Home > Uncategorized > 2017 Season Predictions

2017 Season Predictions

September 6th, 2017

Last year at this time, as you may remember — I’m sure you totally remember — I predicted that the New England Patriots would stage a historic comeback to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

Totally true. You can look it up.

I mean, if you do look it up (because you just can’t take my word for it, can you?) you’ll see that what I wrote was that the Patriots would beat the Seahawks in a Super Bowl XLIX rematch. That’s what I wrote. What I meant, you’ll surely agree, was the other thing, the one that happened.

As it works out, my predictions generally turn out better when I make them after the fact. And the way I see it, that puts me a DeLorean and a flux capacitor away from making this annual exercise worthwhile.

For the nonce, all I can do is state up front that I recognize that it is entirely absurd to make predictions at the start September about the outcome of football games that won’t happen until the end of September — let alone in December, January and February.

But I do it every year anyway. I don’t know why. I’ve stopped asking myself, and I’m pretty sure I’m happier for that.

As always, I won’t try to predict final win-loss records. (Because, you know, that would just be completely over the top.) Instead, what I’ll give you is a range of how many games I think each can win. And based on that ridiculous exercise, I’ll push on to predict postseason seedings and outcomes. All of which is to say that you’ve already read the only content in this post that’s in any way based in rational thinking. And then I ignored that thinking. Move ahead at your own risk.

AFC East

New England Patriots, 12-14
This range of potential wins is pretty much what I predict for the Patriots every year. It’s worked a bunch of times in the past. And I’m pretty sure Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are still with the team. So I don’t see a significant reason to change. I know there are some Pats fans (as always) who think 16 wins is a real possibility (even with Julian Edelman gone for the season), but it isn’t, because it never really is. And even the best teams typically find a way to drop two (in some cases, one of the losses happens simply because the team’s week 17 game works out to be meaningless). So when I set my cap at 14, you should read it as me saying this team can be incredible. The defense may need half a season to come together. And everything, as always, turns on how well the O line protects Brady. But if everything happens right, the Pats should land as the one seed. And they could end up as the one seed even if a couple of things happen wrong. That’s about as much as any realistic football fan can ask for.

Miami Dolphins, 6-9
In some seasons, there’s a lot to be said for being the second best team in the AFC East. I don’t think this is one of those. The Dolphins hit the ineptitude perfecta following Ryan Tannehill‘s season-ending injury by paying through the nose to pull Jay Cutler off the scrap heap. I think that nicely presages the team’s move back to the middle of the pack this season.

Buffalo Bills, 4-7
Is being better than the Jets a point of pride?

New York Jets, 1-3
The Jets might stumble into an extra win along the way. And the Patriots might be in a position to hand them a “victory” in week 17. Failing that, they’re a 1-15 team.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers, 11-13
The Steelers were good for 11 wins and a visit to New England for the conference championship game last season. And they look like a slightly better team this time out. The only thing I can see possibly getting in the way of Pittsburgh having at least as good a regular season in 2017 as it did in 2016 is Ben Roethlisberger‘s enduring failure to recognize that he is not indestructible.

Baltimore Ravens, 8-11
The Ravens defense should be formidable once again. The offense? Depends on whether Joe Flacco really is at full health (and can stay there). It’s an awfully long season.

Cincinnati Bengals, 5-8
I’m not confident Andy Dalton comes out of this campaign in one piece.

Cleveland Browns, 2-4
I’m sorely tempted to set up a template that populates this space with “The Browns are rebuilding.” Feel like I could save a ton of time that way.

AFC South

Tennessee Titans, 10-12
Heading into last season, I was one of those folks who thought the Titans could potentially be on track for a very strong bounceback from their 3-13 finish in 2015. Worked out we were right. I see them continuing the progression this year. They’re better on both sides of the ball than they were a year ago. I think this team could potentially be very dangerous.

Houston Texans, 8-10
If the Texans had an NFL-ready starting quarterback, they could contend for a division title. They don’t. Still might slide into the six seed if all goes right.

Indianapolis Colts, 6-8
This is not the Colts’ year.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-6
It’s even more not the Jaguars’ year.

AFC West

Oakland Raiders, 10-12
The Raiders have the best quarterback in the division. If the defense can hold up its end, this team could go deep into January.

Kansas City Chiefs, 9-11
The Chiefs were good enough to earn a first round bye and a home game in the 2016 postseason (though not quite good enough to make the most of their advantage). And they’re probably almost as good this season. Trouble is, the Raiders are better this year than they were last.

Denver Broncos, 7-9
I don’t care how good your defense is, you don’t win NFL games consistently if you don’t have a quarterback.

Los Angeles Chargers, 5-7
The Chargers are headed in the wrong direction.

NFC East

New York Giants, 10-12
The Giants were better than they got credit for being last season. I think they’re a little better still this time around. If they can manage a season sweep of the Cowboys again this year, New Jersey will take the division (and they might yet get it done with a split).

Dallas Cowboys, 10-12
I’ve been paying attention to football too long to believe Dak Prescott won’t take some kind of step back from his amazing rookie season. But I’ve also seen enough of Prescott to feel confident that he’s the real deal. I expect the Cowboys will work out whatever kinks they may experience during the first half of the season, then surge just in time to be trouble in the postseason.

Philadelphia Eagles, 8-10
The Eagles have most of the pieces. Let’s see how well they put them together. Might still be a year away from contending with Dallas and New Jersey.

Washington Racists, 6-8
The Racists aren’t a bad football team. They’re just the odd team out in a strong division.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers, 10-13
Same as it ever was: The Packers will go as far as Aaron Rodgers and the offense take them. Maybe the D will pitch in a little bit this year. Or maybe not.

Detroit Lions, 9-11
The Lions surprised me by turning out to be a threat last season. Maybe they’ll surprise me again by taking the division. Or winning a game in the postseason. You never know.

Minnesota Vikings, 9-11
The Vikings also have the ability to surprise me. They could end up legitimately in the mix for the division. Sam Bradford‘s had plenty of time to prepare heading into this campaign. And the team appears to have improved on the O line, and very possibly in the running game, in the off-season. If the defense can play as well as it did a year ago, Minnesota could do some damage.

Chicago Bears, 2-5
And, uh, speaking of damage.

NFC South

Carolina Panthers, 10-13
The Panthers have done the off-season work they needed to do. Assuming Cam Newton‘s shoulder holds up, Carolina looks to me like a team ready to rebound from their post-Super Bowl L slump and resume their position at the top of the division.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8-10
The Buccaneers might be even better than I suspect. But I’ll wait and see.

Atlanta Falcons, 7-9
I don’t think the Falcons have fallen that far from last season. I just have a hunch that it’s going to take them the better part of a season to recover from their collapse in Super Bowl LI. If I’m wrong, look for Atlanta to at least contend for the division if not take it outright again.

New Orleans Saints, 6-8
Drew Brees deserves a better end to his career than the one he appears likely to get.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks, 11-14
The Seahawks probably could have won the NFC West again without putting a better team on the field than they did last year. They improved anyhow. Maybe they’re hoping to advance past the divisional round this time out.

Arizona Cardinals, 8-11
I don’t know that Carson Palmer is consistent enough to carry a team at this stage in his career. Maybe David Johnson is, though. We’ll see.

Los Angeles Rams, 4-7
Maybe next year.

San Francisco 49ers, 2-5
Maybe the year after next.


This is where we cross the line from mostly ridiculous to completely absurd.

1. New England
2. Pittsburgh
3. Oakland
4. Tennessee
5. Kansas City
6. Baltimore

1. Seattle
2. Green Bay
3. Carolina
4. NY Giants
5. Dallas
6. Minnesota

Wild Card Playoffs

Oakland defeats Baltimore
Tennessee defeats Kansas City

Carolina defeats Minnesota
Dallas defeats NY Giants

Divisional Playoffs

Oakland defeats Pittsburgh
New England defeats Tennessee

Seattle defeats Dallas
Carolina defeats Green Bay

Conference Championships

New England defeats Oakland

Seattle defeats Carolina

Super Bowl LII
New England defeats Seattle

Second year in a row I’ve predicted the same Super Bowl. Second year in a row I’m destined to be wrong.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
Comments are closed.