The weekend is over, and I am back to my preseason NFL countdown. The rest of this week will be all football. I have three more days of my countdown, then I will do all my NFL predictions, and I will finish everything up on Friday with my full college football preview. The rest of my NFL countdown has all teams that could, and probably should, be in the playoffs. They all should end up with winning records as well.
Let's get to it.
At number 12 I have the Tennessee Titans. I actually like the Titans. I actually believe that Marcus Mariota is going to make the leap this year. I feel like Derrick Henry can become a solid number one running back. I believe in Corey Davis. I think their defense is solid. I just do not like the coaching. The coaching staff doesn't feel great. They are trying their best, but I just think other guys could do so much better with the talent they have on their roster. They were boring last year and they kind of limped into the playoffs, but they made it there. They also won a game, which was astonishing to me. As I said, I like Mariota. I think he will finally put it all together. I feel like they have a solid O line. I like Derrick Henry becoming the feature back. I know Davis hasn't been great in preseason, but I don't care about preseason. I love Delani Walker. He is one of the better tight ends in the league. I like their defense overall. They are solid in all three phases. But, as I said, I just do not like the staff. They seem to find a way to hold this team back. They finished last year at 9-7, and while that seems like it could happen again, if Mariota makes that leap, they could be a 10-12 win team. They are a fringe playoff team, but being in the AFC will get them there.
At number 11 I have the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have some questions. They finally rid themselves of Alex Smith, and I think that will benefit them. He always collapsed in the playoffs. He always fell flat when they needed him most. I know that Patrick Mahomes is a first year starter, and he has looked a little shaky in preseason, but this team has faith in him, and that throw he made the other night was astounding. He looks like he could be good. I like Kareem Hunt. He will take on more of a heavy load this year, and that should benefit him, the Chiefs and Mahomes. The Chiefs don't really have great wide outs. That could be a problem. They do have Travis Kelce, and while he is a poor mans Gronk, he, at least, can stay healthy. He also makes things happen, both good and bad. The Chiefs defense should be better. That being said, they are average. Guys like Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali should be much better. I love Eric Berry, but he is only one guy, and he can only do so much. The Chiefs will need their defense to step up, especially since this is Mahomes first time starting. He needs the help. A lot of their success depends on Mahomes, but Andy Reid is a good regular season coach, and 10 wins doesn't seem out of the question. I also think they have a very good shot at getting back to the playoffs, and probably blowing their first round game, as they do. I just do not want to count an Andy Reid coached team out of the playoffs.
At number 10 I have the Carolina Panthers. This team's success fully depends on one guy, Cam Newton. I lived through this being a Packers fan with Brett Favre. Come to think of it, I am still living through it with Aaron Rodgers. It is painful, but can also be great. Remember 2 years ago when the Panther were 15-1 and in the Super Bowl? That was all Newton. Then, last year when the refs decided to not call anything against Newton, the Panthers regressed and missed the playoffs. I feel like Newton is out for blood this year. He wants to show that one season wasn't a flash in the pan. I personally think he is great. He definitely needs help on the outside. Devin Funchess is okay, but not great. I have no idea who else they have at receiver, which is a problem. I like Greg Olsen, so does Cam Newton, but he is old, and oft injured. Christian McCaffery is okay, but I do not know if he is the guy they traded up to draft last year. Maybe a year of being a pro will make him better, but I don't know. The Panthers defense is a lot like the Chiefs. They should be better. Their star linebacker is always concussed. He never seems to not get injured. I do not believe he has played a full year yet in his career. They have an okay D line, but they need to get more pressure. Their secondary is fine. The coach, Ron Rivera, this should be a make or break year for him. This team should be so much better, and I think Rivera knows it. I feel like a return to the playoffs is almost a sure thing, especially if Newton plays how I think he will this year. The Panthers should win, at least, 10 games this year. It all depends on Cam, but there could be worse things.
My final team for today, at number 9, is the Los Angeles Rams. I'm not even a Rams fan, never have been, but I'm still a little pissed off at Stan Kroenke for moving them away from Saint Louis. That hatred soared last year when the Rams surprised everyone, and had a great year. Sean McVay proved he can run an offense. He made Jared Goff an okay starting NFL QB. He helped Cooper Kuup make a name for himself. Todd Gurley was finally used as he should be, and I still think he should have been the MVP last year. The O line stepped up. Sammy Watkins, even though he is gone, was solid. All of this was due to McVay and Gurley. Todd Gurley is awesome. Everyone needs to watch him, even if you don't like the Rams. This kid is a real talent. The Rams defense is even better than their offense. They have the best defensive player in the game, assuming they sign him, in Aaron Donald. That dude is amazing. They added Ndamokong Suh next to him. My god that is a deadly D line duo. They have very solid linebackers. They can cover in the secondary. And Wade Phillips, while he wasn't a great head coach, that dude can coach defense. That was McVay's best decision last offseason. As long as they sign Donald, which they definitely should, this defense is going to be tough. The Rams can score and they can stop people. They also have a solid coaching staff. This is a team on the rise for sure. They should easily win their division, and maybe, after last season's playoff debacle, they have learned and will win a game or 2. I do not see anything less than 11 wins for this team.
That's it for today. Come back tomorrow for the next 4 teams.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He knows that players play and coaches talk, but a bad talking coach can make great players play bad. Just look at the Mike Martz era in St. Louis.
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