One juicy prediction for every division in the NFL


Ready for football season? We are too. But before the season finally kicks off, For The Win‘s Steven Ruiz and Luke Kerr-Dineen have one bold prediction each for every division in the NFL. Get the fire extinguisher ready…

AFC East

Last year, we nearly saw the second 0-16 team in NFL history. It will happen this year as the Jets will fail to win a single game. New York’s roster is severely lacking in talent and the schedule isn’t exactly easy. The Jets’ best shots at winning a game come on the road against Cleveland and at home on Thursday night against the Bills. They’ll lose both of those game en route to a winless season. – SR

The Patriots only lost two games last season – which included a four-week stretch without Tom Brady – but they’ll lose even fewer games this season. That’s right: I’m drinking the Kool-Aid served by my USA Today colleague Nate Davis, and I’m foreseeing a 15-1 or 16-0 season to follow its Super Bowl win – LKD

AFC North

Brock Osweiler is the betting favorite to win the starting quarterback job in Cleveland. Cody Kessler is currently sitting atop the depth chart. But don’t be surprised if rookie DeShone Kizer, who I had as my No. 1 QB in the 2017 NFL draft, is under center come Week 1. By all accounts, the Notre Dame standout has had the look of a franchise quarterback early in camp and has outplayed both Osweiler and Kessler thus far. He also has the backing of veteran receiver Kenny Britt, who predicted the rookie would go down as “one of the greats.” – SR

It’s been nine years since the Bengals have succumbed to back-to-back losing seasons, but that’s the fate awaiting them this year. This defense is tanked and the division around them is getting stronger. There’s still time for another run with Dalton and Green if they manage this rebuild properly, but don’t hope for much more this year. – LKD

AFC South

The Jaguars offense is going to hold the team back in 2017, but the defense will more than carry its own weight. Jacksonville will field a top-5 defense in 2017, led by breakout seasons from players like Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Yannick NGakoue and Dante Fowler. – SR

Deshaun Watson has everything that will make NFL fans, in retrospect, wonder how we ever underrated him. Obsessive nitpicking over Watson’s size, downfield accuracy and his (admittedly sketchy) decision making under pressure has obscured the fact that this is a 21 year-old National Championship-winning quarterback with rave reviews from Nick Saban. Watson will win the starting job in Houston – and impress doing it. – LKD

AFC West

The Raiders are due for some serious regression after enjoying tremendous luck in late games last season. The team went a remarkable 8-1 in one-possession contests in 2016. That won’t happen again in 2017. And the reversal of fortune will lead to a disappointing 7-9 season that sees the Raiders drop to the bottom of the AFC West standings. – SR

I wish I was bold enough to predict the Raiders and Chargers swapping records, but I just can’t see 12-win Oakland dropping to a lowly five wins. They will regress, though, brought about in part by news of their move away from Oakland, and its form will take such a hit that it’ll finish behind the Chargers in the division. – LKD

NFC East

At some point this season, there will be talk about the Eagles benching Carson Wentz. Now, they’ll ultimately decide against doing it, but the second-year pro’s level of play will be that disappointing. When the league adapted to the Eagles quick-strike offense, which was effective early in the season and not so much later on, Wentz struggled. That trend will continue into 2017. – SR

I’ve been high on the Giants for a while, and like some of their offseason moves. With Brandon Marshall providing Eli with another good passing option, and the team retaining a solid unit on defense, I’m expecting the Giants to emerge as Super Bowl contenders. – LKD

NFC North

I’m expecting the Vikings to be one of the better teams in the NFC. In fact, I think they’ll have a playoff berth locked up by Week 17. And in that last game of the season, Teddy Bridgewater, who has started running and throwing passes after suffering a devastating knee injury around this time last year, will return to the field and attempt at least one pass. – SR

The Lions made a late run for the playoffs last season thanks to an 8-1 streak between weeks five and 14, but that eventual 9-7 record looks worse the more you look into it. Stafford orchestrated eight fourth quarter comebacks last season, while the team also benefited from an Aaron Rodgers slump to start the season and a Vikings collapse to end it. Don’t expect more than a losing record from the Lions in 2017. – LKD

NFC South

The NFL’s passing leader has come from the NFC South each of the last three years. That will continue in 2017, but for the first time since 2014, Drew Brees won’t be the one to do it. It’ll be Jameis Winston, who topped the 4,000-yard mark in only his sophomore season. He’ll be asked to do more in 2017, and, more importantly, he has a more impressive array of weapons to work with. DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard join Mike Evans to form a dangerous group of receiving targets. That trio will vault Winston to the top of the league’s passing charts. – SR

It’s only taken one year – one Super Bowl hangover-induced, injury-riddled, unlucky, questionably officiated year – for so many fans to forget how good Cam Newton actually is. Make no mistake: Cam is a certain top five (maybe top three) NFL quarterback, and he’ll reemerge as a leading MVP candidate this year. – LKD

NFC West

I couldn’t disagree more with Luke’s prediction below. I’m expecting a big bounce-back year for Carson Palmer and the Cardinals as a whole. Palmer will look more like the MVP candidate we saw in 2015 – OK, maybe not that good, but close enough – and the defense will get back to playing at a top-10 clip. Arizona will win the division for the second time in three seasons. – SR

Bruce Arians did a good job squeezing the last bit of juice from Carson Palmer’s career, but Palmer has never looked the same since his four interception game in the 2015 playoffs. With just six wins lsat season en-route to his lowest QBR since his first season in Arizona, 2017 will be the year he finally runs dry. – LKD

Read or Share this story: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/08/2017-nfl-season-preview-predictions-picks



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *