NFL predictions: How divisions will be won and who is going to the playoffs
SEP 01, 2014 1:00p ET
As kickoff of the NFL season approaches, FOXSports.com will preview how the year will play out, from the regular season standings to round-by-round postseason predictions. Today, we start with the division winners and playoff seeds in parentheses. When you're done, feel free to let us know what you think about our picks.
First, the bad. I once picked the Lions to make the playoffs. Instead, they finished as the only 0-16 franchise in league history. That painful experience taught me not to get carried away with how a team performs in the preseason (Detroit was 4-0).
The good? I've learned. Don’t fall in love with every team you see first-hand during training camp. Success from the previous year doesn’t guarantee a repeat the following season in a league where roughly a half-dozen playoff teams change annually and there is usually a worst-to-first success story.
Now, onto the picks:
1. New England (1): Yaaawn. At this point, a 12th consecutive season with double-digit wins is taken for granted.
3. New York Jets: Rex Ryan is a good head coach, but this roster smacks of a fourth consecutive season without a winning record.
4. Buffalo: Second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel still looked like a rookie during the preseason and recently signed veteran Kyle Orton isn’t the answer under center.
1. Cincinnati (2): This is the division’s most complete team – and one poised to finally win in the postseason after three consecutive first-round losses.
2. Baltimore (6): Re-tooling the offense should push the Ravens back into the postseason for the sixth time in seven years.
3. Pittsburgh: The Steelers fell just short of the playoffs in 2013. Expect the same this season without significant defensive improvement, especially in the secondary.
4. Cleveland: Playoffs? Ha! Progress will be marked by whether the Browns can win more than five games for the first time since 2007.
2. Tennessee: Quarterback Jake Locker has quietly enjoyed a quality preseason. This is a dark-horse playoff contender if he stays healthy and the Titans improve upon a shaky preseason defensive effort.
1. Denver (3): For 42 years, no team that suffered a Super Bowl loss has rebounded to win a championship the following season. The high-powered Broncos have a legitimate shot at ending the streak.
2. San Diego (5): A second-round playoff appearance last season wasn’t a fluke. The Chargers will push Denver for AFC West supremacy.
3. Kansas City: Offense usually isn’t a concern on an Andy Reid-coached squad. It is for the 2014 Chiefs because of a leaky offensive line and shaky wide receiver corps.
1. Philadelphia (2): The success of head coach Chip Kelly and quarterback Nick Foles in 2013 wasn’t a fluke.
3. Dallas: The Cowboys could lead the league in scoring and points allowed. That forebodes yet another 8-8 kind of season.
4. New York Giants: Despite going 5-0, no club is hoping its preseason is an aberration more than the punch-less Giants.
1. Green Bay (4): On paper, this is the deepest and most complete team the Packers have fielded since their Super Bowl-winning squad of 2010.
3. Detroit: The Lions will be a better team under first-year head coach Jim Caldwell, but not good enough for the postseason.
1. New Orleans (1): With the way the Saints are looking, Mardi Gras might not be the only big party this February in New Orleans.
2. Carolina (6): The Panthers will be forced to lean even heavier on their defense until solutions are found for offseason losses at wide receiver and along the offensive line.
3. Atlanta: The same problems from last season with the pass rush and running game remain worrisome in 2014.
4. Tampa Bay: If the offense gets its act together, the Buccaneers will make a playoff push in Lovie Smith’s first year as head coach.
1. Seattle (3): The Seahawks are in much better position talent-wise to repeat as Super Bowl champions than the previous two winners (Baltimore and the New York Giants).
3. Arizona: The Cardinals must overcome three major defensive losses in their front seven to leapfrog the Seahawks and 49ers.
FOX Sports 1's' Peter Schrager also provides his picks for the 2014 regular season:
1. New England (1)
2. New York Jets (6)
1. Indianapolis (3)
1. Cincinnati (2)
2. Baltimore (5)
1. Denver (4)
2. San Diego
3. Kansas City
1. Philadelphia (3)
2. Dallas (6)
3. New York Giants
1. Green Bay (1)
1. New Orleans (4)
3. Tampa Bay
1. San Francisco (2)
2. Seattle (5)
4. St. Louis
OK, so that's a lot to digest, we know. What did you think of our picks and how your team will do? Fire away at us on Twitter.