NFL 2012 Predictions

All right, football fans! It’s time once again for me to set the stage for what will ultimately result in both (a) embarrassment over how wrong I was, and (b) inordinate pride when I get something right.

Let’s take a look at the upcoming NFL season and make some predictions!

The biggest thing that I’ve noticed about my predictions is how similar I think this season will be to last season in a lot of ways. In fact, 7 of the 32 teams I am predicting with identical records to 2011; 10 more only change by 1; and another 8 only change by 2. That leaves only 7 teams to swing their records by 3 or more. Nobody changes by more than 5. History suggests that I am very, very wrong on this. But I was never very good at history.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills
Last year: 6-10
My prediction for 2012: 7-9
It seems like every year the Bills give fans reason to hope… and then yank it away. The best thing they have going for them this year is a relatively soft schedule; unfortunately, I have them losing a number of the “easier” games in my forecast. My big concern is depth; if one or two key players are injured, I feel like Gailey’s team will suffer a domino effect that will keep them out of the playoffs for yet another year.

Miami Dolphins
Last year: 6-10
My prediction for 2012: 6-10
Honestly, I think I’m being generous here. I don’t think Joe Philbin has his team’s attention. I think Jeff Ireland fooled both ownership and fandom (and people like me) into thinking he was going to be a fantastic GM, when in actuality he’s pretty horrible. (Football Outsiders points out that he’s running the franchise the way Matt Millen ran the Lions. If Ireland reads that, I sincerely hope he takes a good, long look at the facts and changes his ways right now.) But like the Bills, the Dolphins will have a reasonably soft schedule, and they always seem good for one or two surprise wins against better teams.

New England Patriots
Last year: 13-3
My prediction for 2012: 13-3
More of the same. The weak schedule that the entire AFC East enjoys will help hide some of the issues in the New England defense, and the offense looks like it’s just going to keep rolling. I don’t wish injury on anybody, and the Pats did okay the year they lost Tom Brady anyway, but couldn’t somebody maybe sneak some major laxatives into Belichick’s food the night before games? (Trick question: no. He would not be affected, as he is far too anal retentive.)

New York Jets
Last year: 8-8
My prediction for 2012: 7-9
More has been written about the Jets this offseason than any other team (source: entirely made up but firmly believed). I’ll keep mine short. You know that old saying, “When you have two quarterbacks, you have none”? What if you have two “are we sure he’s a quarterback” quarterbacks?

***

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens
Last year: 12-4
My prediction for 2012: 10-6
I may be one of the few people remaining who likes Joe Flacco and thinks he’s got some major upside. I’m not sure why I gloss over his sporadic inaccuracy and his hypergravity-affected feet; I guess I’m just a fan of the smart decisions he usually makes that occasionally blow open huge plays in crisis situations. I’m just concerned that the defense is going to get tired right about the time the playoffs roll around. I won’t blame Dean Pees for that; he’s a really smart guy who deserves his new coordinator position. I blame personnel shortages.

Cincinnati Bengals
Last year: 9-7
My prediction for 2012: 8-8
Once again, this team will be bolstered by a relatively soft schedule. I mean, they get to play Cleveland twice, they host Miami, and I think they’re well-prepared to face the AFC West. It will be enough to sneak them into the playoffs again, but they’ll have their worst game of the season on Wildcard Weekend.

Cleveland Browns
Last year: 4-12
My prediction for 2012: 2-14
I’d ask if we could blow it up and start over, but technically they did that once, and it hasn’t been working for them. I’ve penciled in two wins mostly because last year’s Colts and Rams were unbelievably bad, and they managed two wins each, so what the hey.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Last year: 12-4
My prediction for 2012: 11-5
I have some concerns about age, but not so much that it would scare me away from giving the Steelers double-digit wins. The biggest problem for the Steelers is that by being so good now, they’re in poor position to build up through the draft, as they will need to start doing very soon.

***

AFC South

Houston Texans
Last year: 10-6
My prediction for 2012: 13-3
There are just so many winnable games on this schedule. Obviously, a ton of this relies on keeping players healthy — something they’ve clearly had trouble doing — but considering how good their depth is, I’m not even sure that knocking out a couple starters would seriously lower my prediction.

Indianapolis Colts
Last year: 2-14
My prediction for 2012: 7-9
Yeah. Something tells me that there’s a lot of wishful thinking going on here. This is the only team that I have with a five-game difference in their win total between last season and this season. Some of it is based on a weak schedule, especially for home games (Cleveland, Miami, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Minnesota), but there’s also the fact that I’ve been watching Andrew Luck play, and the kid is good. He can go through progressive reads like a veteran, and his accuracy is solid. I have some concerns about his receiving corps (Coby Fleener is dropping way too many balls for a guy who played with Luck in college, and I’m not sure players can fart in the locker room without Austin Collie getting a concussion), but the run blocking is miles better than I’ve seen it in almost a decade.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Last year: 5-11
My prediction for 2012: 3-13
MJD notwithstanding, this team covers its weaknesses by showing off other weaknesses. They don’t have a good quarterback on their roster, and I wouldn’t trust their defense to tackle a scarecrow on the first try.

Tennessee Titans
Last year: 9-7
My prediction for 2012: 5-11
Another big change in the division. I can’t help but feel that last year’s winning record was a little bit of an illusion. For a guy who was a lineman, Coach Munchak doesn’t always seem clear on how to use them in today’s game.

***

AFC West

Denver Broncos
Last year: 8-8
My prediction for 2012: 8-8
I expect some real fireworks from Peyton at times, and some real struggles at times. The pass rush should improve, but I’m not sure if they’ll stop the run very well. This team can compete in its own division, but I’m not sold on them competing in the rest of the conference.

Kansas City Chiefs
Last year: 7-9
My prediction for 2012: 7-9
I’ve heard a lot of people suggesting that this is a “breakout” team this year. I’ve heard that several times before. Romeo should get better results from his players than Haley, but once again I have to question the team’s depth. And remember, Romeo has been a head coach before, and that didn’t work out well there either.

Oakland Raiders
Last year: 8-8
My prediction for 2012: 8-8
It’s going to take a few years to get out from underneath the shadowy spectre of Crazy Old Dingbat Al Davis, may he rest either in peace or however the hell he wants. If it makes sense, I feel like this year’s 8-8 will be very different from last year’s 8-8 in execution.

San Diego Chargers
Last year: 8-8
My prediction for 2012: 6-10
Too many players are already injured. They’re going to get off to a poor start, and it’s going to lead to additional injuries. I’m predicting that this is the year Turner finally gets fired. THIS IS IT. Which means it almost certainly won’t be.

***

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
Last year: 8-8
My prediction for 2012: 9-7
The trouble with being in this division is not that it’s “the toughest division in football” — I’ve already ranted about that previously — but that everybody has glaring faults to try to overcome. While Dallas has some incredible players on it, it also has a tendency for important players to get injured or to make boneheaded moves. I don’t trust Dallas to be consistent. And despite all that, I still think they’ll make the playoffs with this good-but-not-great record.

New York Giants
Last year: 9-7
My prediction for 2012: 8-8
It’s not that I think they’ve taken a huge step back. Yes, I know they’re the reigning Super Bowl champions. Yes, I know Eli has “taken his play to the next level” (he wrote, using quotation marks for a paraphrase). It’s that they needed several things to break their way to get as far as they got, and I don’t see that happening in two consecutive seasons.

Philadelphia Eagles
Last year: 8-8
My prediction for 2012: 6-10
I saw two “experts” each come up with records better than 8-8 by going through each game and saying who they thought would win and who they thought would lose. One said 9-7, and the other said 11-5. I, however, went through game by game and found myself with 6-10. What this should tell you: nothing. Because we’re all freaking guessing.

Washington Redskins
Last year: 5-11
My prediction for 2012: 8-8
My main reason for predicting this is not that RGIII is there, although I do believe he is a major upgrade. My main reason is that they have a softer schedule and I think the division will be volatile.

***

AFC North

Chicago Bears
Last year: 8-8
My prediction for 2012: 11-5
This is assuming a whole heck of a lot. It’s assuming that Urlacher gets through the season. It’s assuming that Cutler and Marshall can rekindle some Denver-like magic. It’s assuming that Green Bay will reveal some chinks in their armor. This might actually be the prediction about which I am the least confident (although Houston is right up there, too).

Detroit Lions
Last year: 10-6
My prediction for 2012: 11-5
Detroit may be primed for a step back, but I think when it comes to top-tier wideouts on unpredictably inconsistent teams, Megatron has a better supporting cast than Fitz. I like the way this team is going, and I think they’ll manage to keep it going for another season at least.

Green Bay Packers
Last year: 15-1
My prediction for 2012: 13-3
It’s hard to consider a 13-3 record a “step back” from last year, but mathematically, it is. I almost think it would be a good thing for Green Bay to feel at least slightly more vulnerable. But this team looks like it could be always hanging around the top of the NFL for the next several years.

Minnesota Vikings
Last year: 3-13
My prediction for 2012: 4-12
I don’t see Ponder as a viable starting quarterback. I also don’t see that the Vikings have much of a choice.

***

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
Last year: 10-6
My prediction for 2012: 10-6
I’ve been saying for a while that I thought Matt Ryan was a lot like Peyton. I guess having an inability to advance in the postseason might support that thought, but I’m surprised every year at some of the losses this team takes. They’ll stay relevant but unrewarded.

Carolina Panthers
Last year: 6-10
My prediction for 2012: 10-6
I’m on the Cam Newton bandwagon. That guy’s good. And I think it’s a good thing that they no longer have Ron Meeks coaching the defense; I never really liked that guy’s style when he was in Indy. I think this team is poised to take a big step forward.

New Orleans Saints
Last year: 13-3
My prediction for 2012: 12-4
I have become such a Drew Brees fan. The contract issues were ridiculous. Now, I know this is going to be a hugely unpopular prediction, because (a) OMG WHAT ABOUT THE SUSPENSIONS and (b) SEAN PAYTON’S NOT EVEN THERE… but I’m a believer that teams with a chip on their shoulder play harder and better, and that the system Payton has in place with his staff will make for a relatively smooth transition. And remember what I said about being uncertain about Chicago and Houston? Yeah, I forgot about New Orleans. I’m predicting it, but I’m sure not putting any money on it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last year: 4-12
My prediction for this year: 6-10
I gave them this many wins reluctantly. I still don’t like Josh Freeman’s mechanics. I think all of Florida is going to be pretty lousy for football this year.

***

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
Last year: 8-8
My prediction for 2012: 7-9
Frankly, I was surprised to see them getting this many wins in my own predictions. I don’t like the offense (other than Fitzgerald), and I’m skeptical of the defense. They benefit by playing lots of awful teams.

St. Louis Rams
Last year: 2-14
My prediction for 2012: 4-12
Hey, they’re bouncing back. Hooray. Look, I hate that the Rams are so bad. I like Bradford, when he’s healthy. I like Jeff Fisher as a head coach, now that he’s not with Tennessee. I hate Cortland Finnegan, but whatever. Either way… they’re just not clicking, and it’s going to take Fisher a while to right this capsized ship.

San Francisco 49ers
Last year: 13-3
My prediction for 2012: 10-6
It’s not that they’ll be that much worse. It’s that despite Harbaugh’s genius — and yes, I have become convinced that he is a football genius — there’s no way they win as many close games this year as they did last year. If you have the opportunity to read the Football Outsiders analysis¬†of this team, you really should.

Seattle Seahawks
Last year: 7-9
My prediction for 2012: 6-10
Does Pete Carroll have attention issues? I feel like I don’t know what the heck he’s doing, and I’m not sure he knows what the heck he’s doing. I don’t believe in them. (Not like I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny. I mean, I know Seattle exists. You can tell by all the W’s they leave for other teams on Sundays.)

***

Playoffs

Wildcard Round

AFC
#3 Pittsburgh defeats #6 Cincinnati
#5 Baltimore defeats #4 Oakland

NFC
#5 Detroit defeats #4 Dallas
#6 Chicago defeats #3 San Francisco

Divisional Round

AFC
#1 Houston defeats #5 Baltimore
#2 New England defeats #3 Pittsburgh

NFC
#1 Green Bay defeats #6 Chicago
#2 New Orleans defeats #5 Detroit

Conference Championships

AFC
#1 Houston defeats #2 New England

NFC
#2 New Orleans defeats #1 Green Bay

Super Bowl XLVII
New Orleans defeats Houston… thereby becoming the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in their home city, and to win it, despite the suspensions and all that garbage.

The odds of this happening are so low that I’ll save you the trouble — I’m already calling myself an idiot.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Football and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to NFL 2012 Predictions

  1. Lummox JR says:

    The Bills? Lose a season after a promising start due to a few key players going out on IR? Surely you jest! Such a thing is unprecedented!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s