I joke that these are horrible predictions, but man, my NFL prognostications last year were beyond laughable.
Last year, I had Houston beating the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Those two went a combined 9-23 and weren’t even close to the playoffs.
I correctly predicted six of the 12 playoff teams, though only two division winners.
Honestly, I’m not sure if I could make worse predictions if I tried.
But hey, it’s a new year, so let’s take a crack at this year’s NFL season.
- Washington: The Redskins (Yes, I said Redskins. The media needs to get off their high horse!) were miserable last year, mostly because RGIII wasn’t 100 percent and the defense was garbage. I think RGIII bounces back this year and they take advantage of a last-place schedule to claim the division title.
- Philadelphia (WC): Is Nick Foles for real? I’m not convinced he is. But the strong running game, as well as four games against the putrid AFC South, helps the Eagles claim a wild card.
- NY Giants: What the hell happened to Eli Manning? Maybe he can turn it around and the Giants can be in the playoff race, but it isn’t looking good right now.
- Dallas: The defense is still awful and Tony Romo doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the clutch. No way Jason Garrett makes it to the end of the season as head coach.
- Chicago: The offense was great last year, but the defense was just godawful. There are still questions at safety, but improvements on the defensive line should help get the Bears back to the playoffs. It won’t be easy, and games against Detroit and Minnesota at the end of the year will determine if Chicago wins the division.
- Green Bay: The Packers will always be in contention as long as they have Aaron Rodgers. But the defense is still a major weak spot that could keep them out of the postseason.
- Minnesota: This team will be improved, but it’s still too young to make a legit run at the playoffs.
- Detroit: Jim Caldwell is the head coach. No one outside of Detroit thinks this is a good idea.
- New Orleans: The offense is great, and the defense continues to improve under Rob Ryan. I think the Saints win this division comfortably and get a first-round bye.
- Tampa Bay: Lovie Smith will get the Bucs on the right track. But the quarterback situation still seems shaky to me.
- Atlanta: Last year wasn’t a complete fluke – this team has issues. It starts at head coach, where Mike Smith won’t be on the sidelines after another disappointing season.
- Carolina: Cam Newton’s reward for leading the Panthers to the division title – a shitty bunch of receivers. The defense will still keep them in games, but they don’t have the weapons on offense to win the close contests.
- Seattle: I keep going back and forth between Seattle and San Fran for the division title. Ultimately, I gave the Seahawks the edge because of their home field advantage.
- San Francisco (WC): Even if they fall short of the division title, the 49ers will make the playoffs again as a wild card.
- St. Louis: The loss of Sam Bradford is a big blow. With a big hole at quarterback, seven wins seems like the best case scenario.
- Arizona: Carson Palmer had a bounce back season last year. I don’t expect that to happen again.
- New England: The Patriots should be able to win this division again with ease.
- NY Jets (WC): I’ve always like Rex Ryan, and if he can go 8-8 with last year’s roster, I think he’ll get them in the playoff chase this year. It will come down to the last week of the year
- Buffalo: The Bills have the talent to be competitive as long as they can stay fairly healthy.
- Miami: Their coach is an idiot, their offensive line is swiss cheese, and their quarterback isn’t proven. Not exactly a recipe for success.
- Cincinnati: The Bengals have proven they have what it takes to make it to the playoffs. No the question is, can they do anything when they get there?
- Baltimore (WC): Joe Flacco’s contract hurt the team last year, but they were able to upgrade defensively through the draft. Expect the Ravens to go into the playoffs hot and read to make some noise.
- Pittsburgh: The Steelers always seem to be in the hunt, even if the talent level isn’t up to par with the league’s elite.
- Cleveland: Johnny Football will be starting sometime in October and make the Browns relevant. But they are probably still a year away from making a playoff run.
- Indianapolis: The Colts aren’t a very good team. But they have the best quarterback in a crappy division, so they will win the South by default.
- Tennessee: If Jake Locker can stay healthy, I expect a solid season from the Titans. The playoffs are out of the question, but an 8-8 record isn’t.
- Houston: The front seven is scary and the running game is pretty strong. But a horrible quarterback situation and a shaky secondary will lead to another sub-.500 year.
- Jacksonville: Even if Blake Bortles is the real deal (I’m still not convinced), the Jags still don’t have the talent level to compete with most of the league.
- Denver: Still the class of the AFC, especially with an improved defense. Home field advantage should again go to the Broncos.
- Kansas City: No way they match the success of last year’s team. They’ll still be solid, but will still fall short of the playoffs.
- San Diego: Like the Chiefs, the Chargers will be vying for one of the two wild card spots. I’m not sure they have enough on defense to claim one of them, though.
- Oakland: They will have a top 3 pick in next year’s draft, but Derek Carr will show enough to make the Raiders pass on one of the top quarterbacks.
MVP: Peyton Manning, Denver
Offensive POY: Drew Brees, New Orleans
Defensive POY: J.J. Watt, Houston
Offensive ROY: Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati
Defensive ROY: C.J. Mosley, Baltimore
Wild Card: Chicago over Philadelphia, San Francisco over Washington
The Bears claim a shootout win, while the 49ers destroy the Redskins on the road.
Divisional: Seattle over San Francisco, New Orleans over Chicago
Home field advantage reigns supreme, with Seattle and New Orleans both getting big wins.
NFC Championship: New Orleans over Seattle
Again, home field advantage comes into play. The Saints pull ahead in the fourth quarter and make a late defensive stand to win the conference.
Wild Card: Cincinnati over NY Jets, Baltimore over Indianapolis
The Bengals have to win in the playoffs sometime, right? The Ravens make quick work of the overrated Colts.
Divisional: Denver over Baltimore, New England over Cincinnati
The Broncos get some revenge for 2012, while the Patriots overcome a first-half deficit and claim a double-digit win.
AFC Championship: Denver over New England
Even with Derrelle Revis, the Patriots don’t have enough on offense to stop the Broncos. It will be closer than last year, but Denver wins the AFC again.
SUPER BOWL: Denver over New Orleans
While the offenses of these teams will be the focus leading into the Super Bowl, it will be defenses that control the game. It won’t be until the fourth quarter that the fireworks start and the Broncos get a late touchdown to win the title.
Bear Down and Keep the Faith!