Intros to any sports league prediction article is like the opening of a stand-up comedians special-it gets skipped over. So I’ll be quick here. I went through each game and picked winners, keeping track of winners and losers until I finished the entire 2017 season. So when I say the ____s are going 11-5, I say so because I went through their schedule and felt confident in them winning 11 games. I also wrote a short blurb about each team, what direction they are headed and a bold prediction for how their season will go.
AFC East(playoff seed, if applicable)
New England Patriots(1) 14-2: This is by far the most weapons Tom Brady has ever had. Bradin Cooks, Phillip Dorsett, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Gronk, Dwayne Allen, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis and Mike Gillislee. The Patriots have always have a flexible approach about how they can attack you offensively, but this year it will get taken to whole other level. If they are on your schedule be prepared to score 30 points or get taken to the woodshed.
Buffalo Bills 6-10: The Bills really need to have one season where everything falls apart and they can draft a legit franchise quarterback, but for the 20th straight season they will be a scrappy team that won’t contend as a playoff team, but will be good enough to win 5 or 6 games. Also if you are a fantasy football player, invest in Zay Jones this year. He caught everything in college, he caught everything at the Senior Bowl and he will catch everything at this level. He’s Cris Carter. He doesn’t wow you with breakaway speed, but he’s physical and he catches absolutely everything!
Miami Dolphins 5-11: I surprised myself with how many losses I gave the Dolphins but outside of 4 games against the Bills and Jets they actually have a really tough schedule. They also have a pretty average defense and Laremy Tunsil has not adjusted well to the left tackle spot. Plus when it comes to close games in the NFL, Jay Cutler is not the quarterback I want to bet on.
New York Jets 0-16: This is the worst NFL roster we have ever seen. Worse than the worst Browns teams, worse than the David Carr protection-less Texans teams and worse than any Jaguars or Raiders teams of the last decade. The strength of this team is at running back, which is a big joke seeing as this team will be down by two touchdowns by the second quarter of most games.
Pittsburgh Steelers(4) 11-5: Big Ben is fading fast and their back end is pretty average, but this offense is going to outscore most of their opponents. Adding Martavis Bryant and James Conner to the mix is going to make that offense pop even more.
Baltimore Ravens(6) 9-7: This is the best proof that the AFC is very top-heavy. The Ravens are going to sneak into the playoff without a very good offense. Their defense is going to keep them in every game and I like their quarterback and coaching staff enough to believe they’ll be slightly above .500.
Cincinnati Bengals 7-9: The Bengals are the “meh” team of the AFC. If Joe Mixon has a big rookie year then maybe this team can get back into the playoffs, but for now they are A.J. Green and a whole lot of average.
Cleveland Browns 5-11: The Browns are trending up in a hurry. They’ve drafted well the past two years, rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer is picking up the offense quickly and Corey Coleman is going to have a breakout season. They’re not the joke of the league anymore and I think they are a year away from becoming a playoff team.
Tennessee Titans(2) 12-4: A weak division, an easier schedule and a physical offensive attack is going to help a 9-7-caliber team win 12 games and earn a first round bye. The Titans are the 2016 Dallas Cowboys. Good young, athletic quarterback, powerful running game and an easier schedule will lead to a big jump this season that will end with zero playoff wins.
Indianapolis Colts 7-9: I actually had the Colts as the final wildcard team in the AFC, but that was when I believed Andrew Luck was still alive. As of today I really have no idea. The Colts might be better off just resting Luck for the season and preparing for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Houston Texans 7-9: The Texans still don’t have a quarterback that can lead this talented roster into contention. With an improved Titans roster and tougher schedule I see the Texans dropping below .500 and getting a good look at rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12: At this point the Jaguars could sign the 10 best free agents every offseason and still be a complete mess. I expect the Jaguars to draft one of the top 3 incoming quarterback prospects and nothing they have done this summer has made me think otherwise.
LA Chargers(3) 11-5: I didn’t intend for the Chargers to be a top 3 seed in the AFC, but I love their quarterback, I love their offense and I love their schedule. Their defense still has their issues, but their pass rush is fierce enough to make up for some minor issues on the back end.
Oakland Raiders(5) 10-6: The Raiders aren’t sneaking up on anybody and that defense is as bad as anybody in the secondary. They also have the furthest to travel this season including a “home game” in Mexico. It’s not enough to keep them out of the playoffs, but enough to expect a slight decline this season.
Kansas City Chiefs 8-8: 2017 is a transition year for the Chiefs. Alex Smith will be a cap casualty after the season, they lost Jeremy Maclin and they lost Spencer Ware for the season. They’re incredibly young at the skill positions playing a very tough schedule.
Denver Broncos 5-11: Paxton Lynch has not worked out at quarterback and the Broncos are so bad at quarterback that they are in year two of Trevor Siemian and brought back Brock Osweiler as backup. I still really like this defense, but this offense will be dreadful even with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.
Philadelphia Eagles(4) 11-5: Last season the Eagles lost their starting right tackle for 10 games, started a rookie quarterback, had a brand new coaching staff, were incredibly thin at wide reciever and corner, yet still found a way to win 7 games including 4 over playoff teams. This year their quarterback and head coach aren’t rookies, Lane Johnson isn’t suspended and they greatly upgraded their secondary and receiving core. 11-5 seems very doable with everything they’ve done to upgrade their roster.
New York Giants 7-9: If the NFL outlawed the run game and pass rush, then the Giants would definitely be contenders. Until then, the Giants still have a horrid run game and a very questionable offensive line protecting their quickly declining quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys 7-9: It’s pretty daunting to ask the Cowboys to repeat their success of 2016 without their star running back for 6 games, a much tougher schedule and a very thin secondary.
Washington Redskins 6-10: People are underrating how big the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon will be for this offense. One of the best deep threats and one of the most reliable possession receivers are now gone. The offense is going to take a step back and the defense isn’t good enough to make up for those losses right away.
Green Bay Packers(1) 13-3: Aaron Rodgers comes into 2017 with a healthy Randall Cobb, Martellus Bennett and two promising rookie running backs to team with Ty Montgomery. This defense is still pretty mediocre, but this offense will be even more explosive this season.
Minnesota Vikings 7-9: Can we stop the hype with the Vikings this season? As long as they have captain checkdown Sam Bradford, this is a very limited offense. Their defense will keep them in most games, but their offense will keep them from getting back into the postseason.
Detroit Lions 6-10: People will blame Matthew Stafford’s new contract for a down year in Detroit, but the fact is this roster isn’t good enough to contend every single year like a Seattle, Green Bay, Kansas City or New England are.
Chicago Bears 5-11: The Bears are a lot closer to being a playoff contender than I once thought, especially if Mitch(ell) Trubisky is the real deal, but they are still at least another year away. Still, they’ll be a pesky opponent this year, similar to teams like Buffalo and Cleveland.
Atlanta Falcons(2) 12-4: Don’t expect a Super Bowl hangover in Atlanta. Matt Ryan is one of the most composed quarterbacks I have ever seen, college or pro, and this roster is too good to have a Carolina-esque Super Bowl hangover.
Tampa Bay Bucs(6) 10-6: DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard are going to add to what was an already impressive offensive attack. They won’t have the defense or physicality to make a deep playoff run, but they should be there in January.
Carolina Panthers 9-7: The Panthers are close to getting back to the postseason, but their secondary is still a major achilles heel, especially in a division with three loaded passing attacks.
New Orleans Saints 8-8: Adrian Peterson was such an odd offseason move because he’s such a poor fit. Maybe they thought his power running would keep their league worst defense off the field, but it won’t.
Seattle Seahawks(3) 12-4: They’ve added help to their backfield, receiving core and pass rush. That Shelton Richardson trade may be the move that puts this team back in the Super Bowl.
Arizona Cardinals(5) 10-6: David Johnson is going to do things this season that are going to make Marshall Faulk and Brian Westbrook look ordinary. He’ll be the league MVP as Arizona gets back into the postseason.
LA Rams 7-9: Jared Goff is going to redeem himself a little bit this season, depending on what you’re expectations are. For me, he’s Kirk Cousins 2.0 and his head coach was Cousins offensive coordinator last season. They’re not a playoff team yet, but they have enough weapons to put together an exciting offense this season and make a playoff run in 2018.
San Francisco 49ers 5-11: The 49ers don’t have the personnel to win much more than 5 games this season, but I love the direction of this franchise.
Wildcard- Chargers Over Ravens Steelers Over Raiders
Divisional- Titans Over Chargers Patriots Over Steelers
AFCCG- Patriots Over Titans(by a lot)
Wildcard- Bucs Over Seahawks Eagles Over Cardinals
Divisional- Packers over Bucs Eagles Over Falcons
NFCCG- Packers over Eagles
Super Bowl- Packers 31 Patriots 30
There you have it, bookmark this article so you can make fun of me in 4 months. Enjoy the season, unless you are a Jets fan.