
NFL Season Review
I guess we should start with reigning world champions the New England Patriots who just do not know when they’re beaten. A side that are worth of all the plaudits that are coming their way. Even the most positive fan of the Boston franchise must have feared the worst at 28-3 down with just 8:31 left in the third quarter. But Tom Brady stepped up into the clutch and with a bit of help from James White and Julian Edelman, the rest is history. Brady will have turned 40 by the time next season gets underway but he’s not even hinted at retirement. New England are 6/1 to retain the Super Bowl Trophy and who would bet against the Brady and Bill Belichick delivering on the grandest stage of all once more?
Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Miami Dolphins exceeded expectations by reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008, even doing so without first choice QB Ryan Tannehill. British-born running back Jay Ajayi was their breakout star, rushing for 1272 yards on the season. The less said about the New York Jets the better while the Buffalo Bills fired head coach Rex Ryan after missing out on post-season football for the 17th consecutive year. Expect big roster purges from both franchises as they look to rebuild in the off-season yet again.
Heading North in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers’ campaign dipped throughout October but ended with a dramatic, roller-coaster ride through the playoffs. CBS Sports have place them at third in their ‘Power Rankings’ and many pundits expect a serious push for the Super Bowl next year. Aaron Rodgers was sublime at times, especially under duress in the pocket, weaving his way out of perilous situations time and again. Green Bay are a best price of 10/1 to win the big one next year and with some solid recruitment over the summer, that price could well have been cut by September.
The Packers’ closest divisional rivals are the Detroit Lions but once again they flattered to deceive once they entered do-or-die gridiron time. It’s now been eight straight playoff losses for Detroit and it’s becoming so ingrained in the fabric of the franchise that they can’t seem to fix the issues at hand. Chicago Bears were hopeless last year, winning just three games, while the Minnesota Vikings choked after their winning start and finished with a 8-8 record. Adrian Peterson earns $14million per year but is rarely fit – it’s time for the Vikings to get rid.
The Pittsburgh Steelers who won the AFC North, have one of the most star-studded rosters in the league, but seem to just fall short at the crucial time. It’s imperative that they re-sign Le’veon Bell. He’s one of a kind and every dime they pay him will be money well spent. Their divisional record of 11-5 should’ve been better and I’d back it to be so next year.The 9/2 price for them to win the AFC Championship doesn’t look too shabby either. The Baltimore Ravenspromised much but finished with a 50% record and Bengals fell apart and only won half the 12 games they did the previous year. And the Cleveland Browns? Well they finally won a game which made a lot of people happy!
The NFC East is probably the strongest division in the NFL at the moment. Three of the four sides finished the regular season with winning records and the other, the Philadelphia Eagles were still a force to be reckoned with as they finished 6-8. But it’s the Dallas Cowboys who lit up the season. When Tony Romo was ruled out for the first few weeks of the campaign no-one quite new what to expect of rookie Dak Prescott.
But what they got was one of the most talented week-on-week performers to grace the game in their first season. He led Dallas to a 13-3 season with amazing performances from fellow rookie running-back Zeke Elliott and experienced receiver Dez Bryant. Expect even bigger things next year! The Cowboys are a best price of 11/1 to go all the way next year, but are 9/1 with some bookmakers so be sure to check our odds comparison service before you bet!
The New York Giants beat the Cowboys twice last year and Eli Manning reckons next year is their year, but they still have a tendency to capitulate in the playoffs - as they did last year in a 38-13 defeat by the Packers. The Washington Redskins will look to build around Kirk Cousins who put up amazing number last season with almost 5,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s a truly outstanding talent.
Oakland Raiders really should’ve had the AFC West sewn b up and locked in a bye to the Divisional round of the playoffs, but disaster struck when rookie QB Derek Carr broke his leg on Christmas Eve. From that moment onwards they were in terminal decline and were soundly kicked out of the playoffs by the Houston Texans. The Kansas City Chiefs - who capitalised on Oakland’s misfortune to take top spot in the division - had a good season and the emergence of young wide receiver and return specialist Tyreek Hill bodes well for next year. The Chiefs are 33/4 to claim the AFC Conference title next season while the Raiders are a tempting-looking 9/1.
The Denver Broncos did reasonably well to finish 7-5 on the season considering their massive QB struggles. Trevor Siemian could prove to be a great but he’ll need to work hard to get his power up. The San Diego Chargers need a change of scenery. They never sell out their stadium and there is a sense of apathy around the entire franchise. A relocation is surely on the cards in the near future.
The NFC West was once again dominated by the Seattle Seahawks who continue to tear teams apart at home but can’t follow these performances up on the road. They were routed 36-20 by the Falcons in the playoffs which is no disgrace, but it’s an all-too-regular occurrence. I would personally stay well clear of their price of 12/1 to win the Super Bowl. The Arizona Cardinals were bang average, while the San Francisco 49ers and LA Rams would consider average a compliment. They’re both in a shambolic state and will need to pick well in April’s draft if they are to improve on their six combined wins.
Down South in the NFC we saw a division that has literally flipped upside down in 12 months. The Carolina Pantherswent from losing Super Bowl finalists, to losing 10 games in the regular season. Some critics are accusing Cam Newton of being a one-season wonder but surely that’s not the case. The real test comes next year as they look to bounce back. The same goes for the Falcons who will be mentally shattered by the manner of their Super Bowl defeat. They played some brilliant offensive football over the year but maybe the saying that 'defenses win championships' rung true in the end. They just could not find a way to stop Brady’s masterful arm when the chips were really down.
Expect big things from Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ QB Jameis Winston next season. He’s going from strength to strength and I definitely think Tampa Bay will at least secure a Wildcard spot come January. If you fancy a long-shot punt, then the 22/1 on them to win their Conference title is about as good as it gets in my opinion. New Orleans Saints were very much run of the mill last year, there’s not much to say about them or their 7-9 season in all honesty.
Last and certainly least is the AFC South. A ragtag bunch of teams if ever there was one. Life must be hard as a Jacksonville Jaguars fan. Certain Jags supporters are probably hoping the franchise moves to London sooner rather than later, just to put them out of their misery! The Texans get a negative mention for booing Brock Osweiler repeatedly and the Colts also get one for breaking Derek Carr’s leg! All in all a season which delivered drama on a weekly basis with more overtime and tied games than I can remember. It was only let down apart by the early rounds of the playoffs which weren’t great. Bring on the draft and then next season
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