Day 7 of my NFL preseason preview is starting to feature the best of the best. These teams are all playoff teams. These teams all have All Pro players. These teams all have solid coaching staffs, save the Packers, that are capable of leading the team to the title. They all have legit shots at the Super Bowl.
Lets get to it.
At number 8 I have the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, they took a step back last year. Yes, they blew a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl 2 years ago. Yes, they have some issues that they need to settle with Julio Jones. But, this team is good. They have a very solid QB in Matt Ryan. He is accurate, good in the pocket and throws for tons of yards and TD's. Matt Ryan is a good NFL QB. Hell, he won the MVP 2 years ago. He can play. He is also good in clutch moments. I like their running game. Tevin Coleman is a solid back that can kind of do a bit of everything. Devonta Freeman is a very solid number one running back. They have a great 2 headed monster. As mentioned, they have to get Julio Jones signed, and when they do, they are set at receiver. Jones is right up there with guys like Antonio Brown and Deandre Hopkins for me, and a whole lot of other people. I also love that they were able to draft Calvin Ridley. I feel like Ridley is going to be a great compliment to Jones. They also have Mohammed Sanu, and that dude is good. They are stacked at receiver. The Falcons defense is a bit suspect, but they were better last year. They can stop the run, but they struggle with the pass. They need to get a little better in the secondary, and I'd like for them to shore up their linebacker corps. But, they play just good enough to keep this team in the top ten. I also like the staff, with one exception. Steve Sarkisian shouldn't be an NFL play caller. Hell, he shouldn't be a college play caller. He is not very good at his job. But, the talent supersedes how bad of a play caller he truly is. The Falcons are good. They are a 10 win team easily. They will be in the playoffs.
At number 7 I have the New Orleans Saints. I was very low on them last year and they totally surprised me. They played very good football last year. They found a run game. They found a defense. And Drew Brees went out there and found another guy to turn into a star receiver. Michael Thomas, as much as it pains me to say this, is a legit top wide receiver threat. He is so good down the field and over the middle. He is awesome. Drew Brees has found another guy. Also, Drew Brees is still awesome at his advanced age. He is still a 4,500 yard passer, with a 70 percent completion rate and throws for 25 plus TD's every year. He is one of the best. What will make his career even longer is their newfound run game. Mark Ingram, who will miss the first 4 games after being suspended, played much better last year. He played like the bruising back that we all thought he would be coming out of Alabama. And they found another diamond in the rough in Alvin Kamara. He is the new Marshall Faulk. He is explosive out of the back field. He finds yards were there are no yards. He is excellent at catching balls out of the back field. Kamara is awesome and he will only get better and better. What was even more shocking was the Saints defense last year. They actually stepped up and held teams down. The Saints no longer have to score 40 or 50 points to win a game. They can play fast and slow now because the defense is that good. They can actually stop people. I don't know how Sean Payton did it, probably ridding himself of Rob Ryan, but he now has a defense that will help the offense. The Saints are good and will be a playoff threat as long as Kamara stays healthy. They are easily a 11-12 win team.
At number 6 I have the Green Bay Packers. As you may have saw at the top, I listed the Packers main weakness is coaching. Mike McCarthy is awful. I'm not super stoked about the Mike Pettine and Joe Philbin hires. I hope it works, but I am not optimistic about it. But, the Packers do get Aaron Rodgers back, and he is healthy. Rodgers is one of, if not the, best QB's in football. He is great on the run and in the pocket, has a laser arm and leads this team like no other. He is who they turn to when they are in trouble and need a play. He is the man in Green Bay. They let Jordy Nelson go, and I do not understand the outcry over this. He was always injured and it was becoming a problem. I know he was reliable, but he always missed time. The same can be said for Randall Cobb, but he is so much more explosive than Nelson. I would much rather have Cobb than Nelson right now in their careers. Cobb can also run trick plays. I also love Davante Adams. This is his year to become the number one receiver. He has all the tools, and I think he can have a great season. I also like Geronimo Alison. He has a chance to really make a name for himself. Also, the Packers went out and got Jimmy Graham. I know it doesn't hold the weight in may have 4 years ago, but I like it. I think Graham likes it too. He will be used properly in Green Bay. He could become the end zone threat that he was in New Orleans once again. The Packers need a better run game. I love that Ty Montgomery was willing to shift positions, and while he is an okay back, he is a receiver. That is where he should be. They have a bunch of young dudes, so maybe one of them will step up. But, the run game needs to get better. The Packers defense needs to get better too. They can get much better much faster if they somehow pull off a trade for Khalil Mack. I would jump for joy if this happens. I'm hoping it happens. They need a guy like Mack because they don't have much else. They are a poor pass rushing and run stopping team. They cannot set an edge, and linebackers overrun plays far too much. I do like the secondary, especially Tramon Williams, but they give up too many big plays. This Packers team reminds me of the Saints team when they had no defense. They will win double digit games if Rodgers stays healthy, but they will give up lots of points in doing so. The Packers will return to the payoffs though. Mark it down.
My final team for the day, at number 5, is the Jacksonville Jaguars. I think people are sleeping on a team that was 10 minutes away from playing in the Super Bowl last year. The Jaguars defense is, maybe, the best in the league. They are so young too. They will continue to dominate on that side of the ball, if they can keep most of these guys, for half a decade easily. I mean, Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye, Calais Campbell, Myles Jack and Barry Church are all awesome. They are all pro bowlers. They are all top 3 in the league at their positions. They are so, so, so good on that side of the ball. They can stop pretty much any team. They got screwed by the refs in the AFC title game last year, and they still held a league due to this defense. They are elite. The offense, on the other hand, is very bland. Blake Bortles is awful. They need to let it go. I know he was the QB in their run last year, but he is one of the worst starters in the league. Hell, he would have been one of the worst backups. He stinks. They do have a good O line though. They also have a great, young running back in Leonard Fournette. He is big, strong and fast. He needs to be more durable, but damnit, the kid can run the hell out of the football. I also like TJ Yeldon. He is a great change of pace back. The receivers unfortunately have Bortles throwing them the ball. Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee are all good, but they need a better QB throwing them the ball. The Jaguars are going to be a top team once again, and it is all due to the defense and run game. They need to lean on those 2 phases of the game. I do not think a return trip to the AFC title game is out of the question. I like the Jags so much, and it is solely due to their defense.
That is it for today. Come back tomorrow for the top 4 teams.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He does not know the value of Bloke Bortles in a late season fantasy football run. The head editor used Bortles, and his 9 points per game, to eek out a championship last year.
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