The Fickle Science Of Predictions in The National Football League

The tandem of Sean Payton and Drew Brees is expected to return the Saints to their winning ways. - Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

As the NFL regular season grows near, conjectures abound and expectations run high in every training camp. Is your team going to be a contender or a pretender? Using on and off-the-field facts, here's a look at what we might see from all 32 NFL teams in 2013.

As the month of July slowly waves goodbye, training camps around the NFL are getting cranked up. In droves, fans are flocking to the various practice sites to catch a glimpse of their favorite quarterback, their new free agent acquisitions or their promising rookies.

Questions will be plentiful: will the team rebound this year? Has their time finally come? Can they repeat? Pundits will be dissecting every catch, every drop and every new wrinkle in the offensive and defensive schemes.

Oh, and let us not forget the depth chart analysis: Why is the usual starting Left Tackle practicing with the second team? Is the rookie safety about to win the job after practice one?

The beauty of this time of the year is that in all 32 NFL training camps, there will be one constant: unreasonably high expectations. In late July, all 32 teams are 0-0 as they embark on what they hope will be a successful 2013 campaign.

Realistic expectations however, will greatly vary from team to team and from one year to the next. For perennial contenders like the New England Patriots or the Green Bay Packers, it's often Superbowl or bust. For teams with a less successful pedigree, a simple wild card playoff berth would satisfy even the most demanding of fans.

Apart from a team's history, several other factors play a role in trying to predict what it will achieve in a given year. Among the most significant are the team's quarterback, its upcoming schedule, offseason free agents acquisitions and departures, the previous season record and the number of returning starters.

Combining these criteria with the inscrutable power of my old creole crystal ball, I will now answer your burning question of how your favorite team is going to fare in 2013. My magic formula is simple and rests on five key points:

1) 2012 results: was your team awesome or awful last year?

2) 2013 expectations level: high, medium or low (depends a lot on number one)

3) Why: tells you why your team's expectations should be what they are.

4) Why Not: tells you why your team's expectations should not be what they are.

5) Prediction: the heartless truth that will either lift or crush your hopes for 2013.

Let's go!

AFC North

Ravens_2_medium

2012 results: 10-6 - Division winner - Superbowl XLVII champions.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: Defending champs - QB Joe Flacco - Head coach John Harbaugh.

Why Not: No Ray Lewis - No Anquan Boldin - Repeating is a daunting task.

Prediction: 9-7. Ravens continue the ongoing trend of defending champions unable to repeat.

Bengals_medium

2012 results: 10-6 - Playoff wild card - Lost in wild card round to the Houston Texans.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: Made the postseason two years in a row - QB Andy Dalton's maturation.

Why Not: Can't seem to be able to get out of the first round of the playoffs.

Prediction: 6-10. The Bengals' two-year playoffs run ends with a tougher schedule in 2013.

Steelers_medium

2012 results: 8-8 - Finished third in division - Missed playoffs for the first time in three years.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: They are the Pittsburgh Steelers - QB Ben Roethlisberger - Head coach Mike Tomlin.

Why Not: Their vaunted defense is getting older - Ben Roethlisberger's health issues.

Prediction: 12-4. The Steelers rebound from a disappointing 2012 and win the division.

Browns_medium

2012 results: 8-8 - Finished last in division - Missed playoffs for 10th straight year.

2013 expectations level: Low.

Why: They are the Cleveland Browns - The poor play of QB Brandon Weeden in 2012.

Why Not: Piling up of high draft picks will eventually pay dividends....right?

Prediction: 4-12. The futility continues in Cleveland.

AFC South

Texans_medium

2012 results: 12-4 - Division winner - Lost in divisional round to the New England Patriots.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: Divisional round of the playoffs two straight years - QB Matt Schaub - DE J.J. Watt.

Why Not: Underachieving team on the big stage.

Prediction: 10-6. The Texans playoffs frustration continue as they are one and done in 2013.

Colts_medium

2012 results: 11-5 - Playoff wild card - Lost in wild card round to the Baltimore Ravens.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: QB Andrew Luck could be even better than in 2012 - Improved offensive line.

Why Not: Could Luck suffer the dreaded sophomore slump? - Tougher schedule in 2013.

Prediction: 10-6. Colts go toe to toe with the Texans, but are yet again edged for the division.

Titans_medium

2012 results: 6-10 - Finished third in division - Missed playoffs for fourth straight year.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: QB Jake Locker could finally live up to his eighth overall draft selection in 2011.

Why Not: RB Chris Johnson slowly eroding - Locker proving he is not a franchise QB.

Prediction: 5-11. This could be it for the Titans' QB Jake Locker.

Jaguars_medium

2012 results: 2-14 - Finished last in division - Missed playoffs for 5th straight year.

2013 expectations level: Low.

Why: The slow development of QB Blaine Gabbert.

Why Not: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, if healthy, gives them a chance at a few unexpected wins.

Prediction: 4-12. Jaguars fans should not expect to smile a whole lot this coming season.

AFC East

Patriots_medium

2012 results: 12-4 - Division winner - Lost AFC Championship game to the Baltimore Ravens.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: It's the New England Patriots, for goodness' sake!

Why Not: Health issues for TE Rob Gronkowski - No Aaron Hernandez - No Wes Welker.

Prediction: 12-4. Another ho-hum double digit win season for the Patriots.

Dolphins_medium

2012 results: 7-9 - Finished second in division - Have missed playoffs for four straight years.

2013 expectations level: Low.

Why: Is QB Ryan Tannehill poised to live up to that eighth overall draft selection in 2012?

Why Not: Still searching for Dan Marino's replacement.

Prediction: 6-10. A brutal five-game stretch to start the season dooms the Dolphins early.

Jets_medium

2012 results: 6-10 - Finished third in division - Have missed playoffs the last two years.

2013 expectations level: Low.

Why: QB Mark Sanchez and Head Coach Rex Ryan: marriage from hell.

Why Not: Could QB Geno Smith wrestle the job from Sanchez and improve the Jets?

Prediction: 8-8. It seems unlikely that a .500 record will save Rex Ryan's job.

Bills_medium

2012 results: 6-10 - Finished last in division - Haven't made playoffs since 1999.

2013 expectations level: Low.

Why: Possibly relying on rookie QB E.J. Manuel doesn't bode very well.

Why Not: New Head coach Doug Marrone may inject some life in a moribund franchise.

Prediction: 7-9. No playoffs for the Bills in 2013, but hopes of better days to come.

AFC West

Broncos_medium

2012 results: 13-3 - Division winner - Lost in divisional round to the Baltimore Ravens.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: QB Peyton Manning - WR Wes Welker - LB/DE Von Miller.

Why Not: Incredibly, Peyton Manning has a 9-11 record in the playoffs.

Prediction: 13-3. This could be the year for a third Superbowl appearance for Manning.

Chargers_medium

2012 results: 7-9 - Finished second in division - Missed playoffs for third straight year.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: QB Philip Rivers.

Why Not: Chargers have seen their talent level decrease considerably in recent years.

Prediction: 8-8. The run of mediocrity continues for the Chargers.

Raiders_medium

2012 results: 4-12 - Finished third in division - Haven't made the playoffs since 2002.

2013 expectations level: Low.

Why: There has been a glaring lack of commitment to excellence in Oakland for a while now.

Why Not: Could QBs Matt Flynn or Tyler Wilson revive the faint hopes in the Black Hole?

Prediction: 5-11. Pressure is going to start building for young head coach Dennis Allen.

Chiefs_medium

2012 results: 2-14 - Finished last in division - Haven't made the playoffs since 2010.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: Could the tandem of Andy Reid and Alex Smith restore the Arrowhead pride?

Why Not: Despite a lot of talent on their roster, the Chiefs have consistently underachieved.

Prediction: 6-10. A four games improvement signals a move in the right direction for the Chiefs.

NFC North

Packers_medium

2012 results: 11-5 - Division winner - Lost in divisional round to the San Francisco 49ers.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: Having the best QB in the league in Aaron Rodgers, this is a no-brainer.

Why Not: The Packers defense has dropped the ball figuratively and literally as of late.

Prediction: 11-5. Another good regular season for the Packers, but will it yield a ring?

Vikings_medium

2012 results: 10-6 - Playoff wild card - Lost wild card round to the Green Bay Packers.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: They have RB Adrian Peterson and QB Christian Ponder might be even better.

Why Not: It has been a difficult task to get out of the Packers' shadow.

Prediction: 6-10. It is going to be a ruthless return to reality for the Vikings in 2013.

Bears_medium

2012 results: 10-6 - Finished third in division - Have missed playoffs for two straight years.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: The explosive duo of QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall is back for more.

Why Not: How many times will we see "Good Jay Cutler" instead of "Bad Jay Cutler"?

Prediction: 9-7. Not a disastrous record for Marc Trestman's debut as head coach of the Bears.

Lions_medium

2012 results: 4-12 - Finished last in division - One playoff berth (2011) in the past 14 years.

2013 expectations level: Low.

Why: Despite QB Matt Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson, the Lions can't win consistently.

Why Not: The defensive unit will eventually live up to its talent and potential.

Prediction: 6-10. The seat is getting uncomfortably hot for head coach Jim Schwartz.

NFC South

Falcons_medium

2012 results: 13-3 - Division winner - Lost NFC Championship to the San Francisco 49ers.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: The unstoppable trio of QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White and WR Julio Jones.

Why Not: Unfairly or not, the Falcons are getting the label of postseason underachievers.

Prediction: 10-6. Another winning season for Mike Smith's squad, no division crown though.

Panthers_medium

2012 results: 7-9 - Finished second in division - Have missed playoffs for four straight years.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: Will the third season be the playoffs charm for QB Cam Newton?

Why Not: Another losing season could cost head coach Ron Rivera his job. The pressure is on.

Prediction: 7-9. Cam Newton might eventually make the playoffs, but it won't be in 2013.

Saints_medium

2012 results: 7-9 - Finished third in division - Missed playoffs for first time in four years.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: The return of Sean Payton at Drew Brees' side promises offensive fireworks.

Why Not: The worst defense in NFL history can't get that much better in one year.

Prediction: 11-5. Saints return to their winning ways under Payton and win the division.

Buccaneers_medium

2012 results: 7-9 - Finished last in division - Have missed playoffs for five straight years.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: With S Mark Barron and now CB Darrelle Revis, the defense should be much improved.

Why Not: Entering his fifth year, QB Josh Freeman seems to have hit a plateau.

Prediction: 7-9. Another subpar season is not what the doctor ordered for the Bucs.

NFC East

Redskins_medium

2012 results: 10-6 - Division winner - Lost wild card round to the Seattle Seahawks.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: Phenom QB Robert Griffin III should be back in the saddle post knee injury.

Why Not: With the surprise factor now out the window, the offense might take a step back.

Prediction: 7-9. The cat is out of the bag and the NFL catches up rather quickly.

Giants_medium

2012 results: 9-7 - Finished second in division - Missed playoffs for the third time in four years.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: Championship pedigree and an elite QB in Eli Manning.

Why Not: Which Giants team will show up in 2013? Motivated or blasé?

Prediction: 10-6. The window isn't closing just yet.

Cowboys_medium

2012 results: 8-8 - Finished third in division - Missed playoffs for the third straight year.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: Love them or hate them, they're the Dallas Cowboys.

Why Not: You can't spell "Dysfunction" without a big D.

Prediction: 9-7. This is likely the last season for Jason Garrett as the Cowboys head coach.

Eagles_medium

2012 results: 4-12 - Finished last in division - Have missed playoffs the last two years.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: Head coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense might take the league by storm.

Why Not: Neither QB Mike Vick or rookie QB Matt Barkley inspire much confidence.

Prediction: 8-8. Chip Kelly shows the NFL world his offense is more than a college gimmick.

NFC West

49ers_medium

2012 results: 11-4-1 - Division winner - Lost Superbowl XLVII to the Baltimore Ravens.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: Head coach Jim Harbaugh and QB Colin Kaepernick lead the charge.

Why Not: Losing his go-to WR Michael Crabtree could hurt Colin Kaepernick in 2013.

Prediction: 12-4. There's no slowing Colin Kaepernick down in his first full season as a starter.

Seahawks_medium

2012 results: 11-5 - Playoff wild card - Lost divisional round to the Atlanta Falcons.

2013 expectations level: High.

Why: Second year QB Russell Wilson is ready for an encore season.

Why Not: Without the surprise factor, like RGIII, Wilson will have to be even better in 2013.

Prediction: 9-7. High expectations can weigh heavily on a young quarterback.

Rams_medium

2012 results: 7-8-1 - Finished third in division - Missed playoffs for eighth straight year.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: Head coach Jeff Fisher could right the Rams' ship.

Why Not: QB Sam Bradford hasn't lived up to his 2010 number one overall draft selection.

Prediction: 10-6. Jeff Fisher reminds us why he is one of the best head coaches in the NFL.

Cardinals_medium

2012 results: 5-11 - Finished last in division - Have missed playoffs for three straight years.

2013 expectations level: Medium.

Why: QB Carson Palmer throwing to WR Larry Fitzgerald sounds promising.

Why Not: The Cardinals' brief swagger was lost when Kurt Warner retired.

Prediction: 7-9. Carson Palmer's time as an NFL starting quarterback may be up.

Let the games begin!

Follow me on Twitter!


In This Article

Teams
Players
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Canal Street Chronicles

You must be a member of Canal Street Chronicles to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Canal Street Chronicles. You should read them.

Join Canal Street Chronicles

You must be a member of Canal Street Chronicles to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Canal Street Chronicles. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker