Sid Saraf’s NFL Thoughts: The 2017 Season Begins
Can you hear that Phil Collins song in the distance?
It’s back. It’s back. It’s back. It’s back.
The 2017 NFL season is upon us and I couldn’t be more amped up. While the offseason consists of the months you spend wondering why you like football in the first place, once that first kickoff leaves the tee, all of that melts away.
And it’s back to what’s going on between the lines.
So with Thursday night’s regular-season opener between the Chiefs and Patriots just hours away, let’s start the fun with a few predictions.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
WHO WILL WIN THE …
NFC East: I’m going with the Giants. Sorry, Dallas fans, you can brag about that offensive line all you want. But that vaunted front lost a few important pieces during the offseason and in case you’ve been on Mars for the past few days, there’s a good chance Ezekiel Elliott isn’t going to be around for a while.
Meanwhile, Big Blue has a solid defense and I’m excited to see what the combo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall can do on the outside.
NFC NORTH: Packers, big surprise. The Vikings are their biggest threat, but aren’t trustworthy. The Bears are rebuilding and the Lions are … well, the Lions.
NFC SOUTH: Yes, teams that lose the Super Bowl often fall apart the following season. I don’t think that’s going to happen here. Atlanta has way too much talent to completely drop off. They might take a step back, but they’ll be there come January.
NFC WEST: Seahawks. I picked this team as a default because the rest of the division is a dumpster fire. However, they acquired Sheldon Richardson last week, which is a Super Bowl-move right there. They suddenly have great depth at receiver and several good options at running back. More on them later.
AFC EAST: Patriots. And if you need a reason why, I don’t ever want to meet you.
AFC NORTH: Steelers. Easy choice. While I’m not in love with their defense, their offense will do enough to win this division. Now, if they could only win on the road, I could take them seriously as a Super Bowl contender.
AFC SOUTH: Going with the Titans here. Not because I like them. It’s because they have to. They’ve been building through the draft for the past few years. Now it’s time to produce. Think of my pick as more of a challenge than a leap of faith.
AFC WEST: Raiders. This team was a hair away of being a legitimate threat to the Patriots last season and everything fell apart when Derek Carr got hurt, leaving Kansas City an easy path to win the division. Not this year.
WHO WILL MEET IN THE SUPER BOWL?
Everyone loves a rematch. And a chance at redemption. And no, I don’t mean the Falcons.
I’m talking about Seahawks vs. Patriots. The improvements Seattle has made this offseason will be the difference that will give them homefield advantage in the playoffs. And if they’re at home in January, they’re a lock to reach the big game.
I’m not going to pick a winner (Seahawks), because it’s far too premature (Seahawks) to do that. I don’t want to have to eat crow (Seahawks) in February. That would make me (Seahawks) look stupid.
A FEW BURNING QUESTIONS
WILL J.J. WATT HOLD POLITICAL OFFICE IN THE FUTURE?
Hmmmm, let’s think. To get elected to a higher politics event, you need an ability to raise money.
It’s been less than two weeks since Hurricane Harvey caused devastation throughout the Houston area. And in that time, Watt has raised more than $20 million for relief efforts. I’ll say that again: $20 million in less than 14 days.
He’s the real-life Captain America. And if I were the head of either political party, I would start courting him now.
WHEN WILL AARON RODGERS QUIT FOOTBALL AND BECOME THE NEXT DALAI LAMA?
Judging by that amazing ESPN piece about him, I’m saying it’s sooner rather than later. Some people might find Aaron to be aloof and self-obsessed, but I completely disagree.
He’s one of the few athletes I’d love to meet and talk about anything other than sports.
HOW LONG WILL VONTAZE BURFICT LAST?
I’m giving him until Week 6 before he bludgeons someone (hopefully on the field) and gets himself suspended for the rest of the season. Nobody escapes the wrath of Vontaze.
WILL LE’VEON BELL GET HURT?
Yes, guaranteed. It’s never a positive sign when a running doesn’t practice a lick until a few days before the season opener. I’m not rooting for this to happen, but I’ve played enough fantasy football to look out for the dreaded hamstring injury.
WILL ROGER GOODELL GET OUT OF FOXBOROUGH ALIVE?
Remember, the Commish will be in New England for the season opener on Thursday night. I’m giving him a 65 percent chance of escaping injury.
DO YOU ROOT FOR JAY CUTLER?
Yes, of course! I root for him because I resent the way he’s treated by the national media. Who cares what his face is like on the sideline? Some people are just like that. I can’t count how many times somebody has asked me, “What’s wrong?” And when I respond that everything is fine, I hear “Oh, you just looked bummed out right now.”
Some people just have faces like that. God bless you, Jay.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN WEEK 1
Chiefs at Patriots: Belichick and Co. unfurl their fifth championship banner and we get to hear a stadium full of Mass—– scream at “Rawgah” in stereo sound. Can’t wait.
Seahawks at Packers: This is the game of the week. And we’ll get to see Aaron Rodgers treat the Lambeau faithful to a win over the Seahawks. Unfortunately, if they meet in the postseason, it will be at CenturyLink, and will have a much different ending.
Jets at Bills: The last two teams to employ Rex Ryan. And I couldn’t care less who wins.
Raiders at Titans: I’m going with Tennessee here, but it will be interesting to see how Carr does in his first actual action since his broken leg.
Giants at Cowboys: A matchup that never gets old. And on Sunday night, of course. Big Blue takes it.
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.