It’s almost here! Another season of grown men smashing their brains together for our entertainment. And entertained we will be.
So, let’s start at the end: which teams are most likely to be suffering life-lengthening (Not really) massive head injuries in February 2013 in New Orleans? I’m once again making a not so bold prediction and taking Green Bay over New England in the Super Bowl this year.
New England has the easier road to New Orleans of the two by playing the softest regular season schedule of any team this year. For starters, they play in the AFC east which features Buffalo, Miami, and the New York Jets. None of those teams had winning records last year, and they all failed to make the playoffs. The Patriots then go on to play the AFC South and the NFC West. The teams in these two divisions had a combined record of 56-72 last year. In fact, they play only 3 games all of 2012 against teams that had winning records in 2011. If they beat baltimore in week 3, they could very reasonably be 8-0 at their bye week. If they start the first half of their season any worse than 6-2, it’s a disaster.
The Jets, Dolphins, and Bills are good teams, but none of them are very good teams. They all get screwed annually by having to play New England twice every single year.
I always feel bad for the wild card team that always seems to come out of this division. You win 11+games and, not only do you not get a bye week, you have to go ON THE ROAD to play some crap team from the AFC west after they “earned” home field advantage. (What I’m saying is that Pittsburgh should not have had to go to Denver last year.)
I think Pittsburgh wins this division in a close race by either one game or in a tie-breaker with Baltimore. The season’s biggest game outside the division is Baltimore’s game against New England. Pittsburgh avoids having to play the Patriots this year and that might just be enough to get them the division title.
Any of these teams has a legitimate shot to limp to a division title and playoff game (at home!). I think San Diego wins it this year thanks to a much, much easier schedule than division foe Denver, who is the most likely team to challenge for the division. Denver’s first 8 opponents all had at least 8 wins last year, and six of those 8 went to the playoffs. Good luck Peyton. Any of the four teams could realistically win this division, and there is a chance they could do it 2010 Seattle Seahawks style. The AFC West drew the AFC North and the NFC South this year on their schedule. So they’ll have to play Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans and Atlanta: All 2011 playoff teams. At least they all get to console themselves with the statement “Hey, at least we get to play [Insert AFC West team] twice”. My dream is to see a team a 6-10 team make the playoffs and this year’s schedule and division of mediocrity are certainly keeping my hopes alive.
New York, Dallas, or Philadelphia has a real chance to win this division this year, but I think the Eagles get it done. I thought the Eagles were the best team in this division last year, and I think they’re the best team in the division again. It also helps that they have the easiest schedule of any of the teams that have a legitimate chance to win the division (Washington does not).
Green Bay wins the division by at least two games. The interesting question is who finishes second. I’m taking Detroit as runner-up and earning a wild card spot and 5th seed in the NFC.
I think New Orleans is going to win this division again, but Atlanta will make it close. I’ll pick Atlanta to get the second wild card because I have to pick someone. But there are at least 6 other teams that have a real shot at it (New York, Dallas, Chicago, Carolina, Seattle, Arizona).
San Francisco is too talented to not win this division again, but I think it’ll be a lot closer than a lot of people are making it out to be. I think the real question in this division is can two teams get to the playoffs. Two years ago, this division was been all-time bad (they sent a 7-9 team to the playoffs!), but it was much more competitive in 2011.
Seattle has 11 games in 2012 against teams that were 8-8 or worse in 2011. If they can manage a winning record in those 11 games and pick up a few quality wins they can make a nice little run at the wildcard, but their going to have to earn it. They aren’t getting into the playoffs this year thanks to an easy schedule. They play San Francisco in Seattle on December 23 and could prove to be a critical game for both teams.
Arizona also has a very difficult schedule. They play games at New England, at Green Bay, at Atlanta, and at San Francisco. I’d be surprised if they won any of these games, and I’d be stunned if they won 2 or more. Unfortunately, this tough schedule probably leaves them out of the playoffs.
2012 Pre-Season Rankings
|Team||Rank||Ex W||SOS||SB Odds||WSEX odds||2011 Wins|
|New York (G)||12||8.01||1||44-1||17-1||9|
|New York (J)||15||8.09||15||54-1||32-1||8|
Ex W – Average number of wins a team would have if the season was played 100,000 times.
SOS (Strength of schedule) – The average of the strength coefficients for each opponent on a team’s schedule.
SB Odds – SITW estimated odds that the team wins the Super Bowl
WSEX Odds – http://www.wsex.com odds to win Super Bowl
Predicted Standings for 2012 Season
Team: Predicted Record (Prob Make Playoffs, Super Bowl Wins Odds)
- New England Patriots: 11-5 (85.44%, 7.7-1)
- New York Jets: 8-8 (37.3%, 54-1)
- Miami Dolphins: 8-8 (34.84%, 53-1)
- Buffalo Bills: 7-9 (26.38%, 142-1)
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6 (65.96%, 15.3-1)
- Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 (68.52%, 11.5-1)
- Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7 (41.86%, 38-1)
- Cleveland Browns: 6-10 (7.1%, 1000-1)
- Houston: 9-7 (68.54%, 18-1)
- Tennessee: 8-8 (33.04%, 54-1)
- Jacksonville: 6-10 (11.12%, 710-1)
- Indianapolis Colts: 5-11 (4.24%, 1600-1)
- San Diego Chargers: 8-8 (40.48%, 40-1)
- Oakland Raiders: 7-9 (26.82%, 77-1)
- Denver Broncos: 7-9 (26.84%, 115-1)
- Kansas City Chiefs: 7-9 (21.52%, 146-1)
- Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7 (49.38%, 30-1)
- New York Giants: 8-8 (41.42%, 44-1)
- Dallas Cowboys: 8-8 (41.4%, 35-1)
- Washington Redskins: 7-9 (13.54%, 350-1)
- Green Bay: 11-5 (87.42%, 6.7-1)
- Detroit: 9-7 (52.74%, 21-1)
- Chicago: 8-8 (38.22%, 42-1)
- Minnesota: 6-10 (6.7%, 450-1)
- New Orleans: 10-6 (75.2%, 9.1-1)
- Atlanta: 9-7 (50.36%, 27-1)
- Carolina: 7-9 (18.08%, 115-1)
- Tampa Bay: 6-10 (3.16%, 2500-1)
- San Francisco: 10-6 (75.68%, 9.4-1)
- Seattle: 8-8 (24.26%, 87-1)
- Arizona: 7-9 (20.44%, 103-1)
- St. Louis: 5-11 (2%, 2500-1)
Predicted Playoffs for 2012 Season
- New England
- San Diego
Houston and Baltimore advance out of the wild-card weekend. This creates a New England vs Baltimore match-up, once again demonstrating why it might be better to be the two seed, as Pittsburgh gets a weaker opponent in Houston. New England and Pittsburgh advance with New England representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.
- Green Bay
- New Orleans
- San Francisco
San Francisco and Detroit advance to the divisional round of the playoffs where San Francisco would play New Orleans in a rematch of a very exciting playoff game from last year. Green Bay beats Detroit and advance to the NFC championship game where they play New Orleans. Green Bay then defeats New Orleans to go to the Super Bowl.
Green Bay defeats New England in the Super Bowl.