Latest Win-Loss Predictions for Every NFL Team, Preseason Week 1 Edition

Justis Mosqueda@justisfootballFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2016

Latest Win-Loss Predictions for Every NFL Team, Preseason Week 1 Edition

0 of 32

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    We have officially transitioned from the offseason to the preseason now that exhibition games have kicked off, even if it did take an extra week after the Hall of Fame Game was canceled.

    We've spent months evaluating draft prospects, elevating 22-year-olds into fringe saviors. We've spent weeks reading training camp notes, praising potential breakout candidates in sometimes non-padded practices. Now, it's finally time for the bullets to go live.

    We're still four weeks away from the NFL kicking off the regular season, but it's never too early to prognosticate the record of teams, at least not relative to how fast we have made judgments based on the draft and training camps.

    There are 32 franchises in the NFL, and we'll go over each one of their over-under win totals, via Football Locks, which are reflection of Las Vegas' gambling lines, where people who actually put their money where their mouths are influence NFL projections. From there, we'll break down each team's major offseason moves or current narratives in context of their home and away slate.

    In the end, we'll make our own judgment, a "safe prediction," essentially what rational fanbases should be assuming as their team's record heading into 2016. Follow along as we break down where every team stands going into the fast-approaching regular season.

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 32

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Home: New England, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, New York Jets, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, New Orleans

    Away: Buffalo, San Francisco, Carolina, Minnesota, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 9.5 wins

    The Arizona Cardinals will be given the chance to be the first team in 2016 to go against the Jimmy Garoppolo New England Patriots in Week 1 of the regular season, with Tom Brady's four-game suspension for Deflategate finally being executed in 2016. This starts an easy six-game stretch for them, as they won't face a playoff quarterback until Week 7, when they go head-to-head with division rival Seattle Seahawks.

    Their late-season stretch of five road games in their last seven weeks, which could impact the seeding of the projected playoff team, negates this. From a power-ranking standpoint, their two toughest games on the road are going to be the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks, with them being no more than three-point underdogs on paper to any other road team.

    They got the short end of the stick by playing a majority of their "easy" games on the road, as their home schedule, sans New England and San Francisco, can be tough. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams are young, talented teams with developing quarterbacks, while New Orleans and the New York Jets should be in the playoff race, and the pair of Seattle and Washington are returning playoff teams from the 2015 season.

    The Cardinals' home games against New England and San Francisco are as close to "locks" as wins as you're going to get in the NFL, and you can assume that they'll lose to either Carolina or Seattle on the road, just because of the difficulty of the task. Every other game looks to be a close game on paper, in which teams typically break even.

    The Vegas line has them hovering in the right area, but it's hard to push for double-digit wins for a team that lost to the Landry Jones Pittsburgh Steelers by 12 points in the regular season, by 30 points the last time we saw them in the playoffs against the Carolina Panthers and has constant injury questions at quarterback with the 36-year-old Carson Palmer.

    Safe Prediction: nine wins

Atlanta Falcons

2 of 32

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Home: Tampa Bay, Carolina, San Diego, Green Bay, Arizona, Kansas City, San Francisco, New Orleans

    Away: Oakland, New Orleans, Denver, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Carolina

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 7.5 wins

    The Atlanta Falcons drew the short straw with their 2016 schedule. Despite making moves to improve their Dan Quinn-schemed defense, including moving 2015 first-round pick Vic Beasley to linebacker and drafting safety Keanu Neal 17th overall, their road to .500 is nearly impossible with the personnel they have on the field.

    Outside of Philadelphia, every team they play on the road is a potential postseason contender, with Denver, Seattle and Carolina making five-sixths of the last three Super Bowl battles alone. At home, their four toughest games look to be Carolina, Green Bay, Arizona and Kansas City, who combined for four playoff appearances and a 49-15 record in 2015.

    Their two division games in Tampa Bay and New Orleans, squads that look to take the jump from 6-10 and 7-9, respectively, are no walk in the park, either. Their home matches against San Diego and San Francisco should be "lock" wins, but the road to .500 will rely on several home upsets and winning on the road in less than ideal situations, as Oakland-New Orleans, Denver-Seattle and Tampa Bay-Philadelphia all come on back-to-back trips.

    At the end of the day, the Falcons are an 8-8 team in terms of talent, which is the record they finished with in 2015, but their schedule is just going to be too much for them to overcome this season. They have to play a second-place schedule in the NFC; play their NFC South rivals, who are all competing for playoff spots; play the AFC West, which has three playoff contenders and the returning Super Bowl champions; and the NFC West, which has the three strongest teams at the top of the division of any division in the NFL.

    Safe Prediction: seven wins

Baltimore Ravens

3 of 32

    GAIL BURTON/Associated Press

    Home: Buffalo, Oakland, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia

    Away: Cleveland, Jacksonville, New York Giants, New York Jets, Dallas, New England, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 8.5 wins

    If your first reaction at seeing a 8.5-game win total for the Baltimore Ravens is that it's a steal for the over, you're buying into a team's past more than its future, which is always troubling when you're projecting forward.

    Let's just go over some facts about the Ravens:

    • Their quarterback, Joe Flacco, is coming off of an ACL tear that ended his season after 10 full games, in which Baltimore went 3-7 in 2015. This involved them getting in a bidding war for Ryan Mallett, who was exiled from the Houston Texans, late in the season.
    • Receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman and pass-rushers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are on the physically unable to perform list, with little to no depth behind them on the depth chart as it stands today.
    • Bronson Kaufusi, the team's 2016 third-round pick, who could have assisted in spelling the aging pair of Suggs and Dumervil, broke his ankle in training camp and will miss his entire rookie season.
    • The Ravens, despite needing a starting right bookend, are using 22-year-old Ronnie Stanley, their first-round pick, to replace Eugene Monroe, whom they cut a month-and-a-half after the draft.

    This team isn't one without glaring holes at premium positions. On paper, this team is closer to drafting in the top five next year than breaking even. It should be able to compete on the road in its first four away games, but its late-season stretch against Dallas, New England, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati—against quarterbacks who can all beat a fully healthy Flacco on their average day—is brutal.

    The Ravens' low end is probably around four wins this coming season, with their high end topping out around seven wins, unless an injury to Flacco derails their entire season.

    Safe Prediction: six wins

Buffalo Bills

4 of 32

    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Home: New York Jets, Arizona, San Francisco, New England, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Miami

    Away: Baltimore, New England, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, Cincinnati, Oakland, New York Jets

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: Eight wins

    The Buffalo Bills' first-round pick, Shaq Lawson, is going to miss the beginning of this regular season due to shoulder surgery. The Buffalo Bills' second-round pick, Reggie Ragland, just tore his ACL in training camp, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    Still, with Tyrod Taylor, a dual-threat passer who just received a big contract extension, that running game and Rex Ryan's defensive mind, this team should be able to compete, even if not for an AFC East title. The easiest way to reverse-engineer a team's record is by looking at projected close games.

    At home, the Bills should be able to handle San Francisco, Jacksonville and Cleveland, as they're favorites in power rankings and get a three-point advantage for playing them at home. On the road, they should be big underdogs to Seattle and Cincinnati, who are legitimate title contenders.

    If the rest of the games are viewed as coin flips, which one-possession games typically wind up to be, as the victor is decided by a singular play, then on paper the Bills should have a 8.5-win line heading into the season. The big game that should push them over or under that line is when they face New England, as no one knows what Garoppolo will look like during his four-game run as Brady's replacement.

    Safe Prediction: Eight wins

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Home: San Francisco, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Kansas City, New Orleans, San Diego, Atlanta

    Away: Denver, Atlanta, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Washington, Tampa Bay

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 10.5 wins

    To say that the Carolina Panthers came out of nowhere in 2015 would be disingenuous, but I don't think anyone put their name on the squad finishing with a 15-1 record in the regular season, a Super Bowl berth and Cam Newton being just one touchdown shy from leading the NFL in both passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns.

    That all happened without Newton throwing to the team's No. 1 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, who missed all of his sophomore season to an ACL tear. Now, Josh Norman, the team's All-Pro cornerback, was allowed to test the open market after the team lifted his franchise tag, but with the addition of Benjamin, the talent on this team is about even with where it was in 2015.

    So, this team shouldn't go anything less than 15-1 or 14-2, right? Wrong. The Panthers went on an amazing streak of close games last year, winning their first six games by seven points or fewer, including an overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts, before finally dropping by seven against the Falcons in Atlanta.

    It's going to be hard to replicate a 6-1 record in one-score games this year, especially considering their season starts at Denver, who just beat them in the Super Bowl, and they face the likes of playoff teams in Arizona, Kansas City, Seattle and Washington further down the road.

    At the same time, though, assuming a 10-win record would mean that you feel good about finding six losses on their schedule, which is a difficult task. Often, the truth lies between extremes, which in this case is the low-balling from the Vegas perspective and the high-end of the Panthers' 2015 success.

    Safe Prediction: 12 wins

Chicago Bears

6 of 32

    Nam Huh/Associated Press

    Home: Philadelphia, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Tennessee, San Francisco, Green Bay, Washington

    Away: Houston, Dallas, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, New York Giants, Detroit, Minnesota

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 7.5 wins

    For a 6-10 team, the Chicago Bears did beat just about every expectation that people had laid out for them heading into the 2015 season. John Fox was taking over as the team's head coach, Vic Fangio was transitioning the defense to a 3-4 scheme and Jay Cutler was coming off of an off 2014 season.

    There were reasons to embrace for disaster in Chicago, and they did manage to finish fourth in the NFC North, but Bears fans should have come away feeling good about the direction the team was going. In 2016, first-round receiver Kevin White, who missed his entire rookie year, should be ready to contribute on the field opposite of Alshon Jeffery, which will help them in one-score games.

    The team also made strides on the defensive side of the ball, adding big, explosive linemen in Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard and two veteran inside linebackers in Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. Reshuffling on the offensive line, with Bobby Massie and Cody Whitehair joining the team, should get Kyle Long back at his rightful guard slot.

    Looking at this team's schedule, its wins and losses should come in streaks. We'll know the bar to measure the Bears' season after the first five weeks, in which they face the Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts.

    Playing the Cowboys in Dallas isn't ideal, but the other four aren't Super Bowl contenders, and the Bears have a realistic shot at 4-0 against the others in the group. They also have another solid three-game stretch coming out of their bye week, going head-to-head with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants and Tennessee Titans.

    If they're going to get to .500, they can't wait to make a late push, as they end the season with three straight playoff teams: Green Bay and Washington at home and Minnesota on the road. In all likelihood, they should lose two or three of their last three games, splitting the rest of their matches.

    The Bears shouldn't be two-score favorites over anyone in the league just yet, and in a sport that has such a thin threshold for victory, it's borderline reckless to project a significantly better record for the Bears in 2016, despite the strides they've made. Playing in the NFC North isn't the same as playing in the AFC South.

    Safe Prediction: six wins

Cincinnati Bengals

7 of 32

    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Home: Denver, Miami, Cleveland, Washington, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore

    Away: New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New England, New York Giants, Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 9.5 wins

    The biggest battles that the Bengals will face this season are on the road. While they do host Denver and Washington as non-divisional teams in 2016, their road stretch is downright awful.

    Their first six road games are against the New York Jets, which finished with double-digit wins after adding a half-dozen victories to their 2014 total last season; Pittsburgh, which was one of the best teams in the NFL last year when Ben Roethlisberger was healthy; Dallas, which went 3-1 under Tony Romo last season; New England, which went down to the wire in the AFC championship in 2015; the New York Giants, who have reloaded this offseason; and Baltimore, which is projected to go over .500, per these Vegas numbers.

    When you think of the Cincinnati Bengals recently, you think of consistent regular-season success, even if they have stumbled in the postseason. With their road schedule, plus the fact that they lost their No. 2 and 3 receivers in free agency, and Hue Jackson, their former offensive coordinator, took the job with the in-division rival Cleveland Browns, they could be in danger of ruining their brand.

    It's going to be a close call down to the last weeks of the season, but Bengals look to be the type of team that finishes with 10 wins this coming year, though they have little wiggle room for slip-ups.

    Safe Prediction: 10 wins

Cleveland Browns

8 of 32

    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Home: Baltimore, New England, New York Jets, Dallas, Pittsburgh, New York Giants, Cincinnati, San Diego

    Away: Philadelphia, Miami, Washington, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Buffalo, Pittsburgh

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 4.5 wins

    This one is going to be short and quick. Any semi-competent NFL team can win four or more games in a season by just lucking out in a few close games, but the issue with the Cleveland Browns in recent years has been even getting to semi-competent level.

    The quarterback position matters so much in the NFL that it's hard to win when you're on the wrong end of a passing battle every week. This team's entire projection, from sleeper playoff candidate to first-overall-pick holders in the 2017 draft, is based on the success of Robert Griffin III.

    Now a named starter, Griffin, the former second overall pick who didn't throw a single pass for the Washington Redskins last season, will be asked to get the ball to Corey Coleman, Terrell Pryor and Josh Gordon in 2016. If he's able to look like half the player he was as a rookie in Washington, the win total in Cleveland is much higher than summer projections.

    The problem is, the Browns' schedule doesn't really break their way. In their first seven games, they play five away games, and one of their two home games is Brady's return to the field, a match he'll surely be motivated for.

    Last year, only four teams had four or fewer wins, with two of them coming from a team starting a rookie quarterback, the Tennessee Titans, and one missing their Pro Bowl quarterback for the majority of the season, the Dallas Cowboys.

    By all accounts, Griffin has been doing well this training camp, as Coach Jackson named him the team's starter after just about two weeks of camp. Assuming he's not a disaster, it's reasonable to imagine Cleveland splitting its home games and threatening the likes of Philadelphia, Miami and Tennessee on the road, not including the revenge game potential of Griffin returning to Washington.

    Safe Prediction: six wins

Dallas Cowboys

9 of 32

    Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

    Home: New York Giants, Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Tampa Bay, Detroit

    Away: Washington, San Francisco, Green Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: nine wins

    Last year, in games that Romo started, the Dallas Cowboys were 3-1, with a lone loss to the Carolina Panthers, who went 15-1 in the regular season and won the NFC championship. In the remaining 12 games, which were started by the trio of Matt Cassel, Kellen Moore and Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys lost 11 games, finishing with a 4-12 record.

    You can call that significant. When taking Romo's return into account with the fact that their offense can now run their ground game through fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott, it becomes clear that their record should take a clear jump in 2016.

    In Vegas, that number moves up five wins, but is that enough? Dallas lucked out by playing the fourth-seeded NFC teams; the AFC North, which only has one established franchise in Pittsburgh as Jackson left Cincinnati this offseason; the NFC North, which has talent, but only the Green Bay Packers can go toe-to-toe with the healthy Cowboys from a power ranking standpoint; and the NFC East, which was won by default by the Washington Redskins last year on an out-of-nowhere season by Kirk Cousins.

    Honestly, there should only really be two tossup games at home, with the Cowboys being favored by a full touchdown or close to that range over the other six opponents. If they can win what they're supposed to win at home, split the Cincinnati and Washington games at home and beat the likes of San Francisco, Cleveland and Philadelphia on the road—teams that all entered the offseason with quarterback questions—then they can get double-digit wins easily.

    Safe Prediction: 11 wins

Denver Broncos

10 of 32

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Home: Carolina, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Houston, San Diego, Kansas City, New England, Oakland

    Away: Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, San Diego, Oakland, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Kansas City

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: nine wins

    I'm not sure we've seen a Super Bowl champion go through as much in one offseason as the Denver Broncos. Their top two quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, are no longer on the team, star defensive lineman Malik Jackson signed a six-year, $90 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars and edge defender and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller was in a public contract battle for months after being slapped with the franchise tag.

    Their road schedule is fairly easy, with only their first and last away games being played against playoff teams, but they pulled Carolina, in a Super Bowl rematch, Houston, Kansas City and New England at home.

    Mark Sanchez looks to have the inside track on the team's starting quarterback job. While they should be led by their defense, teams go as their quarterbacks go, and Sanchez's teams are 5-7 in games he's thrown a ball in since the end of the 2012 season, which featured the butt fumble.

    The quarterback position just means so much in the NFL, and the Broncos appear to be willing to start a passer who has been rejected by the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets in the past four seasons, which have one combined playoff berth between them since Sanchez has been moved to a reserve role.

    Safe Prediction: eight wins

Detroit Lions

11 of 32

    Jared Wickerham/Associated Press

    Home: Tennessee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Chicago, Green Bay

    Away: Indianapolis, Green Bay, Chicago, Houston, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York Giants, Dallas

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: seven wins

    Here's the good news about the 2016 Detroit Lions: After the team's bye week in 2015, they were able to turn a 1-7 record into a 7-9 record.

    Here's the bad news about the 2016 Detroit Lions: Receiver Calvin Johnson had five 75-plus-yard games in that span, and he's now retired.

    Assuming a regression from a 7-9 record from a team on a 6-2 eight-game streak is tricky, but considering the fact that the Lions should be at least three-point underdogs on the road for every single one of their away games this year, it's hard to imagine how they can truly improve.

    In all honesty, a seven-win line is about perfect for the Detroit Lions heading into 2016. As long as they are able to sweep the likes of Tennessee, Philadelphia and Jacksonville at home, they should be on the right track to flip a few single-score games down the line.

    Safe Prediction: seven wins

Green Bay Packers

12 of 32

    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Home: Detroit, New York Giants, Dallas, Chicago, Indianapolis, Houston, Seattle, Minnesota

    Away: Jacksonville, Minnesota, Atlanta, Tennessee, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 10.5 wins

    Last season, the Green Bay Packers "struggled" by posting a 10-6 record, despite Aaron Rodgers finishing the year with the lowest passer rating in his career as a full-time starter. The loss of Jordy Nelson in the preseason to a non-contact knee injury derailed their ability to attack the deep portions of the field in 2015, but with him returning in 2016, the Packers should be able to rebound from merely just a double-digit win season.

    At home, they should be favored in every game by five or more points other than against the Seattle Seahawks. On the road, there's a possibility they open up as favorites against every single team on their schedule, as the only playoff teams they face outside of Lambeau Field are Minnesota and Washington, whom they beat individually last season on the road.

    Expecting the team to regress seems foolish, as they added through the draft and brought back their No. 1 target in their receiving unit. Unless a major injury to either Rodgers, Nelson or linebacker Clay Matthews throws a dark cloud over their team, they should be trending upward from their 2015 record.

    For that reason alone, a 10.5-game line seems out of line.

    Safe Prediction: 11 wins

Houston Texans

13 of 32

    Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

    Home: Chicago, Kansas City, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Detroit, San Diego, Jacksonville, Cincinnati

    Away: New England, Minnesota, Denver, Jacksonville, Oakland (Mexico City), Green Bay, Indianapolis, Tennessee

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 8.5 wins

    There's two ways to look at the Houston Texans.

    The optimistic viewpoint is that they were a team led by their defense last season, and now that they have legitimate skill players outside of wideout DeAndre Hopkins, they are more well-rounded. The squad signed quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller this free-agency period and drafted two major receivers in first-round pick Will Fuller from Notre Dame and third-round pick Braxton Miller from Ohio State.

    The pessimistic viewpoint is that their defense, which led the team, is going to regress in 2016 because of J.J. Watt's back surgery, and that Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, who since 2012 have dominated the AFC South, are going to return to prominence after Luck's "off" season. If nothing else, Luck's record-breaking contract at least tells the NFL that the Colts see it this way.

    As always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as nuance is overlooked consistently in sports projections.

    Luckily for the Texans, two of their four toughest games on paper have pretty significant narratives leaning their way. While facing Green Bay and Indianapolis on the road won't be an easy task, they do get the New England Patriots without Brady, with Bill O'Brien returning to face his former team; and Osweiler's return to Denver, his former team, should be a big moment for his career.

    At home, they only face two playoff teams in Kansas City and Cincinnati, which means they should be at least .500 at home next year. If pressed on an 8.5-game win total, it'd probably be safe to trend toward the under, just because there are so many moving parts for this squad, but that number isn't too far off from what should be expected.

    Safe Prediction: eight wins

Indianapolis Colts

14 of 32

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Home: Detroit, San Diego, Chicago, Kansas City, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Houston, Jacksonville

    Away: Denver, Jacksonville (London), Houston, Tennessee, Green Bay, New York Jets, Minnesota, Oakland

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 9.5 wins

    These numbers tell the story of Indianapolis' 2016 projection:

    • 2012: 76.5 passer rating from Luck, 11-5, second place in the AFC South
    • 2013: 87.0 passer rating from Luck, 11-5, first place in the AFC South
    • 2014: 96.5 passer rating from Luck, 11-5, first place in the AFC South
    • 2015: 74.9 passer rating from Luck, 8-8, second place in the AFC South

    Basically, from 2012 through 2014, Luck, whom the team selected first overall in 2012 after a 2-14 season, had been progressing as a quarterback. This was all stalled by his 2015 season, which seems like an odd outlier that also featured him missing games due to a lacerated kidney starting in Week 9.

    The big question is this: Will Luck be able to bounce back in 2016? If the Colts' monetary value of Luck is any indication, they expect him to be the best passer in the league over the next six years, as he signed a $140 million deal this offseason.

    What does that mean for the AFC South, though? Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee are all rebuilding, though at different paces, which can make them one of the easiest candidates to sweep a 6-0 record in division in 2016.

    At home, there isn't a game that the Colts should be out of on paper, with Kansas City and Pittsburgh being the obvious toughest games to be played in Lucas Oil Stadium next season. On the road, the only divisional-round playoff teams they face are Denver and Green Bay, as Minnesota and Houston managed to lose at home in the Wild Card Round last season.

    With backup passers for nine of Indianapolis' games last year, the Colts were still able to manage a .500 season, their first non-double-digit win season in Luck's career. Assuming his health, which seems to be co-signed by Jim Irsay's contract offer, it's hard to imagine a world in which they don't win at least 10 games again, the new baseline for this franchise.

    Safe Prediction: 11 wins

Jacksonville Jaguars

15 of 32

    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Home: Green Bay, Baltimore, Indianapolis (London), Oakland, Houston, Denver, Minnesota, Tennessee

    Away: San Diego, Chicago, Tennessee, Kansas City, Detroit, Buffalo, Houston, Indianapolis

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 7.5 wins

    Of the seven teams that the Jacksonville Jaguars are slated to play in Jacksonville this season, the only team the Jaguars should have been favored against on a neutral site in 2015 is the Tennessee Titans. For a team that is projected to hover around .500, that's incredibly problematic.

    The only way that the Jaguars can get to the over of eight wins next season, at least on paper as it stands today, is a streak of luck in close games, which they haven't been able to display in Gus Bradley's 12-36 tenure with the team.

    They have their tandem of the future offensively to build around in quarterback Blake Bortles and receiver Allen Robinson, who led the NFL in touchdown receptions last season with 14, but they have yet to prove that they can win more than five games as a cohesive unit. Two men do not make a team.

    Sure, they essentially have three top-40 picks this year with the addition of first-round pick Dante Fowler, who missed his rookie season of 2015 due to a rookie camp knee injury, but again, they haven't proven anything. They added big-name free agents such as defensive tackle Malik Jackson from the Denver Broncos, but they haven't proven anything.

    Since the 2012 draft, they have drafted fifth, second, third, third and fifth overall. It seems like every offseason the football world gets tricked into buying into this franchise, and despite their on-field progress as individuals at times, it's difficult to sell yourself on a team that hasn't been able to get it done in the win-loss column in half a decade.

    Safe Prediction: six wins

Kansas City Chiefs

16 of 32

    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Home: San Diego, New York Jets, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Tennessee, Denver

    Away: Houston, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Indianapolis, Carolina, Denver, Atlanta, San Diego

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 9.5 wins

    Quietly, the Kansas City Chiefs are in the same boat as the Baltimore Ravens in terms of injuries. Not only will they potentially lose an entire season to Justin Houston's knee surgery, but pass-rusher Tamba Hali, safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles are also battling health in camp.

    When you look at their schedule, though, they have a great chance to sweep at home, even if they aren't at full health. Kansas City faces a total of one playoff team at home next year—the Denver Broncos, who are ushering in a new quarterback in 2016, be it Sanchez or rookie Paxton Lynch.

    The road trips are going to be brutal, as every team other than the San Diego Chargers flirted with the playoffs last season. Can the Chiefs win two or three games on the road next year, especially if game manager Alex Smith is having to shoulder the load for a banged-up running game and defense? I'm not so sure.

    The Chiefs are going to be a quality team next season, but their road stretches are just too much to overlook. This is a team that should be hovering closer to .500 than double-digit wins, mostly due to the schedule.

    Safe Prediction: eight wins

Los Angeles Rams

17 of 32

    Ryan Kang/Associated Press

    Home: Seattle, Buffalo, New York Giants (London), Carolina, Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco, Arizona

    Away: San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Detroit, New York Jets, New Orleans, New England, Seattle

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 7.5 wins

    The joke recently has been that Jeff Fisher is the perfect 7-9 coach, getting the now Los Angeles Rams to that range, no more and no less, with incredible consistency. This team has typically been led by star defenders, while its offense dragged along for the ride.

    That could change this season, as you can make the argument that second-year running back Todd Gurley is already a top-three player at his position, plus the team used the first overall pick on quarterback Jared Goff of California. If the Rams can pick it up on the offensive side of the ball, particularly in the passing game, where they finished last in the league in touchdowns through the air, they can break the .500 barrier.

    The problem is, playing against NFC West and NFC South teams is no joke. Other than the San Francisco 49ers, those two divisions don't have a true weak link, a team that isn't competing for a playoff spot in 2016. At home, they may even be underdogs against Carolina and Arizona.

    Going into Tampa Bay, Arizona, New York, New Orleans, New England and Seattle is also not ideal. While their arrow is trending up, it's hard to point to eight games you're certain that this squad can win, should they slip up only twice at home. In all honestly, 7-9, despite on-field improvement, looks to be the most realistic bet heading into the regular season.

    Safe Prediction: seven wins

Miami Dolphins

18 of 32

    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    Home: Cleveland, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New York Jets, San Francisco, Arizona, New England

    Away: Seattle, New England, Cincinnati, San Diego, Los Angeles, Baltimore, New York Jets, Buffalo

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: seven wins

    This offseason, the Miami Dolphins attempted to tread water. They lost Olivier Vernon to the New York Giants, but they added Mario Williams from the Buffalo Bills as a pass-rusher. They lost Miller to the Houston Texans, but they added Arian Foster late in the offseason at running back.

    For the most part, they should be the same squad as last season, but with the addition of rookie selections such as first-round offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and finally healthy 2015 first-round pick DeVante Parker. 

    On paper this is what Miami's games look like in 2016:

    • Spreads that should open as one-score games: vs. Cleveland, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Buffalo, vs. New York Jets, vs. Arizona, vs. New England, at New England, at San Diego, at Los Angeles, at Baltimore, at New York Jets, at Buffalo
    • Spreads that Miami should be favored by more than one score: vs Tennessee, vs San Francisco
    • Spreads that Miami should be underdogs by more than one score: at Seattle, at Cincinnati

    Assuming they split in their projected close games, this squad should go 8-8 on paper, which isn't sexy, but it would tie the team's best record since 2009. For first-year coach Adam Gase, that has to be treated as a positive, no matter how impatient South Beach fans are.

    Safe Prediction: eight wins

Minnesota Vikings

19 of 32

    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Home: Green Bay, New York Giants, Houston, Detroit, Arizona, Dallas, Indianapolis, Chicago

    Away: Tennessee, Carolina, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Detroit, Jacksonville, Green Bay

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 9.5 wins

    The Minnesota Vikings won their first NFC North title since 2009 last season, but the big question is if they are talented enough to do it back-to-back. Last year, it came down to the last week of the season, and the Green Bay Packers had Rodgers' worst passer rating since his first year as a full-time starter with No. 1 wideout Nelson out for the entire season.

    One huge difference between the Vikings' 2015 and 2016 schedules is that they now face an uphill struggle, going against the No. 1 seeds in the NFC. Road trips to Carolina and Green Bay are likely going to open up as two-score lines, but every other game can be rationally agreed upon as one-score games.

    If we buy into the idea that they'll split those one-score games and that they'll lose their two road trips to Carolina and Green Bay, that puts them at 7-9 for the year, under .500, while their over-under is currently a decision between the price point of double-digit wins.

    They have the most consistent running back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson, a shoo-in Hall of Famer, but in 2016, can you build back-to-back division winners off the strength of your backfield alone? Unless Teddy Bridgewater takes a step like Andy Dalton did in Cincinnati, transitioning from a game manager to a true factor, then it's hard to make the case that the Vikings will be able to finesse their way to landing above .500 with their current schedule, even if they did go 11-4 in their last 15 games last season.

    For the most part, when a team goes over .500 in one-score games the season before, they tend to regress the next year, as they play a schedule above their true talent level, and the Vikings' 4-2 record in those games in 2015 should actually hinder their success in 2016.

    Safe Prediction: eight wins

New England Patriots

20 of 32

    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Home: Miami, Houston, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Seattle, Los Angeles, Baltimore, New York Jets

    Away: Arizona, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, San Francisco, New York Jets, Denver, Miami

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 10.5 wins

    This over-under projection comes down to one factor: how Garoppolo will do during a four-game stretch when Brady is suspended. The New England Patriots finished with a 12-4 record last season, competing with the Denver Broncos down to the fourth quarter in the AFC Championship Game.

    No one is doubting their talent when they're all on the field, but that's just not going to be the case to start the year. Between Brady's suspension, the loss of pass-rusher Chandler Jones, the double-digit sack artist who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, and the fact that they had no first-round pick this offseason, prognosticating the Patriots' 2016 success involves some level of projecting absolute unknowns.

    The Patriots going to lose in Arizona. A backup quarterback opening up the season in a hostile environment in his first start ever against a legitimate title contender is about as close to a lock as you're going to get in the NFL, even if the Cardinals did lose to Landry Jones' Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015. After that, though, they have three straight home games, two against in-division opponents in Miami and Buffalo and another against O'Brien's Houston Texans, a Patriots spin-off team with whom Bill Belichick should be familiar.

    Going against Belichick in his tenure as New England's head coach hasn't proven to be a smart idea in his time in the NFL. At some point, you just have to accept that he's going to have the team on the right track, especially since he once took an ill-prepared Cassel-led team to a 11-5 record in 2008.

    Garoppolo and Belichick have been gearing up for a Brady suspension for two offseasons now, and you have to assume that the best coach in the NFL's current era has an answer to all of these doubts.

    Safe Prediction: 11 wins

New Orleans Saints

21 of 32

    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Home: Oakland, Atlanta, Carolina, Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, Detroit, Tampa Bay

    Away: New York Giants, San Diego, Kansas City, San Francisco, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Atlanta

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: seven wins

    The story of the 2015 New Orleans Saints is easy to comprehend. They were one of the better deep passing teams in Drew Brees' bounce-back season, but their defense was so poor that they couldn't take advantage of it, finishing with a 7-9 record.

    It should be noted, though, that once the squad fired Rob Ryan as team's defensive coordinator, moving up Dennis Allen, the former head coach of the Oakland Raiders, they improved on an allowed-points-per-game basis by about five points per game. Because they lost some close games before their bye week, the Saints wound up with a third-place schedule in the NFC, which could make them one of the favorites to sneak into the playoffs this season.

    On the road, only Kansas City, Carolina and Arizona seem to be the tough "shouldn't win" matchups. With the addition of talent defensively, such as Sheldon Rankins, Vonn Bell and P.J. Williams returning from injury, there's no excuse for this team to not execute in 2016.

    As long as Brees is able to stay healthy, turning his deep drops out of the shotgun into long plays downfield, New Orleans should finish at or over .500.

    Safe Prediction: eight wins

New York Giants

22 of 32

    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Home: New Orleans, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit

    Away: Dallas, Minnesota, Green Bay, Los Angeles (London), Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: eight wins

    The New York Giants are going through an odd transition, as they've replaced longtime head coach Tom Coughlin with Ben McAdoo, Coughlin's former offensive coordinator. On the offensive side of the ball, everything should keep churning along, with the exception of the addition of wideout Sterling Shepard, who will help Eli Manning and Odell Beckham tremendously in constricted space.

    One of the Giants' biggest issues over the past few seasons has been their lack of identity defensively, but it appears that they have not put an emphasis on the passing game on that side of the ball. After drafting a second-round safety in Landon Collins, they selected cornerback Eli Apple in the top 10 this year and gave cornerback Janoris Jenkins of the Rams a megadeal.

    In the pass-rushing unit, they re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul and signed Olivier Vernon from the Dolphins, signed tackle Damon Harrison from the Jets, plus they have third-round pick Owamagbe Odighizuwa coming off the bench. Now, at least based on personnel, teams have to scheme around the Giants, instead of simply playing through them. The biggest example of that last season was against the New Orleans Saints, whom they scored 49 points on and still lost.

    At home, they should compete with every team heading into New Jersey for battle, while they also get an extra neutral-site game as they play Los Angeles in London this season. Between those factors and their two road games against Cleveland and Philadelphia, who may be underdogs by kickoff, it's reasonable to assume they get over .500 in 2016.

    Safe Prediction: nine wins

New York Jets

23 of 32

    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Home: Cincinnati, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New England, Indianapolis, Miami, Buffalo

    Away: Buffalo, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Cleveland, Miami, San Francisco, New England

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 7.5 wins

    Last season, the New York Jets were a double-digit win team that just missed the AFC playoffs, which is why the sub-.500 line posted for their over-under might be a tad bit surprising. When you look at their schedule, though, which avoids the New England Patriots during Brady's suspension and has them pinned to play the NFC West, the toughest division in the NFC, you understand why there's a realistic case for regression.

    Playing in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Arizona out of division, not including the trips to Buffalo and New England, might result in a winless road stretch alone. At home, facing potential playoff contenders in Cincinnati, Seattle, Los Angeles, New England, Indianapolis and Buffalo is no walk in the park, either.

    By the time you take into account motivation, as they play six of their first nine games on the road, the projection for the Jets is bleak. This looks like a classic case of a talented team losing more games on the field, while looking exactly the same as the year before, setting up for a surprise season against a weaker schedule in the coming year.

    If you're a New York fan, at some point this season, you're going to realize that you drew the short straw and that 2017 is going to be your team's season. Without the quarterback position improving, it's a question as to how they can go head-to-head with this slate of passers and come out ahead a majority of the time.

    Safe Prediction: seven wins

Oakland Raiders

24 of 32

    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    Home: Atlanta, San Diego, Kansas City, Denver, Houston (Mexico City), Carolina, Buffalo, Indianapolis

    Away: New Orleans, Tennessee, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, San Diego, Denver

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 8.5 wins

    The Oakland Raiders are one of the trendiest teams in the NFL, as they have a staple of three players—quarterback Derek Carr, wideout Amari Cooper and pass-rusher Khalil Mack—who are on pace to be future superstars. This offseason, with plenty of salary cap to work with, the Raiders were about to add key free agents such as guard Kelechi Osemele and pass-rushing linebacker hybrid Bruce Irvin, who should only improve their team overall.

    While they only play seven games at home this year, with the Raiders "hosting" Houston in Mexico City, they have an easy road schedule on the relative scale of the rest of the league. As far as "elite" quarterbacks are concerned, they only face two consistent, established passers on the road with New Orleans' Brees and San Diego's Philip Rivers.

    The Chargers are the furthest AFC West team from competing for a Super Bowl run, which shouldn't be surprising considering the fact that they just drafted in the third overall slot of this past draft. It's within reason to think that Oakland could be favored in a dozen or more games this coming season.

    A young team is trending upward, took steps last season and now has been handed a favorable schedule. If that doesn't make the case for a surprise playoff team, nothing will.

    Safe Prediction: nine wins

Philadelphia Eagles

25 of 32

    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Home: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Atlanta, Green Bay, Washington, New York Giants, Dallas

    Away: Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Dallas, New York Giants, Seattle, Cincinnati, Baltimore

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 7.5 wins

    Since his rookie season with the St. Louis Rams, Sam Bradford has posted a 18-29 record, including two seasons that featured significant missed time due to injury. In a quarterback's league, he's not consistent or aggressive enough on deep passes to trust him to run an offense, and that's what's going to keep the team under .500.

    Do you trust Bradford winning at home against Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Dallas? Walking into Dallas, Seattle and Cincinnati is a virtual loss before they even step off the field, based on their 2015 season, which they should only regress from as they transition to a West Coast offense and a penetrating 4-3 defense.

    If Bradford isn't the starter, Chase Daniel, who hasn't had a relevant season to date, or Carson Wentz, an FCS quarterback, will hold the reins of the offense. As of now, the Eagles need to be looked at as a potential contender for a top-five pick in the coming draft, not a squad that can keep up with the rest of the NFC East.

    Safe Prediction: five wins

Pittsburgh Steelers

26 of 32

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Home: Cincinnati, Kansas City, New York Jets, New England, Dallas, New York Giants, Baltimore, Cleveland

    Away: Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Cincinnati

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 10.5 wins

    If you're looking at teams that are models for consistency in the NFL, after the likes of the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers are high on the list. Since Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004, the Steelers have won double-digit games in eight of their 12 seasons, never finishing under .500.

    The Steelers' road schedule is fairly easy, as they might be favored in seven of those eight games, but with about half of the NFL's games decided by a single score and one-score games being decided more often by luck than rather than talent, it's not reasonable to assume that they go 7-1 on the road.

    There is also doubt offensively with running back Le'Veon Bell potentially missing time due to a suspension. Roethlisberger's recent stretch of nagging injuries also should impact this team's projection.

    With half of the Steelers' home games against title contenders in New England, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Dallas, they have to be on every week to get to a dozen wins, whereas assuming they win 10 games gives them some buffer.

    Safe Prediction: 10 wins

San Diego Chargers

27 of 32

    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Home: Jacksonville, New Orleans, Denver, Tennessee, Miami, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Kansas City

    Away: Kansas City, Indianapolis, Oakland, Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Carolina, Cleveland

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: seven wins

    The San Diego Chargers were 4-12 last season, with their first three wins coming by a combined 14 points. In free agency, other than adding receiver Travis Benjamin, they made no major moves to add talent to this team.

    Even then, Benjamin is a virtual deep-only threat, and Rivers seems to love middle-of the-field and short outside passes more than heaving the long ball, which makes Benjamin a poor schematic fit for the squad. Their first-round pick from last season, Melvin Gordon, underwent microfracture surgery, while their 2016 first-round pick, Joey Bosa, has yet to report to training camp due to a contract dispute.

    The Chargers also play against three superior teams, the Denver Broncos, who are coming off of a Super Bowl win; the Kansas City Chiefs, who won a wild-card game 30-0 last season; and the Oakland Raiders, whom many people think are a year away from being a true title contender. There's just no way on paper that San Diego gets close to .500 in 2016.

    Safe Prediction: five wins

San Francisco 49ers

28 of 32

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Home: Los Angeles, Dallas, Arizona, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, New England, New York Jets, Seattle

    Away: Carolina, Seattle, Buffalo, Arizona, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 5.5 wins

    Last year, the San Francisco 49ers went 5-11, a worse record than any of the road teams that they will face this coming season. At home, the only team with a worse record than them last year is the Dallas Cowboys, who went 3-1 when starting Romo was healthy in 2015.

    To think that the 49ers would be underdogs in all 16 games this season under new head coach Chip Kelly, who is transitioning both the offensive and defensive schemes, isn't a stretch. Sure, he was able to turn Philadelphia around quickly, but after being "figured out" last season, can he microwave the 49ers into a respectable team?

    It's been almost a year since Colin Kaepernick had a meltdown against the Arizona Cardinals, and the team still hasn't named a starter in the Kaepernick-Blaine Gabbert battle or added any real competition to the most important position in the sport. If the 49ers are winning six games, they have to only lose twice at home on paper, and the combination of Dallas, Arizona, New England and Seattle make that nearly impossible for a realistic person to wrap their head around.

    Safe Prediction: four wins

Seattle Seahawks

29 of 32

    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Home: Miami, San Francisco, Atlanta, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Carolina, Los Angeles, Arizona

    Away: Los Angeles, New York Jets, Arizona, New Orleans, New England, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, San Francisco

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 10.5 wins

    The Seattle Seahawks are in an interesting part of their franchise structure. While turning around a team is incredibly hard, consistently winning in the salary-cap era is even more difficult.

    Players such as guard J.R Sweezy leaving the Seahawks, who were already thin on the offensive line, end up creating holes that must be filled with cheaper contracts, mostly rookie contracts, as stars such as quarterback Russell Wilson take a giant pay increase between their first and second deals in the league.

    The key to the offensive line is consistency, and the Seahawks haven't been able to establish that this year, and with running back Marshawn Lynch retiring and second-year running back Thomas Rawls coming off an injury, it's hard to know how their early run game will look like.

    The Seahawks lucked out with their home schedule, as the Carolina Panthers are the only non-divisional playoff team they face in Seattle, but road trips to Arizona, New England and Green Bay could present tough roads to getting over 10 wins. Until they can prove they can handle playoff teams up front, it's going to be hard to project them winning those matches, and assuming they slip once or twice down the stretch against in-division teams in the always tough NFC West shouldn't be out of the question.

    Safe Prediction: 10 wins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30 of 32

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Home: Los Angeles, Denver, Oakland, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Carolina

    Away: Atlanta, Arizona, Carolina, San Francisco, Kansas City, San Diego, Dallas, New Orleans

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 7.5 wins

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new head coach after drafting first overall just one year ago, but it's their former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter who is filling the role, which should keep the train chugging along. They improved their record by four games between 2014 and 2015, and with quarterback Jameis Winston coming on later in the year after a poor Week 1 effort, the team is on the rise.

    Unfortunately, they may run into quicksand because of their schedule, which features games against the competitive NFC South, the AFC's top conference in the AFC West and the NFC's top conference in the NFC West. On the road, they are going to be around the range of touchdown underdogs against the Cardinals, Panthers, Chiefs and Cowboys. At home, they could be dogs to Denver, Seattle and Carolina.

    If they make no mistakes and simply play to their talent, they are a six-win team on paper, as they will be home dogs in three games but have a chance to be road favorites against the San Francisco 49ers. A team's record doesn't necessarily measure its talent or development on a year-to-year basis, and that could be the story of the 2016 Buccaneers.

    Safe Prediction: six wins

Tennessee Titans

31 of 32

    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Home: Minnesota, Oakland, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Denver, Houston

    Away: Detroit, Houston, Miami, San Diego, Indianapolis, Chicago, Kansas City, Jacksonville

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 5.5 wins

    The Tennessee Titans were able to turn the first overall pick into a plethora of top-100 selections, and they will make an impact in 2016, but it's still difficult to find a game in which they'll be less than three-point underdogs on the road.

    At home, they should be favorites against Cleveland and Jacksonville, but the other six home games they have should be hard for them to pull off as individual matches from a power-rankings standpoint. They will go against Minnesota, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Denver and Houston, who have all been to the playoffs in the last two seasons, while the Oakland Raiders are one of the hottest young teams in the league.

    In the past two years, the Titans have gone 5-27, so it's borderline irresponsible to project this team to win more than their last two years' win totals in 2016. Period.

    Safe Prediction: four wins

Washington Redskins

32 of 32

    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    Home: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Green Bay, Carolina, New York Giants

    Away: New York Giants, Baltimore, Detroit, Cincinnati, Dallas, Arizona, Philadelphia, Chicago

    Football Locks Win Total Projection: 7.5 wins

    The Washington Redskins made tremendous strides last season, but the subject of whether Cousins is fool's gold at quarterback is still up for debate. By placing the franchise tag on him, the Redskins let the world know how they felt about the prospects of their potential "franchise passer."

    After winning the NFC East last season, they run into a harder schedule in 2016 than in 2015. Sure, they were able to add pieces through the draft and in free agency, notably zone cornerback Norman, but that doesn't change the fact that they have to run through a gauntlet to get to .500 this year.

    At home, the only non-playoff contenders they'll host are Cleveland and Philadelphia, as they get Pittsburgh, Dallas, Minnesota, Green Bay, Carolina and the New York Giants in Maryland. Now, it's better that they play them at home, but that is more top-end talent than some in the NFL will face home and away combined in 2016.

    As a road team, their best shots at victory are against Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia, as winning on the road against teams such as Cincinnati, Dallas and Arizona seems difficult. They'll be closer to touchdown underdogs than field-goal underdogs by kickoff of those games.

    They struck when the iron was hot in 2015, but their schedule isn't a call to action for back-to-back playoff appearances.

    Safe Prediction: seven wins


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.