NFL 2018 Season Predictions

Bay Area Teams

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Oakland Raiders: 7-9

 

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San Francisco 49ers: 9-7

 

Division Winners

AFC East

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New England Patriots

AFC North

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Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South

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Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

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Kansas City Chiefs

 

NFC East

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Washington

 

NFC North

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Green Bay Packers

 

NFC South

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Carolina Panthers

 

NFC West

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Los Angeles Rams

 

Conference Champions

NFC Champion

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Carolina Panthers

 

AFC Champion

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Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Super Bowl Champion

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Carolina Panthers

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NFL Wild Card Weekend Predictions

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs

Photo by Denny Medley – USA Today

Titans @ Chiefs

While it’s tough to trust Alex Smith and Andy Reid in a playoff game, they should be able to beat up on the weak opponent that is the Tennessee Titans. This might be slightly less depressing than the Raiders vs. Texans game last year, but less one-sided than Chiefs vs. Texans from the year before.

Prediction: Chiefs win

 

Falcons @ Rams

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Photo by Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images

The Falcons were able to squeak out a few good wins and slide into the last Wild Card spot, but they’re desperate to be put out of their misery. The Rams might be young and inexperienced, but they actually want to win. This might start off close, but I expect the Rams to blow this open in the 2nd half, if not the 2nd quarter. I hope we get to see a few awesome Todd Gurley playoff games.

Prediction: Rams win

 

Bills @ Jaguars

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Photo by Kevin Hoffman

As much as I love that one of these teams HAS to win, I hate that one of them has to lose. The Bills have a pretty good chance of winning if LeSean McCoy can play. The Bills have the better Quarterback and possibly the better running back, depending on health. If the Bills defense plays decently or if Blake Bortles gives them the ball more than he does to his own team (I’m a Bortles Believer, but also not blind).  I think the Jags ultimately win, but this has a decent chance of going either way.

Prediction: Jaguars win

 

Panthers @ Saints

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Photo by AJ Sisco – UPO

The Saints have had a great year and won both of their regular season games against the Panthers. The Panthers have been inconsistent, but I think the Panthers are the better team and Cam can win this one by himself if he has to. Of course it’s possible Brees and Kamara both have great games and pull off another win against the Panthers, but I don’t think they pull it off a third time this season.

Prediction: Panthers win

NFL 2017 Season Predictions

Bay Area Teams

First, predictions for both Bay Area teams:

raiders

Oakland Raiders: 10-6

The Raiders are going to win games with their offense, and lose them because of their defense. I don’t think they’ll necessarily be worse than last year, but they probably won’t go 12-4. They got to beat up on the AFC South and defenses weren’t quite as prepared for their lethal offense. This season they have a more balanced schedule and teams have a better idea of what to prepare for.

 

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San Francisco 49ers: 5-11

The 49ers will almost certainly win more than 2 games this year. Mostly because they have 4 games against the AFC South. They also still get to play the Rams twice. The one thing not in their favor is they don’t get that late Monday Night game. Either way, this team might be somewhat competent this year and it’ll work out in their favor a few times.

Division Winners

AFC

AFC East – New England Patriots

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Boring pick, but it’s the only reasonable one.

 

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers

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It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Bengals or Ravens win the division, especially with Ben Roethlisberger seemingly having one foot out the door, but with Joe Flacco just coming back from injury, and a number of other Ravens players dealing with injuries, plus the Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict being suspended, no one else in the division seems to be in an advantageous position to sneak up on the Steelers.

 

AFC South – Houston Texans

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Somebody has to win this division and if Andrew Luck doesn’t come back early in the season at full health, we can cross the Colts off. I’m not falling for the Jaguars again, no matter how great I think Leonard Fournette is. The Titans seem to have the best chance to beat the Texans for the top spot, but if the Texans were able to win this division with Brock Osweiler last year, I have no doubts they can do it again with DeShawn Watson or Tom Savage.

AFC West – Oakland Raiders

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The Broncos’ haven’t improved. The Chargers aren’t going to be significantly better than they were last year. The Chiefs might win it again, but I’m not sold on Alex Smith’s continued success. I think the Raiders might struggle a little more this year than last year, but they’re still the most likely to win the division.

 

NFC

NFC East – New York Giants

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It’s unclear how many games Ezekiel Elliot will end up playing, but I think the Cowboys will take a big step back this year. The Giants, on the other hand, have paired quite possible the best receiver in the league, Odell Beckham, with another awesome receiver, Brandon Marshall. Eli will find ways to pass to the defense anyway, but I think he’ll still find ways to take advantage of these two at his disposal.

 

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

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It’s the safe pick, but that’s because no one else in the division is a totally solid team. The Vikings have lost an all-time great running back, and still have Sam Bradford as their starting quarterback. We know what Matthew Stafford and the Lions are. The Bears will be less depressing than they have been the past few years. This is one of the few divisions I would be shocked to see any other team win.

 

NFC South – Carolina Panthers

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It wouldn’t shock me if any of the four teams won this division. They all have legitimate starting quarterbacks, which is more than I can say for most teams in the league. I think Cam Newton having both Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey on the roster will mean he might not have to completely carry the offense. I don’t think they go 15-1 again, but I think this season, people remember how they did and how Cam won

 

NFC West – Seattle Seahawks

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The Seahawks will be good. The Carson Palmer is probably done, so the Cardinals probably won’t be great. The Rams and 49ers will probably be a little better than they were last year, but still not good. So the Seahawks, who might be the best team in the NFC, and might just be a pretty good team, should probably win this division.

 

Conference Champions

AFC – New England Patriots

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I would love for it to be pretty much ANY other AFC team. But this just doesn’t feel like the year another team breaks through and the other teams that might usually have a shot like the Steelers or Ravens, don’t seem to be in a place to win it. So yeah, the Patriots will probably be in the Super Bowl.

 

NFC – New York Giants

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I think the Packers are probably the better team, but their best receivers always seem to have trouble getting through the season. As much as Brady vs. Rodgers in the Super Bowl would be awesome, if the Giants beat the Patriots again, that would just be the best.

 

Super Bowl Champion

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This isn’t the most likely outcome, but it would just be so damn funny.

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

pats

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

jaguars

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

raiders

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

giants

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

panthers-alternate

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

 

panthers-helmet

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.

Super Bowl 50 Prediction

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Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters/Corbis

After the Broncos barely beat the Patriots to take the AFC and the Panthers dominated the Cardinals to take the NFC on Sunday, January 24, I was much more sure about my pick to win Super Bowl 50. I was sure this game would be more or less a re-run of Super Bowl 48, where the Seahawks just annihilated the Broncos, 43-8. But, the difference this time is that the Broncos have an even better defense than the Panthers (who are also great on defense). Thomas Davis having a broken arm (said to be starting) may also be an issue for the Panthers.

Another factor to consider is the Panthers’ habit of letting teams come back. The Divisional Round game against the Seahawks was an extreme example, but it happened a few other times this season. Allowing the Broncos to come back might just allow the Manning to find a way to win. More likely, if it’s close, the Broncos’ defense might be able to keep the Panthers from making a late run to decide the game.

But, as much as a 2nd Super Bowl win for Peyton Manning would be the perfect way for him to end his potential “last rodeo,” I think it’s more likely that Cam Newton becomes the first starting quarterback to win an NCJAA Championship, an NCAA Championship, win the Heisman, an NFL MVP award, and a Super Bowl… maybe even a Super Bowl MVP.

The Panthers will probably get off to a hot start. Manning will likely be forced to try and make big plays if the Broncos are playing from behind, and that isn’t likely to end well for the Broncos.

Prediction: Panthers win

One more time:

 

NFL Conference Championship Predictions

NFL 2015 Season Conference Championships

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From SBNation.com

(Stats from pro-football-reference.com)

AFC Championship Game

StewMilne-USAToday
Photo by Stew Milne/USA Today

New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

Sunday January 24 at 12:05 PST (3:05 EST)

There are plenty of melodramatic things to say about what might be the last time Peyton Manning and Tom Brady compete in an NFL game, but the real competition in this game is the Brady/Gronk duo vs. the Broncos‘ defense. The Broncos’ defense has been great, and the Patriots have had trouble running the ball. So, I suspect the Broncos’ defense will have to find a way to keep Brady from getting the ball to Gronkowski if they want to win this. That said, I really hope Peyton can pull off a fantastic performance, but even in his prime, he has rarely been a great post-season quarterback. Another ting to keep in mind: the Patriots have had trouble playing in Denver in recent years. The Patriots lost in Denver this season on November 29, 2015 and lost their last playoff game in Denver on January 19, 2014. I think this will be a close game, but the Broncos just won’t be able to put enough points on the board to keep up with the Patriots.

Prediction: Patriots win

NFC Championship Game

StreeterLecka-Getty
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

Sunday January 24 at 3:40 PST (6:40 EST)

This is, by far, the toughest game to predict of this post-season. Partly because I really like both teams, and mostly because both of these teams have been fantastic this season. The records speak for themselves, the Panthers‘ 15-1 record speaks for itself. Their only loss coming against the Falcons, which was clearly a fluke. The Cardinals have also had some funky losses: losing first to the Rams, then losing to a Pittsburgh Steelers team with Landry Jones at quarterback, and ending the regular season with a 36-6 loss to the Seahawks. The Cardinals and Panthers last met in the first round of the playoffs last year on January 3, 2015 in Charlotte. The Panthers won, but Ryan Lindley played quarterback for the Cardinals, in place of an injured Carson Palmer. Thankfully, Palmer will be available to play this time. Both Palmer and Carolina’s quarterback, Cam Newton, have had unbelievable seasons. I worry that Palmer’s finger is still injured, which may have led to his struggles in their game last weekend against the Packers. While Cam has been stellar, the rest of the Panthers’ offense isn’t quite as consistent as the Cardinals, who have Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Ellington, and Troy Niklas. The Panthers are totally reliant on Cam on offense. On the flipside, the Panthers’ defense is superior to the Cardinals’. Both Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera have had fantastic seasons. I can see either of these teams winning, but give the slight edge to the Panthers, as I think Cam has proven to be a better playoff quarterback, even if there isn’t much of a sample size.

Prediction: Panthers win

NFL Division Series Predictions

NFL 2015 Season Division Series

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(Stats from pro-football-reference.com)

AFC Matchups

CharlesKrupa
Photo by Charles Krupka

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots

Saturday January 16 at 1:35pm PST (4:35pm EST)

The Kansas City Chiefs have won 11 in a row now, including their first playoff win since their January 16, 1994 win over the Houston Oilers. The Patriots, on the other hand, won only two of their last six games of the 2015 season. It’s entirely possible that, given the Patriots’ capabilities in gamesmanship, they may have been jockeying for the 2-seed to avoid the Steelers. But, in any case, going 2-4 to end the season doesn’t look great heading into the playoffs. The team will have the dynamic duo of Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady, likely in good health. Danny Amendola, Steven Jackson (yup) and James White should be able to help them run. If Julian Edelman can play too, the Patriots will be close enough to their early season offense to win this. If Jeremy Maclin can’t play, that will certain hurt the Chiefs. But Alex Smith has been winning with Travis Kelce, Spencer Ware, Chris Conley, Knile Davis, and other members of a The Chiefs surprisingly effective offense. I would like to see the Chiefs pull off an upset here. But, as we saw with the Washington professional football team, the playoffs tend to expose teams that haven’t beaten great teams. The Chiefs brutalized the Texans, but their only wins over a other teams with winning records this season were against a Landry Jones-led Pittsburgh team on October  25, 2015 and, of course, their season opener against the Houston Texans. I have a feeling the Patriots will prove they’re back and end the Chiefs streak on Saturday.

Prediction: Patriots win

RonChenoy-USAToday
Photo by Ron Chenoy/USA Today

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos

Sunday January 17 at 1:40pm PST (4:40pm EST)

There are so many variables to consider here. Can Peyton Manning play a full playoff game against a good team? He might be able to pull it off on two weeks rest. Will Ben Roethlisberger be cleared to play? If so, can he? And the questions aren’t just at quarterback, will the Steelers also be without their stars Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams after Brown suffered a concussion and Williams’ current foot injury? Beyond Manning, the biggest question for the Broncos is whether or not their defense can perform at their early season levels. DeMarcus Ware‘s status and overall health will certainly be a factor. While the Steelers’ were billed as the most-feared Wild Card AFC team coming into the playoffs, they may just be too banged up to make it out of this round.

Prediction: Broncos win

NFC Matchups

MikeRoemer-AP
Photo by Mike Roemer/USA Today

Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals

Saturday January 16 at 5:15pm PST (8:15pm EST)

Are the Packers back? After a rough first quarter, they seemed to have no problem exposing a Washington team that, much like the Texans, just happened to be the team that won their division. It’s tough to say if the Packers are actually back to being able to perform at the level they could in the first 6 games of the season, or if they were simply able to exploit an easy opponent and their just a better-than-average team. Better-than-average certainly won’t be able to beat the Cardinals. That’s not to say the Cardinals didn’t have a bizarre ending to their own season. While the December 27 matchup between the Cardinals and Packers was a 38-8 blowout by Arizona, the Cardinals saw a similar fate against the Seahawks, who beat them 36-6. It’s possible this Arizona team saw no real reason to try (or expose anything in their playbook), considering they likely knew they would be the 2-seed. Nonetheless, it was a weird note to end such a great season on. As we saw with the January 10 Wild Card matchup between the Seahawks and the Vikings, I think despite a regular season blowout, this ends up a much closer game, but still a victory to the previous winner, in this case, the Cardinals (although probably not quite the same circumstances).

Prediction: Cardinals win

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Photo by Bob Donnan/USA Today

Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers

Sunday January 17 at 10:05am PST (1:05pm EST)

The Seahawks had to overcome a lot of disadvantages in their Wild Card matchup with the Vikings: an early away game in extreme weather, without Marshawn Lynch. But they got the ultimate stroke of luck when it really mattered on a missed 27-yard field goal. This weekend they’ll see another early away game, but likely mild weather. Their third away game in a row might be a bit much and Lynch’s status is unknown. But, overall, this matchup will likely be a better indication of who the better team is, this week at least. In their October 18, 2015 matchup, The Panthers came from behind in the 4th quarter and we able to beat the Seahawks 27-23. Despite last year’s playoff matchup between these teams, the teams have generally been close since Cam Newton and Russell Wilson have been the quarterbacks for these teams, despite the Seahawks winning most of the games. Cam has been unbelievable this year, and could be the league MVP. Wilson may not have been as impressive early in the season, but has been fantastic in the last couple months and has clearly proven himself in the playoffs. I can see this going either way, but find myself doubting the Seahawks just a little bit, as they may have a limited offense going up against Carolina’s excellent defense. Regardless, this should be an exciting and competitive game.

Prediction: Panthers win