- Denver Broncos – Vic Fangio is on the hot seat entering his 3rd season as the Broncos Head Coach. Fangio is 12-20 as Head Coach, but not all the blame can go towards him. Over the past 2 seasons multiple starters such as Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Courtland Sutton have suffered season ending injuries. On top of injuries, The Broncos have had inconsistent play at the Quarterback position. This season Fangio has decided to go in a different direction by naming veteran QB Teddy Bridgewater as the teams’ starter for week 1.
The Broncos’ defense will be a one of the main reasons they have the success this season. Von Miller is returning from injury and looks to retake his claim as the best defensive player in the league. The secondary was improved this offseason with the addition of Patrick Surtain ll, and Bradley Chubb is now fully healthy. With a young and healthy defense, I predict the Broncos to finish top 10 in overall defense. If Teddy Bridgewater is consistent at moving the offense, does not turn the ball over, and spreads the ball around to all his young weapons; The Broncos could be a surprise wild card team at seasons end.
- New York Giants – The Giants enter the 2021 season with some questions about their future. Daniel Jones is entering his 3rd season as the starting QB, but questions remain on if he is the face of the franchise. Jones has shown flashes of greatness in his first two seasons but has not been consistent enough to gain trust from the Giants organization. They have yet to pick up his 5th year player option on his rookie contract.
Daniel Jones has not been the only problem for the Giants trouble. Having talent on the field with him has also been a problem as well. Running Back Saquon Barkley and Tight End Evan Engram both have not been able to stay on the field because of injury. Outside of those two, the Giants have not had many playmakers until now. The Giants spent a lot of money and draft capitol to improve the offense. Players such as WR Kenny Golladay, WR John Ross, TE Kyle Rudolph, and rookie WR Kadarius Tony will be counted on to improve the offense.
On the defensive side of the ball the Giants were looking to improve drastically this off season. They spent money on players such as CB Adoee’ Jackson, LB Ryan Anderson, LB Ifeadi Odenigbo, and DT Danny Shelton to help the defense return to their dominate form. With resigning star DT Lenard Williams, the Giants hope this defense can cause havoc in the NFC. If EVERYTHING goes right, the Giants could be another team that slips into the wild card round. If not, Head Coach Joe Judge may find himself on the hot seat or choosing another rookie QB.
- Carolina Panthers – The Carolina Panthers had a busy off season after trading Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos, and then acquiring QB Sam Darnold from the New York Jets. The Panthers showed their confidence in Darnold by picking up his fifth-year player option. This was important for the Panthers as they had no clear direction at the QB position. With Darnold in the fold, the Panthers focused on surrounding him with weapons along side RB Christian McCaffery. The Panthers added to their offense by drafting players such as WR Terrance Marshall, RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Shi Smith, and TE Tommy Tremble. The hope is that many of these young players make a big impact early this season.
On defense, The Panthers young talent is gaining more experience from last year when most of them were rookies. This unit is led by last years first round pick DT Derrick Brown and second round pick DE Yetur Gross-Matos. Both players made their names known last year as rookies. Brown was a force in the run game, while Gross-Matos gained more experience as a pass rusher. If this young defense continues to improve, and the offense develops more playmakers; the Panther can find themselves in the playoffs.
- Atlanta Falcons – The Atlanta Falcons are under a new reign of coaches and management entering the 2021 season. New Head Coach Arthur Smith looks to bring his run first mentality to a team that has been pass dominant for the last few years. Along with a new Head Coach, the Falcons also welcome new General Manager Terry Fontenot to the team. Both men come from winning cultures and look to build a new one in Atlanta.
The new culture looking to be built will be without one of the Falcons’ key pieces from the last decade, Julio Jones. Jones had requested a trade earlier in the off season and that request was granted when he was traded to the Tennessee Titans. The Falcons offense will look to some young talent to step up and help Matt Ryan Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst. One of the big names to watch out for will be rookie TE Kyle Pitts. Pitts will bring speed, athleticism, and his playmaking ability to an offense that was not explosive at all last year. Russel Gage is another player that will be relied upon to make plays. Last season, Gage stepped into the number 2 wide receiver role and became a reliable target for Matt Ryan.
On defense the Falcons return a handful of starters that include LB Deion Jones, DT Grady Jarrett, LB Foyesade Oluokun, OLB Dante Fowler Jr., and CB A.J. Terrell. The defense was one of the worst in the NFL last year. New Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees looks to turn things around and create more pressure on the opposing offense. The Falcons lack a consistent pass rush which is why they only recorded 29 sacks as a team in the 2020 season. It will take a great effort on both sides of the ball for the Atlanta Falcons to make the playoffs this season.