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2016 NFL predictions

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I’m always terrible at this. Don’t listen to me.

Full game predictions here

AFC East
1. Patriots (12-4)
2. Bills (10-6)
3. Jets (7-9)
4. Dolphins (5-11)

Tom Brady starts the season suspended but even though every single one of his back-ups has gone on to be terrible at every other team, there’s no reason to think they will totally sink. The worst that can happen is that they lose all those games he’s missing for, but even then, knowing the Patriots, they’ll just win every other game he’s there for instead. We aren’t getting rid of them any time soon, no matter how many daft trades Bill Belichick makes.

Meanwhile, they finally do it! I’m tipping Sexy Rexy Ryan and his walking gif of a brother to guide the Bills back to the play-offs for the first time since 1999 and to end the longest play-off drought in the NFL. The title would be handed over to the Browns, obviously.

The Jets…went 10-6 last year? Really? That’s not happening again any time soon. I’d say 8-8 is the ceiling. I can’t see there not being a drop-off in Todd Bowles’ second season, especially as (I think) they’re still holding about 18 quarterbacks on their roster at the moment. Or something like that. None of them are actually any good.

The Dolphins are crap and will continue to be so for a while yet. The frustrating thing for them is they continue to be not crap enough for good draft picks, although that’s probably a blessing in disguise as they would waste them anyway. It says a lot about how bad the NFL is at the moment that this Dolphins team continues to win more than a couple of games a season.

AFC North
1. Steelers (12-4)
2. Bengals (11-5)
3. Ravens (9-7)
4. Browns (2-14)

The Steelers have an annoyingly good team at the moment and I don’t see them losing the division. As long as Roethlisberger doesn’t get mashed into a million pieces (and to be fair, that’s not exactly out of the question), they should go deep into the play-offs, as you’ll see later.

The Bengals have a toughish opening which may affect them through the rest of the season as they could be playing catch-up in the division – away to the Jets, away to the Steelers, home to the Broncos, home to the Dolphins (OK, that should be easy), and away to the Cowboys. Given how good the Steelers are now, that puts them in the prime position for their annual Wild Card Round defeat. The Bengals are the Arsenal of the NFL – the yearly “this is the year the Bengals push on to the Super Bowl” routine followed by the standard loss in their first play-off game never gets old.

The Ravens can’t possibly be as bad as last year, but I’m not convinced they can immediately jump back to being the Ravens of old – I mean in terms of performance, rather than pure evil, which they will no doubt continue to be. Joe Possibly Elite Flacco should be a steady enough hand to guide them to at least .500.

I feel like I might have been generous to the Browns giving them 2 wins. Or any wins at all. They are baaaaaaaaaad. The rotting remains of RG3 can’t save this team. I’ve predicted the unfortunate victims of this dross to be the Giants and the Chargers, both in Cleveland. Even that is optimistic.

AFC South
1. Colts (11-5)
2. Texans (8-8)
3. Jaguars (7-9)
4. Titans (3-13)

There are massive question marks over the Colts after last year but I still think they will be passable enough in what is a desperately mediocre division. A functioning Andrew Luck is still comfortably the best QB here, possibly even the best QB in the AFC. They still should make the play-offs.

There’s a certain amount of “the Texans are improving” stuff going around but their QB is Brock Osweiler, who lost his spot in the Broncos team to a man who couldn’t feel his arm and was hobbling around on one leg. Lamar Miller is an improvement at running back on the basis that he’s healthy. JJ Watt is coming back from injury. Clowney’s a bust. It’s all on the defence and Hopkins. I don’t see them making the play-offs.

The Jaguars also have a bit of hype about them, but this is the Jags that we’re talking about. The moment they look vaguely decent, their best players will spontaneously combust on the field and they will return to being 2-14 terrible. I don’t see this team getting above .500 before the inevitable move to London.

The Titans are coached by Mike Mularkey. They will still be terrible. I find it hard to give a shit.

AFC West
1. Chiefs (11-5)
2. Broncos (8-8)
3. Raiders (8-8)
4. Chargers (4-12)

In the current AFC, the Chiefs have enough good players, a good enough QB and a good enough coach to do reasonably well. The problem is they will forever be stuck at “OK-to-mildly-good”. Even when they got the first pick of the draft, they spent it on a mediocre offensive lineman. They are Vimto – nice enough as a one-off but I could never drink it on a regular basis.

The Broncos have Mark Sanchez at quarterback. They will not be good.

The Raiders are upwardly mobile but I’m not sure they’re ready to make the next leap, even with the Broncos in decline and a bang average AFC in general. They might scrape the last wild card spot but I really doubt it. Amari Cooper will be really good, though.

The Chargers are treading water until Spanos gets the stadium he wants, be it in San Diego, Vegas, San Antonio or some other gullible metropolis willing to sell its soul to the devil for an NFL presence for about 15 years. The same goes for the Raiders to a point, but at least the Raiders have some vaguely promising prospects. The Chargers are still relying on Christianity’s Philip Rivers. Once Rivers is gone, this team will nosedive.

NFC East
1. Cowboys (9-7)
2. Washington (7-9)
3. Eagles (6-10)
4. Giants (6-10)

The Cowboys are an easy candidate for bouncing back now that Romo and Dez are healthy again. The problem is Romo and Dez usually aren’t healthy for very long. Dez is a walking questionable status. He may already have past his peak at 27. I have him in fantasy. This is not good. Meanwhile, Romo’s body continues to fall apart. Once his sternum gives way in week 4, rookie Dak Prescott will be thrust in and, err, that’s a risk. But this is a crap division which they should still win.

The Washington football team is still bang average. Kirk Cousins is yet to be traded. They got rid of Alf Morris and Matt Jones is now injured. Dan Snyder is vile and also chasing a new stadium. And yet – AND YET – it’s still very plausible that they could win the division. Fuck the NFC East. It’s terrible.

Chip Kelly’s finally gone. So is DeMarco Murray (why did they do that thing again? That was dumb). Doug Pederson was a really unconvincing appointment. Sam Bradford is a really unconvincing QB. OL Lane Johnson is suspended. This team has very little going for it, without being as abysmal as several other teams. But at least Kelly’s gone.

Tom Coughlin is also gone, removing the final traces of sanity from the Giants. This may be the year they finally plunge off the deep end. Ryan Nassib is now entering his fourth year as Eli Manning’s back-up, and not once has another team looked to trade for him, which is not a good sign. Behind him is Logan Thomas, who the Cardinals couldn’t even trust ahead of Ryan Lindley when they lost Carson and Stanton two years ago. JPP has half a hand and can’t tackle any more, and they lost their leader in sacks. They are very reliant on Manning and Beckham. Far too reliant.

NFC North
1. Packers (14-2)
2. Vikings (10-6)
3. Bears (7-9)
4. Lions (4-12)

Disclaimer: I am a Packers fan. But then I’m normally pessimistic about my team’s chances (in any sport), so this is essentially a prediction for us to 16-0 and win the whole thing. With Jordy Nelson coming back, we should be stronger. At the very least, I can’t see us losing the division. We do seem all set for another heartbreaking loss in the latter stages of the play-offs.

But for Blair Walsh, the Vikings could have eliminated the Seahawks last year. Could have. But they didn’t (and anyway it was a weird game in freezing conditions). They have some good parts to this team and should still get a wild card spot but I can’t see them finishing ahead of the Packers this time. I like Teddy Bridgewater and I wish he could throw the ball.

When Jay Cutler has his annual injury which keeps him out of 2-3 games, the Bears will have to turn to Brian Hoyer or Connor Shaw – not one shit ex-Browns QB but two. Did they come as a buy one get one free deal? Also they got rid of Matt Forte. It’s all on Alshon now, guys? D’you think the other teams might pick up on that? Not sure, myself.

RIP Megatron. RIP any need to be interested in the Lions.

NFC South
1. Panthers (13-3)
2. Falcons (7-9)
3. Saints (7-9)
4. Buccaneers (3-13)

The Panthers will regress, no doubt, but they are still by far the best team in a terrible division. I’ve got them going 5-1 in the division but that could so easily be 6-0. Cam is still Cam, one of the best QBs in the NFL. And they have Kelvin Benjamin coming back. I don’t see them not being good again

The Falcons are such a non-entity. 7-9 just seems the right final outcome for them. I don’t see them winning 9 games. I don’t see them being terrible. Matt Ryan is alright. Julio Jones is still there. Devonta Freeman is still there. And they still lack talent in every other area. Meh.

The same goes for the Saints, although I think they may be more prone to a complete collapse. With Sean Payton and Drew Brees they still should prove to be a difficult opponent, especially at home. But if Brees hits the cliff (it’s the final year of his contract and he’s now 37), the back-up plan is Luke McCown. Ugh.

The Bucs are so nondescript I accidentally left them out of this originally. Says it all really.

NFC West
1. Seahawks (13-3)
2. Cardinals (13-3)
3. Rams (7-9)
4. 49ers (2-14)

The Seahawks will never go away now. Their nauseating tedious bluster which supposedly passes for “character” is here to stay. This is the image the team will maintain, regardless of however they build their team from now on. If there was any karma, Russell Wilson would fall off the pitch straight into Richard Sherman’s lap, ending both their seasons. But that won’t happen. They’ll stay good.

Apparently the Cardinals got to the NFC Championship Game last year. The Cardinals are good again now? Really? Carson Palmer won’t allow that to stay that way for long. Don’t worry – he’ll either return to mediocrity or lose a leg in time for them to lose in the play-offs again, so we won’t have to consider the prospect that they might actually win the Super Bowl, which will never happen. (Fate tempted sufficiently there, I think – I’d actually quite like them to win it, or at least get to the Super Bowl, because that would be infinitely preferable to the Seahawks AGAIN)

So the Rams are in Los Anguluss now, yeah? Good, it won’t make any difference. Jeff Fisher is still the head coach. He’s been head coach since 2012. Nothing has changed. No forward progress. Nada. Same old. It’s Case Keenum or a rookie at QB, so they’ll be relying on hurly burly from Gurley then. Another great player wasted on a bang average team.

And finally we come to the Santa Clara 49ers, who have come down faster than the walls of Candlestick Park. Colin Kaepernick is now no longer preferable to Blaine Gabbert, who lost his starting job in Jacksonville to Chad Henne. By that extension, Chad Henne would be starting QB here. Maybe new signing Christian Ponder does have a shot here…nah, that’s probably a bit too far. Either way, this team is still terrible and it will be a lot of fun watching them be terrible, because this is an awful organisation and Chip Kelly is a fraud.

Play-offs

Wild Card Round
Chiefs beat Bengals
Colts beat Bills
Cardinals beat Cowboys
Panthers beat Vikings

Divisional Round
Steelers beat Chiefs
Patriots beat Colts
Seahawks beat Cardinals
Packers beat Panthers

Championship Games
Steelers beat Patriots
Seahawks beat Packers

Super Bowl LI
Seahawks beat Steelers

Ugh, that’s depressing.

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Written by James Bennett

August 25, 2016 at 23:14

Posted in NFL

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