The 2019-2020 NFL season is almost upon us, as the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears prepare to square off on Thursday, September 5. The season should be full of surprises, drama, and intrigue. If anything’s for certain: some of these predictions will be laughable if we look back on them after the season’s conclusion.

To predict the standings for all 32 teams, I opted not to choose the winner of each of the individual games (256 in total.) Instead, I simply made sure the win total for all the teams added up to 256. This allowed me to base my predictions on where I feel the team’s final win-loss will fall, rather than predicting their outcome against every opponent.

Without further ado, my predictions for all 32 teams this year, including playoff teams and my pick for the Super Bowl matchup and winner.

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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots (12-4) (2nd seed)
  2. New York Jets (7-9)
  3. Buffalo Bills (5-11)
  4. Miami Dolphins (2-14)

Once again, the New England Patriots run away with the AFC East with ease. Their closest challenger, the New York Jets, don’t quite see a winning season, but make progress in Sam Darnold’s second year. The Buffalo Bills have some talent, but many limitations that start at the quarterback position and trickle down. The Miami Dolphins weren’t going to be a good team, and that was before trading Kiko Alonso, Kenny Stills, and Laremy Tunsil. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t a bad choice at quarterback, but Miami may struggle to win any games this season

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Acquired via Sports Illustrated

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) (3rd seed)
  2. Cleveland Browns (10-6) (6th seed)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (3-13)

At first, I didn’t want to the Cleveland Browns in the playoff mix. I think assuming they’re going to make the jump this year is dangerous. But then again, 10 wins is only a 3 win increase from last year, not astronomical. I think the Baltimore Ravens are easily the best team in this division, and they re-tooled on offense and defense. I have a lot of faith in Lamar Jackson to keep the team in 1st place. AFC North matchups will be tough, which is why the Ravens can’t finish with a higher win total. The Steelers just miss out on the playoffs, and perhaps look back and wonder if they should’ve held on to Le’Veon Bell and/or Antonio Brown. The Bengals endure a miserable season: they have enough talent for 5-7 wins but ultimately end up one of the worst teams in the league.

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Photo: Associated Press via USA Today

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans (10-6) (4th seed)
  2. Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9)
  4. Tennessee Titans (5-11)

The AFC South was set to to be a tight battle between the Texans and Colts: before Andrew Luck retired and Lamar Miller was lost for the season. The Texans also traded away Jadeveon Clowney, but remain the favorite here. The Colts aren’t a horrible looking team with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, and he keeps them in the playoff picture until December. Nick Foles and the Jaguars improve internally but remain a step behind. The Titans won’t be abysmal but will be nothing to write home about.

Image result for mahomes and the chiefs
Acquired via Chiefs.com

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) (1st seed)
  2. Los Angeles Chargers (11-5) (5th seed)
  3. Denver Broncos (7-9)
  4. Oakland Raiders (4-12)

Just like last season, the AFC West battle will be between the Chiefs and Chargers, with the winner claiming the first overall seed in the AFC playoffs and the loser being forced into playing on the road in the postseason from the wildcard position. The Chargers stayed in that race down to the wire last season, but unfortunately they fail to close the gap in 2019.

Joe Flacco and the Denver Broncos come out as a fiesty team capable of beating playoff opponents but failing to win consistently. The Oakland Raiders come out as a mess, even with Antonio Brown’s talents on offense.

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Roger Steinman/AP 

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys (10-6) (4th seed)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
  3. Washington Redskins (6-10)
  4. New York Giants (6-10)

While these standings mirror the order the teams finished in 2018, make no mistake: the NFC East is very volatile. The divisional games may matter the most in this division over the course of the season. A great NFC East record could propel the Washington Redskins or New York Giants out of the basement and into the playoff mix. Poor intra-division play could doom the Cowboys or Eagles.

I have the Cowboys repeating as NFC East winners with the most solid roster from top to bottom. The Eagles come up just short but are in play for both the division and a wildcard spot until the season’s final week. The Redskins and Giants are a step above laughing stocks like the Dolphins, Bengals, and Raiders, but fail to win consistently.

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Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

NFC North

  1. Chicago Bears (11-5) (3rd seed)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
  3. Green Bay Packers (8-8)
  4. Detroit Lions (6-10)

I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter on NFL Facebook groups that the Chicago Bears were a fluke last season and won’t win the NFC North again in 2019. I disagree completely: I think last year was the start of a solid run for the franchise. Mitch Trubisky is still growing, the offense is capable, and the defense is elite. With only three wins separating first and third in this prediction, head-to-head wins will be crucial.

The Vikings are a very good football team, but miss out on both the division crown and playoff spot. The Green Bay Packers improve from last year but it becomes apparent their run as a playoff team has already ended. The Lions are in that “can beat good teams but lose to bad teams” category.

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AP Photo/Julio Cortez

NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints (12-4) (2nd seed)
  2. Atlanta Falcons (11-5) (5th seed)
  3. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

The Saints prove to be an elite team once again, winning the NFC South in wire-to-wire fashion. The Falcons finish just a win behind them to claim the top wildcard slot in a crowded NFC race.

The Panthers show flashes of brilliance but whether it’s injury or just poor play, they finish a mere 7-9. The Buccaneers aren’t necessarily horrible, but may struggle to find victories especially against their division rivals.

Image result for los angeles rams super bowl
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

NFC West

  1. Los Angeles Rams (13-3) (1st seed)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (10-6) (6th seed)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
  4.  Arizona Cardinals (3-13)

The Super Bowl runner-up Los Angeles Rams are far from a shoo-in to claim a first-round bye. The must avoid falling off or getting figured out this season with a target on their backs in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks return to the playoffs for the 7th time in the last eight seasons behind the Wilson/Carrol QB/coach combo.

I find the San Francisco 49ers overrated, and Jimmy Garroppolo will not lead the team to a winning record even if he’s healthy for the full season. The Arizona Cardinals will be in the running for the first overall draft pick. There just isn’t enough talent to surround Kyler Murray, but perhaps another top draft position next year could change the franchise’s trajectory.

2019-2020 NFL Playoffs

AFC Playoff Picture

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3)
  2. New England Patriots (12-4)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
  4. Houston Texans (10-6)
  5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-5)
  6. Cleveland Browns (10-6)

NFC Playoff Picture

  1. Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
  2. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
  3. Chicago Bears (11-5)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
  5. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
  6. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

AFC Playoff Predictions

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Could the Patriots miss the AFC Championship for the first time since 2010? (Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press)

Wildcard Round: #5 Chargers defeat #4 Texans, #3 Ravens defeat #6 Browns

Divisional Round: #1 Chiefs over #5 Chargers, #3 Ravens over #2 Patriots

Conference Championship: #1 Chiefs over #3 Ravens

After coming up just short against the Patriots last season, the Chiefs are able to advance to the Super Bowl by avoiding them altogether, thanks to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots failing to reach the AFC Conference Championship is probably the hottest take in this entire article: The Belichick machine is engineered to churn out divisional round playoff wins in Foxboro.

The Browns go one-and-done but end an exciting season with a playoff appearance. The Texans waste yet another playoff appearance with a blowout loss.

NFC Playoffs

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Though he falls short of the Super Bowl, Matt Ryan re-cements himself as elite with a deep playoff run. (Acquired via ClutchPoints)

Wildcard Round: #3 Bears over #6 Seahawks, #5 Falcons over #4 Cowboys

Divisional Round: #5 Falcons over #1 Rams, #3 Bears over #2 Saints

Conference Championship: #3 Bears over #5 Falcons

Matt Ryan makes the most of a playoff appearance, dispatching the Cowboys and Saints before falling in the NFC Championship to a well-rounded Chicago Bears team. Just like the Chiefs in the AFC, the Bears are the beneficiary of last year’s conference winner (the Rams) falling out in their first game.

Relatively an underdog, the Bears emerge NFC champions behind a shut-down defense and an efficient offense.

Super Bowl: Kansas City Chiefs Vs. Chicago Bears

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Patrick Mahommes completes his ascent to NFL super-stardom, a household name even Mom knows, by leading the Chiefs to the Super Bowl. Your mom still responds “who?” when you bring up Mitch Trubisky, who gets the Bears to the big game in less flashy ways.

What happens when a high-flying offense meets a fear-inducing defense? A good game, as the Chiefs and Bears battle it out over four tough quarters. Chicago’s defense does all it can, but their offense doesn’t put up enough points.

The Chiefs win 24-17

Conclusion

Did you like my picks? Hate them? Did I underrate your team? What would you predict differently? To respond to this article, join the conversation on Twitter @SakSports.

 

Header Photo acquired via The Chicago Tribune

 

 

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