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2015 NFL Predictions

Welcome back, NFL. With the NFL season finally here, I thought I would get in my pre-season predictions before it was too late. Prior to Thursday Night’s game between the Steelers and Patriots, I posted my predicted records for those two teams: 11-5 for New England, and 8-8 for Pittsburgh. But let’s run through my full standings, since, you know, these things are always so useful.

New England Patriots – 11-5

Because the Patriots have won 12+ games in each of the last five years. Some regression to the mean must be incorporated into these projections, but not much.

Miami Dolphins – 8-8

Miami won between 6 and 8 games in each of the last six years. I’m not high enough on Ryan Tannehill to think that Ndamukong Suh is enough to move them to the next level. The Dolphins went 3-3 in the division last year, and it won’t be any easier besting that mark in 2015.

New York Jets – 8-8

The defense could be top five this year, depending on how many games they get out of Sheldon Richardson and which version of Antonio Cromartie shows up. Darrelle Revis and Muhammad Wilkerson provide a high floor, and if Quinton Coples or Leonard Williams or Calvin Pryor breaks out, the defense could be top three. With the best complement of skill position players the team has had in years, the customary hole at quarterback isn’t as glaring as it’s been in years past.

Buffalo Bills – 7-9

There’s a small chance that the Bills break out, but the Percy Harvin/LeSean McCoy/Charles Clay additions seem more likely to look good on paper on in a video game than in real life. Buffalo’s offense is likely to lack any sort of identity, and the defense will struggle to reach last year’s lofty heights.

Cincinnati Bengals – 9-7

The Bengals were still a young offense last year, even though it feels like A.J. Green and Andy Dalton have been around forever (unlike Andrew Whitworth, who actually has been). That unit gets back Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert, while the defense gets back Michael Johnson. I actually trust Marvin Lewis now, which is why we’re in bizarro world.

Baltimore Ravens – 9-7

I love Steve Smith. You love Steve Smith. We all love Steve Smith. Now name another player on Baltimore who you think will get 500 receiving yards this year. The best choice might be Kamar Aiken. The defense, though, should be very good.

Pittsburgh Steelers – 8-8

The mid-’10s Steelers are going to look like the mid-’00 Chiefs, I guess. Great offense and terrible defense is a good formula for 8-8.

Cleveland Browns – 5-11

Cleveland won 7 games last year, but 5 came against the NFC South, the Titans, or the Raiders. Fortunately, Tennessee and Oakland are on the schedule again, but the NFC West replaces the South. The skill position talent is as poor here as it is anywhere in the league, and that’s without talking about the quarterback.

Indianapolis Colts – 12-4

Andrew Luck + one year experience + Andre Johnson – a washed up Reggie Wayne + Frank GoreTrent Richardson should be what it takes to bring the Colts up to 12 wins after three straight 11-5 seasons.

Houston Texans – 8-8

J.J. Watt is the only reason the Texans have a chance at the playoffs. Outside of DeAndre Hopkins, this offense has very little when Arian Foster isn’t healthy (and who knows how long he’ll be healthy for).

Jacksonville Jaguars – 6-10

The Jaguars have improved in the SRS from -13.0 to -11.1 to -10.5. Jacksonville was the youngest team in the NFL last year, so there’s reason to expect continued improvement in 2015.

Tennessee Titans – 4-12

Conversely, there’s a lot to not like in Tennessee. The talent has been fading for years in Tennessee, and it’s going to take more than a year to turn things around.

Denver Broncos – 10-6

Still the best projected team based on some of last year’s metrics, the Broncos remain a high floor (because of the overall talent) and high ceiling (because of the quarterback) team.

Kansas City Chiefs – 10-6

Kansas City was pretty darn good last year, and a trio of Jamaal Charles/Jeremy Maclin/Travis Kelce is the best this offense has looked in awhile.

San Diego Chargers – 9-7

The Chargers went 9-7 in each of the last two years, too. I have nothing interesting to add about San Diego that you don’t already know.

Oakland Raiders – 5-11

With 11 wins over the last three years, there’s not much to get too excited about here.

Dallas Cowboys – 10-6

There’s a part of me that thinks the Cowboys are being overrated, but that offensive line plus Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are just too good to prevent Dallas from being a winning team.

Philadelphia Eagles – 9-7

I like a lot of this Eagles team, other than, you know, Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez.

New York Giants – 7-9

Pittsburgh-lite: the Giants have Eli Manning and Odell Beckham and maybe the worst defense in the NFL.

Washington Redskins – 5-11

If you ignore the quarterback position, there’s a good amount of talent on this Washington offense. And the defense even has some interesting pieces now, too. But, unfortunately, we can’t just ignore the quarterback position.

Green Bay Packers – 11-5

As long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Packers will win double digit games every year.

Minnesota Vikings – 9-7

Despite what the numbers tell me, I’m high on this young team taking the next step in 2015. I have Mike Zimmer, and think Norv Turner should do to Mike Wallace what he’s done to every other deep threat he’s ever had.

Detroit Lions – 8-8

The defense takes two steps back, but the offense takes one step forward. That should make the Lions slightly above average on offense, slightly above average on defense, and perhaps terrible again on special teams.

Chicago Bears – 5-11

What’s the difference between Washington and Chicago? That’s actually not a set up to a joke, but a legitimate question.

Atlanta Falcons – 9-7

The NFC South is bad, but Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are good. Along with my Coach of the Year favorite Dan Quinn fixing the defense, and the Falcons should be back in the playoffs.

New Orleans Saints – 8-8

If you took Drew Brees off this roster, the Saints would contend for the number one overall pick. But I have a lot of respect for Drew Brees.

Carolina Panthers – 6-10

After Greg Olsen, the Panthers top targets are second round draft pick Devin Funchess, Corey Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn, Jr., and Ed Dickson. So when the Panthers go 6-10, it’s because Cam Newton isn’t a true leader.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6-10

The Bucs should approach average on offense and be about average on defense. There’s a higher ceiling here than you might think, too, if Jameis Winston is a fast learner and the Bucs can take advantage of a soft schedule.

Seattle Seahawks – 11-5

See the Patriots section.

St. Louis Rams – 9-7

Is this the year the hundreds of top draft picks the Rams have finally combine to form a team with a winning record? A defensive line with five top-15 picks is insane, as Nick Fairley joins Chris Long, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and Robert Quinn.

Arizona Cardinals – 8-8

Arizona started 8-1 last year, but that was more mirage than dominance.

San Francisco 49ers – 6-10

Hey, have you heard about the 49ers offseason?

Feel free to put your predictions in the comments. I’ll reproduce my projections below, which should serve as a decent template and save time on rewriting the team names.

New England Patriots 11
Miami Dolphins 8
New York Jets 8
Buffalo Bills 7
Cincinnati Bengals 9
Baltimore Ravens 9
Pittsburgh Steelers 8
Cleveland Browns 5
Indianapolis Colts 12
Houston Texans 8
Jacksonville Jaguars 6
Tennessee Titans 4
Denver Broncos 10
Kansas City Chiefs 10
San Diego Chargers 9
Oakland Raiders 5
Dallas Cowboys 10
Philadelphia Eagles 9
New York Giants 7
Washington Redskins 5
Green Bay Packers 11
Minnesota Vikings 9
Detroit Lions 8
Chicago Bears 5
Atlanta Falcons 9
New Orleans Saints 8
Carolina Panthers 6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6
Seattle Seahawks 11
St. Louis Rams 9
Arizona Cardinals 8
San Francisco 49ers 6

  • Panthers summary ftw.

    I won’t fill up the comment box with text, but here’s a link to my preseason power rankings, including predictions. Chase and I think pretty closely alike on nearly every team.

  • Chris

    Browns are going to have the #1 pick. I gave them wins against the Titans and Raiders. Their next easiest game is today against the Jets. I really don’t see how you can give them 5 wins unless you’re expecting a significant step forward from Manziel.

  • dbqp

    New England Patriots 12
    Miami Dolphins 8
    New York Jets 7
    Buffalo Bills 7
    Baltimore Ravens 11
    Cincinnati Bengals 10
    Pittsburgh Steelers 9
    Cleveland Browns 4
    Indianapolis Colts 11
    Houston Texans 7
    Jacksonville Jaguars 6
    Tennessee Titans 4
    Denver Broncos 12
    Kansas City Chiefs 9
    San Diego Chargers 9
    Oakland Raiders 5
    Philadelphia Eagles 11
    Dallas Cowboys 10
    New York Giants 7
    Washington Redskins 4
    Green Bay Packers 12
    Minnesota Vikings 8
    Detroit Lions 8
    Chicago Bears 5
    New Orleans Saints 9
    Atlanta Falcons 8
    Carolina Panthers 6
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5
    Seattle Seahawks 12
    Arizona Cardinals 8
    St. Louis Rams 7
    San Francisco 49ers 6

  • Anonymous

    I’d bet on the Patriots winning more than 11.

  • Nick Bradley

    Solid analysis of the 49ers there. Clearly the result of deep reflection