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Bing Predicts — NFL season preview

  • Bing Predicts — NFL season preview
    1/ Sean M. Haffey // Getty Images

    Bing Predicts — NFL season preview

    As the NFL preseason wraps up its four-week stretch of games, players and fans for all 32 teams are gearing up for the start of the regular season. The season officially kicks off Thursday, Sept. 6 with the Atlanta Falcons taking on the defending Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles. Bing features specifics on this NFL season, including standings, live scores, and breaking news. Most fans will see their teams play Week 1 on Sunday, Sept. 9, with a Monday Night Football double-header featuring the New York Jets vs. the Detroit Lions followed by the Los Angeles Rams vs. the Oakland Raiders.

    Using Microsoft’s Bing Predicts rankings predictor, Stacker analyzed expected outcomes of all 32 teams to see how each is expected to fare this season. Get ready for the season with quick recaps of last season's performance, any major roster shake-ups to note for the coming season, and a few critical games each team should be highlighting on their schedule for the 2018–19 season.

    Bing predicts only one team that made the playoffs in 2017 will post a losing record this season. Conversely, two teams are predicted to increase their win totals by four games or more.

     

  • #32. Cleveland Browns
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    #32. Cleveland Browns

    Conference: AFC

    Division: North

    Predicted record: 1-15

    The good news for the Browns? They can't get worse than last year. The Browns suffered through a miserable 0-16 campaign last season, averaging a league-worst 14.6 points per game on offense and finishing 31st among team defenses for points allowed per game with 25.6. The even better news is there is actual reason for Browns fans to have some optimism going into the 2018–19 campaign after decades of cheering for an underperforming team.

    The team traded for wide receiver Jarvis Landry and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The front office also spent two top-five draft picks on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. Ward is already slated to start, and Mayfield is expected to make a strong run for Taylor’s starting gig. While Hue Jackson's team may have laid the groundwork for the future, too many questions remain to see a dramatic improvement from last season.

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  • #31. New York Giants
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    #31. New York Giants

    Conference: NFC

    Division: East

    Predicted record: 2-14

    The New York Giants enter the 2018–19 season at a crossroads. They have a new head coach in Pat Shurmur, the former head coach of the Browns, and a new running back with #2 draft pick Saquon Barkley from Penn State. But quarterback Eli Manning remains, despite coming off one of his worst seasons in years where he posted a 41.7 QB rating, the second-lowest of his career. Shurmur has reaffirmed his faith in the 37-year-old team leader, but skepticism on a bounce-back year remains. Playing in the same division as the Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs, doesn't help matters. They'll face each other twice this season on Oct. 11 and Nov. 25.

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  • #30. Miami Dolphins
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    #30. Miami Dolphins

    Conference: AFC

    Division: East

    Predicted record: 3-13

    Last year went off track quickly after quarterback Ryan Tannehill went down with a knee injury in a preseason practice. They saved on payroll by trading wide receiver Jarvis Landry to the Browns in the off-season, who then gave him a pricey five-year, $75 million deal. The Dolphins will face a tough test to close out this coming season, playing against the Patriots, Vikings, and Jaguars in weeks 14, 15, and 16. While adding veterans like running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Danny Amendola may help modestly, it’s doubtful it will be enough to bring Miami back to their playoff form of 2016.

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  • #29. Washington Redskins
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    #29. Washington Redskins

    Conference: NFC

    Division: East

    Predicted record: 3-13

    The Redskins signed quarterback Alex Smith and watched their long-time quarterback Kirk Cousins bolt to Minnesota as a result. Now, with what analysts expect to be a severe downgrade at quarterback, Washington is also dealing with a disappointing slew of preseason injuries to their running backs, leading them to sign 33-year-old Adrian Peterson in desperation. Fans may be wishing they could go back to the 7-9 finish from last year as Bing predicts the Redskins will go 3-13 this season.

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  • #28. Buffalo Bills
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    #28. Buffalo Bills

    Conference: AFC

    Division: East

    Predicted record: 5-11

    The Bills made a surprising run last year, going 9-7 and making the playoffs for the first time in the 21st century—their last playoff appearance was 1999. Still, they aren’t predicted to repeat that success in 2018, a stance largely aided by Preston Brown bailing on Buffalo for Cincinnati. The 25-year-old linebacker had his best season yet last year, tying for the lead league in total tackles with 144. Another concern is how they’ll replace Tyrod Taylor, whom they traded to the Browns. Top draft pick Josh Allen appears poised to be thrown into the role, likely early in the season.

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  • #27. Cincinnati Bengals
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    #27. Cincinnati Bengals

    Conference: AFC

    Division: North

    Predicted record: 5-11

    This season could prove to be a critical one for quarterback Andy Dalton and head coach Marvin Lewis. Dalton, now 30, has regressed over the past three seasons as his QB rating has stumbled down from 106.3 to 91.8 to 86.6. Lewis is now entering his 16th season as the team’s leader, through which he’s racked up a thoroughly mediocre 125-113-3 cumulative record. On the plus side, they’ll have one of the five easiest schedules in the league for 2018. With no major departures or signings, Bing predicts another less-than-admirable year for Cincinnati at 5-11.

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  • #26. Oakland Raiders
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    #26. Oakland Raiders

    Conference: AFC

    Division: West

    Predicted record: 5-11

    Jon Gruden left ESPN’s broadcast booth to join the Raiders’ sideline once again as their head coach for this season, and expectations are high for his squad to put the pieces together to make a run in the AFC West. Gruden’s raving comments from training camp regarding quarterback Derek Carr and his command of the offense should inspire some optimism amongst fans, but outside linebacker Khalil Mack has been holding out for a contract that does not seem to be coming from Oakland, who are reportedly exploring trade possibilities. Losing one of the best defensive players in football—Mack was the league’s 2016 defensive player of the year—would be a devastating blow to what was a middling defense last season.

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  • #25. Arizona Cardinals
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    #25. Arizona Cardinals

    Conference: NFC

    Division: West

    Predicted record: 5-11

    New head coach Steve Wilks will hopefully revamp an offense that proved to be anemic last year, averaging an uninspiring 18.4 points per game, which ranked in the bottom third of the league. To help with this,Wilks will have stud running back David Johnson returning from injury and top draft pick Josh Rosen at quarterback. Defensive end Chandler Jones leads a formidable front seven for Arizona. Jones posted a league-high 17 sacks last season, making for 28 total in his two years since being traded from New England. The defense was sixth-best in total yards and rushing yards allowed per game in 2017.

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  • #24. Indianapolis Colts
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    #24. Indianapolis Colts

    Conference: AFC

    Division: South

    Predicted record: 6-10

    After Josh McDaniels committed and uncommitted to the head coaching job, the Colts tapped Frank Reich for the gig. The former Eagles offensive coordinator should help quarterback Andrew Luck take the step toward elite play, which he was able to do with Carson Wentz in Philadelphia, but any Luck-Reich synergy can only carry the Colts so far. The wide receiver corps remains scarily thin behind T.Y. Hilton, and the defense is coming off an abysmal year where they finished third-worst in the league for points and yards allowed. They didn’t draft any secondary help, which is a questionable move for a team that finished tied for worst in net yards per passing attempt at 7.3.

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  • #23. New York Jets
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    #23. New York Jets

    Conference: AFC

    Division: East

    Predicted record: 6-10

    Last season was yet another disappointment for Jets fans, as the team piddled out to a 5-11 year of mediocrity. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold will hope to make the difference as he contends for the starting job along with Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown. But even with their off-season maneuvers, the Jets still are poised for another year of averageness in the NFL.

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  • #22. Chicago Bears
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    #22. Chicago Bears

    Conference: NFC

    Division: North

    Predicted record: 6-10

    Chicago Tribune beat reporter Rich Campbell recently noted quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has had an “inconsistent” training camp under new head coach Matt Nagy, and has “averaged about two interceptions per day through the first 10 practices." Acquiring wide receiver Allen Robinson from the Jaguars should give Trubisky a great option—Robinson posted an 80-catch 1,400-yard year before tearing his ACL last season—but the quarterback will need to take steps toward a smoother, more reliable year two in the league to contend for the playoffs after the team posted a league-worst in passing yards last season.

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  • #21. Denver Broncos
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    #21. Denver Broncos

    Conference: AFC

    Division: West

    Predicted record: 7-9

    Newly signed quarterback Case Keenum looked sharp in his main preseason tune-up, posting a 12-for-18 148-yard passing stat line. Top-five draft pick Bradley Chubb will immediately help bolster Denver’s front seven on defense, playing alongside Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller. Denver’s running game may be the major piece preventing them from turning it around this season. They released running back C.J. Anderson in the off-season, and Devontae Booker had an uninspiring preseason as the starter, leaving rookie Royce Freeman as the most intriguing candidate.

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  • #20. Detroit Lions
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    #20. Detroit Lions

    Conference: NFC

    Division: North

    Predicted record: 7-9

    In 2017, the Detroit Lions had the worst rushing offense in the league, accruing a measly 1,221 yards over 16 games with an average of 3.4 yards per carry. They used a second-round pick on running back Kerryon Johnson from Auburn and also signed quality linebackers Christian Jones and Devon Kennard as free agents. However, Detroit’s potential road to glory is on the harder side. The Lions are tied with the Saints for the second-hardest 2018 schedule, and the NFC North will be a hard division to climb to the top of with the Vikings and the Packers both bringing steep divisional competition to contend with this season.

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  • #19. Houston Texans
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    #19. Houston Texans

    Conference: AFC

    Division: South

    Predicted record: 8-8

    The Texans have the budding stars of a promising team with quarterback Deshaun Watson returning from a season-ending injury that prematurely ended an impressive rookie campaign, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. The questions arise from the surrounding cast, which the Texans’ front office did not do much to address in the off-season with no major signings and no first- or second-round draft picks. While they open the season with a brutal match-up versus the New England Patriots on the road, the Texans will have the easiest schedule for 2018–19 in the entire league, according to a CBS Sports analysis.

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  • #18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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    #18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Conference: NFC

    Division: South

    Predicted record: 8-8

    The Buccaneers will be attempting to make the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. Their last playoff appearance was in 2007. Essentially everything has changed since then for Tampa. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will look to enliven a passing attack that was sorely lacking last season. No defensive end posted more than 2.5 sacks in 2017. Combined with rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea and the returning starters, the Bucs’ best bet for success will be in a revamped defensive front in 2018.

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  • #17. Seattle Seahawks
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    #17. Seattle Seahawks

    Conference: NFC

    Division: West

    Predicted record: 8-8

    Pete Carroll’s team has been a perennial contender since he took the job eight seasons ago, but this year may be his toughest one yet after an off-season full of movement. Defensive anchors Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor have both departed through being released and retiring. Safety Earl Thomas is in the middle of a holdout with persistent rumors that he wants to play in Dallas this season. Defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril also are gone. On offense, running back Thomas Rawls, tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Paul Richardson are all on new teams via free agency. Even longtime punter Jon Ryan was released.

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  • #16. Kansas City Chiefs
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    #16. Kansas City Chiefs

    Conference: AFC

    Division: West

    Predicted record: 8-8

    Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes will take the reins in Kansas City where he showed fans a lot of promise in the preseason. Through the first three games, he completed 72% of his attempts for 367 yards while sporting a 2:1 TD-INT ratio, according to Rotoworld. If Mahomes can click with running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs could have one of the most explosive offenses in the league in 2018. Their defense will have to show substantial improvement as well to bring them to the next level, as they allowed the fourth-most net passing yards per game last season.

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  • #15. Dallas Cowboys
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    #15. Dallas Cowboys

    Conference: NFC

    Division: East

    Predicted record: 9-7

    The Cowboys had a quiet offseason, which is quite uncharacteristic for owner and general manager Jerry Jones. While Earl Thomas told Jason Garrett to come and get him last season, the Cowboys didn’t land the talented safety—at least not yet. Trade rumors remain, especially with Dallas now dealing with some preseason injuries at the position. Besides the Thomas rumors, Dallas signed wide receiver Allen Hurns to a two-year, $12 million deal in an attempt to replace Dez Bryant after he was released by the team. Dallas will look to start off the year on the right foot against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1.

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  • #14. Tennessee Titans
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    #14. Tennessee Titans

    Conference: AFC

    Division: South

    Predicted record: 9-7

    If you can’t beat ‘em, poach ‘em, specifically from the New England Patriots. That’s one way of interpreting Tennessee’s strategy this off-season. Mike Vrabel, a long-time Patriot player, will lead the team in his first season as an NFL head coach, and Tennessee signed ex-Patriots running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler this off-season. Quarterback Marcus Mariota will look to rebound from a disappointing 2017 campaign, where he threw 15 interceptions to a mere 13 touchdowns. The Titans have the second-easiest 2018 schedule. Their opponents posted a cumulative win percentage of 46.5% last year.

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  • #13. Carolina Panthers
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    #13. Carolina Panthers

    Conference: NFC

    Division: South

    Predicted record: 9-7

    Head coach Ron Rivera will be without his offensive and defensive coordinators from last season, who both took new jobs with different NFL teams. Quarterback Cam Newton set a career-high in rushing yards last season with 754 yards on the ground in addition to 3,302 gained through the air. Carolina will be immediately tested from the start, playing the Cowboys in the first week followed by a road game in Atlanta. The end of their season features a critical finish for Carolina with three consecutive tough divisional games against the Saints twice and the Falcons once.

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  • #12. Green Bay Packers
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    #12. Green Bay Packers

    Conference: NFC

    Division: North

    Predicted record: 10-6

    In a shock to Green Bay fans, last year’s playoffs did not include the Green and Yellow. It was the first year the Packers failed to qualify for a spot in a decade. Adding insult to injury, the Packers drew the most difficult regular season schedule in the league, judging by their opponents combined win-loss record for last season. Aaron Rodgers has shown in previous years he can lead a team through quite a bit and produce a winning record. The defense remains a question, but the front office seemed focused on that weakness by selecting cornerbacks in both the first and second rounds of the draft.

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  • #11. San Francisco 49ers
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    #11. San Francisco 49ers

    Conference: NFC

    Division: West

    Predicted record: 10-6

    After getting off to an abysmal 0-9 start last season, the 49ers finished 6-1 in their last seven games. A big part of that was due to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, acquired in a mid-season trade with the Patriots in 2017. This off-season, the 49ers signed Garoppolo to a historic five-year deal and are betting they can build a contending team around him. Signing cornerback Richard Sherman and running back Jerick McKinnon added even more hype to an already exciting team going into the 2018-19 season. Bing predicts they will win the NFC West.

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  • #10. Baltimore Ravens
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    #10. Baltimore Ravens

    Conference: AFC

    Division: North

    Predicted record: 10-6

    After the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson, quarterback Joe Flacco responded with what was reportedly his best off-season and pre-season in his career. Signing wide receivers John Brown and Willie Snead while adding tight end Hayden Hurst in the draft will give the passing game in Baltimore every chance to rebound from a poor 2017 campaign that averaged 213.8 passing yards per game, which was in the bottom 10 of the NFL.

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  • #9. New Orleans Saints
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    #9. New Orleans Saints

    Conference: NFC

    Division: South

    Predicted record: 11-5

    Occasionally, the most important off-season move can be one that doesn’t happen for a team. That’s what happened this summer for the Saints when they were able to successfully re-sign quarterback Drew Brees to a two-year $50 million deal. The Mickey Loomis-Sean Payton-Drew Brees era will continue in the Big Easy, and off-season defensive pickups with linebacker Demario Davis and cornerback Patrick Robinson could nicely supplement the current unit, as they are both coming off career years.

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  • #8. Los Angeles Chargers
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    #8. Los Angeles Chargers

    Conference: AFC

    Division: West

    Predicted record: 11-5

    Could this season be the one when the Chargers put all the pieces together? They signed center Mike Pouncey in the off-season, adding one of the best offensive linemen in the league. That should only make a strong 2017 offense centered around quarterback Philip Rivers, running back Melvin Gordon, and wide receiver Keenan Allen even more formidable. Their weakness will be on the defensive side. They ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed per game last year, and didn’t directly address that issue in free agency or the draft.

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  • #7. Pittsburgh Steelers
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    #7. Pittsburgh Steelers

    Conference: AFC

    Division: North

    Predicted record: 11-5

    While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger might be 36 with a history of concussions, he recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he expects to run a no-huddle offense now more than ever under the new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. That’s an exciting prospect in enabling playmakers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who led the league in receiving yards last season, and running back Le’Veon Bell, who had 1,291 rushing yards and 655 receiving yards in 2017. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy, the Steelers are a solid choice to be a playoff contender in 2018.

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  • #6. Los Angeles Rams
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    #6. Los Angeles Rams

    Conference: NFC

    Division: West

    Predicted record: 11-5

    Last year could be summed up for the Rams as new coach, no problem. Sean McVay’s first season at the helm and the team’s second season in Los Angeles exceeded virtually everyone’s expectations. The Jared Goff-Todd Gurley backfield harkened comparisons to the “Greatest Show on Turf” teams of the early 2000s with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. One new name on defense to watch will be defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh was released by the Dolphins after making it through three of the six years of the deal he signed that made him the highest-paid defensive player in league history. The one-year, $14 million contract is shaping up to be a high-upside gamble for Los Angeles.

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  • #5. Atlanta Falcons
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    #5. Atlanta Falcons

    Conference: NFC

    Division: South

    Predicted record: 11-5

    The Falcons had a relatively quiet offseason, the biggest blow being the departure of defensive tackle Dontari Poe. Poe brought consistency to Atlanta by filling the middle, starting all 16 games last season and contributing 2.5 sacks. The Panthers gave him $28 million in a three-year agreement. Adding wide receiver Calvin Ridley with the first-round pick should give Matt Ryan another passing option besides the indefatigable Julio Jones. Bing predicts the Falcons to win the NFC South with an 11-5 record.

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  • #4. Jacksonville Jaguars
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    #4. Jacksonville Jaguars

    Conference: AFC

    Division: South

    Predicted record: 12-4

    Last year’s second-best defense statistically in the NFL didn’t lose any core assets and will look to build upon last year’s exciting run. But they’ll have a bear of a schedule, matching up against New England, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Houston twice. This is shaping up to be a critical year for quarterback Blake Bortles, who has received mixed reviews from analysts and experts. This will be his fifth season in the league since forgoing his senior year at the University of Central Florida to declare for the draft.

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  • #3. New England Patriots
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    #3. New England Patriots

    Conference: AFC

    Division: East

    Predicted record: 12-4

    The Patriots have been a perennial top contender in the NFL for more than a decade. Even with an uncharacteristic level of drama in Foxboro centered around raising tensions between quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft, the team still seems primed for another amazing year at the top of the AFC East. At 41 years old, Brady looks like he could play another decade based on his performance in training camp and the preseason. While the supplementary pieces may change year after year, the core has remained intact. There’s no reason to expect a different result this year. Bing predicts the Patriots to easily win their division.

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  • #2. Philadelphia Eagles
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    #2. Philadelphia Eagles

    Conference: NFC

    Division: East

    Predicted record: 13-3

    The defending Super Bowl champions will have a target on their back as they try to repeat, and they also may have a different quarterback. The key question will be if Carson Wentz will be healthy and ready to go for Week 1. Philadelphia will look to get off to a hot start with a tough slate of games from Week 7 to 11 with the Panthers, Jaguars, Cowboys, and Saints.

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  • #1. Minnesota Vikings
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    #1. Minnesota Vikings

    Conference: NFC

    Division: North

    Predicted record: 14-2

    The Vikings won their division last year, taking the NFC North two out of the last three seasons. Bing predicts they won’t just do it again in 2018–19, but they’ll do it with ease by rolling to an NFL-best 14-2 record. The biggest impetus explaining how they’ll get better is by inking quarterback Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million deal, and by providing him more talent to throw to than in Washington with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen as wide receivers. The best defense in the NFL retained all their key pieces. Last season they led the league in allowing only 15.8 points per game and 275.9 yards per game.

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