Predicting the records of all 32 NFL teams in 2018

Football is (almost) back. In the next two weeks, all 32 NFL teams will report to their respective training camps and on August 2, the NFL preseason will kick off with a matchup between the Bears and Ravens. Just over a month after that, the regular season begins. You get the point – the wait is very close to being over. With that said, considering both the NFL Draft and free agency period are over, it’s time to take a look at each team and its outlook for the season. Which teams will make a trip back to the postseason? Which ones are due to fall off a bit? Let’s find out, starting with the AFC North.

AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers (2017 record: 13-3)

No-brainer. Pittsburgh is easily the best team in the AFC North. It was a relatively quiet offseason for the Steelers, one highlighted mainly by the acquisition of safety Terrell Edmunds with the 28th pick in the draft. Although the tension between Le’Veon Bell and the front office is quite legit (and might result in the star RB sitting out a large chunk of the season), having Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster to ease the pain certainly helps. The now 36-year-old Roethlisberger should be able to put up good numbers again this year, which will be enough to secure Pittsburgh a fifth consecutive trip to the postseason.

Record Prediction: 11-5

Baltimore Ravens (2017 record: 9-7)

This season will be an interesting one for the Ravens. With John Brown (although only for this year), Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead in the fold at WR for Joe Flacco, there won’t be many excuses for the 33-year-old signal caller should he falter again in 2018. With games against 2017 playoff teams such as Pittsburgh (twice), Kansas City, Tennessee, New Orleans, Carolina and Atlanta, the odds are stacked against the Ravens. Throw in the Lamar Jackson selection in the draft, and it’s easy to see why this team is focused more on the future instead of the present.

Record Prediction: 7-9

Cincinnati Bengals (2017 record: 7-9)

Nothing about this team screams bad, but nothing about it screams great. If you look up “decent on paper,” you’ll likely find a picture of the Cincinnati Bengals. This squad routinely looks like one that is capable of competing for a playoff spot, but nothing more. Despite having the third-easiest schedule in the NFL this year, I’m still not buying into the hype. I’ve done it in the past, but it’s just not happening this year. Not enough key additions have been made to change my mind. Perhaps this year will be the final one of the Dalton and Marvin Lewis era.

Record Prediction: 6-10

Cleveland Browns (2017 record: 0-16)

If you were hoping for a surprise Browns playoff prediction, you’ll have to find it somewhere else. However, this Cleveland team is not the laughing stock of old. The additions of Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield (whoever ends up being the starter) on offense provide some optimism at the quarterback position for the first time in forever. Josh Gordon will play a full season and Jarvis Landry will join him, forming one of the better wide receiving duos in the league. Drafting Denzel Ward and adding him into the fold on the other side of the ball jolts even more hungry, young talent into this squad. There will be growing pains and the fifth-toughest slate of games out of all 32 teams won’t do them any favors, but expect the Browns to win some ball games in 2018.

Record Prediction: 5-11

AFC South
Houston Texans (2017 record: 4-12)

Deshaun Watson is back. JJ Watt is back. Whitney Mercilus is back. Tyrann Mathieu is about as big of an offseason “splash” as a team can make. I had the Texans making the playoffs last year before watching Watson play a single snap. Every start he made before his ACL tear just boosted my confidence in this team even more. The NFL’s easiest schedule will provide Houston every opportunity to clinch a playoff berth this season. A 6+ win improvement over 2017’s total is not only possible, but probable.

Record Prediction: 11-5

Jacksonville Jaguars (2017 record: 10-6)

Jacksonville didn’t change much this offseason, but maybe that’s a good thing. Blake Bortles is locked up for a few more years, both sides of the ball matured a bit over the last few months and the team looks ready to run it back with generally the same bunch in 2018. What team wouldn’t try to keep things the same after being one quarter away from the Super Bowl? I personally think the Jags peaked last season and Blake Bortles may not get any better, but even an average offense and elite defense will win this team 10 games. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Record Prediction: 10-6

Tennessee Titans (2017 record: 9-7)

Tennessee is a good team. The only issue is… well… we don’t know which Titans will show up in 2018. Marcus Mariota is coming off a year in which he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, yet still managed to get his team into the playoffs. Derrick Henry is the unquestioned #1 RB now and Malcolm Butler should help solidify the secondary, which will put Tennessee in the mix for another trip to the postseason this year. The odds are Mariota won’t be that bad for a second-straight season.

Record Prediction: 9-7

Indianapolis Colts (2017 record: 4-12)

The AFC South should be one of the strongest divisions in football this year. Not only are Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville all legitimate contenders for playoff spots, but the hopeful (???) return of Andrew Luck instantly puts Indianapolis in the middle of that same conversation. Kind of. There is a relatively high level of concern about the talent surrounding him, though. T.Y. Hilton is the only name outside of Luck that fans will recognize on the offense. Asking a team with so many holes, question marks and new faces in terms of coaching to make the playoffs is just not reasonable.

Record Prediction: 7-9

AFC East
New England Patriots (2017 record: 13-3)

Who else? The Patriots go through the same process every offseason. Win big, lose some pieces that the media blow up to be huge losses, somehow find guys to replace them, then start over in September. This year shouldn’t be any different, but it might not result in the most impressive regular season product. New England will still win the division with ease, but a slight regression from last year’s dominance should be in cards for Brady and Belichick. Don’t freak out if you’re a Pats fan: you should still have some late-January (or later) football to look forward to.

Record Prediction: 12-4

Miami Dolphins (2017 record: 6-10)

Good news: Jay Cutler is no longer a Miami Dolphin. Also good news: Ryan Tannehill should be ready to go when the season starts. A little bit more good news: Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola and Minkah Fitzpatrick have been added to the roster. Bad news: Tannehill’s health is never a sure thing and talents such as Ndamukong Suh and Jarvis Landry are no longer with the team. Overall, it was a net loss of an offseason for Miami. A team that won just six games last year didn’t get any better over the course of the past six months. I like Tannehill, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Different season, same result for MIA.

Record Prediction: 6-10

Buffalo Bills (2017 record: 9-7)

What a difference a year makes. Who knows what the deal is with LeSean McCoy. Tyrod Taylor is now in Cleveland and Josh Allen was the Bills’ first-round pick. Three offensive linemen are gone. Speaking of Allen, it is far from a foregone conclusion that he will even start a game for the Bills this year. A team that made the playoffs a year ago and was anxious to get back this year now might struggle to win seven games. This offense will be very high-risk in 2018. That could either put this team back in the postseason, or it could put it at the cellar of the AFC East. I’ll go with something more towards the latter.

Record Prediction: 5-11

New York Jets (2017 record: 5-11)

Not too high on the Jets in 2018. This team overachieved at times last season and didn’t make any big moves that compensated for that, outside of Trumaine Johnson. Having three quarterbacks on the roster all battling for one spot will promote healthy competition, but might not result in wins. If Sam Darnold is the starter, I’d lower my projection by 1. If Teddy Bridgewater somehow ends up starting, I’d raise it by 1. Let’s bank on Josh McCown returning as the guy.

Record Prediction: 3-13

AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs (2017 record: 10-6)

The defending AFC West champs had a rollercoaster of an offseason. Quarterback Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins in March, signaling the start of the Patrick Mahomes era. Cornerback Marcus Peters was shipped to Los Angeles in exchange for draft picks. The defense underwent a complete remodel, seeing veterans such as Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali get the boot. I think we’ve covered it all. Oh wait, Sammy Watkins is also now being paired with Tyreek Hill in the WR room. It’s too early to tell if the new-look defense will be better or worse than it was in 2017 but with arguably the best set of weapons in the league, Mahomes should be able to cash in on the potential he flashed in limited playing time last season. Expect this to be a fun team in 2018.

Record Prediction: 10-6

Los Angeles Chargers (2017 record: 9-7)

The Chargers didn’t change much this offseason, but that’s a good thing. This team caught fire after a terrible start to the 2017 campaign and nearly made the playoffs. Health is going to be the key for Los Angeles moving forward. That aspect is already off to a rough start with TE Hunter Henry out for the season but if minimal other injuries take place between now and the end of the season, it’s not hard to see Philip Rivers and company competing for not only a playoff spot, but the AFC West crown.

Record Prediction: 10-6

Oakland Raiders (2017 record: 6-10)

Jon Gruden brings a winning attitude and culture to California this year, but I’m not convinced it will stick with his bunch. Derek Carr has franchise QB written all over him and will benefit from better health this season, but the defense remains a complete disaster on paper and will, as always, end up holding the team back in the end. 2018 will be a step in the right direction for Oakland, but it won’t be enough to get it into the playoffs.

Record Prediction: 8-8

Denver Broncos (5-11)

Denver’s defense always gets plenty of love, and rightfully so. The addition of Bradley Chubb makes it even more deserving. At the end of the day, the Broncos had one of the worst quarterback situations in the league, suffered one of the worst midseason slumps I’ve ever seen, and still managed to come out of the fire at 5-11. Although Case Keenum isn’t a world-beater, he’s much better than anyone Denver threw out there last season. With that said, this team still isn’t a contender. Vance Joseph will improve in year two, but not enough to get over .500. Expect Denver to bring up the caboose in what should be one of the better divisions in football.

Record Prediction: 7-9

NFC North
Green Bay Packers (2017 record: 7-9)

Aaron Rodgers being healthy = Packers in the playoffs. Got it? Good. Now we just have to figure out how many games Green Bay will win. Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis make the TE group one of the best Rodgers has ever had. Adding Muhammad Wilkerson on the D-line and young studs Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson to the secondary will make this team vastly improved on defense as well. I think the sky is the limit for the Packers in 2018, and I can’t wait to see this product touch the field. Throw the hardest schedule in the league out the window: The Pack is back.

Record Prediction: 13-3

Minnesota Vikings (2017 record: 13-3)

On paper, this Vikings team looks as deep and talented as any in the entire league. A couple nice additions (Sheldon Richardson, Mike Hughes) to what was a top-ranked defensive unit will ensure that it’s elite again. Running back Dalvin Cook returning from injury should improve the running game. Swapping out Case Keenum for Kirk Cousins is the big piece here. It could either make Minnesota the best team in the league, or it could cause the offense to stall late in games and thus, late in the season. Cousins has never been in a situation like this, but I think the edginess, leadership ability and hunger of Case Keenum was a large reason why Minnesota was so successful last year. All of that talk for a one-game dropoff from last season.

Record Prediction: 12-4

Detroit Lions (2017 record: 9-7)

I feel terrible for Detroit. The Lions should improve in 2018, but it might result in the same record in the end. Having to play Minnesota, a healthy Aaron Rodgers and a Bears team that could be on the rise (more on that later) makes for a brutal 6/16 games. Matthew Stafford was great last year and both his running game and defense should be better, but the second-most difficult schedule in the league and the juggernauts that will (likely) be Green Bay and Minnesota make it nearly impossible to envision Matt Patricia winning 10 games in his first campaign as head coach.

Record Prediction: 9-7

Chicago Bears (2017 record: 5-11)

Chicago should be respectable this year. Mitch Trubisky has plenty of weapons to work with now and will only get better from here on out. The defense is hungry and athletic. While all of that sounds great, much like the Lions, playing in the NFC North is just too much for this bunch to overcome. Brighter days are ahead for the Bears, even if a huge increase in the wins column isn’t evident.

Record Prediction: 6-10

NFC South
New Orleans Saints (2017 record: 11-5)

New Orleans is another team that didn’t make many changes this offseason, but for great reason. Drew Brees showed he’s still one of the top 3-5 QB’s in the league last season, in conjunction with the emergence of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram as arguably the best 1-2 RB punch the league has seen in quite some time. Ingram will miss the first four games of the season, but it shouldn’t be too much for NO to handle. What has been Brees’ biggest pain throughout his career ended up being one of his biggest blessings in 2017: defense. Both sides of the ball will be tested by one of the hardest schedules in the league but in the end, the Saints should come marching back into the playoffs.

Record Prediction: 12-4

Atlanta Falcons (2017 record: 10-6)

Adding Calvin Ridley to what is already one of the most dangerous offensive arsenals the league has ever seen should not be legal. Opposing defensive coordinators are going to have nightmares about how to stop Atlanta. Matt Ryan followed up his MVP campaign with a meh 2017 campaign, but should bounce back a bit this season (or at least he’s expected to). Other than that, nothing much has changed for a squad that won 10 games last year. A middle of the pack schedule should provide Atlanta a shot to compete for the division title in the last couple weeks of the season. It can’t get much more jam-packed than this, can it? Oh yeah, just keep reading.

Record Prediction: 11-5

Carolina Panthers (2017 record: 11-5)

Carolina, to me, was the most frustrating team to watch last year. At times, the Panthers played like a 6-win team. At others, they played like a Super Bowl contender. This season, the keys to success will be Cam Newton staying healthy and consistent. Adding both Torrey Smith and D.J. Moore as shiny new toys for Newton to play with should help newly-appointed offensive coordinator Norv Turner come up with a solid game plan each week. Carolina is too good to not win double-digit games again in 2018.

Record Prediction: 10-6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2017 record: 5-11)

Despite many analysts and media personalities around the country picked the Buccaneers to be a sleeper team in 2017, they fell way short of those expectations. Well, I guess they were a sleeper team in a way. I’d watch Bucs games if I wanted to go to sleep, but that’s about it. Jameis Winston struggled to put the ball in the end zone and also struggled to put himself on the field, something he won’t be able to do for the first three games of the 2018 regular season. The fourth-hardest schedule in the league won’t make it any more likely that this squad turns it around this year. Expect another rough season from Tampa.

Record Prediction: 2-14

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles (2017 record: 13-3)

This team has no holes. Carson Wentz is expected to be healthy for the start of the regular season, something everyone throughout the league is happy to hear. Well, except for opposing defenses. The defending Super Bowl champions bring back pretty much the same exact team from a year ago and have an opposing combined winning percentage of less than .500 this year. Guaranteed 10-12 wins. Teams like LA (Rams), Carolina, Minnesota, Jacksonville and Dallas will test Philly, but don’t expect much more than that.

Record Prediction: 12-4

Dallas Cowboys (2017 record: 9-7)

Allen Hurns isn’t Dez Bryant. Jason Witten can’t be replaced. Dak Prescott regressed in his second season, so this year is a huge one for him. Not only will he be tasked with winning games, but he’ll have to prove he’s an upper-echelon QB. Having Ezekiel Elliot available for the entire season will be a tremendous boost. Dallas’ opponents this year had a combined record of 128-128 last year, which should play into the Cowboys’ favor. If Prescott turns back into his rookie self, my prediction could look silly. I’m just not expecting it.

Record Prediction: 9-7

Washington Redskins (2017 record: 7-9)

Kirk Cousins out, Alex Smith in. Some view it as a major downgrade, but I think the QB situation is right about where it was a year ago, if not a bit better. Smith is a proven winner but needs help surrounding him in order to do so. Enter Paul Richardson, Derrius Guice and a wave of good health. This team has a bunch of moving pieces on the defensive end, which might not be a cohesive unit until later in the season. By then, it’s possible that it’s too little, too late for the ‘Skins. The floor of this team isn’t as low as you think, but the ceiling isn’t as high, either.

Record Prediction: 6-10

New York Giants (2017 record: 3-13)

New coach. Generational talent at RB. Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy. The offense, in general, is healthy. Although the defense still looks rough on paper, the things I listed earlier make this team so much more watchable than it was last year. A 37-year-old Eli Manning likely won’t take this team to the postseason this year, but he can inch it closer to .500. A tough schedule with a brutal first half will doom this squad early on, but winnable second-half games against the likes of Chicago, Washington and Tampa Bay provide the G-Men ample opportunities to end the year with dignity.

Record Prediction: 6-10

NFC West
Los Angeles Rams (2017 record: 11-5)

The same offense returns, but Sammy Watkins has been substituted for Brandin Cooks. The defense looks like the best unit in the NFL on paper with Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib bringing their talents to LA. These aren’t your Jeff Fisher-led Rams, either. Sean McVay knows what he’s doing here. Games against Minnesota, Green Bay, New Orleans, Kansas City and Philadelphia will prevent the Rams from winning 15 or 16 games but nonetheless, this could be the best team in the NFL.

Record Prediction: 12-4

San Francisco 49ers (2017 record: 6-10)

A full season of Jimmy Garoppolo alone is enough for me to warrant this team winning seven or eight games this year. Adding the likes of Richard Sherman and Jerrick McKinnon (among others) make me confident in giving San Francisco closer to 10 wins. I’m not completely on the Jimmy G bandwagon, but his performance in a small sample size leaves me no other choice but to believe in this team. Next year will see a more polished product on the field but for now, 9-7 is nothing to frown upon.

Record Prediction: 9-7

Seattle Seahawks (2017 record: 9-7)

Rest in peace, Legion of Boom. Rest in peace, Russell Wilson, if he continues to do his best LeBron-in-the-NFL impression of carrying a bad supporting cast to the promised land. A top-5 difficult schedule and a lack of support on the defensive end screams at least some regression from 2017. There’s not much else to say about this team. If we’re pleasantly surprised, maybe 9-10 wins is possible. Most likely, the 7-8 range is where Seattle is headed.

Record Prediction: 7-9

Arizona Cardinals (2017 record: 8-8)

Steve Wilks begins his first year as head coach with injury-prone, but good when healthy, Sam Bradford as his starting QB. First-round pick Josh Rosen might be ready to step in and start on day one, but he likely won’t get that chance. The ceiling of this team, much like Washington, is a lot lower than some believe. David Johnson alone will put some points on the board for this team but the question mark at QB, uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball and a first-year head coach don’t spell playoffs for the Cardinals – or anything close. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back in order to leap forward, which is exactly what Arizona is doing this year.

Record Prediction: 5-11


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