TAH’s 2018 NFL Division-by-Division Predictions and Analysis


Now that the NFL Draft has wrapped up, the NFL schedule has been released, and depth charts are starting to come to fruition, it’s never too early to predict what will happen once the games are played in the 2018 regular season. The Athletes Hub prediction crew is here with division-by-division record predictions, along with surprises to look out for, and in-depth analysis.

NFC East:

Consensus Pick: Eagles

Analyst First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Adam Grundy Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) Washington Redskins (10-6) NY Giants (9-7) Dallas Cowboys (5-11)
 Luke Jobson Philadelphia Eagles (12-4) NY Giants (9-7) Washington Redskins (8-8) Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Kaleb McChesney Dallas Cowboys (11-5) Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) NY Giants (6-10) Washington Redskins (4-12)
Martin Lee Philadelphia Eagles (12-4) Dallas Cowboys (9-7) NY Giants (7-9) Washington Redskins (6-10)
Miles Hill Philadelphia Eagles (12-4) Dallas Cowboys (9-7) NY Giants (8-8) Washington Redskins (7-9)

Adam’s Take: The Eagles had themselves a great off-season by retaining the majority of their championship-winning roster, all the while adding pieces thru the draft and free agency. They seem the most ready to win the NFC East, with my surprise team being the Redskins improving their record by three overall games from 2017.

Luke’s Take: The two major talking points out of the division won’t be Philadelphia taking the title, it will be the Giants improvement and the Cowboys stalemate. Questions will be asked of Dak Prescott this year, with Saquon Barkley running his way to rookie of the year with 1000+ yards. Watch for Eli Manning to have a throwback season.

Kaleb’s Take: After a pretty lackluster season for everybody who wasn’t the Philadelphia Eagles, each team made their effort to improve, and the Dallas Cowboys especially have caught my eye. If they can get a full season of Ezekiel Elliott, they could very well give the Eagles a run for the crown. The Giants and Redskins are still in “rebuilding mode” and won’t be a contender this season. It’ll come down to the Cowboys and Eagles, and I personally have the Dallas Cowboys coming back and swiping the division from the Eagles, however Philly is no joke and steals a wildcard spot. 

Martin’s Take: Coming off an amazing Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots, the momentum should not stop for the Philadelphia Eagles. Even though the Dallas Cowboys is going to give them a run for their money, the Eagles are still the best team in the NFC East and will prove that this upcoming season. After an embarrassing 2017-18 season where everything that could of went wrong for the team did, the New York Giants improved the team in the off-season, bringing in Nate Solder to protect Eli Manning and drafting Saquon Barkley to give Manning a much-needed running game.  With all the improvements the team made, the Giants should be able to make progress this season taking small steps in order to become a contending team once again in a few years.

Miles’ Take: Eagles should repeat with ease in this division; they will get Wentz back and added to an already strong defense this offseason. The Cowboys will become a one-dimensional team with no elite receivers, and the Redskins have a new signal caller but can’t seem to keep their offensive stars off the injury list.

NFC West:

Consensus Pick: Rams

Analyst First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Adam Grundy LA Rams (12-4) San Francisco 49ers (9-7) Seattle Seahawks (8-8) Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
 Luke Jobson San Francisco 49ers (11-5) LA Rams (10-6) Seattle Seahawks (9-7) Arizona Cardinals (7-9)
Kaleb McChesney LA Rams (11-5) San Francisco 49ers (11-5) Seattle Seahawks (5-11) Arizona Cardinals (4-12)
Martin Lee LA Rams (13-3) San Francisco 49ers (8-8) Seattle Seahawks (6-10) Arizona Cardinals (3-13)
Miles Hill LA Rams (11-5) San Francisco 49ers (7-9) Seattle Seahawks (9-7) Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

Adam’s Take: The LA Rams seemed to be all-in on improving all phases of their game by acquiring a large majority of prized free agents. Taking into account the momentum from past season’s success, I see them atop the division for the second consecutive year. My surprise team will be the 49ers giving the Rams all they can handle in divisional games, but bad losses down the stretch may ruin their playoff prospects.

Luke’s Take: San Francisco and the Rams will have a great battle to clinch the division, with Jimmy G just outperforming Jared Goff here to grab the 49ers the division. This will probably have the best divisional play out of the lot, with Seattle and Arizona capable of knocking anyone off.

Kaleb’s Take: There were major changes this off-season in this division with Seattle completely blowing up their defense in trading Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, all the while losing Jimmy Graham. Arizona, on the other side, lost Tyrann Matthieu to the Texans and QB Carson Palmer as well as Head Coach Bruce Arians to retirement. These two teams have a ways to go before they are competitive for the division race. However, the 49ers and Rams made HUGE improvements on their team and look to be premiere playoff threats. It’ll be close but I think the new and improved Los Angeles Rams will bulldoze their way to yet another NFC West title. But, the Jimmy Garoppolo-led 49ers will squeak into a wild card position and be a threat in the playoffs.

Martin’s Take: After surprising everyone last season and becoming one of the top teams in the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams went out this off-season and loaded up big time on offense and defense acquiring guys like Marcus Peters, Aquib Talib, Brandin Cooks, and Ndamukong Suh. With all the improvements this off-season, this team is going to be very hard to beat if everything goes right this upcoming season.  At the start of last season, there was no hope for the San Francisco 49ers seeing how they were playing, that was until they acquired Jimmy Garroppolo and ended the season on a high note. This off-season, the team brought in some defensive help in Richard Sherman to help out the defense and even though the team is not ready to beat the Rams just yet, the future looks bright for the 49ers.

Miles’ Take: The Rams had a good inaugural season back in L.A. and wonder-coach Sean McVay helped Jared Goff turn the corner in his sophomore season. The 49ers have to see what Jimmy G can do in his second season with the team but they are still a few players away. The Seahawks have gutted their defense and trying to transform their team, so they will take a step back.

NFC North:

Consensus Pick: Vikings

Analyst First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Adam Grundy Minnesota Vikings (11-5) Green Bay Packers (10-6) Detroit Lions (9-7) Chicago Bears (6-10)
 Luke Jobson Minnesota Vikings (11-5) (Tie breaker) Green Bay Packers (11-5) Detroit Lions (8-8) Chicago Bears (5-11)
Kaleb McChesney Detroit Lions (11-5) Minnesota Vikings (10-6) Green Bay Packers (9-7) Chicago Bears (7-9)
Martin Lee Minnesota Vikings (12-4) Detroit Lions (10-6) Green Bay Packers (7-9) Chicago Bears (5-11)
Miles Hill Green Bay Packers (11-5) Minnesota Vikings (10-6) Detroit Lions (8-8) Chicago Bears (4-12)

Adam’s Take: The Vikings got their man in quarterback Kirk Cousins, with the first fully guaranteed contract for a QB in NFL history. I think this investment pays off big, with them fending off the Packers for the division crown. My surprise to watch out for is an early-season firing of the Bears’ coach after a lackluster start to the season.

Luke’s Take: The tie-breaker here will be that Minnesota will have more divisional wins. Detroit will upset Green Bay and that will be the what costs Green Bay the divisional title. Both teams will get into the play-offs though, with Chicago having another dud year. Expect at least one coach to be fired by week 10.

Kaleb’s Take: This division is probably the most interesting that it has been in many seasons. With major changes in all of these teams, it will be a tight race to the end. I am putting my money on Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions since they are the most improved team in the division and have been sniffing a major breakout season in the last couple of season. With major personnel changes and shifts among the other teams that will take growing pains, I believe Detroit is in a prime position to take the division by storm.

Martin’s Take: With the team being one win away from going to the Super Bowl last season, Minnesota went out in the off-season and upgraded at quarterback signing Kirk Cousins in the free agency. With Cousins as the starter, and the entire team still intact and Dalvin Cook returning from injury, expecting a big year from this team this upcoming season. Last season, the Green Bay Packers were projected to win the NFC North and be playoff favorites, however after Aaron Rodgers went down and the defense did not perform well, the team missed the playoffs. Even though Rodgers will be 100% come September, the defense still scares me and will ultimately be the downfall of the Packers and will be a huge reason why the team will not make the playoffs and finish 3rd in the North.

Miles’ Take: I believe the Packers will just win this division by a hair, and that’s only because of Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings do have a strong defense, but I just don’t trust Cousins to make the big plays.

NFC South:

Consensus Pick: Saints

Analyst First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Adam Grundy New Orleans Saints (11-5) Atlanta Falcons(10-6) Carolina Panthers (8-8) Tampa Bay Bucs (5-11)
Luke Jobson Atlanta Falcons (12-4) New Orleans Saints (10-6) Carolina Panthers (9-7) Tampa Bay Bucs (4-12)
Kaleb McChesney New Orleans Saints (12-4) Atlanta Falcons (9-7) Carolina Panthers (8-8) Tampa Buy Bucs (7-9)
Martin Lee New Orleans Saints (12-4) Carolina Panthers (10-6) Atlanta Falcons (9-7) Tampa Bay Bucs (5-11)
Miles Hill New Orleans Saints (12-4) *Tiebreaker* Atlanta Falcons (12-4) New Orleans Panthers (10-6) Tampa Bay Bucs (8-8)

Adam’s Take: I really like what New Orleans has done this past off-season in order to remain the odds on favorite to win the NFC South. Atlanta’s new WR weapon in Calvin Ridley will help them clinch a playoff spot, with my surprise team being a huge regression in the play of both Cam Newton and Jameis Winston leading their teams out of playoff consideration.

Luke’s Take: Welcome to upset city folks. I’ve got Atlanta to win here off the back of plenty of touchdowns from Matt Ryan to Calvin Ridley, as well as a better defensive structure this season. Nothing else out of the ordinary here, with the Tampa Bay Bucs struggling for me yet again. Those four wins will be against Chicago, Cleveland, Carolina and an upset at Dallas.

Kaleb’s Take: For the most part, I’d say this division hasn’t changed. No major downfalls or upgrades that I would really speak of. So with that being said, the New Orleans Saints still look really good. I think they run away with a sequel to their division win and sweep their division.

Martin’s Take: After starting awful last season, the New Orleans Saints turned it around quickly winning the NFC South and making it to the playoffs only to lose to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round. With the Saints offense still as dangerous as ever, and a young promising defense, the team should have no problem winning the NFC South this upcoming season. Last season, the Falcons were in a three-team race for the NFC South title only to lose to the New Orleans Saints, but they still made the playoffs only to lose in the divisional round to the Philadelphia Eagles. This is going to be a tight race, but with how New Orleans is still New Orleans and Carolina improving on offense, it is hard to see Atlanta finishing above them, but it still can be a possibility, and it will be an interesting division to watch.

Miles’ Take: This is going to be fun battle to watch as it is a 3-team race between the Saints, Falcons and Panthers. All of them have dynamic QB’s, unique offenses, and good defenses. I still trust Brees as he is the only one to win a Super Bowl in this division. Having that signal caller you can trust always gives you the edge.

AFC East:

Consensus Pick: Patriots

Analyst First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Adam Grundy New England Patriots (12-4) New York Jets (10-6) Buffalo Bills (8-8) Miami Dolphins (4-12)
Luke Jobson New England Patriots (13-3) New York Jets (8-8) Buffalo Bills (8-8) Miami Dolphins (3-13)
Kaleb McChesney New England Patriots (13-3) New York Jets (5-11) Miami Dolphins (4-12) Buffalo Bills (3-13)
Martin Lee New England Patriots (13-3) New York Jets (8-8) Buffalo Bills (6-10) Miami Dolphins (4-12)
Miles Hill New England Patriots (11-5) New York Jets (5-11) Miami Dolphins (5-11) Buffalo Bills (1-15)

Adam’s Take: Make no mistake about it, this is still New England’s division, and I don’t see any contenders other than the Jets making a push for the division title. My surprise in this division is the implosion of the Miami Dolphins, since I don’t see how they can string together many wins with the loss of many talented names, such as Jarvis Landry, in the off-season.

Luke’s Take: New England all the way here. The Jets will improved massively from the previous season on the back of Sam Darnold, as well as Buffalo having an okay season after their first playoff appearance in over a decade. Miami will choke, with the distinct possibility of grabbing the number one pick for the 2019 draft.

Kaleb’s Take: More of the same coming out of the AFC East. Outside of Tom Brady and company coming out of Foxboro, the rest of the AFC East is as questionable as they were last season. The Jets, Dolphins, and Bills are all looking pretty rough, and I think its another easy division win for the Patriots.

Martin’s Take: Even though they lost Brandin Cooks, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis and Nate Solder this off-season, it is still New England’s division for the taking. The team still has one of the greatest quarterbacks in Tom Brady and as long as he is there and does not show his age, it is going to be hard to stop the Patriots’ offense. If there was something that scares me about New England this season, it would be the defense. The biggest surprise in the AFC East will be the New York Jets. The team has improved through the entire off-season, and after a decent losing season, do not be surprised if they are fighting for a wildcard spot this upcoming season.

Miles’ Take: The Pats are going through some internal battles right now, but they benefit from playing in a inept division. Number 12 is still the best QB in the game and with a healthy Gronk, they will continue to dominate until the other franchises make some sort of effort.

AFC West:

Consensus Pick: Toss-up!



Analyst First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Adam Grundy Denver Broncos (9-7) Kansas City Chiefs (8-8) Oakland Raiders (7-9) LA Chargers (6-10)
Luke Jobson Denver Broncos (11-5) Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) Oakland Raiders (8-8) LA Chargers (7-9)
Kaleb McChesney Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) LA Chargers (10-6) Oakland Raiders (6-10) Denver Broncos (5-11)
Martin Lee LA Chargers (11-5) Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) Oakland Raiders (8-8) Denver Broncos (5-11)
Miles Hill LA Chargers (10-6) Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) Oakland Raiders (8-8) Denver Broncos (5-11)

Adam’s Take: This is the hardest division of all the predict, as all of these teams have experienced a dramatic change going into this season. I think Denver’s investment in Case Keenum pays off here with them barely winning the division over the Chiefs. My surprise to watch out for is for newly anointed starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes to struggle mightily in the first few games, only to regain his composure late in the season.

Luke’s Take: I’ve got Denver going 11-5 with Case Keenum having another solid season, albeit with a different team this year. This is the division in which anything could, and probably will happen. It would not be at all surprising if the Chiefs got the divisional win, but the use of Mahomes could hinder that.

Kaleb’s Take: What once was the most competitive division in football has taken a step back with all teams having somewhat of a rebuild on their hands. I still believe Kansas City is still the most complete team in the division with the Chargers right behind them. It’ll be a race straight to the end, but I have the Chiefs taking this by a single game. But the Chargers manage to grab a wild card spot, so their efforts are not for nothing.

Martin’s Take: With how the team performed last season, the Los Angeles Chargers should be the favorite to win the AFC West with an offense that can put points on the board and a defense that can keep them in games. The rest of the AFC West will give them a little bit of a challenge, but at the end of the day, Los Angeles will win the AFC West. With the signing of Case Keenum this off-season, the Denver Broncos will be looking to rebound from a disappointing season last season. With all the questions on Case Keenum and if he can do it again, the team will be average this year, but not good enough to make the playoffs and finish last in the division.

Miles’ Take: The Bolts finished strong last season while the Raiders and Chiefs faltered (still made playoffs). The Chargers are coming into this season with a strong defense and the only team with a legitimate, experienced quarterback.

AFC North:

Consensus Pick: Steelers

Analyst First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Adam Grundy Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) Baltimore Ravens (10-6) Cincinnati Bengals (8-8) Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Luke Jobson Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)  Baltimore Ravens (9-7) Cleveland Browns (7-9) Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)
Kaleb McChesney Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) Baltimore Ravens (7-9) Cleveland Browns (6-10) Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)
Martin Lee Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) Baltimore Ravens (9-7) Cleveland Browns (6-10) Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)
Miles Hill Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) Baltimore Ravens (9-7) Cincinnati Bengals (7-9) Cleveland Browns (2-14)

Adam’s Take: Pittsburgh still remains in the driver’s seat here, but I really like what Baltimore did in the draft to improve their prospects of giving the Steelers a run for their money. My surprise team is the Cleveland Browns to be competitive in games more often than not gaining five wins in a “spoiler” role.

Luke’s Take: Pittsburgh will once again take the division, with a decent run into the playoffs to be expected. The surprise here will be that Cleveland will take some teams to the woodshed after going 0-16, not quite hitting .500 but going close. Cincinnati will just fly off the radar with a mediocre season.

Kaleb’s Take: The AFC North is pretty weak, in my opinion. None of these teams really made significant improvements outside of Cleveland, and the Browns are still several steps away from being competitive in the division race. I think barring any major injuries, Pittsburgh takes this division swiftly, and Baltimore is the runner up finishing just under .500.

Martin’s Take: With the offense still one of the best league and with a decent defense, Pittsburgh should be able to win the AFC North without a problem. Even though Ben Roethlisberger is not getting any younger, as long as he has weapons on offense like Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger will be just fine and will be producing productive numbers. After going 0-16 last season, the Browns underwent a complete makeover throughout the offseason, getting players like Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield, Demarius Randall and a new General Manager in John Dorsey who is looking for a turnaround this upcoming season. With all the talent on the field offensively and defensively, Cleveland will be improved drastically and will be the biggest surprise in the AFC North. As long as everything goes well, this team has the ability to win at least 6 games.

Miles’ Take: As long as the “3 Killer Bees” (Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown) are in uniform, Pittsburgh owns this division. Flacco and Dalton have regressed as of late and lack the explosive targets to keep up with the high-scoring Steelers.

AFC South:

Consensus Pick: Texans

Analyst First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Adam Grundy Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5) Houston Texans (10-6) Tennessee Titans (9-7) Indianapolis Colts (3-13)
Luke Jobson Houston Texans (11-5) Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7) Indianapolis Colts (8-8) Tennessee Titans (6-10)
Kaleb McChesney Houston Texans (11-5) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) Tennessee Titans (8-8) Indianapolis Colts (7-9)
Martin Lee Houston Texans (11-5) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) Tennessee Titans (8-8) Indianapolis Colts (5-11)
Miles Hill Houston Texans (10-6) Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7) Tennessee Titans (9-7) Indianapolis Colts (2-14)

Adam’s Take: Jacksonville did the right thing by offering quarterback Blake Bortles a modest extension, allowing him to prove to the team that he will eventually deserve a more lucrative contract. My surprise team is for Houston to lead the league in scoring, under the direction of second year-quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Luke’s Take: Jacksonville will come back and be one of the teams to beat, however it’s expected that Deshaun Watson will be fit and ready to go for round one of the new season. With Watson back on the field and with no major losses to account for, expect the Texans to win the AFC South with a little bit of a buffer to the Jaguars.

Kaleb’s Take: This division is looking as tight and competitive as ever. It seems as like just a few seasons ago this was regarded as the worst division in football. But now with Jacksonville and Tennessee making major moves to improve, and Houston looking to have a bounce back year after a promising start with Deshaun Watson, it’ll be extremely close. I’m going to take Houston in the division race, since they are getting Watson and Watt back, and also acquiring Tyrann Mathieu was huge. This team is looking amazing and is primed for a great 2018-19 season. I still believe Jacksonville will pull out a wild card position. This race could go both ways and will shift all season long.

Martin’s Take: Before Deshaun Watson got injured last season, the Houston Texans were looking like an odds-on favorite to win the AFC South. With Watson back and hopefully at 100%, the team has everything ready to go for the AFC South title. With a talented defense, talented wide receiving core, and a promising franchise quarterback, it is going to be hard to stop the Texans. Tennessee, after finishing 9-7 last season, are going to have a harder time to get in the playoffs in a competitive AFC South with Houston and Jacksonville both better than them on paper. Expect the Titans to not make the playoffs this season.

Miles’ Take: This will be the tightest division in the AFC, but The Texans should pull it out. They have the most athletic quarterback in the division, and best wideout in the division. The Jags will challenge, but losing Hurns and Robinson will make them a one-dimensional team. The Titans are a well-balanced team, but just won’t be explosive enough to contend with the Texans.

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