The 2016 NFL season is six months away - but why not try to predict the standings now?
How will the NFL look at the end of the 2016 season? Obviously, there is no way to know for sure, especially with free agency and the NFL Draft still to go this offseason, plus the injuries that impact every single year. None of that stops any of us from trying to figure out what to expect for next year, even as we are just days past the conclusion of Super Bowl 50.
Earlier this week, we posted the initial Vegas Odds for all 32 teams to claim the Super Bowl LI championship next February. A Reddit user, italian_trojan, then used those odds to lay out the six AFC and six NFC teams who would make the NFL Playoffs. Which then made me wonder what all eight of the divisions would look like, and would the odds for next year's Super Bowl champion mirror the finish from this year's regular season?
Below, you will find the eight NFL divisions, ordered by Super Bowl LI odds, along with their relative division finish from last year.
New England Patriots (8-1; 1st AFC East)
Buffalo Bills (30-1; 3rd AFC East)
New York Jets (30-1; 2nd AFC East)
Miami Dolphins (50-1; 4th AFC East)
The AFC East remains basically the same, though the Bills and Jets swap positions, more based on the fact that the Vegas Odds listed Buffalo ahead of New York based on alphabetical order. The Jets finished 10-6 in 2015, while the Bills were 8-8, so it is a little surprising that the Vegas odds have the Bills and Jets even. Is that more of a case of the odds makers not trusting the Jets or believing in the Bills?
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-1; 2nd AFC North)
Cincinnati Bengals (14-1; 1st AFC North)
Baltimore Ravens (30-1; 3rd AFC North)
Cleveland Browns (200-1; 4th AFC North)
A lot of people are high on the Steelers, and their odds reflect that; they are one of three teams listed at 8-1 to win the Super Bowl. It makes sense, given the number of injuries the Steelers dealt with this year. The Bengals fall out of the top spot in the division, but do not fall too far and are in position to earn a Wildcard berth.
Indianapolis Colts (20-1; 2nd AFC South)
Houston Texans (40-1; 1st AFC South)
Jacksonville Jaguars (50-1; 3rd AFC South)
Tennessee Titans (50-1; 4th AFC South)
Clearly, the oddsmakers see the Colts rebounding from a year in which they were surprisingly bad, in no small part due to the injury to Andrew Luck. After winning the division in 2015, the odds don't have the Texans anywhere near the Playoffs in 2016.
Denver Broncos (14-1; 1st AFC West)
Kansas City Chiefs (20-1; 2nd AFC West)
San Diego Chargers (50-1; 4th AFC West)
Oakland Raiders (50-1; 3rd AFC West)
The quarterback question will surround the Broncos for a little while, where Peyton Manning may or may not retire and Brock Osweiler is a free agent. Denver will find a way to keep Osweiler, but, despite playing well during the season when he filled in for an injured Manning, he still has to prove himself as a 16 game quarterback. That probably accounts for the odds that push the Broncos down to 7th overall in the Super Bowl LI odds. The Chiefs, who were a Wildcard team in 2015, appear to be in the same position next season. The Chargers and Raiders are interchangeable at the bottom of the division.
Dallas Cowboys (16-1; 4th NFC East)
Washington Redskins (40-1; 1st NFC East)
New York Giants (40-1; 3rd NFC East)
Philadelphia Eagles (50-1; 2nd NFC East)
Tony Romo. The Cowboys' quarterback, who was 4-0 in starts in 2015 while the team was 0-12 without him, accounts for the swing in the division. Romo should be healthy this season, and he should lead a resurgence for Dallas. The Redskins and Giants are tied in the second/third position in the division, while the Eagles fall from second to fourth in the projected standings as they change from the Chip Kelly regime to the Doug Pederson era.
Green Bay Packers (10-1; 2nd NFC North)
Minnesota Vikings (20-1; 1st NFC North)
Chicago Bears (40-1; 4th NFC North)
Detroit Lions (40-1; 3rd NFC North)
The swap at the top of the division is not overly surprising. The Packers are going to be given the benefit of the doubt as long as Aaron Rodgers is playing quarterback. The Vikings fall back a little, but they are still in the top half of the league and in position for a Wildcard berth. The Bears and Lions have identical 40-1 odds.
Carolina Panthers (10-1; 1st NFC South)
Atlanta Falcons (40-1; 2nd NFC South)
New Orleans Saints (40-1; 3rd NFC South)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (50-1; 4th NFC South)
The oddsmakers see the NFC South ending exactly the same way it did in 2015. The only thing at play here may be the curse of the Super Bowl losers, who tend to struggle the year after making it to the championship game, only to come away empty handed. Will the Panthers be able to bet it?
Seattle Seahawks (8-1; 2nd NFC West)
Arizona Cardinals (10-1; 1st NFC West)
Los Angeles Rams (50-1; 3rd NFC West)
San Francisco 49ers (60-1; 4th NFC West)
Arizona only lost three games in 2015, but Vegas does not see them repeating in the NFC West, where the Seahawks are the third of three teams in the favorite 8-1 position for Super Bowl LI. Arizona does not fall too far, however, and is in position for a Wildcard. The move from St. Louis to Los Angeles does not help the Rams and the 49ers are still stuck at the bottom of the division, despite hiring Chip Kelly.
After all that, the Playoffs would have the Patriots and Steelers in the top two spots in the AFC, followed by the Broncos and the Colts. The Wildcard would then be the Bengals and the Chiefs. The only change from the 2015 Playoff teams would be the Colts replacing the Texans as AFC South division champions; annually there is about a 50-percent turnover rate in the Playoffs, but the Vegas odds do not reflect that. Overall for the conference, it gives us a seeding that looks like:
1 - New England Patriots (8-1)
2 - Pittsburgh Steelers (8-1)
3 - Denver Broncos (14-1)
4 - Indianapolis Colts (20-1)
5 - Cincinnati Bengals (14-1)
6 - Kansas City Chiefs (20-1)
On the NFC side of the house, the division winners are the Seahawks, Panthers, Packers, and Cowboys, followed by the Cardinals and Vikings in the Wildcard positions. Again, we only see one change from the 2015 Playoff teams, with the Cowboys replacing the Redskins as the NFC East division winners, while the Seahawks and Cardinals and the Packers and Vikings swap their claims on the division title and Wilcard spots. The NFC Playoff standings are:
1 - Seattle Seahawks (8-1)
2 - Carolina Panthers (10-1)
3 - Green Bay Packers (10-1)
4 - Dallas Cowboys (16-1)
5 - Arizona Cardinals (10-1)
6 - Minnesota Vikings (20-1)
Note: Ties throughout the standings and Playoff seeding were broken by alphabetical order by city name.
What do you think of the standings based on Las Vegas odds? Will the NFL season turn out anything like this? Who do you see in Super Bowl LI?