NFL preview 2017

OPENING KICKOFF

The New York football dichotomy for 2017

It’s a case of Giants up, Jets down, but the disparity has never been this great, the gulf never as wide between the two teams. Never. The Giants are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Jets are a stripped-down version of an NFL team. Read Bob Glauber’s season-opening overview of the state of football in New York.

Commissioner Glauber?

What would Newsday football columnist Bob Glauber change about the NFL if he were in charge? Have a look at his five ideas to improve the NFL.

Best of the NFL

Who are the five best players in the NFL? The five best quarterbacks? Defensive backs? Punters? Newsday football columnist Bob Glauber picks the five best in just about every category you can think of as the 2017 season kicks off.


THE GIANTS

Giants’ goal: Fifth Super Bowl trophy

Ben McAdoo made that the unabashed goal when he became head coach last season. The Giants went 11-5 and made the playoffs, all positive steps for a franchise that hadn’t been to the playoffs in four years.

Q&A with Eli Manning

Giants QB Eli Manning sat down with Newsday’s Tom Rock to talk about this year’s team, the 10-year anniversary of his first Super Bowl win, how he might want his career to eventually end and the biggest changes he’s seen in 14 seasons.

Giants’ ends are near

During one of the preseason practices this summer it looked like Jason Pierre-Paul gave up halfway through a pass rush. Established veteran, sweltering grind of camp, little to prove. Who could blame him for coasting for a rep? But that’s not what happened. Read Tom Rock’s story.

The Marshall-Manning connection


Brandon Marshall joked this week that Eli Manning has a lot of work to do if he wants to dethrone Ryan Fitzpatrick as the best quarterback he’s ever played with. Read Tom Rock’s story.


How the NFC East stacks up for the Giants


NEW YORK GIANTS: Last year, GM Jerry Reese addressed the defense, adding free agent difference-makers Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins. This year, he added to the offense with free agents Brandon Marshall and Rhett Ellison and first-round tight end Evan Engram in hopes of helping Eli Manning. The one big if: the offensive line. If that group improves, then this could be a special season. Maybe a Super one.


DALLAS COWBOYS: It was an extraordinary bounce-back season for the Cowboys in 2016 as they went from last to first thanks to the brilliant play of rookie QB Dak Prescott and rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott. But teams that experience a tremendous leap forward one season often regress the next. The Cowboys will be an important test case, especially considering Elliott’s looming suspension for domestic violence. Prescott has shown veteran resourcefulness The defense overachieved last year, and it will have to be more of the same.


DALLAS COWBOYS: It was an extraordinary bounce-back season for the Cowboys in 2016 as they went from last to first thanks to the brilliant play of rookie QB Dak Prescott and rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott. But history shows teams that experience a tremendous leap forward one season often regress the next. The Cowboys will be an important test case for that, especially considering Elliott’s looming suspension for domestic violence. Prescott has shown veteran resourcefulness, so his performance will be the major key. The defense overachieved last year, and it will have to be more of the same for Dallas to make it back to the playoffs.


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Carson Wentz was so good as a rookie, the Eagles wasted no time anointing him the starter and trading Sam Bradford. Wentz showed plenty of potential, but he also made his share of mistakes. Wentz should flourish now, especially with WRs Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. On defense, the front seven is among the best, and includes Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham. Cornerback depth is a problem. With a couple of breaks, the Eagles could earn a wild card.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Carson Wentz was so good as a rookie that the Eagles wasted no time anointing him the starter and trading Sam Bradford to Minnesota. Wentz showed plenty of potential in 2016, although he also made his share of mistakes. Now that he’s used to the NFL game, Wentz should flourish, especially with new receivers Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. On defense, the front seven is among the best, and includes Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham. Cornerback depth is a problem. Look for the Eagles to show significant improvement, and with a couple of breaks get in position for a wild card playoff berth.



WASHINGTON REDSKINS: It’s a transition year of sorts in Washington, which is one reason Kirk Cousins wasn’t ready to commit to a long-term contract. He lost receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to free agency, although the Redskins hope 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson and Browns free agent Terrelle Pryor can pick up the slack. Jordan Reed is a big-time tight end. Josh Norman is the most recognizable player on a defense that is mostly non-descript. But the Redskins hope new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky can help.


WASHINGTON REDSKINS: It’s a transition year of sorts in Washington, which is one reason Kirk Cousins wasn’t ready to commit to a long-term contract. He lost receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to free agency, although the Redskins hope 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson and Browns free agent Terrelle Pryor can pick up the slack. Jordan Reed is a big-time tight end. Josh Norman is the most recognizable player on a defense that is mostly non-descript. But the Redskins hope new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky can help.


Elsewhere in the NFC

Giants 2017 schedule

GameDateOpponentTimeNetwork
Week 1Sept. 10at Cowboys8:30 p.m.NBC
Week 2Sept. 18Lions8:30 p.m.ESPN
Week 3Sept. 24at Eagles1 p.m.Fox
Week 4Oct. 1at Buccaneers4:05 p.m.Fox
Week 5Oct. 8Chargers1 p.m.CBS
Week 6Oct. 15at Broncos8:30 p.m.NBC
Week 7Oct. 22Seahawks4:25 p.m.CBS
Week 8Bye   
Week 9Nov. 5Rams1 p.m.Fox
Week 10Nov. 12at 49ers4:25 p.m.Fox
Week 11Nov. 19Chiefs1 p.m.CBS
Week 12Nov. 23at Redskins8:30 p.m.NBC
Week 13Dec. 3at Raiders4:25 p.m.Fox
Week 14Dec. 10Cowboys4:25 p.m.Fox
Week 15Dec. 17Eagles1 p.m.Fox
Week 16Dec. 24at Cardinals4:25 p.m.Fox
Week 17Dec. 31Redskins1 p.m.Fox

THE JETS

The right direction?

It’s true that the 2017 season likely promises more grief than anything for the Jets, but if we are to look at the bright side — and after all, isn’t that what preseason is about? — it’s that there might be an endgame to all this misery.

Q&A with Jamal Adams

The Jets took Jamal Adams with the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft in April, and even though he was slowed by an ankle sprain in camp, coaches are eagerly awaiting the impact the 21-year-old safety will make this season. Adams discussed his first few months as a Jet in a Q&A with Newsday.


Robby Anderson on fast track


Following the release of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and Quincy Enunwa’s season-ending neck injury suffered in early August, second-year wide receiver Robby Anderson moved to the forefront of a young Jets pass-catching corps.


How the AFC East stacks up for the Jets

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: As if winning a fifth Super Bowl wasn’t enough, the Patriots loaded up even more in the offseason by acquiring WR Brandin Cooks, RB Rex Burkhead and LB David Harris. The loss of WR Julian Edelman to a knee injury was a big blow. But the Patriots have won without key players before. With Tom Brady at age 40, they begin as the clear favorites to win it all again.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: As if winning a fifth Super Bowl title wasn’t enough, the Patriots loaded up even more in the offseason by acquiring WR Brandin Cooks, RB Rex Burkhead and LB David Harris. Yes, the loss of WR Julian Edelman to a season-ending knee injury was a big blow. But the Patriots have won without key players before. With Tom Brady playing as well as ever at age 40, they begin as the clear – and justifiable – favorites to win it all again.


MIAMI DOLPHINS: Ryan Tannehill’s season-ending knee injury in the preseason seemed to doom the Dolphins’ chances, but coach Adam Gase convinced QB Jay Cutler to put off his broadcasting plans. Cutler was at his best when Gase was the Bears’ offensive coordinator. This is a team with talent at the skill positions – WRs Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, and RB Jay Ajayi. The defense is solid with ageless Cameron Wake. Miami can contend for a wild card spot.


MIAMI DOLPHINS: Ryan Tannehill’s season-ending knee injury in the preseason seemed to doom the Dolphins’ chances, but head coach Adam Gase convinced QB Jay Cutler to put off his broadcasting plans and play in 2017. Cutler was at his best when Gase was the Bears’ offensive coordinator. This is a team with talent at the skill positions – particularly WRs Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, and RB Jay Ajayi. The defense is solid, with ageless Cameron Wake the team’s best pass rusher. There’s no reason Miami can’t contend for a wild card spot.


BUFFALO BILLS: Rex Ryan’s two-year run ended with a whimper, and the Bills cleaned house further by firing GM Doug Whaley. In come coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane, and a significant roster transformation. The Bills traded WR Sammy Watkins and CB Ronald Darby, and there will be more moves. QB Tyrod Taylor remains – for now. High-priced DT Marcell Dareus has already run afoul of the new coaching staff, having been sent home before a preseason game. This rebuild is going to take some time.

BUFFALO BILLS: Rex Ryan’s two-year run ended with a whimper, and the Bills cleaned house further by firing GM Doug Whaley. In come coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane, and a significant roster transformation. The Bills traded WR Sammy Watkins and CB Ronald Darby, and there will be more moves. QB Tyrod Taylor remains – for now. High-priced DT Marcell Dareus has already run afoul of the new coaching staff, having been sent home before a preseason game. This rebuild is going to take some time.

NEW YORK JETS: Woody Johnson will be spending the next few years as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, but before he left, the Jets’ owner ordered a house-cleaning the likes of which we haven’t seen. Ever. The Jets dumped nearly every high-priced, under-performing veteran — Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Breno Giacomini and David Harris, among others — and traded Sheldon Richardson to Seattle, leaving a bunch of unproven younger players in their places. With one notable exception: 38-year-old QB Josh McCown starts the season as neither Christian Hackenberg nor Bryce Petty convinced Bowles they were ready.

Elsewhere in the AFC

Jets 2017 schedule

GameDateOpponentTimeNetwork
Week 1Sept. 10at Bills1 p.m.CBS
Week 2Sept. 17at Raiders4:05 p.m.CBS
Week 3Sept. 24Dolphins1 p.m.CBS
Week 4Oct. 1Jaguars1 p.m.CBS
Week 5Oct. 8at Browns1 p.m.Fox
Week 6Oct. 15Patriots1 p.m.CBS
Week 7Oct. 22at Dolphins1 p.m.Fox
Week 8Oct. 29Falcons1 p.m.Fox
Week 9Nov. 2 Bills8:25 p.m.NFL Network
Week 10Nov. 12at Buccaneers1 p.m.CBS
Week 11Bye   
Week 12Nov. 26Panthers1 p.m.Fox
Week 13Dec. 3Chiefs1 p.m.CBS
Week 14Dec. 10at Broncos4:05 p.m.CBS
Week 15Dec. 17at Saints1 p.m.CBS
Week 16Dec. 24Chargers1 p.m.CBS
Week 17Dec. 31at Patriots1 p.m.CBS

BACK IN THE DAY …

…the Giants were the All-Collegians …

On Sept. 9, 1925, New York All-Collegians team secretary Harry March told the lunch crowd of reporters he was “confident that after this season professional football will be a permanent institution in this city.” History has proven March right, even though it took a shaky inaugural season and more lean years in the 1930s and ’40s before the Giants and the NFL took hold of the nation’s sporting culture starting in the mid-1950s. Read Neil Best’s story about the Giants’ first season.

…and the Jets were the Titans

The New York Titans were born in 1959, a charter member of the AFL, fronted by Harry Wismer, an oil executive who in 1953 had been the play-by-play announcer for the first prime-time, national NFL package, Saturday nights on the DuMont Network. They debuted in 1960 and became known as the Jets three seasons later. Read Neil Best’s story about the Jets’ first season.


NFL AND THE MEDIA

Tony Romo gearing up for new career

Newly retired Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo chose the less-comfortable path, because after eight practice games — five in a studio, three in person, none on the air — he is leaping into the deep end of the sports television business.


Here comes Rex!

Rex Ryan, the former Jets and Bills head coach, says about his new ESPN analyst role: “They’re going to have to cut me off. Hey, that’s OK. They told me to be myself, so that’s what I’m going to show up and be. If they cut me off, they cut me off.”


Beth Mowins blazing new trail

Even in 2017, with female announcers increasingly commonplace, Beth Mowins’ assignment for Chargers vs. Broncos on Sept. 11 on ESPN is a significant milestone — the first nationally televised NFL game called by a woman.

Waggles, options and zone reads

With his “Spider 2 Y Banana” calls, “Monday Night Football” analyst Jon Gruden has become the king of football speak. Every broadcast features football terminology you may be familiar with and some classic sport-specific language that will leave you wondering if they rewrote all the grammar rules you learned in school. Newsday’s Nick Klopsis helps explain what some of the terms mean.

Staff predictions

AFC playoff teams AFC champ NFC playoff teams NFC champ Super Bowl LII
Bob Glauber Patriots, Steelers, Titans, Chiefs, Raiders, Texans Patriots Giants, Packers, Falcons, Seahawks, Cowboys, Panthers Packers Patriots
Tom Rock Patriots, Steelers, Titans, Raiders, Chiefs, Texans Raiders Giants, Packers, Falcons, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Lions Giants Raiders
Laura Albanese Patriots, Steelers, Titans, Chargers, Raiders, Bengals Patriots Giants, Packers, Falcons, Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys Packers Packers
Neil Best Patriots, Steelers, Titans, Chiefs, Dolphins, Chargers Titans Cowboys, Packers, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Lions Packers Titans
Barbara Barker Patriots, Steelers, Titans, Broncos, Chargers, Raiders Patriots Giants, Packers, Falcons, Saints, Cardinals, Buccaneers Packers Packers
Joe Manniello Patriots, Steelers, Titans, Chargers, Bills, Jaguars Patriots Giants, Packers, Falcons, Cardinals, Buccaneers, Saints Cardinals Cardinals

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