NFL Predictions For The 2020-2021 Season

Nobody knows what the upcoming NFL season is going to look like but simply thinking about football is a distraction we could all use right now. The regular season is scheduled to start on Sept. 10, when the Chiefs take on the Texans and begin their attempt at repeating as Super Bowl champions.

We’ve taken a look at all the roster moves made in the offseason and the upcoming schedule and made predictions for every team in the league. Here’s how we think every NFL franchise will perform in 2020-21, ranked from worst to best. How is your team looking?

New York Jets

2020 Prediction: 2-14

Coming off of a 7-9 season a year ago, picking the Jets to go 2-14 in 2020 is probably a bit harsh but it’s entirely possible. Their schedule is very unforgiving, with their first four games being against potential playoff favorites, plus mid-season visits to the Chiefs and Seahawks. The team had the second-worst scoring offense in football last season, racking up only 276 points in 16 games for an average of just over 17 points every Sunday. Sam Darnold hasn’t shown us much in the past two seasons and the addition of 37-year-old Frank Gore to an inconsistent backfield doesn’t make them look much better.

Washington Football Team

2020 Prediction: 2-14

We don’t even know what Washington’s football team will be called beyond the 2020-21 season and that’s an apt metaphor for their entire existence right now. This is an organization in total flux on and off the field. They had the worst scoring offense in football last season, scoring less than 17 points per game and tallying barely half of the point total earned by the Baltimore Ravens all season. Installing Ron Rivera as head coach is a positive change and drafting Chase Young, who was the best defensive player in the entire class, immediately makes their defense better but we don’t see this team being truly competitive until next year, at the earliest.

Detroit Lions

2020 Prediction: 3-13

We think it’s entirely possible the Lions don’t win a game in the NFC North this season, especially with how good the other three teams in that division have the potential to be. The team’s defense was awful in 2019 and they lost three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay in the offseason, leaving talented rookie Jeff Okudah to fill that massive hole. You can count on Matthew Stafford’s numbers to be stellar every year but that’s not been enough to make them consistent winners. If head coach Matt Patricia doesn’t make some magic this time around, it’s likely he’ll be looking for a job somewhere else.

Miami Dolphins

2020 Prediction: 3-13

The Dolphins took an exciting gamble by drafting Tua Tagovailoa as the hope of their franchise but we see them slipping a bit in 2020, mostly thanks to a brutal schedule. The team’s scoring differential of -188 was the worst in the NFL last season, helped by the fact that their defense gave up a league-high 494 points. Their defense hasn’t improved much but fans are hoping the addition of Matt Breida in the backfield and Tagovailoa, who was incredibly accurate at Alabama, will get them over the hill. We’re not seeing it.

Carolina Panthers

2020 Prediction: 4-12

The Panthers are another franchise in flux after making monumental changes during the offseason. Cam Newton and Ron Rivera, the pair that got them to the Super Bowl in 2016 after a 15-1 season, are now elsewhere and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will lead the new-look team. Bridgewater was sharp in his limited outings with an extremely talented Saints team last year and he’ll have plenty of pressure on him to make that same magic in 2020. Running back Christian McCaffrey is arguably the best offensive weapon in football but the squad’s defense remains suspect.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2020 Prediction: 4-12

Gardner Minshew became a sensation last season and now the reins have been turned over to him completely. After contributing more than 3,600 total yards of offense and throwing 21 touchdowns to just six picks in limited action a year ago, it’s hard to imagine the fan-favorite quarterback regressing. The franchise’s draft crop was widely praised, especially with the addition of a few guys who can be day-one starters on defense. Still, the team appears to be in rebuilding mode after letting go of a trio of starters right before the season started, which means we’re comfortable ranking them last in the AFC South.

New York Giants

2020 Prediction: 4-12

The Giants had one of the worst defenses in football last season but we give them credit for making a couple of moves to address that this offseason. Nabbing linebacker Blake Martinez and drafting Alabama safety Xavier McKinney were solid changes but we still see this franchise firmly in rebuilding mode. Quarterback Daniel Jones showed he had the talent to lead a team a year ago and he has a better offensive line this time around but they’ve got an incredibly tough schedule that includes games against the Ravens, 49ers and Seahawks. Saquon Barkley is going to have to get back to his superhuman 2018 production for them to compete against teams of that caliber.

Los Angeles Rams

2020 Prediction: 5-11

It’s tough to imagine the Rams being this bad after they were the class of the NFC a couple of years ago but they have suddenly become cellar dwellers. The NFC West is arguably the toughest division in football and they simply haven’t kept up with the moves made by the Seahawks, 49ers and, yes, even the Cardinals. Jared Goff looked pitiful last season and they gave up his right-hand man, running back Todd Gurley, setting up a 2020 season that looks anything but exciting for Rams fans. An easy argument can also be made that they didn’t get any better this offseason.

Cincinnati Bengals

2020 Prediction: 5-11

Expectations are sky-high for the Bengals this season but we’re keeping ours in check. The addition of rookie Joe Burrow gives the team a legitimate day-one franchise quarterback but this was a team that was truly awful a year ago. That 2-14 finish in 2019 was the result of one of the weakest scoring offenses in football. Burrow’s production at LSU last season was remarkable and he never had a wide receiver as good as A.J. Green, which bodes well for the team’s long-suffering fans. If the Ohio native is able to do half of what he did in college, they will be contenders but the Bengals are still easily the least talented team in the AFC North.

Los Angeles Chargers

2020 Prediction: 5-11

The L.A. Chargers had to be the most disappointing team in the NFL a year ago. They looked like an easy playoff pick but finished the year 5-11, resulting in a drastic redesign in on-field personnel this offseason. Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon are gone and it’s probably going to take a while for this squad to find its footing, especially in one of the league’s most talent-loaded divisions. Veteran passer Tyrod Taylor is filling some massive shoes but he’s got plenty of talent at the skill positions and one of the league’s best offensive lines, which means the Chargers could be surprisingly good but we don’t see it happening yet.

Atlanta Falcons

2020 Prediction: 5-11

The Falcons remain mired in mediocrity and we see them sliding a bit from a lackluster 7-9 finish a year ago. Matt Ryan’s numbers have continued to be among the all-time greats but it hasn’t made the franchise unbeatable, largely because of inconsistency in other areas. Losing Austin Hooper at tight end will hurt but fans are hoping Hayden Hurst can pick up the slack. Devonta Freeman has been replaced by Todd Gurley, a rusher who is capable of being great but doesn’t always show it, similar to his predecessor and the team at large.

Houston Texans

2020 Prediction: 7-9

Speaking of the AFC South, the Texans won the division a year ago but they got worse this offseason. Trading away DeAndre Hopkins, arguably the best wide receiver in the game, for running back David Johnson was a move that isn’t likely to pay off. Johnson has had flashes of brilliance but he’s also looked dismal and had injury issues in equal measure. The team’s pass defense was terrible in 2019 and they didn’t do much to change it. Deshaun Watson is going to have his work cut out for him in getting this squad back to the playoffs but if any quarterback is talented enough to do it, it’s him.

Philadelphia Eagles

2020 Prediction: 7-9

The Eagles were NFC East champions a year ago but we don’t see them repeating that feat in 2020. Maybe it’s the play of Carson Wentz, which is consistently good but somehow inspiring, that leaves us with softer expectations. Drafting Jalen Hurts as Wentz’s backup — a job that has proven lucrative in the past — was an admirable move but this isn’t a team that can even compare to the rival Dallas Cowboys in terms of talent. The loss of Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary also hurts the defense but the addition of Darius Slay could even it out but we see them just missing the playoffs.

Arizona Cardinals

2020 Prediction: 8-8

The years of rebuilding in Arizona are finally bearing fruit. Predicting a .500 season isn’t exactly incredible but after years of being one of the worst teams in the NFL, it would be a marked improvement. Kyler Murray was very good last season, with the exception of throwing a few too many picks, and now he’s got the talents of DeAndre Hopkins alongside Larry Fitzgerald, giving him two of the best receivers in the sport. Locking up Kenyan Drake as the featured running back was a great move, too, giving the Cards one of the best looking offenses this season.

Here’s hoping the defense can keep up its end of the bargain after giving up far too many points a year ago.

Denver Broncos

2020 Prediction: 8-8

The Broncos have a great defense and likely a ton of confidence but we’ve got them narrowly missing out on a wild card berth this season. They finished 2019 winning four of their last five games and young quarterback Drew Lock injected them with new life late in the season. Lock’s numbers weren’t all that great — he averaged about 200 passing yards per game during his 4-1 stretch as a starter — but his offense is now loaded after a strong offseason. They added Melvin Gordon at running back and drafted two top-tier receivers while also beefing up their defense.

Cleveland Browns

2020 Prediction: 9-7

The Browns were everyone’s hot playoff prediction a year ago and they fell way short of expectations with a 6-10 season that was even uglier than the record makes it sound. We think being knocked off the pedestal will only help Baker Mayfield get his edge back and lead the team to its first winning season since 2007. The talent is all there in the key positions and the front office did a nice job shoring up the offensive line and giving Mayfield another good target in tight end Austin Hooper.

We’ll see if new head coach Kevin Stefanski can keep them focused and get more consistent play out of his quarterback than we’ve seen during his erratic career so far.

Green Bay Packers

2020 Prediction: 9-7

The Packers shocked everyone last year when they went 13-3 and came a game away from the Super Bowl. We expect it was an aberration, especially given the offseason moves the franchise made that seem to signal an interest in rebuilding. Aaron Rodgers has been just short of perfect during his tenure in Green Bay but when they drafted Jordan Love it suddenly made things awkward and sent a strange message to their franchise star. The team’s top-10 scoring defense helped them go undefeated in the NFC North in 2019 but we see them just missing the postseason this time out.

Buffalo Bills

2020 Prediction: 9-7

With the departure of Tom Brady from New England, many people are ready to crown Buffalo as the new kings of the AFC East — but we aren’t so sure. They cruised to a 10-6 record last year, securing an AFC Wild Card berth despite the middling play of Josh Allen at quarterback. He’s maintained a 78.2 passer rating in his first two seasons as the Bills starter so far but the addition of Stefon Diggs will give him a great new target. The strength of this team remains its stout defense, which allowed only 259 points last season — the second-best in the league behind only the rival Patriots.

It’s going to be tight at the top of the AFC East but we’ve got the Bills missing the playoffs by a game.

Indianapolis Colts

2020 Prediction: 9-7 (AFC Wild Card)

For the first time since 2004, Philip Rivers will be playing his home games outside of California. The veteran quarterback joined the Colts this offseason, cementing them as a franchise that’s trying to win immediately. The toughness of the AFC South, combined with the fact that his interception figures in 2019 were nearly the worst of his career, make a 9-7 season a solid achievement and may be enough to land them in the playoffs. Rivers’ other offensive weapons aren’t quite as good as the ones he had in Los Angeles but the Colts defense might be better, especially with the addition of DeForest Buckner to the pass rush.

Las Vegas Raiders

2020 Prediction: 9-7 (AFC Wild Card)

For their first year in Las Vegas, we see the Raiders climbing back into contention for the AFC wild card race, especially thanks to the league’s new 14-team playoff system. Derek Carr remains an underrated leader, not missing a start since 2018 and consistently ranking among the most accurate passers in the game. The addition of immortal tight end Jason Witten is interesting and should provide a constant end-zone option for Carr once they reach the red zone. Running back Josh Jacobs is quickly becoming one of the most formidable rushers in the game, making the Raiders look even sexier this season.

Chicago Bears

2020 Prediction: 9-7 (NFC Wild Card)

Bears fans have been on a roller coaster the last few years and we still aren’t sure what to expect on a weekly basis from this franchise. Chicago’s defense remains one of the best in the NFL, allowing fewer than 300 points all last season, and the addition of Robert Quinn to the pass rush makes them even better. However, the inconsistent offense is what has kept them from reaching their potential.

Bringing in Nick Foles as the likely new starting quarterback makes them look better on that side of the ball and gives them just enough of an edge to qualify for an NFC wild card berth in our opinion, depending largely upon how their NFC North schedule shakes out.

Pittsburgh Steelers

2020 Prediction: 10-6 (AFC Wild Card)

We see the AFC North giving us a pair of playoff teams this year but the Steelers don’t feel like a lock right now. After Ben Roethlisberger missed 14 games in 2019 with an elbow injury on his throwing arm, it’s getting tougher to count on the 38-year-old veteran to be among the league’s best every season. However, he’s had some brilliant years lately and with the team’s stellar defense helping out, Pittsburgh is more than capable of hurting its divisional rivals. Speaking of defense, Minkah Fitzpatrick is back leading a unit that allowed less than 19 points per game a year ago.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2020 Prediction: 10-6 (NFC Wild Card)

The Buccaneers were already an exciting team on the come up but they took it to another level this offseason. The addition of Tom Brady, arguably the single greatest winner in NFL history, to an offense that was already loaded with talent makes them impossible to overlook for a playoff spot. Their offense, under the highly inconsistent Jameis Winston, put up the third-most points in the NFL last season and there’s no reason to see that slipping, especially with a passer as accurate as Brady. They also signed Leonard Fournette to the backfield and added Rob Gronkowski to a receiving corps that already includes Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Who needs defense with that kind of offensive firepower?

New England Patriots

2020 Prediction: 10-6 (AFC East Champions)

Tom Brady may be long gone but we’re still not picking against the Patriots. After a 12-4 season a year ago, the team brings back much of what was arguably the best defense in football in 2019. They allowed only 14 points per game to opponents last season and figures like that will automatically set you up for a playoff berth. The addition of Cam Newton as the new starter was one of the most interesting moves this offseason and having an athlete that gifted playing under Bill Belichick might be something to behold. We see the Pats holding onto that AFC East crown for at least another year.

Dallas Cowboys

2020 Prediction: 11-5 (NFC East Champions)

On paper, the Cowboys are one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but they always seem to find a way to disappoint down the stretch of a season. They should’ve been a playoff team last season but ended up 8-8, which led to the firing of Jason Garrett in a move that many fans thought was overdue. Under new leader Mike McCarthy, we’re seeing Dallas as champs of the top-heavy NFC East. Dak Prescott has been sublime the past couple of seasons, averaging 4,600 yards of total offense with a passer rating of 98.4 since 2018, helping them to a scoring differential of +113 last year, by far the best of any non-playoff team.

Now, fans just have to hope that the quarterback doesn’t hold out.

Minnesota Vikings

2020 Prediction: 11-5 (NFC North Champions)

It seems like the Vikings are always poking around the edges of greatness but ending up as a team that gets eliminated in the first weekend of the playoffs. We see them improving on last season’s 10-6 Wild Card season by winning an extra game and locking up the NFC North. Kirk Cousins is one of football’s most accurate quarterbacks and is simply not one of those guys that causes his team to lose games with bonehead mistakes. The loss of Stefon Diggs will probably hurt his numbers early on but rookie receiver Justin Jefferson has the potential to be a stellar replacement.

Minnesota also benefited from one of the league’s best defenses and running attacks a year ago and, hopefully, the front office can reach a deal with rusher Dalvin Cook to keep him happy.

Tennessee Titans

2020 Prediction: 12-4 (AFC South Champions)

The Tennessee Titans turned out to be a juggernaut last season and we think they’ll be even better this time around. The team’s run to the AFC Championship game after flattening heavy favorites in New England and Baltimore surprised everyone except for head coach Mike Vrabel. The front office locked up Ryan Tannehill, who went 7-3 as the team’s starter on a league-best passer rating of 117.5, and rusher Derrick Henry, who is arguably the best in the league at that position. The AFC South often takes 16 weeks to decide its champion but we see the Titans taking the crown a little earlier this year.

San Francisco 49ers

2020 Prediction: 12-4 (NFC Wild Card)

Do you think the Patriots wish they’d hung onto Jimmy Garoppolo? The quarterback helped the 49ers become the class of the NFC and Super Bowl runners up by completing nearly 70% of his passes during the first season of his career where he started all 16 games. The team’s scoring offense was second-best in the NFL, also helped by a strong running attack. The team’s defense was also stifling, especially the pass rush, which some experts say has gotten even better this offseason with the drafting of Javon Kinlaw, who will join Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.

Even with a 12-win season, we see the 49ers as a wild card team, thanks mostly to how tough their best division rivals in Seattle look.

Kansas City Chiefs

2020 Prediction: 13-3 (AFC West Champions)

After a 50-year drought, the Chiefs climbed back atop the NFL in 2019 and won the Vince Lombardi Trophy. There’s honestly no reason to see them taking a step backward this time around, except that repeating as Super Bowl champs is nigh impossible. We see the Chiefs winning the AFC West once again, largely based on the unflappable play of Patrick Mahomes, who we’ve ranked as the best at his position this season. The division is better than it was a year ago but it’s still tough to imagine any of those three teams posing a real challenge to the Chiefs at the top.

Seattle Seahawks

2020 Prediction: 13-3 (NFC West Champions)

The NFC West is going to be a very tough division this year and we think Seattle has enough to top it once again. The Seahawks looked just about unbeatable for much of the regular season in 2019-20 before disappointing everyone with a divisional-round loss to the Packers. Russell Wilson is playing the best football of his career and we’ve ranked him as the second-best quarterback in the league this season, thanks to his passer rating of 108.4 since 2018. It could be argued that Seattle got worse in the offseason with the likely loss of Jadeveon Clowney in free agency — but they’re still plenty tough all the way through.

Baltimore Ravens

2020 Prediction: 15-1 (AFC North Champions, AFC Champions)

How can the Ravens possibly top a 14-2 season a year ago? By going 15-1 in 2020, of course. It may sound like a stretch but they’ve got a favorable schedule and three divisional opponents that are clearly inferior in terms of talent and execution. Baltimore has only disappointed in the playoffs the last couple of years but we see them locking down the AFC’s top seed again this season and heading to the Super Bowl. It’s not just that Lamar Jackson has proven to be arguably the most exciting player in football; it’s that he has a defense keeping him confident.

Keeping Matt Judon and adding Calais Campbell on that side of the ball only makes the Ravens look even tougher.

New Orleans Saints

2020 Prediction: 13-3 (NFC South Champions, NFC Champions, Super Bowl Champions)

The Ravens look damn good but we think the Saints will topple them in the big game this season. After a 13-3 season a year ago, the team looks just as promising this time around. Drew Brees should be healthy and now he’s got Emmanuel Sanders to throw to, alongside his go-to guy, Michael Thomas. Oh, and did we mention Alvin Kamara? He’s unquestionably one of the best all-around offensive threats in the game and this team should have a massive chip on its shoulder thanks to back-to-back playoff disappointments. This could be Brees’ last run and we see him going out on top before he earns a bust in Canton.