NFL Conference Outlooks And Season Predictions
After a long offseason, the NFL will finally be back Thursday Night as the season opens with the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Atlanta Falcons. It’s a perfect time to preview the divisions and make some predictions!
NFC East Divisional Champion Predictions
The NFC East was won by the Eagles last season, and the Eagles should have a pretty good chance of winning the division again. Nick Foles is still going to be the starter as he filled in for Carson Wentz, who suffered a leg injury at the end of last season. Foles started week 16 and 17 and throughout the playoffs run that brought the Eagles their first Super Bowl Trophy.
The Giants were without Odell Beckham Jr and without him, the Giants suffered. OBJ is back and the Giants have a new stud running back in Saquon Barkley and will be much better this season. I believe they will be back in the playoff hunt.
The Redskins have a new quarterback with Alex Smith. Smith has always been a solid quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes. Those late game interceptions that Kirk Cousins threw will not be the case with Smith. Washington is without a star running back as Derrius Guice went down with an ACL Injury. They are relying on a faded superstar Adrian Peterson, who is 33 years old. The Redskins are usually at best a mediocre football team and probably will be once again this season.
The Cowboys last year were derailed by the six-game suspension that Ezekiel Elliot had to serve for a domestic violence situation. Dak Prescott without having the running game to open the passing game for him, he struggled throwing the ball. Cowboys will be happy to have Elliot back and can get the play action going, which Prescott is great at. The Cowboys should be in the mix for a playoffs spot.
NFC North Divisional Champion Predictions
The Chicago Bears are a team that many feel will be much improved this season from the five-win season a year ago. Mitchell Trubisky will be in his second season at the quarterback position and the Bears are hoping for a big jump from year one to year two, much like the Rams saw from Jared Goff.
They added Allen Robinson to be the team’s number one receiver, Allen missed last season with an ACL injury. Robinson was a leading receiver for the Jaguars in 2016. They have two solid running backs and added Khalil Mack to their defense. They are heading in the right direction but still not a playoffs team.
The Lions finished last season at 7-9. This a decent football team but not among the elite, I do believe that they will finish under .500 once again this year. By this point, you kind of already knows what you are going to get from some of their key players like Matthew Stafford. With other teams improving inside of their division it will be tough for the Lions to compete.
The Packers finished last year at 7-9 and missed the playoffs. The under .500 season was due to Aaron Rodgers missing several weeks with a broken collarbone.
This team lacks depth, but with a healthy Rodgers, they can always compete with anyone. It will be interesting to see how Jimmy Graham does with Rodgers. Graham’s numbers were among the top at the tight end position when he had Drew Brees throwing the ball to him. Will his numbers rise once again with the best quarterback throwing him the ball? We shall see. Overall the Packers should be in the mix for a playoffs spot.
The Vikings were 13-3 a year ago and lost 38-7 in the NFC Championship game. They added Kirk Cousins in the offseason hoping he can be the missing piece to bring them a title. They are certainly throwing a lot of money at him hoping so.
Cousins has a loaded team around him with great receivers and Dalvin Cook a promising young running back, whose rookie year was cut short due to an ACL injury. The Vikings defense is really good this team has a chance to get to the super bowl this year.
NFC South Divison Champion Predictions
Not much to say about this Buccaneers team, they won’t be any good. They will be without their starting quarterback in Jameis Winston for the first three games due to a suspension.
That means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starter and he isn’t bad for a short-term option, but he has to face the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers so it’s looking like they will start the season at 0-3. They just don’t have the talent and will be a team that will finish near the bottom of the NFL this season.
The Panthers won 11 games last season, but the last several years we have seen a weird trend with them. One year they are good and the next they are mediocre, so I know Panthers fans will hope that trend doesn’t continue.
Carolina once again has a solid football team, they are great defensively and offensively added weapons around Cam Newton. Norv Turner was brought in to run the offense and to help Newton become more of a consistent passer, let’s see if it will help.
The Saints won the south last year with an 11-5 record, and after a few down years, the Saints were back in the contention picture. A lot is said with Tom Brady playing the way he is at the age of 40, but Brees is 39 and still putting up premier numbers.
Last year the defense for the Saints were lights out, which was unexpected as the Saints defense has struggled the previous years. The NFC South has been a weird division that no team has dominated, it seems each year a new team wins the division, but the Saints should have a pretty good shot at winning it again this year.
The Falcons were 10-6 a year ago and coming into this season they are a team that many seem to like. And I do as well, they have a strong defense with several weapons on offense. If Matt Ryan can get back to his MVP form this team can easily make a run and get back to another super bowl.
NFC West Divisional Champion Predictions
The Cardinals finished last year at 8-8, but this year with other teams in the division getting better I expect this Cardinals team to struggle. Carson Palmer has retired, and Sam Bradford is now the starting quarterback. Bradford isn’t a bad option but the problem with him is his injury history. If he can’t stay healthy that means the team will have to turn to their rookie QB in Josh Rosen, who isn’t ready yet. I would say the Cardinals will be a 4-6 wins team this upcoming season.
The Seahawks since not running the ball with Marshawn Lynch and throwing the interception in the Super Bowl several years ago have steadily been on the decline. The Legion of Boom is no more as many of the key defensive players are with different teams. It is no longer a feared defense like it once was. Offensively they have Russell Wilson and boy is he good! But the offensive line is awful, and they have no running game. The Seahawks should miss out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
The 49ers were 6-10 last year and once they made the trade for Jimmy Garoppolo and made him the starter the team went 5-0. Jimmy G has sparked the Niners organization, but they are still not as talented as other teams and will find themselves out of the playoff picture.
The Rams were the most surprising team from last year as they won the NFC West and went 11-5. The previous several seasons, this was a team you wanted on your schedule because they were an easy win. NOT ANYMORE! This is a team you do not want to see on your schedule.
The Rams did a lot to add to their team this offseason adding Ndamukong Suh and Marcus Peters, who is an interception machine as a cornerback. This Rams team could find themselves playing for the super bowl this year.
AFC East Divisional Champion Predictions
The Bills somehow made the playoffs last year but don’t expect that this year from them. They have moved on from Tyrod Taylor and now will be starting Nathan Peterman at quarterback. The last time he started a game he threw five first-half interceptions. The Bills will be a 4 to 5 win team this year.
The Miami Dolphins will have their starting quarterback back as Ryan Tannehill has recovered from his ACL injury. But this team has traded away key players like Jarvis Landry. It’s not a team that scares you, and don’t expect this team to be in the playoff picture.
The New York Jets were projected by many to be 0-16 last year. They were favored in none of their games a year ago, but still managed to win five games and proved to be a tough opponent. They are starting a rookie quarterback this year with Sam Darnold, and his offensive line might be the worst in football so hopefully, he doesn’t get hurt. The Jets are at least a year away from playoff contention.
The Patriots as you all know still have Tom Brady so that means they will win 12-14 games this season and will be right in the super bowl discussion. They will easily win the AFC East no other team can challenge them for the division title.
AFC North Division Champion Predictions
The Bengals finished at 7-9 last year, and it’s basically the same core guys that we have seen for the last several seasons. In 2015 this team was 12-4 and Andy Dalton was playing at a high level. He got hurt right before the playoffs, the Bengals do what they always do in the playoffs and lost in the wildcard game and they haven’t been the same since. This year I see them around six to nine wins, I would be shocked if they make the playoffs.
The Browns I do believe are now the new lovable losers. That title belonged to the Chicago Cubs but since they won a title don’t you think its now the Browns? Who doesn’t get a kick out of their dysfunction with bad draft picks, and pitiful quarterback play? They were 0-16 last year and they should be much improved this year. When I say much improved I mean three to four wins.
The Ravens finished at 9-7 last year, they struggled to protect Joe Flacco last season and didn’t have an exciting receiver core. They added Michael Crabtree, who had some solid years with the Raiders, he should help improve their passing attack. The Ravens have a solid defense as always and they should be in the mix for a playoffs spot.
The Steelers finished last season with a 13-3 record and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Jaguars. They should be the division champs again, but just like last year I am concerned with their off the field distractions with guys like Le’veon Bell worried about their contract. This distraction really picked up right before the matchup against the Jaguars and I think it was reason they looked awful to start the game and went on to lose.
AFC South Divison Champion Predictions
The Colts are thrilled to have Andrew Luck back from his shoulder injury and they must find a way to protect him from getting hurt. They simply just can’t compete without him and TY Hilton’s numbers suffer big time. If Luck is healthy this division is wide open, they might just be able to compete.
The Titans made the playoffs last year at 9-7 and I believe that only happened because of Deshaun Watson got hurt and the Texans suffered. I think the Titans will win around six to seven games this season. Marcus Mariota is just a little too inconsistent for me to like them as a playoffs team.
The Texans missed the playoffs last year with a 4-12 record. When Watson got hurt this team playoffs chances disappeared. In the few games that Watson started, he showed a lot of promise that he is the quarterback that this Texans team needs. If Watson remains healthy I like this team chances of winning this division.
The Jaguars won the division with a 10-6 record last year and made it to the AFC Championship game and did have a significant lead on the Patriots. But the Patriots did what they always do and pulled ahead and got the win. The Jaguars have a stout defense and strong running game. Blake Bortles concerns me, which is why I think the Texans can pass them if Watson is healthy.
AFC West Divisional Champion
The Broncos finished dead last in the division last year at 5-11. They still have one of the better defenses in the league, but they haven’t found a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired. They now will turn to Case Keenum, who had a breakout year with Vikings last season. Will he repeat what he did? I don’t think so, but we will see.
The Raiders were 6-10 last year and really took a step down from the year before when many thought they were the only team in the AFC that could compete with the Patriots. Derek Carr regressed and the Raiders are hoping that their new coach or old coach, however, you want to look at it, that Jon Gruden can get the most out of him. They traded away Khalil Mack, so their defense that already struggles will struggle even more.
The Chiefs won the division last year with a 10-6 record. They started off on fire last season and then struggled the back end of the year. They eventually lost in the wildcard game to the Titans. This year they moved on from quarterback Alex Smith and will be starting Patrick Mahomes, who they traded up in the draft for in 2017. He has looked good in the preseason, but what concerns me with this team is their defense. They traded away Marcus Peters, their defense will give up a lot of points.
The Chargers are a team that many are high on because of the way the finished out the year. They lost several heartbreaking losses early in the season that cost them a playoff spot. They have a balanced offensive attack and a strong defense. I think this Chargers team will win the division and make a deep run in the playoffs.
AFC and NFC Wildcard predictions
Mitch- Jaguars, Ravens, Saints, Giants
Tyler- Jaguars, Bengals, Falcons, Seattle
KB- Jaguars, Chiefs, 49ers, Packers
Clary- Houston, Chargers, Saints, Vikings
Hauser- Texans, Chiefs, Packers, Falcons
Alex- Jaguars, Chargers, Vikings, Falcons
Super Bowl Predictions And Winner
Mitch- Patriots vs Vikings- Patriots win
Tyler- Steelers vs Rams- Steelers win
KB- Eagles vs Chiefs-Eagles win
Clary- Jaguars vs Packers- Packers win
Hauser- Patriots vs Saints- Saints win
Alex- Texans vs Rams- Rams win
Mitch- Aaron Rodgers
Tyler- Todd Gurley
KB- Fletcher Cox
Clary- Aaron Rodgers
Hauser- Drew Brees
Alex- Todd Gurley
Rookie Of The Year Predictions
Mitch- Sam Darnold
Tyler- Calvin Ridley
Hauser- Saquon Barkley
Alex- Saquon Barkley