The Philadelphia Eagles are NFL champions. For the next 12 months, anyway.
The NFL has not had a repeat champion 13 seasons. So who will wear the crown in 2018? That’s the subject of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll. Are you still on the Philly bandwagon? Or was New England’s Super Bowl loss an aberration? How about the up-and-coming Rams? Or the really up-and-coming 49ers? Or one of the usual stand-bys, Dallas and Pittsburgh? We listed the teams with the top 10 championship odds for 2018, according to Bovada. Here are your options:
Atlanta Falcons. The NFC champions of 2016. The Falcons didn’t have the same-high powered offense in 2017 that led the NFL in offense in 2016. But the pieces are still there with QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones and RB Devonta Freeman. The Falcons lost at Philadelphia to the Eagles in the NFC semifinal round this season.
Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys played without 2016 NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott for six games because of an NFL suspension. They lost three of those games and wound up missing the playoffs with an 9-7 record. Elliott is back, which will make Dak Prescott a more effective quarterback in 2018.
Green Bay Packers. The Packers are annual favorites in the NFC because they have the game’s best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. But a fractured collarbone cost Rodgers nine games last season and the Packers cratered, finishing 7-9. Rodgers is back in 2018 and the Packers will be, too.
Minnesota Vikings. The NFC North champions. The Vikings have the NFL’s best defense but must figure out what to do at quarterback. They have three on the roster who have started and won games: Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum. Keenum stepped in for the injured Bradford last season and took the Vikings to the NFC title game.
New England Patriots. The AFC champions of 2016 and 2017. Tom Brady has won five Super Bowls and, at 40, was the NFL MVP in 2017 after leading the NFL in passing yards. Then he threw for an NFL record 505 yards in a losing cause in the Super Bowl. The only worry the Patriots have in 2018 is the aging process.
New Orleans Saints. The NFC South champions. And Drew Brees is back – and now he’s got the makings of a more complete team with a the best 1-2 running back tandem in the NFL in Mark Ingram and Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara plus an opportunistic defense crafted by Dennis Allen
Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles vaulted from 7-9 in 2016 to 13-3 in 2017 on the way to the first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. And Philadelphia prevailed over the Patriots in the Super Bowl with backup quarterback Nick Foles winning MVP honors. Carson Wentz will be back in 2018.
Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFC North champions. The Steelers still have the best set of Triplets in the league in QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown. This season they also fielded a Top 5 defense. The gang is all back in 2018.
Los Angeles Rams. The NFC South champions. The arrow is pointing up with a potential young franchise QB in Jared Goff and a Pro Bowl RB in Todd Gurley. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can generate a pass rush with the best of them and John Fassel has the best special teams in the league. The Rams are going to get there. The question is how soon?
San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers were plodding along in 2017 under first-year coach Kyle Shanahan and first-year GM John Lynch, then acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. The 49ers closed the season with a five-game winning streak, winning all five of Garappolo’s starts. This is another team out West with the arrow pointing up.