The 2016 NFL Season is around the corner, so it’s time for another round of predictions. Last season, I correctly predicted the Super Bowl Champion, the Denver Broncos, and the year before I correctly predicted that the New England Patriots would make the Super Bowl, so hopefully I can continue the trend and improve upon the past two seasons. Who knows, maybe I’ll predict both the Super Bowl Champion and the runner-up correctly this season?
|AFC East||AFC North||AFC South||AFC West|
|Patriots||12 – 4||Ravens||11 – 5||Texans||10 – 6||Chiefs||10 – 6|
|Jets||9 – 7||Steelers||10 – 6||Colts||9 – 7||Raiders||8 – 8|
|Bills||7 – 9
||Bengals||8 – 8||Jaguars||8 – 8||Broncos||8 – 8|
|Dolphins||5 – 11||Browns||3 – 13||Titans||5 – 11||Chargers||7 – 9
Wild Cards: Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets
AFC East: Even with Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of the season, the New England Patriots should have no trouble winning the AFC East. But with Ryan Fitzpatrick back under center, the Jets should provide some stiff competition for Brady and the Pats, enough to earn a wild card berth. As for Rex Ryan’s Bills, with a year of experience under center, Tyrod Taylor as the Bills offense should excel, but without Shaq Lawson or Reggie Ragland and a depleted linebacking corps, the Bills will once again falter because of their defense. And in essentially a contract year, Ryan Tannehill will prove yet again, that he cannot lead the Dolphins to the playoffs, prompting Adam Gase to look to the 2017 draft for a QB.
AFC North: People forget how many injuries the Ravens suffered last season, and with everyone back healthy and first round pick Ronnie Stanley protecting Joe Flacco, the Ravens will once again sit atop the AFC North. The Steelers might have the best offense in the NFL, but a subpar secondary will lead to a wild card berth, rather than the division crown. And with the Steelers and Ravens taking steps forward, the Bengals will take a step back without Hue Jackson and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Jackson, though, won’t have much success with the Browns in year one, as while the RGIII and the offensive will be better than expected, the defense will be much, much worse.
AFC South: Andrew Luck can only do so much for the Colts, who’ll miss the playoffs for the second straight season as Brock Oswieler leads the Texans to their second-straight division crown. A high-flying offense along with a top-notch defense puts the Texans in the playoffs for the second-straight year while the Colts just need a little more talent on defense and along their offensive line, especially with Jack Mewhort out for the season. The Jaguars, though, are not that far off as well, as with a little better protection for Blake Bortles, Jacksonville might be competing for the AFC South crown in the next year or two. And while they have found their quarterback in Marcus Mariota, the Titans are still 2-3 years away from competing in the South with numerous holes on defense.
AFC West: Without Peyton Manning and with key losses defensively, the Broncos are bound to take a step back or two, leaving the door wide open for the Kansas City Chiefs to take the AFC West division crown. The Chiefs’ defense will once again be top-notch and Alex Smith will do just enough to beat out Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders who look like a competitor in the AFC West for years to come. Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch should keep the Broncos afloat, but will most likely miss the playoffs, hovering around .500. And even with Joey Bosa, the Chargers defense still has a few holes, and Philip Rivers can only do so much, leading to a 7-9 season in San Diego.
|NFC East||NFC North||NFC South||NFC West|
|Giants||10 – 6||Packers||12 – 4
||Panthers||11 – 5||Cardinals||11 – 5|
|Redskins||9 – 7||Vikings||9 – 7
||Buccaneers||8 – 8||Seahawks||10 – 6|
|Cowboys||8 – 8||Bears||6 – 10||Falcons||7 – 9||Rams||8 – 8
|Eagles||5 – 11||Lions||5 – 11||Saints||5 – 11||49ers||3 – 13|
Wild Cards: Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings
NFC East: While Dak Prescott looks like a decent fill in for Tony Romo, the Giants, with a revamped defensive line, will take advantage of Romo’s absence to win the NFC East Crown. Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard will command a high-flying offense with a defense just good enough to squeak by Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins and into the playoffs. Cousins, with his plethora of targets, will have the Redskins offense flying high as well, but a couple of slip ups will knock Washington out of the playoffs. Prescott will keep the Cowboys afloat till Romo returns, but their defense will be the difference in the race for the NFC East title. And with Carson Wentz at the helm, it’ll be a rebuilding year for the Eagles, who need a couple more pieces, having acquired a first round pick for Sam Bradford when the host the draft in 2017.
NFC North: What was once a two-way race has been shaken up by Teddy Bridgewater’s injury. With Sam Bradford instead of Bridgewater at the helm, the Vikings should stay afloat and earn a wild card berth, but won’t be nearly good enough to compete for the division title. The Packers, on the other hand, should cruise to another division title with Jordy Nelson back in the fold and an improved defense, especially up front. With John Fox in his second year, the Bears are on the up-and-up, but still need a few more pieces to stop Rodgers from shredding their defense. And without Calvin Johnson, the Lions’ offense takes a step back, as questions continue to loom whether Matthew Stafford is the right quarterback for the job in Detroit.
NFC South: With Cam Newton and a vaunted defense, the Carolina Panthers will once again be the class of the NFC South, even if their defense takes a step back or two without Josh Norman. Jameis Winston has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the rise, but a few more pieces are still needed on defense to make Tampa Bay a contender. In a new stadium in Atlanta, Matt Ryan and the Falcons will score points, but weaknesses on their offensive line and on defense will push them out of contention this year. Similarly, Drew Brees and co. will score in the Superdome, but there’s a whole lot still needed defensively in New Orleans to make the Saints a contender.
NFC West: In what should end up being the most talented and competitive division in the NFL, Bruce Arians continues to push all the right buttons with his Arizona Cardinals team, leading them to another NFC West Division crown. Carson Palmer’s in for another great season, while with Chandler Jones added on the defensive line and Tyrann Mathieu back from injury, the Cardinals defense should as good as last season. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will give Arizona a run for their money, but it’ll be another wild card berth for Seattle with their offensive line still a work-in-progress. The Rams, now in Los Angeles, will be led by the top-flight defense and defensive line, but struggles at the quarterback position will keep them out of the postseason. And there’s only so much Chip Kelly can do for a team that lacks so much talent, as the San Francisco 49ers have taken quite the tumble since their Super Bowl XLVII appearance.
- AFC: Patriots, Ravens, Chiefs, Texans, Steelers, Jets
- NFC: Packers, Cardinals, Panthers, Giants, Seahawks, Vikings
Wild Card Round:
- AFC: Chiefs over Jets and Steelers over Texans
- NFC: Panthers over Vikings and Seahawks over Giants
- AFC: Patriots over Steelers and Ravens over Chiefs
- NFC: Seahawks over Packers and Cardinals over Panthers
- AFC: Patriots over Ravens
- NFC: Cardinals over Seahawks
Super Bowl L
- Cardinals over Patriots
- Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals
- Offensive MVP: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Defensive MVP: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
- Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
- Defensive Rookie of the Year: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals
- Comeback Player of the Year: Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers