2016 NFL Season Predictions

2016 Football 560x312It isn’t football season until Le’Veon Bell gets suspended, Tom Brady whines about appealing his, and Rex Ryan is coaching an AFC team somewhere up in the Northeast. The number of story-lines that will lead us into the upcoming 2016 season is a laundry list of suspensions, injuries, and future stars. From Ezekiel Elliott becoming the next biggest star running back of the NFL to Josh Gordon being reinstated for the Cleveland Browns, the 2016 season has already given us a few unpredictable moments.

Since we are in a predicting mood, let’s go ahead and predict this season’s division winners, each team’s record, and even the playoffs, Super Bowl included. Enjoy.

AFC North : Pittsburgh Steelers

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  • Strength of Schedule: 23rd
  • Biggest Games
    • Oct. 2nd – vs. Kansas City
    • Oct. 23rd – vs. New England
    • Nov. 24th – @ Indianapolis
    • Dec. 18th – @ Cincinnati
    • Dec. 25th – vs. Baltimore
  • Key Additions: Ladarius Green (TE), David Johnson (TE) Ryan Harris (OT)
  • Key Losses: Kelvin Beachum (OT), Heath Miller (TE), Steve McLendon (DT), Brandon Boykin (CB), Will Allen (S)
  • Outlook: Last season just wasn’t their year. This is true for Pittsburgh, who dealt with injuries to Ben Roethlisberger, who missed five games, and Le’Veon Bell, who missed two games from suspension and then got put on IR with a season ending knee injury in Week 8. Even without those two stars, the Steelers managed 10 wins and were arguably the most dangerous team of the AFC playoffs in 2015. They proved they could win without Bell last year who will be missing the first two weeks of 2016 after being suspended again.

AFC North Standings Prediction:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
  4. Cleveland Browns (2-14)

AFC South : Indianapolis Colts

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  • Strength of Schedule: 22nd
  • Biggest Games
    • Sept. 18th – @ Denver
    • Oct. 2nd – @ Jacksonville (London, UK)
    • Oct. 30th – vs. Kansas City
    • Nov. 6th – @ Green Bay
    • Nov. 24th – vs. Pittsburgh
  • Key Additions: Robert Turbin (RB), Patrick Robinson (CB), Jordan Todman (RB)
  • Key Losses: Coby Fleener (TE), Jerrell Freeman (LB), Dwight Lowery (S)
  • Outlook: Andrew Luck is the best thing the Colts have going for them after a terrible 8-8 season last year. They were supposed to be the king’s of the division and contend for a Super Bowl but Luck dealt with injuries all season long, even when he played during those 7 games. He is expected to be 100% healthy and ready for a full 16 game slate this year, which can only mean they are well on their way to 11 or more wins and a division title.

AFC South Standings Prediction:

  1. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
  2. Houston Texans (9-7)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)
  4. Tennessee Titans (3-13)

AFC East : New England Patriots

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  • Strength of Schedule: 9th
  • Biggest Games
    • Sept. 11th – @ Arizona
    • Oct. 23rd – @ Pittsburgh
    • Nov. 13th – vs. Seattle
    • Dec. 18th – @ Denver
    • Jan. 1st – @ Miami
  • Key Additions: Donald Brown (RB), Martellus Bennett (TE), Chris Hogan (WR), Nate Washington (WR), Chris Long (DE), Terrance Knighton (DT), Shea McClellin (DE/LB)
  • Key Losses: Brandon LaFell (WR), Dominique Easley (DT), Scott Chandler (TE), Akiem Hicks (DT), Chandler Jones (DE/LB), Leonard Johnson (CB)
  • Outlook: Don’t ever count out a Bill Belichick coached team. If we have learned anything over the past 16 seasons, it’s that he can win games. He has won 12 or more games since 2010 (he averages 11.7 wins/season since signing with New England in 2000). and even when the Patriots lost Tom Brady in 2008, they still went 11-5. So many things are in favor of the Patriots making another run thanks to the NFL scheduling three home games in their first four. When Brady returns, they head to Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo over their next four so his return will be perfect timing.

AFC East Standings Prediction:

  1. New England Patriots (12-4)
  2. Miami Dolphins (9-7)
  3. Buffalo Bills (8-8)
  4. New York Jets (6-10)

AFC West : Denver Broncos

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  • Strength of Schedule: 14th
  • Biggest Games
    • Sept. 8th – vs. Carolina
    • Oct. 24th – vs. Houston
    • Dec. 18th – vs. New England
    • Dec. 25th – @ Kansas City
    • Jan 1st – vs. Oakland
  • Key Additions: Trevor Siemian (QB), Russell Okung (OT), Garrett Graham (TE), Donald Stephenson (OT)
  • Key Losses: Peyton Manning (QB), Ronnie Hillman (RB), Vernon Davis (TE), Owen Daniels (TE), Ryan Clady (OT), Ryan Harris (OT), Evan Mathis (OG), Louis Vasquez (OG), Malik Jackson (DE/DT), Danny Trevathan (LB), David Bruton (S)
  • Outlook: Outside of 2011, Peyton Manning never missed a single game in his 16 year career before 2015. He missed 7 games and the Broncos finished 5-2 during that down time with a virtually unknown young QB, Brock Osweiler. So if you think they will be bad because Peyton retired, think again. Their defense is so good, all they need is a QB that doesn’t turn the ball over and they will be back in the Super Bowl, for the third time in four years.

AFC West Standings Prediction:

  1. Denver Broncos (11-5)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)
  3. Oakland Raiders (8-8)
  4. San Diego Chargers (6-10)

NFC North : Green Bay Packers

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  • Strength of Schedule: 32nd
  • Biggest Games
    • Sept. 18th – @ Minnesota
    • Nov. 6th – vs. Indianapolis
    • Nov. 20th – @ Washington
    • Dec. 11th – vs. Seattle
    • Dec. 24th – vs. Minnesota
  • Key Additions: Jared Cook (TE)
  • Key Losses: James Jones (WR), B.J. Raji (DT), Mike Neal (DE), Casey Hayward (CB)
  • Outlook: No one in the NFL has an easier path to the playoffs than the Green Bay Packers this season. Aaron Rodgers is still one of the top three best QBs in the NFL and his accuracy is scary good. With six of their first eight games at home, they have a great shot at chasing down that 15-1 record that the Panthers finished 2015 with.

NFC North Standings Prediction:

  1. Green Bay Packers (12-4)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
  3. Chicago Bears (6-10)
  4. Detroit Lions (3-13)

NFC South : New Orleans Saints

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  • Strength of Schedule: 4th
  • Biggest Games
    • Oct. 16th – vs. Carolina
    • Oct. 23rd – @ Kansas City
    • Oct. 30th – vs. Seattle
    • Nov. 13th – vs. Denver
    • Nov. 17th – @ Carolina
    • Dec. 18th – @ Arizona
  • Key Additions: Nick Fairley (DT), James Laurinaitis (LB), Roman Harper (S), Courtland Finnegan (CB), Nathan Stupar (LB), Coby Fleener (TE)
  • Key Losses: Marques Colston (WR), Ben Watson (TE), Jahri Evans (OG), David Hawthorne (LB), Brandon Browner (CB)
  • Outlook: The only thing stopping the Saints in 2016 is their defense, which should be much better this year. Stephone Anthony, Delvin Breaux, and Hau’oli Kikaha are back to build off their impressive rookie campaigns

NFC South Standings Prediction:

  1. New Orleans Saints (11-5)
  2. Carolina Panthers (11-5)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)

NFC East : Washington Redskins

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  • Strength of Schedule: 17th
  • Biggest Games
    • Sept. 12th – vs. Pittsburgh
    • Oct. 30th – @ Cincinnati (London, UK)
    • Nov. 20th – vs. Green Bay
    • Dec. 4th – @ Arizona
    • Dec. 19th – vs. Carolina
  • Key Additions: Vernon Davis (TE), Josh Norman (CB), Kendall Reyes (DE/DT), Greg Toler (CB), David Bruton (S)
  • Key Losses: Robert Griffin III (QB), Alfred Morris (RB), Jason Hatcher (DE/DT), Keenan Robinson (LB), Dashon Goldson (S)
  • Outlook: If there is one division in the NFL that is going to be tough and weak, it is the NFC East. The Redskins are going to win the division, it is just a matter of whether they win 10 or 9 games. Kirk Cousins will finally have 16 games to show how much he deserves to be paid. They have a very easy schedule before they head to London in Week 8 and could honestly be 6-1 or 5-2. After that, things get tough, really tough.

NFC East Standings Prediction:

  1. Washington Redskins (9-7)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
  3. New York Giants (7-9)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-11)

NFC West : Arizona Cardinals

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  • Strength of Schedule: 7th
  • Biggest Games
    • Sept. 11th – vs. New England
    • Oct. 23rd – vs. Seattle
    • Oct. 30th – @ Carolina
    • Nov. 20th – @ Minnesota
    • Dec. 18th – vs. New Orleans
    • Dec. 24th – @ Seattle
  • Key Additions: Evan Mathis (OG), Chandler Jones (DE), Tyvon Branch (S)
  • Key Losses: Bobby Massie (OT), Jonathan Cooper (OG), Cory Redding (DT), Jerraud Powers (CB), Rashad Johnson (S)
  • Outlook: Based on their schedule, going 13-3 is not going to be as easy as it looks. However, they have the defense and a high-scoring offense that could beat anyone. They host the Patriots, Saints, and Seahawks but have to travel to Carolina, Seattle, and Minnesota too. Expect more of the same from Carson Palmer as he leads David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and a lineup that has lots of upside. Their defense, on the other hand, is going to be one of the best in the NFL, as usual.

NFC West Standings Prediction:

  1. Arizona Cardinals (13-3)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (7-9)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (3-13)

AFC Playoffs

Wild Card Round (Winners in Bold)

3) Denver Broncos vs. 6) Houston Texans

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4) Indianapolis Colts vs. 5) Cincinnati Bengals

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Divisional Round

1) Pittsburgh Steelers vs. 6) Houston Texans

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2) New England Patriots vs. 4) Indianapolis Colts

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Conference Championship

1) Pittsburgh Steelers vs. 2) New England Patriots

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NFC Playoffs

Wild Card Round

3) New Orleans Saints vs. 6) Carolina Panthers

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4) Washington Redskins vs. 5) Seattle Seahawks

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Divisional Round

1) Arizona Cardinals vs. 5) Seattle Seahawks

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2) Green Bay Packers vs. 3) New Orleans Saints

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Conference Championship

1) Arizona Cardinals vs. 3) New Orleans Saints

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Super Bowl LI – Houston, TX

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Arizona Cardinals over Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s the rematch the Arizona Cardinals have dreamt about since Plaxico Burress used his tip-toes to win the 2008 Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida. It has been a struggle to reach this height again but the Cardinals finally have all the pieces in place to do so. Don’t expect much defense either as this one is going to be a touchdown scoring bonanza and could end on another last minute touchdown.