Patriots start 2017 season on top.
After a remarkable comeback over Atlanta, Tom Brady and company enter this season as the team to beat once again. The addition of speedy wide receiver Brandin Cooks from New Orleans was a great move by the front office, providing the offense with a deep threat they haven't had in years.
There have been reports of a possible undefeated year on the horizon, but football is a strange game and every team is just an injury away from struggling to have a winning season.
Heading into the preseason, several teams have made some big moves over the summer, in hopes of catching New England, but until the teams take the field for real in September, the Pats' will be number one on just about everyone's power rankings.
The Race for Number Two
There's mixed results when searching for the next best team. The Falcons showed they have what it takes to compete with the best during the playoffs last year. If not for a fourth quarter disaster, the 'dirty birds' would of been hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. This squad is deep on offense at nearly every skilled position and with an up and coming young defense, motivation of losing could be just whats needed to take that next step.
Matt Ryan finally proved he can win games outside the regular season, but the hangover from last years Super Bowl could play a major role in how this squad performs and the start of the regular season should give fans a good idea of what to expect in 2017.
Green Bay started slowly in 2016, but Aaron Rodgers led the Packers on a six game winning streak to closeout the regular season and wins over the NY Giants and Dallas Cowboys had fans thinking Super Bowl.
The Pack' lost to Atlanta in the NFC Championship and have some experts believing this year they'll take that next step and challenge for a title. Rodgers will carry a large load this season with depth issues at running back, but if the defense steps-up and gets a few turnovers in big moments, this franchise could be battling for a championship at seasons end.
When it comes to the AFC, NFL fans and experts are looking at Oakland to challenge the reining champs. The Raiders closed the season strong, but the loss of quarterback Derek Carr in week 16 cost this team any chance it had in the playoffs.
The Silver and Black have added running back Marshawn Lynch and if he can bring 'beast mode' to the bay area, the AFC West title might be just the start of accolades for this franchise in 2017.
Best of the Rest
A number of other teams and their fans are expecting big things in this season. Pittsburgh will always be dangerous with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.
The biggest concern with the Steelers is on defense. The corners are inexperienced and that could put more pressure on the offense to score points. Health will also play a role with this franchise with several veterans in key positions, but if the cards fall right, Pittsburgh could be a dark horse in the AFC.
Seattle plays in the NFC West, arguably the worst division in the NFL. The Seahawks have a terrific defense and some good options in the passing game, but finding a running back that can take pressure off quarterback Russell Wilson could be key to a run at a Super Bowl appearance.
Kansas City is set for another big year. The Chiefs went 6-0 in the tough AFC West last year and will need another strong showing in 2017 to surpass Oakland.
The biggest concern for the fans and the team is at quarterback. Veteran Alex Smith is solid, but not spectacular and is puts enormous pressure on the defense each week.
This team lost in the playoffs last year to Pittsburgh, despite not allowing a touchdown, something that must be corrected for this franchise to have any aspirations of a title this season.
Dallas had an incredible year behind rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. If these two youngsters improve on last year, the sky's the limit for the Cowboys, but the dreaded sophomore slump has some worries, especially with Prescott and opposing teams now knowing his strengths and weaknesses.
It's an exciting time for 'America's Team' and its fans with the growth of these two youngsters, but the defense will need to take that next step for this franchise to become elite, but a ten percent improvement on both sides of the ball could make this the team to beat in the upcoming football season.