A Look Ahead at the 2017 NFL Season

Even though the Patriots won another Super Bowl just a few months ago, it’s never too soon to look into our crystal ball and speculate about next season. Here’s a look at the top stories heading into 2017.

What to Expect in the Draft

The Browns hold the No 1 pick, with San Francisco and Chicago choosing next. The Browns could go after North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky, but a more likely scenario has them picking defensive end Myles Garrett.

The 49ers seem set on a free agent QB, so they’ll likely pick defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. With the imminent departure of Jay Cutler, look for the Bears to take a chance on Trubisky.

The NFL Business Landscape

The first order of NFL business is improving on last year’s low ratings. Although the ratings did improve after the election, there is a fear that the decline is part of a larger problem, namely the competition of streaming websites that all live TV events seem to be facing. Two ideas being tossed around are fewer commercials during telecasts and speeding the games up.

The other big issue is the tug-of-war between Oakland and Las Vegas for the Raiders’ franchise. The league relishes the idea of a team in a big money city like Las Vegas, but it appears that there might be powerful corporate interest in keeping the Raiders in Oakland. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Coaching Changes

Six new coaches will be roaming the NFL sidelines in 2017, with Gary Kubiak’s replacement in Denver as one of the biggest stories. Vance Johnson will inherit one of the great defenses in the league, but questions abound all over the offensive side of the ball.

Anthony Lynn will at least have Phillip Rivers as he ushers in the Chargers’ Los Angeles era. The other new coach in Los Angles is the Rams’ Sean McVay. The youngest coach in the league will have his work cut out for him in the wake of Steve Fisher’s departure.

Sean McDermott faces similar challenges in Buffalo and Doug Marrone heads up yet another rebuild in Jacksonville. Lastly, Kyle Shanahan looks to revive one of the NFL’s all-time great franchises in San Francisco.