NFL predictions at midseason – Forecasting the second half of the 2021 season, together with playoff groups, file breakers, extra

We at the moment are by 9 weeks of the 2021 NFL season, which implies we’re formally on the halfway level. And with roughly two months nonetheless to play within the common season and not less than eight video games nonetheless on the schedule for all 32 groups, quite a bit can occur. Just a few groups are really out of the playoff hunt at this level, and a number of gamers are on observe to problem league data with big seasons. The stretch run guarantees to be thrilling, and if last weekend’s big upsets had been any indication, it is going to have loads of surprises.

So we requested 15 of our NFL analysts for his or her finest prediction for the remainder of the season and the way it will play out. Will we see stunning division winners and playoff groups? Which groups will earn the No. 1 seeds in every convention? Will stars enter the file books? Will one group set a draft file, and can one other produce a number of award winners?

Let’s predict the ultimate 9 weeks, beginning with a improbable end for one of many recreation’s prime pass-catchers.

Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp will end within the prime two of all time for receiving yards in a season — and flirt with the file

At his present tempo, Kupp would end the yr at 1,925 receiving yards, simply in need of Calvin Johnson’s file of 1,964 set in 2012. However he would possibly simply surpass it on account of his extremely excessive utilization fee within the Rams’ offense (although Odell Beckham Jr. may steal a few of his targets). Quarterback Matthew Stafford has focused Kupp not less than 10 instances in eight of Los Angeles’ 9 video games. The duo rapidly developed chemistry within the offseason, and it is paying off in 2021, with Kupp main the NFL in receptions (74), yards (1,019) and receiving touchdowns (10).

And even when he would not eclipse Johnson’s 1,964 — bear in mind, he has an additional recreation to work with — Kupp will beat out Julio Jones‘ 1,871 yards (2015), which at present ranks No. 2 all time. — Jeremy Fowler, NFL author/reporter


Quarterback Russell Wilson may be taking part in his last months in Seattle (we’ll have to attend till the offseason to seek out out), however there are few gamers as decided as he’s to cement their legacy as a winner. The Seahawks have not appeared good to date, however the remaining schedule consists of tasty matchups towards the likes of Washington, Houston, Detroit and Chicago. If they will beat Inexperienced Bay this week and break up video games with Arizona, I just like the Seahawks’ possibilities of working down a number of the Atlanta/New Orleans sorts within the wild-card hunt and making the playoffs for the ninth time in Wilson’s 10 years there. — Dan Graziano, NFL author/reporter

Yup, I completely agree. There are two groups within the NFL with some extent differential between plus-10 and plus-20 and an elite quarterback on the helm: the 7-2 Packers and the 3-5 Seahawks. We have a tendency take into consideration these two groups very in another way, however I am undecided we should always. Seattle’s third-down conversion fee is an absurdly low 31% (No. 31 within the NFL) regardless of an solely barely above-average 7.1-yard distance to go required. These are high-leverage performs, and I’ve to imagine the conversion fee will enhance going ahead, given their offensive expertise.

And whereas the underside of the NFC playoff battle is crowded, not one of the Vikings, 49ers, Eagles, Falcons or Panthers are notably scary. ESPN’s Soccer Energy Index (FPI) is at present giving the Seahawks a 31.0% probability of pulling it off. — Seth Walder, analytics author


Offensive and Defensive Gamers of the 12 months will each come from the Indianapolis Colts

Working again Jonathan Taylor and linebacker Darius Leonard will every decide up some private {hardware} for the Colts. Taylor has a transparent path to main the NFL in each speeding yards and speeding touchdowns, whereas Leonard’s on-ball manufacturing is almost unmatched amongst linebackers. Taylor, the group’s second-year again, has 821 speeding yards and eight speeding scores, and he has scored not less than as soon as in each recreation since September. Leonard, in the meantime, has 67 tackles, 4 compelled fumbles (and two recoveries), eight passes defended and a pair of interceptions.

That is predicated upon Indy hanging within the race for the AFC South and AFC wild-card image, which I additionally imagine will occur. — Area Yates, NFL analyst


Cleveland is 5-4 and tied for final within the AFC North, however this group is just too good on paper to fall in need of the match. The Browns sit twelfth in ESPN’s FPI and sixth in Soccer Outsiders’ DVOA, regardless of coping with a laundry listing of accidents, together with beginning corners Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II, working backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, broad receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. (who has since been waived), tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr., linebackers Anthony Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and even QB Baker Mayfield.

Cleveland’s remaining schedule is not a stroll within the park, however this group has the firepower for a run to the playoffs … and maybe extra. — Mike Clay, NFL analyst

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Dan Orlovsky particulars what he noticed from Baker Mayfield with out Odell Beckham Jr. on the sector.


I agree with Mike, and I will take it a step additional. The Browns are very outlined in what they do, from each an offensive and defensive perspective. We will level to the run recreation right here, behind the league’s finest inside offensive entrance. Or the schemed throws for Mayfield off play-action. And we’re additionally taking a look at a Browns protection that may play with zone self-discipline within the again seven whereas getting stress from its entrance 4.

To me, this can be a soccer group with the mandatory components to make a push within the second half of the season. The FPI is at present giving the Browns a 50.5% probability of creating the playoffs, and a 19.0% probability of profitable the AFC North. — Matt Bowen, NFL analyst


Chase could have a reputable probability to interrupt a number of rookie broad receiver data. He’s averaging 7.4 targets, 4.8 receptions, 98.2 receiving yards and 0.9 touchdowns per recreation this season, placing him on tempo to problem quite a lot of rookie data. That features receptions (Anquan Boldin had 101 in 2003), receiving yards (Invoice Groman had 1,473 yards in 1960) and landing catches (Randy Moss had 17 in 1998).

Chase is at present pacing towards 1,577 yards, which might transfer him previous Groman for essentially the most all time amongst rookies. However he might want to decide it up a bit in terms of receptions and TDs, the place he’s monitoring towards 83 and 13, respectively.

Since quarterback Joe Burrow and Chase frolicked collectively at LSU, their rapport and chemistry is simple. It could make sense in the event that they utilized it to their benefit given Cincinnati’s middle-of-the-pack remaining schedule because it tries to safe a playoff berth. — Eric Moody, fantasy/sports activities betting author


Dallas Cowboys will earn the No. 1 seed within the NFC

The Cowboys’ offense can and ought to be a dominant unit, and a key barometer for the unit is left sort out Tyron Smith. If he is wholesome, this offense has no holes and will dominate coming down the stretch.

The extra attention-grabbing dialogue is the upside of the protection. It at present sits No. 3 in interception fee and No. 7 in third-down protection. Cornerback Kelvin Joseph has performed solely two snaps to date, however he ought to assist the Cowboys the remainder of the way in which. Edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence has performed in just one recreation, and his presence alone could make a world of distinction. And one of many least heralded however most efficient gamers is rookie defensive sort out Osa Odighizuwa. He has 18 tackles and two sacks — search for him to proceed to enhance and be impactful coming down the stretch.

Dallas (6-2) will cruise to the NFC East title and in the end be the No. 1 seed within the convention. FPI at present says the Cowboys have an 8.1% probability of getting that first-round bye, the fifth-best odds behind the Cardinals, Buccaneers, Packers and Rams. — Mike Tannenbaum, NFL analyst

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Stephen A. Smith and Marcus Spears get heated discussing the Cowboys after their loss to the Broncos.


Tennessee Titans will win the AFC championship — and working again Derrick Henry will assist get them to the Tremendous Bowl

This group is sweet, and I believe it wins the AFC even with out Henry. However search for the gifted working again to come back again for a playoff run and get the Titans a visit to the Tremendous Bowl. Coach Mike Vrabel has constructed a group that simply beats up on everybody else. The 7-2 Titans at present have a 99.5% probability to win the division, a 57.0% probability of ending atop the AFC and a 25.5% probability of creating it to the Tremendous Bowl, per FPI simulations. — Sam Acho, NFL analyst

I agree, Sam. The Titans opened the season with 14-1 odds to win the AFC crown, however their sturdy exhibiting within the first half of the season now has them at 6-1, by way of Caesars Sportsbook. And I believe they do it. Throughout their latest five-game win streak, Tennessee had the fourth-most factors scored per drive within the NFL (2.7) — however final week’s exhibiting towards the Rams highlighted a perhaps-overlooked protection. Throughout the win streak, it had the NFL’s fifth-best crimson zone defensive effectivity (TDs scored on simply 47.6% of opponent drives to contained in the 20-yard line) and compelled 11 turnovers.

The second-half schedule is favorable, particularly over the ultimate three weeks (49ers, Dolphins and Texans). And if all goes in accordance with plan relating to tissue therapeutic, Henry might be again on the sector when the playoffs roll round, serving to lead the Titans to the AFC title. — Stephania Bell, NFL fantasy analyst


Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff will make his last NFL begin as a real starter

Goff has objectively been one of many NFL’s worst quarterbacks this season. His Complete QBR of 28.9 is decrease than that of each starter besides rookies Zach Wilson (28.0) and Justin Fields (27.4), and Goff is in such a sleep that he has thrown the ball away on a number of fourth-down conversion makes an attempt. Even with a hefty salary-cap hit looming, what argument may the Lions make for bringing him again?

Assuming the Lions grow to be the second group in as many seasons to surrender on him, Goff will not begin one other NFL recreation until it’s as somebody’s backup. — Kevin Seifert, NFL author/reporter


Philadelphia Eagles will end with three top-15 draft picks for the 2022 draft

For the reason that frequent draft period started in 1969, solely three groups have made not less than three first-round draft selections all inside the highest 20 (1973 Patriots, 1975 Rams and 2000 Jets), however none has had three within the prime 15. Already proudly owning the Dolphins’ first-rounder along with their very own, the Eagles are assured to have not less than two Day 1 picks — and with a mixed 5 wins for the groups, each picks are trending towards early picks.

The third one is trickier. As a part of the offseason commerce of quarterback Carson Wentz to the Colts, the Eagles will get Indy’s first-round decide if Wentz performs not less than 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps, or 70% if the Colts additionally make the playoffs. Assuming that performs out, the Eagles are in line to have the Nos. 6, 11 and 15 picks in April, in accordance with FPI projections. — Jordan Reid, NFL draft analyst


The Patriots are taking part in complementary soccer in all three phases proper now. Quarterback Mac Jones is taking part in effectively underneath heart, New England has put collectively a robust working recreation and the protection has 16 takeaways (fourth within the NFL). At 5-4, the Patriots are solely a half-game again within the division, and I believe they may overtake the Payments for the AFC East title — regardless that FPI is giving them solely a 14.9% probability. — Damien Woody, NFL analyst


New England Patriots will end with a top-10 offense and protection — and make the playoffs

New England performs with a bodily hat-on-hat run recreation. Jones performs extremely quick and is aware of the place to go together with the ball. The protection is continually unorthodox in its strategy and slows down loads of offenses. And coach Invoice Belichick is studying learn how to use all of his weapons on offense in 12 months 2 with out Tom Brady. There’s quite a bit to love right here.

The Patriots are at present No. 23 in offensive effectivity however have the Tenth-most factors per recreation (25.6). And defensively, this group is fourth in effectivity and factors towards (18.9 per recreation). — Dan Orlovsky, NFL analyst

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Stephen A. Smith is optimistic in regards to the Patriots possibilities of making the playoffs.


Los Angeles Rams proprietor Stan Kroenke and the NFL will settle with town of St. Louis

Earlier than the scheduled trial on Jan. 10, Kroenke and the league will settle town of St. Louis’ lawsuit that has lasted nearly 5 years. The settlement quantity may very well be near a billion {dollars}.

Additionally: The continued lawsuit, and the truth that each proprietor is wrapped up in it, will assure that there might be no urge for food from the membership to permit the Payments to relocate, ought to the stadium talks deteriorate. — Seth Wickersham, NFL author/reporter

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