Football’s Almost Here So Let’s Jump Ahead To Super Bowl Predictions

super bowl

We’re down to the final 30 hours or so before football begins, but let’s fast forward and talk about how the season ends.

Guest blogger Neil and I have been pumping out predictions all week and the only thing left to do is identify the playoff teams and figure out the Super Bowl matchup.

For me, the starting point in this exercise is making sure four or five teams who did not make the playoffs last year are included in the postseason this year. It’s as certain as a 12-seed over a 5-seed in March. Let’s see if Neil followed that rule.

Neil’s Playoff Teams

NFC

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Green Bay
  3. Seattle
  4. Atlanta
  5. Dallas
  6. St. Louis

AFC

  1. Indianapolis
  2. New England
  3. Baltimore
  4. Kansas City
  5. Denver
  6. Miami

Neil’s Playoff Results

Wildcard Round

  • (3)Seattle over (6)St. Louis
  • (5)Dallas over (4)Atlanta
  • (3)Baltimore over (6)Miami*
  • (4)Kansas City over (5)Denver

Divisional Round

  • (3)Seattle over (2)Green Bay
  • (1)Philadelphia over (5)Dallas
  • (2)New England over (3)Baltimore
  • (4)Kansas City over (1)Indianapolis

Conference Championships

  • (3)Seattle over (1)Philadelphia
  • (2)New England over (4)Kansas City
Super Bowl Pick: Seattle 28, New England 24  
  • Last year’s game was close enough that I think this year’s goes the other way. Hopefully this is a reverse jinx though.
* = I could not for the life of me figure out who the 6th playoff team in the AFC is going to be. I was sick of trying to guess records and coming up with 9-7 or 8-8 for everyone. So I went with Miami because they seem to have the least issues out of anyone else I guess? Maybe? I almost wanted to just leave it empty and say “some team that will lose to Baltimore and is not as deserving as the 7th best NFC team.”

Ross’ Playoff Teams

NFC

  1. Dallas
  2. Green Bay
  3. Seattle
  4. Atlanta
  5. NY Giants
  6. St. Louis

AFC

  1. New England
  2. Indianapolis
  3. Kansas City
  4. Baltimore
  5. Denver
  6. San Diego

Ross’ Playoff Results

Wildcard Round

  • (3)Seattle over (6)St. Louis
  • (5)NY Giants over (4)Atlanta
  • (3)Kansas City over (6)San Diego
  • (4)Baltimore over (5)Denver

Divisional Round

  • (2)Green Bay over (3)Seattle
  • (1)Dallas over (5)NY Giants
  • (3)Kansas City over (2)Indianapolis
  • (1)New England over (4)Baltimore

Conference Championships

  • (1)Dallas over (2)Green Bay
  • (3)Kansas City over (1)New England

Super Bowl Pick: Kansas City 30, Dallas 20

What? You expected me to pick the Patriots? Since I pick them to win the Super Bowl every year in this blog, I figured I’d go a little outside the box this year and look forward to being wrong. I like the NFC setup where Green Bay will get its revenge on Seattle right before Dallas gets its revenge on Green Bay.

By accident or not, Neil & I both chose five teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year. For both of us, it was three in the NFC and two in the AFC. The thing that stood out to me most is that Neil’s #1 seed in the NFC, Philly, didn’t even make the playoffs in my alternate universe. That seems like the team we’re farthest apart on this year. But hey, if a Mark Sanchez-led team (you know Bradford’s not lasting a full season) claims the #1 seed in the NFC, I’ll gladly laugh at myself for being so stupid not picking them to make the playoffs. I’ll be the first in line to congratulate Neil.

But before that happens, we’ve got 17 weeks of football to watch! Let’s Do This! Let’s help Roger Goodell stay in power by setting records in 2015 for TV ratings, merchandise purchased and tweets about the season. Can’t wait.

The Best NFL Predictions You’ll Ever Read, Part 2: AFC Team Records

In case you missed Part 1 of Ross & Neil try to predict each team’s record, check it out here: The Best NFL Predictions, NFC Team Records.

That’s where you can read about the NFC, but more importantly the terrible wager we made on who can be closer to more teams’ actual records at the end of the season.

Neil and I will be back early next week with our final predictions on playoff teams, superlatives (league MVP, passing title, etc) and unperlatives (not a word, I know, but this is where we predict first coach fired, first QB benched due to ineffectiveness, etc).

Compared to the NFC predictions where Neil and I were only more than one win apart on three teams, in the AFC we had five such teams where we were farther apart than a single win difference. It looks like Neil continued to play it safe in predicting no teams to truly bottom out that hard. I, on the other hand, am very pessimistic about the worst handful of teams in the AFC.

Read on for more.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

2012 Record: 10-6

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 28/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 9-7

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: I thought we learned from the 2005 Red Sox that it is best to bring back as many parts of a championship as you can to repeat. And even if it doesn’t work, your fans will appreciate the effort. They also have suffered some injuries during the preseason that are not minor. That being said they have a good coach and great front office, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow win the division.

Ross: Super Bowl Champs getting no love with the 28/1 Super Bowl odds. I do think they suffer the typical SB hangover, and they’ve certainly lost a lot of their 2012 offense. I think they struggle, but in the weak AFC that means getting nine wins and possibly the division title (more on that soon).

BUFFALO BILLS

2012 Record: 6-10

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 150/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 6-10

Ross: 4-12

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Well, at least they are trying to make history in week 1 (first team to ever start an undrafted rookie at QB in week 1). Could be a tough year in Buffalo. At least they have a new coach that seems to have a plan, and initial reports are that E.J. Manual might be the real deal.

Ross: There’s a quarterback fiasco brewing in Buffalo. You never want to read something like this only 13 days from a team’s regular season opener: “…the Bills signed veteran QB Matt Leinart and traded with Detroit for backup QB Thad Lewis. It should also be noted that as of now the Bills are planning to start undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel in week 1.” What does this all mean? That this will be the team’s ninth straight year finishing below .500 (way below it in this case).

CINCINNATI BENGALS

2012 Record: 10-6

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 25/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 9-7

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Very similar to Tampa Bay. Very good defense. They added more weapons on offense. They are the trendy pick to win their division. It all comes down to whether or not The Ginger Prince is really an NFL-caliber QB.

Ross: This feels like the AFC’s version of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Specifically that the entire season hinges on the development of the QB. If Andy Dalton keeps being average Andy Dalton, then this team will never do better than nine or 10 wins and a quick playoff exit. Based on my prediction it’s clear I don’t think he’ll take the next step.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

2012 Record: 5-11

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 150/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 9-7

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Not to sound like a broken record, but another situation of “what can the QB do.” The Cleve’s defense should actually be very competent. They should have a good running game and will have some weapons at receiver once Josh Gordon comes back from suspension. Unlike Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, I think we already know that Brandon Weeden is not an NFL-caliber QB, and I don’t care that Norv Turner is his offensive coordinator now.

Ross: Stop. I’ll say it for you. I’m out of my god damn mind with this prediction. Every good sports prognosticator has to have one out-of-the-blue, so-crazy-it-just-might-work prediction, and the Browns to go 9-7 and win the AFC North is my version of that. I believe in a huge Trent Richardson year, a better than average Brandon Weeden year and a receiving group that’s a lot better than you think. I also believe they have seven very winnable games: Miami, Buffalo, Kansas City, Jacksonville, the Jets, Minnesota and Detroit. I’m all in on this team.

DENVER BRONCOS

2012 Record: 13-3

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 6/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 13-3

Ross: 12-4

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Unless this is the year Payton Manning really drops off, I think they will be OK passing the ball. I do not believe their defense is going to be as good as last year (they had the 4th best defense in the NFL) and losing Von Miller for six games is a huge loss. They have some offensive line issues as well. That being said, their schedule is so easy they can still go 13-3 in the regular season. But don’t expect much in the playoffs. Again.

Ross: Coming off a year in which they went 13-3 and got the #1 seed in the AFC Playoffs, the Broncos get…the easiest schedule in the NFL. No seriously, it’s right HERE. Even if you think the Von Miller suspension and Elvis Dumervil fax machine faux pas is enough to make this defense bad, LOOK AT THEIR SCHEDULE. Their absolute worst case (barring Brock Osweiler being thrust into the starting QB role for some catastrophic reason) is 11-5. Kansas City x2, Oakland x2, San Diego x2, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Dallas, Philadelphia. You think they’re going to lose any of those games? Makes me sick.

HOUSTON TEXANS

2012 Record: 12-4

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 18/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 10-6

Ross: 9-7

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: They are going to win double-digit games again because their division is horrible. Maybe they can win their wild card game if they get to play Cincinnati for a third year in a row. Then they will lose to a good team. Sound familiar?

Ross: I think last year was a bit of an aberration and we should expect a record more in line with the Matt Schaub/Gary Kubiak era. I bet the Texans are psyched for a three-week stretch in September/October that goes @Baltimore, home Seattle, @ San Francisco. Seems fair.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

2012 Record: 11-5

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 10-6

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: They had a -30 point differential last year but went 11-5? Really?!? They went 9-1 in games decided by a TD or less. I smell a HUGE regression coming.

Ross: I could have made Andrew Luck a keeper in an auction fantasy league for $16. I know his average auction price is much lower than that, but I worry he’s about to make a significant leap this year. On the flip side, the inexperience of this team makes me think a bad loss, such as blowing a game at San Diego or Tennessee, could definitely be on the horizon. But I’ll stick with my original 10-win prediction.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

2012 Record: 2-14

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 300/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 4-12

Ross: 3-13

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Rather than show Jacksonville’s games on TV, can the networks just show an “under construction” banner for every Jacksonville game and we can check back in on them in two years?

Ross: You watch a preseason game where Chad Henne is slinging the football all over the field to Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, and you see Maurice Jones-Drew running wild. And you think, hey maybe this team will be frisky. But then you realize the Jags already named Blaine Gabbert the starter (and then promptly shut him down because of injuries…what did Henne do to deserve no shot at winning the job?), and Blackmon misses the first four games of the regular season, and that MoJo would have to put up an AP in 2012 type season to have a huge effect on this team’s record. And you realize they’re heading for the second pick in the 2014 draft.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

2012 Record: 2-14

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Yes, this team was very injured last year. Yes, Andy Reid is a huge upgrade from RAC. Yes, Alex Smith is a huge upgrade over Brady Quinn (and this is coming from a huge “Alex Smith is not a good QB” evangelist). But people are really picking them for nine or 10 wins and the playoffs? They only won two games last year. Seven wins would be a huge improvement.

Ross: I get all the reasons people are using to predict a big jump in wins for the Chiefs in 2013. I agree that their QB is going to be significantly better, that Jamaal Charles will be better another year removed from knee surgery, and a healthy and motivated Dwayne Bowe will be a stud. And while I agree that the coaching position got an upgrade, I do still think we need to remember they went from Romeo Crennel to Andy Reid, not Crennel to Bill Walsh. Reid is still the same guy he was in Philly. I’m fine with some improvement, but not playoff-level improvement.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

2012 Record: 7-9

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Let’s give it a second year to make sure Ryan Tannenhill is competent before we decide if Miami is on a path to competitiveness.

Ross: Make no mistake, this team’s ceiling is 8-8. Why? Because they have a sneaky hard schedule with an opening seven games that could see them at 2-5 or worse (look it up). But more importantly, Ryan Tannehill was 100% healthy last season, played in all 16 games, and threw exactly 12 touchdown passes. And yet I keep hearing his name thrown around as a guy to watch out for this year, in real football and fantasy. When did throwing 12 touchdowns over a full season become an indicator for good things to come?

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

2012 Record: 12-4

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 10/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 11-5

Ross: 12-4

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: The defense has been rebuilding for years and should be at least average this year. I know they completely overhauled the receiving corps and the whole offensive philosophy since they went from “monopolizing the two tight end offense” to “we don’t have any tight ends”, but they still have Brady, they still have Belichick, and they should easily go 6-0 in a weak division.

Ross: Pretty quiet offseason for them huh? It’s like, jeez, Patriots, stop being so friggen boring. Get in a public contract dispute with the guy who’s been your best receiver for the past six years. Find a high-profile offensive star to reveal a crazy double life full of murder, paranoia and PCP. Turn over your entire receiving corps right as your Hall-of-Fame QB is getting down to his final few years to compete. DO SOMETHING THAT’S NOT SO BORING FOR ONCE. (You wanted objective analysis on this team? Fine, here it is: There will be some growing pains with the young receivers, it’s possible Danny Amendola really is injury prone, which would be bad news for the Pats. Their one offseason acquisition to help out in the secondary, Adrian Wilson, might get cut by the end of the week. They will win 11 or 12 games because the AFC is terrible, but the entire fan base will be pessimistic going into the playoffs.)

NEW YORK JETS

2012 Record: 6-10

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 100/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 5-11

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: I actually think the defense is going to be good enough to win them a few games against their relatively easy schedule. I am sad because no matter how disastrously their QB and coaching situation plays out this year, nothing will top my favorite moment of the entire 2012 season.

Ross: For as fun as the 2012 Jets’ season was, they didn’t really bottom out like I hoped. If you remember, because of the weak AFC, they were still technically in the playoff hunt through week 14. This year I want to see a disaster coming out of the gate, which shouldn’t be too hard considering they play a schedule that could legitimately put them at 2-7 just in time for their week 10 bye. When you factor in Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith playing hot potato with the starting QB position throughout the preseason, I have no doubts the bottoming out that I’ve longed for is finally here. Sad to see you go, Rex, Mark, et al.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

2012 Record: 4-12

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 250/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 5-11

Ross: 2-14

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Another team completely rebuilding, which might actually work this time since the old owner isn’t around to derail the construction.

Ross: If the NCAA told Johnny Manziel he could either accept a five-game suspension or be guaranteed to get drafted first overall by the Raiders in 2014, which punishment do you think he’d pick? (Side note: It feels like a slap in the face to Jacksonville that Oakland’s getting better Super Bowl odds. The 2013 Raiders are going to make the 2013 Jaguars look like the 2007 Patriots.)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

2012 Record: 8-8

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 28/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 8-8

Ross: 9-7

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: The defense, especially the pass defense, might be old and not that good. And the injury to Le’Veon Bell basically makes their offense “pass only,” which is tough since their QB never plays a full season. They are still the Steelers though, and the division is wide-open with Baltimore’s injury and personnel issues, and they have not missed the playoffs in consecutive years since 2000.

Ross: Yes, I’m picking all four AFC North teams to finish 9-7, however unlikely that is. More importantly, if you were the Steelers, why would you ever design a play again where Ben Roethlisberger stays in the pocket? Why would you even attempt to form a pocket around him? Couldn’t you come up with an entirely new offensive philosophy where you purposely let the pocket break down so the QB can scramble? Roethlisberger is Mark Sanchez as a pocket passer, but he’s Joe Montana when the pocket breaks down. If I found out right now that the Steelers were designing the first pocketless offense for the 2013 season, I’d pick Pittsburgh to go 14-2.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

2012 Record: 7-9

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: They finally got rid of Norv Turner, so that’s a plus. Seems like they got a good head coach that knows the division and knows QBs. I think the plan this year is “let’s see if Phil Rivers is our guy, or if we need a new QB.” Unfortunately for Rivers, their receiving corps has already taken a huge injury hit.

Ross: No read on this team, but I can tell you that an awful 2012 is not going to humble Philip Rivers. I watched San Diego’s second preseason game and the guy was in midseason form…yelling at refs, shaking his head at teammates. I don’t think we need to worry about Rivers toning it down in his old age.

TENNESSEE TITANS

2012 Record: 6-10

2013 Super Bowl Odds: 150/1

2013 Prediction

Neil: 7-9

Ross: 6-10

Comment We Strongly Felt You Needed To Read

Neil: Tennessee’s strategy this year: let’s rebuild our offensive line so that Jake Locker can not use that as an excuse, and let’s decide if Jake is our QB of the future. It is not like they were going to the Super Bowl this year anyway.

Ross: Jake Locker almost tricked me in their 3rd preseason game. He actually looked competent. But he texted me after the game to make sure I wasn’t getting any crazy ideas like drafting him in fantasy or predicting the Titans to go .500. Love that man’s honesty.

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.