The Best NFL Predictions You’ll Ever Read, Part 1: NFC Team Records

For those of you who followed our football content last year, you remember that guest blogger Neil and I wagered on who could most accurately predict each NFL team’s record for the 2012 season. He beat me somewhat easily and I still haven’t settled up the bet yet, which was for me to do a full day of babysitting his son. If I can just keep pushing that payment off a little while longer, we’ll get to a point where it would be extremely awkward for Neil’s college-aged son to be babysat by his creepy Uncle.

We’re running back the same competition this year, only the wager has changed. The winner will be picking eight different alcoholic beverages for the loser to consume over a 12-hour period during our annual March Vegas Trip in 2014. It’s not that eight drinks over 12 hours is a lot (especially not in Vegas), it’s that we can punish each other with some really terrible concoctions. My biggest complaint about this bet is that I’ve always been very vocal about the types of alcohol that immediately make me puke or start dry heaving. I’m not as familiar with which liquids will do that to Neil. Oh well. Just puts more pressure on me to win.

Below you’re going to find Part 1 of this competition, where Neil and I predicted the record for each NFC team and included a comment we thought was relevant to the team or our prediction. We’ll be back with Part 2, the AFC predictions, later this week.

Away we go…

Arizona Cardinals

2012 Record: 5-11

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 125/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 5-11

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: I don’t think Carson Palmer is a great QB, but he has to be better than Skelton, Kolb, Lindley, & Hoyer, all who started games for Arizona last year. I would be higher on them if they were in the AFC, but they are in one of the top two divisions in the NFL. Very good and very underrated pass defense.

Ross: Their schedule is pretty brutal, playing seven out of 16 games against 2012 playoff teams. If it wasn’t for their defense and some Patrick Peterson plays that’ll swing some games, they’d be a four-win team. That’s how much confidence I have in Carson Palmer.

 Atlanta Falcons

2012 Record: 13-3

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 12/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 10-6

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: This team was within one drive of going to the Super Bowl last season, why am I so down on them? They went 7-2 last season in games decided by a touchdown or less. And their division should be much tougher this year, probably one of the two toughest in the NFL.

Ross: I’m actually not worried about the potential offensive line problems. Their talent at the skill positions give me confidence they’ll figure it out. Departures on defense in a tough division where they face potent offenses in New Orleans and Tampa could be the problem. Regardless, I’m excited for their return to being a playoff team that makes absolutely no noise in January.

Carolina Panthers

2012 Record: 7-9

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 66/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: I would not be surprised if this turns out to be 9 or 10 wins. I really like how they finished the season last year. Plus I think Cam Newton had an entire offseason to dwell on the fact that people don’t lump him in with the “core 4” of great young QBs. My biggest concern is that Ron Rivera might be a terrible head coach. We should know the answer to that at the end of this season.

Ross: I’m worried the Panthers are doing to their fans what a golf course does to me whenever I play. I play like a lefty who should probably switch to righty for about 17 holes, but without fail I birdie the 18th, luring me into wanting to play again in the future. Carolina has started 2-8 in each of Cam Newton’s two years on the team before winning the majority of their final six games to instill unnecessary hope in their fan base.

Chicago Bears

2012 Record: 10-6

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 25/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 7-9

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: The Bears offense should be great this year. Probably their best offense in the last 25 years. Unfortunately their defense is getting old and I don’t see it scoring eight TDs like last year.

Ross: Their schedule is tough not because they play many of the best teams but because they don’t get to play any of the expected worst teams. It’s 16 games of either good teams or frisky average teams, which puts a lot of pressure on the Bears to bring their best every game. They will for about half the schedule.

Dallas Cowboys

2012 Record: 8-8

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 25/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 8-8

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: I cannot find a reason why this team will be any different than last year’s 8-8 team. I’m going one less win because in early December they realize that Jason Garrett is not the answer and they mail-in the rest of the season.

Ross: Dallas is one of the many NFC teams who can lay claim to theory that they’d be a playoff lock if they played in the AFC. Another year of the dreaded 8-8 will be their fourth straight non-playoff season, obviously enough to get Jason Garrett fired. But what will be fun to keep our eye on (or perhaps start a betting pool on) is what week during the regular season he gets the pink slip if they dip way below .500.

Detroit Lions

2012 Record: 4-12

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: A lot of people are expecting a nice bounce-back year from Detroit, and I agree with those people. Just don’t get too crazy with the win total. Remember that 8 wins will double their total from 2012.

Ross: I think this team is average enough to initially put them down for eight or nine wins. But after watching them in the preseason, I realize they’re still the same undisciplined cheapshot-loving team whose head coach is apparently letting the inmates run the asylum. They don’t make any real noise in this league until they replace Jim Schwartz. And unnecessary dickheadedness will cost them a couple should-be wins in 2013.

Green Bay Packers

2012 Record: 11-5

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 12/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 11-5

Ross: 12-4

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: They went 11-5 last year and were the most injured team in the league. Injuries have a way of evening out from year to year. If they’ve figured out that the read option is a thing, they might even go a win or two higher than this.

Ross: Opening the season against three consecutive 2012 playoff teams should tell us a lot about whether the Packers are back to their 2011 level when they rolled through the season and finished 15-1. This is a situation where I wish we could just fast forward to that day in January when Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers realizes he’s facing the 49ers in the upcoming playoff game and spontaneously pisses himself. With the way those two teams are going, that could become an annual tradition for the next five years!

Minnesota Vikings

2012 Record: 10-6

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 6-10

Ross: 7-9

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: They went 5-1 last year in games decided by a TD or less. What Adrian Peterson did the last ten games of last season to carry this team into the playoffs was super human. Christian Ponder is still the QB. I think six wins is actually the ceiling for this team. Big crash back to earth.

Ross: Harder schedule than 2012 + No fucking way Peterson replicates 2012 + Trying to replace Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield with Greg Jennings and rookies + Ponder might get benched quicker than Mark  Sanchez…It all adds up to a 7-9 season. No logical Vikings fan should be expecting more.

New Orleans Saints

2012 Record: 7-9

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 18/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 7-9

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: I appreciate that they get the second best coach in the NFL back, but he is not an all-pro defensive end or defensive back, right?

Ross: Tough one to predict because of last year’s unique circumstances. In case you didn’t know, the Saints not only had to employ an interim Head Coach, but before that an interim interim Head Coach had to grab the reigns for the first six games. Not sure if the big drop from 13-3 in 2011 to 7-9 in 2012 was purely a product of the Bountygate fallout, or if it was an accurate depiction of who the Saints are now.

New York Giants

2012 Record: 9-7

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 22/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 9-7

Ross: 8-8

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: I still get angry (read: bitter) thinking about how mediocre this team becomes the two seasons after their last two Super Bowl wins.

Ross: I don’t have much on them. They feel like the NFC’s version of the San Diego Chargers. Not because they’ll be as bad as San Diego, but because they’re as forgettable as those Chargers. I’ve barely heard a thing about either team during the two months of preseason. I guess that’s not a bad thing when the alternative could be lots of negative attention (*cough cough* that other New York team *cough cough*). And of course plenty of attention will be paid to the Giants when David Wilson breaks out or Eli Manning admits he was cycling with A-Rod during the 2008 and 2012 playoffs.

Philadelphia Eagles

2012 Record: 4-12

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 7-9

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: I really wanted to go with seven wins here, but it may take the league a few weeks to figure out Chip Kelly’s offense, so that may be good for an extra win.

Ross: I actually think this Eagles team with a full season of Michael Vick could win nine games. But I was totally caught off guard when I learned that Vick has only made it through a full season twice in his NFL career. Even though he could buck the trend in any given year, it’s just not possible to confidently predict this team’s record without accounting for at least one or two subpar Nick Foles starts. That’s why I put them in for only seven wins.

St. Louis Rams

2012 Record: 7-8-1

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 6-10

Ross: 7-9

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Seems like a team that is going to play everyone tough, but they have a difficult schedule and are probably a year away. Is it too early to pick them as my 2014 sleeper?

Ross: The Rams face either a 2012 playoff team or a team that’s expected to be much improved every other weekend this year. I could see them winning about half their games but never stringing together consecutive wins.

San Francisco 49ers

2012 Record: 11-4-1

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 6/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 11-5

Ross: 12-4

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Solid defense, really solid offensive line. I think the Crabtree injury hurts them more than people realize, especially because the game plan should always be to make sure Kaepernick does not beat you with his legs. I’m very excited to find out if he’s an accurate passer or not.

Ross: After dealing with Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck to start the year, the 49ers get six straight games where they’ll be big favorites. There’s a reason they’re the odds-on favorite to win the NFC, and only a Colin Kaepernick injury or Jim Harbaugh getting assassinated by a referee (due to the constant tantrums he throws every time they make a call against his team) can derail them.

Seattle Seahawks

2012 Record: 11-5

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 17/2

2013 Prediction

Neil: 11-5

Ross: 12-4

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: They may lose out on the division championship to San Francisco by a game or via a tiebreaker, but this team is in much better shape that the Niners for a Super Bowl run. They have a better passing game and can stop the pass better than the Niners can, and that will make a huge difference come playoff time.

Ross: Seattle feels like a replica of the 49ers right down to me thinking their absolute worst case is 11-5. It would be shocking if both teams didn’t make the playoffs, which means the difference between winning the division or getting stuck with a wildcard spot will come down to the two head-to-head matchups between them. I’ve got Seattle at 11-3 before factoring in those two huge division games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2012 Record: 7-9

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 9-7

Ross: 8-8

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Nine wins might be a bit low for them, but they are in such a tough division that one or two bad breaks can be costly. Assuming they stay relatively healthy, their entire season rides on Josh Freeman. The defense appears to be somewhere between “very good” and “stacked.” Great offensive line. Great running back. Great receiving corps. So how far can Josh take this team? He’s also in a contract year. No pressure.

Ross: I keep saying “explosive offense” over and over in my head when I think about this team because I love the combination of Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. But then I remember Josh Freeman. Is his ceiling essentially what we’ve seen from Andy Dalton the last couple years? That would give them a chance at the playoffs. But I worry his upside might be lower than that. And when I see that his combined stats from the Bucs’ three preseason games are 12-of-26 passing for 101 yards and nine sacks taken, I’m not apt to shake this bad feeling about him.

Washington Redskins

2012 Record: 10-6

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 33/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 10-6

Ross: 11-5

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: If RGIII is healthy all year, the Redskins are going to be in very, very good shape. They might not be as good as Seattle, San Francisco, or Tampa, but they are in a much easier division than those three teams, which puts the #1 playoff seed in play, something that’s going to be very important in the NFC. A healthy RGIII in a home playoff game is the great equalizer.

Ross: I stand by my comments at the start of last year’s playoffs that the Redskins were good enough to get to the NFC Championship. If RGIII doesn’t get hurt in their first and only playoff game, I think they do it. And a healthy Griffin this year will give me the same confident prediction. The NFC East is going through a slight down period and the ‘Skins can take advantage. 11-5 seems totally reasonable if The Man plays 15 or 16 games. I’m thinking the 33/1 odds for Washington to win the Super Bowl might be the best longshot bet in all of football.

 

Not a ton of variation as we were more than one win apart in our predictions for only three of the 16 NFC teams. I think that actually says a lot about the NFC. It’s extremely competitive with a handful of upper-tier teams, a HUGE middle class and only a couple bottom feeders. I’m thinking we were both hesitant to predict too many extremes in a conference where the schedules are so tough that “average” might be a really good year for most.

We’ll be back with the AFC predictions later in the week.

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