Which NFL Teams will be the Big Winners of the 2018 Season?

Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles produced a fine display in Superbowl LII to defeat the New England Patriots and claim their first ever Superbowl win at the third time of trying. However after a busy NFL off-season that has seen several big name players hit free agency, plus of course the excitement of the NFL Draft earlier in the year, the 32 NFL franchises are now almost ready to do battle once again.

How the NFL Season works

For those of you new to the NFL, the 32 teams are split into two conferences, the AFC and the NFC and in each conference, the teams are further subdivided into four divisions of four teams. Each division is designated as North, West, East and South, depending roughly on the location of the teams taking part in that division (though these geographical denominations are pretty sketchy).

After a regular season of 16 games (with one Bye week for each team where they get a chance to rest while other teams play), the four divisional winners in each conference, plus two other teams with the best records in the conference (Wild Card teams) head into the Playoffs.

The Playoffs is a series of games in each conference which decides which team wins the AFC and the NFC Championship game. The winners of these Championship games then go on to contest Superbowl LIII which this year will be played at the Mercedes- Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday February 3rd 2019.

Let’s now take a look at who we think will win each of the eight divisional titles in the NFC and the AFC and we’ll also take a look at the odds on offer for each team, courtesy of bet365 Sport.

NFC Odds

*Odds correct with Bet365 at time of writing at 12.45 on Tuesday 21st August 2018.

NFC East – Prediction

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – 12-4
  2. New York Giants – 8-8
  3. Dallas Cowboys – 7-9
  4. Washington Redskins – 5-11

The NFC East is always rated as one of the top divisions in the NFL given the quality of teams that compete in it. However, this year I think will be Philadelphia’s season once again. The Eagles (10/17) have retained all their key men from last year’s Superbowl win, added a couple of nice free agents and draft picks and I think they win this division at a canter, although I do feel that the New York Giants in particular could well challenge them.

For me Washington are still very much in a process of rebuilding and while I think they’ll improve, they are not likely to challenge the Eagles. The Cowboys could, if Dak Prescott finds top form once again, but they lack the consistency and scoring power of the Eagles and as such, I think they’ll be the third place team in the group.

NFC North – Prediction

  1. Minnesota Vikings – 10-6
  2. Green Bay Packers – 9-7
  3. Chicago Bears – 5-11
  4. Detroit Lions – 4-12

I think this will be a much closer division than last year when the Vikings ran away with it somewhat. If Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy for Green Bay then I expect the Packers to push the Vikings hard and it may well go to the final weekend to decide who finishes top of the NFC North. Though I just feel the Vikings (11/8) have the stronger all-round team and are not as reliant on just one player.

The Bears and Lions though I feel are some way off the quality of the two other teams in the group and while I have been most impressed with the Bears improvements in the off-season, I don’t think they are yet ready to challenge the big dogs in the North, though I think a third-place finish above the Lions would represent an improvement on last season.

NFC South – Prediction

  1. New Orleans Saints – 10-6
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8-8
  3. Atlanta Falcons 8-8
  4. Carolina Panthers 6-10

I think this is a very evenly matched division, but I am just about going for the Saints (9/5) to win the division. Drew Brees is a superb quarterback and Sean Payton an outstanding coach and with a decent supporting cast, they should win just enough games to win the South.

I think the fast-improving Buccaneers will be a real handful this season especially if Jameis Winston can stay healthy, and with the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers very much on a downward spiral over the past year or so, I think the Bucs could surprise a few and finish second here.

NFC West – Prediction

  1. Los Angeles Rams – 14-2
  2. Arizona Cardinals – 6-10
  3. Seattle Seahawks – 5-11
  4. San Francisco 49ers – 5-11

The easy pick in the NFC for me is in the West where the Los Angeles Rams (5/7) are the clear favourites. This young team won this division easily last season and I’d expect them to do the same again, especially in the light of such relatively poor competition.

Neither the Seahawks or Cardinals are the team they once were, though both can be tricky to beat on their day. The 49ers have made significant improvements in the off-season but they were so poor last year that I only expect them to win a couple more games than challenge outright in the group.

AFC Odds

*Odds correct with Bet365 at time of writing at 12.45 on Tuesday 21st August 2018.

AFC East – Prediction

  1. New England Patriots – 13-3
  2. Buffalo Bills – 7-9
  3. Miami Dolphins – 6-10
  4. New York Jets – 3-13

The road to Superbowl LIII will likely have to go through New England once again as I expect the Patriots (1/7) to win the AFC East once again, indeed they have only not won this division twice since 2001, so the odds for the other three teams does not look great.

I think the Bills and Dolphins are well matched, but I don’t think they have enough quality to challenge the Pats and I think they’ll struggle to reach 0.50 records this season. The Jets I feel are the also rans in the AFC and are due another long and ultimately fruitless season.

AFC North – Prediction

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers – 12-4
  2. Cincinnati Bengals – 8-8
  3. Cleveland Browns – 7-9
  4. Baltimore Ravens – 5-11

The Steelers (1/3) have dominated this division in the past and with La’Veon Bell now franchise tagged, I expect the Steelers to once again dominate the division and win it comfortably.

I’m not sold on the Ravens despite a good pre-season and I think they will be the bottom team in this group. I expect Cleveland, after heavy investment in the draft and free agency to improve a great deal this year while the Bengals will once again flatter to deceive and finish second in the group.

AFC South – Prediction

  1. Houston Texans – 11-5
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars – 11-5
  3. Tennessee Titans – 9-7
  4. Indianapolis Colts – 4-12

This used to be a joke division, but strong improvements from the Jaguars, Texans and Titans make it one of the toughest in the NFL. The explosive Texans (9/5) offense I think will be key to them winning this division, but I think it will be massively close with Jacksonville thanks to the Jaguars superb defence. However, if DaShaun Watson goes down with injury for the Texans once again, expect the Jags to claim top spot.

The Titans are a strong team all round and they won’t be a pushover for any team and could push for the playoffs despite finishing third in the division. The Colts have Andrew Luck back, so they’ll be stronger than last season, but his supporting cast is still some way short of allowing him to showcase his talents at quarterback.

AFC West – Prediction

  1. Oakland Raiders – 10-6
  2. Los Angeles Chargers – 8-8
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – 7-9
  4. Denver Broncos – 6-10

There isn’t a huge amount of top quality in the AFC West, but I do think it is a very even division and any of the four teams will feel they stand a chance of finishing top but for me, I think the Oakland Raiders (11/4) have the best depth and quality and they should just about edge this division.

I expect both Kansas City and the Chargers to push the Raiders hard, while Denver will once again have a struggle this season, although I do expect the Broncos to be a tougher team to beat than last year.