2017-18 NFL season and playoff predictions

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The National Football League is finally back and preseason is in full swing. However, it is never too early to start looking towards January and taking a look at the teams that are most likely making the playoffs ultimately trying to make a huge run to the Super Bowl.

Here is a look at how each division will play out.

AFC East

New England Patriots: 14-2

Miami Dolphins: 8-8

Buffalo Bills: 5-11

New York Jets: 0-16

There is not much doubt of how this division will pane out. The New England Patriots are coming off their fifth Super Bowl win and are even looking better this year. With the addition of wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Saints this a huge improvement and Tom Brady even at forty years old is still playing at his best they will finish at 14-2 with their only losses coming from a close one at Miami and at Pittsburgh.

The Miami Dolphins lost Ryan Tannehill to an ACL injury but they should be okay if not slightly better with Jay Cutler at the helm but they will still finish at 8-8. They will have a slow start (2-2 through four weeks) as Cutler will need that time to get back in the swing of things. Their biggest win will come at home against the Patriots late in the season.

The Buffalo Bills just gave away their best receiver in Sammy Watkins to the Rams for mostly picks in later drafts so it seems like their in some kind of rebuild mode. After starting the season 1-0, the Bills will have a tough time with the Panthers, Broncos and Falcons coming three weeks in a row. they will finish the season two losses less than last year at 5-11.

The New York Jets are hands down the worst team in the NFL. The Jets have no set quarterback, no running game and no star receivers so do not be surprised if the Jets do not win at all this season. They will become the second team ever to finish the season without a single win at 0-16.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5

Baltimore Ravens: 7-9

Cincinnati Bengals: 6-10

Cleveland Browns: 4-12

The Pittsburgh Steelers will come out of the AFC North as champions for the second straight year and will not have much trouble getting there finishing with a 11-5 record. They will come out hot to start the season at least five wins but then cool off a little once they play the Titans, Packers, Patriots, and a tough loss at the Texans.

The Baltimore Ravens will miss the playoffs once again and will lose one more game than last season at 7-9. Joe Flacco recently is not one hundred percent physically and it is still uncertain if he will be able to stay healthy throughout the season. They do not have a reliable receiving corp and their run game is sub par leaving all the pressure on the defense.

The Cincinnati Bengals have hit a cold spot in recent years and this season will be no different. They will finish 6-10 jeopardizing Marvin Lewis’s job as head coach. They have not won a playoff game under his leadership and Andy Dalton is turning into a quarterback who simply can not get his team over the top. Outside of A.J. Green their receivers are not all that impressive have a bunch of hot heads on defense with Vontaze Burfict and Adam “Pacman” Jones who cost them a playoff win a couple of years back against the Steelers.

The Cleveland Browns will be the Browns once again just like every year and finish at the bottom of the AFC North division with a record of 4-12. However, they will not be as bad as last season which finished with a record of 1-15. They will pull out four wins this season with Brock Osweiler starting the season but with DeShone Kizer finishing it off. Number one overall pick in this past years draft Myles Garrett will be an impactful player and deliver multiple sacks and tackles throughout his first season.

AFC South

Tennessee Titans: 11-5

Houston Texans: 9-7

Indianapolis Colts: 5-11

Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-12

The Tennessee Titans will be the surprise team this year and with a particularly easy division (pending on Andrew Luck’s health and Texan’s offense) the Titans will come out with a 11-5 record. Marcus Mariota is coming off a broken leg that ended his season lat year but is looking for a break out season and this season will be it. With the help of the running game of DeMarco Murray and the surging Derrick Henry, Mariota will be able to use the play action to move the ball down the field at will. The defense is a young group but has a lot of potential and the addition of cornerback Logan Ryan from the Patriots, the Titans will have at least one side of the field locked down.

The Houston Texans will finish with the same record as last season at 9-7. It is starting to look and feel like that Bill O’Brien will give the starting quarterback nod to Tom Savage who is a decent quarterback but not a franchise guy. However, pending on how he performs early in the season, Savage might be pulled in favor of Deshaun Watson who frankly was the best quarterback in this past years NFL draft. He can throw the ball deep and he is not afraid to do so and with the Texan’s defense being number one ranked last season and with a healthy J.J. Watt returning to the team, the Texans are prone to have a top ranked defense once again which will help Watson if he struggles with turnovers.

Now this could change but as of right now the Indianapolis Colts are looking towards a third place finish at 5-11. Andrew Luck’s health is the biggest question everyone must have and if is not then the Colts will struggle. As of recently, their starting center Ryan Kelly is out for at least six weeks with an injury which is a huge blow to their offense and that might be a red flag to keep Luck off the field until he is fully healthy. The defense still is on the shaky side and it is uncertain if they can keep the team in games late.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are an interesting team. Now, they are filled with talent on both sides of the ball with receivers Allen Robinson, rookie Dede Westbrook, rookie running back Leonard Fournette and on the defensive side with Calais Campbell, Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey and Barry Church. The problem with this team is the quarterback position and that is why they will finish at 4-12. Blake Bortles has struggled through his first few years as a starter for this team and currently the starting quarterback position for this season is up for grabs with him and Chad Henne (which is not a better option) so the Jaguars will stumble through the season and if Bortles struggles once again, it might be possible he will not be with the team next year.

AFC West

Oakland Raiders: 11-5

Kansas City Chiefs: 9-7

Los Angeles Chargers: 9-7

Denver Broncos: 5-11

The Oakland Raiders will win the division and they will win it pretty easily at 11-5 which is one less win from last season. With Derek Carr coming off a broken leg last year will play at his best however, they need to be careful and make sure their offensive line protects him to the fullest. Their defense last year was not up to par and hopefully with drafting cornerback Gareon Conley from Ohio State to make that shaky secondary a little better. They will make the playoffs but they might have the defensive to hold off other high-powered offenses.

The Kansas City Chiefs will squeeze out second place from the Chargers with the tie break even with a difficult schedule at 9-7. The Chiefs hopes to finish behind the Raiders falls under the games against the Jets, Bills, Dolphins, Broncos (twice) and Chargers (twice) and possibly pulling off an upset against the Texans, Steelers or Patriots if everyone contributes and plays well.

The Los Angeles Chargers will finish third also at 9-7. Phillip Rivers will do his thing and contribute his best like every year. However, with their recently drafted receiver Mike Williams (back) has been injured for a while and it is unsure if he will be healthy for the beginning of the season. Their defense has improved with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram however and the team will win five more games than they did last year.

The Denver Broncos are completely missing at the quarterback position and it is starting to look like Paxton Lynch might be a first round bust.  With a difficult schedule with the Cowboys, Giants and Raiders early it might be hard for the Broncos to bounce back from those loses.

NFC East

New York Giants: 12-4

Dallas Cowboys: 10-6

Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7

Washington Redskins: 7-9

With the Ezekiel Elliott suspension looking like it will hold, everything opens up for the New York Giants and they will finish on top of the NFC East with a 12-4 record. Even with a tough schedule which includes the Cowboys (twice), Seahawks, Raiders, the improving Buccaneers and the surging youthful Eagles (twice), they will prevail and will win at least twelve games. Their defense which was one of the best in the league last season is only going to be better and with the addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall it also makes their receiving corps one of the best in the league as well. The only x-factor is if Eli Manning can be consistent throughout the entire season  and if the offensive line can allow the Giants to be two-dimensional and have a decent running game.

The Dallas Cowboys will finish second at 10-6 because of this suspension of Elliot. Their running game will diminish slightly and their defense has not been improved from last season. They have three defensive players suspended for the beginning of the season (Randy Gregory suspended for the full season) will show and they will struggle.

The Philadelphia Eagles will finish two games better than last season and finish 9-7. Carson Wentz showed that you do not have to a Division 1 athlete to be good in the NFL and he is only going to get better. However, with a tough NFC East and games against the Seahawks, Raiders and Panthers, it might be hard for them to surpass the Giants and Cowboys.

That leaves the Washington Redskins at 7-9. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are gone and this team is constantly on the road (Seahawks, Chiefs, Saints, Rams). It might be hard on the players especially on Kirk Cousins who does not even know if he is the franchise quarterback. The defense is shaky and will not be able to win close games.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers: 12-4

Minnesota Vikings: 10-6

Detroit Lions: 7-9

Chicago Bears: 2-14

There is no doubt that the Green Bay Packers will win the division. At 12-4 they win the division comfortably but the question lands at the defensive side of the ball. After being dismantled by the Falcons in the NFC Championship game a year ago they decided to go out and acquire as much defensive talent as they could during the off-season to help bolster that side of the ball.

At 10-6 the Minnesota Vikings will finish in second place to the Packers but that record may fluctuate depending on their quarterback situation. Teddy Bridgewater is probably gone forever and Sam Bradford is a nice replacement but still will not cut it if they want to make a deep playoff run. Their defense is strong however and will be able to keep the team in games for as long as possible.

The Detroit Lions will come back to Earth and finish third and lose two more games than they did last year. At 7-9 they will not make the playoffs two years in a row. With a tough schedule (at Steelers, Packers (twice), at Giants, Falcons, at Buccaneers) they will lose four games to start the season and will not recover.

That leaves the Chicago Bears at the bottom once again. At 2-14 they will have one of the top picks in the 2018 NFL draft. If Mike Glennon fails and Mitchell Trubisky is thrown into the fire with a shaky offensive line, he will struggle and lose a lot. Nothing is good about this team and frankly they are now in rebuilding mode and hopefully Trubisky is their franchise quarterback of the future because has tremendous upside.

NFC South

Carolina Panthers: 11-5

Atlanta Falcons: 11-5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-7

New Orleans Saints: 4-12

Cam Newton will bounce back from his down year and carry the Carolina Panthers back to the top at 11-5. With the addition of Christian McCaffery at running back hopefully they will have better production from the run game than a year ago. They will also finish tied with the Falcons for the same record but will win the division because they will take both games from the Falcons.

The Atlanta Falcons will finish second in the NFC South this season at 11-5 but Matt Ryan must perform at his MVP best and continue to feed his electric offense even though offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has left for San Francisco. Their young defense from a season ago knows what it is like to play in the big games, knows what it is like to blow a huge lead and will be even better coming into this season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are almost there but they will finish third in the division at 9-7. Jameis Winston is improving dramatically and the team is slowly building into a power to be reckoned with in the next few years.

The New Orleans Saints will not be good this year finishing at 4-12 and time is slipping away from Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton. The Adrian Peterson acquisition will not benefit the team at all because of age and injury concerns. The defense has still not improved which allowed 28.5 points per game last season and they gave away their best wide receiver in Bradin Cooks to the Patriots. Rebuild mode for this team should be a focus if they fail to make the playoffs again.

NFC West 

Seattle Seahawks: 14-2

Los Angeles Rams: 8-8

Arizona Cardinals: 8-8

San Francisco 49ers: 3-13

The Seattle Seahawks will finish on top of the NFC West once again at 14-2. Russell Wilson is improving every single year and they might be the team to beat in the NFC. Their defense is still pretty decent even if it is not what is was a few years ago when they won the Super Bowl but they are still reliable. Richard Sherman is still a top corner and opposing quarterbacks will be hesitant to throw the ball in Kam Chancellor’s and Earl Thomas’s direction. Also with the addition of Eddie Lacy, it does give the Seahawks a threat at the running back position and with Thomas Rawls as their number one guy the Seahawks will not need to worry about production from the ground game.

The Los Angeles Rams will show improvement from last year and will surpass the Cardinals for second place at 8-8 but only if Jared Goff has improved. Last season Goff was thrown into the fire and was essentially running for his life and looked scared in the pocket. Now he has multiple weapons along with new acquisition Sammy Watkins. New head coach Sean McVay brings a new look to the team which will help Jared Goff flourish because he is an offensive minded coach. Their defense is solid as long as Aaron Donald ends his holdout and returns to the team. They will miss the playoffs however but they will possibly make a push in a few years.

The Arizona Cardinals could be on a slow decline because of age. This season they will finish third with a 8-8 record. Carson Palmer will be turning 38 in December and Larry Fitzgerald is not getting any younger. Their tight end position is questionable at best but they do have a strong running back in David Johnson. The defensive front will probably not be the best but the secondary is solid with Patrick Peterson, Antoine Bethea, Tyrann Mathieu and Justin Bethel.

The San Francisco 49ers will finish at the bottom of the NFC West once again at 3-13 but they are heading in the right direction. They have their new head coach Kyle Shanahan which is an offensive minded guy which will help them as soon as they get a quarterback. What they should do is try their best to lose as many games as they can in order to get one of the top picks in next years draft with the prized player being USC quarterback Sam Darnold.

Here is how the playoffs will turn out.


  1. New England Patriots (14-2)

  2. Tennessee Titans (11-5)

  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

  4. Oakland Raiders (11-5)

Wild Card 

  1. Kansas City (9-7)

  2. Houston Texans (9-7)


  1. Seattle Seahawks (14-2)

  2. New York Giants (12-4)

  3. Green Bay Packers (12-4)

  4. Carolina Panthers (11-5)

Wild Card

  1. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)

  2. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)

So there it is, the 2017-18 NFL season for every team and how the playoffs will turn out. Everyone can get excited now because football is officially back and it is better than ever.

Henry Golden

Henry Golden covers the UAlbany men's basketball team for the Upstate Courier, as well as other various sporting events in the Capital Region. He currently attends Sage College of Albany. He can be reached through social media, @Golden_Henry05 on Twitter.

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