Detroit Lions: 9-7
What went right: Mathew Stafford continued to improve and show he has what it takes to be a top QB in this league. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones developed into a top wide receiver duo. Easy to forget Calvin Johnson was on this team just last season. Darius Slay made some huge game winning plays and turned into a top NFL corner. Tahir Whitehead is a great building block at linebacker and led the team in tackles. Rookie Taylor Decker was outstanding as a left tackle. Will be a good starter for years to come.
What went wrong: They had little to no running game which made it really difficult to close out games. Abdullah got hurt early and Riddick was injured throughout the year which didn’t help. Offensive line as individuals were good but didn’t gel as a unit and had a lot of trouble getting to the second level. The defensive line wasn’t as good as I predicted. Ansah was Injured most of the year and Haloti Ngata has been beaten by father time. That led to little pressure and an inability to stop the run. Defensive back was an issue at times. Other than Slay they were too young and inconsistent.
- Key Position Needs: DB, Edge Rusher, LB
- OMVP: Mathew Stafford
- DMVP: Tahir Whitehead
Oakland Raiders: 12-4
What went right: Derek Carr turned into a top QB and had an MVP like season before his injury. Their running game behind Murray, Washington and Richard was 6th in the league as all were able to contribute. Crabtree and Cooper were terrific and are great for this team going forward. Khalil Mack won DMVP and was disruptive from multiple positions on the front. Bruce Irvin was a terrific signing and added much-needed versatility to the defence. Rookie Karl Joseph showed is potential to be the “Chancellor” role in the Raiders defence and Reggie Nelson was a ball hawk for them and helped with their +16 turnover ratio.
What went wrong: Sean Smith and David Amerson took a while to gel which hurt them early. Smith was benched and time will tell if he remains a Raider with his high pay check. Right tackle was a huge weak spot. Look for them to improve it in the offseason. The Raiders were on of the top teams in the league before Carr got injured. I would have loved to see them compete with Carr in the playoffs.
- Key Position Needs: RT, CB, MLB
- OMVP: Derek Carr
- DMVP: Khalil Mack
Houston Texans: 9-7
What went right: Jadaveon Clowney finally live up to his potential. He was healthy most of the season and showed how dominant he can be. Lamar Miller added talent and speed to the running game which improved the offence. Whiney Mercilus continued to develop into a versatile star at linebacker. A.J Bouye broke out and was a top corner in a contract year, look for him to make bank in the offseason. Quintin Demps played well at safety where he had 6 interceptions.
What went wrong: Brock Osweiler was the worst QB in the league. They have over paid him and it was a disaster. He held back the entire offence with pure incompetence. The worst part was that it stopped a great receiver like DeAndre Hopkins irrelevant. An improvement is needed before their super bowl window closes. The offensive line needs some reworking. After the horrific injury to right tackle Derek Newton they will need a replacement. J.J Watt being injured left a huge hole in a great defence. With him on the team they would have been unstoppable. Getting him back next year will be huge.
- Key Position Needs: G, RT, QB!!!!
- OMVP: Lamar Miller
- DMVP: Jadaveon Clowney
What went right: Russel Wilson battled through injuries and put together a fantastic season. Doug Baldwin was outstanding and Jimmy Graham looks like he could be back at his best. Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright continue to be a top linebacking duo. Avril, Clark and Bennett were a great pass rushing unit and were disruptive against the run. Rookie Jarran Reed looks like he’ll be a good player also. Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman continued their dominance and were a major reason they were the 5th ranked defence.
What went wrong: Offensive line play was up there with the worst in the league. Not one player looked good and it completely ruined an offence that was so tough in the past. Rawls’ injuries held him back for most of the season. He did come alive in the playoffs which was a good sign.
- Key Position Needs: OT, G, DE
- OMVP: Doug Baldwin
- DMVP: Bobby Wagner
Kansas City Chiefs: 12-4
What went right: Tyreke Hill emerged as a playmaker on an offence that was lacking in the department over the last few seasons. Travis Kelce elevated his game and became the top tight end for the season. Although Alex Smith isn’t super dynamic he doesn’t turn the ball over and runs the offence very efficiently. Spencer Ware was a solid versatile running back who should be a great fit for the offence. Marcus Peters had 6 interceptions and made huge plays late in games to seal or win them. Eric Berry is a top safety and should be paid like one very shortly!
What went wrong: Although the offence was good it lacked some real punch and consistency. The running game was hot and cold and relied on too much. Justin Houston’s injury hurt the defence a lot. When he played late in the season it was a completely different defence. Ageing linebackers Tamba Hali and Derek Johnson are getting long in the tooth and will need to be replaced at some point.
- Key Position Needs: MLB, WR, OL
- OMVP: Travis Kelce
- DMVP: Eric Berry