The 2017 NFL season was a wild one. Some teams far exceeded the expectation that existed before the season started, and some teams managed to severely under-perform. Then there's the Cleveland Browns, who managed to go from an 1-15 team to an 0-16 team.
Needless to say, predicting what team will win a super bowl is almost impossible. Even predicting what teams will even make the playoffs is even difficult, but I did a decent job with the World Cup with limited football. Since American Football is my "area of expertise," I should be able to be even more accurate than I was with the World Cup.
Since I have that much confidence in my ability to predict this NFL season, I am going to add an extra level from the World Cup challenge. This time, I will also be predicting the records of all 32 teams. So without any further ado, here are the Power Rankings for the 2018 NFL Season, From No Chance To Best Chance At A Super Bowl.
32. Buffalo Bills - No Chance / Projected Record: 2-14
The loss of Tyrod Taylor takes the Bills from being a playoff team to the worst team in the NFL. Don't take this as just an indictment on the pick of Josh Allen, as this whole team has flaws all across the board that needed to be fixed this off-season. Whether it is the career backup AJ McCarron, or raw prospect Josh Allen, this season looks to be a rough one for Bills fans, but the 2019 NFL draft could be huge for the team picking 1st overall.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - No Chance / Projected Record: 2-14
Jamies Winston was the number one pick just a few years ago, but now he is starting the season on suspension for the first three games after a sexual misconduct incident with an Uber driver. This is a Buccaneers team on the brink of collapse, and while they could make a run for the playoffs, a stacked NFC South looks to bury this team even further down than last year. If Tampa Bay loses to Chicago in week four, they could go into their bye-week without a win, and more playoff contenders on their schedule following the bye.
30. Miami Dolphins - No Chance / Projected Record: 3-13
This image sums up the Miami Dolphins as a franchise with Ryan Tannehill at the helm, they can't get to Tom Brady. Tannehill is getting older, and this team is a mix of young underachievers and old veterans that this team can't build around long term. While that could translate into a surprisingly great season, but more than likely they will be near the bottom of the league.
29. Cincinnati Bengals - No Chance / Projected Round: 3-13
Depending on the health of Tyrod Taylor and the readiness of Baker Mayfield, the Bengals and the Browns could easily switch places on this list. As of now, Cleveland looks better than Cincinnati overall, but the AFC North's time as the top division in the AFC looks to be long over. The Marvin Lewis era may finally be over, especially if the Bengals struggle early.
28. Arizona Cardinals - No Chance / Projected Record: 4-12
Arizona feels like they are right at the point where they are rebuilding and have veteran talent that want to win now. At their best, this team could steal a few more wins, but with so much overall on the offense, can they put it together. I don't think this is the year, but a strong finish could entice Larry Fitzgerald into one last run with a young core that could do big things in the future.
27. Chicago Bears - Almost No Chance / Projected Record: 5-11
Da Bears are gonna miss Da playoffs again this year. The schedule they face is just too much for this young team, but Trubisky will continue to progress alongside this revamped offense. At the end of the day, The NFC North has four talented teams that could only stop each other from having great seasons, but the Bears went into the off-season with the most worked to do, and still have the most work to do.
26. New York Jets - Almost No Chance / Projected Record: 5-11
Someone besides the Patriots has to win games in the AFC East, and the Jets appear to be in the best situation to do so. A young offensive side combined with one of the better defenses in the AFC could help this team recreate the magic they had with the last USC QB they drafted. Sam Darnold will look to recreate the early success the Mark Sanchez had, but this team isn't as good as the one Sanchez had, so 5-11 feels more realistic.
25. Cleveland Browns - Almost No Chance / Projected Record: 5-11
Celebrations are in order, as the Cleveland Browns tie their 2nd best record in the past decade, and win more games than they have in the past three regular seasons combined. All jokes aside, the Browns make a huge leap forward, and start the trend to no longer being the laughing stock of the league. Whether or not 5-11 is enough to save people's jobs is another issue, but this team has the talent to avoid being a complete disaster.
24. Washington Redskins - Almost No Chance / Projected Round:
The Washington Redskins now have one of the best game managers in Alex Smith, but the Redskins didn't have issues in the passing game last year. The issues that plagued Washington last season were running the ball and stopping the run, and they didn't fix those issues entirely. Washington has the worst rushing attack in the NFC East, and while the additions of Da'Ron Payne and Tim Settle should help their run defense, but this front-seven has a 99% of losing at least one player to injury, and most likely could be very thin by the mid-season mark.
23. Oakland Raiders - A Small Chance / Projected Record: 6-10
Will the sack attack from the silver and black, aka Khalil Mack, actually play this season? The answered to that question could make this team move all the way to a playoff contender, but as long as he holds out, Coach Gruden's new team will struggle to generate pressure without the guy responsible for one-third of their sacks last season. The offense is talented, but this defense has problems with Mack, and without him they will struggle in a tough AFC West.
22. Denver Broncos - A Small Chance / Projected Record: 6-10
Denver has one of the most interesting situations, as they had one of the best off-seasons in the NFL, but all of the moves they made really only matter if Case Keenum and Bradley Chubb, the two biggest acquisitions, are impact players. Keenum had a huge season in Minnesota last year, but he needs to be that good for this team to have a chance in this division. Chubb was the fifth pick in the 2018 draft, and he has to be able to get to the quarterback to take pressure off of Von Miller, or Denver could find themselves fighting for fourth in the AFC West instead of first.
21. Seattle Seahawks - A Small Chance / Projected Record: 6-10
Despite the fact that the Seahawks have completely imploded over the last two seasons, they still have a two great players that will drag this team to a 6-10 record. Russel Wilson is one of the best players in the league at the quarterback position, and he will need another MVP-caliber season for this offense to not be pathetic. Bobby Wagner is at worst a top three middle linebacker in this league, and his presence in the middle will help this defense stop enough rushing attacks to get to six wins.
20. Detroit Lions - A Small Chance / Projected Record: 7-9
Detroit Lions fans could have a great season in store, but Minnesota and Green Bay are two potential playoff teams that stand in the their way. The Lions are going into this season with a similar situation to the Washington Redskins, but the Lions just brought in a defensive-minded head coach, drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, and the running back they drafted is healthy, unlike Washington's Derrius Guice. If Detroit can Slay (pun-intended) Aaron Rodgers, then they have an outside shot at a Wild Card spot.
19. Indianapolis Colts - A Chance / Projected Record: 7-9
The Indianapolis Colts have Luck on their side again, but the entire AFC South looks capable of making a run at the Super Bowl. Unlike the the rest of their division, the Colts' defense looks like a huge liability that will struggle to get stops. The elite quarterbacks in this league usually guarantee their teams between six to eight wins, but with much like Russel Wilson with the Seahawks, Luck's defense will make it hard to get much more than that.
18. New York Giants - A Chance / Projected Record: 7-9
The New York Football Giants had the best draft in 2018, if Eli Manning can play like Super Bowl Champion Eli Manning, and not the dumpster fire he was last year that got benched. Granted injuries happen, but I don't thinks it's even possible for this team to have as many injuries to as many star players as they had last year. Still, the difference between 3-13, 7-9, and making the playoffs is how well Eli Manning plays, and with him being 37 and coming off an awful year, expectations can only be so high.
17. Baltimore Ravens - A Chance / Projected Record: 8-8
A team that under-performed last year because of injuries and had a great draft, but has a quarterback that is coming off of a bad year and could be replaced during the season. I feel like I could just copy and paste the Giants entry here and just replace Eli's information with Joe Flacco's. The Ravens, however, have a slightly easier schedule (kinda helps having the Browns and Bengals in your division), and that should translate to going 8-8 to the Giants 7-9.
16. Carolina Panthers - A Chance / Projected Record: 8-8
The Panthers are a legitimate playoff contender with a bright future, but right now they stand almost no chance in a shootout with the high-powered offenses that they have to face. Cam has struggled with accuracy for most of his career, and this secondary is one of the worst in football. If they can avoid falling behind, Carolina has a shot, but their schedule pits them against some of the best receiving cores in football, including two in their own division.
15. Green Bay Packers - A Decent Chance / Projected Record: 9-7
Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest player quarterbacks ever, and if he plays, the Packers are a playoff contender. That said, their are so many young players on this team that have to be impact players as rookies and second-year players. Rodgers can drag this team far, but the young guys have to perform if they are going to make the playoffs after missing them for the first time in nearly a decade.
14. San Francisco 49ers - A Decent Chance / Projected Round: 9-7
Jimmy Garoppolo hasn't lost a game as the 49ers starter, and, while that streak likely ends week one in Minnesota, it's hard to bet against them having a winning season. This team has made some serious moves in the off-season to make Jimmy G's life easier, and that should help him continue to develop in San Francisco. This team has a glaring flaw in their secondary, outside of Richard Sherman, and that secondary will have to prove themselves earlier in two huge match-ups against the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers that could drastically affect all three teams playoff hopes.
13. Houston Texans - A Decent Chance / Projected Record: 10-6
Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt being healthy are huge for this team, and their presence give this team a shot at the playoffs despite being in the toughest division in football. One thing that gets lost in Deshaun Watson's amazing start last season is that he did still technically go .500 as a starter, and, while those losses were close, this team is beatable considering that they didn't improve a ton this off-season and still have one of the worst offensive lines in the league for their quarterback coming of a serious knee injury. A run is possible, but Deshaun Watson can't score five touchdowns every week and have to constantly be concerned about his own health, so the rest of this team needs to step-up to give them any hope of success.
12. Dallas Cowboys - A Decent Chance / Projected Record: 10-6
I believe Dallas has the right balance of having a good team and a good schedule that will push them into a playoff spot over teams like the Packers, 49ers, and Panthers that have similar talent but harder schedules. Having Zeke for a full season is a huge for the Cowboys to make a playoff run, but the health of the offensive line is even more important, and the current list of injuries is high on the o-line. This defense is young and hungry, but if they can continue to develop, then this Cowboys team could look more like the surprise standout from 2016 instead of the 2017 disappointment that missed the playoffs.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - A Good Chance / Predicted Record: 11-5Instagram/@patrickmahomes5
Given that I also wrote this article about tempering expectations for Mahomes in his first season, it feels weird listing Kansas City among the potential playoff teams, but this was a playoff team last year that has shown just how dangerous having Mahomes at quarterback can be during the preseason. While I'm very much a "preseason doesn't matter guy," seeing what Tyreek Hill and Mahomes can do with a fly route should scare every defense in the league because Mahomes can throw the ball seventy yards and Hill can outrun everyone to go get it. The threat of scoring at any moment is huge, but this is very much a boom-bust team that could just as easily bust if Mahomes struggles.
10. New Orleans Saints - A Good Chance / Projected Record: 11-5
This spot really goes to whichever team losses the NFC South between the Falcons and Saints, but Atlanta lucks out at the moment because Carson Wentz is not a guaranteed start for the Eagles week one, and even if he plays, he won't be at 100% yet. New Orleans is no slouch, and could very well be the number one seed in the NFC or be the number five seed, should Atlanta get a big road win week one. There's a lot to like about the Saints this year, but they were .500 on the road last year, and think that they will do the same this year with an equally difficult road schedule.
9. Los Angeles Chargers - A Good Chance / Projected Record: 11-5
The Chargers are getting a lot of hype as a potential Super Bowl contender, and it's easy to see why with the talent they have on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately this team looks a lot like the Packers with the number of young players that have to step up for this team to succeed, and unlike Rodgers, Rivers doesn't have a history making the plays in the postseason to drag his team to the next round. Rivers is great, and this team is really good, but when the chips are down and the season is on the line, who can this team rely on to make the big plays that are need to win playoff games because even if Rivers has the best playoff run of his career, he can't do it all.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers - A Great Chance / Projected Record: 11-5
The Steelers lost in the divisional round last year, and a similar exit feels in store this year with Ryan Shazier out for the season at minimum, and Le'Veon Bell still a huge question mark going forward. The presence of New England and Jacksonville in the playoffs is a huge concern for Pittsburgh as well because those teams got better, and the Steelers are down to superstars at the moment. Even if Bell does return this season, he played in the loss to the Jaguars last season at home, whereas this time they will be in Jacksonville for the regular season meeting and could face them in Jacksonville again for a potential playoff game, so 11-5 and a divisional round loss feels right for the Steelers.
7. Philadelphia Eagles - A Great Chance / Projected Record: 11-5
When will Carson Wentz be at 100%? That question is the difference between a potential Super Bowl repeat and being at home come January, especially with the fact that teams are ready for Nick Foles this year should he be the guy for an extended period of time. More importantly, the Eagles benefited from being the home team for their first two playoff games last year, and were still one Julio Jones catch away from being eliminated in the divisional round last year, so this team has some flaws that could be exposed without Wentz.
6. Atlanta Falcons - A Great Chance / Projected Record: 12-4
Atlanta was so close to beating the last two Super Bowl champions, and preventing those teams from winning the Super Bowl. Obviously almost beating the Super Bowl champions means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but this team is gaining more great players than it is losing, which gives them a great opportunity to make one or two more great runs before they have to worry about paying all of their players. Everything is setup for another great Falcons season, but it's hard to trust a team that lacks clutch to win a Super Bowl.
5. Tennessee Titans - A Great Chance / Projected Record: 12-4
I really like the Tennessee Patriots chances of making a serious run in their division and in the playoffs. In all seriousness, they have an ex-Patriot as their head coach, a former Patriots' defensive coordinator as their defensive coordinator, four former Patriots' players (three that will start and one that will play a similar role to his New England), and they drafted two players who were I expected the Patriots to get because they were perfect scheme fits. With all that said, if there is any team to imitate, it's the New England Patriots, and Mariota has the talent to be a great quarterback in this league, so if it all comes together, they are a threat to the Patriots that they wanna be like and the Jaguars that they wanna beat.
4. New England Patriots - An Amazing Chance / Projected Record: 12-4
As long as Brady and Belichick are on the sidelines in New England, they will continue to be a contender for the Super Bowl because they are two of the greatest to every do what they do, if not the greatest to ever do it. That said, this is perhaps the most vulnerable they have been seen the year Brady tore his ACL, as they lost a lot of key contributors to their Super Bowl run last year, they didn't have an amazing draft, and the future looks uncertain for this team. Still, they're the Patriots, and a weak division makes it even harder to bet against this team having another great season.
3. Los Angeles Rams - An Amazing Chance / Projected Record: 13-3
The Los Angeles Rams feel like they have gone all-in on this season, and it's honestly hard to bet against this team because on-paper they have the talent to be a top-five offense, defense, and have the best specialists in the league in Johnny Hekker and Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein. The problem for the Rams is that the Super Bowl isn't played on paper; it's played on the field, and the last time they were on the field, Atlanta made that superstar offense look like a joke. There is a lot to love with the Rams, but this feels more like a band of mercenaries than team, and that could cost them when it gets to championship time in late-January/early-February.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - An Amazing Chance / Projected Record: 12-4
It's time to embrace the Jaguars as a legit Super Bowl contender because this defense can be one of the all-time great defenses, and the offense has done enough to give Blake Bortles an opportunity to win games. Now whether or not Bortles can even be a mediocre quarterback is still up for debate, which is why I think their off-season moves make them a real Super Bowl contender, but Bortles has to be better. If Bortles has even a good season, Jalen Ramsey and the rest of this defense has the ability to get them to Atlanta for a shot at the Super Bowl.
1. Minnesota Vikings - The Best Chance / Projected Record: 12-4
With the talent that the Vikings have on both sides of the ball, it feels like all Rhodes (last pun I promise) to a win in Atlanta lead through Minnesota. A tough schedule leaves Minnesota vulnerable to having some more losses than other top teams in the NFL, but this was a team that lost in the NFC championship game last year, and then got the top free-agent quarterback, has one of the best college running backs from two years ago coming back healthy, and drafted two of the best athletes at their respective positions in Mike Hughes and Brian O'Neill. If Kirk Cousins were to get injured, then obviously this whole prediction goes out the window, but that what if exists for all but a handful of teams, and this team is talented enough that they might even be able to overcome a Cousins injury due to sheer depth at every other position.