Latest Win-Loss Predictions for Every NFL Team

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2021

Latest Win-Loss Predictions for Every NFL Team

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    While the NFL draft and free agency provided plenty of on-paper insight as to what teams might look like in 2021, real answers and concerns are being uncovered now that camps have started.

    The Green Bay Packers, for example, know they'll have quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Los Angeles Rams know they won't have running back Cam Akers, who suffered a torn Achilles just before camp.

    With the additional clarity, it's a good time to examine how teams might fare in 2021. We'll do exactly that here, while considering factors such as overall roster talent, coaching experience, team health, divisional competition and past performances.

    These are still early win-loss estimates, as position battles are ongoing and the preseason looms.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals won eight games a year ago, and they made some noteworthy offseason additions. Specifically, they added edge-rusher J.J. Watt, cornerback Malcolm Butler and rookie linebacker Zaven Collins to a defense that ranked 13th in 2020.

    Arizona could have a top-10 unit this season. Paring that with an offense led by Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Chase Edmonds and additions such as Rondale Moore, A.J. Green and James Conner could make the Cardinals one of the more complete NFC teams.

    Of course, competing within the NFC West will still be a challenge. The Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams both went to the playoffs last year, and the San Francisco 49ers were a Super Bowl team two years ago when healthy.

    Arizona can be a playoff team, but a lot will depend on how it fares against its divisional foes.

    Prediction: 10-7

Atlanta Falcons

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons are likely looking at a rebuilding season in 2021. Former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith replaces Dan Quinn as Atlanta's head coach, and longtime star Julio Jones was traded to Tennessee.

    Quarterback Matt Ryan will be back for another run, and the 36-year-old will have weapons, even sans-Jones. Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts will make for a formidable receiving corps.

    Still, this team won four games in 2020 and made few marquee additions. Running back Mike Davis might bolster a rushing attack that ranked 27th, but Atlanta's 29th-ranked defense will remain a question mark.

    In an NFC South with the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and the always competitive New Orleans Saints, Atlanta will struggle to make a playoff push.

    Prediction: 6-11

Baltimore Ravens

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    It's tough to envision the Baltimore Ravens taking a step back after they won 11 games and advanced to the divisional round in 2020. Lamar Jackson remains arguably the league's best dual-threat quarterback, and he'll have newfound receiver help in Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins and Tylan Wallace.

    If the Ravens do see regression, it'll likely be on defense. Baltimore lost pass-rushers Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, though it did add rookie edge-rusher Odafe Oweh in the first round.

    The other question is whether the Ravens can continue fending off the surging Cleveland Browns in the AFC North. The Browns also won 11 games and a playoff contest last year, though they fell to Baltimore twice during the regular season.

    With the Pittsburgh Steelers seeing some key losses—and with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a year older at 39—Baltimore could be looking at a two-team race in the division. Of course, writing Pittsburgh out of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry, arguably the most physical in the NFL, could be a mistake.

    Prediction: 11-6

Buffalo Bills

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills made a few key offseason additions, adding wideout Emmanuel Sanders, running back Matt Breida and tight end Jacob Hollister to an offense that already ranked second in yards and points a year ago. They also added pass-rushers Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham in the draft.

    Any significant improvement, though, may come from quarterback Josh Allen, who is emerging as a near-elite quarterback entering his fourth year.

    Allen is already impressing one of his new teammates.

    "Josh made a throw today that I haven't seen," Sanders told reporters Thursday.

    If Allen can continue on his trajectory, Buffalo will be a Super Bowl contender this season. Competition from the Miami Dolphins and improved New England Patriots in the AFC East could limit Buffalo's win total, but the Bills will be a postseason threat.

    Prediction: 12-5

Carolina Panthers

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers passed on a quarterback at the top of the first round, opting instead for cornerback Jaycee Horn out of South Carolina at No. 8. The additions of Horn, Haason Reddick and Denzel Perryman could help turn Carolina's 18th-ranked defense into an upper-echelon unit.

    However, the Panthers' season will largely hinge on the Sam Darnold experiment. They took a flier on the New York Jets draft disappointment and will try to get his career back on track.

    Transforming Darnold into a quality starter from a quarterback who posted a 72.7 rating in 2020 may be a slow process for coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady.

    On the positive side, the Panthers should have a healthy Christian McCaffrey at running back. McCaffrey missed the bulk of 2020 because of various injuries but was a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver two years ago as just the third player to ever do so.

    If Darnold can evolve rapidly, Carolina could make a sizable jump. However, a slight record improvement feels most likely.

    Prediction: 6-11

Chicago Bears

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    Nam Huh/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears made the playoffs at 8-8 last season and then made some noteworthy roster changes.

    Out are quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., cornerback Kyle Fuller and wideout Anthony Miller. In are quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Justin Fields, rookie tackle Teven Jenkins and wideout Damiere Byrd.

    Losing Fuller hurts a defense that ranked 14th in scoring a year ago. Transitions at other notable positions could lead to a slow start for Chicago as well. Then, there's the dynamic of having an average starter in Dalton at quarterback with a rookie like Fields waiting in the wings.

    It could be problematic if Fields is not ready to take over, and Dalton—who has gone 6-16 as a starter over the past two years—feels the pressure of the rookie's presence.

    A slight regression could be in store for the Bears, but that should be acceptable if Chicago can develop Fields in a way it couldn't Trubisky.

    Prediction: 7-10

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The good news for the Cincinnati Bengals is that quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to be at 100 percent by the start of the regular season. The bad news is that he is still coming off a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee.

    The worse news is that Cincinnati is tasked with trying to compete in an AFC North that sent three other teams to the playoffs in 2020.

    The Bengals did improve Burrow's supporting cast, adding offensive linemen Riley Reiff and Jackson Carman, plus Burrow's former LSU teammate, rookie wideout Ja'Marr Chase. However, Cincinnati's 26th-ranked defense is still likely to be a liability.

    It would be a shock if the Bengals push for a playoff spot in 2021. Keeping Burrow healthy and making progress is a more realistic goal. After they went 6-25-1 in two seasons under head coach Zac Taylor, 6-11 would at least represent a step forward.

    Prediction: 6-11

Cleveland Browns

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns made sweeping changes to their 17th-ranked defense, adding Jadeveon Clowney, John Johnson III, Troy Hill, Greg Newsome II, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Anthony Walker. They also return the league's top-ranked offensive line, per Pro Football Focus, and arguably the best running back tandem in Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb.

    2021 will also represent year two of the Baker Mayfield and Kevin Stefanski marriage—a pairing that saw Mayfield flourish down the stretch last season and led to Cleveland's first playoff win as an expansion franchise.

    The Browns should now have a balanced roster that can win in multiple ways and match up with the best that the AFC playoff picture will have to offer.

    A tough schedule that features the rest of the AFC North, the NFC North and the AFC West could limit the regular-season record, but Cleveland should again be a playoff team and a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

    Prediction: 11-6

Dallas Cowboys

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    Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys had their 2020 campaign derailed by injuries. Offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La'el Collins all missed significant time, and quarterback Dak Prescott was lost for the year to a dislocated and fractured right ankle in early October.

    Fortunately, Smith, Martin, Collins and, most importantly, Prescott, are all expected to be back this season—though Dallas is resting Prescott with a muscle strain.

    Prescott was leading the NFL with 1,856 passing yards through five games when he was injured.

    With weapons such as CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup at Prescott's disposal, the Cowboys could have one of the NFL's most potent offenses in 2021. However, their defense, which ranked 28th in points allowed, is a concern. Additions like Keanu Neal and rookie first-round pick Micah Parsons can help the unit, but Dallas isn't likely to have an elite D.

    Dallas should rebound this season and might win the NFC East. However, the Cowboys aren't likely to be among the conference's top contenders.

    Prediction: 9-8

Denver Broncos

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Denver Broncos 2021 season is going to come down to quarterback play. The Broncos traded for Teddy Bridgewater and will allow him to compete with incumbent Drew Lock, but neither signal-caller is among the league's best.

    Lock was actually quite awful in 2020, trying for the league lead with 15 interceptions and posting a paltry 79.1 passer rating. Bridgewater was more efficient (92.1 rating) but went just 4-11 as a starter in Carolina.

    Fortunately, the Broncos should be competitive even if their quarterback position isn't dramatically improved. Weapons like Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Melvin Ingram III and Noah Fant will add some potency to the offense, and Denver could have a sneaky great defense.

    The Broncos ranked 21st in total defense a year ago but are getting back Von Miller and added Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby and rookie Patrick Surtain II to the mix.

    Unfortunately, being competitive isn't the same thing as making up ground in the AFC West, where quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr provide their respective teams with an advantage.

    Prediction: 7-10

Detroit Lions

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions fans could be in for a long season as the team transitions to the post-Matthew Stafford era. No. 1 wideout Kenny Golladay is gone, too, and the Lions lack receiving weapons.

    The wide receiver corps—headlined by Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman—isn't likely to bring the best out of new quarterback Jared Goff.

    The Lions also lack defensive talent after finishing last in both yards and points allowed. Detroit's key defensive moves were limited to the draft selections of Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Derrick Barnes. They may improve the defense over time but not overnight.

    This will be a rebuilding year, as new head coach Dan Campbell looks to install a rugged demeanor.

    "This team is going to take on the identity of this city, and this city has been down and it found a way to get up," Campbell said in his introductory press conference. "When you knock us down, we're going to get up and on the way up, we're going to bite a kneecap off."

    However, a tough mentality won't make up for a serious lack of top-tier talent.

    Prediction: 4-13

Green Bay Packers

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Aaron Rodgers has reported to Green Bay Packers camp, and he and the organization have agreed to terms on a reworked contract—according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

    Rodgers, of course, is the reigning league MVP and the centerpiece of Green Bay's offense.

    With Rodgers back, Green Bay's roster is largely the same as it was a year ago. It lost running back Jamaal Williams and center Corey Linsley, but scooped up cornerback Eric Stokes, center Josh Myers and wideout Amari Rodgers in the draft.

    Green Bay recently completed a trade to bring back slot receiver Randall Cobb too.

    If the Packers are close to as good as they were a year ago, fans will take it. Green Bay won 13 games in 2020 and fell just short of reaching the Super Bowl. The Packers should feel confident in their ability to make a third consecutive appearance in the NFC title game.

    Prediction: 12-5

Houston Texans

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    Justin Rex/Associated Press

    Deshaun Watson has reported to Houston Texans camp and will not be prohibited from taking part in practices, according to Mike Jones of USA Today.

    However, Watson, who has had 22 civil lawsuits filed against him by women accusing him of sexual assault or misconduct, might still face league discipline before the start of the regular season. The quarterback has denied the allegations. He also faces criminal complaints from 10 women, two of whom are not involved in the lawsuits, per ESPN's John Barr.

    In addition, he requested a trade in January, and Houston is reportedly looking to oblige him, per ESPN's Sarah Barshop

    Even if Watson takes the field in 2021, the Texans are likely looking at a long year. They finished just 4-12 with Watson last season, and while the team made multiple additions, it didn't add a ton of top-level talent.

    Houston's free-agent class is headlined by Mark Ingram II, Phillip Lindsay, Christian Kirksey, Shaq Lawson and Jordan Jenkins. The Texans' top draft choice was former Stanford quarterback Davis Mills, taken in the third round.

    If Watson doesn't play, the Texans will likely be looking at some combination of Mills and journeyman Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.

    It's hard to see Houston making a significant jump with or without Watson. The Texans could be barreling toward the top pick in the 2022 draft.

    Prediction: 3-14

Indianapolis Colts

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Indianapolis Colts went 11-5 in 2020 but are facing serious questions at quarterback. Philip Rivers retired in the offseason, and they replaced him with Carson Wentz.

    While reuniting Wentz with head coach Frank Reich may help fix the QB's issues, his ineptitude last season cannot be dismissed. The 28-year-old tied for the league lead in interceptions with 15 and finished with a passer rating of just 72.8. 

    Wentz also may not be ready for the start of the regular season, as he is out indefinitely with a foot injury. According to NFL Network's Michael Silver, it could require surgery.

    If Wentz does miss an extended period, the Colts could be looking at either Jacob Eason or Sam Ehlinger under center. This could leave Indy's outlook more closely resembling its 2019 season—when the team went 7-9 with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback—than its 2020 campaign.

    Prediction: 7-10

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are starting over with No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, which should excite fans. The rookie is widely perceived as a can't-miss prospect, and he's already impressing teammates on the practice field.

    "This is what a No. 1 overall pick looks like," linebacker Myles Jack said, per NFL Network's James Palmer.

    Even Lawrence, though, may not be enough to immediately transform a roster that won just a single game in 2020. The Jags did add other new faces, such as running back Travis Etienne, Shaquill Griffin and Marvin Jones Jr. And they may take a big step forward.

    However, even a four- or five-win improvement—which is a lot—would leave Jacksonville out of the playoff mix. There's also some uncertainty surrounding incoming head coach Urban Meyer and his ability to make the transition from the college game to the NFL.

    It will be a process, though fans should expect to see incremental improvement.

    Prediction: 5-12

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Excellence has been the Kansas City Chiefs' hallmark during Patrick Mahomes' time as the starting quarterback. Kansas City has finished 12-4 or better and has reached the AFC Championship Game in all three of Mahomes' starting campaigns.

    This streak isn't likely to end in 2021. While poor offensive line play—fueled by the absence of starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz—doomed the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs addressed their line early and often in the offseason.

    They traded for Orlando Brown Jr. and signed Mike Remmers, Kyle Long, Austin Blythe and Joe Thuney. They also drafted Creed Humphrey in the second round. The Chiefs should better protect Mahomes this season, and if he regularly has time in the pocket, there's little reason to think they won't again be the best team in the AFC.

    The roster isn't perfect, and the 16th-ranked defense leaves something to be desired, but the offense is simply that hard to contain.

    Prediction: 14-3

Las Vegas Raiders

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders continue to do things their own way under coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock. They again raised eyebrows on draft day by taking Alex Leatherwood in the first round, and they parted with two proven starting linemen in Rodney Hudson and Trent Brown.

    Las Vegas also added running back Kenyan Drake in free agency despite having a quality tandem in Josh Jacobs and receiving back Jalen Richard.

    The Raiders' offensive identity appears to be centered on the ground game rather than around quarterback Derek Carr, who is an above-average starter. With the offensive line overhaul potentially causing early growing pains, Las Vegas may be poised for a step back after fielding a top-10 offense in 2020.

    The Raiders did make some solid defensive moves, adding Solomon Thomas and Yannick Ngakoue to a pass rush that notched just 21 sacks last season.

    Overall, they look a lot like they did a year ago: a mid-level team that might push for a playoff spot if enough things bounce their way.

    Prediction: 8-9

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    The biggest question surrounding the Los Angeles Chargers is whether the move to Brandon Staley at head coach will cause continuity issues.

    The Chargers were 7-9 a year ago and have a promising quarterback in Justin Herbert. However, Staley is a rookie head coach, and implementing his schemes will be a process.

    "Yeah, it's just going to take time," pass-rusher Joey Bosa said Thursday, per Jelani Scott of

    Still, the Chargers do have Herbert, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, and a line capable of protecting him. L.A. added right tackle Bryan Bulaga last offseason, signed All-Pro center Corey Linsley in free agency this year and drafted left tackle Rashawn Slater in the first round.

    If Herbert can take another positive step as a signal-caller, the Chargers will be competitive in 2021. If the new regime can get everyone in step quickly and the 23rd-ranked scoring defense can improve, L.A. may also be a playoff team.

    Prediction: 9-8

Los Angeles Rams

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    I'm not sure I buy the notion that the Los Angeles Rams are a potential Super Bowl team simply because they added quarterback Matthew Stafford. However, some believe that Stafford, who has never won a playoff game, can win some individual hardware.

    "He's going to be in the MVP race because they're going to put up huge numbers with McVay's offense," NFL Network's Peter Schrager said on Good Morning Football (h/t John Maakaron of FanNation). "He's got all those great receivers, that great offensive line, one of the best defenses in the league."

    Even if Stafford doesn't play the best football of his career, though, the Rams should be a playoff team. They went 10-6 a year ago and have improved in a few areas—with notable additions such as Stafford, wideout receiver DeSean Jackson and rookie wideout Tutu Atwell.

    However, L.A. also lost contributors John Johnson III, Troy Hill and running back Cam Akers, who recently suffered a torn Achilles. Getting past the likes of Tampa Bay and Green Bay in the conference and through a tough NFC West will be a challenge.

    Prediction: 10-7

Miami Dolphins

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins' 2021 season will hinge on the play of second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Alabama product showed flashes as a rookie—he went 6-3 as a starter—but he also struggled to push the ball down the field and was twice benched.

    Adding Tagovailoa's former Crimson Tide teammate Jaylen Waddle and fellow wideout Will Fuller V should provide the young QB with a boost, but questions still linger about his long-term outlook.

    Questions also remain about Miami's rushing attack, which ranked 29th in yards per attempt last season and welcomed Malcolm Brown as its only significant addition.

    However, the Dolphins do seem to have the right head coach in Brian Flores, who has consistently gotten the most out of his roster. With a defense that ranked sixth in points allowed last season, even minor growth from Tagovailoa could be enough to keep Miami on a potential playoff path.

    If the 23-year-old takes a step backward, though, the Dolphins could be in real trouble. Pulling him would leave the Dolphins with the subpar Jacoby Brissett under center.

    Prediction: 10-7

Minnesota Vikings

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    This season could be Kirk Cousins' last chance to prove he should remain the long-term starting quarterback in Minnesota. The Vikings took Texas A&M's Kellen Mond in the third round and could look to start phasing out Cousins before his contract expires after the 2022 season.

    The good news for the veteran is that he has a pair of elite weapons in receiver Justin Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook. He should also benefit from an improved offensive line that added Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis in the draft.

    The bad news is that Cook has a long injury history and may have to stay healthy for Cousins to truly thrive. The worse news is that Minnesota's defense could again be a massive liability.

    Minnesota ranked 27th in yards and 29th in points allowed last season. While the Vikings are getting Danielle Hunter (neck) and Anthony Barr (torn pec) back from injury, they also lost Ifeadi Odenigbo and Anthony Harris in free agency—though cornerback Mackensie Alexander returned after a year in Cincinnati.

    On paper, the Vikings look a little better than they did a year ago defensively, but that may not be enough to get Cousins and Co. back into the postseason.

    Prediction: 8-9

New England Patriots

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    No team made bigger and more frequent splashes in free agency than the New England Patriots. While it would be unfair to say that Bill Belichick is looking to buy his way back into the playoffs, the Patriots spent a lot of financial capital on rebuilding the roster this offseason after going 7-9.

    New England signed Matt Judon, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, Kyle Van Noy, Kendrick Bourne and several others during the early stages of free agency. With linebacker Dont'a Hightower also returning after his 2020 opt-out, the Patriots look dramatically better on paper.

    Still, their 2021 success will hinge on quarterback play. Cam Newton was a solid dual-threat signal-caller in 2020, but he too often struggled when forced to drop back and pass. He finished with a passer rating of just 82.9 and had eight passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

    Newton will face competition from rookie first-round pick Mac Jones, who has impressed his veteran counterpart with his calm demeanor.

    "Cool, like the other side of the pillow," Newton said of Jones, per ESPN's Mike Reiss.

    If Jones can unseat Newton or push him to be better than he was in 2020, New England could reemerge as a playoff contender—though it could still be stuck behind Miami and Buffalo in the AFC East.

    Prediction: 9-8

New Orleans Saints

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints are trying to replace the retired Drew Brees at quarterback, which will not be an easy task. The looming camp competition between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, however, should yield at least a serviceable starter.

    Winston already has 70 games of starting experience, while Hill went 3-1 as a starter last year. Both quarterbacks are well-versed in Sean Payton's offense.

    However, the Saints lost a few key pieces—notably wideout Emmanuel Sanders, tight end Jared Cook and pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson—in the offseason. They're also set to play a chunk of the season without No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas, who underwent ankle surgery in June.

    "Obviously we would've liked that to happen earlier than later. And quite honestly, it should've," Payton said, per ESPN's Mike Triplett.

    With Thomas out and a new quarterback taking the reins, New Orleans could stumble early. There's still enough talent here for the Saints to be a playoff team, but they may not be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

    Prediction: 9-8

New York Giants

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    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

    The New York Giants saw quarterback Daniel Jones regress in 2020, with his passer rating dropping from 87.7 to 80.4 and his touchdown-to-interception ratio dipping from 24-to-12 to 11-to-10.

    Fortunately for him, New York had the sense to upgrade Jones' supporting cast this offseason. The Giants added a new No. 1 receiver in Kenny Golladay, plus complementary targets in Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph and John Ross.

    Defensively, they added Adoree' Jackson and Azeez Ojulari, who should bolster a unit that already ranked 12th overall in 2020. 

    Still, star running back Saquon Barkley is making his way back from a torn ACL and could miss another chunk of regular-season time—anywhere from two to six weeks, according to The Athletic's Virginia Zakas.

    With the rest of the NFC East looking improved, and the tough AFC West and NFC South on the schedule, New York may only be marginally better in the win-loss department, if at all.

    Prediction: 7-10

New York Jets

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The New York Jets are looking at one of the freshest NFL starts in recent memory. They have a new head coach in Robert Saleh, a new franchise quarterback in Zach Wilson and several other talented additions throughout the roster.

    The new pieces include guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, wideouts Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, and running backs Michael Carter and Tevin Coleman.

    However, the hope for a sudden jump into the playoffs is probably a bit much. New York still has the remnants of a roster that won only two games in 2020, a rookie head coach and quarterback, and zero veteran QB insurance.

    Backups Mike White and James Morgan have no regular-season experience between them.

    The Jets are, on paper, a much better team than they were a year ago. However, they're probably still not good enough to be a deciding factor in the AFC East.

    Prediction: 6-11

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    While the Philadelphia Eagles didn't overhaul their roster quite like the Jets did, they might be even more ready for a fresh start. Quarterback Carson Wentz and coach Doug Pederson both left town, and with them has gone the drama.

    "There are a lot of things that went wrong," ESPN's Adam Schefter told 97.5 The Fanatic. "We have the team drafting Jalen Hurts. We have Carson feeling jilted by that. ... We have Carson and Doug not talking for weeks on end during the season, where the head coach and quarterback are not talking for eight, nine, 10 weeks."

    Yet, new doesn't always mean dramatically better. Head coach Nick Sirianni is unproven, while quarterback Jalen Hurts has made only four NFL starts. The receiving corps remains a major question mark, even with the addition of first-round rookie DeVonta Smith. While the return of offensive tackles Andre Dillard from a torn biceps and Lane Johnson from an ankle setback should improve a unit that surrendered 65 sacks last season, the Eagles aren't likely to have an elite blocking unit.

    With Philly also fielding a defense that was 20th in points allowed last season, minor improvement may be the best that it can hope to see.

    Prediction: 7-10

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers won 12 games in 2020. They also collapsed late in the season, watched quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lose his ability to throw the deep ball and got embarrassed in the opening round of the playoffs by a Browns team without its head coach.

    Which version of the Steelers will we see in 2021? That largely will depend on the health and efficiency of the 39-year-old Roethlisberger.

    Big Ben averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt in 2020, the second-lowest average of his career, following only his two-game stint in 2019. He will also play behind an offensive line that lost Maurkice Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva. Additionally, he'll be learning a new offense under coordinator Matt Canada.

    The Steelers also lost pass-rusher Bud Dupree in free agency.

    The good news is that Pittsburgh can still be a playoff team. The foundation of last year's third-ranked defense will return, and the Steelers added running back Najee Harris in the first round—a move that should take some pressure off Roethlisberger.

    The Steelers may not be front-runners in the AFC North, but they will be relevant.

    Prediction: 9-8

San Francisco 49ers

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers won only six games in 2020, but they were bitten by the injury bug hard. The return of a healthy roster should mean a return to the playoffs in the Bay Area.

    Key contributors such as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, wideout Deebo Samuel, pass-rusher Nick Bosa and cornerback Richard Sherman all missed significant time.

    While Sherman remains unsigned—and the 49ers did lose defensive tackle Solomon Thomas, running back Tevin Coleman and defensive end Kerry Hyder in free agency—San Francisco should closely resemble what it was in 2019: a Super Bowl team.

    This doesn't mean it will be right back in the championship mix, however. Garoppolo has a significant injury history and will face pressure from rookie quarterback Trey Lance. There were some losses on the roster, and San Francisco saw defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur depart for the Jets.

    These transitions, along with a tough division, could leave the team in the second tier of NFC playoff teams.

    Prediction: 10-7

Seattle Seahawks

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Despite a rocky offseason, quarterback Russell Wilson appears to have settled any issues he had with Seattle Seahawks management.

    According to the seven-time Pro Bowler, his relationship with head coach Pete Carroll has never been better.

    "I think me and Pete have gotten closer. Pete and I have always had a great bond, but I think we had a great heart-to-heart," Wilson said on The Dan Patrick Show (h/t Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk) in mid-July.

    With Wilson happy and under center, one can almost pencil in Seattle for a playoff spot. The Seahawks have only missed the postseason once with him as the starter, dating back to 2012, and they've posted double-digit wins in each of the last three seasons.

    Additions like guard Gabe Jackson, defensive end Kerry Hyder, tight end Gerald Everett, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and rookie receiver D'Wayne Eskridge should help ensure that the streak isn't broken in 2021.

    Prediction: 11-6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are bringing back all 22 offensive and defensive starters from last year's Super Bowl squad. They should retain the chemistry they found late during the 2020 regular season and again be one of the NFL's most complete teams.

    Let's not forget that quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, receiver Antonio Brown, running back Leonard Fournette and then-rookie Tristan Wirfs all joined the team last year and didn't have the benefit of a full offseason together.

    Brady, it seems, was also playing with a significant injury. He underwent knee surgery after the Super Bowl, and it was later revealed that his injury was quite serious.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Brady's MCL was fully torn by the time of his surgery.

    Even if the Buccaneers show slight symptoms of a Super Bowl hangover, they're unlikely to take a significant step back during the regular season. Tampa is the top team in the NFC and can stay there if it avoids the injury bug.

    Prediction: 11-6

Tennessee Titans

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances, though they didn't reach the AFC title game like in 2019. Still, Tennessee won 11 games last year and might have actually improved offensively this offseason.

    Running back Derrick Henry is still the centerpiece of the attack. He has back-to-back rushing titles and is arguably the most unstoppable back in the game. However, the Titans added star receiver Julio Jones to a group that includes Henry, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and wideout A.J. Brown.

    The defense is a question mark, though. Tennessee ranked 28th overall and 24th in points allowed last year and parted with cornerbacks Malcolm Butler, Adoree' Jackson and Desmond King II this offseason. The team's biggest additions, pass-rusher Bud Dupree and cornerback Caleb Farley, come with their fair share of injury concerns.

    The Titans also lost starting tight end Jonnu Smith, who signed with New England.

    While Tennessee may largely be the same team we saw over the past couple of seasons, the Titans probably aren't taking a huge step forward—depending on if Jones quickly clicks in his new home.

    Prediction: 10-7

Washington Football Team

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    Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team only went 7-9 in 2020, but that was good enough to win the NFC East. An improved passing attack, which ranked just 25th, may be enough to help the club repeat.

    Washington added several pieces to its passing offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick has never been a franchise quarterback, but he did help the Miami Dolphins reach 10 wins a year ago. He will be joined by wideout Curtis Samuel, who has experience playing for head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner with the Carolina Panthers, and rookie receiver Dyami Brown.

    Additions like linebacker Jamin Davis and cornerback William Jackson III will help a defense that was already elite in 2020, as it ranked second in total defense and fourth in points allowed.

    The biggest question mark—aside from Fitzpatrick's ability to consistently play at a high level—is the offensive line. Washington released tackles Morgan Moses and Geron Christian, replacing them with rookie Samuel Cosmi and seven-year veteran Charles Leno Jr. It now has a line ranked 17th by Pro Football Focus after finishing the regular season sixth.

    Still, Washington appears to be a much-improved team overall. Of course, the rest of the division seems to have gotten better as well, so a dramatic jump in win total may not be in the cards.

    Prediction: 8-9


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