Minnesota has all the tools to win a Super Bowl. They’re easily one of the favorites to win it all heading into next season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Vikings know they are close to winning the Super Bowl and General Manager Rick Spielman definitely had that goal in sight when he signed Kirk Cousins to a three year $84 million dollar contract. That acquisition is supposed to be enough to get this team over the hump and now expectations are very high for this franchise. Cousins is being thrust into the savior role and there’s a lot of pressure that comes with that. When you make $28 million dollars a year you’re going to have to lead from the front. What that essentially means is Cousins has zero room for under-performing and even though everything is all laughs and smiles right now. At the end of the year is when Cousins will be truly measured. Still though this was the right move for Minnesota because it sets the bar high and lets everyone in the locker room know that the front office is serious about winning. Now Mike Zimmer is going to have to get it done from a leadership stand point and reel all these players in. Zimmer’s done a great job of that over his first four seasons and with all the talent on this roster he should be able to take this team to new heights. At the end of the day though it will all come down to how well this organization can handle the pressure of being a Super Bowl favorite? When the stakes are this high a team will either rise to the occasion or completely unravel. A lot of that will likely come down to how healthy the Vikings can stay in 2018? Injuries are the biggest threat to Skol Nation’s lofty dreams. Dalvin Cook has to stay healthy and then the other starters have to avoid getting banged up too.

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Here are the teams that made the biggest splash this off-season. It shouldn’t come as a surprise Chicago, Cleveland, and Jacksonville headline the list:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Winners:

Chicago- The Bears signed Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton which is going to significantly bolster their ability to score touchdowns. Last year the Bears were terrible from a receiver stand point but now this team has players that can bring out the best in Mitchell Trubisky. General Manage Ryan Pace deserves a ton of credit for making smart decisions and taking risks. Things are heading in the right direction in the Windy City. Cleveland-

The Browns traded for Jarvis Landry which was a big time acquisition because Landry is a world class competitor. The former Dolphin will bring a spark plug to this offense and blend nicely with Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman. New quarterback Tyrod Taylor finds himself in a much better situation as well. Buffalo was very limited talent wise during Taylor’s time as the starting QB but the Browns will be in complete contrast. Cleveland is finally putting all the piece tougher and Carlos Hyde was the cherry on top of all those moves. Hyde is an explosive ball carrier who thrives as the number 1 offensive option. These upgrades will allow the Browns to go any route they want to in the draft.

Jacksonville- The Jaguars didn’t need to do much but they still managed to get it right. First they added Andrew Norwell who is coming off an all pro season and then they signed Austin Seferian Jenkins. Both picks up are going to be immediately plugged into the starting offense and give Jacksonville a little bit more fire power than they had a season ago. Don’t surprised when this franchise puts together another deep playoff run, they’re tough as nails right now.

Losers: Arizona-

The Cardinals made a mistake by handing Sam Bradford $20 million dollars and then they signed Mike Glennon to follow that up. It’s hard to believe G.M Steve Keim will be around much longer because Arizona hasn’t been able to put anything together lately. On top of that this team failed to get a significant wide receiver opposite of Larry Fitzgerald which is going to be the reason this organization finishes in the bottom half of the rankings.

Detroit- The Lions didn’t make enough moves to keep up with the evolving NFC North. The Bears and Vikings both added weapons that will add a lot to the their teams. While Detroit settled with mostly 2nd and 3rd tier linebackers (Christian Jones, Devon Kennard). Bob Quinn had money to spend but couldn’t bring in players of any real significance. That’s going to hurt this team on game day next season. New England-

The Patriots lost Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler to the Tennessee Titans. Those were two key players who would have helped New England out a lot if they could have been retained. Bill Belichick did re-sign Rex Burkhead but it’s becoming obvious that the Patriots are starting to regress a little bit. Danny Amendola also signed with the Miami Dolphins so Belichick is going to have to find a way to pull some strings and reshape his roster.

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The Jaguars have been one of the big winners in free agency. The recent signings of Austin Seferian Jenkins and Andrew Norwell will be huge for their offense:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Jacksonville Jaguars just keep on winning. After going all the way to the AFC Championship Game the Jaguars built on that positive momentum with a solid off-season. There was three notable moves that really stand out when you step back and look at Jacksonville’s situation. First the Jags inked Blake Bortles to a contract extension which clears up any questions swirling around their quarterback’s future. Then this front office made sure to put talent around Bortles to help this offensive group take the next step. That came in the form of signing Andrew Norwell away from the Carolina Panthers. Norwell is one of the better offensive lineman in all of football and his five year $66.5 million dollar contract confirms that. After coming off an All Pro season in 2017 Jacksonville knew this addition would not only give Bortles more pass protection upfront. It will also open up some holes for Leonard Fournette in the running game. By having a player (Norwell) that can win one on one match ups and dominate in the trenches the Jags are getting nastier on the offensive line of scrimmage. Norwell will spring some big runs and rack up a number of key blocks because he’s one of the best in the business at what he does. David Caldwell and Tom Coughlin also brought aboard former Jets Tight End Austin Seferian Jenkins to help create some passing offense. Seferian Jenkins caught 3 touchdowns and 357 receiving yards last year in the Big Apple. The hope is that Seferian Jenkins can continue to progress now that’s he’s in a better environment. Together these acquisitions are going to be huge on game day because now there’s boatload of players that can open things up a bit. Expect Bortles to really improve with all this additional opportunity coming his way.

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The Raiders cut Michael Crabtree and sign Jordy Nelson. A pair of moves that’s supposed to help Oakland improve from a rhythm and timing stand point:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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It’s hard to see Michael Crabtree released because he is such a consistent football player. For the last three seasons Crabtree has recorded at least 8 touchdown receptions and that was a significant chunk of output for the silver and black. Crabtree is getting older at 30 years old but it’s easy to believe he could contribute more than 6 touchdowns for at least two or three more years. However with a one game suspension last season and a significant cap hit Oakland’s General Manger Reggie McKenzie decided to move on from the former Texas Tech stand out. Crabtree will have the opportunity to sign with any team he likes. Right now the Colts, Ravens, Bills and even the Cowboys could use another playmaker out wide. Crabtree would be a nice addition to one of those teams and would definitely optimize their offensive stat line. Mckenzie and Jon Gruden didn’t wait long too find Michael Crabtree’s replacement either. The Raiders immediately signed Jordy Nelson to fill the vacancy at the receiver position. Nelson was recently let go by Green Bay but clearly Oakland thought he was a great fit for everything they’re trying to do. One thing Nelson is very good at is route running. By establishing a rhythm and timing offense that will not only enhance Carr’s production at the QB spot. It will also help Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson put up a few more touchdowns in 2018. Oakland didn’t stop there either they also signed Doug Martin to a one year contract. The combination of Marshawn Lynch and Martin will be quite the tandem in the offensive backfield. Both guys run hard and bring a physicality to the running game. Gruden is going to have some weapons to operate with in first season as head coach of the Raiders. Gruden’s x and os combined with all these talented football players is a good sign of things to come.

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A.J McCarron signs a two year contract worth $10 million with the Buffalo Bills. McCarron will be the starting QB in Buffalo for the time being:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Former Bengals back up Quarterback A.J McCarron is heading to the Buffalo Bills on a two year $10 million dollar contract. The Bills are hoping McCarron can sure up the QB position until either Nathan Peterman or a quarterback they draft is ready to take over. McCarron has 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions over the course of his career and has shown glimpses of competence at times. Obviously that was enough to compel the Bills into signing the former Alabama signal caller. The question is whether or not McCarron is going to be able to fulfill the role Buffalo is hoping to put him in? As a back up it’s much easier to avoid mistakes because you’re not playing as often. Now that McCarron will have to carry this team there’s a lot more pressure to perform. Just ask Nathan Peterman who threw 5 interceptions in his first start against the Chargers. Keep in mind Peterman did that in only one half of a game so that should tell just how competitive the National Football League truly is. Buffalo will be much better off trusting McCarron’s experience against opposing defenses but this team needs to get him some help if they want to be successful. One of the glaring weaknesses for this franchise is the fact that they can’t protect the passer. The Bills gave up a lackluster 47 sacks in 2017 and they traded away Cordy Glenn this off-season. That means all those draft picks are going to have to be used on offensive lineman who can give McCarron a little bit of time to operate. It would almost be foolish for this front office to trade up for a quarterback in the draft because they need to use those picks to add talent at the other positions. Especially if Sean McDermott plans on going back to the postseason.

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