There’s no better time to predict who will succeed and who will fail than right now. Sure, there’s still a long way to go. We’ve got the draft, then all of the summer practices, then all of the preseason games. So, a lot can happen before Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. But who cares? We can assume with relative certainty that teams like the Cowboys, Falcons and Patriots will likely have good seasons next year. But even though the Falcons had the league’s MVP and had a huge lead in the Super Bowl, they’re not ranked in the top two spots of this list.
We also have a pretty good idea that teams like the Rams and the Browns will continue struggling. Of course, free agency and the NFL draft will change some of these projections, but it’s fun to see where teams stack up heading into one of the most scrutinized offseasons in professional sports.
But how good and how bad will every team be at the end of the 2017 regular season? We predict everyone’s record with this list. The worst records begin and the best records conclude this listing of all 32 teams in the NFL. It may seem outlandish to determine their records so soon, but we’ll let you know why each team is projected where they’re at. Do you disagree with our projections? Feel free to comment and let us know what you think.
Note: The records in parenthesis are predictions for the teams 2017 regular season and do not reflect 2016 records.
32. LOS ANGELES RAMS (2-14)
The Los Angeles Rams just have too many questions surrounding their offense to think that they will be able to put together more than two wins throughout the season. Grabbing four wins early on last season seemed like a gift for Los Angeles. The Rams just don’t have any firepower at the wide receiver position and they sure as heck don’t have a gunslinger that will elevate any of their receivers to stardom.
Plus, you’ve got Todd Gurley who had a great season a couple years ago. But the Rams offense seemed to beat it out of him last year and it doesn’t seem likely any of that will change with Jared Goff (who lost seven-straight games to end last season) calling the plays behind center.
31. CHICAGO BEARS (3-13)
With or without Jay Cutler, the Bears are going to be fighting for a spot at the 2018 draft. Cutler is coming off a surgery to his throwing shoulder, so even if he does make it to the field with the Bears, we likely won’t see Cutler on the field for long. The aging veteran won’t be able to take many hard hits next season. Let’s say the Bears go a different route at quarterback, well, that won’t look any better either. There backup situation isn’t great so they’d have to throw a new face in to lead the already struggling offense.
The Bears will be fighting with the Rams to see who finishes off 2017 with the worst record, but having Cutler for a handful of games gives Chicago the edge for now. C’mon, he does have Alshon Jeffrey to throw the ball to so they should be able to win a few games.
30. CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-13)
The Browns will improve on their dismal one-win season, but don’t expect much out of a team that will probably rely way too much on rookie talent. The Browns have two first round picks, then two second round picks, with the first pick in each of those rounds. That has the potential to bring a lot of young talent to Cleveland. But why should anyone expect those young guns will transform this team. Sure, the Browns will no doubt improve on their worst record in franchise history. But there’s no reason to expect they’ll be anywhere near a .500 team. This team will still be struggling for wins in 2017 and will see a top draft spot once again in 2018.
29. NEW YORK JETS (4-12)
Again, we meet a team that will spend way too much time in 2017 trying to figure out its quarterback situation. There’s no reason to believe that this will work itself out by Week 1. And what makes matters worst? Seven of the Jets games are slated to be against 2016 playoff teams, including two games against the Patriots and one game against the Falcons. The Jets are still a long, long way from their 10-6 record a couple years ago.
They need help all over the offense, and most importantly need to strengthen up their offensive line. Until they see significant improvements, which can’t happen in this offseason alone, the Jets will remain at the bottom of the league. The best-case scenario for the Jets would be adding a couple key players that can help the team make a run in 2018.
28. HOUSTON TEXANS (4-12)
Despite their playoff run last season, the Houston Texans will undoubtedly return to the bottom of the league next season. Maybe then they’ll be able to draft a quarterback who can truly lead the offense. Houston offered Brock Osweiler a contract that’s normally offered to the superstar starters in the NFL. The four-year $72 million deal is a joke compared to what Osweiler did, and what he will probably do in the coming years.
Sure, Osweiler led the team to a 9-7 record last year, but the Texans defense can only take them so far. With aging stars like J.J. Watt on the defensive front, the Texans will be looking at rebuilding following a terrible season next year and they’ll most likely be looking for a new guy to lead their offense.
27. MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-12)
This is quite the turnaround for a team that made the playoffs last season after an 11-win season. But Dolphins fans probably already have the feeling that this is coming. Sure, they have a good quarterback and some talent surrounding him. But Ryan Tannehill is still young and has some more struggles to push through before he’ll be considered among the league’s best.
But it’s not Tannehill who will be leading this team to one of the worst records in the league. Last season, they were working with a very easy schedule compared a lot of the playoff teams. Plus, they don’t have the answers on defense to get a winning record. They might seem set on offense, but their defense needs a lot of help.
26. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (6-10)
The Eagles finished with seven wins last season, but Carson Wentz isn’t going to turn this team into anything better in 2017. The Eagles had to rely on their strong defensive front last season, but a lack of cap space will stump any room from improvement this offseason. And next season is just far too early to expect Wentz to turn into the franchise face of Philadelphia.
Sure, he may string together a few good games. But there’s no way that he’s taking this team to the playoffs. He’ll need some talent surrounding him at both the running back and wide receiver positions. Right now, the Eagles don’t have a solidified star at either position. They won’t have the worst season in the league, but they’ll no doubt be drafting in the top-10
25. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-10)
San Francisco won’t have a shot at the playoffs, but the 49ers will see a huge boost in production compared to their two-win 2016 season. The 49ers barely outplayed the Cleveland Browns last year, partly because of similar issues at the quarterback position. But the addition of Kyle Shanahan seems to give San Francisco a bit more hope in figuring out that issue. And the possibilities seem very interesting for San Francisco.
With Colin Kaepernick still fighting it out for the starting spot, it gives the 49ers options to play with. They have the ability to pass on a young star in the draft, or they can grab a young stud straight out of college and have him battle it out with Kaepernick. No doubt, that competition would provide for a quarterback who will lead the team on a string of wins.
24. DENVER BRONCOS (6-10)
Denver has been relying on its defense just a bit too long. It’s going to catch up with them this season. Sure, the Broncos have proved to be one of the premiere defenses for some time. Their defense has been one of the few in the league that has been able to win games with minimal help from the offense. But Denver’s offensive struggles will prove to be too much this season.
The Broncos just don’t have a solidified quarterback and that’s going to cause major issues next season. They’ve got good wide receivers with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, and they’ve got a good running back in C.J. Anderson (if he can stay healthy). But Trevor Siemian isn’t the answer for the Broncos quarterback, and struggle to find a starter will sink their season.
23. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (7-9)
Here we meet our first team that has the quarterback position figured out. To this point, Blake Bortles has proved to be a star quarterback despite playing on a team that doesn’t match his production. Unfortunately for Bortles, no matter how much he scores, the defense will seemingly let the other team score more.
No matter how many times Bortles connects with Allen Robinson or Allen Hurns, it will be for nothing if the Jaguars can’t infuse some more talent into their defense. But this offseason can prove to be very beneficial for Jacksonville. The Jaguars aren’t starting from zero. They have a good base in place and just need a couple of talented playmakers to really turn this team around. They won’t be playoff-bound, but they’ll be way ahead of the three-win season from last year.
22. BUFFALO BILLS (7-9)
Buffalo always seems to find ways to win despite lacking a key player in the most important position on the field (well, maybe it’s not that important in Buffalo). The Bills always tend to keep an almost-average record, like last year’s 7-9 record, without having a solidified star as their starting quarterback. The Bills always have a defense that outranks their offense, which allows for more opportunities for victories than the other teams that also often struggle with the person under center.
Buffalo, though, does boast some extreme talent on its offense. Sammy Watkins may not put up the best numbers, but if he had a more reliable quarterback he’d be putting up stats that would come close to matching the league leaders. With a quarterback, this team would be playoff-bound. But the Bills do have LeSean McCoy, which will keep them near the .500 record even without the proper quarterback.
21. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (7-9)
Is Philip Rivers getting too old to successfully run this offense for an entire season? He might be. In two out of the last three seasons Rivers has led the league in interceptions. He did make the Pro Bowl last season. But again, he led the league with 21 interceptions. What’s even worse, he won just four games in 2015 and five games in 2016. Now Rivers, who has a career 97-79 record as a starting quarterback, should be able to turn this around.
He’s turning 36, but he’s got a good amount of talent surrounding him. He’s got a good running back in Melvin Gordon, who rushed for 997 yards last season. If the Chargers can get some help on their offensive line this offseason, the team can really thrive. Plus, who knows how many years Rivers has left. He’s going to want to see a playoff run before he retires, but that’s doubtful for this season.
20. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (7-9)
This prediction comes assuming Kirk Cousins remains in Washington. If he goes somewhere else, the Redskins will fall to one of the worst teams in the league. That’s because Cousins is really good. But the talent surrounding him is minimal. And without Cousins, the Redskins are lucky to be a four-win team.
DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are two of the more known receivers in the league. But Jackson isn’t a consistent enough threat. He’ll post huge numbers once every few games then go nonexistent during the rest of the time. Garcon, on the other hand, wasn’t a factor for a majority of last season and likely won’t factor into the offensive scheme going forward. There’s a chance all three of these guys could be somewhere else next season, and if so, the Redskins will be looking at a top-5 pick in the 2018 draft.
19. BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-8)
Last season the Ravens finished with a .500 record, and it’s looking like their primed for another average year. The Ravens are just getting too old to rally off a late-season push that could take them to the playoffs. Baltimore’s defense still can be threatening at times, but aging stars will keep them from continuing success late into the season. The Ravens will likely start off hot, then trail off as the season progresses.
Sure, a quarterback like Joe Flacco has a chance to lead any team into the postseason. But at this point in his career, Flacco doesn’t seem to have the skill to compensate for his aging body. Flacco is going to start in Baltimore, but fans may be calling for his departure by the end of the season.
18. CINCINNATI BENGALS (8-8)
The Bengals may finish next season with the same record as the Ravens, but they’ll hold the tiebreaker and finish second in the division behind the Steelers. The Bengals are going to win each time they face the Ravens next year, which will give them the edge in the final rankings after the regular season ends.
The Bengals just have too much firepower to fall against the Ravens, but they don’t have enough consistency to maintain a winning record. The Andy Dalton and A.J. Green combination is something that should scare every team in the league. It’s a combo that will likely cause multiple high scoring contests. But questions at the running back position and the rest of the wide receiver corps will dampen this team’s chances at a better record.
17. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (8-8)
If Adrian Peterson moves on to another team, the Vikings stock severely plummets. Since Peterson has been on the Vikings, they’ve seen the postseason, but only because of the crazy numbers the running back has posted. The Vikings just aren’t staged to make a postseason push with the talent they possess without AP.
Of course, Minnesota seems to always be helped by crushing special teams play that posts a touchdown every once and a while. And Sam Bradford might have a season that we’ve all been waiting to see since he was drafted in the top spot by the Rams. But none of that will matter without their star running back. It will allow them to break even, but they’re not going to do any better.
16. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (8-8)
The Colts have a really good quarterback in Andrew Luck and they do a really good job protecting their star signal caller. The one aspect of their team that really struggles – getting to the oppositions quarterback. Sure, they’ve got talent on defense. Including a star in Vontae Davis. But they need to put more pressure on the quarterback or they will be staged for another average season.
Luck has great chemistry with T.Y. Hilton. So, we’re not doubting their ability to lead this offense to high-scoring appearances potentially every game (sure, it won’t happen every game but the team has the ability to put up huge numbers each time its on the field). Indianapolis will get close to the playoffs, but without some more pressure on the quarterback, the Colts will be sitting on a .500 record for a second year in a row.
15. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (8-8)
The Chiefs had an amazing 12-win season last year and they did it with a quarterback who wouldn’t start on a lot of NFL rosters. Alex Smith really seemed like he was there just to manage the game, rather than win games. It seemed really obvious in the postseason when he lost against the Steelers, who didn’t even score a touchdown in that postseason victory.
Looking back at the record, Kansas City seemed really good last season. But the Chiefs had a lot of games that were close and could have easily resulted in a loss. And Travis Kelce won’t remain a consistent force if he continues to be the only factor on offense. Plus, Jamaal Charles just seems way to injury prone at this point.
14. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-7)
Drew Brees has got to be on the cusp of retirement and one final winning season may be the push he needs to bow out from the NFL. The main question in New Orleans – can the defense get the tools it needs to be competitive. It seemed like nearly every game was a shootout for the Saints.
Brees would lead his team with three or four touchdowns, then the defense would give up four or five touchdowns. It was a never ending struggle that often put Brees on the losing side. But if they can add a couple of defensive threats this offseason, there’s no doubting the power that can come from Brees and his offense. With Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Mark Ingram and Coby Fleener, this team can make a run in the postseason and drastically improve its record projections with a couple of defensive additions.
13. DETROIT LIONS (9-7)
It’s a bit optimistic to think the Lions will be able to repeat their nine-win season that they saw in 2016. So many of their wins were so close and were decided in the fourth quarter. But with the return of Ameer Abdullah, who was injured a good chunk of last season, the Lions should be in a better position. And pairing him with Theo Riddick could really give the Lions a good attack out of the backfield.
Although Matthew Stafford is one of the better quarterbacks in the league, he could really use a young wide receiver out of the first or second round of the upcoming draft. Stafford has a couple of good targets out there, but a good young stud could really help this offense succeed late in the season.
12. CAROLINA PANTHERS (9-7)
The Panthers played miserable last year. They won just six games and just looked awful nearly every time they got on the field. It was disappointing and completely unexpected for a team that has such a good quarterback. Cam Newton is among the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But he sure didn’t look like one last season.
He barely had more than a 50 percent completion percentage and couldn’t seemingly control his offense like he has in the past. That alone will fuel Newton going into the 2017 season. But if this team wants to make a run at the postseason, they will need to get a reliable running back and another receiving threat to pair with Newton. No doubt, they will return to a winning season, but these offseason moves can determine if they see a postseason life.
11. ARIZONA CARDINALS (10-6)
The Cardinals really need Carson Palmer to remain active and healthy to see a 10-win season in 2017. He’s 37 now, and that poses a lot of questions and doubts for everyone, including Palmer himself. He might be deciding if he wants to retire now, if not, he’ll have that weight over his head for the entire season.
But that thought of retirement could fuel him to one last postseason run. Especially with the talent that will be surrounding him. He’s got one of the best wide receivers to throw to in Larry Fitzgerald and one of the best running backs with David Johnson. Oh, and he’s got a pretty dang good offensive line too. And really good talent on defense with Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones and Tony Jefferson. Expect to see this team making a playoff push next season.
10. TENNESSEE TITANS (10-6)
With Marcus Mariota at the helm of this offense, there’s no telling how far this Titans team can go. Mariota is one of the NFL’s rising stars and he’ll likely see a lot of continued success next season. He really could use another receiver threat. But the Titans have two first round picks, the fifth and the 18th, so it’s likely they’ll be able to match Mariota with another young star. At the very least Tennessee will be in one of the better positions to fill the gaps in the offseason. The Titans had a nine-win season last year, and they have a lot of cap room to bring on talent to surpass that mark. With a few offseason additions, there’s no doubt that this will be one of the best teams in the NFL next season.
9. OAKLAND RAIDERS (11-5)
This record heavily relies on Derek Carr’s health. We all saw what happened last season after Carr went down with an injury. The Raiders went from being a 12-win squad to a team that looked like they hadn’t won a game all season. For how talented the guys on the Raiders are, it was somewhat surprising to see how badly they fell without Carr starting behind center.
It was scary to see the Raiders have six wins in games decided by less than a touchdown. But that gives Carr now seems like the type of quarterback who thrives in those situations. As bad as it was for Oakland to lose so badly without the young quarterback, Carr’s stock and most likely his confidence skyrocketed after seeing his team fail as he rode the bench. He’ll likely return them to the playoffs next season, if he can stay healthy.
8. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (11-5)
Here, we have the third team that will be led by one of the league’s rising stars. Jameis Winston is set to have his best year yet in 2017. Everyone already knows that Winston is a star after the start he’s had in the NFL, but after next season, he will be among the NFL’s best athletes. Although Doug Martin will miss the first three games next season because of a suspension, Winston will have no problem leading Tampa Bay to 11 wins.
Sure, the Buccaneers could use some offseason help in the wide receiver position. But they’ve already got one of the league’s best in Mike Evans. With Evans paired with Winston, this team is already playoff-bound and any offseason additions will just help this team go further late in the season.
7. NEW YORK GIANTS (11-5)
Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. are a team that elevates the Giants to one of the best offensive squads in the NFL. And that’s without a star running back. If the Giants manage to add a star running back to their already talented roster, they’ll likely be a lock for a deep postseason run. But that’s a hope for the Giants roster. So, we have to look at what they currently have. And with Manning and Beckham, they have two of the best offensive threats in the league. Manning has 13 seasons in the league and has started just about every game, so his durability may become questioned with his increasing age, but it’s well worth the risk. Unless some major injury takes out Manning or Beckham, this team will likely be in the playoffs once again.
6. GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-5)
Offseason moves can affect our projection for Green Bay, though it won’t be too much as long as the Packers still have Aaron Rodgers. The biggest possibility for the Packers can really hurt the team’s defensive attack. There’s a chance the team won’t be able to afford Clay Matthews and he may sign somewhere else. And since the Packers don’t normally sign big names to big contracts, it’s unlikely he’ll be replaced with someone who can bring the same level of play.
But the Packers do have their star in Aaron Rodgers, who can seemingly toss touchdowns to anyone who joins him on the field. The two-time MVP will lead this team to winning records as long as he can stay healthy, and we expect him to make another playoff run next season.
5. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-4)
There hasn’t seemed to be an issue with Seattle’s defense in recent years and don’t expect that to change going into the 2017 season. The Seahawks always maintain a strong presence on defense and there’s no reason to believe that won’t happen again.
Plus, the Seahawks have really good talent on offense. Their talent just needs a bit more protection, specifically on the offensive line. With some additions to the offensive line, the Seahawks will be a very tough team to beat. Russell Wilson already has guys to throw to with Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett. And they have Thomas Rawls rushing the ball. They just need an O-line that can provide the time needed to let some plays develop and keep Wilson from getting beat up.
4. ATLANTA FALCONS (12-4)
The Falcons shouldn’t worry about a Super Bowl hangover with the talent that they’ll be returning to the field. Since Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will be wearing those red jerseys next season, Atlanta should have no worries about their team. The Falcons will cruise into the postseason with a 12-win record and will likely be fighting for another appearance in the Super Bowl.
Sure, the Falcons will be without their offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, who will now be working in San Francisco. But since they still have Ryan, they’re all set. Ryan, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was the MVP last season and does not look like he’ll be slowing down any time soon. All he has to do is hope Tom Brady finally gives into his age and can’t make it to another Super Bowl.
3. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-3)
Although there is some talk that Ben Roethlisberger might retire, that doesn’t seem likely as it looks like he is at the top of his game. The only reason we have the Steelers losing three games is the fact that Big Ben rarely makes it through an entire season. Since he’ll likely miss a few games due to some type of minor injury, it’s likely the Steelers will fall into a few losses (if Roethlisberger does shock the league and retire, the Steelers record would significantly fall from where it is currently projected).
But as long as Pittsburgh holds onto Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers will be holding one of the NFL’s most talented players. And when he’s been out because of injury or suspension, that awesome offensive line has led DeAngelo Williams to huge numbers. Then there’s Antonio Brown, who just adds another crazy threatening offensive talent to their repertoire.
2. DALLAS COWBOYS (14-2)
Why wouldn’t the Cowboys get better next season? We don’t see a reason. Dallas had an amazing 13-win run with two rookies leading the way and this next season is going to be even better. Sure, they’ll probably pick up a couple of loses along the way, but they’ll be going into the postseason as the top seed again.
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott won’t be surrounded by all of that rookie nonsense next season. That could add extra pressure, but that’s not going to faze these young emerging stars. It will more likely fuel them to see an even better season and play even deeper into the postseason. It’ll be extremely fun to watch what these young stars will be able to accomplish in their second year, and Dallas fans should feel lucky that they’re along for the ride.
1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-1)
It’s very easy to think that next year is going to be the year that Tom Brady slows down. He’s going to be turning 40 and that’s an age that means retirement in the world of sports. But that talk has surrounded Brady for the last few years, and he’s seemingly getting better.
When you go through the Patriots schedule, it’s tough to figure out a team that will beat them. But we’ve got to assume that Brady will falter in at least one game. One team will catch them off guard. Right? Well, he’ll still win nearly every game next season, and the one loss may come as he rests for his next postseason run. There’s no reason to think he won’t be playing for his sixth ring. He still plays like he’s the best in NFL history.
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