Posted by: Paul Nichols
07 Sep 2020
Here's a quickie NFL preview for the 2020 season. Teams are listed in their predicted finish in their division.
Buffalo Bills — Finished 2nd in the division last year at 10-6, and don't we think they improved? I do. First place and first division title since 1995!!! Let's goooo Buffalooooo! I think third-year QB Josh Allen remains a lot of fun to watch. 12 wins seem too much, 10 too few. 11 wins.
New England Patriots — I always say they're on top until proven otherwise. It hasn't been proven otherwise, but Tom Brady has moved to Tampa Bay. So where to slide this team? I'm a fan of Cam Newton, and I wonder how much their defense will diminish…Second place seems alright.
New York Jets — Somehow finished 7-9 last season but if I didn't just tell you that, wouldn't you have assumed 5-11? QB Sam Darnold seems to be injured from time to time, and I have no idea who else is on this team besides Le'Veon Bell, who wasn't a big difference maker last year.
Miami Dolphins — Is Fitzpatrick still on this team at QB? I mean, I figured last year his stats would start to fizzle and we'd see Rosen get some reps. But his stats never [whatever the opposite of fizzled is] so they didn't fizzle. But I expect we'll see Tua get some reps. They may finish the season with 3 wins.
Baltimore Ravens — This is a team I love to root against after they beat the Broncos on the road in the playoffs years ago and somehow won a Super Bowl. I do like Lamar Jackson and think they'll continue dominating after their 14-2 record last year with Lamar at the helm. So let's give 'em the division! 12 wins.
Pittsburgh Steelers — My continuing logic on Pittsburgh is that it's an every-other-year kind of team. That logic has fallen apart as they've maintained some better-than-average consistency the last six years. But I'm stubborn, and my math means they'll be “good ” this year. So let's put them in second place in the division.
Cleveland Browns — They won 7 games two years ago and 6 last year…we're still waiting for Baker Mayfield to ball. So 3rd place in this division.
Cincinnati Bengals — I'm still smarting from predicting them to win this division three years ago. Their punishment sees them remain in last place. It'll be fun to watch them continue to not meet expectations. Their over/under for wins is 5.5. I'll take the under.
Tennessee Titans — They've finished 9-7 for
Houston Texans — Deshaun Watson plays with J.J. Watt on the Texans. Not the Titans. Texans, Titans, Tomato, Tomato. This substantially upgraded my impression of this team last year when I learned this. I like to call this team the Houston Wat/t/sons given their two star players, though their record seemed too good at 10-6 last year given the team's mediocrity. So I begrudgingly have them in second in this division behind the steadier Titans. I want Watson to win this division, but I'm not sure they've got enough in the tank.
Indianapolis Colts — I had these guys winning the division last year and they finished in third place instead. Andrew Luck's not coming back, and neither are their chances. Third place.
Jacksonville Jaguars — The good 'ol reliable Jaguars, right here at the bottom of these division standings. It's nice that some things never change. Who can remember them winning the division three years ago with 10 wins, then winning just 5 and 6 games in each year since? Maybe they get to 5 this year with who I assume is still their quarterback, Blaine Gabbert. I looked it up again this year. It's not Blake Bortles, either. Not Nick Foles. It's Gardner Minshew. Regardless of how fun he is to root for, I don't see success here. 6 wins.
Kansas City Chiefs — Andy Reid wins football games. Lots of offense and questionable defense. 13 wins.
Denver Broncos — Somehow finished at 7-9 last year despite being a pity to watch. Will the new receiving corps and new running back give this team the offensive oomph it needs to not be a dud to watch on TV? I sure hope so. At some point the defense is going to get worse and I'm hoping that's not this year. I have them in second place this year and sneaking into the playoffs.
Oakland Raiders — Okay, so which city will they be playing in this year? Is it Las Vegas? They had a bad point differential last year and still won 7 games behind a surprising year from QB Derek Carr. Can they keep it going? Well, I think they can get to 7 wins again.
Los Angeles Chargers — Feels like a giant "menh" going on this year. I'm not even sure I've got the right city for the team. I think so. Last place.
Dallas Cowboys — From 9-7 to 10-6 to 8-8…they're finally due a breakout year and will take the division. Some solid stars on the roster and QB Dak Prescott is gonna get paid after this year. 12 wins.
New York Giants — From 3-13 to 5-11 to 4-12. Hunh. So why do I again predict them for a second place in this division. 7 wins? Cause…
Philadelphia Eagles — I'm not sure who's on this team anymore, so I've only got them ahead of the lowly WFT.
Washington Football Team — I don't think a lot looks good for these guys. Over/under of 5 wins, and that number feels generous. They won 3 last year. Last place again.
Green Bay Packers — I badly whiffed on my prediction for this squad last year. Their team seems to be improving despite the pundits saying that Rodgers' skillset has slipped a little bit. So let's give them the division with 11 wins.
Chicago Bears — I'm still not sure who's on this team. Trubisky (sp?) I guess. Mack on defense. Surprised two years ago by winning the division easily. Turned in a surprising 8-8 season despite everyone saying Trubisky is terrible. So maybe they'll improve this year and take second place.
Minnesota Vikings — I think this is a fun team to root for. Maybe I just like their uniforms. Made the playoffs last year but I see a slip this year. Somehow they let the Bears slide by them and this team finishes in third place.
Detroit Lions — Looked good at the start of last year but let a bunch of games slip away, then Stafford got injured and their season was sunk. Even with Stafford back, I don't see a lot to be giddy about, and I think they'll remain in last place.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Bruce Arians did amazing things in Arizona win-wise: 10, 11, 13 before he said something stupid and ruined the team's mojo. Well, he got a re-start in TB and I predicted a first-place finish last year. Whoops. They finished in third place with 7 wins. I think they'll improve with Tom Brady at QB and Gronk at tight end. Why not. Their defense won't be put in as many bad positions without Jameis Winston's 30 interceptions.
New Orleans Saints — When I die Drew Brees will still be quarterbacking the Saints. And though there is more defense these days, at some point this run has to end, right? They did go 13-3 last year, though………
Atlanta Falcons — I correctly predicted second place last year but it wasn't a great team, and I don't think they'll be improving much beyond their 7 wins despite finishing last year with 4 straight wins. So third place.
Carolina Panthers — I love rooting for Cam Newton but this division is tough. And he no longer plays for them. Last place again after finishing with 5 wins last year. They might get to 5 this year. With rounding.
San Francisco 49ers — Whoops. Had them predicted for last place and they went ahead and won the division with 13 victories last year. Can they keep it up this year? Why not. I think 11 wins is enough to win the division.
Arizona Cardinals — Rebuilt with rookie of the year QB Kyler Murray, but still only won 5 games. But it's just too tempting with the spastic Rams and overperforming Seahawks, so I'm giving them second place. 9 wins and second place.
Seattle Seahawks — I'm still upset about their playoff win from 10 seasons ago. Remember? When they won 7 games and hosted a playoff game?!? I think they'll finish third in this division behind the overperforming Cardinals. The Seahawks can't keep this surprising performance up forever, can they? 8-8.
Los Angeles Rams — Had them in first last year, and they finished in third with 9 wins with only a +30 point differential. I don't see them trending the right direction, so I guess that leaves them in last place in a strong division.
An expanded playoffs this year gives us an extra team, a 7th, in each conference. My predictions mean that divisional foes Kansas City and Denver, and Buffalo and New England will face each other in the first round. There's only one first round bye in this format.
AFC 1st Round: Baltimore, Kansas City, Buffalo, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, New England, Denver.
2nd Round: Baltimore, Kansas City, Buffalo, Pittsburgh.
3rd Round: Baltimore, Kansas City.
NFC 1st Round: Dallas, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, Chicago, Arizona.
2nd Round: Dallas, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Green Bay.
3rd Round: Dallas, San Francisco.
Super Bowl: Kansas City over Dallas.
I'm two-for-ten so far with predicting Super Bowl winners, having predicted Green Bay (Green Bay won), then New Orleans (the Giants of New York), then Green Bay (Baltimore), then Denver (Seattle won), then Denver (New England won), then Denver (Denver won), then Pittsburgh (New England), then Denver (Philadelphia), then Green Bay (New England), then Los Angeles Rams (Kansas City). Good thing I've got a day job.
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