Brian Sullivan (@MadManScouting)
Here it is. Finally. One day to go until the season starts. I went through the schedule multiple times, thought about every factor, every roster, every match-up, every home field advantage, and came up with my predictions. Here they are. Some of you will love these. Some of you will hate them.
Teams in Bold make the Playoffs.
Record – (Overall) (Conference) (Division)
*There were a few tiebreakers that were impossible to break mathematically. In those cases, I went with the team that I feel has a better chance to outperform the record I gave them.
Eagles (11-5) (8-4) (4-2)
Cowboys (7-9) (5-7) (3-3)
Giants (6-10) (4-8) (3-3)
Redskins (5-11) (4-8) (2-4)
This was so tough. All of these teams are competitive in their own way, but the Eagles are the most complete team of the bunch. They also have a brutal schedule as they all face the NFC and AFC south. Dallas could be higher if their offensive line performs well without Frederick. New York could be higher if the offensive line still isn’t atrocious. Washington has a ton of winnable games, but so many of them they appear to be the lesser team by a very small margin. They could win 4 or 12 and I wouldn’t be shocked.
Rams (14-2) (10-2) (5-1)
49ers (10-6) (8-4) (4-2)
Seahawks (6-10) (3-9) (2-4)
Cardinals (3-13) (1-11) (1-5)
The Cardinals and Seahawks could both be significantly better than I’m giving them credit for. But unfortunately, both teams have ridiculous schedules, and both teams have questionable talent on offense. The Rams on the other hand have a ton of established talent AND most of their tough games are at home. The 49ers have a light schedule near the end of the season, so expect a hot streak as we enter crunch time.
Packers (11-5) (8-4) (3-3)
Vikings (10-6) (7-5) (3-3)
Bears (10-6) (7-5) (3-3)
Lions (8-8) (5-7) (3-3)
The Packers have all of the talent in the world to win 14 games, but their schedule is merciless. Every team in this division is tough, it all comes down to who benefits more at home, and who has better players. The Lions could win a few more, the Vikings and Bears could win a few less. This is one of the few divisions where all 4 teams could easily make the Playoffs.
Saints (14-2) (10-2) (5-1)
Falcons (13-3) (10-2) (5-1)
Panthers (7-9) (5-7) (2-4)
Buccaneers (1-15) (1-11) (0-6)
The Saints and Falcons both benefit from a fairly easy schedule, considering their home field advantage is so tough to beat. They get the AFC North and the NFC East, which isn’t easy, but the Falcons get Philly without Carson Wentz, and the Saints get them at home. They match up well against the other three teams. The Panthers are a fine team, they could be a 10 win team in an easier division. Sorry Bucs fans.
Final NFC Seeds
1. Rams (14-2)
2. Saints (14-2)
3. Eagles (11-5)
4. Packers (11-5)
5. Falcons (13-3)
6. 49ers (10-6)
Chargers (12-4) (10-2) (5-1)
Chiefs (11-5) (9-3) (5-1)
Broncos (3-13) (2-10) (1-5)
Raiders (2-14) (2-10) (1-5)
The AFC West could look a whole lot different, but it appears to be a battle between Kansas City and Los Angeles. The Chargers are by far the most complete team, and their schedule isn’t bad, but they still are the Chargers. As long as Patrick Mahomes isn’t awful, the Chiefs will be a force on offense. If you took the Raiders offense and the Broncos defense and merged them into one team, they’d be pretty solid. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Steelers (12-4) (10-2) (5-1)
Ravens (8-8) (7-5) (4-2)
Browns (6-10) (4-8) (2-4)
Bengals (4-12) (3-9) (1-5)
This division should be fun. The Ravens could easily win closer to 11/12 games as long as they pull off a few upsets. The Browns were a coin flip in a few of the losses I pinned them for, so maybe they end up being players. The Bengals… well…
Texans (12-4) (8-4) (4-2)
Colts (10-6) (8-4) (3-3)
Jaguars (9-7) (7-5) (3-3)
Titans (8-8) (6-6) (2-4)
Along with the NFC North, this is the most complete division in football. The Titans could be even better in an easier division. The Texans and Colts dominate with great QBs, while the Titans and Jaguars bring more balanced rosters. In the end, I sided with the QBs, but this division is up for grabs.
Patriots (13-3) (9-3) (5-1)
Dolphins (5-11) (4-8) (3-3)
Jets (4-12) (4-10) (3-3)
Bills (1-15) (1-11) (1-5)
What did you think would happen here? Amazing that the Patriots not only get Brady and Bill, but they also get the one division that has 3 of roughly 5 bad teams in the league. The Dolphins will probably steal a few more than I expect them to, and the Jets should win more than 4. There were about 8 games for them where I’d say they had about a 45% chance to win it, but I had to pick the opposing team. The Bills are brutal on offense, and their schedule is a mess. It won’t be a pretty season.
Final AFC Seeds
1. Patriots (13-3)
2. Steelers (12-4)
3. Chargers (12-4)
4. Texans (12-4)
5. Chiefs (11-5)
6. Colts (10-6)
NFC Wild Card Round
(6) 49ers Over (3) Eagles – 27-20
(4) Packers over (5) Falcons – 34-27
The 49ers ride their hot streak into Philly and pull off a stunning upset over the defending champions. Meanwhile, the Falcons suffer an unfortunate and unfair fate, as their reward for going 13-3 is a road trip to freezing Green Bay. The 49ers one feels bold, but the Falcons one feels too realistic.
AFC Wild Card
(3) Chargers Over (6) Colts – 28-17
(4) Texans over (5) Chiefs – 30-23
The Charger’s pass rush is too much for the Colts to handle in a relatively boring match-up. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson out duels Patrick Mahomes in a wild showdown down south.
NFC Divisional Round
( 1) Rams Over (6) 49ers – 30-20
(2) Saints Over (4) Packers – 45-42
The Rams are too much for the 49ers to handle after an emotional win over Philly, and they take down San Francisco with relative ease. Meanwhile, the Saints and Packers put on an incredible show as two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game duke it out. The Saints take advantage of their home field advantage and squeak by.
AFC Divisional Round
(2) Steelers over (3) Chargers – 24-20
(4) Texans over (1) Patriots – 41-38
The Steelers take care of business against the Chargers in the Saturday night game, and the world collectively groans as they prepare for the inevitable Steelers Patriots match-up that none of us really wanted to see. Then, Deshaun Watson saves us all as he carves up the Patriot’s defense. Finally, a new team that actually has a superstar QB.
NFC Championship Game
(2) Saints Over (1) Rams – 38-35
We get another thriller in Los Angeles, but the Saints prove that experience triumphs over youth in certain situations. Rams fans exit the game feeling down yet excited for what the future holds. Saints fans are thrilled knowing they’re one win away from Drew winning his second ring
(2) Steelers Over (4) Texans – 38-31
Deshaun Watson nearly does it again, but the Steelers are too much for him. I would consider picking the Texans if I was certain they’d be fully healthy by this time, but there’s a very good chance that either Watson, Hopkins, Mathieu, or Watt will be out at this point. The Steelers feel safer at this point, and they represent the AFC again.
Super Bowl 53
(2) Saints over (2) Steelers – 35-30
A legendary match-up. Two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, who are both surrounded by talent, going at it against relatively good defenses. It’s back and forth and down to the wire, but the Saints prevail in another exciting Super Bowl.
Image Credit – https://jbhnews.com/super-bowl-2019/20323/