The 2016 NFL season brings just as many questions as it does excitement — will Sam Bradford be able to offset the loss of Teddy Bridgewater for a loaded Vikings team?
How will the NFL look without Peyton Manning from here on out, and Tom Brady for the first month of the season?
Will the Patriots cave to distractions — can Seattle’s new pass happy offense compliment a nasty defense on a journey back to the Super Bowl? Can Carson Palmer get over his nightmare NFC title game performance — and who between Ezekiel Elliott or Todd Gurley will come closest to 2,000 yards?
Every NFL team enters the season with a reason to be optimistic — while most teams learn pretty early that only a handful of teams are truly within the grasp of a Super Bowl title. Before I break down each division the BSO Staff gave their Super Bowl predictions for the 2016 season and a few of their predictions may shock you — while some play it close to the vest.
Glenn E. — Seahawks 28 – Raiders 17
Check Out The Divison Previews:
The NFC East was once of the toughest divisions in the NFL, and although it’s not quite a laughing stock division — the division could be won with 9 or even 8 wins. The Washington Redskins are the reigning kings by default, and after the loss of Tony Romo in Dallas, look to have the most talent on both sides of the ball. The Giants could have been a playoff team, but blew too many leads. Cowboys and Eagles will need to have a lot of things go their way.
Cowboys – 10-6
Redskins – 9-7
Giants – 8-8
Eagles – 6-10
Their was a good chance that the conference champion could have came out of the NFC North this season — but that was before Teddy Bridgewater’s unfortunate injury. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have a healthy Jordy Nelson back, and a chiseled Eddie Lacy in the backfield. The Vikings could still be there in the end if Adrian Peterson holds to his All-Pro form, and Sam Bradford can just manage the game. If the Vikings can survive with Bradford — this could be a division with 2 playoff teams.
Packers – 11-5
Vikings – 9-7
Bears – 7-9
Lions – 6-10
The NFC West was the best division in football last season, and could remain the cream of the crop if the Rams can take the next step. Seattle is going to formidable again, with a pass happy offense, and a defense that’s stingy as hell. The Cardinals could very well appear in the Super Bowl as well, especially if Tyrann Mathieu can stay healthy and Carson Palmer can repeat last season. For the Rams, L.A. is everything, so this first season will be a party however things turn out, and I expect Todd Gurley to approach 2,000 yards.
Seahawks – 12-4
Cardinals – 11-5
Rams – 6-10
Niners – 4-12
The NFC South could have four potential playoff teams, or it could have one domiant super bowl contender and an up and coming Bucs team and leftovers. The Falcons have to improve on last season’s dismal performance and the Saints defensive can’t get any worse, so I expect both to have respectable years. The Bucs will go as Jameis Winston goes, but I still believe they’re one year away.
The AFC East added another coaching change, with Adam Gase determined to turn Miami’s offense into the Broncos south. The Patriots will be without Tom Brady for four games, giving Bill Belichick a chance to evaluate his future, while allowing his team the opportunity to keep a chip on their shoulders. The Jets would probably need every ball to bounce their way to make the playoffs let alone dethrone the Pats, and they have one of the easist schedules in the league. The Dolphins need Tannehill to take the next step if they hope to catch the Pats or get rid of him as they prepare to target Deshaun Watson or another collegiate star. The Bills are just trying to avoid going 0-4 after losing defensive players to injuries and suspensions.
Jets – 9-7
Bills – 8-8
Dolphins – 6-10
The AFC North will once again be a drag out fight, with a new king of the hill trying to ascent. The Steelers will remain king as long as Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and upright. Even with Le’Veon Bell missing a few games due to suspension — Big Ben’s health is key to unleashing Antonio Brown on the way to a division title. The Bengals are nipping at the Steelers heels, but need to develop the inner discipline and courage to challenge and overtake Pittsburgh. The Browns won’t make the playoffs, but if they can keep Robert Griffin III healthy and Josh Gordon eligibile, Cleveland could be in the playoff mix late into December. Joe Flacco will return for the Ravens, but it won’t be enough.
The AFC West is lowkey loaded I promise you. Denver is a good Trevor Siemian season away from at least returning to the AFC playoffs. The Chiefs defense has top 3 potential but their offense is way too dependent on Jamal Charles and Alex Smith has hit his ceiling. Kansas City will also enter the season without their best pass-rusher and all-around defender, Justin Houston. He had ACL surgery in February and could join the lineup late in the season The Chargers have to finally help Phillip Rivers help them make the playoffs. The Raiders are primed for first playoff run since 2002 and my personal sleeper pick to ride a hot defense all the way to the Super Bowl. Reggie McKenzie can draft and he has a young and loaded squad ready to make some noise. My gut says they’re a year away, but the Raiders reached respectability last season — have a playoff-caliber quarterback in Derek Carr and will throw to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. No one should be surprised if the Raiders make this a three-way competition for AFC West supremacy — especially if LB Bruce Irvin can compliment Khalil Mack.
Raiders – 12-4
Broncos – 11-5
Chiefs – 9-7
Chargers – 7-9
The AFC South may be the most balanced division in the NFL. The additions of quarterback Brock Osweiler, running back Lamar Miller and rookie receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller will give Houston a potential juggernaut on offense if the group can help free up DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans defense — Led by J.J. Watt and a healthy Jadeveon Clowney could be lethal. The Colts have started 0-2 in both of the past two seasons — meaning someone could be fired if it happens again. Indy needs to get off to a good start, but it gets difficult after week 8. The Jags are close, but still likely a year away from playoff contention. The defense has to be better to support an offense that has plenty of playmakers (Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas, as well as TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory.