2016 NFL Predictions
Bay Area Teams
First, predictions for both Bay Area teams:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Logically, the Pats are the choice, but I just wanna pick the Bengals.
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.
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.