With under two weeks left until training camp begins, it’s time to broaden the offseason topic beyond just the Buffalo Bills. In this article, I will share my predictions for the Buffalo Bills’ season as well as who I think clinches the divisions and wild card spots around the NFL.
I obviously think the Buffalo Bills will win the division for the second season in a row. Although each team within the division improved this offseason, I still believe that the Bills are overwhelmingly the best team in the AFC East.
The New York Jets did a great job this offseason to begin building their foundation for the future. However, I still think they are a year away from being a true threat to the Bills. The Dolphins added some weapons to their offense, including Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller, but their success will hinge on Tua Tagovailoa. Therefore, it’s tough to project them as a true threat without knowing how Tua will pan out. Lastly, the New England Patriots did a lot this offseason to specifically combat the Buffalo Bills. However, I don’t think utilizing primarily 12 personnel and running the football will work as efficiently against other NFL opponents.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens
Although the Ravens have been crippled by their Greg Roman-led offense, their defense keeps them afloat. They lost Matt Judon to the Patriots in free agency this offseason but replaced him with first-round pick Odafe Oweh.
Obviously, the Ravens’ offense is somewhat one-dimensional as they depend on the running game and Lamar Jackson’s running abilities. However, they did add Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafted two notable pass-catchers, Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace. I’m interested to see if the offensive scheme changes at all with an influx of talent to the Wide Receiver room. If not, I’m still confident that the Ravens defense and ball-control offense are good enough to win in a hard-nosed division like the AFC North.
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts
The AFC South is not a very strong division heading into the 2021 season. The Houston Texans are without their franchise Quarterback DeShaun Watson, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to implement a swift rebuild after drafting Trevor Lawrence first overall. As bad as the Jaguars were last year, I actually think they will be competitive in a handful of games this season. I just don’t think that will be reflected by their final win/loss record. The Texans on the other hand will likely be competing for the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
As for the title of the division, I believe it is between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts. The main reason that I think the Colts will win the division is that they have a more complete roster than the Titans. The Titans did add Julio Jones to their already explosive offense. But I am worried about their ability to stay in games with only their offense. Especially considering they weren’t all that great on defense last year and they didn’t do much this offseason to improve on that side of the ball.
AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs
Do I really need an explanatory paragraph on why I pick the Chiefs to win the AFC West? The Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers all have their own respective reasons for being good in 2021. However, none are good enough for me to predict them to win the division over the Chiefs. The one team I could see contending with the Chiefs for the division is the Los Angeles Chargers. They have the best roster in the division outside of the Chiefs. It’s just going to come down to their coaching staff’s ability to get the most out of those talented players on the roster.
AFC Wild Card Teams
As mentioned above, I really like the Chargers roster. They have put together a couple of great draft classes in back-to-back years on top of an already great roster. So they would be my first pick to make it as an AFC wild card team.
The second team I predict to make the playoffs as a wild card is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns also have a fantastic roster. However, they have yet to show that they can tap into the full potential that the roster has to offer.
The last team that I predict to make the playoffs as a wild card is the Tennessee Titans. I know I said I’m worried about how the Titans will hold up on the defensive side of the ball. However, they are in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL and should be able to get four easy wins on their schedule (the Texans and Jaguars twice).
NFC East: Washington Football Team
In 2020, the NFC East was the worst division in the NFL. Washington ended up winning the division with a final record of 7-9. The NFC East didn’t get a whole lot better this offseason, but I do think the division winner will actually have a winning record in 2021.
The main reason I predict the Washington Football Team to win the division again is because of how complete their roster is on both sides of the ball. Although they don’t have a franchise quarterback, the rest of their roster is very good. The defense is strong and Ryan Fitzpatrick is surrounded by enough weapons to stay afloat in the division and ultimately come out on top.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
Heading into 2021, the NFC North is very much up for grabs because of the Aaron Rodgers situation. If he plays for the Packers this year, there is no question in my mind that they win the division. If he doesn’t, then maybe someone else can take the division from the Packers. However, the Packers do have a good roster even without Rodgers. And perhaps Jordan Love is ready for the test. This is probably the prediction that I feel the least confident about.
NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Similar to the AFC West, it’s tough for me to predict anyone other than the Bucs to win the NFC South. The Buccaneers are the reigning Super Bowl Champions. Therefore, I don’t have a good reason to say that they can’t continue their success and win the division. Furthermore, they brought back almost everyone from the 2020 roster to run it back in 2021. Without Drew Brees on the Saints, I don’t think there’s an obvious team in the division to contest the Bucs for the throne. I do like what the Carolina Panthers are building, but I’m not sure they are ready to compete quite yet.
NFC West: Los Angeles Rams
The NFC West is, perhaps, the toughest division in the NFL. This division is home to the Rams, Cardinals, Seahawks, and 49ers. All four teams are talented enough to make it to the playoffs. However, because they are all in the same division and play each other twice per season, they beat up on each other and deflate their respective win/loss records.
With that being said, the Rams have the best roster in the division. And they made it even better this offseason by upgrading from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford at Quarterback. With a coaching staff led by Sean McVay, I have a lot of confidence in their ability to get the most out of this already talented roster in 2021.
NFC Wild Card Teams
My first NFC wild card prediction is the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have a very solid roster. I really liked the draft haul they had earlier this offseason. They drafted various players that we were talking about as fits for the Buffalo Bills during the pre-draft process. They could mess around and wind up winning the NFC North altogether.
My second NFC wild card prediction is the New Orleans Saints. Although they lost future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, the offense still has Sean Payton. Furthermore, the Saints have a strong offensive line which can only make life easier for Jamies Winston or Taysom Hill. They don’t have a bunch of notable weapons beyond Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, but Payton is a mastermind when it comes to scheming up easy yards for the offense.
My last NFC wild card prediction is the New York Giants. I understand that most people aren’t sold on Daniel Jones as a starting NFL Quarterback. I’m not sold on him yet either. However, I made this pick primarily because of their defense. The Giants played really sound defense during the tail end of the 2020 season and only got better on that side of the ball this offseason. Most notably, by drafting players like Azeez Ojulari and Aaron Robinson. With that being said, Jones did show flashes of above-average quarterbacking in 2020. The Giants are isolating the variable that is Daniel Jones by surrounding him with weapons. They singed Kenny Golladay, drafted Kadarius Toney, and get Saquon Barkley back from injury.
Air Raid Hour recap
If you enjoyed my predictions and assessments of each division, then you will definitely enjoy the 2021 NFL Season Prediction episode of the Air Raid Hour. Judge and I went through a very similar exercise on air, sharing our thoughts on each division and discussing why we believe certain teams will win their divisions. We even went on to predict the 2021 Super Bowl matchup and who we believe will be the champions of the 2021 NFL season. If you missed the Air Raid Hour live, then you can find the replay linked and embedded above.
As always, Go Bills!