My Gambling Nemesis: Guessing Each NFL Team’s Record (NFC)

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You know the drill by now. Guest blogger Neil and I have been competing in our own version of “Closest to the Pin” for four years now, and it pains me to have to say that the guy who spends every waking moment thinking about football (me) has a 1-3 record in this contest. Apparently I suck at predicting each team’s win total prior to the start of the season, or there’s some advanced math involved that Neil has used to crack the code on this game.

The rules are simple. We each guess the record of every NFL team, and whoever is closest to the correct record on the majority of teams wins the bet. The wager for 2016 remains the same as the past three years: Whoever wins gets to pick eight alcoholic beverages for the loser to consume during a 12-hour period during our annual Vegas trip in March.

I know our buddies who join us every year for this trip like it better when I lose because it’s much more entertaining (like when I did my best Tom Cruise impression three years ago and jumped from couch to couch at the sportsbook proclaiming to anyone who would listen that I loved my girlfriend and was getting ready to propose to her). But I’m seriously sick of losing this bet.

Let’s begin with the NFC teams.

Arizona Cardinals

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • I’m starting to get a tiny bit nervous about how much of their season hinges on an older QB with an injury history.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • You have to try really hard to find more than 5 games this team loses in 2016. Short of a devastating injury, which is foolish to base season-long predictions on, this team is a lock for the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • This feels like 11-5 or 5-11. Leaning towards the latter based on how last season ended.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Even if you think they improved from last year (they didn’t), they play seven games against 2015 playoff teams. Check out their first eight games and you’ll quickly talk yourself out of any success for this team.

Carolina Panthers

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • Probably not going 15-1 again, but we might not know how good or bad they are until the playoffs based on their division.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • I’m pretty sure I know Neil is thinking Carolina might miss the playoffs, so I can be pretty conservative with their win total and still get what I want. A five-game regression from last season seems like the worst case scenario.

Chicago Bears

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • Who will be in the title hunt longer this fall: Bears or Cubs?

Ross Prediction: 8-8

  • These NFC North teams get a little bump this year because they face the NFC East and AFC South, possibly the league’s two worst divisions. There are reasons for optimism in Chicago, but it’s probably too much to ask them to be better than this.

Dallas Cowboys

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • The division is soft enough that 8-8 might get a playoff spot, and they might be able to get half those wins without Romo.

Ross Prediction: 6-10

  • There’s no doubt in my mind that Dak Prescott isn’t walking into this league and firing off 8-10 wins. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Tony Romo will be rushed back too early, get injured almost immediately and end up playing in less than three full games in 2016.

Detroit Lions

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I actually think this team will surprise some people, but that probably means 8 wins.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • You’ll notice in my upcoming playoff predictions, I’m taking the Lions as the #6 seed in the NFC playoffs, but forced to make a specific prediction, I see them just above .500. They are better than most people are assuming, but I can’t picture them climbing up to 10 wins or more.

Green Bay Packers

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • This team is probably slightly overrated, but no way to tell until the playoffs in their crappy division.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • I can actually see the path to 12 or 13 wins, but you gotta reserve a couple losses every year for the extremely subtle moments where Mike McCarthy proves he shouldn’t be an NFL head coach.

Los Angeles Rams

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • This defense and run game deserve a better pass game. Also, can TMZ leak Jared Goff’s Wonderlic answers?

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • They are a 6 or 7 win team, but are stuck in the NFC West and have to travel over 32,000 miles over the course of the season. By comparison, there are several teams that only have to travel 6,000 – 9,000 miles.

Minnesota Vikings

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I wish there was a way to know what Minnesota’s record would have been this season with Bridgewater because I think it is going to end up the same without him.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • With a healthy Teddy Bridgewater, I would have only given the Vikings 8 wins. I was pretty down on them compared to the rest of the world prior to the injury. I think the season comes completely off the rails in November when they get 4 games in 18 days: Detroit, at Washington, Arizona, at Detroit.

New Orleans Saints

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I wish this defense hadn’t been so bad last year. I would like them as a sleeper.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Just like the last two years, Drew Brees and an above average passing offense drag this otherwise-awful team to enough wins to barely miss out on a top 10 draft pick.

NY Giants

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • My “nothing really horrible has happened with them this summer so they win the NFC East” team.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • What looked like a tough opening schedule got incredibly manageable over the last two weeks. The Giants start in Dallas (no Romo) and then play in Minnesota in week 4 (the Hill/Bradford experiment). If they sneak into the playoffs, I think the softening of that schedule is going to be the main reason why.

Philadelphia Eagles

Neil Prediction: 6-10

  • Their week 1 game with Cleveland may determine the top pick in the next draft.

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • They’ll be the worst team in the NFC East, possibly by a longshot. Easy overall schedule is somewhat negated by the NFL dicking them good: weeks 5 & 6 are road games, and then they play 3 consecutive teams in weeks 7-9 who are all coming off their bye.

San Francisco 49ers

Neil Prediction: 5-11

  • How bad must Kaepernick be as a passer if he can’t start in Chip Kelly’s offense?

Ross Prediction: 4-12

  • “With the 1st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select…” The schedule includes eight matchups against top 7 defenses from 2015, and weeks 10-17 feature five road games and three home games against New England, the Jets and Seattle. That would be impossible even for an NFL-caliber team.

Seattle Seahawks

Neil Prediction: 11-5

  • I know every year they lose a couple important pieces, but enough of the defensive studs are still around that I think they have one more run in them.

Ross Prediction: 12-4

  • I think they’ve learned to prioritize getting the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs, and I feel like I went through their worst case scenario on the schedule and see 11 wins as their absolute floor.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Is this the NFC sleeper or is Jameis Winston one year away? Yeah, one year away but frisky.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Possibly the hardest task we have going into this season is figuring out what to make of last year’s up-and-comers: Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay. In all likelihood, one of them will go on to make the playoffs, one will stagnate and have a similar season to last year, and one will be a wreck. Clearly I’m expecting some stagnation from Tampa.

Washington Redskins

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • Their 1st place schedule means their extra games are against Arizona and Carolina, which keeps them out of the playoffs.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • I’m actually expecting 10 or more wins, but why go any higher if I know Neil’s going to take them for 8 wins or less? I really thought they were competent last year in a non-fluky way, and they’ve gone ahead and added Josh Norman and a few other complementary pieces. Cousins won’t be a perennial Pro Bowler, but I don’t think he’s a one-season wonder either.

Check back later on Wednesday for the AFC side of things.

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More Football: NFC Win-Loss Predictions

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If you missed the AFC predictions where I explain the bet that Neil and I have made on this guessing game of each team’s win-loss record (and if you missed that you also missed an amazing compilation of photos from when I had to pay off this bet last year), check it out HERE.

No messing around today. Let’s just get right into the NFC predictions:

Arizona

2013 Record: 10-6

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: I wish I could move this team to the AFC for the season. Even with their inuries + Carson Palmer I think they could make the AFC Championship game.

Ross: Winning 10 games, having an effective Carson Palmer for a full season, staying extremely healthy…everything went right for Arizona in 2013. It’s extremely doubtful they catch all the breaks again. Eight games vs last year’s playoff teams don’t help. It feels like Ryan Lindley is going to play a major role in this team’s fortunes in 2014.

Atlanta

2013 Record: 4-12

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 8-8

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: Every time Mike Smith tells this team they are going to be physical on ‘Hard Knocks’ I’m pretty sure they get less physical.

Ross: Potentially four easy division wins plus games against beatable teams like Minnesota, the Giants, Baltimore and Cleveland frightened me into giving them a .500 record, but I was very close to predicting an implosion and all out mail-in effort because of Mike Smith. I just think he’s awful and this team has too many stars to keep wallowing in mediocrity every year. 5-11 isn’t my official prediction, but it might as well be.

Carolina

2013 Record: 12-4

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 6-10

Ross: 7-9

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: What a disastrous offseason. They are going to waste at least three years of Cam Newton’s career.

Ross: Everything you need to know about the Panthers: Vegas is so down on last year’s #2 seed in the NFC that it’s given them the same odds as Dallas, the Giants and Washington. Is there a bigger slap in the face than being lumped in with the three non-contenders of the NFC East?

Chicago

2013 Record: 8-8

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 18/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 9-7

Ross: 12-4

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: If they can just have an average defense this year, they should be a playoff team. If they got to play in the AFC, they’d make the Super Bowl, right?

Ross: I didn’t bother checking this stat because I’m certain it’s true. I’ve picked the Bears to win 11+ games and make the playoffs each of the last three years. They haven’t topped 10 wins, nor have they made the playoffs once during that span. I’m always tantalized by the offensive potential. I’m running it back once more. Top five offense, good enough defense, better-coached than every other team in their division.

Dallas

2013 Record: 8-8

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 5-11

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: Potentially awesome fantasy football offense. Potentially terrible real football team.

Ross: I’m predicting five wins with a healthy Tony Romo. Picture what could happen if he hurts his back early on and Brandon Weeden takes over. Don’t worry, Dez Bryant fantasy owners. Josh Gordon put up 1,600 yards last year with Weeden as his QB for seven games. I’m sure you’ll be fine when this scenario plays out.

Detroit

2013 Record: 7-9

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 33/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 10-6

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: After they don’t make the playoffs this year they seriously need to consider trading Calvin Johnson for a bunch of picks and rebuilding.

Ross: Another NFC North team, another chance for me to say how high I am on their offense. As much of a prick as he is, I could see Golden Tate having a huge year. First time he’s played in an offense with a quarterback who throws deep and often. First time he’s had a fellow receiver like Megatron to take up all the defensive attention. I hate giving away fantasy secrets like that when all the other owners in my leagues read this blog religiously, but it’s gotta be said.

Green Bay

2013 Record: 8-7-1

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 10/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 11-5

Ross: 10-6

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: One of these years they have to stay remotely healthy and make some noise, right?

Ross: The Packers simply have a lower ceiling than the Bears. Maybe Green Bay’s more of a guarantee for at least a decent season, but the Bears have greater potential. Something about the Packers always feels a little off. Mike McCarthy is sketchy at best (one of several coaches whose head I’m calling for every year) and they seem to lose key guys to injury every year. Is Aaron Rodgers having the quietest Hall of Fame career among all QBs in NFL history? Some of that has to do with the Packers’ poor playoff showings outside of their Super Bowl season. Some of it has to do with the fact that Peyton Manning won’t stop winning MVP trophies.

Minnesota

2013 Record: 5-10-1

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 75/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 5-11

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: Unpopular opinion alert: I’m more excited to see Teddy Bridgewater play than Johnny Manziel.

Ross: Pieces of this team are starting to come together, but the likeliness of Matt Cassel starting most of the year at quarterback really limits the Vikings’ potential. I think next year’s Minnesota team led by Bridgewater is going to be fun to watch. Sucks that we have to wait a year for it.

New Orleans

2013 Record: 11-5

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 12/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 11-5

Ross: 12-4

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: A little top heavy personel-wise compared to San Francisco and Seattle, but have a much easier schedule. Potential to get the #1 seed in the NFC.

Ross: These guys make the playoffs every year*. It’s not a question of whether or not they’ll qualify for January football, it’s about trying to figure out if they get back into that mix for a first round bye. The schedule is particularly easy and 5-1 in the division is pretty doable. They might benefit from the playoff teams of the NFC North and West beating up on each other while they waltz through the regular season.

*not including years in which Roger Goodell has a random ax to grind

NY Giants

2013 Record: 7-9

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 9-7

Ross: 7-9

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: As much I hope Eli is worse than last year, I feel like he has one or two average years left in him. Division is horrible so a little bounce back is not that hard to imagine.

Ross: They’re probably not going to be as much of a train wreck as you & I would like, if only because their defense always seems to be a top 10 unit. There’s a brutal six-game stretch in October/November that’ll likely see five losses. They’re going to have to be flawless the rest of the year to have any shot at the playoffs. Flawless and Eli Manning have never been known to get along very well.

Philadelphia

2013 Record: 10-6

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 20/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 9-7

Ross: 10-6

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: My big conern here is that they were the healthiest team in the league last year, and that tends to regress towards the mean year over year.

Ross: Tough one for me to be objective on because of a bet I made in Vegas that says the Eagles will win the Super Bowl (12/1 odds at the time). While I’d love to throw down a 13-3 guess for them, it feels like they’re a lock for that 10/11 win range. It’s not so bad to have money on that four or five seed these days.

San Francisco

2013 Record: 12-4

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 15/2

2014 Prediction

Neil: 10-6

Ross: 9-7

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: Two things about the Niners I am very excited to find out: a) How bad the defense might be and b) Has Harbaugh worn out his welcome?

Ross: They’ve only gotten worse since losing the NFC Championship game last January. What if they’re more like last year’s Bears or Packers teams? Top 10 offense but a slumping defense. It will never surprise me to see a Jim Harbaugh / Colin Kaepernick team get to the playoffs, but I think we finally see that 49ers drop off that everyone predicted two years ago.

Seattle

2013 Record: 13-3

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 13-2

2014 Prediction

Neil: 11-5

Ross: 12-4

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: Not worried about Seattle having a target on their back all season. They swaggered (is that a word) last year like they were defending champs. But is Pete Carroll really a coach that can win back-to-back Super Bowls?

Ross: It’s impossible to poke legitimate holes in Seattle’s chances at a repeat Championship. This could easily be a 13-3 or 14-2 season, but I’m dialing it back just slightly due soley to five road games against 2013 playoff teams.

St. Louis

2013 Record: 7-9

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 66/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 6-10

Ross: 5-11

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: Team most likely to have the bigeest gap between defensive ranking (top 3) and offensive ranking (bottom 3) at the end of the season.

Ross: It’s telling that the Rams’ Super Bowl odds dipped only slightly from 50/1 after Sam Bradford got hurt. Bradford being replaced for 16 games by a 34-year-old who’s barely played a full season over an illustrious eight year career doesn’t even move the needle. Wow. Bradford. Missing 31 of 80 games over his five-year career sabotaged any chance he ever had to be a franchise guy. Possibly one of the biggest busts this side of Jamarcus Russell.

Tampa Bay

2013 Record: 4-12

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 66/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 7-9

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: Another potential “sleeper” team if they only had a competant QB.

Ross: I want to think an offense led by Vincent Jackson & Mike Evans, a healthy Doug Martin and a capable Josh McCown could get this team to the playoffs, but I just know something will go wrong. Tampa’s apparently-terrible offensive line. The adjustment period to a new coach. A brutal six game stretch to end the season. For them it might be as simple as still being a QB short of a playoff team.

Washington

2013 Record: 3-13

2014 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2014 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 8-8

Comment We Strongly Feel You Need To Read

Neil: I think RGIII is fine. I just think it takes a year for the coaching staff to understand how to use him.

Ross: We’re getting to the point with RGIII where our hearts are telling us he’s going to bounce back and be electric again, but our brains are saying we might have seen the best of him already, however brief. Maybe the two knee surgeries ruined him. Maybe it’s just a learning curve to a new offensive system. This team is a total enigma because Griffin’s a total enigma.

 

We’ll be back next week with a couple more blogs to help you get through the days leading up to Opening Night.

NFC Predictions Expanded

I wrote an expanded version of my NFC win/loss predictions blog on the website I Hate JJ Redick (a Baltimore-based sports blog that I’m writing for).

If you want to read more than the quick blurb I included with each prediction last week, and you want to read some funny recaps to each team’s 2012 season in 140 characters or less, go to: http://ihatejjr.com/content/nfl-predictions-part-1-nfc-winloss-records

I’ll be doing the same thing with AFC predictions on Tuesday.

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.