It’s almost here! With just under a week until the NFL season kicks off, we cannonball into what to look for in 2021, including:
- Top 10 storylines that will define this season
- Five bold predictions
- Our best guess at each team’s record
Top 10 Storylines For 2021
Last year was one of the most anticipated seasons I can remember in a long time, in large part due to the uncertainty from the pandemic and the need for a sense of normalcy. While many of us became way too familiar with terms like close contacts, incubation period, COVID-19 list and more, we made it through the entire season with every game played, even if it meant Tuesday and Wednesday night football.
The shadow of COVID still looms over this season but the vaccine has changed the equation. There will be disruptions but more of the focus will be on the players and storylines on the field.
And there are plenty of those.
1.Aaron Rodgers’ farewell tour?
There was a legitimate question as to whether Packers QB Aaron Rodgers would even show up for the first day of training camp this year and certainly whether he would play for Green Bay again. The two sides hammered out a truce, though. Green Bay would get one more season of Rodgers to keep the championship window open for the Packers, while Rodgers got an exit strategy if things don’t improve to his liking.
While he’s under contract two more years, the no-tag clause he leveraged out of the Packers means they have to decide this coming offseason whether they’re going to trade him or let him walk for nothing in 2023. That makes 2021 a potential farewell tour for Rodgers in Green Bay.
Rodgers himself alluded to that with a Last Dance reference on Instagram before camp started. The presence of Jordan Love, the former first-round pick and presumed heir to Rodgers, still represents a ticking clock on Rodgers’ time with the franchise. The Packers could win the Super Bowl this year and it doesn’t change the fact that the team probably has to decide this offseason which one they’re going to commit to.
An extension for Rodgers means admitting spending a first on Love was a mistake. If Green Bay still plans to transition to Love, it makes the most sense to give him the benefit of whatever huge package they can trade Rodgers for and go all-in with him in 2022.
That’s the subtext this entire season will play out on, with every rise and fall of the season carrying greater weight and people mining every little thing Rodgers, HC Matt LaFleur, GM Brian Gutekunst and others say or don’t say for clues. So brace yourself. It’ll be a wild ride.
2. Can anyone catch the Chiefs?
Since Patrick Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback in 2018 with a brilliant 50-touchdown season, it’s been clear the path in the AFC goes through Kansas City. The Chiefs have been to the past three AFC title games. The fact that they just have one Super Bowl in that stretch shows how hard winning the Super Bowl really is, but make no mistake, they’ve been a dominant force the past three years and every indication is that they should be at the top of the conference yet again.
However, it’s possible the gap between the Chiefs and the rest of the AFC might be as narrow as it’s been in that time. The Bills stacked their pass rush and will have another year of continuity in OC Brian Daboll’s system. Mega-talented QB Josh Allen had a breakout year in 2020 and has the raw talent to match Mahomes if he continues to build consistency.
The Ravens have a former MVP quarterback and a consistently great defense. The Browns might have the most talented roster top to bottom and gave the Chiefs a scare in the playoffs last year. The Titans have taken down the Chiefs before and even dark horses like the Broncos and Dolphins have defenses that can give the Chiefs problems, especially if the issues on offense that cost them the Super Bowl continue.
Kansas City completely retooled its offensive line this offseason and the early reports in the preseason have been promising. But they’re still going to be relying on three players who have never played an NFL regular-season snap on the right side. And their receiving corps is as thin as it’s ever been, with the Chiefs making a big bet on WR Mecole Hardman stepping up as the No. 2 receiver. Mahomes can cover up for an abundance of flaws — and this year he might be asked to.
3. Precocious youngsters
Five quarterbacks were drafted in the first round this past April. Two were essentially locked in as Week 1 starters; Jaguars No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence and Jets No. 2 pick Zach Wilson. Patriots QB Mac Jones joined them this week with the semi-stunning release of QB Cam Newton. But the momentum for all five — Lawrence, Wilson, Jones, 49ers QB Trey Lance and Bears QB Justin Fields — to start from Week 1 has been overwhelming.
The odds say not all five quarterbacks are going to pan out. Based on historical trends, we can confidently say at least two of these guys are going to bust. Injuries, bad coaching, poor supporting casts, all of these things are pitfalls these guys are going to have to navigate.
That said, in fairness to the hype, this quarterback class is looking really good. Here’s Lawrence, the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck, looking off the safety and dropping a dime into a bucket on the sideline.
#Jags QB Trevor Lawrence vs. DAL…
Looked much more comfortable in the pocket. And the scheme helped here, too.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) August 30, 2021
Here’s Wilson rolling out and firing a laser on a move.
— Pat McAfee Show Quotes (@Patmcafeequotes) August 27, 2021
Here’s Lance moving a linebacker out of a throwing lane with his eyes and then unleashing an RPG for a touchdown pass.
— The Scouting Academy (@TheScoutAcademy) August 27, 2021
Here’s Jones doing something similar.
Mac Jones out here manipulating LBs already like he did at Bama pic.twitter.com/V5VYcfrdSL
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) August 27, 2021
And here’s Fields doing something that’s just silly.
Justin Fields’ ball-placement is ELITE
— PFF (@PFF) August 29, 2021
We still have to see it when the bullets are flying in the regular season but these are all really promising signs you don’t always see from rookie quarterbacks. All five have had rookie mistakes but they haven’t looked in over their heads, either. It’s going to be fascinating to watch this season play out. If this class keeps it up, it could be an all-timer at the position.
4. Super sophomores
We went into this topic in greater detail back in July, but there’s a fascinating class of second-year quarterbacks who are looking to follow up on their first acts.
- Chargers QB Justin Herbert will be looking to prove his debut as the offensive rookie of the year wasn’t a fluke and push the Chargers into contention.
- Bengals QB Joe Burrow already looked like one of the best things to ever happen to the Cincinnati franchise as a rookie and now will try to overcome a severe knee injury that cut short his first season.
- Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa already has more than his fair share of doubters after being benched twice as a rookie, including potentially inside his own team? Can he shut them up this year or will the chorus get louder/
- Eagles QB Jalen Hurts has one year to prove Philadelphia shouldn’t be players for a big name next offseason.
This group offers almost as much intrigue as the current crop of rookies.
5. Bill Belichick’s next act
After 20 years of dominance, the Patriots were a below-average team in 2020. They were horribly inadequate at multiple positions. Strengths they’ve built their dynasty on — suffocating defense, good offensive line play, receivers who could earn instant separation — evaporated or weren’t up to the usual standard. Years of poor drafting caught up to them and Tom Brady wasn’t around to make up for it.
In response to 2020’s 7-9 embarrassment, Belichick uncharacteristically opened up the checkbook in free agency and handed out more money than any other team. Patriots owner Robert Kraft essentially admitted they needed to instantly elevate the talent level on the team, so they brought in TEs Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, WRs Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, OLB Matt Judon, LB Kyle Van Noy, CB Jalen Mills and DT Davon Godchaux. They also swung a trade for OT Trent Brown and used a first-round pick on Jones.
The greatest thing about Belichick as a coach has always been his ability to be a chameleon, adapting and molding to the ways his team and the game itself have changed, oftentimes by being ahead of the curve. The loss of Brady has forced Belichick to be a little more reactionary. And it represents one of the biggest challenges of his career so far. It shouldn’t detract too much from his legacy but just like Brady enhanced his legend even more in Tampa Bay last year, Belichick has a similar opportunity in front of him.
6. New-look New Orleans
Saints HC Sean Payton might be on the verge of a similar experience as Belichick last year. He’s lost a Hall of Fame quarterback. After years of going all-in to surround that quarterback with a championship team, the roster is starting to spring leaks that can’t be plugged thanks to an unprecedented pandemic nuking the cap and blowing a hole under the waterline of the Saints’ financial strategy.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the worst storm to ever hit Louisiana just sent the team packing for potentially a month away from home.
As he looks to overcome all these obstacles, Payton will entrust the beginning of the next era of Saints football to a former No. 1 pick like Belichick did with Newton, with Jameis Winston winning the starting job in camp. It’ll be a test of Payton’s coaching acumen to see if he’s reduced Winston’s penchant for turnovers.
And if he can work around having almost no established weapons on offense outside of RB Alvin Kamara.
And if he can overcome gaping holes at defensive tackle and No. 2 corner.
The Saints have five primetime games this season so the whole country will get an up-close look at how Payton and the Saints handle this season.
7. Baker bets on himself
After a sophomore season that was classic bad news Browns, Baker Mayfield rebounded in a major way under new HC Kevin Stefanski. He wasn’t exceptional, but the whole point was that he didn’t have to be, as the Browns leaned on their offensive line, running game, play-calling and pass rush en route to their first playoff appearance in two decades.
Now Mayfield is eligible for a new contract like fellow 2018 draftees in Buffalo and Baltimore. Unlike those two, however, Mayfield is regarded as a couple of rungs down on the quarterback totem pole, more of a game manager than a transcendent player. That probably would be reflected in any contract offer at this point from the Browns, especially with the cautionary tales of Jared Goff and Carson Wentz fresh this offseason.
Mayfield doesn’t lack confidence or swagger. It would not be surprising in the least to see him bet on himself in 2021, knowing that with a good year his value will go up. From a team-building perspective, it’ll be fascinating to track Mayfield’s performance and development, as he’s quickly becoming the next test case on whether or not you should pay big bucks to a good, but not great quarterback.
8. The Deshaun Watson saga
At the moment, it does not look like Watson will play in 2021 given the sheer number of investigations going on into his alleged transgressions. It’s already clear he’ll never play for the Texans again. That feeling is mutual at this point. A trade seems like it’s more likely to happen after this season, which leaves Watson to languish as either a game day inactive or on the commissioner’s exempt list.
That said, things can change quickly with the legal situation, as a settlement is an option until immediately before any future verdict. That’s what makes this situation something to keep an eye on for the entire season, even if nothing real is going to happen until February.
9. NFC West arms race
Let’s take a zoomed-out look at the NFC West, what I’m ready to call the best division in football, top to bottom, this year.
- The Rams upgraded at quarterback with Matthew Stafford and anything short of a conference championship — and realistically a Super Bowl — will be considered a disappointment with this roster.
- The Seahawks, always contenders with Russell Wilson and now potentially ready to set him loose again.
- The 49ers, Super Bowl representatives in 2019 and now healthy after a snake-bitten 2020 season, who added a dynamic rookie quarterback to an offense run by the NFL’s best play-caller.
- The Cardinals, who have gone all-in on star veterans to surround game-changing talent, QB Kyler Murray.
All four teams are playoff quality in terms of talent and with the NFL’s expansion to seven playoff teams starting last year, it’s now possible for an entire division to make the playoffs. This year’s NFC West very well could be the first, as the competition between them has evolved into a sort of nuclear arms race, with everyone racing to add stars like Stafford, J.J. Watt, Jamal Adams, Jalen Ramsey, DeAndre Hopkins, and, hopefully, Lance.
10. QB inflection points
The past couple of offseasons have been almost unprecedented in terms of quarterback movement. Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and more have all switched teams, which would have seemed wild as recently as August of 2019. There was a lot of cage-rattling for guys like Watson, Wilson and Rodgers as well. Even if nothing happened this year, movement in 2022 is still in play.
All of this goes to show that teams have higher standards than ever at the quarterback position and there are fewer and fewer guys who can truly be considered as locked in, whether it’s the team wanting to move on or the player. 2021 will be a major inflection point for former high draft picks like Wentz, Winston, Panthers QB Sam Darnold, Giants QB Daniel Jones. All of them are young and have shown some potential but in a league that’s less patient than ever, they’re running out of time to put it together.
This Week In Football
- Final cutdowns this week offered a ton of roster change, more than we’ll be able to get into in this space, but it was preceded over the weekend by a bubbling up of speculation involving a potentially imminent trade of Texans QB Deshaun Watson. By the end of the weekend, we learned a few things:
- No trade involving Watson is imminent, as Houston’s asking price remains the same as it was before 25 different women accused him of a range of sexual misconduct in both criminal and civil court. The Texans have so far resisted including protections on those picks in case Watson misses time.
- The Dolphins are the frontrunners for Watson right now, and that’s primarily because they’re one of the teams Watson would waive his no-trade clause for. The Broncos and Panthers have dropped out and word is Watson wouldn’t waive his rights to be traded to the Eagles. So that really leaves Miami as the last team standing.
- Ultimately, it seems like the Texans are willing to carry Watson for the rest of the season until next offseason when perhaps there’s more information on his legal situation and a team will pull the trigger on a deal that makes it worth Houston’s while. The downside is an awkward situation and the team is out $10+ million, but it’s a lost season anyway for the Texans. A trade next spring gives them the benefit of knowing where the draft picks they’re getting fall as well.
- The biggest surprise cut this past week was the Patriots releasing QB Cam Newton, hands down. It clears the way for first-round QB Mac Jones, who by all accounts was very good this preseason. Newton wasn’t bad, either, but the gap was narrow enough that New England obviously felt the best thing to do was to go ahead and make the switch. Newton’s vaccination status, both going forward and for the role it played in him missing practice last week, also can’t be ignored. As for what’s next for Newton, it’s unclear. From a talent perspective, he’s one of the 32 best quarterbacks right now — and he’s not 32. He might be a victim of circumstance so late in the process though with teams having made their plans elsewhere. Expect Newton to be waiting a while for his next opportunity, if it comes.
- The cutdown period also tends to prompt a large number of trades. Some notable ones:
- The Eagles restocked the “quarterback factory” and traded a conditional sixth to the Jaguars for QB Gardner Minshew, who they have for two more years on a rookie contract. It’s not hard to see Philadelphia flipping Minshew for a profit at some point given what he’s shown already in his career.
- The Jets filled the void left by Carl Lawson’s injury by adding another Lawson, acquiring DE Shaq Lawson from the Texans for a sixth-round pick. It’s a definite downgrade but it should help New York’s edge group, which got thin in a hurry.
- The Bengals and Giants swapped trench players, with Cincinnati getting DT B.J. Hill to bolster their interior and New York getting former first-round C Billy Price. New York also traded for Ravens G Ben Bredeson in a clear sign of desperation about the state of their offensive line.
- The Seahawks traded for Jaguars CB Sidney Jones, bringing the former Washington corner back to the Pacific Northwest and addressing a huge need for a team that otherwise doesn’t have a ton of weak points. Jones revived his career in Jacksonville last season and Seattle got him for just a sixth.
- After getting bad news about the extent of TE Irv Smith’s knee injury that will probably knock him out for the season, the Vikings paid a relatively expensive price to get disappointing Jets TE Chris Herndon. Minnesota gave up a fourth and got a sixth back for Herndon, although the Jets ate some of his salary. Herndon showed a lot of potential as a rookie, going over 500 yards which only 35 tight ends have ever done in their first season. The Vikings are banking on a fresh start fixing what has ailed him.
- There were a few notable additions to the PUP list, which knocks players out for the first six weeks of the season at least. There was Saints WR Michael Thomas which was expected given his ankle injury. There was Packers LT David Bakhtiari, which is not too surprising given he tore his ACL at the end of last December and the typical recovery is 9-12 months. The Patriots left CB Stephon Gilmore on the PUP list, though, and that was a bit of a surprise given the reports on his quad injury had generally been good. It’s impossible to ignore Gilmore’s contract situation and the trade speculation as a potential factor here. It’d be difficult for New England to deal Gilmore as long as he’s still hurt.
- Perhaps no injury from the past week was more brutal than the Ravens losing promising second-year RB J.K. Dobbins to a torn ACL on the first drive of their preseason finale against Washington. He was set to be a huge part of Baltimore’s offense which runs the ball more than any other team in the league. Now, he just has to focus on his rehab with the goal of coming back as strong or better in 2022. It’s a perfect illustration of why fewer and fewer starters are playing during the preseason.
- The Colts continue to have a hard time with injuries this preseason. Veteran WR T.Y. Hilton came down hard in practice and ended up having to get surgery on a disc issue in his back/neck area that landed him on injured reserve. Indianapolis isn’t particularly deep at receiver and this puts a lot more pressure on Michael Pittman to step up as a No. 1 and on Wentz to make plays. Wentz himself is still working his way back from a foot injury that wasn’t helped by a stint on the COVID-19 list.
- We don’t know why yet, but Cardinals CB Malcolm Butler has decided to abruptly retire right before the start of the season. It’s kind of a big deal for an Arizona team that was already weak in the secondary and now loses the guy who was supposed to be their top corner, even if it was questionable how much he had left in the tank.
- The Vikings made what on the surface looks like a huge commitment to veteran S Harrison Smith, signing him to a four-year, $64 million deal. $16 million per year would be a huge commitment to a 32-year-old defensive back and will certainly be cited in a number of coming safety negotiations. For Minnesota, though, the deal cleared up a chunk of cap space this year and doesn’t excessively tie their hands going forward. The Vikings have outs next year with $7.6 million in dead money and in 2023 with just $5.7 million. If Smith declines to the point a release is considered, the Vikings have left an escape hatch.
Hot takes I feel strongly enough about to put in writing…
1.The Buccaneers are the best team in the NFL
I was really impressed with how Tampa Bay was playing their best football at the end of the season as they got more continuity together. Brady has admitted he didn’t feel comfortable with the playbook for a huge chunk of the season, and the pandemic-altered offseason certainly played a role in that.
There have been no limitations like that this year, and the Buccaneers brought nearly everybody back from their Super Bowl-winning team, enhancing their continuity even more. To me, that just screams that the Buccaneers are going to be an absolute force to be reckoned with this season. Like 14+ wins type of good. They have a Hall of Fame quarterback, a strong offensive line, the best receiving corps top to bottom in the league, a full stable of running backs, a ferocious pass rush, rangy linebackers, stout run defense and a secondary that can more than hold its own.
If everyone stays healthy, there are no weaknesses. The biggest question mark is if the team can stay disciplined and not drink too much of their own kool-aid. And with Brady and Arians’ experience, I feel good about that not happening. I get the sense that, just like when we had Cavs/Warriors for a few straight years in the NBA, we’re heading for another Chiefs/Bucs rematch in what hopefully is more of a classic than last season’s dud of a game.
2. Washington wins the NFC East on the back of a Rich Gannon-style late-career breakout from FitzMagic
Look at the career of Rich Gannon. He was a fourth-round pick and bounced around the league for more than a decade, getting mostly backup opportunities with the occasional starting role more via circumstance than intention. Then, late in his career, he landed on a great Raiders team and just exploded. In four seasons from 34-37, he made four Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pros, led the league in passing in 2002 and piloted the Raiders to the Super Bowl.
There are more than a few parallels with Washington QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who also has bounced around and has played his best football the older he’s gotten. No one has been willing to commit to Fitzpatrick as a starter until now but he lands in a sneaky terrific situation. Washington’s offensive line is solid, they have a legitimately talented cast of skill position players between WR Terry McLaurin, WR Curtis Samuel, RB Antonio Gibson, TE Logan Thomas and even role players like slot WR Adam Humphries and third-round WR Dyami Brown. And that defense, led by the league’s best defensive line, should be absolutely ferocious.
Fitzpatrick of course has never made the playoffs and his gung-ho style leads to a fair share of interceptions. But this is the best team he’s been on since the 2015 Jets arguably, and he went 10-6 that year with 3,905 yards passing, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The more I look at it, the more I think Fitzpatrick and Washington are going to really surprise a lot of people in 2021. At the very least, they’re going to be more fun on offense than they have any year since RGIII was a rookie.
3. The Lions surprise people
No one expects the Lions to be a good football team this year. They’re rebuilding after the disastrous Matt Patricia era and dealt away the best quarterback in team history after failing for more than a decade to win with him. Vegas has their win total set at 4.5.
I don’t expect the Lions to be “good” per se. On defense, in particular, they have a long way to go in the secondary and at linebacker. On offense, they have the worst receiving corps in the league, and the expectations for QB Jared Goff away from Sean McVay in Los Angeles aren’t very high.
Still, I can’t shake a feeling that Detroit is going to be better than we expect. New HC Dan Campbell was derided as a meathead after his opening press conference but there are signs he’s got a good grasp on the really important parts of being a head coach. He certainly fits the identity of Detroit and can mold a team that fits the city. As it stands before we get into the regular season, I’m buying what he’s selling.
While the personnel isn’t great, it’s strong on both the offensive and defensive lines, which outside of quarterback are the most important places you can be strong at. Goff also isn’t devoid of weapons, with TE T.J. Hockenson and RB D’Andre Swift set to be the focal point of the passing game. Even WR Tyrell Williams has a 1,000-yard season under his belt, he just has to stay healthy.
Six wins don’t necessarily feel out of the question with this group, perhaps even seven. Either way, I don’t think they’ll be pushovers. By the end of the year, I predict they become a group no one looks forward to playing.
4a. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers have a hot start to the season, but don’t be surprised when they can’t keep it up.
4b. Conversely, I can see the Colts starting slow but picking up steam.
Little bit of a two-for-one here. An underrated part of the NFL each year is the schedule, as the when and where can have a big impact on outcomes. Carolina has one of the softest opening slates in the NFL, leading off against the Jets and Saints, visiting the Texans and Cowboys, hosting the Eagles and Vikings, then hitting the road against the Giants and Falcons. A 6-2 start is very much in play.
After that, the schedule toughens up considerably with games against the Patriots, Cardinals, Washington, Dolphins, Bills and Buccaneers (twice) remaining. If Carolina’s a fraudulent 6-2, that stretch will expose them.
On the other side of the coin, the Colts have a brutal start to the season that will be exacerbated by their injury situation. They’re trending to have Wentz back at quarterback at least, but they’ll still potentially be missing G Quenton Nelson, whose recovery is a little different given his position, and WR T.Y. Hilton. And even at full strength, the gauntlet of the Seahawks, Rams, then on the road at the Titans, Dolphins and Ravens would have been daunting.
There’s an interlude against the Texans, then another two-game stretch at the 49ers and against the Titans. Keeping their head above water will be absolutely critical for the Colts, and that’s where the overall strength of the roster and the influence of HC Frank Reich could come into play. Keep in mind, Indianapolis started 1-5 in 2018 and clawed back to make the playoffs. If the Colts stay in it going into the back half of their schedule, things clear up considerably. They’ll have the chance to finish the season on a tear.
5. Texans become first-ever 0-17 team
A topic of discussion on social media Thursday was whether the Texans were actually a sneaky bet to underperform the seemingly universal expectation that they’ll be the worst team in the league.
He's right. Shocking to me how many people think it's a foregone conclusion they're the worst team in the league. There will be worse.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 2, 2021
Texans fans, spare yourselves and stop reading here.
It’s pretty clear the Texans are going to be bad in 2021. Vegas has set the line on their win total at 4. To me, that feels more like a ceiling for their season, even though it’s almost as hard to be that bad as it is to build a good team in the NFL. Things happen and you luck into a couple of wins here and there. The Jets last year are a great example.
I think there’s a strong chance the Texans become the first 0-17 team in NFL history. Tyrod Taylor is fine as a game manager but if you stack up the starters around the league, he’s 32 out of 32 at this point. His pass-catching group is barren with just WR Brandin Cooks as an established weapon.
Houston has a deep stable of running backs but are any of them better than league-average? The offensive line isn’t devoid of pieces with LT Laremy Tunsil but it’s hard to argue it’s anything more than an average unit overall as well, and probably more below-average if anything.
Looking over to the defense, the Texans made a ton of additions with guys on one-year deals to try and shore up a unit that finished last against the run and 24th against the pass in 2020. And if all of those guys hit, maybe this could be a unit that finishes in the high teens. But there’s a reason all of those players were available for bargain-bin deals in the first place. Houston still has gaping holes in the secondary and a defensive line that’s a work in progress. They signed a million linebackers but it won’t do them any good if they can’t cover on the back end or create disruption with the front four.
The last time Lovie Smith coordinated an NFL defense was in 2015, and since then the league has evolved to a point where the static Tampa 2 defense he buttered his bread on has gone almost extinct. A defense like that can still work to a degree with dominant personnel but the Texans don’t have that luxury. As for HC David Culley, I get major Jim Tomsula vibes from him, as amidst all the dysfunction surrounding the organization they had a real problem selling their head coaching opening and settled on Culley almost completely out of left field.
And speaking of distractions, we can’t pretend the whole Watson situation isn’t a black cloud looming over this entire organization. The bottom line is I don’t see any single unit you can point to as being at least league-average on this roster. With all the one-year mercenaries on this team, people will start to look out for No. 1 when things go wrong like they probably will early in the season.
Houston probably will luck into a win or two. But at this point, luck is about the only kind of hope I can pin on them this year.
|2021 Record Predictions|
|Browns 13-4||Packers 12-5|
|Ravens 12-5||Vikings 6-11|
|Steelers 7-10||Bears 5-12|
|Bengals 4-13||Lions 5-12|
|Titans 12-5||Buccaneers 15-2|
|Colts 10-7||Saints 7-10|
|Jaguars 4-13||Panthers 6-11|
|Texans 0-17||Falcons 6-11|
|Dolphins 11-6||Cowboys 10-7|
|Patriots 9-8||Eagles 5-12|
|Jets 3-14||Giants 4-13|
|Chiefs 13-4||Seahawks 13-4|
|Broncos 10-7||Rams 12-5|
|Chargers 7-10||49ers 10-7|
|Raiders 6-11||Cardinals 9-8|