Bay Area Teams
First, predictions for both Bay Area teams:
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.
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.
AFC East – New England Patriots
Boring pick, but it’s the only reasonable one.
AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers
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
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
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 East – New York Giants
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
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
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
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.
AFC – New England Patriots
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
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
This isn’t the most likely outcome, but it would just be so damn funny.