The 2020-21 NFL season is essentially halfway over, and now is the perfect time to take a look at the current standings as well my preseason predictions, to project the […]
The 2020-21 NFL season is essentially halfway over, and now is the perfect time to take a look at the current standings as well my preseason predictions, to project the final standings for all 32 NFL teams.
Divisions like the NFC South and AFC North are up for grabs, as talented teams fight over the season’s final eight weeks for playoff positioning and seeding.
Will the Pittsburgh Steelers remain undefeated? Can the Kanas City Chiefs repeat as AFC champions? And who wins a crowded NFC? Read on for all those answers and more.
Check out my ORIGINAL PREDICTIONS made September 4, 2020.
MVP Watch: Quarter Season
- 2nd seed: Baltimore Ravens (15-1)
- Cleveland Browns (7-9)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5-11)
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-13)
- 1st seed: Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0)
- 5th seed: Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
- 7th seed: Cleveland Browns (5-3)
- Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1)
- 1st seed: Baltimore Ravens (14-2)
- 5th seed: Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
- Cleveland Browns (9-7)* (miss playoffs on tiebreakers)
- Cincinnati Bengals (5-10-1)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have emerged as the favorite for the AFC North title, with a two-game lead and a head-to-head win over the Baltimore Ravens under their belt. If the playoffs started today, the Ravens would still qualify as the top wildcard seed, while the Cleveland Browns would also make the playoffs as the seventh seed.
In my prediction, Baltimore doesn’t drop another game, finishing 14-2. Pittsburgh finishes a strong 13-3, with a loss to the Ravens in their second meeting. Should the Steelers win that game, they would remain in the driver’s seat for the division.
- 3rd seed: Houston Texans (11-5)
- 5th seed: Tennessee Titans (11-5)
- 7th seed: Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
- 4th seed: Tennessee Titans (5-2)
- 6th seed: Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
- Houston Texans (1-6)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
- 3rd seed: Tennessee Titans (11-5)
- 6th seed: Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
- Houston Texans (4-12)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)
In my preseason picks, I had the AFC South sending three teams to the 2020-21 NFL postseason. My mind hasn’t budged much at all on the Indianapolis Colts (9-7 prediction changed to 10-6) or the Tennessee Titans (stayed at 11-5.) But the disappointment has come from the defending AFC South champions, the Houston Texans. Houston is 1-6, with only one win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mathematically, the 11-5 record I predicted for them in the preseason is unattainable now.
Tennessee was looking like an elite team at 5-0, on track for 13+ wins and a top seed. But with a couple losses in recent weeks, they slide down to the third seed by the season’s end.
- 4th seed: New England Patriots (11-5)
- 6th seed: Buffalo Bills (11-5)
- New York Jets (7-9)
- Miami Dolphins (4-12)
- 3rd seed: Buffalo Bills (6-2)
- Miami Dolphins (4-3)
- New England Patriots (2-5)
- New York Jets (0-8)
- 4th seed: Buffalo Bills (11-5)
- Miami Dolphins (9-7)* (miss playoffs on tiebreakers)
- New England Patriots (6-10)
- New York Jets (0-16)
I didn’t think the New England Patriots fall-off post-Tom Brady would be as bad as some people expected. And early on this season, the Cam Newton experiment seemed to be working. But over the past month, the Patriots have been a shell of the team that’s dominated for nearly two decades.
The Buffalo Bills, much like the Titans, started hot but have cooled off, especially when playing against good teams. With New England seemingly out of the picture, the Bills only have to worry about a promising Miami Dolphins team. Miami is currently 4-3, but could make a second half run towards the postseason, especially if they can take a game from Buffalo.
I do project the New York Jets to finish winless at 0-16.
- 1st seed: Kansas City Chiefs (15-1)
- Las Vegas Raiders (6-10)
- Denver Broncos (6-10)
- Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)
- 2nd seed: Kansas City Chiefs (7-1)
- Las Vegas Raiders (4-3)
- Denver Broncos (3-4)
- Los Angeles Chargers (2-5)
- 1st seed: Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)
- 7th seed: Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)
- Denver Broncos (6-10)
- Los Angeles Chargers (6-10)
The Kansas City Chiefs are right on track. They beat the Baltimore Ravens in their most important matchup of the year, and are cruising with a 7-1 record. They don’t play the Steelers this season, so they will have to rely on Pittsburgh losing in order to regain the AFC’s top seed. I could see them finishing with just one more loss, likely earning the top seed if not the #2 seed.
The Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Los Angeles Chargers are a rowdy mix of teams, capable of playing well against anyone, albeit not at a consistent pace. The Raiders did hand the Chiefs their lone loss, and have the best chance to be the AFC West’s second playoff team. While they wouldn’t qualify if the season ended today, I have them squeaking in as the final wildcard team in the conference.
- 4th seed: Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
- Green Bay Packers (8-8)
- Chicago Bears (7-9)
- Detroit Lions (4-12)
- 3rd seed: Green Bay Packers (5-2)
- Chicago Bears (5-3)
- Detroit Lions (3-4)
- Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
- 3rd seed: Green Bay Packers (12-4)
- 7th seed: Chicago Bears (10-6)
- Detroit Lions (7-9)
- Minnesota Vikings (5-11)
The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers were two of my less accurate predictions. For Minnesota, I foresaw a triumphant return to the top of the division standings, with the Packers lagging behind at 8-8.
Well so far, despite some recent losses, the Packers are on track to cruise to an NFC North title in 2020. Their only competition is the Chicago Bears, but after dropping from 5-1 to 5-3, Chicago appears less formidable. I have the Bears keeping their pace though, and turning a 5-3 start in to a 10-6 finish with a wildcard berth.
- 2nd seed: New Orleans Saints (13-3)
- 6th seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)
- Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
- Carolina Panthers (4-12)
- 2nd seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)
- 5th seed: New Orleans Saints (5-2)
- Carolina Panthers (3-5)
- Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
- 2nd seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)
- 5th seed: New Orleans Saints (12-4)
- Carolina Panthers (7-9)
- Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
In terms of prediction accuracy, I had the NFC South pegged the best coming in to the season. The Carolina Panthers are a little better than I expected, but it’s all about the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this division.
I didn’t expect the Buccaneers to have enough firepower to win the NFC South over the Saints, but so far, they’re leading the pack. New Orleans did win a head-to-head meeting in Week 1, and now in Week 9, the two teams face off in an all-important final regular season meeting.
If the Saints do win that game, they would have a season-sweep and advantage over Tampa Bay. But if my Week 9 NFL picks hold true, the Buccaneers will be improving to 7-2 this week.
- 3rd seed: Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
- 7th seed: Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
- New York Giants (7-9)
- Washington Football Team (2-14)
- 4th seed: Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)
- Washington Football Team (2-5)
- Dallas Cowboys (2-6)
- New York Giants (1-7)
- 4th seed: Philadelphia Eagles (7-8-1)
- New York Giants (4-12)
- Washington Football Team (3-13)
- Dallas Cowboys (2-14)
While I didn’t think the NFC East would be incredible this year, I projected two teams with winning records and one with seven wins. Currently, we’ll be lucky to see any teams reach seven wins in this putrid division.
I did pick the Philadelphia Eagles, and I’m sticking with them. Even if disaster struck Philadelphia, who would leapfrog them? The 1-7 New York Giants? The quarterback-less Dallas Cowboys? Washington?
The Eagles cruise to the NFC East title at 7-8-1, picking up mostly wins from inside the division.
- 1st seed: Seattle Seahawks (14-2)
- 5th seed: San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
- Arizona Cardinals (7-9)
- Los Angeles Rams (2-14)
- 1st seed: Seattle Seahawks (6-1)
- 6th seed: Arizona Cardinals (5-2)
- 7th seed: Los Angeles Rams (5-3)
- San Francisco 49ers (4-4)
- 1st seed: Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
- 5th seed: Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
- Los Angeles Rams (8-8)
- San Francisco 49ers (8-8)
The NFC West is easily the league’s best division. The defending NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers, are struggling mightily, yet are still in the playoff picture at 4-4. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Rams, who I projected to go 2-14 for some reason.
The NFC West could send three teams, but unless the Rams or 49ers win more games than expected, I only see two: an elite Seahawks team and a very good Cardinals team. Arizona could put pressure on Seattle by beating them head-to-head again before the season is over.
- #2 Baltimore Ravens over #7 Las Vegas Raiders
- #3 Tennessee Titans over #6 Indianapolis Colts
- #5 Pittsburgh Steelers over #4 Buffalo Bills
The better team wins all three matchups in this wildcard round: and yes, 14-2 Pittsburgh will be considered the better team against 11-5 Buffalo, even though the Bills will have a higher seed. If the Colts are playing well, they could make their matchup against the Titans a fun one.
- #1 Kansas City Chiefs over #5 Pittsburgh Steelers
- #2 Baltimore Ravens over #3 Tennessee Titans
After a bye week, the Chiefs face a tough matchup with a good Pittsburgh Steelers team. Alternately, it could be the Ravens if Pittsburgh wins the AFC North. Or, the Steelers could hold on to the #1 seed, and then the Ravens might be their opponent here.
On the other side, the Ravens try to avenge last year’s 28-12 loss to the Titans in the playoffs. Both games should be highly competitive, setting the scene for an epic AFC title game,
- #1 Kansas City Chiefs over #2 Baltimore Ravens
There’s something noble about sticking with your gut, and not changing your predictions when given the chance. In my original predictions, I had this same matchup: the #1 Chiefs against the #2 Ravens. I chose Baltimore to reach the Super Bowl, as repeats are so rare in today’s NFL.
But after seeing the Ravens fail to get it done against Kansas City and Pittsburgh in this regular season, I just don’t have the confidence to see them winning such a big game against an elite opponent. Patrick Mahomes sends the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl.
- #2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers over #7 Chicago Bears
- #6 Arizona Cardinals over #3 Green Bay Packers
- #5 New Orleans Saints over #4 Philadelphia Eagles
Two wildcard teams claim first round wins in the NFC, and there could even be a third, as the Bears have beaten the Buccaneers already this season. I have a talented Arizona team upsetting the Packers, while Saints over Eagles should be a bit of a no-brainer.
- #1 Seattle Seahawks over #6 Arizona Cardinals
- #2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers over #5 New Orleans Saints
In the NFC Divisional Round, we have two matchups of decisive “Round Three’s” between divisional opponents. And if my projections hold true, the season series will be tied 1-1 in both instances.
In both instances, I have the divisional winner and higher seed emerging victorious. But make no mistake: they would be close, fun, exciting matchups. In Arizona-Seattle, you’d probably have another shootout, much like the Cardinals 37-24 overtime win over the Seahawks. New Orleans-Tampa Bay would breed a dramatic outcome as well. The Saints recent playoff failures is one reason I don’t have a hard time picking the Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
- #1 Seahawks over #2 Buccaneers
Remember how I said sticking with your guts is noble? I picked the Seahawks to reach the Super Bowl in August (advancing over the Saints in that scenario) and I’m sticking with them in November.
Seattle isn’t a perfect team, and their defense has been especially questionable this season. But Russell Wilson has been balling out, routinely putting up 30+ points per game this season for the Seahawks. Brady and the Buccaneers are capable of that kind of scoring output, but on paper, I’d pick Seattle in this high-profile matchup.
Super Bowl 55: Chiefs vs. Seahawks
Original Prediction: Baltimore Ravens defeat Seattle Seahawks 27-20
My Super Bowl matchup and outcome does change from my original prediction, though I’m still confident in three of my four teams predicted to reach the Conference Championship round.
Instead of Ravens-Seahawks, we have Chiefs-Seahawks. Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson, each with one Super Bowl title under their belt, duking it out to earn their second ring.
These two teams have a similar blueprint: elite offenses led by MVP-level quarterbacks, with defenses that aren’t always the tightest. The outcome? Potentially one of the most exciting Super Bowls we’ve ever seen.
Though the opponent has changed, my predicted result remains the same: the Seahawks lose a high-scoring game by a single score.
Chiefs win 37-30
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Header Photo Credit: Seattle Times/AP Photo