NFL Preview 2021
Posted by: Paul Nichols
08 Sep 2021
Here's a quickie NFL preview for the 2021 season. Teams are listed in their predicted finish in their division.
Buffalo Bills - Finished 1st in the division last year at 13-3! Calling their first-place finish was easy but I didn't see so many wins. Now that everybody is on their bandwagon, can they get to 13 wins again in a 17-game season?
New England Patriots - Finished third last year but seem exciting. Rookie quarterback means a vanilla offense to start the season. But they're still good enough to get second in this division.
Miami Dolphins - Tua seemed to fizzle last year and a coordinator change may mean an offense better aligned with his skill set. Still, they're only good enough to just slip past the Jets.
New York Jets - Somehow finished 7-9 two years ago and slid back to their normal 2-14 last season. They're nice and comfy here in last place.
Cleveland Browns - They won 7 games two years ago and 6 last year and surprised with 11 last year despite scoring fewer points than they allowed. All of these teams seem like 9- or 10-win teams. 10 wins will win them this division.
Baltimore Ravens - This is a team I love to root against after they beat the Broncos on the road in the playoffs years ago and somehow won a Super Bowl. I do like Lamar Jackson but think they'll continue a downward trend in wins after posting a 14-2 record two years ago and 11-5 record last year. 9 wins.
Pittsburgh Steelers - My continuing logic on Pittsburgh is that it's an every-other-year kind of team. That logic has fallen apart as they've maintained some better-than-average consistency the last seven years. But I'm stubborn, and my math means they'll be "bad" this year. So let's put them in third place in the division with 9 wins.
Cincinnati Bengals - I'm still smarting from predicting them to win this division four years ago. I seriously thought about giving them the division this year. Why? Because my memory was that Burrow was awesome before getting injured and that they had lost a lot of close games. So I looked it up and, menh. Not really the case. So they stay here in last place.
Indianapolis Colts - I think they've got more in the tank than the Titans, at least defensively. And in a weak division, they can win it with a 10-7 record.
Tennessee Titans - They finished a 4-year streak of finishing 9-7 by going 11-5 last year. Derrick Henry is their RB and he's still amazing. But I see them going back to where they're comfortable. 9 wins.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Name me a player on this team. You can't? That's still better than the Texans. Their quarterback is not Blaine Gabbert. It's not Blake Bortles, either. Not Nick Foles. Not Gardner Minshew. Regardless of how fun he is to root for, I don't see success here. 6 wins. Oh - Trevor Lawrence! Right. Well, that's one player.
Houston Texans - Imploded last year and the fallout will continue. Last place.
Kansas City Chiefs - Won 14 games last year. Good for at least 13 this year.
Denver Broncos - I keep on overrating the Broncos. Aaaand I'mma do it again this year. Playoffs! Teddy Bridgewater is underrated. But quarterbacks sometimes blossom in year three, so it would have been nice to see what Drew Lock would have done.
Los Angeles Chargers - Surprised late last year finishing with 4 straight wins. Remember Atlanta did that two years ago and finished 4-12 last year. So I don't think they're bandwagon worthy. But they'll be fighting for a playoff spot with all the other 9-win-adjacent teams.
Las Vegas Raiders - They won 7 games two years ago and 8 last year. But don't they seem bad? And my emotional response is what is true. . . so I'll put them in last place. 6 wins.
Dallas Cowboys - From 9-7 to 10-6 to 8-8 to 6-10. . . they seem like they should be better. I think they'll win the division.
New York Giants - From 3-13 to 5-11 to 4-12 to 6-10. Hunh. So why do I again predict them for a second place in this division. 7 wins? Cause. . .
Washington Football Team - Somehow won the division last year with a 7-9 record. Their defense can't be as good this year. So I think they'll be medium bad.
Philadelphia Eagles - I'm still not sure who's on this team. . .DeSean Jackson? I dunno. So I've got them at the bottom of this lowly division.
Green Bay Packers - Really no reason they don't run away with this division again this year.
Minnesota Vikings - Still a fun team to root for. Horrible scoring defense last year, so that's gotta be better. And they know how to beat up on the weaker teams. That might be enough.
Chicago Bears - MADE THE PLAYOFFS LAST YEAR!!! At 8-8, their second 8-8 season in a row. But they've gotta be getting worse, right? Still better than the Lions.
Detroit Lions - Vying for the title of worst team in the NFL. Last. 3 wins?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bruce Arians did amazing things in Arizona win-wise: 10, 11, 13 before he said something stupid and ruined the team's mojo. Well, he got a re-start in TB and I predicted a first-place finish two years ago when they finished in third place with 7 wins. Then last year they finished in second place with 11 wins and won the Super Bowl. I think they'll be better this year.
New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees no longer QBing this squad but we get the exciting Jameis Winston! I still see a drop-off, though should still be good enough for second place.
Atlanta Falcons - Went from 7 wins two years ago to 4 wins last year. Getting some buzz for the playoffs, but I'm not sure why. I can't pick them ahead of New Orleans.
Carolina Panthers - 5 wins two years in a row. Let's make it three.
San Francisco 49ers - Whoops. Had them predicted for last place a couple years ago and they went ahead and won the division with 13 victories. Then I predicted them for first with 11 wins and instead they come in last with 6 wins. So let me get on the right side of these swings by predicting them for first! 12 wins.
Los Angeles Rams - Folks predicting them for the Super Bowl. I think Matt Stafford is really good, and they had the number 1 scoring defense last year. They didn't do well against the AFC last year, though. Their AFC games this year are against the Colts, Texans, Titans, Jaguars, Ravens. . . hunh. . . knowing that doesn't help me with my prediction. Above average.
Seattle Seahawks - I'm still upset about their playoff win from 11 seasons ago. Remember? When they won 7 games and hosted a playoff game?!? The Washington Football Team hosted a playoff game last year at 7-9 and I wasn't nearly as upset. I think they'll finish third in this division. The Seahawks can't keep this surprising performance up forever, can they? 9-8.
Arizona Cardinals - Started out good last year, and finished with 8 wins. They'll stay around there this year. It's a strong division.
The second year of expanded playoffs gives us an extra team, a 7th, in each conference. There's only one first round bye in this format.
AFC 1st Round: Kansas City, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New England, Denver, Baltimore.
2nd Round: Kansas City, Buffalo, New England, Denver.
3rd Round: Kansas City, Buffalo.
NFC 1st Round: Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Green Bay, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Minnesota.
2nd Round: Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Green Bay, Los Angeles.
3rd Round: San Francisco, Los Angeles.
Super Bowl: Kansas City over San Francisco.
I'm 2-for-11 so far with predicting Super Bowl winners, having predicted Green Bay (Green Bay won), then New Orleans (the Giants of New York), then Green Bay (Baltimore), then Denver (Seattle won), then Denver (New England won), then Denver (Denver won), then Pittsburgh (New England), then Denver (Philadelphia), then Green Bay (New England), then Los Angeles Rams (Kansas City), then Kansas City (Tampa Bay). Good thing I've got a day job.