The NFL season kicks off tomorrow and no sport is less predictable. That being said, I had to take a shot. Every year I comb through the entire NFL schedule and pick the winner of every game. The below are the results of that experiment based on raw data. Meaning, these records could actually happen. 256 wins, 256 losses. All dispersed amongst 32 teams.
Below is some of my thinking with the predictions:
1) New England
Dave’s the Patriots world and we’re all just living in it. The defending champs will again go into this season with an us against the world mentality and that’s fair, because I’m not picking them to repeat. That being said, they’re still the undisputed owners governors of the AFC East and while I see a big step forward for the Jets, they aren’t in the same hemisphere as the Pats.
2) New York Jets
Speaking of Gang Green, I see them making the playoffs led by a coach who has always gotten the most out of his talent. Adam Gase has been to the playoffs with Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill, so why can’t he do it with a 2ndyear Sam Darnold? KFC finally gets some January football to look forward to.
Certainly a team on the rise with 2ndyear QB Josh Allen and what figures to be a stout defense with HC Sean McDermott at the helm. They have a glutton of solid RBs and a team that can run the ball and play defense should be in it til the end.
They have been on record saying they’re going to look hard at the QB class of 2020 and just traded their best player, who happens to protect most QBs blindside away. Loaded with draft capital the next few years, maybe they go after a certain left handed signal caller in April? What do you say Brandon Walker?
All the distractions are gone and this team can just play football now. They’ve struggled to find a replacement for LB Ryan Shazier, but rookie LB Devin Bush should help solidify and emerging defense. I think the black & yellow could be Miami bound this year…
It’s hard to not like Jeff D. Lowe’s team on paper, but a team with his expectations whose best positions are all skill positions, especially with an inexperienced HC worry me. I think Cleveland will be good, but hard to rely on them to be consistently good. They’ll be right in the mix come December.
They signed S Earl Thomas on defense which will be a huge addition, but they also had a lot of departures in free agency on that side of the ball with S Eric Weddle, EDGE Za‘darious Smith, LB C.J. Mosley, and EDGE Terrell Suggs going to greener (monetarily at least) pastures. Everyone has tape on QB Lamar Jackson now and he certainly didn’t look stellar when the Chargers played him a second time. I think the rest of the league catches up and this may not be Baltimore’s year.
A green HC in Zac Taylor is brought into a situation with a roster that’s influx and no clear direction. This team will win a few games on talent alone, but hard to see big things for them this year.
I believe in QB Nick Foles. They will run a similar offense to what he ran in Philly and RB Leonard Fournette is slimmed down with a renewed focus. CB Jalen Ramsey is in a contract year and wants a big deal, so this has all the makings of a team that rises to the occasion or completely implodes. I’ll bet on the former. Things seem to work out for Chaps too, so that doesn’t hurt.
Big expectations for a team that brought in LT Laremy Tunsil this week. Tunsil will also be lining up next to LG Tytus Howard who played LT at Alabama State last year, so a big tbd how they start on the left side. Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are electric, but RB Lamar Miller being out for the year hurts. I’m not sure a combo of RB Carlos Hyde and RB Duke Johnson can carry the mail for an entire season.
They lost a top 10 QB in this league and replaced him with QB Jacoby Brissett. I don’t hate Brissett, but for other experts and prognosticators to show the Colts still in the playoffs really devalues the QB position. They have a nice roster composition and a much improved line, but I don’t see Mantis’ Colts playing in January.
This is where the rubber meets the road with 5thyear QB Marcus Mariota. He’s on the last year of his rookie deal and team needs him to produce. But they brought in QB Ryan Tannehill who some think could run this offense better than Mariota, so not exactly a big vote of confidence. And their best player on offense, LT Taylor Lewan is suspended for the first four games.
1) Kansas City
It’s hard not to love the Chiefs with QB Patrick Mahomes under center. I’m not sure they’ll be as dominant as last year even after the addition of DE Frank Clark, but the signing of RB LeSean McCoy could prove to be huge. That position was certainly a weak point after Kareem Hunt’s abrupt departure. I expect this to be a very improved division, but hard to see anybody else winning it.
Vic Fangio. This is the architect of the Bears defense last year and he may have upgraded his pass rush. He went from Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd to Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. If you didn’t pick up this unit in fantasy, you’re crazy. I expect them to lead the league in multiple defensive categories. Joe Flacco isn’t anything to write home about, but they’ll rely on the running game and not turning the ball over. I see playoffs in the future for the revamped Orange Crush.
3) Los Angeles Chargers
This team has so much talent, but with S Derwin James out for a few months, their defense could look drastically different. He covered up a lot of mistakes and made a lot of plays on the backend. With RB Melvin Gordon also holding out, I foresee a step backwards for the team that plays to the smallest crowd in the NFL Sorry Kenjac.
4) Oakland Raiders
The Raiders will be interesting if nothing else. I think they’ll be much better this year with HC Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock steering the ship. That being said, they’re in what I see as a very tough division and they may struggle to keep pace.
The Eagles are loaded all across the board and they’ve got Championship experience. GM Howie Roseman has stocked the cupboard with this team. Top notch Offensive and Defensive Lines will keep them competitive, but their QB and skill players give them the firepower to score quickly and often. Despite reports of his decline, WR DeSean Jackson is still very much a top deep threat in this league. With a revamped running game, it’s hard not the likes of our Birds, Smitty, Fran, & Kate to be flying into February.
You can’t really talk about top Offensive Lines and not mention the Cowboys. Jerry Jones is doling out new contracts left and right and they’ve secured most of their young talent into half the next decade. With QB Dak Prescott left on the last year of his deal, I don’t expect him to do anything to damage his value. The Cowboys will be playing into 2020.
3) New York Giants
It’s hard to find a lot to like about this team on the field. Rookie QB Daniel Jones looks fantastic, but he’s slated to start on the bench. QB Eli Manning will open the season throwing to limited weapons as new free agent WR Golden Tate will start the season on the suspension list. On defense, they lost their best player in S Landon Collins and replaced him with undersized S Jabril Peppers. I see the Giants picking in the top 10 again in late April.
This is a tale of two teams. On defense, they’ve got interior rush with two Alabama DTs who can ball and an emerging backend with the aforementioned Collins. On offense, they’re led by journeyman QB Case Keenum and their best player, LT Trent Williams has said he’ll never play for the team again after their medical staff didn’t properly diagnose him in the off-season. Rookie QB Dwayne Haskins who has looked up and down in the pre-season should get the nod sometime in October much to the delight of our DMV crew here.
1) Green Bay
They’ve got a new coach and a new pair of edge rushers in the Smith boys, Za’Darius and Preston. They’ve also reloaded at Safety with Adrian Amos. Aaron Rodgers is back healthy and RB Aaron Jones has a full season in front of him. Things are looking up for the Hubbs & Liz combo.
A coaching change on the offensive side of the ball with John DeFilippo out and Kevin Stefanski shedding the interim tag the Vikings will look to run the ball more. Behind an improved line headed up by rookie C Garrett Bradberry and a healthy Dalvin Cook, this team has the makings of a playoff contender.
They lost Vic Fangio. It’s hard to imagine not taking a step back after a pivotal loss like that. They did replace him with Chuck Pagano which will help, but they still haven’t found a kicker and I foresee a regression. Deal with it Big Cat.
A team with a bunch of holes spent a top 10 pick on a Tight End. I like HC Matt Patricia but they’re going to look to run the ball out of 2 TE sets with newly acquired TE Jesse James and rookie TE T.J. Hockenson.
1) New Orleans
With Drew Brees still playing at a high level, it’s hard to bet against Riggs’ favorite team at this stage. RB Alvin Kamara is a stud and they replaced Mark Ingram with Latavious Murray, which was needed because Kamara hasn’t proven to be a 20+ carry guy. The defense should still have enough with DE Cam Jordan, DT David Onyemata, and a young guy that has flashed EDGE Marcus Davenport, assuming he can stay healthy.
2) Tampa Bay
For the record, I have all teams in this division finishing above .500. This has been the toughest division in football the last six years and it doesn’t change this year. Nobody is picking the Bucs and that’s fair given their recent track record (no playoff appearances in 11 years). That being said, everyone was very high on Tampa Bay with their talent recently, all they did was majorly upgrade their coaching staff and fix their special teams which had been a bugaboo for them. This team was 4-7 in one score games last year and HC Bruce Arians really heightens the ability for his team to execute and not beat themselves in one score games. I foresee a turnaround coming for the Pewter Pirates.
Their defense is finally healthy again and they still have an explosive offense. Losing RB Tevin Coleman in free agency hurts, especially when RB Devonta Freeman can’t stay healthy. They’re loaded with playmakers on defense and it’s hard to see them not being in the mix late in the season.
Cam Newton’s health is the biggest question of the season for the Panthers, but they’ve got an emerging young team. Their offensive line is solid and RB Christian McCaffrey really showed he can be a big time playmaker last season. Their defensive line is somehow improved and their trickeration offense causes teams problems. They are still 4th based on a tiebreaker. Sorry Quigs.
1) Los Angeles Rams
This team is loaded and added S Eric Weddle on defense. That will be a key along with the return to health of WR Cooper Kupp who missed the end of last season. RB Todd Gurley’s knee is a question mark but they drafted RB Darrell Henderson out of Memphis who could help spell him.
The trade for EDGE Jadeveon Clowney helps stop the bleeding from DE Frank Clark’s departure, but Clark is still a better player. Russell Wilson doesn’t lose often and as the league is zigging to mainly passing Marina’s Seahawks are zagging to a devastating running game with RB Chris Carson. Their home field is enough to get them a few wins, but they’ve got the talent to be in the mix around Christmas time.
3) San Francsico
Can QB Jimmy Garoppolo stay healthy? That’s the biggest question although I’ve heard some saying QB Nick Mullens may actually be better. Either way the 49ers have some new talent with LB Kwon Alexander & RB Tevin Coleman. HC Kyle Shanahan should be able to maximize the talent of a deep backfield.
Rookie HC Kliff Kingsbury will bring the Air Raid offense to the desert and he got his guy with QB Kyler Murray. I think this team will surprise with some upsets and they have good edge rushers in Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs. We’ll see how this offense works in the pros.
While tomorrow is the opening day for the NFL, it’s also the opening day for my NFL Podcast Surf & Turf with my co-host, Super Bowl Champion Willie Colon. It’ll be a weekly interview based show that’ll give some great stories from former NFL players that normal networks can’t touch. We’re kicking off our show with an incredible interview with Ryan Clark so please subscribe, download, & listen tomorrow morning!