by Erik Ritland
The 2016 NFL season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in years. The Panthers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Packers, Patriots, Chiefs, Steelers, and plenty more look to have successful seasons. Even teams that haven’t been great recently, like the Jaguars, Raiders, and Buccaneers have taken steps in the right direction.
Here is the 2016 edition of the award winning* Rambling On NFL predictions.
- New York
The NFC East is the lukewarm glass of water of the NFL: not too hot, not too cold, and if you took a sip you'd spit it out. Okay, not my best material, but I think it gets the point across. Honestly, other than the Eagles any team could win the division. The Giants experience and revamped defense will help them prevail.
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
You know the 49ers are in for a helluva long season when their quarterbacks are a dump heap of losers no other team would ever want. The Rams are rebuilding in LA and the Cardinals and Seahawks will once again be two of the best teams in the league.
- Tampa Bay
- New Orleans
After the Panthers the NFC South is essentially irrelevant. Look for Tampa Bay to take the next step forward and nearly make the playoffs.
- Green Bay
Many national analysts predicted a significant drop in their expectations of the Vikings after the injury to Teddy Bridgewater. This doesn’t make any sense, as the Vikings weren’t predicated at all around the quarterback, and Sam Bradford may indeed be an upgrade. They’ll make the playoffs, but the Packers are still a better team all-around.
- New England
- New York
Some things never seem to change, and the ongoing success of the New England Patriots is one of them. Just because, I’m sure that Jimmy Garoppolo will be the Tom Brady to Tom Brady’s Drew Bledsoe (if that makes any sense). The Bills and Dolphins will be scrappy contenders while the Jets will continue to flounder.
- Kansas City
- San Diego
News flash: defense wins games (and championships). The Broncos still have one of the best in the league, and Trevor Siemien may be an upgrade on Payton Manning. Both the Chiefs and the Raiders are very well rounded, and have a better offense, but see the above news flash.
The AFC South has the potential to be the most improved division in 2016, as each team has made significant strides. Jacksonville and Tennessee are poised to be relevant for the first time in years, and although either could put up a fight, this will still be Houston and Indianapolis’ division to lose.
The Pittsburgh Steelers look practically unstoppable on paper. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Ben Roethlisberger could end his career on the same high note that Peyton Manning did last year. Cincinnati looks the same as always, the Ravens should be improved, and RGIII will give Cleveland a smidge of relevance.
Arizona, Green Bay, Carolina, New York, Seattle, Minnesota
Seattle over New York; Carolina over Minnesota
Green Bay over Seattle; Arizona over Carolina
Green Bay over Arizona
New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Cincinnati
Kansas City over Indianapolis; Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
Denver over Kansas City; Pittsburgh over New England
Pittsburgh over Denver
Super Bowl 51
Green Bay over Pittsburgh
This is one of the toughest years to predict the Super Bowl. Honestly, any team that I picked to make the playoffs could make it or indeed win it.
As such, I'm excited for the most exciting football season in years.
*we haven’t really won any award
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.