Hurley’s Full NFL Predictions: Regular Season Games, Playoff Picks, Explanations

Hurley’s Full NFL Predictions: Regular Season Games, Playoff Picks, Explanations

by June 20, 2020 1 comment

With the NFL season less than 100 days away, it is time to look at what will happen in the entire NFL. Here is a breakdown for each week of the 2020 NFL with full regular-season, playoff, and Super Bowl predictions. 

The organization of this in-depth piece is as follows. The analysis opens with standings predictions in a list format, followed by a quick-hitter with game-by-game playoff picks. Next up is an in-depth review of every division. The piece ends with in-depth analysis on the best game for every week of the season.

Standings Predictions

NFC North:
Packers: 12-4
Vikings: 8-8
Bears: 5-11
Lions: 4-12

NFC South:
Saints: 12-4
Bucs: 12-4
Falcons: 7-9
Panthers: 6-10

NFC East:
Eagles: 13-3
Cowboys: 10-6
Redskins: 3-13
Giants: 1-15

NFC West:
Cardinals: 12-4
Seahawks: 11-5
49ers: 10-6
Rams: 6-10

AFC North:
Ravens: 13-3
Steelers: 11-5
Browns: 11-5
Bengals: 6-10

AFC South:
Colts: 9-7
Titans: 9-7
Texans: 9-7
Jaguars: 2-14

AFC East:
Bills: 12-4
Dolphins: 5-11
Jets: 5-11
Patriots: 2-14

AFC West:
Chiefs: 12-4
Raiders: 8-8
Chargers: 6-10
Broncos: 4-12

Playoff Seeding

NFC:
1. Eagles
2: Saints
3: Packers
4: Seahawks
5: Bucs
6: 49ers
7: Cowboys

AFC:
1: Ravens
2: Chiefs
3: Bills
4: Colts
5: Steelers
6: Browns
7: Titans

Wild Card Round Predictions

NFC:
Cowboys at Saints
49ers at Packers
Bucs at Seahawks

AFC:
Chiefs at Titans
Browns at Bills
Steelers at Colts

Divisional Round Predictions

NFC:
Seahawks at Eagles
Packers at Saints

AFC:
Steelers at Ravens
Bills at Chiefs

Championship Round Predictions

NFC: Saints at Eagles

AFC: Chiefs at Steelers

Super Bowl Prediction

Super Bowl 55: Chiefs at Saints

Predicted champion: New Orleans Saints

Divisional Explanation

NFC North

The quarterback situations in Chicago and Minnesota are troubling. The entire Detroit Lions roster beyond Matthew Stafford and Jeff Okudah is concerning, too. The Packers don’t have a standout squad, either, but they are clearly the best team in that division.  

Normally, the Vikings could be very close, but with Cousins under center, Diggs in Buffalo, and Dalvin Cook holding out for more money, their offense is in shambles. Their defense has silently struggled, too. In 2018, when the unit was basically the best in the league, they had the same starters on defense for the whole year. Injuries did not play a factor in their success at all, but lack of injuries did. In 2019, when the injury bug hit a little bit, they declined. While they shut down bad offenses like the Broncos or Redskins, when teams like the Packers, Lions, Chiefs, or Seahawks came around, their defense folded like a wet taco in heat. 

The Vikings’ defense will still be good, but not even close to good enough to win the NFC North. 

NFC South 

Outside of the Saints, it is impossible to decipher what is going to happen in this division. With a ridiculous slate of weapons, you can’t bet against Tom Brady just yet. The same thing can be said about Drew Brees and his ever-improving Saints defensive unit. 

In Carolina, Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers might just surprise everyone. In the same boat, perhaps Matt Ryan and the Falcons will improve with the addition of Todd Gurley III.

This division is easily one of the league’s best and most volatile. 

NFC East

It’s fair to hold a shocked reaction when you see the Eagles at 13-3 and the Cowboys finishing above 8-8. 

However, both of those are contingent on healthy rosters and quarterbacks that perform to expectations. Carson Wentz must be prime Carson Wentz and not get hurt in Week 4. Dak Prescott needs to be present and throw a surplus of touchdowns to his ridiculous slate of receivers.

If all of those things happen and both teams beat up on what should be abysmal teams in the Redskins and the Giants, these projected records are realistic. 

NFC West

Now this is a stacked division.

The Cardinals could emerge as one of football’s top teams in 2020. With Kyler Murray taking the next step, plus a new weapon in DeAndre Hopkins and the return of Kenyan Drake, the Cardinals will make big moves in the West. Plus, you can’t forget the underrated defensive with several Pro Bowl weapons to deploy.

Meanwhile, in California, Jimmy Garoppolo is not going to surprise anyone this season. He isn’t going to throw the ball, so when he goes on play actions four times a game, defenses are going to be even less impressive than before. The majority of their starters may be returning, but losing Emmanuel Sanders and DeForest Buckner will be huge hits to their potential success. Either way, they wouldn’t be able to beat the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. 

Then, the Seattle Seahawks. Having Russell Wilson on the roster essentially guarantees you a spot in the playoffs. He has carried too many teams with mediocre running backs and receivers to the playoffs to doubt him now. Realistically losing some tough games on the road, the Seahawks should sneak into a Wild Card spot at 11-5. 

AFC North

Sure, projecting the Browns at 11-5 is a bold move. But hear me out.

The Browns of 2019 were very inconsistent. Baker Mayfield looked like the Heisman Trophy-winning leader some days, but other days he looked like a poor man’s Chase Daniel. Either way, you cannot simply ignore having Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt all on the same team. The Browns will mesh in their second full year together and at least make a first-round appearance that likely will end in a disappointing early exit. 

The Steelers almost made the playoffs in 2019 with continually-concussed Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at the helm. Assuming Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy, Pittsburgh should see significant improvement with the wondrous coaching of Mike Tomlin that seems to always keep them afloat. 

As for the Bengals, it’s hard to Joe Burrow winning that division or even making the playoffs just yet. Give him some more weapons and then we can talk. 

AFC South

There is too much to unpack here. The Titans with Derrick Henry are great. It’s hard not to like the new Colts with Phillip Rivers. It even remains hard to bet against the Texans and Deshaun Watson despite questionable performances from Houston’s coaches.

Because each team has so many holes and they will each beat up on the Jaguars, they all ended at 9-7 in this projection. This forced some tie-breakers that left the Texans on the outside looking in. 

AFC East

The Bills are going to dominate, the Jets will continue to be bad, the Patriots will get the living daylights smacked out of them time and time again, and the Dolphins will show flashes of brilliance with flashes of disaster. Any questions? 

AFC West

The Kansas City Chiefs need no explanation, so let’s move on to the Broncos. Denver has a promising roster but could struggle under the guidance of Drew Lock. Meanwhile, the Raiders are a mess under Jon Gruden and the Chargers will have too much trouble deciding between Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert to have a good season. The Chiefs will run away to a second Super Bowl appearance. 

Game of the Week Predictions

Week 1: Tampa Bay at New Orleans

The first matchup between Drew Brees and Tom Brady is easily the best clash of Week 1. Brady and Rob Gronkowski must prove they can mesh together in Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, the world will learn more about the Bucs’ and Saints’ defensive units. Many questions will be answered in Week 1. 

Week 2: Baltimore at Houston

There has been a lot of drama regarding the Texans with Hopkins leaving and David Johnson joining the team. This will be the first big test for Houston and the second of three consecutive big games to start the season. 

Week 3: Tennessee at Minnesota

This clash features two teams that try to emphasize defense and the running game. The matchup will mostly boil down to the battle between Henry and Cook, with the former emerging superior.

Week 4: Philadelphia at San Francisco

This will be the matchup of the reigning NFC champion and the future NFC champion. A big test for Carson Wentz will take center stage as he faces off against Richard Sherman and the 49ers’ defense. On the flip side, a 49ers offense that features speed and a nasty running game will have their hands full with the Eagles’ defense and a new acquisition in Darius Slay

Week 5: Cincinnati at Baltimore

For Joe Burrow, this will be his first showdown with Madden 21’s cover athlete, Lamar Jackson. LSU teammate Patrick Queen should be very excited to get at Burrow with every opportunity he gets, and the Ravens’ defense led by Earl Thomas III should be excited to feast on the rookie quarterback. 

Week 6: Cleveland at Pittsburgh

The AFC North is a really good division and this game will be a key indicator of how good the Browns will really be. Will Baker Mayfield take his next step? Will Big Ben be able to lead the Steelers over top teams? Those questions and more will be answered in Week 6. 

Week 7: Seattle at Arizona

Similarly to the AFC North, the NFC West will be an amazing division this season. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks go to the desert to try and knock off the Cardinals midway through the season. The matchup between Kyler Murray and Wilson will be the highlight of America’s Game of the Week, with both scrambling quarterbacks looking to take over the offensive side of the game. 

Week 8: Dallas at Philadelphia

Always a good matchup, the NFC East is usually a messy division. The Cowboys choked their chance at a playoff spot last season, so this will be a key game to determine whether or not Dallas can win the division and make a playoff run. 

Week 9: Green Bay at San Francisco

This game will not go well for Green Bay. Not only do the Packers struggle against the 49ers, but they specifically do not play well in San Francisco. 

Week 10: Washington at Detroit

Despite featuring two of the worst teams, viewers of this game will witness the talents of two dominant rookies on display. Young defense stars Jeff Okudah and Chase Young are ready to put on a show.

Week 11: Los Angeles (AFC) at Denver

Midway through the season with Drew Lock improving in a very young Denver offense, this will be an intriguing matchup. Justin Herbert could be the starting quarterback in Los Angeles by this time of the season, which will make the young quarterback matchup the main event in this Sunday afternoon affair. 

Week 12: San Francisco at Los Angeles (NFC)

The Rams always give the 49ers fits. Even though the Rams were not amazing last year, they played the 49ers very well and should be expected to do so again. 

Week 13: Indianapolis at Houston

Since the AFC South will be a very tight division, this game will be key in that decision. The Colts will emerge victorious here, which is the biggest reason why the Texans miss the playoffs in a dramatic three-way tiebreaker. 

Week 14: Minnesota at Tampa Bay

Kirk Cousins likely will not be able to beat Tom Brady here, but it will be interesting to watch him try. In Tampa Bay late in the season with the Bucs fully functional and the offense on point, this should be a win for the home team. The Vikings’ defense will do their best to slow down Gronkowski and Brady, but it will be in vain. 

Week 15: New England at Miami

With the Patriots playing quite poorly this season, this could be a chance for Miami to get their revenge on a team that has destroyed them consistently for the last 15 years. Tua Tagovailoa should be healthy and ready to go by Week 15, which will spell trouble for the Patriots. 

Week 16: Atlanta at Kansas City

Falcons will find themselves involved in several close games this season but struggle to close a lot of them out. A good trio in Matt Ryan, Todd Gurley III, and Julio Jones should create some mismatches, but the Chiefs are too powerful. 

Week 17: Tennessee at Houston

The final key matchup of the year is a clash that creates a three-way tiebreaker chaos scenario in the AFC South. Henry and Watson will duel it out and the division will be on the line. 

MJ is the host of "Next Man Up w/MJ Hurley" and "eXamining the XFL" MJ is also a reporter at Fansided for Oakland A's and at XFL Board.

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  1. Paige Hepner
    #1 Paige Hepner 9 July, 2020, 21:49

    This was fun to read and even more fun to participate in on your live show. I can’t believe we had the same predictions without me reading first. We must really be in sync.

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