Updated 2012 Team Win-Loss Record Predictions for NFL Week 8

Ryan Alfieri@Ryan_AlfieriCorrespondent IIIOctober 24, 2012

Updated 2012 Team Win-Loss Record Predictions for NFL Week 8

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    As we approach the halfway mark of the 2012 NFL season, we are starting to get a better grasp as to which teams are contenders and which are pretenders. 

    However, the AFC remains as unpredictable as ever, with a handful of teams near or at .500. As a result, conference and divisional games are critical for teams with playoff aspirations. 

    Here are updated win-loss record predictions for Week 8. 

Baltimore Ravens

1 of 32

    Current Record: 5-2

    Projected Record: 8-8

    This is quite a fall from grace for a team that already has five wins under its belt, but Baltimore's defense is now one of the worst in the NFL due to a slew of injuries, and its offense simply is not consistent enough to keep the team in games against tougher opponents. 

    The Ravens' remaining schedule is not easy by any stretch, with their easiest games coming against the Browns and Raiders. They still need to play the Giants, Steelers, Broncos, Bengals and Chargers. 

    Injuries are a part of the game, but the Ravens are simply not built to win on the backs on their offense week after week. Either Terrell Suggs is going to shut down offenses on his own, or the Ravens will need to find a way to consistently generate offense instead of always looking for the big play. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

2 of 32

    Current Record: 3-3

    Projected Record: 9-7

    The Steelers are a very flawed team that relies heavily on the arm of Ben Roethlisberger, but they are still the best team in a watered-down division with the Ravens on the brink of a collapse. 

    The rest of their schedule is no pushover with the Giants, Chargers, and Bengals still left, but there are plenty of winnable games (like against the Chiefs and Browns) that they should be able to capitalize on to run away with this division. 

    Most of the issues lie on the defensive side of the ball, which is very un-Steeler like. Players like James Harrison and Casey Hampton are reaching the twilight of their careers. 

    I doubt the Steelers make a deep playoff run with their offensive line and defensive issues, but don't be surprised if the Steelers go on a bit of a run to overtake the Ravens. 

Cincinnati Bengals

3 of 32

    Current Record: 3-4

    Projected Record: 7-9

    The loss to the Steelers on Sunday night was a devastating blow to the Bengals' playoff aspirations. They now sit at 3-4, thanks to their inability to get the job done in winnable games against the Dolphins and Browns. 

    The Bengals have plenty of talent to challenge for the division title, but they have serious issues in the secondary and are not as balanced on offense as they need to be. 

    Before the Bengals are to be considered as a serious playoff contender, they need to start running the ball and defending the pass more like they did a year ago. 

Cleveland Browns

4 of 32

    Current Record: 1-6

    Projected Record: 4-12

    The Browns let another game get away from them, but they are playing better every week, especially at the quarterback position. 

    Brandon Weeden is making fewer and fewer mistakes with every start, and he is not afraid to pull the trigger on tough throws. Problem is, he is not getting enough help from his receivers to make enough plays to win. 

    The Browns are not going to the playoffs this year, but they can play with just about every team in the NFL and are going to be a tough team to beat every week. 

Green Bay Packers

5 of 32

    Current Record: 4-3

    Projected Record: 11-5

    The Packers are probably the best 4-3 team in the NFL.

    Their offense has finally started to look like the 2011 version, with Aaron Rodgers playing as well as he has all year. Plus, the defense is showing signs of life and is a much-improved unit from the 32nd-ranked group from 2011. 

    The only thing that can hold the Packers back is the competition from within their division, but they should still find a way to make the playoffs even if the Bears go on a run to steal the division. 

Minnesota Vikings

6 of 32

    Current Record: 5-2

    Projected Record: 9-7

    This may seem like a harsh prediction for a team that has gotten off to such a (surprisingly) fast start, but consider the Vikings' remaining schedule: They still need to play both the Packers and Bears twice as well as tough games against the Texans and Seahawks. 

    The only games in which they may be favored are against the Bucs, Lions, and Rams, all of which are not guaranteed wins by any means. 

    The Vikings are a very good team that will continue to improve as Christian Ponder improves, but a fall back down to earth may be in store for a team that has proved a lot of doubters wrong so far. 

Detroit Lions

7 of 32

    Current Record: 2-4

    Projected Record: 6-10

    The Lions have a lot of talent to work with, especially at wide receiver and in their front seven, but this team has a handful of glaring flaws that teams expose week after week. 

    Matthew Stafford is having his worst year yet, but not all of the blame falls on his shoulders. The Lions have leaned too much on his right arm up to this point and have virtually no running game to speak of. The defense is actually playing much better since Louis Delmas returned to the starting lineup, but their secondary can still be exposed. 

    After finally making the playoffs last year, the Lions are due for a step back while their entire division contends for a playoff spot.

Chicago Bears

8 of 32

    Current Record: 5-1

    Projected Record: 13-3

    Featuring arguably the league's best defense and an offense that has plenty of ways to score points, the Bears are in contention for being the best team in the NFC.

    They have the best defensive line in football and veterans like Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are playing as well as they ever have in their long careers. 

    Their schedule has a handful of difficult games against the Packers, Texans, 49ers and Vikings (twice), but the Bears have the talent to win all of those games. 

    Now, the key for the Bears is to keep Jay Cutler healthy and avoid a late-season collapse like last year. 

Denver Broncos

9 of 32

    Current Record: 3-3

    Projected Record: 11-5

    This would be quite a run for the Broncos to go on to get to 11-5 and win the division, but their remaining schedule is as easy as anyone else's. 

    Their toughest remaining games are against the Saints and Chargers. Outside of that, they have a few easy division games against the Raiders and Chiefs. 

    The Broncos' schedule was very front-loaded with a lot of tough nationally televised games to fill the demand in ratings. If they can take care of business against the Saints, the Broncos have a chance to go on quite a run and wind up with the type of record most predicted they would finish with, despite their relatively slow start. 

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Current Record: 1-5

    Projected Record: 1-15

    With Brady Quinn in at quarterback, it is rather easy to make a case for the Chiefs to be the worst team in the NFL, which is a bit of a surprise considering the amount of raw talent they have on their roster.

    Since expectations were reasonably high before the season, as many thought the Chiefs could contend to win the division, there will likely be many changes in Kansas City over the next six months.  

    Their remaining schedule is not overly daunting, but at this point I cannot pick the Chiefs to win one game.

    They could certainly steal a game against the Raiders or Browns, but it is more likely that they go winless over the next two months. 

Oakland Raiders

11 of 32

    Current Record: 2-4

    Projected Record: 5-11

    This Raiders season is less about getting to the playoffs and winning a lot of games and more about filtering out who will remain with the organization as Reggie McKenzie determines who to keep and who to trash after the season. 

    This organization needs a complete season to weed out the bad contracts and under-performing players and start from scratch with a new quarterback and a new foundation. 

    Still, the Raiders have a fair amount of talent and could win a handful of games before season's end, but Oakland is too flawed to get anywhere near the .500 mark. 

San Diego Chargers

12 of 32

    Current Record: 3-3

    Projected Record: 9-7

    The Chargers have been on the end of a lot of jokes after squandering a huge lead to the Broncos last Monday night, but they are not done just yet.

    The remainder of the San Diego's schedule is rather easy, as it includes a lot of bad defensive teams. The Chargers do have issues in pass protection, but Philip Rivers is among the best in the business delivering rainbows with bodies around him. 

    At some point, San Diego is going to have to get over its fourth-quarter gaffes, but it still has enough talent on both sides of the ball to get to 9 wins, which could be good enough to steal a wild-card spot in a watered-down AFC. 

Seattle Seahawks

13 of 32

    Current Record: 4-3

    Projected Record: 9-7

    So far, the Seahawks have been everything we thought they would be before the season: A team that wins with their defense and running game with a few timely big plays in the passing game. 

    For the most part this philosophy has worked, but inconsistent play from the quarterback position has held them back a bit.

    If the Seahawks were somehow in the AFC, they would be a favorite to make the playoffs, but a 9-7 record is almost certainly not going to be good enough for a playoff berth in a very competitive NFC. Their best chance to make the playoffs would be to somehow usurp the 49ers for divisional supremacy, but losing in San Francisco last Thursday night did them no favors in that regard. 

San Franscisco 49ers

14 of 32

    Current Record: 5-2

    Projected Record: 13-3

    The 49ers are virtually the same team they were last year, with two exceptions: They do not rush the passer quite as well, but their offensive line has morphed into a dominant run-blocking unit. Frank Gore is having one of his best seasons, yet no one is talking about him. 

    The looming question for the 49ers is how long Alex Smith will remain the starter before they give former second-round pick Colin Kaepernick a chance. Smith's accuracy has dipped significantly over the past two weeks, but some of that could be attributed to a middle finger injury he suffered against the Bills. 

    As long as the 49ers are winning, Smith will remain the starter, but if he cannot get back to playing smart, turnover-free football that won the 49ers so many games over the past two years, a change at quarterback could be in the works. 

St. Louis Rams

15 of 32

    Current Record: 3-4

    Projected Record: 7-9

    Though the Rams are a much-improved team from a year ago, they have plenty of flaws that will hold them back from competing for a division title. 

    They have severe issues in pass protection, which has been a constant in Sam Bradford's career. Bradford is not playing well, but he has one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL without Danny Amendola. 

    The good news is that the defense is good enough to be considered to be a top-10 unit, now that Robert Quinn is playing like a first-round pick on a consistent basis.

    The Rams don't win games with glitz or glamour, but their defense and running game can win them enough games in the offensively challenged NFC West to hover just below the .500 mark. 

Arizona Cardinals

16 of 32

    Current Record: 4-3

    Projected Record: 6-10

    After one of the most surprising starts in recent NFL history, the Cardinals appear to be coming back down to earth. 

    Their defense is not as dominant as it was earlier in the season, but the biggest issues are offensive line performance and running back depth. Without any kind of dynamic presence in the backfield thanks to injuries to Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells, defenses can key on the pass and expose their horrendous offensive tackles even more. 

    The schedule does not get any easier from here on, and it could be a rough two months for a team that had so much promise after its fast start to the season. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

17 of 32

    Current Record: 1-6

    Projected Record: 2-14

    The only thing the Jaguars are competing for from here on out is the right to select first in the 2013 draft. 

    With Blaine Gabbert out with a torn labrum, and Maurice Jones-Drew out for at least a week, the Jaguars offense will only get worse with Chad Henne at the helm, which is something few thought was possible. 

    Even the defense, which rode this team to most of its victories last year, is not playing nearly as well as its talent level would indicate, ranked 28th in yards allowed. The Jags have serious issues rushing the passer, despite spending a second-round pick on defensive end Andre Branch. 

    Perhaps they can steal a win away from the Titans before the season's end, but the Jaguars are simply not talented enough to compete in most games. 

Indianapolis Colts

18 of 32

    Current Record: 3-3

    Projected Record: 6-10

    At 3-3, the Colts are already on pace to have more wins than many would have predicted before the season started. 

    Andrew Luck is playing well considering the horrendous offensive line he is working with, but he was also exposed against the Jets, throwing two interceptions and only scoring nine points in the loss. 

    The biggest weaknesses on this team are still on defense, which has been very vulnerable against the run. The defense can still rush the passer with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney (and Jerry Hughes is showing signs of life), but the rest of unit is simply not good enough to capitalize on the efforts of the pass-rushers. 

    The Colts will probably finish second in the division because the Jaguars and Titans are rather weak, but playoffs will have to wait at least another year. 

Tennessee Titans

19 of 32

    Current Record: 3-4

    Projected Record: 6-10

    There is no doubt that the Titans are a much-improved team with Matt Hasselbeck under center, but their remaining schedule is anything but easy. 

    They still have to play the Packers, Bears and Jets. They do, however get a pair of easy games against the Jaguars. 

    Th biggest problem with the Titans continues to be their defense, which has not found a way to make up for the loss of Cortland Finnegan and Jason Jones. The Titans also need to decide if they should start Jake Locker when he returns from injury or keep trying to win games with Hasselbeck at the cost of Locker's development. 

    Even if the Titans do find a way to get to .500, they will finish second or third in the division and miss the playoffs yet again. 

Houston Texans

20 of 32

    Current Record: 6-1

    Projected Record: 14-2

    The Texans are like last year's 49ers in that they are so far ahead of the rest of their division in the win-loss column that they will have clinched their division sometime in the middle of November. 

    The Texans showed to be vulnerable against the Packers, but they responded well with a resounding win over the Ravens, dominating the game on both sides of the ball. Proving that they could still play dominant defense without Brian Cushing was huge for their confidence. 

    One thing to note going forward is the play of receiver Andre Johnson, who has started to show his age more than ever this season. 

    The Texans are the most complete team in the AFC, but simply making the playoffs is not good enough for this franchise anymore. Anything short of a Super Bowl appearance would be considered a failure.

New Orleans Saints

21 of 32

    Current Record: 2-4

    Projected Record: 6-10

    The Saints are one of the most difficult teams to predict simply because of how reliant they are on their offense to put up video game numbers every week. 

    They were able to pull out a win over the Buccaneers with another dominant offensive performance, but they will not be able to win shootouts over mediocre opponents every week, especially when they play the Falcons. 

    Even if the Saints defense does find a way to come around soon, the team is in too big of a hole to climb out of now. 

Atlanta Falcons

22 of 32

    Current Record: 6-0

    Projected Record: 14-2

    There has been a lot of talk as to whether the Falcons are as good as their record would indicate, but any team would take 6-0 over 4-2 no matter how ugly it may look at times. 

    The biggest difference this year for Atlanta, other than stellar play from Matt Ryan, is the improve play of the defense. 

    The Falcons have a big head start over the rest of their division, and the schedule does not get much harder from here on. With most of their tough games out of the way, the Falcons are a shoo-in for the playoffs even if they stumble along the way. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

23 of 32

    Current Record: 2-4

    Projected Record: 6-10

    Tampa Bay's record may not impress, but the Bucs play a lot of good teams very close. 

    The Bucs are a much-improved team on defense, which is in large part due to Gerald McCoy's development into a dominant 3-technique. The addition of Mark Barron has been huge in the secondary as well. 

    Still, the Bucs are in too big of a hole to be in consideration for the playoffs, but the arrow is pointing up because of the confidence Greg Schiano has instilled in his team. 

Carolina Panthers

24 of 32

    Current Record: 1-5

    Projected Record: 3-13

    The Panthers are actually a fairly talented team; the issues are where the talent is on the field and how it is being used. 

    Generally, the two easiest positions to fill are the linebacker and running back positions, as passing offenses have devalued both positions.

    However, the Panthers spent a ton of money extending DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, while using their limited cap room to sign Mike Tolbert. In the draft, they passed on the opportunity to fill their need at defensive tackle with Fletcher Cox in favor of Luke Kuechly, a tackling machine at linebacker. 

    To make matters worse, the Panthers have elected to run more of a college running game, with option plays and designed runs for Cam Newton, not maximizing their excessive running back depth. As a result, GM Marty Hurney was fired. 

    It is too late in the season for the Panthers to change offensive philosophies. It will take a full offseason to get them and their young quarterback back on track.

New England Patriots

25 of 32

    Current Record: 4-3

    Projected Record: 10-6

    The Patriots have made a habit of getting themselves into close games against seemingly inferior opponents, but they are still one of the league's most productive offenses with Tom Brady at the helm. 

    Bill Belichick is the type of coach that uses games early in the season to figure out what his team does best, and finds the right formula in time to make a playoff run. 

    The Patriots' schedule remains relatively easy, but they will need to fix their defensive issues before they make any noise in the playoffs. Whenever you make Mark Sanchez look like a solid NFL quarterback, it is time to go back to the drawing board. 

Miami Dolphins

26 of 32

    Current Record: 3-3

    Projected Record: 8-8

    Before the season began, many thought the Dolphins would be the league's worst team, but they have proved to be a much tougher team than most realized. 

    Not only is Ryan Tannehill playing with a confidence and comfort level well beyond his years, but the defense, particularly the front seven, is playing as well as any other front in the NFL. Cameron Wake is arguably the league's best pass-rusher at this point in the season.

    However, they still have limitations at the receiver position and their secondary leaves much to be desired, especially at safety. 

    With the AFC East wide open this year, the Dolphins are going to be in the mix for the division title right until the end, with this week's matchup against the Jets being a pivotal game in the race for the division crown. 

New York Jets

27 of 32

    Current Record: 3-4

    Projected Record: 9-7

    Since its drubbing at the hands of the 49ers, Rex Ryan's injury-plagued squad has bounced back nicely, despite losing two of its last three games. 

    The Jets gave the Texans and Patriots all they could handle and blew out the Colts. Their running game is coming along, Sanchez is getting more comfortable with each passing week, and the defense has hardly missed a beat without Darrelle Revis. 

    However, lack of talent at the skill positions, which was only exacerbated by the loss of Santonio Holmes, might hold this team back from truly contending for a championship. 

    At the same time, Rex has his team playing hard and with a purpose. It figures to at least be in the mix for a wild-card berth come December. 

Buffalo Bills

28 of 32

    Current Record: 3-4

    Projected Record: 7-9

    The Bills have managed to keep their record near the .500 mark, but their wins have been anything but impressive and their losses have been downright embarrassing. 

    They have been able to eek out wins against Arizona, Cleveland and Kansas City, but whenever they play strong teams such as San Francisco, New England or even the Jets, they fold.

    The defensive line is massively under-performing, as the run defense has somehow gotten even worse from a year ago. Ryan Fitzpatrick, although he played a solid game last Sunday, has developed a bad habit of turning the ball over. 

    Unless the Bills find a way to turn things around in a hurry, there are going to be a lot of coaching changes this offseason because this team is just too talented to still be mediocre.

New York Giants

29 of 32

    Current Record: 5-2

    Projected Record: 13-3

    Despite their two losses, a good case can be made for the Giants to be the best team in the NFL right now. 

    Eli Manning is playing as well as he ever has, their running game has finally started to come around and they have gotten better at stopping the run. 

    However, the defensive line has yet to produce the type of sack numbers we expected from such a deep and talented group. Both Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul have not been nearly as dominant as they were late in the 2011 season. 

    Still, this team is as talented and deep as any team in the NFC, with a quarterback that is playing as well as anyone right now. The Giants should be able to win their division without too much trouble.  

Philadelphia Eagles

30 of 32

    Current Record: 3-3

    Projected Record: 9-7

    Once again, we find the Eagles to be under-performing considering their talent, which is an indictment on the coaching staff. 

    Unlike last year, the Eagles turnovers are easily avoidable: Michael Vick simply needs to be more efficient as a passer and needs to stop turning the ball over. To be fair, his offensive line is not quite the same without Jason Peters, but more is expected from a guy who is making top quarterback money. 

    The weird thing about the Eagles is that the defense has been badly out-playing the offense—but the first coach to lose his job was Juan Castillo, the defensive coordinator. 

    If the Eagles don't find a way to sneak into the postseason, it is a near-certainty that the Andy Reid era will be over. With a 9-7 finish, it may not be good enough to keep Reid around for one more season. 

Washington Redskins

31 of 32

    Current Record: 3-4

    Projected Record: 7-9

    The Redskins are a lot like the 2011 Panthers: They ride their superstar rookie quarterback to put up points and keep up with good teams, but they are simply not ready to start winning close game regularly yet. 

    However, it is easy to assume that this is all a one-man show, but Alfred Morris, a rookie running back from Florida Atlantic, has already racked up 658 yards in seven games. Morris is having one of the great rookie seasons ever at the running back position, and it has gone relatively unnoticed. 

    Most of the Redskins problems are on defense, which was evident in the 77-yard touchdown they gave up to Victor Cruz last Sunday. 

    No matter what their final win total is, for the first time in a long time, Washington has a clear, focused direction. 

Dallas Cowboys

32 of 32

    Current Record: 3-3 

    Projected Record: 8-8

    8-8 may seem low for a team as talented as Dallas, but after the recent news that Sean Lee is out for the season (via ESPN), 8-8 may even be a stretch for this team. 

    Lee has developed into one of the most complete inside linebackers in the game. Excellent in coverage and stout against the run, the Cowboys are going to miss him as much as they would any other player, save Tony Romo

    The Cowboys are a better team than their record indicates, but their schedule does not get any easier, especially with the rest of the NFC East being as competitive as they are. 

    If the Cowboys are going to find a way to qualify for the postseason, they are going to have to rely on the right arm of Tony Romo.