It's back! NFL football graces our screens once again. TNF kicked off the season with the Eagles narrowly defeating the Falcons. Here at the Underdog Blog I want to follow up on last year's double-whammy of the Rams to win the NFC West (25/1) and to make the play-offs (8/1), so let's get right to it!
Here's my view on each division, then my picks for this year!

AFC EAST

Little looks to change here with the 1/6 Patriots looking a class apart from the other three, who seem to have taken a defeatist 'oh well' view of the draft and pre-season trades. Just give New England the division title already!

AFC NORTH

The Browns made some good moves in the draft and finally should start to make progress, but it's a but of a mix-match of changes that will likely need a season at least to come together. The Ravens wants to start again with Flacco, and you just have to ask - why? He's not the player he was. While that defense will prove effective again, there wasn't as much progress made on offense as I'd have hoped. The Steelers come into this season in a strong position and the only down-side is that Big ben is another year older. If he can stay fit, the Steelers might stay on top. It's the Bengals who'll likely push hardest. Dalton didn't have the best of it last year but additions to the passing game and the O-line are going to make his job easier this time round.

AFC SOUTH

The once annual dull division of the AFC looks to be a cracker this time round. If Andrew Luck returns and performs with an improved offensive line we would have a division in which all four teams are play-off contenders! The Jaguars have kept their strong defensive line from last year, and while they haven't really down that much on offense, they are still strong in terms of this division. The Colts, as mentioned, will give Luck protection and after that it's a question of whether he retains the ability. It is, however, the Texans who catch my eye here. After the immense promise shown by DeShaun Watson in seven games last year, the offense has been framed to get the very best out of him. With am improved defense that - with or without JJ Watts - looks to be top-10 bound, watch those Texans go!

AFC WEST

Only seems the other week when the Broncos rode to Superbowl glory but it's been a downhill ride all the way since then and this year looks no different with the prospect of a poor offense. The once up-and-coming Raiders seem to have slowed that advance to a crawl. They had more missed passes than almost any other team last year and unless that improves they are not going anywhere after failing to bolster up the defense in the draft. With the Chiefs also not seemingly improving the defense to any great degree and putting everything literally at the hand of QB Mahones, it could be the Chargers who sneakily play themselves back to the division title. Rivers is still one of the most productive quarterbacks, and should easily maintain their offense level of recent seasons. On the defensive front that pass defense is going to be huge, but they could be vulnerable against a good running team.

NFC EAST

Zeke Elliott, Dak Prescott, and .... who else? that seems to be the case at the Cowboys, a team that's now clearly in rebuild mode. A lot is going to depend on newbies and rookies. We'll see but I doubt it'll be much better than a .500 season this year. Same with the Redskins who ditch the once "he'll be a franchise QB" Kirk Cousins and at the same time apparently do nothing beneficial in the draft. The Giants, thankfully, saw sense and kept Eli for another season. It'll let them rebuild and at least this year they should get the best out of TE Evan Engram instead of using him as a backup receiver. They could be in the play-offs. The Eagles will win the NFC East again. They remain strong across the board and which other teams would beg, borrow and steal for a QB duo of Wentz and Foles? All of them I tell you!

NFC NORTH

I'm going out on a limb here and saying the Packers will back-pedal this year. A lot always rides on Rodgers and he's been getting injury prone. Defenses will be after him. They beefed up the defense in the draft, but did have to let WR Jordy Nelson go. Not great. The Lions, though, have gone with the goal of protecting Matt Stafford this year - something he'll be mighty happy about! The quality of his play despite numerous sacks was outstanding last year, so watch out for even more this time round. The Vikings are very much the likely winners of this, especially if Kirk Cousins settles in quickly. He could, because it didn't seem to matter who played in the pocket last year. That said, one to watch in the NFC North is the Bears. Mitchell Trubisky was superb when he came in last year and this time has the talented Allen Robinson as well as others to aim at. Together with Cohen and Howard to carry the ball, the Bears might be the surprise package!

NFC SOUTH

Normally there's four teams in an NFL division. This year the South has three. That's how bad the Bucs are going to be. They'll be a #1 though - in the NFL draft next year!. Meanwhile the other three throw up a tasty-looking season-long battle between three of the top QBs in the NFL. Matt Ryan has an in-depth squad to rely on for points, and Cam Newton will continue to do what Cam does best, with arguably a better defense this time round, but it's the Drew Brees-led Saints who may prevail this time. No longer do Who Dat have to rely on Brees' outstanding talent, because that running game is simply exquisite.

NFC WEST

Rams all the way, baby! Strength in depth, and who's to say this might not be their year? I can't make a case for the others. The Seahawks look to be finally running out of steam. The Niners might be interesting if Blaine Gabbert lives up to promise, but the Cards deck is collapsing I'm afraid.


Underdog Season Picks

Cincinnati Bengals 10/1 to win AFC North, 9/2 to make the Play-Offs
Chicago Bears 10/1 to win NFC North, 7/2 to make the Play-Offs
New York Giants 4/1 to make the Play-Offs