Here at the TMFL Network we like to span the league and take the temperature on various topics the league has given us. Today we grabbed 7 journalists and asked them 7 questions. We hoped to get their hot takes and maybe even some insight on the team they make a living covering. The 7 journalists joining us in this edition are… Trey Dingo, Orange and Brown Report (Cleveland, OH) Big Enos Burdette, Houston Hustle (Houston, TX Russell Leeves, Gold Digger Blog (Santa Clara, CA) Jimenez Almeida, The Pigskin Piñata (Mexico City, MX) Jake Plummer, Birds Nest Blog (Phoenix, AZ) Brom Tady, New England Nonsensical (Boston, MA) Nick Bakay, 12thManRising.com (Seattle, WA) EDITOR’S NOTE: Questions were sent to journalists the beginning of Week 1 and had until Week 1 conclusion to answer. Timeliness of stats may vary 1. The Raiders were one game away from 3 straight Super Bowl appearances. And this was after a late season ownership change. They do still have a streak of conference title game appearances, does it extend to 4? Trey Dingo : They’ll certainly make the playoffs. Maybe even the divisional round. But a 4th straight conference championship appearance? That’s not in the cards for the Raiders. Big E : I don’t see that happening. I think the new ownership did a great job of keeping the ship going last season, but over the course of a full year we are going to see some holes in that game. I look at them as more of a fringe playoff team moving forward. Russell Leeves : It will be hard for them to make the conference title game when they will be sitting out the playoffs. This is the year of the AFC West uprising. The Broncos finished last season as one of the hottest teams in TMFL and I feel they may finally take that next step. However, the Chargers are my team to beat in the AFC West and until that team across the bay proves they can win with a full season under his belt, we will remain doubters. Jimmy A. : The Raiders will miss out on the playoffs entirely. I don't see the Raiders going away quietly though and the new ownership proved that after taking over the team mid season and barely missing out on another super bowl appearance. I just feel that this season is going to be one that they have to claw their way through and I think that takes a toll on the team and ownership. Its going to be close, but I think the Raiders have a set back season and barely miss punching their ticket as a wild card team. What makes that blow worse is they miss out and watch another AFC West team punch what could've been their wild card ticket. Jake Plummer : This is not a knock against the Raiders but the answer is no. I still think the Raiders will be a tough competitor but the AFC may have closed the gap top to bottom on the NFC after their first Super Bowl win of the cycle. In their own division the Broncos were one of the hotter teams in the league at the end of the year, and I also expect the Browns, Bengals, Ravens, Colts, and Dolphins all to be fighting for one of the last available wild cards if not division titles. In the AFC this year the Raiders should be happy just to make the dance honestly, anything beyond that will be a plus. Brom Tady : I honestly don't see the Raiders doing it. They have an AFCC rematch to open. All the teams in their division have improved. I see them finishing 2nd, just ahead of the Broncos. Nick Bakay : The streak... is over. The Raiders have been one of the hotter teams the past few seasons, but I cannot see them making this happen. There are simply too many good teams in the AFC. Between the highly competitive AFC North, Tennessee, and a resurgent Jacksonville team, the Raiders are sure to get a tough matchup even if they can get another bye. 2. The Cinderellas of the 2017 season Jacksonville Jaguars have relocated to bring back the Houston Oilers. Was 2017 flash in a pan or is this team here to stay now that they literally have a place to stay? TD : I firmly believe the Oilers will be a playoff contender for years to come. However, making the playoffs in the AFC is a tall task. Especially as a wild card; the spot the Oilers would most likely find themselves as the Titans have built a consistent force. Once you find yourself in the Wild Card race you have to deal with the likes of nearly each representative out of the North and West divisions. It’s also un-telling what the new regime Colts squad brings this season. And lets not forget that the Texans were just in the playoffs in the 2016 season. EB : Given the nature of their schedule and how poor of a showing they put out in Week 1 against the Eagles, the Oilers are going to have their work cut out for them. I think if they can escape their first 10 weeks at .500 or better they have a great shot at the playoffs. Getting their run game going is going to be vital as the rest of the league catches up to their passing offense. RL : I’m shocked their offensive coordinator didn’t get a head coaching gig this offseason. This guy led Blake freaking Bortles to the NFL’s all time passing yardage leader in a season and gets no love for it. If he can get the same kind of production from Bortles that he did last season, with improvement from the Oilers very young defense, they will be Super Bowl contenders. JA : The Oilers are here to stay. The ownership and coaches know what they are doing in that organization. Although, this season I wouldn't be surprised to see the organization take a few steps back as they settle into their new home and deal with teams learning to scheme against their unique offensive style. The Oilers will still sneak into the playoffs, but like the Raiders its going to be a bumpy road to get their. Teams are going to learn to slow the Oilers down, but their coaches are smart enough to re-scheme an adjust to be successful. JP : The Oilers will have a much tougher schedule this year and I do think they will be competitive, but if they don't make it I wont consider the 2017 a flash in the pan. Like I said with the Raiders the AFC is too tough going forward to be taken lightly. I believe the Oilers are here to stay as a team that competes for the AFC South or a possible WC but I wouldn't consider it a bad year or a let down if they don't make it. The league is soo close in talent that any number of variables can have you watching the playoffs from home. BT : I'm actually predicting the Oilers win the AFCS. They had a tough game week 1 on the road at the NFC Champion Eagles. I think the coach has a good read on how to get the most out of Bortles. NB : The streak... is over. Houston started this year with a crushing defeat at the hands of last season's NFC Champs after finishing the regular season on a 10 game winning streak last year. The Jaguars, excuse me, Oilers have a brutal schedule, and even Gravity said himself that he is not confident about his team's chances this year. With the way the schedule stacks up for them, .500 might be the best bet for the newly relocated franchise. 3. In 2017 the San Francisco 49ers completed a feat so rare that my researchers still don't know if it's been done before. Undefeated in the division, but failed to take the division crown. It's unlikely they sweep the division again. That said, can they still be a playoff team? TD : One thing that got lost in the greatness of the Niners season was the fact that they went 4-6 against opponents our of their division. I don’t see them going undefeated in the NFCW again, but I certainly don’t see them having such a poor record out of division. The NFC West drew I tough AFC scheduling partner in their fellow Westerners, but did get the NFC North for their inter-conference foes. Not to throw shade at the North, but they were one of the divisions we featured last year at the halfway point for its ineptitude. All in all I’ve got the Niners around the 9 win mark which would have them at least knocking on the postseason door. EB : The 49ers and Cards are set up to be battling back and forth for the rest of the cycle. The Diablos are going to be back strong this year I think and I look for it to be a 3 horse race most of the way. Despite going 0-16 last year I do think the Seahawks have reason to be optimistic. RL : Please--don’t remind me. The 49ers may have been the luckiest team in the league last season. Recall week 2, when Tampa Bay missed a chip shot game winning FG that ultimately would have left SF outside of the playoffs had they just made it. All the chips fell right for them last season as they squeaked out narrow wins against Arizona (twice) and had crazy comebacks against both Seattle and Mexico City. This is the team I cover and your guess for their season results are as good as mine. JA : The 49ers organization have built a very dangerous squad. The offense boasts 4 capable WRs (2 vets and 2 young guns), a great oline to protect Hundley, and a feature back that can shoulder the load. On defense they have a great mix of fast young guys and smart vets. Id say they can definitely compete for a playoff spot again. The only problem is the NFC West looks to be the most competitive It has been all cycle. Which team comes out on top this season is any ones guess. This division is going to be a dog fight and will likely come down to the last two weeks of the season. JP : Here is an interesting fact, in three seasons 13 of the 16 NFC teams have been in the playoffs. Two that haven't made it (Redskins and Packers) were both eliminated in week 17 a season ago. The 49ers had a great run in 2017 but I almost think they peaked too early in the tough NFC. They won a lot of close games en route to a first rd exit, which in the end cost them valuable spots in the draft. This team is close, the owner is very competitive but I just think they will be on the outside this year as the league is just too tough. BT : Another scenario where I have them winning the division. That is all going to be predicated on their success running the ball and containing the Cardinals Air Raid. NB : The streak... is about to be over. Seattle plays San Francisco next week, and the Seattle defense looks a lot better than they did last year. Remember, Seattle came very close to beating San Francisco last season, and they are the type of team that is built to stop what San Francisco does best. If the Seattle offense plays as well as they did against the Giants, the Seahawks will go to 2-0. But this question isn't about Seattle. If the 49ers lose, they go to 0-2. That's a tough hole to climb out of in a very difficult NFC. The division is poised to be a bloodbath as well, so winning these games is integral to the success of San Francisco. 4. Speaking of rare feats, the Seattle Seahawks went 0-16 on 2017. What's their best and worst case scenarios for this season? Is 0-16 AGAIN an actual scenario here? TD : Best case scenario? Russell Wilson has an MVP season and the team goes 12-4. I can realistically see that happening with the talent on the team. Worst case scenario? The aging defense loses too much of its edge and turns into the weak link of the club. Even if that happens, this team is a 4 win team in the worst case scenario. EB : Picking up where I left of on that last thought, I think the Seahawks will be much improved this season and could even make some noise as their division rivals all look to be poised for good years. I think eventually they could be a playoff team but that is going to have to wait for a season or two. My prediction is 7-9 for the talented team. RL : I can’t see that happening. The Seahawks are too talented and their coach too proud to continue to let the L’s pile up. With that being said, don’t expect to see this team playing in January. The Seahawks should consider this season a success if they can finish 8-8 and play spoiler to a couple division opponents. JA : The Good news for the Seahawks is that they can only get better. The better news for the Seahawks is the owners went out and made them better this offseason. I still believe they are one season away from truly reaching their potential, but this season teams will get to see the birds on the rise. The Seahawks will start strong, but dwindle off towards the end of the season. A 7-9 season I feel will be a win for them and I look for them to win 3 divisional games. JP : 0-16 is out of the question already as I'm responding Seattle is wrapping up a victory over the G-men. As impressive as that might sound I still think Seattle has a lot to prove. They reached on the #1 overall pick and while their #6 was good I still don't see where they made that significant improvement to go from 0-16 to a playoff team. I think anywhere in the 6-10 win range will be best case scenario for the Hawks and I don't really see them picking in the top 5 again. So worst case scenario is around that 4-6 win mark. BT : The Seapigeons are going to be better. They got a lot of good guys this offseason. However, they'll still be watching the playoffs via Twitch live stream. NB : The streak... IS OVER! Seattle won their season opener against the Giants 28-12, to start the year 1-0 and end their 17 game regular season losing streak. So, theoretically speaking, 19-0 is not yet out of the picture, but 0-16 is. Realistically, though, this team is poised to make a run. Much to Prudent's delight, Kearse will likely see a diminished number of targets (93 catches last year) with the top pick in the draft seeing the field all game. With two targets, one of which is a true deep threat, teams will have to respect Russell Wilson. This will free up the rushing game as well, giving Lynch one more year to beast on everyone. 5. Let's start looking at preseason award favorites. Who had the best free agency and draft to put themselves in the early running for Executive of the Year? TD : Gotta go with new Panthers owner Cole Copeland. Had a heck of a draft bringing in immediate difference makers and took a couple flyers on some guys who should develop into studs given the right amount of time and prep work spent on them. I also would put the new Buccaneers owner on your radar as well. I loved almost all the picks his war room made in the draft. If these all hit, not only could we be looking at a new playoff team this year, but a playoff mainstay. EB : I really like what the new Bucs owner did in the draft. Getting two CB’s that can come in right away to contribute is fucking huge. Not to mention the fact that both came in with SS development. We are going to be seeing those two for a very long time among the elite. RL : Let me present a team that no one is talking about, the Tampa Bay Bucs. They really went all out to improve that team this offseason, throwing a brinks truck at DE DeMarcus Lawrence and HB Tre Mason. They followed that up by drafting two of the best CB’s in the draft. They also have an owner who is very tough to beat when he shows up. If Tampa Bay is active this season, they will be a playoff team. You heard it here first. JA : I really like what the Panthers have done with their roster. They went out and grabbed depth at positions that had a few holes. On top of that that drafted an instant starter in ROLB Farris and also drafter for the future in TE Jared Price. The panthers fixed the now and prepared for the when. JP : Broncos and Eagles both made good trades for superstar players that could keep the Eagles up top and propel the Broncos into the playoffs. That said I really like what the Chargers did. They were really on top of trading in the draft and while they missed out on a lot of players for this season, if the Cardinals and Seahawks miss the playoffs the Chargers could be dancing their way to the draft. When you look at moves this off season to make an impact right now, I'm going Buffalo. They traded for a Superstar in AJ Green and if that move propels them in the East I think that is a no brainer. BT : My vote would probably go the Seavultures Owner/CEO. Bringing Lynch back at a reduced rate. Getting 2 great players in the 1st rd @ WR & CB. It looks like those birds may be able to fly again. NB : Can I make a homer pick here? Seattle knew what they needed to do, and they did it. They filled their gaping needs at WR, CB, and HB in the draft. The Hawks didn't overspend on Benwikere, and positioned themselves nicely for the offseason when a lot of money is poised to come off the books. 6. Speaking of draft, who is your early favorite for rookie of the year on each side of the ball? TD : So, after gushing about two different owners, I’m actually going to Detroit for my OROY prediction. Reid Weaver is a bit of a throwback in that he’s almost a statue in the pocket, but the first round pick has no fear. He will stay a blitzer in the face and toss a dime 20 yards downfield. On defense I’m going to Carolina (had to figure I’d go here or TB with one these, right?). OLB Lamar Farris is a tackling machine with speed to burn. His man coverage technique could use a bit of work, but if he’s given room to operate he is a wrecking ball. EB : OROY- Dexter Blake. He is coming in to a pretty good situation at WR. He has Adonis to throw to, nuff said. DROY – T. Mims. The guy is a stud and by seasons end he should be rated among the best coverage corners in the league. RL : Offense: HB Cedric Gordon-Texans; The Texans need to give rookie QB Ethan Jordan some time to get acclimated to the game so expect them to rely heavily on their other rookie, Gordon, until the time comes to unleash the young gunslinger. Defense: MLB Lakeem Thomas-Steelers; Shazier dominated the middle in the Steelers defense last year so QB’s will be looking for him constantly this season. That will allow the playmaking Thomas to roam and make the plays Shazier was making last season. JA : DROY I like Lakeem Thomas for the Steelers. He is a very smart and athletic MLB. My only concern with him is his lack of raw strength. If he uses his athletic superiority to avoid getting blocked he can be a monster in that defense. OROY I’m going Diablo's 2nd round pick Rasheem Scott. This kid comes in with tons of confidence and has a knack for running crisp routes. JP : On offense I'm biased. Last year my Cards set the world on fire with J.T. Patton. This year they got a dangerous WR in Jimmy Ives who can literally turn anything into 6. He needs some polish but this kid has more potential than Patton Defense I love the Lamar Farris pick from Carolina. To get a guy that good in the middle of the first rd and it be one of your team needs is amazing. He is already. drawing Kuechly comparisons. BT : OROY - QB Dexter Blake, CIN...he's going to have to throw a lot to keep pace. DROY - CB Mikhail Prewitt SEA...he's going to get a lot of targets as people try and avoid Sherman. NB : On offense, I really like the Cincinnati's QB. Drafted second overall behind Galvin, Blake will be asked to do a lot immediately for the Bengals. I think that the coaching staff has the skill to get him going right away in week one, and I expect to see big numbers by the end of the year. On defense, Mims looks to be a monster in Tampa Bay. He will start immediately, and may have an impact similar to Peppers last year in Minnesota. If he can do that, the Bucs will not be taken lightly by any team in the NFC South. 7. Finally, in prediction sure to go wrong style, what two clubs are we seeing in February fighting for the Lombardi Trophy? TD : I’m calling for a matchup of two of the sweeter uni combos in football. Cardinals vs. Titans. If this in fact the matchup I’d like to submit a formal request to each owner for this specific uni choice. All black for the Cards, all baby blue. Seeing as the question only asked who is playing, I’m stopping there. I don’t want any “FOWL” behavior from any owners EB : I think we are going to be seeing a rematch from last year between the Eagles and the Steelers. Eagles take a close one 28-25. RL : TMFL has seen 3 different super bowl champions in 3 years. I expect this trend to continue as the Cowboys come out of the NFC to meet the Patriots of the AFC. JA : Steelers vs. Cowboys JP : Cardinals believe this is their year so I'm calling their shot for them. In the AFC man it's soo close but I'm going with.... Pittsburgh again. Madden will deliver on their 2016 prologue, but the funny thing is, Peterson is long gone in the desert BT : As stated on the Hurricane Hitlist column I write. I'm taking the Patriots over the Falcons is Super Bowl LIII. It's us, I mean them, against the world. If we...I mean they...don't believe in ourselves, who will? NB : We have had 3 different champions in the past three seasons. But, the same teams seem to always find themselves in contention for that spot. I think we finally get a repeat winner this year. The Eagles will defeat the Titans in the Super Bowl. Philly fans will still boo them though.