NFL Conference Championship Predictions

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Photo by Kevin Cox/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday January 22 at 12:05pm PST

Logically, the Falcons should win. They’re the better team overall on offense and defense than the Packers. The problem is, they’re the Falcons. Despite the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Cubs have broken curses this year, I wouldn’t put my money on the Falcons overcoming a curse AND beating Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons have the talent to win, but I just can’t bring myself to pick them.

Prediction: Packers win

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Photo by Stew Milne/USA Today

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

Sunday January 22 at 3:40pm PST

Neither the Patriots nor the Steelers looked great last year. The Patriots had trouble against the terrible Texans, but the Steelers couldn’t even score a touchdown. On the other hand, this week both teams will facing worse defenses, but much better offenses. My guess is it will be a close one, but I’m more confident in the Patriots. Ben Roethlisberger can be inconsistent and a decent portion of the Steelers’ roster might have the flu. The Steelers certainly have a chance to win, but the Patriots seem like the more likely AFC Champion.

Prediction: Patriots win

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NFL Divisional Round Predictions

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Photo by Otto Gruel Jr. of Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

Saturday January 14 at 1:35pm PST

I want to believe in the Falcons, and I don’t want to believe that the Seahawks are back. But, I just can’t bring myself to feel confident in the Falcons, and the Seahawks have been there. On the other hand, the Seahawks haven’t been great on the road this year. Yet, one of their three road wins was against the Patriots, so maybe they’ll get up for a big game. The Seahawks beat the Falcons in Seattle in Week 6 26-24, but the game ended in a controversial Pass Interference no-call. Considering the Falcons offense will be going up against the Seahawks defense on the road without Earl Thomas, I think the Falcons have a good chance to win. But still think they can find a way to blow it. I’ll say Falcons win this, but don’t feel super confident.

Prediction: Falcons win

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Photo by Brett Coomer

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots

Saturday January 14 at 5:15pm PST

In Week 3, The Patriots beat the Texans 27-0 with Jacoby Brissett. This time they’ll have Tom Brady (although I’d be surprised if he played the entire game).

Prediction: Patriots win

 

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Photo by Danny Medley of USA Today

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday January 15 at 10:05am PST

This game isn’t the only one that could go either way. But, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if this is actually a blowout either way. The Chiefs have been the more consistent team, by far, but lost to the Steelers 43-14 in Pittsburgh in Week 4. The Chiefs have the better defense, but the Steelers’ offensive ceiling is so much higher than the Chiefs, it’s likely the Chiefs just won’t be able to score nearly enough to keep up, assuming Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and effective. The Chiefs definitely have a chance, but I think the Steelers are more likely to get the win.

Prediction: Steelers win

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Photo by Andrew Weber of USA Today

Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys

Sunday January 15 at 1:40pm PST

The Cowboys definitely had the better regular season, and beat the Packers 30-16 in Week 6 in Green Bay. That said, I fear the Cowboys should’ve gone back to Tony Romo as soon as he came back from injury. Dak Prescott has had an incredible rookie season and will likely be the quarterback of the future for the Cowboys, but this could be a tough game for the Cowboys to have to lean on two rookies in Dak and Ezekiel Elliot to carry their offense. Maybe the rookies will rise to the occasion (and maybe Dez will have a great game), especially since the Packers’ defense isn’t great. But, I’ll lean towards Aaron Rodgers finding a way to win this game for the Packers against a rookie QB.

Prediction: Packers win

NFL Wild Card Round Predictions

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Photo by Brett Coomer

Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans

Saturday January 7 at 1:20pm PST

Everyone knows this is going to be an ugly game. The starting quarterbacks are Brock Osweiler (Texans) and Connor Cook (Raiders). This is NOT the way the Raiders season was supposed to go. The Texans are likely favored just because neither team will be able to do much offensively and the Texans will have home field advantage. My totally biased opinion has my feeling Connor Cook might be just competent (and confident) to get this done.

Prediction: Raiders win

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Photo by Troy Wayrynen of USA Today

Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks

Saturday January 7 at 5:15pm PST

This game might not be much prettier than the Raiders/Texans game. The Lions had an ugly end to an otherwise great season and the Seahawks have had major issues on offense (and plenty of injuries on defense). The Lions certainly have a chance, but I think the Seahawks will get it done at home.

Prediction: Seahawks win

Pittsburgh Steelers v Miami Dolphins
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday January 8 at 10:05am PST

Both of these teams have been unpredictable this season. The Dolphins won the only matchup between these two teams (on their home field). However, Ryan Tannehill played that game (Matt Moore will be starting this Sunday). Also of note, the Steelers won their final 7 games of the season. I’m not confident the Steelers will win, but it seems like the safer bet.

Prediction: Steelers win

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Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers

Sunday January 8 at 1:40pm PST

By far, the most exciting game of the weekend. Both teams struggled early in the season, but finished strong. I think it’s likely that the winner of this game wins the NFC (and at least plays in the NFC Championship game). Both of these teams have playoff-tested quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers (Packers) and Eli Manning (Giants). Obviously, Rodgers feels like the more reliable quarterback, but Eli has a way of pulling a win out of his ass in a game like this. Also, both Giants Super Bowl runs included wins at Lambeau. Tough call, but after the Packers won 6 in a row, I’m going to bet on them to keep the streak alive.

Prediction: Packers win

Top 16 of 2016

In no particular order:

Podcast

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Pardon My Take

Movies

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Moonlight

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Fences

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Sausage Party

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30 for 30: This Magic Moment

Music

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Lies – Plague

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

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Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker

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Busted Outlook – Not Defined By Violence

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David Bowie – Blackstar

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photo by Brian Anderson (from KQED)

John Carpenter at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA – June 17, 2016

TV

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Westworld

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Insecure

Sports

Bartolo Colon’s home run

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Photo by Michael Reeves of Getty Images

Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev – November 19, 2016

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Photo by Michael Steele of Getty Images

Usain Bolt’s 2016 Olympics performance

2016 World Series Prediction

I can’t point to any legitimate solid reasoning to say the Cubs can’t beat the Indians except that they got shut down in games 2 and 3 of the NLCS. If the Cubs don’t score early, Andrew Miller can shut them down late in the game. Mostly, I’m just doubling down on my belief that the Cubs won’t win because they won over 100 games (and they’re the Cubs).

Indians in 7

NBA 2016-2017 Season Predictions

(most stats from Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted)

NBA 2016-2017 Regular Season Predictions

Full Standings:

standings

Western Conference

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1 – Golden State Warriors – 67-15

So much has been written about this Warriors team, so I’ll keep it brief. This team probably COULD win 73 (or more), but I feel like they will be resting a lot, especially down the stretch. I assume they’ll make sure they lock up the #1 seed, but I don’t anticipate them chasing 70+ to break their own record.

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2 – Los Angeles Clippers – 56-26

I couldn’t decide if this team was better than the Spurs, but age and continuity are on the Clippers‘ side. I think this team will be lights out when they keep Blake, CP3, DeAndre, and JJ on the court, and probably still pretty good if (when) Blake has to miss some time. But they will probably be a (distant) second in the West.

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3 – San Antonio Spurs – 53-29

The Spurs should round out the obvious top 3 in the West. I might’ve had them 2nd, but with Danny Green starting the season injured, and many of their most important players aging, I see them coasting to just over 50 wins because they will still be an excellent team with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

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4 – Memphis Grizzlies – 47-35

Health will need to be on the Grizzlies‘ side, which certainly isn’t a given. But, I think this team will be pretty good. Chandler Parsons can help bring this team some shooting in their starting lineup, and as much as it pains me to see Z-Bo on the bench, I think it might be for the best. I do think Dave Joerger is a great coach, but a change might be what this team needed and having a new leader in Dave Fizdale help give this team a boost.

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5 – Portland Trail Blazers – 45-37

The Blazers‘ defense concerns me, but Terry Stotts is such a great coach that I think he’ll find a way to keep this team from giving games away and leaning on their offense to get the job done. Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were great last year, and will probably improve even more this year. If this team can be halfway decent on defense, they’ll definitely be in the playoff mix.

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6 – Utah Jazz – 44-38

I’d have the Jazz a little higher if it weren’t for the Gordon Hayward injury. Adding great players and smart veterans Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw should take this team to the next level. They’ll be great defensively and when Hayward gets back, they should have a great offense. If they can stay around .500 by the time Hayward gets back, they may even be playing for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

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7 – Dallas Mavericks – 42-40

I thought the Mavericks might miss the playoffs last year, but I learned not to doubt the duo of Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki. Having Andrew Bogut at center makes this team even better than last year and I think Harrison Barnes might have a better year than people expect now that he won’t be a 4th option on offense. This team will at least be good enough to make the playoffs, and could possibly win in the high 40’s, but I don’t expect that just yet.

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8 – Oklahoma City Thunder – 41-41

Despite losing KD, the Thunder still might make the playoffs with the West being so top-heavy now. Steven Adams was great last year and will likely improve. Victor Oladipo might prove to be a much better scorer with Westbrook as his point guard and Billy Donovan as his coach. I’m expecting wins in the low 40’s and a playoff spot as long as the Rockets don’t figure out how to defend and the Pelicans have their usual health issues.

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9 – Houston Rockets – 40-42

The Rockets, much like the Blazers, should be a top team on offense, but I think the Rockets’ defense will be bad enough that they’ll only be able to win against bad teams. The team is pairing infamous non-defender, James Harden, with Mike D’Antoni, also infamous for de-valuing defense. This team will have no problem scoring, but unless they can stop other teams from getting easy buckets, they’ll have a tough time beating any good teams.

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10 – New Orleans Pelicans – 39-43

The Pelicans have so much talent, it just hurts to see them have so many injury troubles. I’m hopeful Anthony Davis can play most of the season healthy. If he can, they might be able to make the playoffs. The other major questions are whether or not Alvin Gentry can be an effective coach, especially on defense, when Jrue Holiday will be able to return, and if rookie, Buddy Hield can be as great an NBA player as he was in college. If things break right, they can make their return to the playoffs and Anthony Davis might even be an MVP candidate.

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11 – Minnesota Timberwolves – 37-45

I think the Timberwolves will be much better this year than they were last year, and I think they do have a chance to go to the playoffs. But, I think it’s more likely they make a great, not an unbelievable improvement in Thibs‘ first year as their coach.

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12 – Denver Nuggets – 34-48

The Nuggets won’t be great, but they should be decent. Jokic and Mudiay will hopefully improve and another season under Mike Malone might make this team more comfortable as a whole.

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13 – Sacramento Kings – 31-51

I would love to see the Kings improve, especially because I do think their new coach, Dave Joerger can help manage the personalities on this team. But, they have major problems at point guard with Darren Collison suspended 8 games for domestic abuse and Ty Lawson already having issues showing up. Unless they figure out what they’re doing at that position, they find some stability at that position, I do not anticipate them making the leap this year, which sucks, because Boogie deserves better.

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14 – Los Angeles Lakers – 29-53

The Lakers will be better under Luke Walton than they were under Byron Scott/Kobe, but they’ll need some time to figure out how to play with such a young team. Hopefully (for Lakers fans) Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell can take the reigns and get this team headed in the right direction.

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15 – Phoenix Suns – 26-56

The Suns are going to be very bad (probably by design). But, Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe will be fun to watch.

Eastern Conference

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1 – Cleveland Cavaliers – 56-26

The Cavs probably could win 60+ games, but I expect them to mostly coast through the regular season and make some effort to get the #1 seed. The only caveat here is if LBJ decides he does want to go all out and get another MVP. But, I think he knows he’d rather save himself for the playoffs again.

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2 – Boston Celtics – 55-27

The Celtics made a big leap last year and adding Horford should put them into the mid-50’s this season and probably right between the Cavs and Raptors. I’m not sure if Jaylen Brown will be able to contribute right away, but if he does, this team could make a run for the #1 seed if the Cavs let them.

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3 – Toronto Raptors – 52-30

The Raptors should be about the same last year, I think they win a few less games due to some of the other teams getting a little bit better and Jared Sullinger‘s injury. I would be surprised if they’re not a top 4 East team.

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4 – Indiana Pacers- 47-35

Part of me wants to say the Pacers will be worse without Frank Vogel, but having Nate McMillan will keep continuity. Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson could be great new contributors for this team and Myles Turner will probably improve. This team could end up a anywhere in the 40-50 win range, but upper 40’s seems likely.

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5 – Charlotte Hornets – 45-37

The Hornets might miss Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson, but I think Roy Hibbert might still have something left in the tank and hope he can contribute. I’m not so sure about Marco Belinelli, but I trust Steve Clifford to find a way to make him effective. This (along with a lot of other East teams) is another team that could be anywhere in the 40-50 win rage.

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6 – Atlanta Hawks – 44-38

I don’t think the Hawks be quite as good without Al Horford and Jeff Teague, but I really hope it works with Dwight at center and Dennis Schröder as their starting point guard. This team has a high ceiling, but I’m not totally confident they’ll reach that.

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7 – Washington Wizards – 43-39

I think the Wizards will make it back to the playoffs. Adding Ian Mahinmi feels like a step in the right direction. Hopefully Bradley Beal can stay on the court for most of the season. If not, they may end up back in the lottery.

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8 – Detroit Pistons – 41-41

The Reggie Jackson injury will hurt the Pistons. I don’t think it will knock them out of the playoffs, but it’s possible. Hopefully Drummond can keep up the great play he started off with last year and make it last throughout the season this time.

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9 – New York Knicks – 38-44

It is so hard to know how the Knicks will do. Not just with injuries, but general cohesiveness. While some of these teams are in 30-40 and 40-50 win ranges, this team is in a 25-50 win range.

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10 – Orlando Magic – 37-45

The Magic have a bizarre too-big lineup that might keep them ultra slow. But, it might also work best for Frank Vogel. Serge Ibaka had a weird last year with the Thunder, but he might thrive being a top 2 option on offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up in the playoff mix, but don’t expect them to.

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11 – Chicago Bulls – 35-47

The Bulls and Knicks are in similar positions, both have a weird mix of over-the-hill stars with injury history and some young talent. The Knicks at least have some guys who can shoot. The Bulls will have a really tough time with perimeter scoring and don’t have guys that will be durable enough to make it through the season if they have to attack the rim on every possession. This team has the talent to be around .500, but probably won’t be due to injuries.

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12 – Milwaukee Bucks – 33-49

I would love to see the Bucks back in the playoffs, but I think the Khris Middleton injury is going to put them too far behind. Giannis will be a whole lot of fun and I hope Jabari makes a big leap this year. But, I would be surprised if this team makes it to .500.

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13 – Miami Heat – 27-55

This is going to be a very weird Heat team. No Wade/no Bosh is one thing, having Hassan Whiteside as your franchise player is… dangerous, to say the least. Whiteside, Dragic, and Winslow might all be good. But, I would not be surprised if Riley punts on this season if things aren’t going well.

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14 – Philadelphia 76ers – 25-57

Even if Ben Simmons‘ injury keeps him out all season, the 6ers should still be fun (and a whole lot better than last year). Dario Saric and Joel Embiid will be fun to watch, I just hope Embiid can stay on the court for most of the season.

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15 – Brooklyn Nets – 21-61

I hope Nets fans will enjoy the wins when they come. This team won’t be as exciting as some younger teams, but at least their fans know they aren’t TRYING to lose.

MLB League Championship Series Predictions

MLB League Championship Series Predictions:

(all stats from baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted)

American League Championship Series Prediction

 

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Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Cleveland Indians vs. Toronto Blue Jays

I was way off about the Indians in the Division Series, thinking their injuries would make them beatable to the Boston Red Sox, but instead they swept the Red Sox. It’s possible that injuries catch up to the Indians this time, especially with a longer series. But, I think they showed they can win with the roster they have. I expect the Blue Jays to put up a fight, the teams were close in the regular season matchups, the Indians won 4 of the 7 games. I would not be surprised if either team won, but would be surprised if this was another sweep for either team. For the hell of it, I’ll predict this to go the same as the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

Prediction: Indians in 6.

 

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Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

I don’t know if Clayton Kershaw saving Game 5 of the Dodgers vs. Nationals Division Series means that Kershaw has exorcised his playoff demons or if the Dodgers bullpen is in trouble. But, I’ll just go ahead and assume Dave Roberts knows what he’s doing because it worked. Obviously the Cubs are good and were able to make Madison Bumgarner look mortal. On the flipside, the Giants exposed Aroldis Champan, the Cubs eked out a 1-run Game 1 at home, and needed a bullpen meltdown to win Game 4. The Cubs will have an early pitching advantage if Kershaw can’t play until Game 3 or 4. But, I think the Dodgers will get this done.

Prediction: Dodgers in 6

MLB Division Series Predictions

MLB Division Series Predictions:

(all stats from baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted)

ALDS Predictions

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Top photo via WhoWhatWhy.org / Bottom photo via Norm Kelly’s Twitter

Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays

This is by far the most interesting matchup of the first (real) round of the MLB playoffs. The Rangers had the Blue Jays backed into a corner with a 2-0 lead in the ALDS last year, only for the Blue Jays to win 3 in a row to take the series. Since then, there’s been a lot of talk about José Bautista‘s batflip, and later, the punch to the face he received from Rougned Odor. As far as actual baseball goes, these teams seem pretty evenly matched. The Rangers ended up with 95 wins this year, and the Blue Jays ended up with 89, but keep in mind, the Jays were in a division with the Orioles, Yankees, and Red Sox, all of which had a chance to make it to the post-season (only the Red Sox made it to the ALDS, the Orioles lost to the Jays in the Wild Card game). The Blue Jays won the regular season matchup 4-3. I think the Blue Jays win this series again.

Prediction: Blue Jays in 5

 

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Photo via Mid-Maryland Photography

Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox

I would love to see the Indians win this series, but I do not have much faith. The Indians have lost two of their great starting pitchers, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar and their ace, Corey Kluber, is likely to start in Game 2, but has recently been dealing with a quad strain. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have been getting incredible results from soon-to-retire David Ortiz, usually injured Hanley Ramirez, and breakout star, Mookie Betts. One thing the Indians can hope for is a pitching meltdown from David Price, who is usually a fantastic pitcher, but is prone to post-season meltdowns, with a 0-8 record in post-season starts (his teams are 4-10 in his post-season appearances).

Prediction: Red Sox in 4

NLDS Predictions

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Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants

Even if we throw superstition, curses, and “even-year magic” out, it seems the Giants have a pretty good chance of winning this series. Matching the 103-win Cubs against the 87-win Giants might be setting the series up for a Cubs sweep. But, historically, 100+ win MLB teams have had post-season struggles. Not to mention, the Giants have the ultimate series insurance policy in the playoff superhuman, Madison Bumgarner. I don’t believe in the even year thing, and I don’t really believe in curses (look at the Cleveland Cavaliers), but I don’t think the Cubs have a chance.

Prediction: Giants in 4

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Photo via YouTube

Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers haven’t won a playoff series since 2009, the Nationals haven’t won one as the Nationals yet (since 2005). Both teams have new managers, Dusty Baker as the Nationals, manager, and Dave Roberts as the Dodgers’ manager. Both teams have incredible starting pitching staffs, but no one on either staff has a great post-season record. In the case of Dodgers’ ace, Clayton Kershaw, that may be mostly that he gets left in too long because the Dodgers’ bullpen hasn’t been great in the past. But, the combination of Dodgers’ improved 2016 bullpen, and Bryce Harper‘s recent injuries, seem to spell a victory for the Dodgers in this round. Though, I would not be surprised if the Nationals (who have home-field advantage this series) end up with the win either.

Prediction: Dodgers in 5

NFL 2016 Season Predictions

2016 NFL Predictions

Bay Area Teams

First, predictions for both Bay Area teams:

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Oakland Raiders: 11-5

This may be wishful thinking, but, I really think the Raiders win their division this year. I think last year was a fluke for the Chiefs and while the Broncos were able to win with their defense last year, I just don’t see there defense being one of the all-time greats this year and able to make up for their awful quarterback situation. The schedule also helps, with games against the NFC South and AFC South, they have an opportunity to feast on the one mostly-terrible division, and one probably-totally terrible division, respectively.

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San Francisco 49ers: 6-10

Again, likely wishful thinking. I don’t think Chip Kelly is a great coach, but I know he’s better than Jim Tomsula. Similarly, I don’t know if Colin Kaepernick is a great quarterback, but I know he’s better than Blaine Gabbert. At some point, Chip will have to put Gabbert back on the bench. It may take more time than it would’ve due to Kaepernick’s recent decision to kneel during the national anthem, but if Chip, along with Trent Baalke, want to keep their jobs, at some point they’ll put winning first. They have a pretty balanced schedule with tougher games in both the second and first half of the season (mostly a product of their division, as well as the two divisions they play against, the NFC South and AFC East, being very top heavy). If Kelly waits until the bye week to make a decision on Kaepernick, he puts them in a better position to win against the Saints, Dolphins, Bears, Falcons, and their second game against the Rams.

Division Winners

AFC

AFC East

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New England Patriots

I have no idea if Jimmy Garoppolo is good. But we’ve seen this team go 11-5 with Matt Cassel. If Rob Gronkowski stays healthy, they probably go 2-2 with Jimmy, they’ll likely lose their first game (to the Cardinals) and possibly their 3rd or 4th to the Texans and Bills, respectively. But I don’t see anyone else in this division going more than 9-7, so the Patriots getting 2 out of Jimmy and get at least 8 wins out of their 12 other games. The Bills might make it interesting, but probably not.

AFC North

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Cincinnati Bengals

If Andy Dalton doesn’t get hurt and Vontaze Burfict doesn’t have a bizarre meltdown, I think the Bengals make the Superbowl last year. I know Andy Dalton doesn’t have a great track record during big games, but he was great last year, and this roster is one of the most talented in the NFL. Obviously, the Steelers have a great chance to win this division too, but I’m inclined to go with the Bengals because I trust their defense more.

AFC South

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Jacksonville Jaguars

I could be convinced that any team could win this division, really. The Titans seem like the least likely team to win it, but who knows, maybe Marcus Mariota has an unbelievable year and 9 wins will probably be enough for this division. The Colts seem like the most logical, but I worry about Andrew Luck staying healthy and consistent. The Texans might win it again, but JJ Watt‘s health is questionable and we don’t know if Brock Osweiler is actually good. So, all things considered, I like what the Jaguars have done with their defense and adding Chris Ivory means Blake Bortles has someone else to work with on offense. I hope they Steal The Show.

AFC West

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Oakland Raiders

I said a bunch about this above, but yeah, Chiefs seem like the only other team that could win this division, but I think they’ll regress to the mean this year. The Raiders look good, but we’ll see.

NFC

NFC East

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New York Giants

This is a similar situation to the AFC South. One of these teams has to win, and it’ll probably be another 8 or 9 win team. The Eagles and Cowboys don’t have much of a chance due to their quarterback issues. Washington could repeat, but I don’t anticipate Kirk Cousins improving, but with a soft schedule, it’s certainly possible. It’s mostly a toss-up between the Giants and Washington, but I’ll trust an offense with Eli and OBJ over Cousins with anybody.

NFC North

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Green Bay Packers

The Lions won’t have Megatron. The Bears don’t look to be improved. The Vikings seemed like they might have a chance to repeat, and they still might, but those chances seem significantly less likely with Teddy Bridgewater out for the season. Jordy Nelson is back and Eddie Lacy is in shape. If Aaron Rodgers is himself, the Packers should win this division with a solid lead.

NFC South

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Carolina Panthers

Every other team in this division is trash. The Buccaneers will be good in a few years, the Falcons need a decent quarterback, the Saints need somebody other than Drew Brees. The Panthers probably won’t go 15-1 and they did lose Josh Norman, but getting Kelvin Benjamin back means they’ll probably still be a better team. No doubt in my mind they win this division.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks

I want to pick the Cardinals here, but for some reason, I just can’t. The Seahawks might come out to another slow start and be a Wild Card team again, but I have a feeling they’ll be dominant all year. I would not be surprised if both the Cardinals and Seahawks are undefeated by the time they play each-other in Week 7. If Russell Wilson can produce all season like he did in the second half of last season, I think 13 or 14 wins for Seattle is totally possible. The Cardinals will probably be right there with them, but I think Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald won’t be quite as good as they were last year.

Conference Champions

AFC Champion

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Cincinnati Bengals

Logically, the Pats are the choice, but I just wanna pick the Bengals.

NFC Champion

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Carolina Panthers

Tough to decide between the Panthers and the Seahawks, but I think the Panthers will be even better prepared for a deep playoff run this year.

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Superbowl Champion

 

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Carolina Panthers

I think they’ll get it done this time. If they end up playing the Patriots, I’ll be a little less sure, but I’d still bet on the Panthers.

2016 NBA Finals Prediction

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Photo by Tony Dejak/AP

Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – Warriors in 5

Both of these teams are better than they were this time last year. The Warriors are better prepared for the Finals due to experience, especially after coming back from 3-1 against the Thunder in their last series. While there are questions about Curry‘s health, it seems he can be the player he needs to be when the time comes. The Cavs have Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving this time (hopefully for the full series) and a head coach that doesn’t seem to be getting in the team’s way in Tyronn Lue.

While the Cavs are definitely scarier this year than they were last year, and the Warriors showed some vulnerabilities in their 7-games against the Thunder, I just do not think the Cavs will be able to match-up well with this Warriors team. Last year the Cavs went big and slow to mess with the Warriors quick-paced game and take a 2-1 series lead. In the last series, the Warriors were forced to alternate between their smaller/quicker lineups and bigger/slower lineups to defeat the Thunder, making it a lot more difficult for the Cavs to find a style that will work.

One caveat here is Draymond Green‘s foul trouble. He’s two technical fouls from a one-game suspension and one Flagrant 1 foul away from a one-game suspension, a Flagrant 2 foul would mean a 2-game suspension. Any suspension would mean a much great chance of a loss for the Warriors and that could mean a lot in a 7-game series.

(Stats via Basketball-Reference.com)