LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – If my predictions are anywhere close to correct (insert your own joke here), the NFL will be a top-heavy league again in 2016.
Last year, only 7 AFC teams and 6 NFC teams had winning record in the regular season. That’s 19 teams with .500 records or worse.
As any meteorologist will tell you, forecasts are predictions based on the information you have now. And, like those meteorologists, I reserve the right to change my forecast as the weeks go on.
Football season is here and WDRB is your home for NFC football and Super Bowl 51 on February 5th, 2017 in Houston.
Now, on to your NFL forecast…
New England Patriots 12-4
Miami Dolphins 8-8
NY Jets 7-9
Buffalo Bills 6-10
*It’s going to be a tough opening month for the Patriots with quarterback Tom Brady and defensive end Rob Ninkovich both serving four game suspensions to start 2016. That said, this is New England’s division to win and other than the season opener at Arizona, the other three games without Brady are entirely winnable (Miami, Houston and Buffalo all at Gillette Stadium).
*Colts with 13 wins?!? Some predictions say the Colts don’t even have a shot at the playoffs. I get it. Andrew Luck can’t throw passes while he’s on his back. The Indianapolis defense was ranked 26th in the league in 2015. This year, the Colts are positioned to start the season with a string of wins. The question is: if that happens, will it translate to a strong finish (and an upright quarterback)?
*This is the most competitive division in the NFL (aside from the Bye Week called Cleveland). The Bengals have been mired in mediocrity but they’re the trendy pick to win the AFC. I don’t know if I would go that far, but this has to be make-or-break for Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis. Right?
Kansas City 11-5
San Diego 5-11
*I’m probably going to look back at these predictions in November and question my sanity. But here goes: yes, I’m buying in to the Raiders being that much better. Oakland quarterback Derek Carr may be the breakout star of the AFC this season. As far as defending Super Bowl champions Denver, well, that defense is great, but Trevor Siemian under center coupled with a Super Bowl hangover? I can’t see it going well.
NY Giants 13-3
*When will the Giants lock up the division title? Thanksgiving? OK, I’m placing a lot of faith on QB Eli Manning (probably because he’s my fantasy starter. That’s what happens when you autodraft) and a defense that was dead last in the league. So much has to come together for the Giants to reach that plateau, but it’s doable. I also have the defending NFC East champs last in the division this year. I can see a rough start for Washington turning into a bad season all the way around.
New Orleans 8-8
Tampa Bay 7-9
*Yawn. Carolina may not match that 15-1 record last year, but they could also lock up the division early and go into cruise control.
Green Bay 13-3
*Former UofL quarterback Teddy Bridgewater shocked the NFC and won the North in 2015 and his Vikings were a bad kick away from knocking off Seattle in the playoffs. Bridgewater’s devastating knee injury sunk the hopes of the Vikings fans (and Teddy’s fans as well). The Packers are elite on offense and are improving defensively, if the preseason is any indication (yeah, yeah).
Los Angeles 5-11
San Francisco 2-14
*Go ahead and laugh. TWO teams with 14 win records in the same division? Again, it comes down to quarterback play and there’s a lot that has to happen for those records to bear out. First, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has to stay healthy (or at least not injured enough to miss games). The Seahawks retooled offensive line has to protect Russell Wilson in the pocket, out of the pocket, on the sideline, back in the middle of the field…
Super Bowl prediction? That’s like predicting snow on Christmas Day when it’s still summer. I’ll get back to you with an updated forecast.
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