Ultimate 2016 Predictions

Jason Getz-USA TODAY SportsDan Quinn and the Falcons will shoot for the playoffs in 2016

As is the case for the start of every NFL season, I put my prognosticatory skills to the test by laying out the “ultimate” predictions post, which have projections for every NFL team’s record including our beloved Atlanta Falcons, along with Super Bowl winner and top award-winners. You can also check out my statistical projections for the Falcons as well.

For the third year in a row, I have brought along my podcast co-host and The Falcoholic’s Allen Strk to help out.

2016 Atlanta Falcons Schedule Projection

WeekOpponentAaron SaysAllen Says
2at RaidersLossLoss
3at SaintsLossWin
5at BroncosWinLoss
6at SeahawksLossLoss
9at BuccaneersLossLoss
10at EaglesWinWin
14at RamsWinWin
16at PanthersLossLoss

Falcons’ Final Record

Aaron Says: 8-8
Allen Says: 7-9

2016 NFL Standings Projection

If you’re curious how Allen and I projected all 256 regular-season games as well as the playoffs, we used an NFL playoff predictor tool, which you can check out by clicking here.

Check out Allen’s picks here.

Check out Aaron’s picks here.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Can Khalil Mack lead the Oakland Raiders back to the playoffs?

AFC East

Allen Says:

  1. Patriots (12-4): They will survive Brady’s four-game suspension. Roster is loaded with excellent young talent on defense and reliable playmakers on offense.
  2. Jets (9-7): Better team than given credit. Forte could still be a difference-maker in Gailey’s offense. Quarterback, offensive line, and secondary issues keep them from making the playoffs.
  3. Bills (7-9): Preseason injuries will derail them. Taylor, McCoy, and Watkins should be a productive trio (if healthy). Lack of playmakers in front seven will leave the Ryan brothers searching for answers.
  4. Dolphins (5-11): Despite Adam Gase’s recent success, this is going to be a long rebuilding project. Defense is old and filled with holes. Tannehill has to make strides this season.

Aaron Says:

  1. Patriots (13-3): They might start slow due to Tom Brady’s suspension, but once he comes back you should expect them to be in F.U. Mode, potentially winning 11 out of their last 12.
  2. Jets (8-8): Fitzpatrick won’t be quite as good, but their defense should keep them competitive and in the playoff hunt.
  3. Dolphins (6-10): Expect an up and down season but they might catch a few good teams off guard.
  4. Bills (6-10): Not sure this defense is going to live up to standards that Rex Ryan’s reputation has set.

AFC North

Allen Says: 

  1. Steelers (11-5): Bell and Brown will win them a fair share of games. The defense should improve, despite underwhelming corner play. Easy schedule benefits them to an extent.
  2. Bengals (10-6): Losing Hue Jackson and multiple wide receivers are going to affect them. The offensive turnover will cause a difficult start to the season. Solid defense and excellent offensive line carries them to another playoff berth.
  3. Ravens (8-8): Offense lacks playmakers, as Flacco’s health is a major question mark. Harbaugh won’t allow another disastrous season to occur barring injuries. Front seven is still one of the better units in the league.
  4. Browns (3-13): One of the more intriguing offenses won’t overcome the worst defense in the league. The front seven is filled with unproven players. It’s going to be another long year, but the offense can generate excitement.

Aaron Says:

  1. Steelers (11-5): A potent offense combined with an improving defense should keep them atop this division.
  2. Bengals (11-5): Even given some of their free-agent losses, hard to see them not being among this division’s best for sixth year in a row.
  3. Ravens (7-9): Despite improvements made to the secondary, they simply lack the firepower on offense.
  4. Browns (5-11): They’ll surprise a few teams, but overall their talent level keeps them from competing.

AFC South

Allen Says:

  1. Jaguars (9-7): A productive offseason will carry them into the playoffs. Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon can develop into one of the top rushing duos in the league. If Dante Fowler can salvage a non-existent pass rush, watch out for a vastly improved defense.
  2. Texans (8-8): The talent is there, but questions are lingering across the offense. Osweiler isn’t the answer for their never-ending quarterback problems. A talented supporting cast deserves better.
  3. Colts (6-10): Winning inside the trenches is one of the most crucial elements to being successful. It’s hard to see how them beating most teams on both sides of the ball. Losing Davis for the first month won’t help either.
  4. Titans (4-12): The “exotic smashmouth” offense is going to end badly. They don’t have offensive line or supporting cast to dominate opposing front sevens. Defense is severely flawed as well.

Aaron Says:

  1. Texans (11-5): A pretty soft slate of games in the first half of the season should allow them to pad their win total in a weak division.
  2. Colts (9-7): Andrew Luck should have a bounce-back year, which should put them back in playoff contention.
  3. Jaguars (8-8): Their big offseason will pay off with their first season at .500 since 2010.
  4. Titans (3-13): A questionable head-coaching hire will have many wondering how much this team has improved.

AFC West

Allen Says:

  1. Raiders (11-5): Get on the hype train. A young and exciting offense, dominant offensive line and improving defense makes them into the most complete team within the division. Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson will solidify a secondary that was below average last season.
  2. Broncos (10-6): Not buying into the “bad-quarterback-situation-ruins-them” narrative since they didn’t have a quarterback last year. Defense lost some excellent young players, but the pass rush and secondary are more than enough to keep them in the playoffs.
  3. Chiefs (8-8): Losing Justin Houston costs them a playoff spot. He is such a difference-maker for that defense. Not enough talent offensively and questions in the secondary leaves them disappointed.
  4. Chargers (7-9): In any other division, they don’t come in last place. Offense is capable of being one of the most prolific units in the league. Unfortunately, the defense looks soft and can’t stop many offenses.

Aaron Says:

  1. Raiders (9-7): Buoyed by a strong defense and top-notch offensive line, they’ll have their first winning season since 2002.
  2. Chiefs (7-9): Without Justin Houston and Sean Smith, their defense will take a step back and the offense isn’t good enough to compensate.
  3. Chargers (6-10): The improvements they’ve made to the roster won’t be reflected in the record given the dark cloud of relocation looming over the season.
  4. Broncos (5-11): Despite still having one of the league’s premier defenses, their offense won’t be able to put up enough points consistently enough.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Can Earl Thomas led the Seattle Seahawks back to the Super Bowl?

NFC East

Allen Says:

  1. Redskins (9-7): The addition of Josh Norman pushes them over New York. Offense should be explosive, but defense was clearly lacking last year. Norman and Breeland are a nasty cornerback duo. In a weak division, they manage to hold on.
  2. Giants (9-7): No team made more free-agent splashes in offseason, so they are bound to improve. Major questions marks at wide receiver, offensive line, and linebacker keep them from making the playoffs. Besides Beckham, who is a reliable playmaker on their offense?
  3. Cowboys (8-8): Romo’s injury and the front seven losing key players to suspension ruin what should be a playoff team. Two years of wasting the most dominant offensive line in the league is cruel.
  4. Eagles (3-13): The offense is going to be a disaster. Wentz’s transition from non-power conference to NFL can’t be good for any young quarterback. Defense possesses talent, but they can’t overcome an offense lacking playmakers.

Aaron Says:

  1. Giants (9-7): Their defensive improvements will pay off as they get back to the postseason in a weak division.
  2. Cowboys (8-8): The loss of Tony Romo will hurt them, but their running game and offensive line will carry them.
  3. Redskins (7-9): The trash-talking Josh Norman may get exposed quite a bit this year, which could hold back their defense.
  4. Eagles (5-11): A solid front-seven won’t be enough to compensate for a rookie quarterback and no significant weapons on offense.

NFC North

Allen Says:

  1. Packers (12-4): Easiest schedule in the league boosts their win total. Interior line looks shaky without Sitton and Lindsley. Jordy Nelson’s return should boost the offense back into being a prolific unit. Mike Daniels is the next emerging star defensive lineman.
  2. Vikings (10-6): Bradford isn’t an ideal replacement, but nobody can deny that he is serviceable. That is all what Minnesota needs to make the playoffs. Defense is capable of being a top-five unit and Peterson isn’t slowing down yet.
  3. Bears (7-9): They quietly had an excellent off-season. Significant upgrades were made on the offensive line and linebacker. Secondary is a mess at the moment and McPhee won’t play until October. That will keep them from pushing for a playoff spot.
  4. Lions (5-11): Offense isn’t good enough to outscore good teams. Defense doesn’t have enough playmakers to stop good teams. Stafford’s limitations will be on full display behind a shaky offensive line and no true number one wide receiver.

Aaron Says:

  1. Packers (13-3): A fairly soft schedule should allow them to pad wins with the return of Jordy Nelson and an underrated defense.
  2. Vikings (8-8): There’s only so much one can expect out of Sam Bradford even with their defense and Adrian Peterson.
  3. Lions (6-10): Pretty sure this team has peaked already with Jim Caldwell patrolling the sidelines.
  4. Bears (6-10): Their rebuilding but their secondary and lack of a running game will keep them from taking a big step forward.

NFC South

Allen Says:

  1. Panthers (13-3): Schedule isn’t as difficult as first expected. Benjamin is going to bolster an already prolific offense. Starting two rookie cornerbacks is never ideal, but Carolina has proven that they succeed without two above-average cover corners. It’s difficult to find a much better front seven.
  2. Buccaneers (7-9): It seems bizarre that Koetter is a NFL head coach, but his strong rapport with Winston deserves credence. Defense should be much improved, especially in the front seven. The offensive line is filled with liabilities and Winston needs more time to develop into a pocket quarterback.
  3. Falcons (7-9): Having the hardest schedule in the league will impede an improving roster from challenging for a playoff spot. Persistent issues still linger in the front seven, especially with the pass rush. Matt Ryan desperately needs to rebound following last year’s poor season.
  4. Saints (6-10): Similar to Atlanta, the defense is still below average. Losing Sheldon Rankins for the first part of the season is a massive blow. Brees can only do so much as a field general. His supporting cast hasn’t been worse during his entire career in New Orleans.

Aaron Says:

  1. Panthers (12-4): They should be able to rack up several wins at home to eleminate any concerns over a Super-Bowl hangover.
  2. Buccaneers (8-8): Jameis Winston should avoid the sophomore slump to get them in the playoff hunt.
  3. Falcons (8-8): With a tougher schedule, they won’t have quite enough to sneak into the playoffs.
  4. Saints (5-11): A declining offense coupled with a bad defense makes for a rotten recipe.

NFC West

Allen Says:

  1. Cardinals (13-3): An improved pass rush, while keeping the offense together makes them a true contender. Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer have worked magic together with three outstanding wide receivers and a dynamic running back in David Johnson. Peterson is quietly reclaiming his spot as the best cornerback in the league.
  2. Seahawks (11-5): Nobody should ever count out an elite defense and MVP candidate in Wilson. The offensive line features rookies, career journeymen and below average lineman. Eventually, that will come back to haunt them yet they are still more than good enough to make the playoffs.
  3. Rams (6-10): Similar issues plague Los Angeles. A strong defensive line and superstar running back doesn’t make up for them. The quarterback situation is an absolute mess and the same applies for the wide-receiver group. Plus the secondary doesn’t look great either. Somehow, Jeff Fisher will survive.
  4. 49ers (2-14): Easily the worst team in the NFL. The offense will struggle to score 14 points a game. There are some decent prospects on defense, but it’s still a long rebuilding process. Chip Kelly doesn’t have a chance to successfully implement his philosophy this season.

Aaron Says:

  1. Cardinals (14-2): They’ll be one of the toughest teams in the trenches, catapulting them to a lot of wins with a good defense and potent offense.
  2. Seahawks (12-4): The offensive line will hold back their offense, but their defense should allow them to win many low-scoring games.
  3. Rams (6-10): At some point they’ll turn the keys over to Jared Goff, but it won’t result in a better record for Jeff Fisher.
  4. 49ers (3-13): Too many question marks across their roster make it tough to get many wins.

Playoff Picture

Allen Says:

Wildcard Round: (6) Broncos over (3) Raiders
Wildcard Round: (5) Bengals over (4) Jaguars
Divisional Round: (1) Patriots over (6) Broncos
Divisional Round: (2) Steelers over (5) Bengals
AFC Championship Game: (1) Patriots over (2) Steelers

Wildcard Round: (3) Packers over (6) Vikings
Wildcard Round: (5) Seahawks over (4) Redskins
Divisional Round: (2) Panthers over (3) Packers
Divisional Round: (1) Cardinals over (5) Seahawks
Championship Game: (1) Cardinals over (2) Panthers

Super Bowl 51: Patriots over Cardinals

Aaron Says: 

Wildcard Round: (3) Steelers over (6) Colts
Wildcard Round: (5) Bengals over (4) Raiders
Divisional Round: (3) Steelers over (2) Texans
Divisional Round: (1) Patriots over (5) Bengals
Championship Game: (1) Patriots over (3) Steelers

Wildcard Round: (3) Panthers over (6) Cowboys
Wildcard Round: (5) Seahawks over (4) Giants
Divisional Round: (2) Packers over (3) Panthers
Divisional Round: (1) Cardinals over (5) Seahawks
Championship Game: (1) Cardinals over (2) Packers

Super Bowl 51: Cardinals over Patriots

League Awards

Allen Says:

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady

Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, Patriots
Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown, Steelers
Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack, Raiders
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Myles Jack, Jaguars
Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio, Raiders
Comeback Player of the year: Jordy Nelson, Packers
Biggest acquisition: Chandler Jones, Cardinals

Last Undefeated Teams
Cardinals (6-0)
Packers (5-0)
Panthers (4-0)

Last Winless Teams
Titans (0-5)
Eagles (0-3)

Aaron Says:

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Arians

Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Offensive Player of the Year: Tom Brady, Patriots
Defensive Player of the Year: Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Myles Jack, Jaguars
Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Cardinals
Comeback Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, Colts
Biggest Acquisition: Chandler Jones, Cardinals

Last Undefeated Teams
Packers (9-0)
Cardinals (7-0)
Seahawks (5-0)
Panthers (4-0)
Giants (4-0)

Last Winless Teams
Rams (0-5)
Titans (0-4)
Dolphins (0-3)
Bills (0-3)
Eagles (0-3)

2016 Atlanta Falcons Stat Projections

Here are my best guesses for what sort of numbers several Falcon players could put up in 2016. These of course are a shot in the dark, but I did put time and effort into calculating these.

Matt Ryan: 546 attempts, 367 completions, 67.2%, 4154 yards, 23 TDs, 13 INTs, 93.9 rating
Matt Schaub: 57 attempts, 36 completions, 63.2%, 384 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 75.5 rating

Devonta Freeman: 256 attempts, 1043 yards, 4.1 avg, 9 TDs; 58 catches, 427 yards, 7.4 avg, 3 TDs
Tevin Coleman: 121 attempts, 503 yards, 4.2 avg, 3 TDs; 10 catches, 68 yards, 6.8 avg, 0 TDs
Terron Ward: 22 attempts, 84 yards, 3.8 avg, 0 TDs; 5 catches, 29 yards, 5.8 avg, 0 TDs

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Mohamed Sanu

Julio Jones: 116 catches, 1617 yards, 13.9 avg, 8 TDs
Mohamed Sanu: 73 catches, 880 yards, 12.1 avg, 4 TDs
Justin Hardy: 42 catches, 460 yards, 11.0 avg, 2 TDs
Jacob Tamme: 42 catches, 424 yards, 10.1 avg, 2 TDs
Austin Hooper: 17 catches, 174 yards, 10.2 avg, 1 TD
Aldrick Robinson: 16 catches, 231 yards, 14.4 avg, 1 TD
Taylor Gabriel: 10 catches, 132 yards, 13.2 avg, 1 TD
Patrick DiMarco: 10 catches, 63 yards, 6.3 avg, 1 TD
Levine Toilolo: 3 catches, 25 yards, 8.3 avg, 0 TDs

Matt Bryant: 30 for 36 FG, 35 for 36 PAT, 125 points

Matt Bosher: 71 punts, 46.5 avg, 42.3 net avg

Taylor Gabriel: 8 KO returns, 183 yards, 22.9 avg, 0 TDs; 14 punt returns, 139 yards, 9.9 avg, 0 TDs
Tevin Coleman: 13 KO returns, 304 yards, 23.4 avg, 0 TDs
Eric Weems: 11 punt returns, 107 yards, 9.7 avg, 0 TDs
Justin Hardy: 7 punt returns, 55 yards, 7.9 avg, 0 TDs

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Deion Jones

Deion Jones: 121 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 2 FF
De’Vondre Campbell: 96 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 FF
Ricardo Allen: 93 tackles, 5 INTs, 1 FF
Keanu Neal: 80 tackles, 1 INT, 2 FF
Robert Alford: 60 tackles, 4 INTs
Grady Jarrett: 51 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF
Vic Beasley: 49 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 2 FF
Sean Weatherspoon: 48 tackles, 1 FF
Derrick Shelby: 42 tackles, 2.5 sacks
Desmond Trufant: 41 tackles, 3 INTs
Paul Worrilow: 41 tackles
Brian Poole: 36 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 1 FF
Kemal Ishmael: 33 tackles, 1 INT
Jonathan Babineaux: 32 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF
Brooks Reed: 31 tackles, 1.0 sack
Tyson Jackson: 25 tackles
Adrian Clayborn: 24 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF
Robenson Therezie: 23 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF
Jalen Collins: 21 tackles
DaShon Goldson: 20 tackles
Ra’Shede Hageman: 17 tackles, 1.0 sack
Courtney Upshaw: 16 tackles
Dwight Freeney: 15 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 2 FF
Philip Wheeler: 13 tackles
C.J. Goodwin: 7 tackles
LaRoy Reynolds: 3 tackles

Falcons Pro Bowlers:

WR Julio Jones
RB Devonta Freeman
CB Desmond Trufant
P Matt Bosher

About the Author

Aaron Freeman
Founder of FalcFans.com

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