The NFL schedule release allows everyone to take a much clearer look at the outlook of certain teams across the league. With that in mind, here are some bold predictions for the upcoming NFL season.
The Seahawks will finish last in the NFC West
Seattle has finished 1st or 2nd in their division for eight straight seasons, but they may be due for a down season. The NFC West has a reputation for perennially being one of the toughest divisions in football and next season will be no different. In fact, the division has improved demonstrably.
The Cardinals adding both DeAndre Hopkins and Isaiah Simmons vaults them into playoff contention and means all four NFC West teams will be vying for the postseason. The best record to finish last in a division since 2011 is 7-9 and it shouldn’t shock anyone if that’s the record the last place team in this division finishes with in 2020.
The Rams, 49ers and Cardinals are all flush with young talent and poised to leap frog the Seahawks for at least one season. Russell Wilson can only save his team from their questionable personnel decisions for so long.
The Patriots will be under .500
Set to play the aforementioned best division in football, the Patriots schedule doesn’t bode well for presumed first-year starter Jarrett Stidham. The Patriots have the toughest schedule in football next season going by 2019 winning percentage. It’s quite the shift from last season when they had the second easiest schedule in the league.
It doesn’t help that the Patriots division has also significantly improved. The Jets should have a full season of Sam Darnold, which could result in New York seriously contending for the playoffs. The Jets finished the season 6-2 with Darnold at the helm after the young quarterback battled mono for the first half of the season.
The Dolphins also finished last season strong and made significant improvements this offseason. Miami brought in big name free agents like Kyle Van Noy and Byron Jones as well as three first round picks including a potential franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa.
With a tough schedule, a more competitive division and a young quarterback, New England is poised to struggle in 2020.
The Packers won’t make the playoffs
The Packers had a bounce back season in Matt LaFleur’s first year as head coach, but things are already looking shaky in 2020. Green Bay drastically overshot their projected win total based off their point differential last season and that wasn’t caused by grinding out a very difficult schedule. The Packers only beat two playoff teams in the 2019 regular season: The Vikings (twice) and the Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs. Green Bay won’t be afforded such an easy schedule in 2020.
The Packers four toughest out-of-division games all come on the road. They travel to San Francisco, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Houston. What’s worse? Three of those games come in an absolutely brutal four game stretch in the middle of their schedule that is all capped off by playing the reigning NFC champion 49ers on a short week.
Week 6: @ Tampa Bay
Week 7: @ Houston
Week 8: vs Minnesota
Week 9: @ San Francisco (Thu.)
To add insult to injury, the Packers bye week also comes before this stretch, so there will be no time to rest and recover from that slate of games.
Even Vegas doesn’t think too highly of last year’s number two seed. The Packers current over/under for wins is 9, tied for 7th in the NFC which would put them out of the playoff picture.
Aaron Rodgers’ apparent frustration with the Packers front office for drafting Jordan Love in the first round won’t help matters. A tumultuous season will only fuel a quarterback controversy in Green Bay.
Tom Brady will lead the league in touchdown passes
Moving to the Buccaneers always made sense for Tom Brady when looking at the weapons he’d be given in the passing game and it’s only gotten better since his signing was made official. Now that Rob Gronkowski is included in the mix, Brady will have two of the best red zone threats in the league in Gronkowski and Mike Evans.
Former Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston finished second in the league last season in passing touchdowns, just three shy of the league-lead, even with his interception troubles. Tampa Bay doesn’t have much of a run game to speak of, so as long as Brady limits his turnovers, he should be able to jump into the top spot with his myriad of elite pass catchers.
Brady has only led the league in passing touchdowns four times in his career and only once since 2011, but he’s poised for a big statistical year and some serious MVP consideration with his new team in Tampa.
Photo: (Charles Krupa – AP Photo)