Blocking Sleds on a Football Field

NFL Season Predictions

By Garrett McGinley
Web Content Contributor

Oh fall, that magical season when temperatures supposedly drop, foliage changes and we ritualistically gather around the television to watch young men in colorful uniforms suffer traumatic brain injuries in real time. The National Football League (NFL) has had a rough go of it lately with concerns about player safety, asinine rule changes, brazenly incompetent leadership, allegations of blackballing players for political beliefs, mass player protests about police brutality and dog whistle reactions to said protests spearheaded by the President of the United States.

But, for better or worse, the show must go on. Allow me to guide you into the mess that this season will certainly be.

Cleveland Browns

I feel so bad for this pitiful city. The only thing Cleveland had going for it was LeBron James and he wisely spilt town for Los Angeles in July. He also plays basketball. The Browns, the team that allegedly plays football, is bad. Once again, the Browns are hanging its future on a rookie quarterback. This time, 2017 Heisman winner Baker Mayfield earns the right to be the sacrificial lamb. Like the endless list of quarterbacks before him, he will fail. The ritual must continue, the Browns will be awful this season and draft a new quarterback in three years time.

Prediction: Hell continues to be hot. 4th place in the American Football Conference (AFC) North.

New York Giants

It’s almost sad how far the Giants have fallen. New York has gone from perennial underdog Super Bowl contender to a bottom feeder rife with infighting. Last year went about as bad as it could have, but the team has taken steps to improve things. They fired the most step dad looking coach alive Ben McAdoo in December and drafted Penn State demigod Saquon Barkley. The offense has the potential to a lot of fun, but overall this team still has many, many problems.

Prediction: Better, but still bad. 4th place in the National Football Conference (NFC) East.

Indianapolis Colts

There’s no real reason for this team to be as bad as it is. For first time in years, king neckbeard Andrew Luck is healthy and doing football things like throwing the ball. That is thrilling news if you are a Colts fan. This team, much like the Giants, has other problems than uncertainty at the quarterback position. Perhaps the biggest issue for the Colts to overcome is the difficulty of the division they find themselves in. The three other teams in the AFC South are all playoff worthy. Though the Colt’s record should improve, the division will be too much for Indianapolis to overcome.

Prediction: Hold your breath everytime Andrew Luck gets hit. 4th place in the AFC South.

Houston Texans

Please, please, please don’t let Deshaun Watson be a bust in disguise. Watson was amazingly fun to watch before tearing his ACL in practice midseason last year. The defense is solid, but anchored by the oft-injured J.J. Watt. Injuries doomed the Texans in 2017, if the key players can manage to stay healthy, the Texans should be playoff bound.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AFC South and wild card bound.

Denver Broncos

How do the Broncos still not have a quarterback? I mean, they got Case Keenum in the off season. But is a 30-year-old journeyman really the future plan in Denver? That seems grim and short sighted. The defense is still fairly strong and the team is only 3 years removed from a Super Bowl victory. Still the Broncos fall into the category of teams that should improve, but not enough to pull themselves from the gutter.

Prediction: 4th place in the AFC West.

New York Jets

M-E-S-S mess, mess, mess! The Jets are another team that it must be very difficult to root for. New York has consistently been a poster child for uninspired incompetence, only outdone by one other NFL team: the Cleveland Browns. That’s right, they can’t even claim the title of most incompetent. How appropriate for the Jets.

Prediction: Wandering aimlessly through purgatory. 4th place in the AFC East.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Throw Jameis Winston directly into the garbage.

Prediction: 4th place in the NFC South.

Chicago Bears

I’m not sure what to think about the Bears. At least they are trying to get better… I guess? They absolutely stole Khalil Mack from the Raiders, who seem to be purging all talented players from their team. Mitch Trubisky is, well, I don’t know, fine I guess. They’ll be ok, I guess.

Prediction: I guess. 4th place in the NFC North.

San Francisco 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo is good, and he’s dating a pornstar! That’s cool! He’s truly living out a 13-year-old boys dream life. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Patriots traded Garoppolo last year. They got virtually nothing of value in return. After a few years in the pit, the 49ers are on the upswing. I’m skeptical about signing Richard Sherman, but it’s ultimately it’s a low risk, high reward scenario. The 49ers will be an interesting team, they haven’t lost a game with Garoppolo at the helm yet. I do think they will be better, but just miss out on the playoffs.

Prediction: Almost playoff worthy, but just short. 2nd in the NFC West.

Oakland Raiders

What are the Raiders doing? New/old head coach John Gruden seems to be hellbent on pushing away all of the best players. The Raiders are still in Oakland… which is weird. They announced they will be leaving for Las Vegas like 2 years. That year when Derek Carr and the Raiders looked like the next big thing feels like ages ago.

Prediction: Somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, is when the drugs will begin to take hold. 3rd place in the AFC West.

Miami Dolphins

It’s impressive how dedicated to mediocrity the Dolphins are. It feels like Ryan Tannehill has been on the cusp of breaking through for five plus years now.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AFC East.

Cincinnati Bengals

Every year the Bengals are, in some regards, a disappointment. Last year was no different. This year will be the same. Head Coach Marvin Lewis is back for a 16th season, despite having a coaching record that is barely above .500 and literally zero playoff wins to speak of.  But, one must imagine Bengals fans happy with the direction of their team.

Prediction: Just keeping pushing that boulder. 3rd place in the AFC North.

Washington Redskins

Can you imagine if Dan Snyder cared about building a competitive team as much as he cares about defending his team’s racist name? For some reason, Washington let Kirk Cousins go and replaced him with worse, older Alex Smith. I have never seen a move be so simultaneously ‘win now’ and lateral.

Prediction: 3rd place in the NFC North.

Green Bay Packers

It’s astounding how resistant to the Packers are to surrounding arguably the best quarterback of this era with any sort of talent. This showed last year when Aaron Rodgers got hurt. I’m not being facetious when I say the entire team got worse after Rodgers’ injury. Once more, the fate of the team will rest on Rodgers. With a healthy Rodgers, the Packers are a borderline Super Bowl team. Without him they aren’t making the postseason.

Prediction: 2nd place in the NFC North and wild card bound.

Arizona Cardinals

The years of wheeling out geriatric Carson Palmer onto the field are finally over. Josh Rosen is the man in Arizona now. He’ll struggle and so will the Cardinals.

Prediction: 4th place in the NFC West.

Baltimore Ravens

For as long as humans have had the capacity to think one question has lingered over us: is Joe Flacco elite? That question became even muddier this May when the Ravens drafted 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson in the first round. Flacco is still the clear starter but if he struggles, the Ravens may look to Jackson.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AFC North

San Dieg-oh wait… Los Angeles Chargers

Well, I hate to say it but the Chargers seem like they will be pretty good. That’s a shame because Owner Dean Spanos deserves nothing good in the world.

Prediction: AFC West champions.

Seattle Seahawks

We are a long time removed from the Legion of Boom era and it is showing. The Seahawks are no longer the vaunted defensive juggernaut they once were. Look for them to continue to regress this season.

Prediction: 3rd place in the NFC North.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys, and world at large, would be in a better place if Jerry Jones, we’ll say, ceased to exist. I’ll say no more.

Prediction: 2nd place in the NFC East.

Detroit Lions

Honestly, who cares about this team. Calvin Johnson was the only thing to look forward with the Lions and he’s been gone for three years now. Matt Patricia is the new head coach in Detroit, after they canned Jim Caldwell in January. Apparently the team missed that Patricia was indicted for sexual assault in 1996 during the hiring process. Truly amazing what teams are willing to overlook, intentional or otherwise, when trying to make a competitive team.

Prediction: 3rd place in the NFC North.

Buffalo Bills

For the first time 18 years, the Buffalo Bills were a playoff team. Who care they lost in what turned out to be one of the most boring playoff games in years, the Bills mafia were drunkenly powerbombing each other through tables in a meaningful game and it was beautiful.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AFC East.

Kansas City Chiefs

Remember when the Chiefs were up 21-3 at halftime versus the Titans in the playoffs this past January, and then proceeded to allow 19 unanswered points in the final two quarters… to lose… at home… to the Tennessee Titans… in the playoffs. That is the essence of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AFC West.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are good and fun! They will be among the best in the NFC.

Prediction: NFC North champions.

Carolina Panthers

As long as the Panthers continue to not surround Cam Newton with any weapons offensively, the team will struggle.

Prediction: 3rd place in the NFC North.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans finally decided to part ways with head coach Mike Mularkey. Despite, guiding Tennessee to back-to-back winning seasons and the franchise’s first playoff game since 2008, firing Mularkey was the right choice. Titans will slip up this year after exceeding expectations last year.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AFC South.

Atlanta Falcons

I have had affinity for the Falcons ever since I first heard Ludacris rap, “I wanna get you in the Georgia Dome on the fifty yard line, while the Dirty Birds kick for three.” Atlanta will be strong again but as long as Steve Sarkisian is the offensive coordinator, the Falcons won’t be able to break through to the next level.

Prediction: 2nd place in NFC South and wild card bound.

New Orleans Saints

Oh my god, the Saints Divisional Round loss to the Vikings in January was one of the most painful things I have ever seen. Horrific loss aside, the Saints are still a strong team.

Prediction: NFC South champions.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Can you hear that growing creaking noise? That’s the sound of the Steelers rapidly closing window. They’ll be good again but their team is coming to an end.

Prediction: AFC North champions.

Jacksonville Jaguars

If any team is going to dethrone New England in the AFC next year, I wholeheartedly, completely unironically, believe it will be Jacksonville. The defense is absolutely stacked, and the offense is… ok. It feels very weird to speak so highly of the Jaguars, but they are so good.

Prediction: AFC South champions.

Minnesota Vikings

YOU LIKE THAT! Get ready Minneapolis, it’s Kirk Cousins time. After a breakthrough season by Case Keenum, the Vikings will look to take the next step with Cousins. This team is among the best in the NFL. The defense was already one of the best in the NFC last year and somehow improved this offseason. Minnesota and Philadelphia will be neck-and-neck for best record in the NFC.

Prediction: NFC North champions.

New England Patriots

It’s funny to me that, by proxy, the Patriots have become the official team of making America great again. I’m so tired of this goddamn team.

Prediction: Sigh. Best record in the AFC and AFC East champions.

Philadelphia Eagles

In what can only be described as a cathartic release, the Eagles finally exercised its demons and brought home it’s first Lombardi Trophy last February. Even more miraculously, they did all this without their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz. The Eagles are bringing back many of the key pieces from last season and should be very strong once more.

Prediction: Continues to be sunny in Philadelphia. Best record in the NFC and NFC East champions.

Featured image by Spencer Hall.

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