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2018 Full Season Predictions

As a Cowboys fan, I don't know why I get so excited, but I still do. Football is here. I am so ready to see my boys on the field now until January. And the reason I don't know why is because I just spend each game with my heart rate at dangerously high levels screaming at the tv, scaring my children. They ultimately rip my heart out and stop on it every season. The Cowboys that is, not my kids. They will do that when they turn about 15 I'm sure.

Anyway, as we see each year, there are always dark horses, surprises, injuries, and much more that change the landscape of the NFL season. As for now though, all we can go off of, are the 53 man rosters that are on paper. Here are my full 2018 predictions. Read em and weep...

NFC East:
  1. Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
  2. Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
  3. Washington Redskins: 5-11
  4. New York Giants: 5-11
  • The NFC East has not had a repeat Division Champion since the 2003-2004 seasons. That is when the Eagles were in the midst of winning four straight division titles. This year they will become the first team since themselves 14 years ago to repeat. The Eagles will kick off their title defense with Carson Wentz still on the shelf and Alshon Jeffrey not recovered from shoulder surgery. This will probably cause them to stumble out of the blocks, but be strong in the stretch run as they head back to the playoffs as NFC East Champions.
    • The Cowboys will remain average while the Redskins need to rely on Alex Smith too much because of a lack of a running game. Also with a suspect defense, Smith can't win shootouts. Giants get better, but that is not hard to do after last season. Eli is nearing the end and Barkley can only improve the team so much.
NFC North:
  1. Minnesota Vikings: 14-2
  2. Green Bay Packers: 13-3
  3. Chicago Bears: 7-9
  4. Detroit Lions: 7-9
  • The Vikings found themselves in the NFC Championship game a year ago where they laid a massive egg. This year they get back a healthy Dalvin Cook and once again a top defense. While I do not think Kirk Cousins is a "winner," he will easily be playing with the most weapons he has ever had, and the strongest defense he has ever had. This team is loaded from top to bottom. 
    • The Packers themselves have a hell of a year with Rodgers staying healthy for all 16, but also because of a weak schedule. They settle for a Wild Card spot because of a road loss to Minnesota. Detroit will be prototypical Detroit while the Bears take a giant leap forward with a ton of young talent; Allen Robinson, Jordan Howard. Mitchel Trubisky, Kahlil Mack, Roquan Smith and more. At this point for Chicago, with those names, it is mainly on Trubisky to make sure they take this leap.
NFC South:
  1. New Orleans Saints: 13-3
  2. Carolina Panthers: 12-4
  3. Atlanta Falcons: 9-7
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-14
  • The Saints came within an absolutely freakish play of being the team playing Philadelphia in the NFC Championship game. And no doubt in my mind it would have been a tossup if they made it. Now a year later, they return as good, if not better. You may still think they have a Swiss cheese defense, but you will be mistaken. This is as good a team as Brees has manned since winning the Super Bowl in 2010 and very well may be the last NFC team standing. 
    • The Panthers also come out of the South as a Wild Card setting up a first weekend clash with the LA Rams. That will be an intriguing match up. Falcons once again turn in an okay season. I feel the biggest surprise coming out of Atlanta will be their defense. They are young and will fly to the ball, but with the NFC being so strong, they are not good enough to be playing later in January. Lastly, the Bucs are going to be terrible. I truly believe that.
NFC West:
  1. Los Angeles Rams: 12-4
  2. Seattle Seahawks: 8-8
  3. San Francisco 49ers: 7-9
  4. Arizona Cardinals: 2-14
  • Boy oh boy did the Rams load up and are going for it all. Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Suh, Brandin Cooks. Their roster reads like one from the Pro Bowl. Their defense has the potential to be the top unit in the league. If Goff can take another step forward, they have all the tools to be playing in the Super Bowl. 
    • Seattle has seen their window close up quickly and are now nothing more than a 500 team. As for Jimmy G in San Fran, the unit around him is still less than ideal and while I do think he is a long term answer at the position, the 49ers still need to surround him without a lot more talent. As for the Cardinals, the rebuild is on.
AFC East:
  1. New England Patriots: 13-3
  2. New York Jets: 4-12
  3. Miami Dolphins: 3-13
  4. Buffalo Bills: 3-13 
  • AFC Least. AFC Easy. Whatever you want to call it. It is the division that NEVER gets better. However, Patriots fans will tell you the teams are good and "oh they always play us tough" to weight their wins more. Lets stop the charade. The AFC East is pathetic and has been for years. Patriots, even with their lack of wide outs and suspect defense will hop, skip, and jump their way to another division title and another week one playoff bye.
    • A rookie, a backup, and a bust walk into a bar. The bartender says hey, its the rest of the AFC east. That's my joke. Just like the division.
AFC North:
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4
  2. Baltimore Ravens: 9-7
  3. Cleveland Browns: 3-13
  4. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-13
  • The Steelers will do what the Steelers do, regardless if Bell decides to partake or not. And that is put up points, while giving up points. Which will ultimately be there demise once again. I wonder if Tomlin will finally realize this year he cannot sit back in Cover 2 against Brady and the Patriots? Nah. 
    • The Ravens defense will keep them in most games, although Jimmy Smith being suspended for the first 4 games will hold them down a bit and unless Flacco all of a sudden plays like he did 4 years ago, the Ravens will be sitting at home come January once again. Bengals and Browns will be bringing up the rear, however, I do have some faith in the Browns this season. I actually feel they will probably beat my projected win total of 3, and how about this for a bold prediction. They beat the Bell-less Steelers on Sunday. #Dawgs
AFC South:
  1. Houston Texans: 13-3
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars: 13-3
  3. Tennessee Titans: 4-12
  4. Indianapolis Colts: 3-13
  • I will admit, the AFC South (and again AFC West as you will see in a minute) surprised me when I came up with my final win projections. However, going off of the schedule,  I found it hard to convince myself otherwise that Houston and Jacksonville wouldn't win 13 games. I take Houston in a tiebreaker, but lets look at their first 7 games. Houston plays at the Patriots, at the Titans, home against the Giants, at the Colts, home against the Cowboys, home against Buffalo, then at Jacksonville. 7 games and I think they start 6-0 with the first loss not coming to that seventh in Jacksonville. I am going out on a limb with them winning the opener up in New England, but they should have beaten them last year in New England, and this year they are better, and the Patriots might be worse. At least right now. If Watson and Watt stay upright all year, Houston will be an absolute force.
    • Jaguars come in right behind the Texans. That defense will still be as strong as it was a year ago with all the pressure once again being on Blake Bortles. Why they did not pick up the phone for Teddy Bridgewater is beyond me but here we are. Defense carries them again. Beyond them. the Titans fall way off behind Mariota continued struggles (only 13TD's, but 15INT's a year ago) and the Colts, regardless of Luck's return just has a putrid defense.
AFC West:
  1. Denver Broncos: 12-4
  2. Los Angeles Chargers: 10-6
  3. Kansas City Chiefs: 10-6
  4. Oakland Raiders: 6-10
  • I was honestly shocked to work my way through the schedule and have the Broncos not only a double digit win team, but the division winner. This may be the division pick I am least confident in, but again, going off of just what we have in front of us now. If the Broncos do not reach this potential, I think it will be a lot to do with Keenum, but time will tell. 
    • I fully expected to go through the schedule and have the Chargers winning the West, but here we are. I do think they finally get back into the playoffs this season, but injuries on both sides of the ball have already started to mount and I think that's the difference between being the division winner, and a wild card team. The Chiefs just fall on the outside and will be looking in, and I actually think they may be worse than this when its all said and done. Besides Eric Berry (whose actually hurt again right now, heel) there defense is filled with holes. Lastly, speaking of putrid defenses, the Raiders on paper look like one of, if not the worst unit in the league now with the departure of Mack. It will be a long first year back in Oakland for Chuckie.
NFC Playoffs:

3. Rams vs. 6. Panthers - Rams are the better team, Rams move onto the Divisional Round
4. Eagles vs. 5 Packers - Eagles lose the magic early this year as they get Aaron Rodgers'd.

1. Vikings vs. 5 Packers -  Vikings defense does just enough to squeak by the Packers as their lackluster defense holds them back.
2. Saints vs. 3 Rams - What a game here. I think throwing out feelings, Rams should win this. However, something tells me that this is Brees' last year and he is not going out this easily. Saints march on.

1. Vikings vs. 2. Saints - A rematch of last years thriller Divisional Round Game. Again, Saints defense is better than you think. I see Kirk Cousins being the demise here making a late game mistake as he has done many times in his career, sending Drew Brees back to the Super Bowl.

AFC Playoffs:

3. Steelers vs. 6. Chargers - Hows this for an upset? In the battle of qb's from the 2004 Draft, Rivers rides into Pittsburgh and outduels Big Ben in his final NFL Game.
4. Broncos vs. 5. Jaguars - Jaguars defense swallows Case Keenum alive. Jags advance.

1. Patriots vs. 6. Chargers - Oh you think Philip Rivers will beat Tom Brady? In Foxboro? In January? Well you are dumber than I thought. Of course the Patriots win.
2. Texans vs. 5. Jaguars - Two AFC South teams that split the regular season series 1-1 meet up for one final showdown. The difference? Watson > Bortles.

1. Patriots vs. 2 Texans - The Patriots get their revenge from their opening week loss and propel themselves to a third straight Super Bowl.

Super Bowl:

Saints vs. Patriots - The battle of the oldest quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. How else would this year end? A 39 year old Brees. A 41 year old Brady. It's a duel. It's a shootout. It's good TV. Saints beat the Patriots 34-31. Brees rides into the sunset with his second and final ring.

Cya in Februrary!

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1 comment

  1. Nice write-up Ryan! Over at our site, we're doing a Super Bowl predictions thread -- the people who post the best analysis can make a hundred bucks.

    If you want to defend that Saints-Pats prediction, you should jump in! Here's where you can check it out: