The Circuit 2021 NFL Season Predictions
With the 2021 NFL season just over a week away, The Circuit predicts every aspect of the season, from win-loss records to major awards. How does your team look this season? Check out what The Circuit has to say! Getty Images/ Circuit Artwork We’re here to look into our crystal ball and predict how the 2021 NFL season is going to play out. Here’s how each team will stack up this coming season: AFC East Buffalo Bills: 12-5 New England Patriots: 10-7 Miami Dolphins: 9-8 New York Jets: 6-11 The Bills are definitely the best team in this division, but I don’t think they’ll take a step forward like many are thinking. Josh Allen has his money now, so he may start to become complacent. The Patriots are a playoff team to me. Mac Jones very well could be the starter there for the next 20 years, and with the greatest coach of all time leading him, look for them to bounce back in a big way. The Dolphins have a good coach, a good roster, and a quarterback. Is Tua great? Does he stink? I have no idea, but I’m curious to find out. But look for them to miss the playoffs. I love Zach Wilson. The Jets have a supernova at quarterback, but unfortunately they have next to nothing around him. They will struggle mightily this season, but the future is bright in Gotham. AFC North Cleveland Browns: 12-5 Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-5 Baltimore Ravens: 7-10 Cincinnati Bengals: 5-12 Cleveland is fresh off a strong showing in the playoffs, and I think that momentum will carry over to this season. I like Baker more than most, and a stout defense will carry the Browns to the division title. I am higher on the Steelers than most. Look for Big Ben to prove the doubters wrong and put up big numbers in a strong offense, leading the Steelers back into the playoffs. The Ravens are my biggest disappointment this year. I don’t trust Lamar to make it through the season, and losing Dobbins hurts a lot. Look for the Ravens to miss the playoffs and look terrible this season. The Bengals are still the Bengals. I’m still 50/50 on Burrow, and coming off of a torn ACL doesn’t give me confidence he can lead this team out of the darkness. Not yet anyway. AFC South Tennessee Titans: 11-6 Indianapolis Colts: 7-10 Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-12 Houston Texans: 0-17 Julio Jones in Tennessee changes things in the AFC. If he can still produce like he did in Atlanta, paired with Derrick Henry, the Titans could have the most well-balanced offense in the league. Speaking as an Eagles fan, good luck with Carson Wentz Indianapolis Colts fans. Hurt once again, the Colts don’t have many options now at quarterback. If Wentz was 100% healthy all season long, I think the Colts could be one of the best teams in the AFC. But given that they’ll be lucky if he plays half the season, the Colts will struggle. Jacksonville has a generational talent at quarterback with Lawrence, and a huge question mark at coach with Urban Meyer. I think they’ll be much improved, but still not very good. You read that right. I think the Texans will go 0-17. Who’s their QB? It’s not Watson. They have the worst roster in the NFL and the juju around this team is way off balance. Look for the Texans to be maybe the worst team ever. AFC West Kansas City Chiefs: 16-1 Los Angeles Chargers: 10-7 Las Vegas Raiders: 8-9 Denver Broncos: 8-9 I toyed with predicting that KC would go undefeated but I pulled back. Coming off that embarrassing loss in the Super Bowl, Mahomes and Reid have something to prove this season. Look for them to rip through the league like a knife through butter. The Chargers are a team I am very high on. Herbert is going to be a top-10 QB in the league in the next couple of years, and that defense is going to be strong. Look for the Chargers to have a big season. I like the Raiders more than some, but I still don’t think they will be a playoff team. Gruden and company are aggressively average. The Broncos are another average team. They have one of the worst quarterback corps in the league, led by Bridgewater who I don’t think is all that talented. The defense will carry them to eight wins. NFC East New York Giants: 9-8 Washington Football Team: 7-10 Dallas Cowboys: 6-11 Philadelphia Eagles: 5-12 To me the Giants are the best team in the NFC LEast. They have maybe the best coach, maybe the best running back, and maybe the best quarterback in the division? I don’t love Jones, but Hurts and Fitzpatrick are not good and Dak is… Dak. Look for the Giants to come out on top. Washington has by far the best defense in the division, and maybe the best defensive player in the league. The problem is they have a quarterback just as much as they have a team nickname; they don’t. Ahhh the Cowboys. Dak got his top-10 money, but to me is nowhere near a top-10 quarterback. They have a bad coach and a bad defense, so strong skill players will only get them so far. My Eagles are a mess. I wanted them to trade Wentz after we won the Super Bowl, but instead we kept him and now we have Jalen Hurts. I think Hurts is a great backup, but not a good starting quarterback. The only saving grace for the Eagles is that Smith could be an all-time receiving talent. NFC North Green Bay Packers: 12-5 Minnesota Vikings: 7-10 Chicago Bears: 6-11 Detroit Lions: 4-13 I firmly believe this will be the swan song for Rodgers in Green Bay. They’ll have one last great season together and he will ride off into the sunset (to Denver). The rest of the division after the Packers is a mess. The best of the mess is Minnesota, solely because Cousins is an experienced QB and Cook is a solid running back. Chicago will give the keys to Justin Fields sooner rather than later, which will lead to a bunch of losses. Much like the Jets, the future is bright in Chicago. But the present is dark. The Lions are one of the worst teams in the league. I happen to like Goff, but he’s more of a complementary piece to a great team (2018 Rams) rather than someone who can carry a bad team (2021 Lions). Detroit will be all sorts of bad this season. NFC South Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 14-3 Atlanta Falcons: 9-8 New Orleans Saints: 7-10 Carolina Panthers: 3-14 The Tompa Bay Gronkaneers bring back all 22 starters from a Super Bowl winning team, including the G.O.A.T. at quarterback. Look for the Bucs to win a whole lot of games this season. Atlanta is one of my surprise teams this season. I love the Arthur Smith hiring and the Kyle Pitts drafting, and I still believe in Matt Ryan. Look for the Falcons to sneak into the playoffs this season. A lot of people like the Saints this year, but I am not one of them. Other than Alvin Kamara, they have very little offensive talent, and they no longer have Drew Brees to cover up those flaws. Other than McCaffrey, Carolina doesn’t have much. I don’t think Darnold is a starter in this league, and playing in a decent division will lead to many losses. NFC West San Francisco 49ers: 13-4 Los Angeles Rams: 12-5 Seattle Seahawks: 11-6 Arizona Cardinals: 8-9 Look for Trey Lance to be the starter in San Francisco sooner rather than later. Whether Garoppolo gets hurt or gets benched, Lance is the future of the 49ers and he will lead them to a strong season. Stafford finally has a good team around him and a coach who wants to score. Look for him to have a huge season, and with Ramsey and Donald anchoring the defense the Rams will be tough to beat. The Seahawks had a scary offseason with Wilson thinking about leaving, but now that he’s back on board they still should be an NFC contender. The Cardinals are tough to predict. I actually think they’re pretty good, and in any other division they probably finish first or second. Unfortunately they are in the maybe the best division of all-time, and somebody has to finish last. PLAYOFFS Wild Card Round 1 Kansas City Chiefs (bye) 2 Cleveland Browns def 7 New England Patriots 6 Los Angeles Chargers def 3 Buffalo Bills 4 Tennessee Titans def 5 Pittsburgh Steelers 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (bye) 2 San Francisco 49ers def 7 Atlanta Falcons 6 Seattle Seahawks def 3 Green Bay Packers 5 Los Angeles Rams def 4 New York Giants Divisional Round 1 Kansas City Chiefs def 6 Los Angeles Chargers 4 Tennessee Titans def 2 Cleveland Browns 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers def 6 Seattle Seahawks 2 San Francisco 49ers def 5 Los Angeles Rams Championship Round 1 Kansas City Chiefs def 4 Tennessee Titans 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers def 2 San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl 1 Kansas City Chiefs def 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (MVP: Patrick Mahomes) Regular Season Awards MVP: Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) Getty Images With a 17 game season and an embarrassing Super Bowl loss, I think Mahomes is going to break every major statistical passing record we have. 60+ touchdown passes and 6,000 passing yards are in sight. Those massive numbers and a near-perfect record will net Mahomes another MVP. Defensive Player of the Year: Chase Young (Washington Football Team) Getty Images Young helped lead Washington to the division crown last season, and I think he’s going to be even more dominant this season. Look for Young to lead the league in sacks and win the DPoY award. Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers) Getty Images The 49ers struggled last season, fighting through countless injuries. Between Jimmy G and Trey Lance, I expect the 49ers to win a ton of games and net Shanahan the CoY. Offensive Rookie of the Year: Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers) Getty Images Lance will become the starter at some point this season, whether it’s an injury or a benching. When he gets that chance, he’ll put up numbers and put up wins. Defensive Rookie of the Year: Patrick Surtain II (Denver Broncos) Getty Images I liked Surtain at Bama, and I think he’ll fit in perfectly with that Denver defense. They won’t win many games, but he could get a few picks and win DRoY. Jim Tomsula Coaching Award: Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys) Getty Images This is a Circuit award named after the 49ers coach who replaced Jim Harbough. Tomsula lasted a whopping one season and was fired. This award goes to the worst coach in the league and will ultimately be fired at the end of the season. The Cowboys are talented, but McCarthy is an awful coach and they will once again underachieve. Tim Tebow Award: Mac Jones (New England Patriots) Getty Images This award goes to the quarterback who will get hot down the stretch and lead his team to a playoffs like Tebow did in 2011. The Patriots will stumble early, but Jones will catch fire late and lead the Pats back to the postseason. Mark Sanchez Award: Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints) Getty Images This award goes to the player who has a great opportunity but will ram his face into a metaphorical butt and blow his opportunity. Winston has the reins in New Orleans now, but I think he’ll struggle and ultimately prove he is not the guy for the Saints. You Like That!? Award: Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) Getty Images Remember when Kirk Cousins shouted “You like that!?” to reporters after he won the game? This award goes to the player who will exceed expectations and prove doubters wrong. Most think Big Ben is washed up, but I think he’s got at least one great season left. Randy Moss Award: Julio Jones (Tennessee Titans) Getty Images When Moss went to New England, he immediately set the NFL receiving touchdown record for a season. This award goes to the player who changes teams (via trade/free agency/un-retirement/etc) and makes an instant impact on winning. Jones will be a difference maker with the Titans, balancing out Derrick Henry. How do your predictions match up with mine? We start the journey on September 9th with the Dallas Cowboys @ the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.