Predicting The 2018 NFL Season

So, I did that dumb thing where you print out the whole season schedule and predict every single game.  It’s incomprehensibly stupid and a total waste of time – because obviously I’m not going to predict anywhere CLOSE to all the games correct – but it actually kind of worked out I think!  We’ll see.  The records I came up with look like they could hypothetically be accurate – I don’t have anyone going 16-0 or 0-16, for instance – and I’m going to assume all the totals add up to whatever the number of regular season NFL games is supposed to be.

Check out some predictions from past seasons:

I’ll take just a QUICK look back at how I did in 2017 to get that out of the way.  See my division winners on the left (my predicted playoff seeding in parentheses) and the actual division winners on the right (with the actual playoff seeding in parentheses):

  • Seattle (1) – Los Angeles (3)
  • Green Bay (2) – Minnesota (2)
  • New York (3) – Philadelphia (1)
  • Carolina (4) – New Orleans (4)
  • New England (1) – New England (1)
  • Kansas City (2) – Kansas City (4)
  • Pittsburgh (3) – Pittsburgh (2)
  • Tennessee (4) – Jacksonville (3)

Wildcards:

  • Tampa Bay (5) – Carolina (5)
  • Dallas (6) – Atlanta (6)
  • Oakland (5) – Tennessee (5)
  • Houston (6) – Buffalo (6)

So, as you can see, I fucked up the NFC entirely (only predicting Carolina to make the playoffs, but I had them as a division winner and they only were a wildcard), but I picked 3/4 AFC division winners and 4/6 of the AFC playoff teams.  I’ve had better years though (obviously, since last year I predicted a Super Bowl of Seattle over Oakland).

Let’s just wipe that from our memory banks, if we can, and move on to this year.

NFC East

  • Philadelphia:  9-7
  • Dallas:  8-8
  • Washington:  8-8
  • New York:  5-11

I still like Philly a lot, and may have under-shot their record here, but I can’t help but see some regression out of this team.  I do think their second half will be a lot better than their first half, and I think the rest of their division is pretty mediocre, so it shouldn’t be a stretch for them to repeat as NFC East champs.  I think the Cowboys have a relatively easy schedule, which accounts for their 8 wins.  I actually believe the Redskins will be better than the Cowboys, but for whatever reason I see an uneven season out of them (winning some games they should lose, but also losing some games they should win).  I don’t like the Giants whatsoever and I think Eli is finished.

NFC North

  • Green Bay:  13-3
  • Minnesota:  10-6
  • Detroit:  9-7
  • Chicago:  4-12

I’ll say it right now:  I’m guaranteeing a full healthy season out of Aaron Rodgers.  He just signed a huge extension, so obviously he can’t be too disgruntled with that team.  I think he’ll be on the warpath this year and really carry that team to new heights.  I still like the Vikings a lot, but I think there’s some regression there (as well as some growing pains with a new QB in Cousins) and I just think there will be an adjustment period for them (I could also see the Vikings getting hit hard by the injury bug).  I like Detroit okay – and their new coaching staff has to be an improvement over last year’s – but they’re probably a year or two away from really competing for the division again.  I have a lot of doubts about the Bears and don’t really think this quarterback is going to hit big.

NFC South

  • Atlanta:  11-5
  • Carolina:  10-6
  • New Orleans:  9-7
  • Tampa Bay:  2-14

The big thing here is I believe the Falcons’ defense will take a big step forward this season.  I don’t trust Sark as an offensive coordinator and I never will, but I don’t think this offense is going to have to be as elite to rack up a bunch of wins.  I think the Panthers are just solid all the way around, and they’ve got a relatively easy schedule as it is.  I think the Saints take a little bit of a step back as I wonder if the offense will be as good with all the changes in the skill players.  I could also see the Saints getting a lot of guys injured.  I think the Bucs are going to compete for the #1 overall draft pick next year.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles:  12-4
  • San Francisco:  9-7
  • Seattle:  9-7
  • Arizona:  3-13

I think this is the year for the Rams.  I think they put it all together and go to the Super Bowl.  I think the Seahawks and 49ers will be about the same, but the 49ers will have the edge based on conference wins.  I actually – upon further review – have the Seahawks going 5-1 before the BYE, before going on a 5-game losing streak, then finishing the season on a 4-1 streak (don’t know what that’s about).  I think Arizona will be terrible.

AFC East

  • New England:  12-4
  • Miami:  7-9
  • New York:  5-11
  • Buffalo:  2-14

What a surprise!  The Patriots roll to an easy divisional title because the AFC East is the worst fucking division in all of football!  Of the poo-poo platter that is the rest of this division, I think with Tannehill back, the Dolphins will win the most games of the bunch (but still not enough to make the playoffs or even go .500).  I think the Jets will struggle with a rookie QB at the helm.  And, I think the Bills will compete with the Bucs for that #1 overall draft pick.  TANKING AT ITS FINEST IN THE AFC EAST!

AFC North

  • Pittsburgh:  13-3
  • Cincinnati:  9-7
  • Baltimore:  7-9
  • Cleveland:  4-12

A lot of gods & clods in the AFC this year.  I think the Steelers dominate a pretty easy schedule.  I think Cincy is better than expected (but falls just short of the playoffs).  I think the Ravens will be okay.  And I think too many people are buying the Hard Knocks hype; stay away from the Browns this year and thank me later (they’ll be better when they fire Hue Jackson).

AFC South

  • Jacksonville:  13-3
  • Houston:  11-5
  • Tennessee:  7-9
  • Indianapolis:  4-12

This division is going to be FUN!  Here, I love me some Jags; I think they play the Rams in one of the most entertaining Super Bowls of all time.  I’m also on the Houston bandwagon, but I think they fall just short of a division title.  I don’t like the Titans to repeat as a playoff team; and I think Andrew Luck will win them a few games single-handedly, but the Colts overall will be pretty bad.

AFC West

  • Los Angeles:  12-4
  • Kansas City:  9-7
  • Denver:  6-10
  • Oakland:  4-12

It’s probably bad that I’m drinking the Kool Aid on L.A., Houston, Pittsburgh, AND Jacksonville, but here we are.  I think the Chargers finally put it all together and the city of Los Angeles enjoys the best professional football in the country.  I don’t see the Chiefs as the powerhouse that other teams do – they’ll also have some growing pains with a new QB in Mahomes – but I think they’ll get better as the season goes along and sneak into the playoffs.  I just don’t buy the Broncos, and I think Jon Gruden will be a terrible hire for the Raiders.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Green Bay
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Atlanta
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Minnesota
  6. Carolina

AFC Playoffs

  1. Jacksonville
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. New England
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Houston
  6. Kansas City

Wild Card Round

  • Atlanta over Carolina
  • Philadelphia over Minnesota
  • New England over Kansas City
  • Los Angeles over Houston

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Atlanta
  • Green Bay over Philadelphia
  • Jacksonville over Los Angeles
  • New England over Pittsburgh

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Jacksonville over New England

Super Bowl

  • Jacksonville over Los Angeles

Now that I look at it, it looks silly to have the Steelers over the Pats in the regular season (betting against the Patriots getting that first round bye is always a bad move), but I can’t go back and change it!

I have 5/8 division winners repeating and 9/12 playoff teams returning, which also feels like a few too many.  We’ll see, I guess.  I haven’t felt this strongly about a Super Bowl matchup since Seahawks/Broncos; I would bet a lot of money it’s these two teams.

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