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Bears are Starting Fresh, but Questionable Offseason Decisions Loom Large

The Chicago Bears are one of the oldest and proudest institutions in the NFL, but the glory days for this club are well in the rear-view mirror. In the wake of a dreadful 3-13 SU campaign, the Monsters of the Midway have nowhere to go but up in 2017.

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Polarizing Vikings Must Overcome Internal Drama to Return to Playoffs

Ask any fan of the Minnesota Vikings you know and they’ll tell you it isn’t easy cheering for the purple and gold.

At the beginning of training camp in 2016 the Vikes were perceived as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but a decimating preseason leg injury to starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a wrench into those plans. The team traded for Sam Bradford to fill the void under center and things were rosy for a while. Minny roared out of the gate to the tune of five straight wins but proceeded to go 3-8 the rest of the way and missed the playoffs altogether.

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Is 2017 The Year The Lions Finally Win A Playoff Game Again?

The Detroit Lions were exciting to watch last season with a ridiculous 13 of their 17 games (including the playoffs) being decided by seven or fewer points. On top of that, the cardiac Lions went 5-2 in games decided by three points or less.

Now, that is all well and good from a television ratings perspective but it didn’t ultimately mean that much for the Lions in 2017. You can’t expect a team to continuously win close contests like that regularly. Eventually, the law of averages will catch up and the losses will start flowing.

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Super Bowl or Bust for Aaron Rodgers and Company

It’s been six and a half years since the Green Bay Packers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, and you’d be hard pressed to find a Cheesehead this side of Wisconsin who’d say the team has been a disappointment since then (myself included). The green and gold have had no issue getting to the postseason, but timely wins on the biggest stage haven’t been their strong suit.

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The Future Starts Now for the Cleveland Browns

The downside is that the Browns went a pathetic 1-15 straight up in 2016 and an abhorrent 3-12-1 against the spread for their backers. The plus side is that there is some semblance of a football team here and there is nowhere to go but up in 2017!

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After Stumbling a Year Ago, Bengals Facing Make-or-Break Season

In every sport, there is at least one franchise that consistently excels in the regular season but goes off a proverbial cliff when the playoffs roll around. In hockey, it’s the Washington Capitals. In basketball, it’s the Los Angeles Clippers. In baseball, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the NFL, it’s the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Killer B’s Once Again Hold the Keys to the Steelers’ Success

Exposed by the Patriots in the AFC championship game last year in a 36-17 beatdown, Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers were forced back to the drawing board in their search for supremacy. The gap between New England and the teams in the conference’s second tier is still significant and it’s going to take some creativity on behalf of the coaching staff in Pittsburgh if the black and yellow are to successfully drop the Steel Curtain on the Pats in 2017.

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After Back-to-Back Seasons Out of the Playoffs, 2017 Looms Large in Baltimore

There may not have been a more average team in the NFL in 2016 than the Baltimore Ravens. They posted an 8-8 straight-up record to finish second in the AFC North. They went 7-9 against the spread, 5-5 ATS as a fave, 7-8-1 OVER/UNDER and while they did have an above-average defense, they had the 17th-ranked total offense in the league.

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Saints are Worth the Gamble as a Big Long Shot in 2017

The New Orleans Saints are a fun team. They score a lot of points, averaging 28 points per game over the last six seasons. Unfortunately, all that scoring on offense has translated to zero success on defense as the Saints have been historically awful at giving up points. Here’s where the Saints have ranked in points allowed per game over the past four seasons — 31st, 32nd, 28th and 31st. So, yes, they’re fun to watch because they’re often involved in very high-scoring games, but the uptempo offense and Swiss-cheese defense has resulted in three straight seasons below .500.

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Don’t Expect the Panthers to be a Serious Contender in 2017

It was fair to expect a bit of regression from the Carolina Panthers in 2016 after their 15-1 NFC championship run in 2015, but things fell apart much worse than anyone expected, leading to a 6-10 record and a last-place finish in the NFC South. Their defense went from allowing 19.5 points per game in 2015 to 25.1 points per game in 2016, bad enough for 26th in the NFL. The offense sputtered too, scoring eight fewer points per game. As a result, they were on the receiving end of multiple beatdowns and they went just 2-6 in games decided by three points or less.

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