27 August 2016

2016 NFL Predictions

(USATSI)
Back to football, am I right? We are now inside of two weeks to the kickoff of the 2016 NFL season as the Broncos, behind one of the finest defenses in recent memory, attempt to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 13 years? But considering their issues at the quarterback position, they look more vulnerable than your usual defending champion.

Only one team will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this February in Houston, who will it be? It is time for my 2016 NFL predictions.

*Wild Card
East

New York Giants (2000 - Pres)Washington Redskins (1965 - 1969)Dallas Cowboys (1964 - Pres)Philadelphia Eagles (1996 - Pres)
I was all set with this division and then Tony Romo had to go and break a bone in his back. With how I have the schedule re-calibrating, the Giants come out on top.  With offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo getting promoted to the big gig, the Giants' offense should light up plenty of scoreboards this fall as long as Eli Manning takes care of the football. The defense is something to watch and while I don't thnk the expensive additions of end Olivier Vernon, nose tackle Damon Harrison and corner Janoris Jenkins will turn this into a great defense, they could be just enough. Washington was able to break out of a dreadful division thanks to a strong finish from Kirk Cousins but even with a supporting cast that did get better through the draft, can Cousins do it again? Josh Norman will definitely help upgrade the secondary but the pass rush has to get cranked up more to truly make a significant difference this season. Regarding the Cowboys, I doubt we will see Dak Prescott play nearly as well in the regular season as he has in the preseason but with a great offensive line, rookie Ezekiel Elliott and, as always, Dez Bryant, he may have a shot. That defense, however, is still very much a mess. The Eagles are not contenders this year as their goal is to build for the future around second-overall selection Carson Wentz.

New York Giants (9-7)
2 Washington* (9-7)
3 Dallas Cowboys (7-9)
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)

North
Green Bay Packers (1968 - 1979)Minnesota Vikings (2013 - Pres)Chicago Bears (1962 - 1973)Detroit Lions (1970 - 2002)
Ah yes, the "Black and Blue Division." This was looking like a two-team race for the division but now with the injury to Teddy Bridgewater, it will be a stunner if Green Bay was not the division champ. For the Packers, getting a healthy Jordy Nelson is critical for the offense because without him, they looked rather lost for a team that features Aaron Rodgers under center. Considering that Nelson just got cleared to play, who fully knows but if he is healthy, a Super Bowl run is within the realm of possibility. Even with all the talk about the offense, the Green Bay defense looks to be pretty good thanks in part to a pretty good secondary. The Vikings feature an old-school combination of a great running game (thanks to Adrian Peterson) and a great defense (thanks to coach Mike Zimmer and guys like end Everson Griffin, linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Barr) but losing Teddy Bridgewater was huge. They did overpay to trade for Sam Bradford but he is much better than the other options, but can he stay healthy? John Fox was able to bring the Bears somewhat back to life but there is still work to be done. Alshon Jeffrey and Kevin White, who was lost for the season a year ago, should be a fun wideout combo but Jay Cutler, who was good last year, can still be maddening and they lost Matt Forte. The defense still is not fully ready for the 3-4 defense but the linebackers should be much improved after drafting Leonard Floyd and signing Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. And for the Lions, you don't know what to expect from Matthew Stafford with Calvin Johnson now retired and since Jim Caldwell is still a bad coach. The schedule is not particularly friendly to them either but they do have some pieces to work with on both sides of the ball.

Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
Chicago Bears (7-9)
4 Detroit Lions (6-10)

South
Carolina Panthers (2012 - Pres)Atlanta Falcons (2003 - Pres)Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014 - Pres)New Orleans Saints (2000 - 2005)
One of the easiest divisional races to project the winner of has to be that of the NFC South considering how far the other three seem to be from the defending NFC champions. You could make a case that the Panthers made the right decision regarding Josh Norman but considering the drop-off to what comprises the cornerback decision now, their defense is certainly worse even as majority of the front seven returns. Cam Newton was a mess in the Super Bowl but the offensive line fell apart at only the worse time (and the tackles did not get any better this offseason) but he's still good to be deterred. We fall a little to a Falcons club that cratered down the stretch last season and I don't see how they got much better this offseason on the defensive end, leaving too much pressure on Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, the surprising Devonta Freeman and this offense. Jameis Winston is starting to look like the real deal for the Buccaneers but he is not all the way there yet but even as he has got a nice supporting cast offensively (although the line has to step up), I'm not sold if their defense got enough reinforcements to allow the team to truly take a step forward. The Saints were an absolute disaster last year on defense there are just too many problems still on that end to take any sort of pressure off of Drew Brees.

1 Carolina Panthers (11-5)
2 Atlanta Falcons (6-10)
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)
4 New Orleans Saints (6-10)

West
Phoenix Cardinals (1988 - 1993)Seattle Seahawks (2002 - 2011)Los Angeles Rams (2016 - Pres)San Francisco 49ers (1968 - 1995)
Arguably the sole division in the league to feature two Super Bowl contenders, the NFC West also features two of the weaker teams in the NFL. The Cardinals did make it to the NFC Championship Game a year ago but promptly got whipped by the Panthers as Carson Palmer was dreadful (just as we was against the Packers in the Divisional round). Around him sit perhaps the best roster in the NFL but Palmer has to stay healthy and to finally perform in the postseason. With the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks are firmly Russell Wilson's team and he has got a solid supporting cast around him but the offensive line is a real sore spot. But they still have one of the finest defenses in the league and they showed it last season with a strong finish. It's then a fall to the Rams who get the novelty of finally returning to Los Angeles, top overall pick in quarterback Jared Goff, star running back Todd Gurley and the top defensive line in football. However, the roster of the roster is a mess but at least they are not the 49ers. Now I do like new head coach Chip Kelly and

1 Arizona Cardinals (12-4)
2 Seattle Seahawks* (11-5)
3 Los Angeles Rams (5-11)
4 San Francisco 49ers (3-13)
East
New England Patriots (1993 - 1999)New York Jets (1963 - 1963)Buffalo Bills (1974 - Pres)Miami Dolphins (2013 - Pres)
Even as Jimmy Garoppolo will be starting the first four games of the season due to Tom Brady's suspension, the Patriots still are the divisional favorite. The supporting cast has improved as Martellus Bennett will team with Rob Gronkowski for a strong tight end combo while the usual suspects at receiver and in the backfield return. Meanwhile they should also feature a solid defense, even as their pass rush was weakened in the Chandler Jones trade. The Jets were able to bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick after months of brinkmanship but will he be as good as he was a year ago? If he is, they should be a playoff team with a strong defense and solid players at the playmaker positions in wideouts Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and the newly-acquired running back Matt Forte, but let's not forget that we are still talking about Ryan Fitzpatrick. Speaking of quarterbacks, Tyrod Taylor was a revelation last season for the Bills, but will he be able to do it again? He will have the benefit from a strong running game, Sammy Watkins, a good line and a quality defense but the team will have to get off to a strong start with their schedule. I like new Dolphins coach Adam Gase but unless he can work some magic with Ryan Tannehill, he won't get very far with this mess of a roster this season.

New England Patriots (12-4)
2 New York Jets (9-7)
3 Buffalo Bills (8-8)
4 Miami Dolphins (5-11)

North
Pittsburgh Steelers (1969 - 2001)Cincinnati Bengals (2004 - Pres)Baltimore Ravens (1999 - Pres)Cleveland Browns (2015 - Pres)
Is the AFC North the toughest division in the NFL? You could make a very good case for that considering the top three teams are all legitimate playoff contenders with the Steelers being seen by many as a true Super Bowl contender. After all, their offense is spectacular (even as Le'Veon Bell will be suspended for the first four games) and if the front seven of their defense can crank up a strong pass rush, the team's holes in the secondary can be masked. Plus, who doesn't love the Ben Roethlisberger-Antonio Brown combo? The Bengals have been teasing us for years now with a talented roster but lackluster results in the postseason. They have a strong defense and some solid playmakers on offense, including A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, but can Andy Dalton deliver when it matters most. The Ravens should be able to rebound from a miserable 2015 season simply if they get much better luck health-wise and while they are not getting younger, they are a solid veteran club tha has enough talent to get back to the playoffs. Meanwhile the Browns, even with a solid coach in Hue Jackson, an awful roster will see them being the worst team in the NFL this fall.

1 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
2 Cincinnati Bengals* (10-6)
3 Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
4 Cleveland Browns (2-14)

South
Houston Texans (2002 - Pres)Jacksonville Jaguars (2013 - Pres)Indianapolis Colts (2002 - Pres)Tennessee Titans (1999 - Pres)
The AFC South was a joke last season but it should be much stronger this season, most importantly because the Texans may actually have a quarterback. Now while we shouldn't proclaim Brock Osweiler as a franchise quarterback just yet but he certainly will be better than what they have had and he has got plenty to work with in wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who will be joined by rookie speedsters Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, and a solid, if relatively unproven, running back in Braxton Miller. That said, what will see from their defense given that J.J. Watt's health may be a question mark early this season. The Jaguars are on the rise especially if Blake Bortles can continue to improve, and his supporting cast has certainly improved, and the defense has the pieces after adding Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack in the draft as well as a healthy Dante Fowler. That said, can they finally put it all together for the sake of Gus Bradley's job? Even as they should get a healthy Andrew Luck back in the mix, I'm not that high on the Colts considering their offensive line is still a work in progress, I'm not certain what Frank Gore has left and they did virtually nothing to upgrade their defense. Mike Mularkey was a terrible hire by the Titans and while we love Marcus Mariota, the supporting cast still needs a lot of work and the schedule is a whale this season.

1 Houston Texans (10-6)
Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)
Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
4 Tennessee Titans (3-13)

West
Kansas City Chiefs (1972 - Pres)Oakland Raiders (1963 - 1963)San Diego Chargers (1961 - 1973)Denver Broncos (1993 - 1996)
The AFC West should be fun and while I think there is a solid top two here, the other two teams will be very much in the mix. I have gone back and forth between the top two teams here for the divisional crown but I like the Chiefs to come out on top. This was a team that won their final nine games and now they're getting Jamaal Charles back. Alex Smith may be limited but he has got weapons to work with and even after some key secondary loses, the stop unit is still a good one. The Raiders may be engulfed by relocation talk but they also have rising young quarterback Derek Carr and star wideout Amari Cooper. They also have made some serious upgrades to their defense in guys like corner Sean Smith, linebacker Bruce Irvin and tackle Dan Williams while Khalil Mack is only getting better. The Chargers still have got to deal with their contract mess with first-round pick Joey Bosa and I think they will ultimately finish in the cellar but if they get better injury luck this season, a return to form by Keenan Allen and Philip Rivers to keep up what he's been doing, they will right in the thick of the divisional race. Remember when the Broncos won the Super Bowl? Well this is a long way from that considering that their quarterback situation is still very much in flux and while the defense remains quite good, it is a unit not as good as the one that carried them a year ago to the Lombardi Trophy.

Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
Oakland Raiders (11-5)
San Diego Chargers (7-9)
Denver Broncos (7-9)
3 Panthers vs. 6 Washington
Carolina Panthers (2012 - Pres)Washington Redskins (1965 - 1969)
If anything, Washington slides into the playoffs because somebody has to in the wake of Teddy Bridgewater being lost for the season for Minnesota. Now, they're not a terrible club but I don't see the kind of horses in the stable to take out a superior club in that of the Panthers
Pick: Panthers

4 Giants vs. 5 Seahawks
New York Giants (2000 - Pres)Seattle Seahawks (2012 - Pres)
Even as this game will be contested in the great town of East Rutherford, there is no doubt in my mind which of these two teams is the superior one and that is the Seahawks.
Pick: Seahawks

3 Chiefs vs. 6 Bengals
Kansas City Chiefs (1972 - Pres)Cincinnati Bengals (2004 - Pres)
The Bengals have not won a playoff game in my lifetime as it has been a good 26 years (and I am younger than that). And while they most certainly are due, I just don't think they are the superior club and can take out the Chiefs, who broke a playoff streak of their own last year.
Pick: Chiefs

4 Texans vs. 5 Raiders
Houston Texans (2006 - Pres)Oakland Raiders (1995 - Pres)
I do like the Raiders a lot this year and I think they have the talent to make a playoff run. That said, I think they are quite ready to put it all together and while the Texans have some fresh pieces, I think they'll crank out the home win.
Pick: Texans
1 Packers vs. 5 Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks (1976 - 2001)
For two teams that have shared a conference for less than 15 years, the Packers and the Seahawks have had some memorable showdowns and this could be another one. Of late, it seems that the difference has been with homefield advantage and the Packers have a pretty good homefield advantage in the playoffs.
Pick: Packers

2 Cardinals vs. 3 Panthers
Carolina Panthers (1995 - 2011)
Now I don't this matchup having the exact same result that we saw in the NFC Championship a year ago but I do think the Panthers will come out on top. Maybe this isn't fair to Carson Palmer but I just have not seen the kind of performances from him in the playoffs that make me think his team will survive and advance.
Pick: Panthers

1 Steelers vs. 4 Texans
Pittsburgh Steelers (2002 - Pres)Houston Texans (2002 - Pres)
The Pittsburgh defense may cause some more concern against a more potent of an offense but unless all of the pieces come together, I'm not sold that the Texans will be able to truly take advantage. Give me the Steelers.
Pick: Steelers

2 Patriots vs. 3 Chiefs
New England Patriots (1971 - 1992)Kansas City Chiefs (1972 - Pres)
If Alex Smith can take care of the football and if the rushing attack can get cranked up, I can see an upset here. That said, it is just so tough to take out Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Pats in Foxborough in the postseason.
Pick: Patriots
1 Packers vs. 3 Panthers
Green Bay Packers (1959 - Pres)Carolina Panthers (1995 - 2011)
Just so everybody is aware, when this matchup went down 20 years ago in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field, the Packers came out on top. That said, Kerry Collins is no Cam Newton and Dom Capers is no Ron Rivera. This will be a fun one but I don't think the Carolina pass defense will be able to keep Aaron Rodgers at bay just enough.
Pick: Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers (2002 - Pres)New England Patriots (2013 - Pres)
Who wouldn't love a quarterback matchup of Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady in a battle to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LI? Considering neither team is strong enough defensively, we should get plenty of points. And with this contest coming to you from Heinz Field, I like the Steelers.
Pick: Steelers

Green Bay Packers (1968 - 1979)Pittsburgh Steelers (1962 - 1968)
You cannot hope to shut down Antonio Brown, even on a good day, and the Steelers have enough weapons to beat you in other ways. That said, the Packers have enough athletes both in the front seven and in the back-end to keep the pressure high on Ben Roethlisberger and maybe force him into some mistakes. On the other side, I just don't see the same kind of talent to push Aaron Rodgers into errors.
Packers 30 Steelers 28

11 comments:

  1. Ben these predictions are ALL wrong TEN, PHI, CLE, IND,and TB all too low

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    1. Add the Saints to that list. I highly doubt they'll go 6-10 or worse.

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    2. Okay, so tell me why then. Save for perhaps the Colts, none of those teams you mentioned are any good. Cleveland has perhaps the worst roster in the NFL, Tennessee doesn't have a lot of players (and a terrible coach), the Philadelphia roster is a mess and the Buccaneers have not gotten substantially better defensively.

      And then somebody mentions the Saints who went 7-9 last year and didn't get better this offseason, especially defensively.

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    3. The Lions too they won't go 5-11 at all I know a lot of people don't feel the offense will be the same without Megatron but they will be fine I said they would go 8-8 while the Bears would go 5-11

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    4. Based off of what? The offense is going to lose Johnson and get better?

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  2. You & a few other people seem to think we get a Super Bowl rematch from the last time it was in Texas ...... that sure would be something if that happens

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  3. Well it's not to late to change up your pick on the Vikings because of Teddy but I really thought this could have been the best chance to see get the NFC North but not anymore this year

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  4. Imma laugh if Denver goes back to back

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  5. yo flo you have the panthers winning nfc divisional gams I know who you meant to say lmao

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    Replies
    1. both nfc divisional games that is lmfao but mistakes happen when you rush I should know because I just did myself

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    2. It's going to be a LOOOONNNNGG season for my Washington Kins. First 8 weeks is brutal, one or two wins in 1st half at best. I see RG3 coming back to haunt his old team and pulling an upset. The Kins will be in Dick Stockton territory in the 2nd half of the season.

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