Still my favorite post of the year! Still don’t care how wrong I am! Still got love for the streets, repping 253! Still not loving police! And so on and so forth …
Last year, I had the Seahawks over the Colts in the Super Bowl. I got something like 2 division winners right, and maybe only half of the playoff participants. And I had some MIND-BOGGLING picks, like the Rams & Lions & Dolphins in the Wild Card, and the Chiefs over the Broncos and Ravens over the Bengals as division winners. In short, it was all bad; so let’s try to do better. As usual, I’ll refrain from predicting actual records, and just list the teams in order of where they’ll finish in the standings in their respective divisions.
I got the Redskins on a big ol’ come-up! Mostly because I think Scot McCloughan is a roster genius and has turned around every franchise he’s put his hands on. Their offense improved greatly over the course of the 2015 season and should play well going forward as long as Cousins stays healthy. I think they’ll find just enough on defense to stay in games. And, I think the Cowboys and ESPECIALLY the Eagles will be pretty bad this year. Gods and clods in this division, as I have the Giants taking the next step and returning to the playoffs as a wild card. I figure 9-7 should be good enough in this NFC to nab a 6th seed.
You hate to put all your hopes on the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, but that’s essentially what I’m doing with the Vikings this year. Granted, I don’t think he’s great, but I think he is good at limiting mistakes and playing within the flow of the offense. With the team around him, I think he’s worth an extra 1-2 wins over his counterparts (in this case, Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford). I just think Hill is doomed to get hurt at some point, and Bradford has the misfortune of not having practiced with the team all offseason. Both guys are clear steps down compared to Bridgewater, which I think relegates this team to 7 or 8 wins at most. That puts Green Bay in the driver’s seat by default, and a real contender for the top two spots in the NFC. I like Detroit to play good offense and poor defense, and I like Chicago to play good defense and poor offense.
This feels remarkably easy, but Carolina is simply the most complete team in the division, period. I think the Bucs take a big step forward this year – especially on offense – and I think they contend for that 6th seed, but I think they ultimately fall short on tie-breakers. I don’t expect much out of Atlanta’s offense again this year, and I think their defense is considerably worse. I think the Saints do enough on offense to win some games they should lose, but ultimately they need to do too much on defense to be competitive this year. Maybe 2017.
This is the homer coming out in me. By all rights, the Cardinals should repeat as division champs – they’re just as good as they were last year, if not better in certain areas, AND they have the easier schedule, by dodging Tom Brady and playing the Vikings instead of the Packers – but I just think the Seahawks are hungrier. I also think the Seahawks are going to get off to a really hot start this year. Combine that with the fact that Palmer is due for another devastating injury (with the outside chance that his psyche never recovers from that playoff dismantling by the Panthers last year), and let’s just say I’m hedging my bets by having the Cards make the wild card at something like 10-6.
Not for nothing, but I also think the Rams take a HUGE step back this year. I think the 49ers shock some people – as they have the most negative hype I’ve seen in recent memory – and I think the Rams do so poorly that they have no choice but to fire Jeff Fisher and company (in spite of his recent contract extension). I just think they can’t afford to waste Goff’s prime on a nothing coaching staff and will look to shake things up by bringing in the hottest offensive coordinator on the market this upcoming offseason (whoever that may be).
Keep picking the Pats until the end of time! You want a shocker (and the clubhouse leader for the pick I’m likeliest to get wrong)? I got Buffalo FINALLY breaking their streak as the team with the longest playoff drought! I like Tyrod Taylor a lot, I like a desperate Rex Ryan, and I like how nobody’s giving this team a shot. I think 9-7 (with tiebreakers) does it. I don’t think Fitzpatrick has another year like 2015 in him, and he proves why paying guys like him $12 million per year is a fool’s errand. I think Tannehill improves with Adam Gase as his head coach, but I don’t think it’s enough, as this team is pretty weak and unimpressive in most areas outside of the D-Line.
I like Roethlisberger to stay mostly healthy and put up huge numbers again. I like the defense to do just enough, but the offense to ultimately carry them. I think Andy Dalton takes a step back without Hue Jackson holding his hand. I think Baltimore improves, but only to the 7 or 8-win range. And, I think Cleveland gets another Top 5 draft pick to throw onto the pile. Ultimately, I think the Bengals fall short of making the playoffs, with potential coaching casualties following.
I think Brock Osweiler is a VAST improvement over all the QBs Houston had on their roster last year, and with the talent around him (particularly Lamar Miller’s breakout year), and that defense behind him, is enough to get them to 10 or 11 wins. The key for Osweiler is to limit turnovers. If he can do that (the way Hoyer & Co. could not), the sky is the limit for this team. I like Jacksonville to take a big step forward and really contend for a wild card spot, but I think they’re probably another year away. I’m also concerned about Bortles regressing, but I’ll avoid that conversation for now, as I’m counting on him in Fantasy to lead me to glory this year and beyond. I think Indy is a trainwreck, and no amount of Andrew Luck will be able to carry this team to the playoffs, in what is a vastly improved division. I think the Titans give the Colts a run for their money, but ultimately fall just short (because the Titans have garbage coaching, and no weapons on offense outside of TE).
I like the Chiefs for 12 wins and one of the top 2 seeds. I like Oakland to be the team to make the jump into the other Wild Card spot. I like Denver for about 8 wins (never thought their defense alone would be enough to carry them back into the post-season). And, I like the Chargers to be playing in a city outside of San Diego in 2017.
- Green Bay
- NY Giants
- New England
- Kansas City
I like the Seahawks because I’m a homer, and I like the Packers over the other three teams because I think they have the most favorable schedule (AFC South & NFC East are the divisions they have to play, while catching Seattle, Houston, Indy, and the Giants at home, and playing garbage Atlanta thanks to their 2nd place divisional schedule).
I like New England because they’re New England. I like the Chiefs because I think they’re balanced and poised to take that next step.
Wild Card Round
Washington over NY Giants
Carolina over Arizona
Houston over Buffalo
Oakland over Pittsburgh
Seattle over Carolina
Green Bay over Washington
New England over Oakland
Kansas City over Houston
Seattle over Green Bay
Kansas City over New England
Seattle over Kansas City
What can I say? I like me some Seahawks, and I like me some Super Bowls against AFC West opponents!