Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Some Good & Bad In A Week 1 Win

Part of me feels like I had no business winning that first game; that’ll happen when you score the 4th (out of 5th) most points in victory (and when you score the 7th most points in total). There were only three teams I would’ve defeated, and I was lucky enough to have gone up against one of them.

But, as a seasoned fantasy football veteran, I know shit like this happens. And, at some point, my team is going to be held WAY under its expected total points, and I’m going to lose to a team that was Just Okay. The fantasy gods giveth, and the fantasy gods taketh away.

Snoopy & Prickly Pete defeated Car Talk With Josh Allen 161.88 to 123.35.

I woke up on Sunday to find that Trey Sermon was inactive. That had me scrambling to my computer to put Raheem Mostert into my lineup over Clyde Edwards-Helaire. When you roster Mostert, you know time is of the essence; there are precious few weeks in a season where he makes it through a game unscathed. In striking while the iron was hot, I figured what better opportunity to enjoy a completely-healthy Mostert?

It turns out, he was good for two carries before he injured his knee, sending him to the IR for the rest of the year.

I’m a pretty rational human being. I know, for instance, that I wasn’t the only person who was duped into starting Mostert this past week. I know I wasn’t the only person to make a last-second lineup change that backfired. But, I believe wholeheartedly that I’m the only person in the world who gets so consistently fucked over by these moves every single time. Either I make the switch, and it backfires, or I stick to my guns, and I leave points on my bench. EVERY. FUCKING. TIME.

In this case, it was hard to be too upset, because CEH only got 10.2 points – pretty much what I expected him to get against the Browns – but that’s not the point. The point is the potential of what Mostert represented, in a cupcake matchup against the Lions’ inept run defense. That was a 20+ point game in the making!

The fantasy gods, knowing they did me dirty, decided to help me out in this one. My opponent had Ryan Fitzpatrick going as one of his QBs; he made it all of 6 pass attempts before going down with an injury. That one probably hurt Car Talk more than it hurt me, but if Mostert would’ve had the monster day I was expecting, I think it might’ve been close.

Anyway, the highlight of my day was Jameis Winston throwing for 5 touchdowns and getting me 41.1 points. He REALLY carried me, though I had some good performances elsewhere. CeeDee Lamb got me 23.88, Jimmy G got me 19.9 (and had a TD pass stolen from him at the goalline by the backup, FML), D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and the Rams’ defense all got me in the teens.

Meanwhile, Car Talk had 25-point games out of Kelce and Mixon, but Josh Allen struggled in a tough matchup against the Steelers’ defense. On top of that, he had four guys NOT named Fitzpatrick who also got him under 10 points each (compared to just Elliott and Mostert for me).

Late last week, after Gus Edwards went down, I picked up Ty’Son Williams, dropping Zack Moss (who was another surprise inactive on gameday). Williams looks to be going up against Latavius Murray (who I also just picked up on waivers this week) for carries in that backfield; he had a solid game on Monday Night, but the splits were pretty even between the two. I’ll continue to monitor them, while still looking to shore up the position. In the meantime, Mostert lands in my IR spot.

This week, I go up against Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars. Here’s my projected lineup:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) @ CAR
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ PHI
  • A.J. Brown (WR) @ SEA
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. TEN
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ LAC
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) @ BAL
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ JAX
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ LAC
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. KC
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ IND

I have at least one friend in my league who thinks Winston might’ve been the best pick in the entire draft. After one week, who am I to argue?! But, I’d like to see it over a consistent basis before I crown my ass. Nevertheless, the Panthers’ defense looks like a pretty good landing spot for his second week. Jimmy G, I’m a little more concerned about. Maybe the Philly defense is better than we thought? Or Atlanta is just terrible? My alternative is Mac Jones at the Jets, which seems like a no-brainer. But, the Jets do have a pretty good D-Line, I’m told, and again it’s only his second game. My hunch is the 49ers will need to throw the ball more to put up points to keep up with the Eagles (especially if the 49ers’ defense is as bad as we saw in the second half against the Lions last week). I’m really just biding my time – and THOROUGHLY on the Bench Andy Dalton Bandwagon – until Justin Fields gets the starting job full time. Boy did he look good in limited action against the Bears!

Zeke is locked in at running back, and I fully expect him to have a much better game against the Chargers. CEH is up in the air …

As usual, my three receivers are locked in, so I won’t be throwing any running backs into my flex spot just yet. Ty’Son Williams is still in too much of a timeshare to trust at this point.

I’m reasonably happy with Justin Tucker against the Chiefs, though that could be uncomfortable if the Chiefs start racking up the touchdowns. I still don’t know enough about Noah Fant or the Jaguars to know if I’m happy with that matchup, but my gut tells me it should go well for me. I’d like to think the Rams could do just as well against the Colts as the Seahawks did, if not better; here’s hoping Aaron Donald can make Carson Wentz’s life miserable!

The lineup Hahmez Wah is throwing out there looks quite formidable!

  • Jalen Hurts (QB) vs. SF
  • Matthew Stafford (QB) @ IND
  • Stefon Diggs (WR) @ MIA
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. LV
  • Chris Carson (RB) vs. TEN
  • D’Andre Swift (RB) @ GB
  • Robert Tonyan (TE) vs. DET
  • Tyler Lockett (WR) vs. TEN
  • Rodrigo Blankenship (K) vs. LAR
  • Buffalo (DEF) @ MIA

Hurts looks like a Top 5 fantasy quarterback, and if the 49ers’ defense is as bad as they were in the second half against Detroit, that could be a 40-point game in the making. Stafford, of course, I’m super-high on, and Indy’s defense is beatable, as we just saw with Russell Wilson. Diggs is a Top 5 wide receiver and Buffalo loves to throw the ball, so that’s always scary. Johnson is a little boom-or-busty for the Steelers, but nothing I know about the Raiders’ defense leads me to believe they can stop a top-flight passing attack. Carson was held out of the endzone against the Colts, but I wouldn’t expect that to continue against a truly wretched Titans defense. Swift had a GREAT first week and could very well find himself the beneficiary of lots of checkdowns as the Lions try to come back against the Packers on Monday night. Tonyan is solid, though I imagine Rodgers will look to get all his receivers going this week. Lockett had a terrific first week, so hopefully this time he hangs back and lets Metcalf take the lead. Miami’s offense stinks with Tua, so I fully expect Buffalo to blast them.

All told he’s got some great looking players and matchups this week, so I’m going to need a bundle to keep up. It’s not totally impossible for me to do so, but I get the feeling my team is probably a 160-ish point team at best most weeks. Jimmy G is too much of a burden, and that might make all the difference if he shits the bed. I’m predicting a loss, maybe even a total blowout.

Splinter League Round-Up!

Dude, fuck me, I don’t know what happened. I was projected to be the top scoring team in the league this year, and came out and scored the fewest points in week one. That’s thanks in large part to Aaron Rodgers laying a fucking EGG and getting less than one point. Najee Harris was also disappointing, getting less than 6 points. And Mark Andrews didn’t do me any favors on Monday night either (though, by that point, I was rooting against him in other leagues, so it was okay). I’m chocking this up to a fluke occurrence and we’re On To Cincinnati.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Snoopy & Prickly Pete

Also, check out the Fantasy Football tag for all my past ramblings on the subject.

Last year ended as horribly as can be in my Main League. I made the 6-team playoffs, but then promptly lost in the first round. That means I missed out on the 4-team consolation bracket – which plays for the top 4 draft picks the following season – and was saddled in the 5/6 game, playing for the 5th/6th draft pick. Of course, I lost that game as well, and here I was, heading into this season drafting 6th out of 10 teams, in a standard (non-snake) draft.

Last year, we were up to 4 keepers, having steadily increased that number over the last few years, with the ultimate goal of turning the league into a Dynasty League. Finally, there was enough discontent that the talk at this year’s rules meeting centered on, “We either need to go full dynasty, or blow it all up and eliminate keepers altogether.”

I don’t mind telling you I was lobbying hard to go with the dynasty league. I’ve been spending the last few years suffering mediocre finishes all in the name of trying to find the best keepers possible to carry over (with the primary goal of finding one or two quality quarterbacks to finally cement that position once and for all). I didn’t want all of that work to go to waste. Thankfully, by the thinnest of margins, we were able to vote in the dynasty.

Our set up is like this: we have to keep all of our starting positions. 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DEF. Easy peasy. We’ll get to wait until about a week before our fantasy draft next year before declaring who those keepers will be. Then, at the draft, we’ll select our 5 bench spots out of whoever’s left over, plus any incoming rookies.

This all starts NEXT year, meaning that we’re still only carrying over 4 keepers from last season. But, with our draft – that took place last Thursday – it’s officially on. If you’re not going all-in on the dynasty aspect with regards to who you’re drafting, then that means you like your team an awful lot and are pushing to win the championship within the next 1-2 years.

I didn’t love my keepers heading into our draft, because – SPOILER ALERT – I had no quarterbacks among the four. My keepers were:

  1. A.J. Brown (WR)
  2. CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  3. Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB)

That’s the ranking of how much I liked them, 1 through 4. I was waffling back and forth on CEH until the bitter end, before I read enough pundits who think he’s due to have a bounce-back year in his second season in the league. I can buy it. He doesn’t appear to have a lot of competition at the spot in Kansas City; even though they throw the ball WAY MORE than they run it, he could sneak in for some more touchdowns and still catch a lot of balls.

I had zero interest in keeping Josh Jacobs. He was supposed to be my horse last year, but he underwhelmed, and then the Raiders brought in Kenyan Drake (the bane of every fantasy owner’s existence wherever he plays, because he’s always stealing carries from someone more promising). I had a lot of fringey receivers I was mulling over (Jerry Jeudy, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, D.J. Chark, and Rashard Higgins), but all of those guys are players that could easily be had in any fantasy draft.

As for my two quarterbacks, I had Kirk Cousins (who’s a non-starter for me, since he’s not vaccinated – which means there’s a high likelihood he misses games this year – and he’s just overall mediocre), and Tua Tagovailoa. I made a HUGE to-do about picking him up on waivers last year, thinking his Alabama pedigree might translate to NFL success. But, he just looked too shitty as a rookie last year. More often than not, you can see which rookie quarterbacks are going to be studs, and which ones are going to be Marcus Mariota. Tua looks like he’s going to be a left-handed Mariota.

In the end, my final keeper came down to CEH and Tee Higgins. I was THIS close to keeping Higgins, because I freaking love that dude, and I think in that Bengals offense he’s going to be steadily productive for the next decade. But, the Bengals also went out and drafted another elite receiver really high in this year’s draft, plus they still have Tyler Boyd, who’s solid. There ended up being too many cooks in that kitchen, and I was scared off. I still think Higgins will be the best of those three this year, but going forward, it’s iffy.

Plus, let’s face it, there are tons of solid wide receivers all throughout the league. Keeping three of them seemed like overkill. I would’ve been effectively handing over my FLEX spot to Higgins, and if for whatever reason he struggles, then I’ve wasted one of my keeper spots for a fringe fantasy starter.

***

I had a couple plans heading into the draft with my 6th overall pick. Trevor Lawrence would obviously be off the table (he, indeed, went #1 overall). I assumed Najee Harris would also be off the table (he ended up being taken with the third pick, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment). I ranked my top six players, and my third choice would’ve been Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (who very well might’ve fallen to me, as he was ultimately taken 7th), followed by Matthew Stafford (who did fall to me, though I ended up trading him – SPOILER ALERT AGAIN), and then the Washington and Indy running backs as 5th and 6th (they ended up going 5th and 4th respectively).

I would’ve been elated to have Matthew Stafford, because I think he’s going to have an awesome year with the Rams. Plus, he’s only 33 years old, which means he could have another 7-10 years ahead of him if things break right!

My general plan was to load up on quarterbacks – taking lots of flyers on rookies, after Stafford – and running backs (to try to load up on depth in case of injuries and BYEs). This was always going to be a quasi-throwaway year for me, in hopes that I’d find the two quarterbacks I’d be rolling with for the next 5-10 years.

That was thrown out the window when Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars (don’t ask) texted the entire league saying his keepers were available for trade (in exchange for players and/or draft picks).

He actually had four pretty good keepers (Derrick Henry, D.K. Metcalf, George Kittle, and Stefon Diggs), but for whatever reason, he was looking to shake things up.

I didn’t want Henry because he’s being run into the ground and probably has 1-2 more years MAX before he begins his slide. I didn’t want Kittle because he could be an injury risk with the way he plays the game and how hard he is on his body. D.K. Metcalf is obviously a huge draw for me, as a Seahawks fan, and I think he’s someone who could be the #1 scoring wide receiver as early as THIS year. Plus he’s young and should be good for another decade. Sign me up!

I made Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars a lowball offer (I think a second rounder, or a fourth rounder plus A.J. Brown); he countered saying he needed my first rounder. I took a bit to think about it, before ultimately concluding that D.K. Metcalf with the 6th pick would be guaranteed to be better than anyone who might fall to me (there would’ve been the potential for higher upside with someone like Pitts, but there’s always a risk with any rookie).

I’m lucky I accepted the offer when I did, because by the next day someone had offered him the #2 overall pick for D.K. I told that guy (with the #2 pick) if Trevor Lawrence somehow – by the grace of God – fell out of the top spot, I’d trade him D.K. for Lawrence (which he agreed to, since he already has Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert as his keepers), but of course that was never going to happen.

Hahmez Wah, in the end, turned his aforementioned keepers into Jalen Hurts (#2 overall) & Chris Carson (he traded his #9 overall for the #2 overall, while also giving away Derrick Henry in the deal), Matthew Stafford (in the Metcalf deal), Tyler Lockett (in the Kittle deal, where he got the first pick in the second round), while still hanging onto Stefon Diggs. I wouldn’t love that for my team – if I were him, I would’ve stuck the keepers I had – but I understand the impulse in making a radical change. Also, it IS a game, after all; it’s supposed to be fun, right? What’s more fun than a crazy slew of trades?

***

So, heading into the second round, I had three receivers and two running backs. It was time to start looking into the quarterback position.

No other QB was taken after the three I already mentioned. Next up on my private dynasty rankings was Justin Fields, so I grabbed him with my second pick. No, he’s not starting right away, but the stories I’ve read about him were phenomenal, and I think he has real breakout potential. Trey Lance was going to be my next choice, but he was taken from me two picks before my spot in the third round, so I settled on Mac Jones. Also hearing great stories about him! Less of a running threat, but in a better team situation than Fields, so I like that.

Then, for good measure – because I needed someone to start right away in week one – I nabbed Jameis Winston. He’s been on and off my fantasy team for years, but he had last year off (for the most part) and has been learning the Saints’ system. If he’s even remotely more careful with the ball, he’s a guy who’s capable of throwing for 5,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns. We also forget: he’s also only 27 years old; so if he does change his entire career around, that could be a steal for me.

As chance would have it, Cousins was around for my fifth pick, but I zagged and went with the Rams’ defense. I feel like they have the potential to be solid for the duration of Aaron Donald’s career, so why not? Then, with my sixth pick, Noah Fant was still available. I had him as a rookie and it sounds like the offense is going to be vastly improved in Denver, so I like the idea of having him for the foreseeable future. Also, the drop-off after Fant was pretty considerable (the next guys taken were Goedert and Tonyan; I’m good with my choice).

Then, I finally had to break down and get a third running back. Obviously, my plan to load up on the position was a failure. It was down to Chase Edmonds or Raheem Mostert in the 7th round. Edmonds went one pick earlier, so Mostert it is! I like Mostert; when he’s healthy, he’s dominant (in many ways, he’s like Chris Carson). He just can’t stay healthy. But, if I can squeeze a few weeks out of him, I’ll look to hopefully address the running back position next year.

In the 8th round, I nabbed Justin Tucker. He’s only 31 years old and he’s the best kicker in football. He could be around for another 10-15 years if he takes care of himself. After that, I went back to the quarterback well, grabbing Jimmy G. Obviously, the 49ers drafted their quarterback of the future. But, if you look at the 49ers’ schedule, it’s pretty damn easy the first few weeks of the season. I’ll mix and match with him and Mac Jones for a while until Jimmy G ultimately gets benched, and hope he has enough pride to force the 49ers’ hand in benching a guy playing well. At the very least, he has a soft landing against the Lions in week one, where I expect him to be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback (for just that one week, anyway). Yes, I know there’s potential for Lance to snipe some snaps from him, but I don’t care. As long as he’s not getting entire chunks of plays in the red zone, I’ll be happy.

With my next-to-last pick, I took a chance on Buffalo’s Zack Moss. He was a rookie last year and the team obviously liked him enough to draft him in the third round. Maybe this is the year he assumes the starter job! Of course, even then, it’s not like Buffalo runs the ball all that much. I’m hoping they get such huge leads early in games, that they’ll be running the ball exclusively in the fourth quarter.

Finally, for my super sleeper, I picked Jordan Love, backup quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. I’m going to do my damnedest to hang onto him all year. The way I see it, if none of my rookie QBs pan out this year, and are not keeper-worthy in my eyes, I’ll just keep Love and roll the dice. They obviously drafted him to be Aaron Rodgers’ replacement sooner or later. If I have no one better, why not keep him and see if he’s elite?

***

There’s obviously a lot wrong with my team at this point in my dynasty. The quarterback situation is a mess and my running back depth is nil. But, I have just the three receivers: D.K., Brown, and Lamb, and I think all three of those guys are Top 10 calibre players at the position. I’m set! In non-BYE weeks (and, in non-injury situations), I have my two WR spots and my FLEX spot all locked down. Not having any receivers on my bench affords me the luxury of carrying extra RBs and QBs. If I’m ever able to lock down the quarterback spot to my satisfaction, that leaves me more room on my bench for even more RBs, as well as potential backups to tight end or defense (which always comes in handy).

I think I’m done making RBs a priority. Unless some super-stud rookie falls to me in the first round of the draft next year, I’m just going to do my best to either stream running backs or carry enough in those second-to-fourth tiers to play matchups and hope I get around 10 points from each. If my QBs and receivers can carry me, I think that’s a championship formula. Running backs are just too damn fickle and too injury prone; it’s impossible to rely on them to be 20+ point workhorses anymore. I’d rather go for elite receivers, hope they blow up a few times a year, and just get steady-if-unspectacular production from my RBs. Plus, if I’m able to find someone on the free agent scrap heap that comes from nowhere to crush it, all the better.

***

Now, it’s time to talk about this week. My team is Snoopy & Prickly Pete (Seinfeld reference, for the second straight year!). I’m going up against the reigning league champion, Car Talk With Josh Allen (guess who one of his quarterbacks is). He’s projected to finish third in our league (one game ahead of me), and – not for nothing – he’s projected to beat me in week 1.

Here’s my week 1 lineup, barring any unexpected last-minute COVID issues:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) vs. GB
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ DET
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ TB
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. AZ
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ TB
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. CLE
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ NYG
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ IND
  • Justin Tucker (K) @ LV
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. CHI

As I said, I love Jimmy G against a nothing Detroit defense; Mac Jones is my only other option and I’d rather not start a rookie in his first game, against a defense as good as Miami’s. As I also said, all my receivers are locked in, which means the only other choice was my #2 running back (though, I don’t love Zeke against that Bucs defense, with their All Pro guard out for this game). I briefly considered Mostert against Detroit, but I’d really like to see what the 49ers’ offense looks like, with their two quarterbacks, plus their new rookie running back angling to steal snaps. I’m rolling with all my keepers, at least for now!

Car Talk looks like he’s got the following:

  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. PIT
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) vs. LAC
  • Allen Robinson (WR) @ LAR
  • Julio Jones (WR) vs. AZ
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ NO
  • Joe Mixon (RB) vs. MIN
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. CLE
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. CHI
  • Tyler Bass (K) vs. PIT
  • Baltimore (DEF) @ LV

Our teams are pretty much even (he’s a little better at QB, I’m a little better at WR) except for the difference in our projected points from the tight end position. Kelce is the best in football; mine is just okay. That’s always a huge advantage and I hope I’m able to one day have something similar on my team. In the meantime, I’ll just have to hope the Chiefs run the ball more and throw their TDs to their wide receivers. That’s a tall ask.

I’m guessing I’ll lose this game. I’ll be down in the dumps on Sunday, but a dynasty league isn’t about just one week, or even one season. This is a transitional year, and I hope to be better at the end than I am at the beginning.

In the meantime, PATIENCE! I need to practice extreme patience, and accept losing for what it is: a temporary means to an end, that will one day result in my name on that championship trophy. Maybe not this year, but one year soon. Let’s fucking go.

Predicting The 2021 NFL Season

YES! My favorite post of the year! Back again, boys and girls! Here are all of my prior entries:

First thing’s first: let’s take a look back at how I did last year.

Welp, bad start with the NFC East: I was all in on Dallas and had Washington dead last. That’s a big 0 or 1 right out of the box.

Big whiff on the NFC North: for some reason I was EXTREMELY high on the Vikings last year, who finished 7-9. I shorted the Packers (but gave them a wild card berth), who finished 13-3. And, I said the Bears were “heading in the wrong direction” even though they finished 8-8 and made the playoffs. I was only correct about the Lions, but who couldn’t see that coming?

Ugh, the less said about my NFC South prediction the better: I had … the Falcons winning it? I did have Tampa second, but not making the playoffs, famously saying their defense was “a year or two away”. Yikes. You don’t read this blog for expert analysis, do you? How am I getting WORSE at these picks the more I do them?!

God, even my NFC West take was horrible: I had the Rams winning it (they did make the wild card), with both the 49ers and Seahawks making the wild card (in that order). Of course, in reality the 49ers were in last place after a bunch of injuries; hard to blame me for not predicting that.

All right, not too terrible with the AFC East: I nailed the Buffalo division winner. Buuuuut, I had the Pats making a wild card.

I’m quite happy with my AFC North prediction: I had all of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland making the playoffs (they did!). I did have the Ravens winning the division instead of the Steelers, but otherwise I’m taking that as a win.

I’ll accept partial credit for my AFC South take: I loved Indy; not so much Tennessee. I didn’t have Houston making the playoffs, but never anticipated they’d be as bad as they were. I nailed Jacksonville getting the #1 overall pick.

As for the AFC West: good stuff in making KC my number one overall team; bad stuff in saying that Justin Herbert wouldn’t be the Chargers’ quarterback of the future. It is what it is.

If we just count playoff teams, I got 9 out of 14 (though I got 6 out of 7 in the AFC). I only got 1 out of 4 teams in the conference championship games – the Chiefs – but I had … Jesus Christ, the Vikings over the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Fucking A.

***

All right, wash that taste out of your mouth! It’s all uphill from here! Without further ado.

NFC East

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Washington Football Team
  • New York Giants
  • Philadelphia Eagles

I’m going to say we’re going to have most of a full season (if not ALL) out of Dak, and that ultimately makes all the difference. There’s lots of Washington chatter, and I don’t blame you; that defense is legit. But, Fitzmagic? I’m out; I think he’s good for maybe 9 wins. I think Dallas can get to 10. The Giants likely won’t be as bad as people expect, but I still think they’re around 6-7 wins. The Eagles MIGHT be as bad as people expect; either way, I don’t think the NFC East will be the punching bag people have come to anticipate.

NFC North

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions

We’re not fucking around this year. The Packers have won 13 games the last two years and I think that will stay the same this year. I don’t know what to say about the Vikings after last year’s display of futility; probably won’t be worse? The Bears will take a step back with Dalton, before taking a step forward with Fields. The Lions will continue to be a punching bag.

NFC South

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers

I know I’m going to be screwed by the Bucs in one way, shape, or form. They do have the target on their backs, but there’s just SO MUCH talent on that team. I guess Brady could start showing his age, or injuries could take a toll, but I dunno. I’m going with the safe pick this year. I kind of like Jameis; is that weird? I mean, I like him on this team, in this offense. I think they’ll be okay! I don’t know anything about the Falcons, but I hear they could be frisky. The Panthers seem the opposite of frisky; lethargic, I guess? Sam Darnold sucks.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles Rams
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Arizona Cardinals

I wanted to put the Seahawks as the division winner here, but the more I think about it, the more I’m concerned by this team. First-year offensive coordinator; you think there won’t be growing pains? You think there won’t be frustrating losses where the offense can’t move the ball? I’ll have more on this on Friday’s official season preview, but it just looks like the Rams are too stacked. Stafford will throw for 5,000 yards and they’re probably in line for the top seed in the NFC. The 49ers are just all-around talented, and regression should dictate a healthier season from them. I still like the Seahawks to crack the wild card though. And the Cards should play around .500 ball again.

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • New England Patriots
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New York Jets

I think this is the easiest division to predict; Buffalo by a mile (and the AFC’s top seed). I think the Pats are improved across the board and will get just enough game-managing out of their rookie quarterback to sneak into the wild card. I think Tua is a bust and will hamper the Dolphins, though they’ll be close to making a wild card. I think the Jets are the Jets.

AFC North

  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals

We’re not going to see three playoff teams from this division this year, and the odd-team-out will be the Ravens. The way the injury bug is decimating this team already, I think they’re in for a Year From Hell season. I think the Browns simply have too much talent throughout that team to be held back. I think the Steelers will figure out their O-Line and continue to dominate along the D-Line. I think the Bengals will continue to grow with Burrow, but it’s going to be another year or two before we can consider them playoff material.

AFC South

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

I would say I’m a quasi Carson Wentz believer. Behind a good offensive line, with a great head coach, I think he can be special. The Colts’ defense is underrated; the only question is their receivers (especially with T.Y. Hilton out). I think the Titans come close to making the playoffs, but that defense is just too awful. A lot of people are predicting the Texans to have the worst record in football, but I think Tyrod Taylor will pull it out in enough of those 50/50 games they play with other terrible teams. Don’t get me wrong; Houston is probably still winning 3-4 games, but that should be more than the Jags.

AFC West

  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders

I think the Chiefs and Bills will fight to the bitter end for that top seed, but the Bills will prevail. The Chargers are more of an aspirational pick for me, because I think they’re fun. I also think their defense is a little underrated, and with proper head coaching, they should be in line for a record boost. I think the Broncos will be steady, maybe 9-8. I think the Raiders will fall on their faces pretty hard, with Jon Gruden on the hottest of seats.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. San Francisco 49ers
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. Washington Football Team

AFC Playoffs

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. New England Patriots
  7. Los Angeles Chargers

Two playoff teams from the NFC East? Have I learned NOTHING?!

Wild Card Round

  • Green Bay over Washington
  • Seattle over Tampa Bay
  • Dallas over San Francisco
  • Kansas City over Los Angeles
  • New England over Cleveland
  • Pittsburgh over Indianapolis

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Seattle
  • Green Bay over Dallas
  • Buffalo over New England
  • Pittsburgh over Kansas City

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Buffalo over Pittsburgh

Super Bowl

  • Buffalo over Los Angeles

My backup guess is Buffalo over the Packers, but either way I’m all in on the Bills. Since I was all in on the Vikings last year, they should be TERRIFIED. Buffalo just seems like a juggernaut any way you slice it, though.