Gridiron Blitz: NFL 2020 predictions

Since we’re a sports media site, its our duty to provide you with our NFL season predictions that can be ridiculed and mocked throughout the year. Enjoy

Division standings (listed in order w/ wild card teams in *)

NFC South: New Orleans, Tampa, Atlanta, Carolina NFC East: Dallas, Philadelphia, Giants, Washington NFC North: Green Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago
NFC West: Seattle, San Francisco*, LA Rams, Arizona

AFC East: New England, Buffalo, Miami, NY Jets AFC North: Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
AFC South: Tennessee, Houston*, Indianapolis, Jacksonville
AFC West: Kansas City, Denver, Las Vegas, LA Chargers

Super Bowl: Kansas City over Seattle

Individual Awards

Most Valuable Player (in order): Russell Wilson, Pat Mahomes, Lamar Jackson
Offensive Player of the Year: Lamar Jackson
Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Bosa
Comeback Player of the Year: Cam Newton
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Joe Burrow
Defensive Rookie off the Year: Chase Young

Neutral Zone: #NFL Picks Week Three 9.23.16 #nflpicks

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Music to listen to: Move Too Fast by Lotus

Sorry that it’s’ taken me three weeks to make NFL picks but shit happens and what can you do.

The good news is that watching the first two weeks of the season has given me an objective view of the state of the league. There are going to be a handful of terrible teams (Cleveland fans, at least the Indians are going to the playoffs and NBA training camp opens in a few weeks). There are also going to be some really good teams, especially in the loaded AFC. The rest of the 25 or so squads right in the middle makes picking games difficult but hell, we could use the clicks and it’s entertaining. Let’s get to it.

(home team in CAPS)

Houston (-1) NEW ENGLAND: I was completely wrong on this one. I figured that New England was working with a third-string quarterback, without a fully healthy Gronk and on a short week. Even though the game was at home, there would have to be some fall off I assumed. Well, that didn’t happen. Jacoby Brissett, who I like long-term as a starting quarterback in the NFL, was serviceable for the Pats last night and led a run-based offense that did enough to win.

The further indictment needs to go to the Texans in a shameful performance. Losing to New England isn’t the worst thing, many teams have experienced that. But to come out on national television with an undefeated mark and lose like that is inexcusable. I’ve been a supporter of Brock Osweiler and thought that Denver should have resigned him and last night was only one game but the Broncos may have saved themselves some major trouble. He showed no signs of progression as a quarterback. Defensively, JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney had no impact for the Texans. Houston will still win the AFC South and possibly a playoff game but anything beyond that looks unlikely.

 

CINCINNATI (-3) Denver: Expect a bounceback from the Bengals from last week’s loss at Pittsburgh. Cincinnati didn’t play bad against the Steelers but did get out played. I expect the growing pains for Trevor Siemian to come to light for the Denver starting quarterback. First start on the road, early Sunday game against a good defense. The Broncos defense keeps them in the game but it won’t be enough.

 

Oakland (+1.5) TENNESSEE: Both teams have had ups (Raiders winning at New Orleans on a two-point conversion, Titans coming back at Detroit) and downs (Oakland dropping a winnable game at home against average Atlanta, Tennessee losing at home to Minnesota). I’m going against the logic of taking the home team facing a west coast team in the early Sunday game and a close line. Give me the Raiders.

 

Arizona (-4) BUFFALO: The Bills are a mess, especially on the defensive end which is supposed to be the expertise of the head coach Rex Ryan and his defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Cardinals are too solid of a team overall for Buffalo, even on the road.

 

JACKSONVILLE (PK) Baltimore: I’ll take the home team.

Cleveland (+9.5) MIAMI: Both teams are a hot mess, especially in Cleveland which had below-average talent before the start of the season but are now dealing with injuries already. Miami just can’t seem to get it right under Ryan Tannehill which is the main problem for the entire franchise to start. He’s not a winning quarterback, not in college and not a professional. How the Dolphins are nearly a double-digit favorite, even at home, is puzzling. I’ll take the points.

 

NY GIANTS (-4.5) Washington: There’s always some drama with Washington and now it’s about Josh Norman and him shadowing Odell Beckham through this entire game. I didn’t like the initial signing by the Redskins of Norman who’s a zone defender and now being asked to be a one-on-one defender. The system doesn’t fit his skill set and everyone outside of the Washington front office saw that. Not bashing Norman, who should take every penny he can, but this was a bad situation to start.

Now after Washington’s defense gets exposed by Antonio Brown and Pittsburgh in Week One, focus is on Norman and his assignments. This is how we get to the point where the media is reporting on Monday before a Sunday game the defensive gameplan on the opponent’s best offensive option. You don’t think the Giants are aware of this now and can plan accordingly?

Besides that, Kirk Cousins is reverting back to the average quarterback we’ve known for years. Smart for Washington to not cave into a good stretch of games last season and signing him to a long-term deal. That franchise tag looks brilliant right now.

 

Detroit (+7.5) GREEN BAY: Green Bay wins the game but something is off about this team. Offensively, Aaron Rodgers is playing good but not as strong as he can especially with turnovers. The Packers’ defense made Sam Bradford look like an all-time great last week in Minnesota so there are issues on that side of the ball as well. Detroit is playing hard right now and can make this a difficult contest.

 

CAROLINA (-7) Minnesota: I know that San Francisco was able to move the ball last week at Carolina but there’s no way I’m taking Bradford on the road against that defense this week. The Vikings’ defense is strong but Carolina finds a way to score enough points to pull away win this one by double-digits.

 

San Francisco (+9.5) SEATTLE: The Seahawks win but this is another line that may be a little too high. The 49ers are showing effort so far this season and can easily cover.

 

TAMPA (-5) Los Angeles: Good for the Rams to win their home opener last week but reality is going to come for them at Tampa. The Bucs aren’t world beaters and they had a rough game at Arizona, especially with Jameis Winston turnovers, but should get back on track against Los Angeles.

 

Pittsburgh (-3.5) PHILADELPHIA: In the Keystone State battle, I’ll take Pittsburgh by six points. The Steelers are more talented and showing cohesion on both sides of the ball. I like what I’ve seen from Carson Wentz and he’s progressing well in the rookie campaign. However, he’s been taking intro classes facing Cleveland and Chicago and steps up to advanced courses facing Pittsburgh.

 

New York Jets (+3) KANSAS CITY: Coin flip game that can easily come down to a field goal which makes the line tough to pick (Vegas knows what it’s doing). New York’s defense will be enough to win.

 

INDIANAPOLIS (-3) San Diego: Is Andrew Luck looking at his professional future in Philip Rivers? Supremely talented quarterbacks with the physical and mental capacity to lead a team to a championship. However, their respective franchises haven’t provided them with enough help to make this next step. With Luck, the Colts have failed to develop a respectable offensive line to protect him and the defense hasn’t been impressive. Plus, Luck continues to force things on offense and has unnecessary turnovers. Rivers could have been on the same path as his contemporary quarterbacks taken in the first round of his draft in Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger but it hasn’t happened. The Joey Bosa fiasco exposed the ineptitude of the Chargers’ franchise for the world to see. This weak level of management has been going on for years. In the end, both of these guys can be Hall of Famers and not even get the chance to play in a Super Bowl. For Rivers, this looks like a reality and Luck may have the same fate.

 

DALLAS (-7) Chicago: Full disclosure, I’m a Vanderbilt alumnus who has followed Jay Cutler’s career from college to Denver to now Chicago. His potential to be an elite quarterback is over. Cutler is still in the top-half of starting quarterbacks in the NFL and can still play for another five years which isn’t something to ignore. However, arm talent can only take you so far. I’ve always said that too much is made of Cutler and his body language, especially facial expressions. YOu can have a permanent sad face but if you produce, that’s all that matters. But now, I understand why many people have been critical of him. Last Monday’s performance against Philadelphia was his career wrapped up in one game. He made some good throws, had a bad turnover, got injured and looked uninterested.

Cutler isn’t going to get cut because he’s still a viable NFL quarterback. But Chicago has to deal with the reality that he is who he is.

 

NEW ORLEANS (-3) Atlanta: The Falcons struggle in that building against a jacked up Saints’ crowd and franchise that will be acknowledging the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. That’s going to be a motivated and desperate Saints’ team that needs a win in the worst way. They will get it.

 

This week: 0-1

Season: 0-1

 

 

 

Neutral Zone: NFL Picks and Predictions

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Music to listen to: Prelude-Kiara by Bonobo

Since we’re a sports media site, I guess we’re obligated to make our predictions for the upcoming NFL season. We need the hits as a growing business and it’s usually high comedy to see how terrible my predictions are.

I’m a solid prognosticator of games after the first week of the season. We have no clue how these squads are going to look. Preseason means nothing to me unless your team suffers an injury like Dallas with Tony Romo.

My struggles are even higher with preseason picks. In the past five years at one point or another, I’ve had Cincinnati in the Super Bowl along with squads like Miami and Detroit in the playoffs when they finished with losing records. Those picks were made after extensive research, crunching numbers and over-analysis.

This year, I’m literally making my predictions as I’m writing. Let’s get to them with the team’s listed in order of finish within their division. The wild card teams will have an asterisk next to its name.

AFC East: New England, New York Jets, Miami, Buffalo

AFC South: Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee

AFC North: Pittsburgh, *Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland

AFC West: Denver, *Oakland, Kansas City, San Diego

AFC pick: Pittsburgh

NFC East: Dallas, Washington, New York Giants, Philadelphia

NFC South: Carolina, *Tampa, Atlanta, New Orleans

NFC North: Green Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit

NFC West: Seattle, *Arizona, San Francisco, Los Angeles

NFC pick: Seattle

Super Bowl pick: Seattle over Pittsburgh

 

Thoughts: The AFC East is still the Patriots’ division even with the four-game suspension of Tom Brady. The Jets were intriguing as a potential wild-card team but I passed. The Dolphins will be improved, particularly on the defensive end. I can’t trust Ryan Tannehill with another new offense. You would think a Rex Ryan-led team would be better defensively but the Bills are weak on that side of the ball.

I have to see a fully-healthy season from Andrew Luck before I pick the Colts to go anywhere. He turns the ball over too much as well and the overall talent of Indy is lacking. I like Houston and Brock Osweiler will be fine at quarterback. Jacksonville and Tennessee are heading in the right direction but the talent isn’t there for a playoff spot.

I’m obviously bullish on the Steelers since they’re my AFC pick to head to the Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger is poised for an MVP-caliber season with a solid offensive unit. The Steelers’ defense will be improved as well. The Bengals aren’t as talented as they’ve been in the past few years but have a solid quarterback, excellent receivers and a strong defense. That makes them a wild card team. Baltimore is tiering down and Cleveland is tiering up (I’m still a believer in Robert Griffin III) but neither makes the playoffs.

We have no idea what the quarterback situation will be in Denver with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch but the rest of the squad, particularly the defense is good enough to take that division. Oakland is lurking with playmakers on both sides of the ball, Derek Carr evolving into a top-level quarterback and Khalil Mack becoming a defensive MVP-level player. The Raiders make the playoffs. Kansas City is an average team and San Diego is a potential dumpster fire with an aging quarterback.

My Dallas pick in the NFC East is less about my confidence in the Cowboys and more about the weakness of the rest of the division. I think Dak Prescott will be fine and Dallas’ offense will be productive, the defense needs improvement but is adequate. Tony Romo’s eventual return will only boost the Cowboys’ chances to come out of the division. Washington will regress with the coming back to reality for Kirk Cousins and exposure of Josh Norman as an average cornerback. The Giants can’t stop anybody, struggle rushing the ball and Eli Manning turns the ball over too much behind a weak offensive line. Philadelphia is in complete rebuilding mode with a rookie quarterback who isn’t ready. The Cowboys are the division winner by default.

The Panthers are the class of the NFC South and return virtually the entire team. I’m on the Jameis Winston train and the Bucs have quietly developed one of the better young rosters in the NFL. That’s good enough to be a playoffs team. Atlanta will have better offensive line play and put up some points with Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and a bounce-back season from Matt Ryan. The problem with the Falcons is their defense, particularly a front-seven that can’t rush the quarterback and average at stopping the run. The Saints have regressed on offense and on a historically-bad run as a defense.

Green Bay will always be a championship contender with Aaron Rodgers under center and the return of Jordy Nelson helps the cause. I’m not picking the Packers because of their defense. Even with Teddy Bridgewater, I wasn’t high on Minnesota and now that Sam Bradford is taking snaps, I’ll pass. Detroit and Chicago aren’t showing me anything to inspire hope for a playoff spot.

Seattle and Arizona are both top-five teams in the entire NFL. Both teams can run the ball, stop the run, have offensive weapons and have elite secondaries in a passing-heavy league. I’m taking the better quarterback between the two teams in Russell Wilson over Carson Palmer. Los Angeles has a good defense and Todd Gurley but too much instability with the franchise move and the quarterback position will sink the Rams. San Francisco is another potential dumpster fire with Chip Kelly at head coach and Blaine Gabbert at starting quarterback. Not good for the Bay Area team.

Those are my picks, what are your thoughts?