The NFL season is finally upon us. With this, a few of our writers gave division predictions for the upcoming season.
AFC East Division
Scott Frizzell: New England Patriots
The Patriots will win double the amount of games as anyone else in this division. The Bills made the playoffs last year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they wind up with the top pick in next year’s draft.
Mike Buchanan: New England Patriots
The most obvious prediction this year is that the Patriots will bring home another AFC East title. They get back key players on defense. Dont’a Hightower will be back, along with Clayborn and Shelton. New England will prove to be far superior than the younger teams in the division.
Kyle Porch: New England Patriots
Tom Brady and company have had many great seasons of crushing this division, so what makes anyone think they will slow down now? While being slim at the wide receiver position might sting, this team will still manage to cook up something special for the viewers.
Matthew O’Halloran: New England Patriots
It’s been New England’s division for the last 18 years, and that will not change this year. Tom Brady is still playing at an elite level. The wide receiving corps is weak, but the versatile running backs and Rob Gronkowski will be enough. The Bills made the playoffs last year but massively downgraded at quarterback.
AFC North Division
Scott Frizzell: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers will once again win this division, but won’t be as good as they were last year when they went 13-3. The Bengals seemingly wish to stay mediocre forever since they refuse to fire Marvin Lewis. The Browns are trending up but are not ready to compete. The Ravens are okay, but I just don’t see them passing the Steelers.
Mike Buchanan: Cleveland Browns
Even though the Browns are 1-31 in their past two years, I still think they will win the division. Their defense is one of the best in the league led by Myles Garrett, and the addition of Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor will bolster the offense. Pittsburgh has been at the forefront of this division for years, but Big Ben seems to be on the decline, and there are a lot of questions surrounding Le’Veon Bell.
Kyle Porch: Pittsburgh Steelers
While I do believe that the Browns are slowly coming up the ranks, the Steelers have it all. Antonio Brown is still the best wide receiver in the league, and Bell is still on the team as well. It will be an interesting season for them.
Matthew O’Halloran: Pittsburgh Steelers
Assuming Le’Veon Bell shows up, the Killer B’s will do more than enough to win the division. Cam Heyward and TJ Watt are stars in the front seven, and first-round pick Terrell Edmunds will bolster the secondary. The Ravens have an underrated defense, but not enough firepower on offense to make a run. The Browns improved over the offseason, but they are not quite there yet.
AFC South Division
Scott Frizzell: Tennessee Titans
This division should be close all the way to the end. I have the Titans and Jaguars finishing neck and neck, and the Texans may not be far behind if Deshaun Watson comes back off of his injury and plays the way he did last year. I expect the Titans to improve offensively with Mike Mularkey no longer around. In my opinion he was holding them back. Look for Mariota take the next step towards Pro Bowl status this season. The team also comes equipped with a thunder and lightning duo in the backfield in Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry.
Mike Buchanan: Houston Texans
Houston seemed poised for a playoff run last year after their great game against the Patriots in Week 3. Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt are returning from injuries, and the defense also added the honey badger, Tyrann Mathieu. Also, I think Jacksonville is a one-and-done team this year. Their defense is still good enough, but not good enough to propel that awful offensive-line and a bad QB in Blake Bortles.
Kyle Porch: Houston Texans
With Deshaun Watson set to return this season, he makes this offense so much scarier. He loved throwing to Will Fuller and Deandre Hopkins. The defense is also stacked with Clowney and Watt respectfully. Look for them to make some serious noise this season.
Matthew O’Halloran: Houston Texans
The Texans were the best team in the AFC South until Deshaun Watson got injured. Deandre Hopkins is a top five wide receiver in the league and Lamar Miller/D’Onta Foreman is a solid running back core. Whitney Mercilus, JJ Watt, and Jadeveon Clowney form a devastating front seven when all are healthy. The Titans barely squeaked into the playoffs last year, and Marcus Mariota needs a bounce-back year if Tennessee contends. Andrew Luck is back in Indy, but that roster is overall not good enough.
AFC West Division
Scott Frizzell: Kansas City Chiefs
I think this division has declined and the division winner might not get more than nine wins. The Chiefs have the first-year starter Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. I do like Mahomes a lot, but he still has things to learn and there will probably be some growing pains. Tyreek Hill will have a big year with Mahomes at the helm, however. I actually have the Broncos second, a game back.
Mike Buchanan: Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has one of the most electric offenses this upcoming season. They will be able to stretch the ball down the field to Tyreek Hill more with Patrick Mahomes at QB. Sammy Watkins is also in the mix too after signing a massive deal this offseason.
Kyle Porch: Kansas City Chiefs
With explosive guys such as Hill and Watkins, this offense could be rolling hot this year. Plus Alex Smith is gone, so you can’t really get any worse.
Matthew O’Halloran: Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have had a great roster forever, but the injury plague always does them in. Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and Keenan Allen are all elite and top ten in their respective positions. The defense struggled last year, so Los Angeles spent their first four picks on defense. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa is a pass rushing nightmare for opponents. The Broncos have gone downhill since Super Bowl 50, but they finally have a competent quarterback in Case Keenum.
AFC Wild Cards
Scott Frizzell: Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens
I have the Jaguars as the best of the leftovers, but the second Wild Card I can see is one of several I have finishing with the same record.
Mike Buchanan: Steelers and Chargers
Even with all the questions surrounding Pittsburgh, they are still a playoff team. At some point this year Le’Veon Bell will return, and make that offense one of the best in the league. The Chargers are dealing with a lot of injuries, which is why I do not believe they will win the division. However, they still have one of the best pass-rushes in the NFL and were able to get a steal in this year’s draft by selecting Derwin James.
Kyle Porch: Bills at Chargers
Buffalo could very well surprise anyone this season. Why not throw in a team like this? As well as a matchup with Rivers, and that my friend will be a fun game to watch.
Matthew O’Halloran: Chiefs and Jaguars
The Chiefs have virtually the same roster as last year, except for the quarterback. I do not see them winning the division because I have no idea how Patrick Mahomes will play. Week 1 will only be his second career start, but he has a very strong arm and the talent is evident. The Jaguars got worse on offense because Allen Robinson and Hurns left in free agency. Leonard Fournette and the defense will have to drag Jacksonville to a playoff spot, and I think they can do that.
NFC East Division
Scott Frizzell: Philadelphia Eagles
I believe the Eagles will regress from last season but still have enough to win the division. The other three teams in the division seem to be middle of the road teams to me, finishing between six and eight wins.
Mike Buchanan: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles seemed to have only gotten better a year removed from their Super Bowl win. They added Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett to an already great d-line, and get they get Wentz back from injury. They have not looked good at all in the preseason, but they are still one of the best teams in the NFL, and will win the division.
Kyle Porch: Philadelphia Eagles
I can’t see another team winning this division right now. Plus the addition of Michael Bennett, and you have yourself a great team… For now.
Matthew O’Halloran- New York Giants
Saquon Barkley, health, and a new head coach are the three reasons why the Giants will win the division. Barkley was the second overall pick in the draft and fills a void that has been on the Giants for years. Odell Beckham is a top three receiver in the league, and the Giants offense is much better when he is healthy. Not only does Pat Shurmur have a better offensive system than McAdoo, he is a refresher in the clubhouse. The defense has tons of talent, they just need someone to fix the chemistry. Philly is very talented, but it is very hard to repeat in the NFL and the NFC as a whole is very tough.
NFC North Division
Scott Frizzell: Minnesota Vikings
This appears to be a strong division, and I have the Vikings as the best team in the NFC. I am picking Kirk Cousins as my MVP, they have a good backfield duo if healthy and a couple good receivers. Pair that with a strong defense and this team looks good. I actually think every team in this division finishes .500 or better though. The Bears are improving and just need Mitchell Trubisky to prove capable.
Mike Buchanan: Minnesota Vikings
In my opinion, this team is the best team in the entire NFL from a talent standpoint. They added a very good QB in Kirk Cousins, get Dalvin Cook back from injury, and return most of their defense from a year ago.
Kyle Porch: Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins will put this team in a better position than Bradford did last year. The offense is explosive and hungry, and the defense is something to fear as well.
Matthew O’Halloran- Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings won the division last year and upgraded at quarterback. Dalvin Cook is back, and they have a great 1-2 punch at wide receiver in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Anthony Barr is one of the best linebackers in the league, and Eric Kendricks is one of the more underrated ones. Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph clog up the middle and Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith makes up one of the best secondaries in the league. The Bears got loads better with Khalil Mack and could be contenders if Mitch Trubisky makes a second-year jump.
NFC South Division
Scott Frizzell: New Orleans Saints
This looks like another strong division, as I can easily see the top three teams all winning 10+ games. The Buccaneers will pull up the rear. The Saints defense was much improved last season and they had the best backfield in football last year. Ingram is suspended the first four games, but he really didn’t do anything until their fifth game last year anyway.
Mike Buchanan: Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are loaded on both sides of the ball this year. They had a bit of a slump last year after their Super Bowl run, but now look to be even better than they did in 2016. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will get more time to work with Matt Ryan, and help him return to his MVP form, and they still have one of the best receivers in the game with Julio Jones.
Kyle Porch: New Orleans Saints
Atlanta proved that their postseason run was a fluke. The Saints have a great team.
Matthew O’Halloran- New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is an elite quarterback, and he has the weapons. Alvin Kamara is a great pass catcher while Mark Ingram is good in between the tackles. Michael Thomas is an elite reciever and Ted Ginn had a bounce back year. The defense had a bounce-back year last season and it will only get better with star players such as Cameron Jordan and Marshon Lattimore. The Panthers have a mediocre defense, the wide receiving core is bad, and Christian McCaffrey will have to make a big leap.
NFC West Division
Scott Frizzell: Los Angeles Rams
I definitely think the Rams offense is in for regression this year. They came out of nowhere to have a really good offense last year as Sean McVay proved himself as a good offensive mind. I just don’t see it all carrying over; they won’t be terrible again but I don’t see a repeat. With that said, this division is weak. I have the 49ers coming in second just a game back at 8-8. The Seahawks will be carried by Russell Wilson, as the team around him is garbage. If Wilson went down Week 1, the Seahawks might contend for worst team in football.
Mike Buchanan: Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have a lot of talent coming in this year. They were the third seed in the NFC last year under the first-year coach, Sean McVay, and have brought in top-tier players like Marcus Peters, Ndamokung Suh, and Aqib Talib. Todd Gurley will look to cement himself as the best running back in the league, and Jared Goff will continue to grow as a QB under McVay.
Kyle Porch: Rams
This team is very special in the way they blew up last season. Todd Gurley and company will be a fun lovable team to lookout for in the coming years. As long as they stay humble.
Matthew O’Halloran- Los Angeles Rams
The Rams won the division last year and got better over the offseason. They acquired Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods fill out a great receiving core, and Todd Gurley is an elite running back. Aaron Donald is one of the best defensive players in the league. Jimmy Garoppolo is a franchise quarterback, but there is not enough around him yet for the 49ers to make a playoff push. Russell Wilson is also a franchise quarterback, but Seattle has gotten worse every year since Super Bowl 49.
Scott Frizzell: Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons
The Packers should be right there for a playoff spot as long as Rodgers is healthy. I think the Falcons offense will bounce back going into a second season with Steve Sarkisian at offensive coordinator. The Falcons struggled some their first season under Kyle Shanahan as well, only to terrorize the league in year two. The Panthers should be right in the thick of this race as well with the Lions and possibly even the Bears contending.
Mike Buchanan: Bears and Saints
The New Orleans Saints are one of the best teams in the NFL. Atlanta is the only reason they are in the wild card and not division winners. The Saints have a three-headed monster on offense with Brees-Kamara-Thomas, and their defense is one of the fastest in the league. Chicago is an uncommon pick, but they had the best offseason this year bringing in Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Taylor Gabriel to help their second-year QB. Also, their defense will be one of the best in the NFL led by newly acquired, Khalil Mack.
Kyle Porch: Bears and Packers
the good old rivalry game for the last playoff spot makes for a great storyline. This will be happening this season.
Matthew O’Halloran- Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons
If the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, they will be okay. The roster is nothing special overall but a healthy Rodgers will get Green Bay to the postseason. The Falcons’ offense struggled mightily under Steve Sarkisian’s style. Julio Jones said the offense looks bad in the red zone which is bad for my fantasy team and the Falcons. However, Atlanta has too much talent to not make the playoffs.
Scott Frizzell: Patriots 27, Vikings 20
Can the Patriots really make it again? They have already been to two straight and three of the last four so I’m really not sure about picking them. But, then I look at the AFC and think, who is going to beat them? I just don’t see anyone else as being good enough.
I think the Vikings are the best team in the NFC so I’ll pick them to make it. The game itself should be a good one, as Patriots Super Bowls always are.
Mike Buchanan: Vikings over Patriots
As dominant as the Pats have been, I do not see them winning the Super Bowl this year. Minnesota seems too talented on both sides of the ball which will lead to a close defensive win for the Vikings.
Kyle Porch: Patriots 31, Rams 28
Get ready for an all out offensive super bowl! These two teams will be on full display and ready to go to war .
Matthew O’Halloran- Rams 34, Texans 25
Deshaun Watson will try to keep up, but the Rams offense will ultimately prevail. Jared Goff and the Rams will expose the lackluster secondary the Texans have.