You may not know it, since all my predictions were on the now-deleted Anime Bowl blog – but last year, I correctly predicted that the New England Patriots would win Super Bowl LI before the season. Can I make it 2-for-2? Let’s find out.
- New England Patriots: 14-2
As big of a lock as it gets when it comes to winning the division. The Patriots will roll up a ton of regular-season wins, as always. But the only thing that matters is whether they lock up Super Bowl win #6.
2. Miami Dolphins: 8-8
Jay Cutler will be an upgrade at quarterback to Ryan Tannehill, but the Dolphins will miss out on a return trip to the playoffs. It’s just too tough of a conference.
3. Buffalo Bills: 5-11
The Bills will be awful again this season. It’s hard to believe that the Bills’ last playoff appearance happened last century.
4. New York Jets: 3-13
Everyone thinks the Jets will be the worst team in the league. I’m not going to argue that point.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 14-2
With such an explosive offense, it’s hard to see many teams keeping up with the Steelers, but I’m sure as always there will be a couple of losses to dreadful teams along the stretch. That being said, the Steelers will be on the top of their game when it comes to the big games, and the only question is: can they topple New England when it counts?
2. Cincinnati Bengals: 7-9
The Bengals had their window of opportunity to win, and they failed in every single situation. They couldn’t win a single playoff game, and now they’ve returned to mediocrity.
3. Baltimore Ravens: 7-9
The best players on this roster have retired or are otherwise gone (think Ray Rice). The Ravens are toast.
4. Cleveland Browns: 3-13
“Moneyball” didn’t work with the Oakland Athletics (only 1 playoff series win in their run). It won’t work with the Browns, either.
- Indianapolis Colts: 10-6
In one of the biggest surprises of the season, the Colts bounce back from Andrew Luck’s injury and end up winning a competitive division anyway.
2. Houston Texans: 10-6
The Texans will get into the playoffs as a wild-card. They’ll lose the tiebreaker to the Colts based on head-to-head victories. It’ll be a fun story for Houston, riding the wave of support from the hurricane situation.
3. Tennessee Titans: 7-9
The Titans, who are supposed to take the big step forward this season, will instead take a step backward, and end up missing the playoffs.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-13
With the choices of Blake Bortles and Chad Henne to run the team, it’s no wonder Jacksonville will be picking early in the draft yet again.
- Oakland Raiders: 11-5
With Marshawn Lynch playing the role of LeBron James (coming back to his hometown), the Raiders go on a remarkable run and end up winning the division (after missing out a year ago thanks to the Derek Carr injury).
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 10-6
The Chiefs aren’t nearly as good as NBC thinks they are (putting them in the season-opening Thursday night slot), but they’re still a playoff team. They’ll make a quick exit in the playoffs as almost always.
3. Denver Broncos: 9-7
With a defense as good as they have, it’s hard to imagine the Broncos not competing. It may just take some shuffling of the quarterbacks – but it’s not like they haven’t done that before (see Super Bowl 50 season).
4. Los Angeles Chargers: 7-9
I almost wrote “San Diego Chargers.” I keep forgetting that this team moved. Maybe it’s because no one in L.A. wanted them (this is what the fans said at the Rams game in Los Angeles that I went to). They won’t be able to compete because their division is too good.
- Dallas Cowboys: 10-6
In a closely contested race for the division title, Dallas comes out on top by setting the world on fire down the stretch. Think, a 3-6 start, then a 7-0 finish. Then they’ll be one of the hardest teams to get out of the playoffs.
2. Washington Redskins: 10-6
With Kirk Cousins running the offense, the Redskins start out well, then flame out just in time for playoff time. Even still, they’ll get a wild-card spot.
3. New York Giants: 9-7
Eli Manning is still the quarterback, so at least one New York team will be good. Unfortunately, not good enough to make another Super Bowl run… at least not this year.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: 6-10
I don’t believe in Carlos Wentz enough to put the Eagles any higher. Instead, the Eagles flounder out and end up in last place, but in a tough division.
- Green Bay Packers: 11-5
The Packers will come out with their usual slow start (think, 2-4), but then rally to win the division. The question is, can the Packers finally get that NFC Championship win that’s been eluding them as of late?
2. Minnesota Vikings: 9-7
Since Sam Bradford took over for Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings will actually be better off. They end up making it interesting when it comes to potentially making it as a wild-card.
3. Detroit Lions: 7-9
The Lions return to mediocrity after a year in the playoffs thanks to inconsistency from Matthew Stafford, the new highest-paid player in NFL history. It’ll be another year of waiting for a playoff win.
4. Chicago Bears: 4-12
Without Jay Cutler, things get worse for the Bears. If you thought Cutler threw too many interceptions, just wait and see how many the replacement(s) throw.
- Carolina Panthers: 11-5
The Panthers will be back in the playoffs after a year’s absence. Cam Newton puts together another fantastic year and is in the mix for MVP consideration once more.
2. Atlanta Falcons: 10-6
Matt Ryan was an undeserving MVP last season, and it showed in the second half of the Super Bowl when he forgot how to play football. (Both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers deserved the MVP over him.) But he will get the Falcons back to the playoffs, albeit as a wild-card.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-8
Jameis Winston is improving, and the Bucs will be in the playoff mix this year, before inevitably dropping off. The Bucs are a team to watch for the future.
4. New Orleans Saints: 4-12
With no defense and few good receivers, it’s hard to see an aging Drew Brees leading this team back to respectability. The Saints have a long way to go before becoming competitive again.
- Seattle Seahawks: 10-6
In what will end up being a noncompetitive division, the Seahawks come out on top with the division title. The question remains, can they get back to the Super Bowl? Probably not this year.
2. Arizona Cardinals: 9-7
The Cardinals end up just out of the playoff race. For an aging Carson Palmer, this might be his last chance at reaching the Super Bowl, and he comes up just short of a playoff berth.
3. Los Angeles Rams: 5-11
I almost wrote “St. Louis Rams.” It doesn’t matter where they play, they are going to stink.
4. San Francisco 49ers: 5-11
They’ll improve without the dead weight of Colin Kaepernick holding the team down. That being said, they still won’t be any good.
AFC playoff seeds:
#1 New England (14-2)
#2 Pittsburgh (14-2)
#3 Oakland (11-5)
#4 Indianapolis (10-6)
#5 Kansas City (10-6)
#6 Houston (10-6)
NFC playoff seeds:
#1 Carolina (11-5)
#2 Green Bay (11-5)
#3 Seattle (10-6)
#4 Dallas (10-6)
#5 Arizona (10-6)
#6 Washington (10-6)
Oakland defeats Houston
Indianapolis defeats Kansas City
New England over Indianapolis
Pittsburgh over Oakland
Pittsburgh over New England
Seattle over Washington
Dallas over Arizona
Dallas over Carolina
Green Bay over Seattle
Green Bay over Dallas
Super Bowl LII: Pittsburgh 31, Green Bay 24 (MVP: Ben Rapistberger)
MVP: Tom Brady, New England
Offensive Player of the Year: Tom Brady, New England
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Houston
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick, New England
So there you have it. No, I’m not picking Pittsburgh to please my friends who are Pittsburgh fans. The reason I pick them is because their offense is unbelievable, and last year’s Super Bowl proved that offense is everything in the NFL. Why not New England again? Because New England gets complacent the year after winning the Super Bowl. True, they did repeat once, but at a time when the competition wasn’t as great (as evidenced by Donovan McNabb throwing up in the huddle at the Super Bowl). As for the Packers, I see them finally getting over the hump to reach the Super Bowl, only to lose once they get there. That’s exactly what happened with the Falcons last year.
Hopefully I’m wrong about all this, and the Steelers tank, the Patriots flounder, and the Packers win it all. Go Pack Go!