2021 NFL Super Wild Card Predictions

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, & Pranav Thiriveedhi

For the first time in the NFL’s history, we will be seeing a playoff with 14 teams, as opposed to the usual 12 teams, with each conference having 7 representatives, and one team in each conference receiving a bye week, bringing us our first-ever Super Wild Card Weekend, where we get to see 6 games between Saturday and Sunday played to decide who moves throughout the playoffs. Here are our predictions for who will prevail in the Super Wild Card.

AFC Predictions

#7 Indianapolis Colts @ #2 Buffalo Bills

Saransh’s Prediction: The Buffalo Bills have at times looked like the scariest team in the NFL not named the Kansas City Chiefs, and it is no secret as to why. Josh Allen has played like an MVP candidate all year and drastically improved and like the Chiefs with their QB-Receiver duo of Mahomes and Kelce, Allen has found his duo partner in Stefon Diggs, who was acquired this past offseason. 

Meanwhile, for the Colts, they signed QB Philip Rivers to a 1-year, $21M deal, which surprised many, but his consistent play in the late-season stretch, along with the elite defense, helped Indianapolis secure the 7-seed in the AFC. This game features two defenses that have been hot for the majority of the season, but the Bills’ offense is far superior and more consistent than that of the Colts, propelling them to a win. Final Score: 31-21, Bills

Pranav’s Prediction: The Buffalo Bills are your AFC East Champions! That is something the world has not been heard in over 20 years, but after an upsetting season from the New England Patriots, who placed 3rd in the division, the Bills not only filled the seat but also took the #2 seed in the AFC conference. The Bills are a scary team on all sides of the ball. A very dynamic yet work-in-progress quarterback Josh Allen is the leader for arguably the best wide receiver core in the league. Stefon Diggs, the NFL’s leader for receiving yards and receptions, is finally on a team with a quarterback that can reach his ceiling. 

On the other side, the Indianapolis Colts have proven to be an excellent team, especially with their destructive defense. They ranked first or second in the categories that matter, including points and rushing yards allowed. Matching up a weaker secondary against a strong suited receiving core, though, could prove to make the difference in a win or loss. The Bills are going to take the dub here, but watch out for the Colts next year. 

Final Score: 38-31 Bills

Rohan’s Prediction: The Bills will be hosting their first playoff game in 24 years! A lot has changed for the franchise as they have returned to relevance thanks to HC Sean McDermott, GM Brandon Beane, and MVP candidate Josh Allen. Allen has shattered franchise records this year, throwing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns. Stefon Diggs, who was acquired in a trade this past offseason, was a big part of that and became Buffalo’s first player to lead the NFL in catches (127) and yards receiving (1,535). Furthermore, the Bills are perhaps the hottest team in the NFL as they are winners of six straight to end the regular season. 

On the other side, Phillip Rivers, who was signed on a 1-year deal, is a veteran passer who can take the offense down the field. He needs to hit on all cylinders Saturday and put the ball into the endzone as the Bills’ offense is dangerous. The run game and defense are the highlights of this Colts squad. The defensive unit is fantastic and has not allowed more than 90 rushing yards in any of the last five games. Furthermore, Jonathan Taylor is a joy to watch and became the third rookie in Colts history to have 1,000-plus rushing yards and 10-plus rushing TDs in a season. The run game will be key to the Colts victory, and if they can find leaps of success, they can pull off the upset. The Bills defense is poor against the run but tightened up recently and has played much better in the 2nd half of the season. It will be a close battle, but the hot Bills will take this one and get their first playoff win since 1995. Final Score: 24-16 Bills

#6 Cleveland Browns @ #3 Pittsburgh Steelers

Saransh’s Prediction: If the Cleveland Browns did not have their head coach, along with four other players out for this game due to them having tested positive for COVID-19 or having been in close contact with those that did test positive, I would pick Cleveland, but without them, especially without your head coach, that will be a difficult task. Pittsburgh started as maybe the most underwhelming team ever to start a season with 10+ wins and be undefeated, with losses to the Washington Football Team, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals, and big losses at that proved exactly why. The offense was simple and easy to figure out for defenses after a while, there was no run game, and the defense never missed a beat all year, until that Washington game. 

Cleveland, meanwhile, looked like they were headed for a bit of a downfall when they had gotten their season back on track, but then Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL, but they found themselves finishing the season 11-5 and having a Week 17 rematch with the Steelers as their Wild Card matchup. This game will come down to the wire and Cleveland will earn the respect of the NFL, but Pittsburgh will take advantage of the players out for Cleveland. Final Score: 34-27, Steelers

Pranav’s Prediction: Cleveland is going into their first playoff game in a very long time. That is hard to win with a team that has no playoff experience. Cleveland is going into their first playoff game without their head coach, without their best player [Odell Beckham Jr], and four other players. The Browns are an exceptional team who have proved to show that they are not quitters. They have the guts and talent to win games against any team. But being matched up against their division rivals, who they barely beat after the Steelers rested many starters, is not a welcoming entry into the playoffs. 

I have to congratulate them for doing what would have been the impossible two years ago, and even though they possess the running power to beat many teams. The Pittsburgh defense, along with Cleveland’s vacancy in the head coach position will cost the Browns their first playoff win in a long time. 

Final Score: 28-13, Steelers

Rohan’s Prediction: Browns fans have been waiting nearly two decades for their team to return to the playoffs, and it finally happened. Sadly, Cleveland will be without COTY candidate Kevin Stefanski, safety Ronnie Harrison, and LG Joel Bitonio, the longest-tenured player on the team and made three consecutive Pro Bowls. They could also be without tight end Harrison Bryant and cornerback Denzel Ward as they are still on the COVID-19 list. Moreover, the team has not practiced all week and their facility remains closed, which is brutal for Cleveland considering the magnitude of this game. 

It is difficult for me to pick Cleveland to win here despite the Steelers finishing the season 1-4. To be fair, Pittsburgh took Cleveland to the final minutes in Week 17 without Ben Roethlisberger, TJ Watt, and Cam Heyward. The Steelers will win this one comfortably. Unfortunately for Browns fans, they will have to wait a little longer for a playoff win. Final Score: 24-13 Steelers

#5 Baltimore Ravens @ #4 Tennessee Titans

Saransh’s Prediction: The whole ‘Lamar Jackson is 0-2 in the playoffs’ narrative has been the biggest topic of discussion coming into this matchup, but the real talk should be about how the Titans beat them in the playoffs last year, and that this year they may be even better. Titans RB Derrick Henry rushed for over 2,000 yards this season, Ryan Tannehill had a career-high in passing TDs and won 11 games and the AFC South, and Mike Vrabel continues to be one of the NFL’s premier coaches. 

One big advantage that Tennessee has had is to have fans (14,500 total) since October. Having fans during the playoffs will give them a true home-field advantage. The Ravens defensive line will do their job to stop Henry, but it will come down to which QB will make more big plays, and I will take the most underrated QB in football in Ryan Tannehill, in what should be the most exciting game of the weekend. Final Score: 41-37, Titans

Pranav’s Prediction: I agree with Saransh that Tennessee is a good team, but Baltimore is better on paper. I will wait for him to prove that Lamar Jackson truly is a playoff quarterback so I will keep this short and sweet. Final Score: 28-21, Titans

Rohan’s Prediction: The Titans stunned the Ravens in last year’s postseason and the Ravens are looking to get their revenge, this time in Tennessee. This will be an exciting matchup as two of the NFL’s most explosive offenses go head-to-head, with the spotlight being on Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry. Tennessee built off of last year’s playoff run and got better this year. Derrick Henry had another impressive 2,000 rushing yard season, and Ryan Tannehill had the best season of his career, throwing for a career-high 33 touchdowns and leading the Titans to an 11-5 record. The receiving core of AJ Brown and Corey Davis is no joke, and the Titans defense is very talented. 

Meanwhile, the hungry Ravens are looking to redeem themselves and are entering the playoffs on a 5-game winning streak. Lamar Jackson endured a midseason slump but bounced back in December thanks in part to an easy schedule. The Ravens also have a great rushing attack like the Titans, averaging 191.9 yards per game with Jackson, rookie J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards. I think it will come down to the defenses. Baltimore has a far superior defense, and the Titans just gave up 38 points to a Texans team that had nothing to play for. The defenses will prove to be the deciding factor, and the Ravens will come out on top this time around. Final Score: 34-30 Ravens

NFC Predictions

#7 Chicago Bears @ #2 New Orleans Saints

Saransh’s Prediction: Alvin Kamara tweeted on Thursday evening ‘See y’all Sunday,’ signaling to fans, as well as the Chicago Bears, that he should be back on Sunday evening after having tested positive for COVID-19 last Saturday. Chicago’s offense has been explosive as of late, and Drew Brees has had his playoff struggles the past few years, but with the return of both Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, Chicago may not have much of a chance. Final Score: 38-28, Saints

Pranav’s Prediction: This is a very complicated game for me to predict. On one side, the New Orleans Saints are a heavily talented team on both sides of the football, but even with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas returning to the lineup, Drew Brees has not played like his former self. I think a strong Chicago defense can step up and steal a few possessions from the Saints. While I do not believe an inexperienced Mitch Trubisky will be enough to take down the Saints, I will call the upset thanks to that defense.

Final Score: 17-14, Bears

Rohan’s Prediction: Alvin Kamara is a huge factor here. He is currently on the COVID-19 list but the Saints are hopeful that he plays and he recently tweeted “See y’all Sunday”, suggesting that he plays. Drew Brees loves to depend on Kamara, who leads the Saints with 83 receptions, and Brees still looks shaky after returning from his rib injury. 

The Bears and Saints met in the regular season and went into overtime, but things are different this time around. Mitchell Trubisky is now the starting quarterback for the Bears, and both Drew Brees and Michael Thomas are back for the Saints. The Bears defense is elite and is among the best at stopping their opponent’s wide receivers, but I do not see their offense giving enough firepower to win this game. With Michael Thomas back and Kamara likely to play, I think the Saints will move on. Final Score: 26-10 Saints

#6 Los Angeles Rams @ #3 Seattle Seahawks

Saransh’s Prediction: What if I told you that since Week 11, the Seattle Seahawks had the #1 scoring defense in the NFL? After the historic start to the season for the offense, setting multiple scoring records and such, the defense was on pace to a historically tragic start, and at one point could have allowed the most yards per game on average. The return of Jamal Adams and the trade for Carlos Dunlap has changed the fortune of this defense and has made them lights-out, but their offense has sputtered since. The offense that could once put up 30+ effortlessly every week can barely even score 20, and this Rams defense that ended the season as the #1 defense in the NFL will hold that Seahawk offense in check, but potentially without QB Jared Goff or Jared Goff at 100%, the Rams defense may be asked of too much, and we all know that Russell Wilson and this offense always finds a way. Final Score: 23-20, Seahawks

Pranav’s Prediction: Is it just me, or has the Seattle Seahawks offense been playing badly recently. So bad that the defense that once was atrocious is now winning them games. I like Russell Wilson, but he has not been meeting any marginal expectations, regardless of his record. A strong Rams defense against a weaker Seattle offense will sputter points for Seattle, and an explosive offense (even if Goff does not start) will be the deciding factor for whether the Rams can pull off the playoff upset. But for my prediction, I will be taking the Rams. 

Final Score: 21-20, Rams

Rohan’s Prediction: The Seahawks got off to a hot start to begin the season, but the offense, led by Russell Wilson, started to run out of gas and became inconsistent. The defense, however, is the complete opposite, as the unit is improving and was responsible for the Seahawks winning 6 of their last 7 to finish the year. No matter what the records were, games between these two teams were always tight, and I expect a close game once again. The Rams have an elite defense and held Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense in check in both games. 

A player to keep an eye on is quarterback Jared Goff who did not play in Week 17 due to a thumb injury and is questionable for this wild-card matchup. The problem with Los Angeles is poor QB play, limiting their potential. Even though Goff has had a subpar year, he is better than backup John Wolford and gives them the best chance to win. Due to the inconsistencies at quarterback for the Rams, I am going to go with the Seahawks here. Final Score: 20-14 Seahawks

#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ #4 Washington Football Team

Saransh’s Prediction: The Washington Football Team, who would have thought that after everything they endured, such as Alex Smith’s near-death injury, Ron Rivera’s battle with cancer, Dwayne Haskins being one of the most immature football players of recent memory, and a major scandal involving owner Dan Snyder, that the Washington Football Team would host a playoff game? Well, not any of us, as you can see from our preseason predictions. The NFC East was not great, but teams like Washington and New York both played better than what their record shows. Washington sports the #2 defense in the NFL with the most intimidating front-4 that we have seen since ‘Sacksonville’ in 2016. Alex Smith is 5-1 as a starter, and even without the most impressive numbers, one thing that has stayed consistent with him is that he is a winner. He battled back to the playing field, and Ron Rivera, who battled through cancer, got this team from 2-7 and the bottom of the division to the playoffs. 

Meanwhile, the Bucs acquired Tom Brady, and they have had a mostly consistent season, with most of their mishaps coming in primetime games against strong blitz defenses, which bodes well for Washington. Brady also may not have Mike Evans, but Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski are plenty to work with. Washington’s defense will pressure Brady all night and slow down this offense, but the Bucs defense, who has been solid all season, should slow down the injured Alex Smith, and backup QB Taylor Heinicke. It will be a slugfest, but Tampa should pull it out. Crazier things have happened, however. Final Score: 24-22, Buccaneers

Pranav’s Prediction: The Washington Football Team has a top-five defense that is like none other, and Chase Young is my vote for DROY, but their offense is atrocious compared to any other playoff team. I know the saying, “Offense wins games, Defense wins championships,” but a 7-9 Washington Football Team that doesn’t even possess a mascot, has not won a sufficient amount of games to show me that they belong in the playoffs, regardless of how the playoffs work. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the far better team here. With future HoF quarterback Tom Brady, who is the greatest of all time, and a crazy offense to counterpart (even without Mike Evans), Washington’s defense is like a wall with a big door. Tampa Bay also has a top-10 defense to complement themselves as well. And against a weak WFT offense, who will not move the ball, expect a playoff blowout Saturday night.

Final Score: 38-7, Buccaneers

Rohan’s Prediction: You could say that Washington only made the playoffs due to how atrocious the NFC East is, but they are the best team in the East, and it is very impressive how big of a leap they made from last season to this season. Ron Rivera is a Coach of the Year candidate, fighting cancer at the beginning of the season and taking Washington from 2-7 to 7-9 and a division title. They also have the Comeback Player of the Year, Alex Smith, who has inspired millions of people with his road back from his devastating injury and was a big part in taking the team to the playoffs. 
Washington’s defense is tremendous, ranking 2nd in the NFL, with a phenomenal pass rush that should force a lot of pressure on Brady this weekend. However, this is going to be a tough task as the Buccaneers have a crazy loaded offense that has Tom Brady coming off a 40 touchdown season. They arguably have the best receiving core consisting of Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, and potentially Mike Evans will be a handful for Washington’s secondary. Also, Alex Smith is still nursing a calf injury that has affected the offense as a whole. Washington’s run game, headlined by Antonio Gibson, keeps the offense alive, but Tampa has the number-1 ranked rushing defense. WFT has the defense to make this a battle and shock the world, but I feel that their offense just will not give enough to win. Tampa takes this one. Final Score: 31-20 Buccaneers

The NFC (L)East: The Worst Competitive Division Ever

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, and Pranav Thiriveedhi

The NFC East’s current leader, the Philadelphia Eagles, has a half-game lead over the other 3 teams in the division, who are in a 3-way tie for second place in the division. These teams must be good, right? Well, they certainly are competitive, and they have had their fair share of injuries, unlucky losses, roster changes, blowouts, coaching turmoil, and everything in between. All of these teams have 3 wins, with the Eagles only having a half-game lead over the rest of the division due to the tie they had with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. This week has some big division games coming, with the Cowboys hosting Washington on Thanksgiving Day, the Giants playing the Bengals, and the Eagles hosting the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Here are our predictions for who wins the NFC East:

Current NFC East Standings:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1), Division Record: (2-2)
  2. New York Giants (3-7), Division Record: (3-2)
  3. Washington Football Team (3-7), Division Record (2-2)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (3-7), Division Record (1-2)

Saransh’s NFC East Winner: Washington Football Team

Washington Remaining Schedule: @ Cowboys (3-7), @ Steelers (10-0), @ 49ers (4-6) vs. Seahawks (7-3), vs. Panthers (4-7), @ Eagles (3-6-1)

Yes, I am a Washington fan, but no, I am not saying this in a biased sense. Right now, of the 4 starting quarterbacks in the NFC East, the one quarterback that I trust most to not turn the football over and make poor decisions, win games, and use their experience to their advantage, is none other than Alex Smith. For New York, Daniel Jones has shown improvement over a 2-game stretch, where they played Washington and Philadelphia, but is still a turnover machine. For Dallas, Andy Dalton is still shaky and does not have the best chemistry with all of the Cowboys’ WRs, although he has a very nice connection with CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz. And lastly, for Philadephia, Carson Wentz has the clock ticking on him as the starter in Philadelphia. Alex Smith is a born winner, and when he had come into Washington, he was at the time in the top-5 in terms of winningest active QBs at the time (2018). Then, of course, the gruesome leg injury happened which nearly ended his career and his ability to ever walk again, yet he is here on a football field, inspiring the young Washington Football Team to be in winning situations and even win games, something that has not been seen in Washington for years. Alex Smith may never be even half of what he was as a QB before his injury, but he is still a winner and a leader, and the other quarterbacks in the division are not showing that right now. On top of that, Terry McLaurin has been unreal and is easily the most underrated wide receiver in the entire league, but most of all has been another great leader on the field and in the locker room.

The defense, who are middle-of-the-pack against the run, is ranked #1 in the NFL against the pass and 3rd in sacks. Having guys like rookie sensation Chase Young be double and even triple-teamed at times, has allowed the rest of the front seven, like Jonathan Allen, DaRon Payne, and Ryan Kerrigan, to get constant pressure along with Young. Then there is the secondary, led by cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby, who have quietly led the #1 pass defense in the entire NFL. To be fair, the stats are misleading, as this defense has had some big games, such as their 7-sack performance in Week 1 against the Eagles, but also poor games, like giving up 30 points to a Lions offense without Kenny Golladay. If they can find even the slightest bit of consistency, as the offense is beginning to show now under Alex Smith, this team can win the games they should win, and do enough to win the division.

Washington should beat Dallas on Thanksgiving and should beat the Eagles to complete the season sweep to finish 4-2 in the NFC East overall. Outside of that, Carolina should be a win, and a sneaky win could come against the 49ers, who will be without George Kittle and most likely also Jimmy Garoppolo. Without the 49ers win, they would finish 6-10, and they would finish 7-9 with it. Either way, I do not think any other NFC East team finishes with more than 5 wins. The Giants, who are the biggest competition to Washington for the division title, have all but two of their remaining games against teams with winning records, and I do not see the Giants doing enough to get past Washington. HC Ron Rivera has battled through cancer this season, and Alex Smith, while being nothing more than an average QB, has still made one of the greatest comebacks from an injury in the history of sports. This team not only could end up being the best in the NFC East when it is all said and done, but also the most inspiring. Whatever happens in this wild division, it will be intriguing (and ugly) to watch, and all of these teams will have their work cut out for them this offseason.

Pranav’s NFC East Winner: New York Giants

New York’s Remaining Schedule: @ Bengals (2-7-1), @ Seahawks (7-3), vs. Cardinals (6-4), vs. Browns (7-3), @ Ravens (6-4), vs. Cowboys (3-7)

Let me start by saying I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. ‘Go Birds’ and all that stuff, but this year? The Eagles stink, and no single person can be blamed. Sure, Carson Wentz and his disgusting attempt at being a marginally good quarterback, or Doug Pederson and his awful play-calling, have failed miserably, but this is a team problem that is not a one-week fix. Let us face reality here, the Eagles have tried to fix these problems every week, yet nothing has changed. Fans and critics thought it might be because half the team is injured but the truth is the Eagles are not the best in the NFC East, regardless of their place in the division presently. At the beginning of the season, Dallas and Philadelphia split the predictions for winners of the NFC East, but after the injury to Dak Prescott, Dallas doesn’t have a shot. The Philadelphia Eagles, for the last few weeks, have been too quick to crown themselves as the division winners, but now everyone can see that they might have called it too early. They have probably the hardest remaining schedule in the NFC East, playing four Super Bowl contenders in a row: Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Arizona. 

On the other hand, the dark horse team in the NFC East, the New York Giants, are riding on a few wins. The New York Giants and I hate to say this, are the best team in the division. No one expected them to be anywhere outside of the last place in the division to start the season, and even more after Saquon Barkley’s season-ending injury, but things change. For starters, the Giants have the easiest remaining schedule, and being tied for second is a big help for them because one win already puts them in the driver seat for the East. The Giants are better than the Washington Football Team, having the series sweep. The Giants are also better than the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite having split the season series, the Giants have dominated both matchups with ball control, as they lost their first matchup with Philly due to avoidable penalties. And lastly, the Giants are better than the Dallas Cowboys, and I do not even have to explain. I know I should have no bias as an Eagles fan, but I will never give the Cowboys any love unless they have 1:1 odds to win something.

That being said, the Giants are in the position to take the NFC East, but this is still a division too early to call. We don’t know what is going to happen, or what more (or less) to expect, and to be honest with you, it is not good. All I can say is that none of these teams are going anywhere this season and will be undergoing major changes this offseason. 

Rohan’s NFC East Winner: New York Giants

New York’s Remaining Schedule: @ Bengals (2-7-1), @ Seahawks (7-3), vs. Cardinals (6-4), vs. Browns (7-3), @ Ravens (6-4), vs. Cowboys (3-7)

I am also a Washington fan like Saransh, yet I believe the Giants will come out on top and take the NFC East crown. Joe Judge is doing a solid job in his first year as head coach of the Giants, and the team is making incremental progress game after game. Daniel Jones is starting to pull it together with consecutive no turnover performances, and I trust the Giants defense the most in this division. The Giants defense is ranked 12th in the NFL in scoring average this season, with several standout players, including lockdown cornerback James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, and Leonard Williams. Also, over the last 6 games, the Giants are 3-3 and those three losses are just by 6 points. One of those losses includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are viewed by many as Super Bowl contenders. The Giants were playing the best football of any team in the NFC East before their bye, and I think they will get 3 more wins (CIN, CLE, DAL) to win the division. I view Dallas as the biggest competition to the Giants. They have the easiest road as they still get to play each of the East teams once and have opponents like the 49ers and Bengals on their schedule. They have also been very competitive, nearly beating the undefeated Steelers at home and knocking off the Vikings recently on the road. The offense looked solid with Andy Dalton back and Zeke had his best game in a while, totaling over 100 rushing yards for the first time this season. Tony Pollard has also been a nice touch, as he added some quality carries and a TD against the Vikings. They also have a special talent in CeeDee Lamb who is looking like the best rookie receiver in the draft class. However, the Cowboys defense needs to improve, especially their poor secondary. Their run defense is atrocious as well, allowing a whopping 153.8 yards on the ground per game to opposing offenses. 

The Cowboys hopes for winning the NFC East division will likely disappear if their defense is not up for the task. Washington, meanwhile, has a solid chance but a few problems of their own. Let us start with the defense, who was supposed to be one of the best units in the league under DC Jack Del Rio but has not lived up to the hype. By looking at the numbers, you might think that Washington has an above-average defense, however, it’s the complete opposite. Their defensive line has plenty of talent like Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Daron Payne, but have failed to take advantage of poor offensive lines, which proved to be critical in getting swept by the New York Giants. These losses hurt Washington big time as the Giants now have the tiebreaker. The linebacker core and secondary are both very weak and it showed when they played average offenses like the Lions. However, I also think a better offense would have a positive impact on the defense. The offense is badly underperforming overall, ranked 29th in the league, and Alex Smith is nothing more than an average quarterback. Washington has a bright future with star receiver Terry McLaurin and rookie running back Antonio Gibson, and their offensive line is looking better than expected, but aren’t going to go far with the style and play of this offense. The Thanksgiving game between Washington and Dallas will be very critical, as Washington can take the tiebreaker over Dallas with a win. 

Finally, Philadelphia is terrible, starting with QB Carson Wentz. He currently leads the league in interceptions and is making head-scratching mistakes game after game. Ever since that ACL injury, Wentz has been trending downward and could crash down to the point of no return. Carson is not the only one to blame, though. The coaching staff has regressed, and Head Coach Doug Pederson should be fired this offseason. Veterans like Jason Peters, Alshon Jeffery, and Jalen Mills are on the decline. The Eagles are a dumpster fire and could very well lose out and only win 3 games this season, as they have the toughest remaining schedule in the division. 

This division is all-around terrible, and we might see the worst division winner of all time. The worst record that a playoff team has ever recorded is 7-9 (Seahawks, 2010), and it is hard for me to envision an NFC East team even getting to 7 wins. It is crazy to think that one of these teams is going to host a playoff game. I do see this division coming down to the very last game, however, and that game would be Week 17: Cowboys @ Giants, a winner-take-all game to decide the division. One thing we can all agree on is that the team that makes the playoffs will not go far, and all of these teams have to make major changes this offseason. 

The Impact of Cam Newton to New England

By Saransh Sharma, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Rohan Krishnan

Wow, did Bill Belichick just outsmart the entire NFL again or what? I mean, think about it, he waited for Cam Newton’s value to deteriorate (due to the lack of interest) just enough to the point where he could sign Newton to the league-minimum deal of $550K in guaranteed money (base salary is $1.05M with incentives it goes up to $7.5 million). If this is not the greatest free agency scheme Belichick has ever pulled off, then I do not know what is. All the talk about Belichick being content with Jarrett Stidham at QB, and potentially even tanking for Trevor Lawrence in the upcoming draft, has been put to bed in the most Belichick-way possible, by signing a former MVP to replace another former MVP. Now, we all know that Tom Brady is the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time, but replacing him at age 42 with a healthy Cam Newton who still has got some prime years left in him, is not a downgrade at all, and if it does not work out or Belichick simply likes the team but sees a different vision beyond Cam Newton, then Belichick can let him walk, and Cam can get a bag elsewhere, the same way guys like Teddy Bridgewater did this past offseason, and Case Keenum did in 2018. Now for the big question, which is what we predict will happen in Cam’s first season in a Patriots uniform.

The Rejuvenation of SuperCam by Saransh Sharma

If there is any player who played at an MVP and near-Super Bowl winning level that I would trust to return to that form after years of injuries and being doubted, it is Cam Newton. The chip on his shoulder has been there ever since he was brought into Auburn after being suspended at Florida for stealing a laptop, which led to him being kicked out of the school, going to JuCo, and then coming back to Auburn a whole different player, winning the Heisman, becoming a National Champion, and getting drafted first overall to the Carolina Panthers in 2011, a team that had not achieved any real success since 2002 when they went to the Super Bowl and choked against 2nd-year QB Brady and the Patriots. Newton quickly established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, making a Pro Bowl as a rookie, and running away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He later went on to make multiple playoff appearances, and then in the 2015 season, went to the Super Bowl, and took a lot of criticism for his play and his press conference responses. Newton’s season in 2016 was cut short due to injury, but had a very successful 2017, only for that to end, and then injuries to hamper him the last 2 seasons. But still, the last healthy version of Cam we saw took his team to the playoffs, threw for over 3300 yards and had 28 total touchdowns. Now, with a better offensive line than he had in New England, an all-time great head coach, and having a chance at rejuvenation, Cam Newton is in the best shape of his life and looking to prove everyone wrong.

The Patriots receiving core still is not the best, but you also have to realize how unhealthy they were last season, which led to sloppy, inconsistent play from the players who were able to stay healthy. Edelman led the league in drops with 13, Mohamed Sanu was only with New England for 8 games due to being traded midseason, and due to a nagging injury, did not see the field or targets very often, first-round pick N’Keal Harry only played 7 games with injury, and rookie Jakobi Meyers only started one game, which a 13-9 win against Dallas in Week 9. And do not forget that they never had a consistent tight end option or running game due to injuries, and they had Antonio Brown, Demariyus Thomas, and Josh Gordon at one point, who all got released or traded (Thomas). New England just did not have anything on offense consistently to be a contender, thus their Wild Card game loss. With Newton, they now bring a healthy and more balanced offense. The team is honestly very similar to that of Carolina when they went to the Super Bowl, where they had a big-bodied receiver (Sanu), other good receivers who can play outside and in the slot (Edelman and Harry), a check-down option (White), and a power running back (Michel), and an elite defense to help out. That being said, it is not as good of a receiving core and offense as that in Carolina, more of a ‘Great Value’ version of it, if you will. I think Newton has a chance to show flashes of his MVP form with the similarities in the offense’s structure, but mostly be his 2013-self, where he first showed he could be an elite QB, and there is no better Offensive Coordinator than Josh McDaniels to help lead him.

As for how the team will do, New England should win the division, and I believe Newton will do a great job of leading the team, but I do not anticipate them winning more than 10 games. New England will go 10-6 and hold the tiebreaker over Buffalo to win the division, locking them up with the 3-seed in the AFC. A matchup with a tough Steelers or Chargers team is my prediction, but I think that both teams, due to their elite defenses, will slow the passing attack down, and there simply will not be enough that Newton can do to lead his team to victory, so the season will end at the Wild Card. 

As for his free agency, being on a 1-year deal at the moment, it is up to Belichick to decide what the next move with Cam is. I think that Cam will actually go elsewhere to a younger, more QB-needy team, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who could be seeing the last of Ben Roethlisberger, but have an exciting and young roster around him, and an elite defense. Also look out for Cleveland and Oakland, other exciting and young teams who, if they choose Newton over their current QBs, would become contenders and could see an infusion of a veteran presence comforting for them.

Can Cam Avoid His Kryptonite, The Injuries? by Rohan Krishnan

To start off, I am definitely a fan of this move by the Patriots. Adding a player at a cheap price to an important position is a very smart decision and this is the perfect example of a low risk high reward move. Cam Newton is indeed 0-8 in his last eight starts, but he was playing with an injured shoulder. When Cam was healthy, he was a very respectable quarterback. From Weeks 1-9 in 2018 when healthy, Newton averaged 236 passing yards per game, totaled 15 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. Furthermore, Cam was a beast in the running game by leading all quarterbacks in rushing yards (342) and touchdowns (4). 

Signing Newton, a former MVP, is very exciting for the whole Patriots fan base, but I would not say it is a lock that he would start just yet. He has dealt with a lisfranc injury which is very annoying to deal with. He also needs to show up to camp healthy and prove to the coaches that he can still play. This is why the Patriots gave him a very cheap contract because Newton needs to prove himself. If everything goes well in training camp for Cam, I think he would have a very solid comeback season in New England. I do not think he will return to MVP form, but he is capable of playing like a top 12 quarterback in the league. Even though the Patriots lost Tom Brady, they still have an elite coaching staff that could bring out the best out of Cam’s skillset. Josh McDaniels is a fantastic offensive coordinator, and we all know how big of a mastermind Bill Belichick is. I think Newton will prove all of the doubters wrong this season and New England will find a way to continue their playoff streak. I have the Buffalo Bills winning the division even with the Newton signing, but I predict New England will sneak in as a wild-card team. I don’t have them going far in the postseason as I have them losing in the first round, however the Patriots will stay as a competitive squad. 

Can Cam Newton Pave His Road to Glory in Foxborough? By Pranav Thiriveedhi

As everyone already knows, the Patriots recently signed Cam Newton, former Auburn Legend and NFL MVP, to replace Tom Brady, who was arguably the greatest football player to ever play. This move by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots was spectacular! Being able to grab an amazing NFL QB to replace Tom Brady was an awesome move to keep the Patriots “Super” Era still afloat. Before Cam’s entry into New England, QB Jarrett Stidham, was poised to start for the Patriots and was expected to produce some great work for them to either give the Pats the 1 or 2 seed in the AFC East, which would really be amazing after the biggest loss to the team in franchise history. But now, with Cam Newton under center, the Patriots really have a chance to get back into the driver seat and hold that position as AFC champ for a little more time. 

Obviously, this only makes sense if Cam stays healthy, and plays at a level he did when he took the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl just a few years ago. It’s hard to write about health because that obviously is determined in the game, but what we can talk about is Cam’s playing level on the field. I am not going to lie, but I can see Cam Newton having his best season yet if all goes well. The former Heisman Trophy winner has the best receiving core he has ever played with for the next season, with receivers like Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and Mohammad Sanu. I don’t think he has played on a team with that many great receivers. Cam Newton also has a little bit of the Christian McCaffrey energy in the form of James White (no argument there) and Sony Michel, who is really showing he can be a brilliant member of the New England Patriots. The Patriots have also given Cam Newton an advantage in the always underrated Offensive Line, a line that always has been sitting in the top 10 in the league for a long, long time. Carolina really didn’t give that opportunity to Cam, which means we never saw Cam Newton perform with more time, something Tom Brady has had the pleasure of having almost his whole career. 

Now with legendary coach Bill Belichick, an amazing offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels, an awesome receiving core with two running backs that play in all parts of the field, and a top 10 Offensive Line, the Patriots and Cam Newton can really do something next year. I predict that the Patriots will easily get that above 10 wins season and will lock up the AFC East with the 1st seed. They, along with a healthy Cam Newton, will also make a big run in the playoffs, and maybe even have a shot (not a guarantee) at capturing the Super Bowl. 

Links you can use to help educate yourself, donate, sign petitions, and much more for Black Lives Matter and Ending Racism and Social Injustice, as well as everything else going on. With so much going on, it is very hard to keep up with it all, but it is still important to educate yourself, so please feel free to use all of these resources to help you out:

https://www.adhoc.fm/post/black-lives-matter-resources-and-funds/

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

https://www.thezoereport.com/p/10-black-lives-matter-organizations-you-can-donate-money-to-right-now-22948855

https://nymag.com/strategist/article/where-to-donate-for-black-lives-matter.html

http://issuesintheworld.carrd.co/

NFL Season Predictions Part 1: Records

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Nikhil Pradeep

The NFL season is upon us in just a few months and as of right now is set to take place as normal, with or without fans, the season will go on. With that in mind and the NFL Draft and most of free agency having taken place, we as a team make our first set of season predictions, starting with team records. Here are our predictions:

Saransh’s Division Predictions: NFC West and South

NFC West

  1. San Francisco 49ers

The defending NFC Champions stacked up their roster even more than last year. Despite losing on Emmanuel Sanders, they traded Deforest Buckner for a first-round pick, then traded up again to get Brandon Aiyuk to be the pass-catching replacement for Sanders, and they’re getting Jerick McKinnon back to add to their already deadly RB arsenal. They also added to their defense with that first-round draft pick, getting Javon Kinlaw to replace Deforest Buckner at defensive tackle. Yet again they will be an elite defense, and Jimmy Garoppolo has even more weapons to throw to. Expect a big season from San Fran. Record: 12-4

  1. Seattle Seahawks 

Seattle was about a half yard away from being the two seed in the NFC and NFC West Champions, yet instead ended up with the 5 seed in the NFC, and not getting any home games, having to play in Philly on Wild Card Weekend, have Wentz unfortunately get knocked out for Philly leaving them with Josh McCown, who had an inspired performance which nearly won them the game, and then Seattle had to play catch-up against Green Bay in the Divisional Round, but simply could not slow down Rodgers and Adams enough to win. This year, they will get unlucky again, this time with the division. I think that while they will be better than Arizona, they will struggle in their divisional games, as I have SF sweeping them, and them splitting with Arizona and LA. As good as they will play outside of their division, their division struggle will keep them away from the division title, narrowly putting them in the playoffs. Record: 10-6

  1. Arizona Cardinals

Last season, the team ended the season 5-10-1, most of their wins coming in their late-season surge when RB Kenyan Drake was traded to them and finally figured out how to run without fumbling. Drake now has been good for four career games, nice. This offseason, however, their trade for DeAndre Hopkins in which they just really gave up David Johnson, was a huge step in the right direction for a team that has not had success in the past 4 seasons. Kyler Murray to DeAndre, and a good defense? Yes, please. That being said, Hopkins could see frustrations due to his lack of targets with guys like Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald around, as Fitz was targeted 109 times last year, and Kirk had 108. That could lead to some mishaps along the way, which has me having them just a game out of the playoffs. Record: 9-7

  1. Los Angeles Rams

First off, before I go into my record prediction for the Rams, I just want to say, the Rams rebranding and new jerseys was a failure of epic proportions. I mean it is as if Best Buy and the Division II school Angelo State combined together and decided to team up to make jerseys and logos, having absolutely no idea what they are really doing. Anyways, as far as the Rams, the fall from one of the most exciting and best teams to watch in the NFL, to now a team that is fighting to make the playoffs, was a dramatic fall. In the end, Todd Gurley, who was the player that was injured which led to the downfall, has now been traded to the Atlanta Falcons. LA drafted Cam Akers to replace him, and the WR tandem of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp will be good, but the defense, like last year, will struggle with the offense not being able to produce too many points due to a struggling Jared Goff at QB. Record: 7-9


NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints

Another season goes by and another controversial ending to a playoff exit. Yeah, the Saints really cannot catch a break. That being said, they are still the most talent-filled roster in the NFC, and they only got better by signing Emmanuel Sanders from the San Francisco 49ers, giving Drew Brees yet another passing option. The defense did not really change much, but getting LB Zach Baun as late as they did in the draft was a huge steal. Saints will have a really good regular season yet again, and hopefully for them, the postseason ends differently. Record: 13-3

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Still does not feel or sound right, but eventually we have to get used to it. Brady has the best wide receiver core he has ever had in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and do not forget that he got his best friend Rob Gronkowksi to join him. I only have them getting 10 wins, however, and just one seed ahead of Atlanta due to their defense. Apart from the linebacking core, the defense is a huge issue and will force the Bucs to lose a winnable game or two. They will be a playoff team, but not a strong one. Record: 10-6

  1. Atlanta Falcons

28-3. Since they had that lead in Super Bowl LI, Atlanta just has not had a single game in which they have played with confidence. That being said, their entire defense is healthy to start a season for the first time since Super Bowl LI, and they now have an elite running back in Todd Gurley, who should find his form. The only thing holding them back from not being ahead of New Orleans or Tampa in the South is their wide receiver core. Aside from Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, they do not have a game-changing tight end like New Orleans and Tampa do with Jared Cook and Gronk, respectively. That being said, they will be a very good team again and one to look out for this season. They will turn some heads and impress. Record: 10-6

  1. Carolina Panthers

A new coach, a new QB, and some other new offensive weapons, a lot of new in Carolina. Matt Rhule, Teddy Bridgewater, and Robby Anderson are the guys I am talking about that finally can help give Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore the help they need and take the weight off of their shoulders. That being said, this team has a bright future and is very young, but right now are too far behind the rest of the South and the NFC. They will be better, but not better enough to be a playoff team. Record: 7-9

Rohan’s Division Predictions: NFC East and North

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys disappointed last year with an 8-8 record and finally moved on from head coach Jason Garrett after 9 seasons. Their new head coach is Mike McCarthy who put together a fantastic coaching staff and I feel they will do a lot better this season. All of their key players are returning to one of the best offenses in the league and it even got a boost with the addition of receiver CeeDee Lamb. They did lose Robert Quinn but their defense is still solid on paper especially with the signings of Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy. With Dak and Zeke, I think Dallas will bounce back and become a top 5 team in the NFL this year. Record: 12-4

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

I’m not sure what to make of the Eagles’ questionable offseason. Their biggest needs were wide receiver and cornerback. They took care of the latter by acquiring top corner Darius Slay from the Lions. However, they did not help Carson Wentz much. They did draft receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round, but I feel they should have gone with Justin Jefferson, or be aggressive and trade up for Ruggs, Jeudy, or Lamb. Later in the second round, they go with quarterback Jalen Hurts which is a very puzzling and surprising move. Instead of getting more offensive firepower, they took a developmental quarterback which is a true head-scratcher. Philadelphia’s defensive line looks great, but their secondary still looks shaky. But due to the elite coaching staff and Carson Wentz, I see the Eagles nabbing a wild-card spot.  Record: 9-7

  1. New York Giants

The retooling Giants have definitely improved this offseason. They got themselves a brand new coaching staff with head coach Joe Judge leading the way. New York also has a loaded offense which is good for the development of second-year quarterback Daniel Jones. It consists of top running back Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Darius Slayton. However, this team is still very young and has a lot of holes to fill. Their offensive line should be better with the addition of Andrew Thomas, but it is still not good. They don’t have a pass rush either and need the young players on the defense to raise their game. They are heading in the right direction however and I see them building off on last year. Record: 6-10

  1. Washington Redskins

The Redskins are another team that is in the rebuilding stage and have made a lot of important moves. The big one is firing longtime team president Bruce Allen after a 10 year reign of terror.  This was a move that was long overdue and something the Redskins have hoped for a long time. It was a sign of a new era and they followed this up by hiring Ron Rivera which was an outstanding move. Washington needs a culture change and Rivera is the perfect man to take charge. Later on, they drafted Chase Young who is the best player in the draft. The defensive line looks filthy, consisting of players like Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, and Jonathan Allen. However, they lost seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and the offensive line looks below average. The receiving core is also one of the worst in the league which does not bode well for Dwayne Haskins. Just like the Giants, the Redskins are trending upwards and will see improvement, but I can’t quite see them as a playoff team yet.  Record: 5-11

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers

Green Bay was absolutely dominant in the North last season. They went 6-0 against all division opponents and finished with a 13-3 record. The Packers lost the NFC Championship game due to their horrendous run defense which has been a problem all year. Despite not improving their defense over the offseason, I still see the Packers winning the division for the second straight year. Matt LaFleur was very impressive in his first year with the squad and Aaron Rodgers is still one of the best in the game. Aaron Jones and Davante Adams are also elite weapons for the Packers offense. However, the Packers surprisingly did not take a wide receiver in the draft which is one of their biggest needs. The team seems confident that their young receivers like Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling would take a leap. Packers fans were mad at the result of the draft, but I think they would be satisfied with another NFC North title. Record: 11-5

  1. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota is another team that made the postseason and pulled off an upset in New Orleans. I expect them to compete heavily with the Packers for the NFC North crown this season, but I have them 2nd due to the many notable departures. They traded Stefon Diggs to the Bills who is arguably a top 10 wide receiver in the league, but they got a good return on it. Minnesota also lost key defensive pieces as Linval Joseph, Trae Waynes, and Xavier Rhodes all found new homes. However, Minnesota still has plenty of key pieces who were huge in their success last year. Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback despite his price tag and Adam Theilen is one of the most underrated receivers in the league. They also drafted Justin Jefferson in the first round to replace Diggs and he could turn out to be better than Diggs down the road. I think the Vikings will be neck and neck with the Packers, but I don’t think it will be enough. Record: 9-7

  1. Detroit Lions

The Lions are coming off a disappointing 3-12-1 season and have made the playoffs only three times since the turn of the century. They haven’t found much success under Matt Patricia but they are getting a healthy Matthew Stafford back and that is why I see them improving this year. The Detroit Lions were 3-3-1 when Matt Stafford got hurt and proceeded to lose every game from that point on. And this offseason, Patricia once again went out of his way to add defensive players that he likes and kick out the ones who he did not. The Lions did lose top corner Darius Slay but drafted Jeffrey Okudah with the 3rd overall pick who has a high upside, and signed a talented veteran in Desmond Trufant. I think the Lions will be a better team this year and in contention for a wild card spot. Record: 8-8

  1. Chicago Bears

After going 12-4 in 2018, the Bears slumped last season to an 8-8 record. Trubisky is showing signs of being a bust and Chicago went on to acquire quarterback Nick Foles from the Jaguars. In fact, I think Foles is the favorite to win the starting job. You could say it is an upgrade, but it is minimal at best. That being said, I do like what the Bears did this offseason. They improved at several positions including safety, pass rusher, and tight end. I really love the Cole Kmet pick and he could be one of the steals of the draft. On top of that, the defense is still one of the best in the league and to me, it is even better than their 2018 defense where they went 12-4. I see this team in contention for a playoff spot, but the quarterback position has me skeptical so I have them finishing last. Record: 7-9

Pranav’s Division Predictions: AFC East and North

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have been the most dominant team of the 2000s and 2010s under the leadership of future HOF quarterback Tom Brady and legendary coach Bill Belichick. The team has made it to the AFC Championships practically every year and made a run for the Super Bowl 8 times! But after a crazy start to the offseason (departure of Tom Brady), and a wicked hard schedule in front of them, Bill and the Pats have a long run ahead. The Patriots offense has been known for producing great QB talent outside of Tom Brady, such as Jimmy Garrapolo and Jacoby Brissett. Now, the Patriots will be led onto the field with Jarett Stidham under center and a young and talented team to join him. I think the Patriots will surprise the whole NFL community and make a run for the playoffs. Everyone is doubting them to even get close to a winning record, but not me. Record: 11-5

  1. Buffalo Bills

After a long 20 years, the Buffalo Bills are given the opportunity to win the division after the break-up of the New England Patriots. A new defense and a strong and track-team like offense is surely enough to throw some pain on opposing teams next year. Last year, the Bills ended the regular season with a 10-6 record with not much talent. The Bills have been sprouting up here and there over the past few years with playoff appearances, but with the entry of Stefon Diggs and the defensive talent of DB Tre’davious White booming last year, the Bills are sure to go on a run. A hyped up team can only go so far though, so let’s not hope that the hype turns into worry. If all goes well for the Bills Mafia from now to the start of the season, expect some fear in the AFC East. Record: 10-6

  1. New York Jets

The New York Jets have been the laughing stock of the AFC East for the last 10 years, with nothing good coming to the franchise, other than the signing of Le’veon Bell which really didn’t output to anything last year. After a miserable 0-4 start to the season last year and a late surge to a 7-9 record, the Jets need to change some parts or even all parts of their team. Their star player, Jamal Adams, who is the definite leader on the team is now on the trading block, so expect some worrisome to arise for the New York Jets. Unless the Jets go through some blockbuster change, I will have to put them down at a losing record. Record: 4-12

  1. Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins were also not the greatest team last year as well, suffering humiliating losses in the beginning of the season. Don’t even let me get started on that pathetic start of the season. 0-7? Are you kidding me? Aside from that, the Dolphins made a huge plus move with the drafting of Alabama hero Tua Tagovailoa, and expect him to start the season in week 1. Expect some trouble to arise in the first few weeks but a later pull down the road. An injury-prone star doesn’t mean much in the NFL, so if Tua can stay healthy and the Miami offense can catch up, I can see the Miami team hit a .500 record or a little bit above. Record: 8-8

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the NFL’s hottest teams, especially with the presence of MVP Lamar Jackson and his amazing performance last year. Baltimore was the ticket team to win the Super Bowl last year, but after an upset loss to the Tennessee Titans, Lamar Jackson is yet to win a playoff game. The Ravens will perform well this year too, but with the entry of the Steelers, Browns, and Bengals entering this highly-competitive division, expect a lot of confusion and turmoil to happen. The Ravens offense and defense are both incredible and in healthy shape, but if the other NFL teams have learned something from playing Lamar Jackson, we probably will see some slow down in the production of the Raven’s Offense. The Ravens will make the playoffs, but not show the same strength as last year. Record: 11-5

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh has been among the greatest teams in NFL history, but has taken the role as the number 2 or number 3 team in the AFC during the reign and era of the New England Patriots. After the departure of Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell, and the injury season for Big Ben, all hope seemed lost for the Steelers. But the Steelers were able to hold their ground and make a run to end with a 8-8 season. Now the Steelers have nothing to lose this season, so expect some role reversal in the team, especially with Big Ben coming back. I think the Steelers will definitely be a team to watch next year. Record: 10-6

  1. Cleveland Browns

After years of holding the spot as the worst team in the NFL, the Browns caught a break after drafting highly praised QB Baker Mayfield and signing on star wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. And with Nick Chubb in the backfield, many thought the Browns had turned everything around and were on the road to stardom. But last year, Cleveland underperformed everyone’s prediction for the new team, performing poorly throughout the season, ending with a 6-10 record. It’s hard to see if they can get out of this disastrous drought, but hopefully they can. If all goes well, and Baker proves his worth, I can see the Browns have a turnaround season. Record: 9-7

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals! The Bengals are one of the most talked about teams pre-draft and post-draft and were in total shambles. Over the years, Cincinnati has been known for it’s mind-blowing playoff drought. Sometimes they make the playoffs and sometimes they don’t even come close, but now we all question the team’s ability to even win a single game. Last season, the Bengals finished with a horrendous 2-14 record, with some criticizers wondering how they were even able to win those two games. Whatever it may be, the Bengals needed a change, and they got what they wanted when they used to first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to pick up Joe Burrow, star quarterback from LSU. Joe Burrow is certainly a well-polished and talented QB prospect who was able to bring the NCAA championship to LSU over the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and many more talented programs across the nation. But is Joe Burrow the next Tom Brady, will he be the saviour for the miserable Cincinnati team? My answer is maybe. Joe Burrow has the talent to pull a whole team around but I don’t think he can do it by himself, certainly not this season. Cincinnati has shown no effort into picking up instrumental pieces to support Joe Burrow next season, so until the Bengals do that, they will finish last in the AFC North. Record: 6-10

Nikhil’s Division Predictions: AFC West and South

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs

It’s hard to bet against the Chiefs in any sort of scenario, and that isn’t going to change for the 2020-2021 season. Having made no real moves, for good or for bad, the team shapes up to be more or less the same in terms of poignancy and ability to make big-time plays on offense. They’re defense could be a small question mark since there’s always room for improvement, however when you have Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, and such on the other side of the ball, it becomes more of a nitpick more than anything. Expect them to make a deep playoff run, and potentially contend for another championship. Record: 13-3

  1. Las Vegas Raiders

After coming off a 7-9 season, the Raiders have sort of leveled off in terms of boom or bust potential. They are consistently average, which to be fair, is better than being horrible. However, with a new location, new stadium, and many new offseason additions, the Raiders can definitely become a moderate force within the AFC. People like Jason Witten, Nelson Agholor can breathe new life into a rather stagnant offense in prior years. And the additions of Cory Littleton, Eli Apple and Jeff Heath among others can bolster a defense that is already pretty decent. The biggest motivating factor for this team however is the addition of Marcus Mariota. Both him and Derek Carr are in my mind top tier quarterbacks at their best, and the competition that will inevitably arise between the two during training camp will easily push both of them to perform at their best during the season, regardless of who starts. We can expect to see an improved Raiders team next season, but the question remains, by how much? Record: 9-7 

  1. Denver Broncos

The Broncos have been under .500 for the last 3 seasons, and the team attempted to remedy that situation with a few notable additions to their roster. The biggest, and most polarizing, was the addition of Melvin Gordon from the Los Angeles Chargers, which when paired with Phillip Lindsay can be a devastating backfield for opponents to handle. This coupled with their draft pick Jerry Jeudy gives QB Drew Lock a slew of options, something absolutely needed for his development and potential. The Broncos defense has been a staple of their team, flaunting big names such as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and that doesn’t change at all for next season either. However, I don’t think it’s enough to contend for a playoff spot, and it might not be at the level that the Raiders could be at in terms of quality. Expect another average record for the Broncos next season. Record: 7-9

  1. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are a very hard read at this stage of the NFL offseason. On one hand, they’ve lost Phillip Rivers, the face of the franchise for the majority of the past years, as well as Melvin Gordon, who was one of the most reliable backs for the team since the days of LaDainian Thomlinson. On the other hand, they’ve kept integral pieces such as Keenan Allen and Joey Bosa, and improved an already great defense by adding Chris Harris. The big deciding factor here is the QB position, which looks to be in the hands of journeyman Tyrod Taylor, however the Chargers also have high hopes for their first-round draft pick, Justin Herbert. We can fully expect for Taylor to be pulled the instant he seems unserviceable, however there simply are too many question marks around this team’s offense to be definitive about it’s production. Defense is great, but I don’t think it’s great enough to save the offense in the event that it slips up. Expect a lot of growing pains from the team next season: Record: 6-10

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans

Ok I know, Deandre Hopkins being dealt was one of the dumbest trades I’ve seen in a long time. I myself wondered what Bill O’Brien was thinking, even with the two’s rocky relationship being exposed. However, there is still a lot to like with this Texans team, and frankly given the state of the rest of the division, they still seem like the front-runners of the group, albeit a bit less far in front as last year. They’ve added names like Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks, Darren Fells, David Johnson, Eric Murray, and Bradley Roby, among others. This, combined with the unreal playmaking ability of Deshawn Watson, as well as the never-ending reign of JJ Watt results in what can still be a devastating team for opponents. What seems to be the real deciding factor in this case is the locker room talk. Egos of coaches and players need to be put to the side in order to propel this team forward, and frankly, out of Hopkins’ shadow. I can see this team doing really well if they put everything back together properly. Record: 11-5

  1. Indianapolis Colts

Ever since the retirement of Andrew Luck at the beginning of last season, the Indianapolis Colts have been scrambling for answers. Finishing with a 7-9 record after such a sudden shock is fairly commendable, and they have gotten MILES better since then. Having found their solution at the QB position in Phillip Rivers, the Colts offense suddenly feels in stable hands. This combined with signings like DeForest Buckner, Trey Burton, Anthony Castonzo, and Xavier Rhodes creates a team with a very high upside, one that seems overdue as well. However, even with the departure of Deandre Hopkins, the Texans still seem like the owners of this division, and the Colts in my eyes are not at that level yet, especially given how new the side is with Phillip Rivers at the helm. But it’s close. Record: 10-6

  1. Tennessee Titans

The magic that the Titans tapped into last year, in my eyes, has run out. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely showed the country what they were all about, but oppositions have gotten much better, while they have sort of stagnated in many ways. Having resigned Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, they do still possess the wrecking ball capability that the offense had last year, and with additions like Vic Beasley and Johnathan Joseph, they get much needed defensive help. However, I don’t think it’s enough to contend with the conference, let alone the two teams I mentioned above. They are definitely a quality team, but just not up to the standards necessary. Record: 9-7

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars had an interesting season last year, to say the least. Minshew Mania took over for a brief period before the rest of the team started showing their true potential, or lack thereof. The team let go of Nick Foles, who at one point was thought to be the future for the club, and has gone all in on Gardner Minshew, who does have the talent and skill necessary to win, but lacks a sturdy set of surrounding environment to work with. The team has done minimal offseason moves, like adding Tyler Eifert and Chris Thompson among others, however it simply isn’t enough to be considered “good”. Expect more of the same from the Jags this year, with less drama. Record: 5-11

Links you can use to help educate yourself, donate, sign petitions, and much more for Black Lives Matter and Ending Racism and Social Injustice:

https://www.adhoc.fm/post/black-lives-matter-resources-and-funds/

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

https://www.thezoereport.com/p/10-black-lives-matter-organizations-you-can-donate-money-to-right-now-22948855