USA Today recently released their annual NFL projections on Monday to celebrate the opening of each team’s training camp.
There are some surprises on the list, many of which fans of teams will agree upon.
For the Oakland Raiders and their fan base, who are hot off their 12-4 record from the previous season, they have little reason to sweat.
According to Nate Davis, who wrote the article for the publication, the Raiders are expected to finish the 2017 season with an 11-5 record, just one less win than their successful 2016 run.
With a healthy Derek Carr taking the snaps as QB and the addition of fresh-out-of-retirement Marshawn Lynch as runningback, Davis expects the team to take the division for the first time since 2002.
“They open the season with three of four on the road and play their final two games away from Oakland, including the season’s final Monday night affair on the East Coast (Philadelphia). In between, they’ll play three consecutive homes games on two separate occasions, but one of those will occur against the Patriots in Mexico City — not exactly The Black Hole.”
Across the Bay (well, technically, they’re not ACROSS the Bay), the San Francisco 49ers are expected to match their record at 2-14 from 2016. Despite the addition of head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch, the team is still trying to build off a last place-ranked defense and an underwhelming offensive charge from the previous season.
They drafted Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft to help rebuild the defensive line. However, Davis still believes they will finish in last place once again in the NFC West.
Even if the records match, they should be a better team than Chip Kelly’s 2-14 club from 2016. But the talent base is largely deficient and so is the players’ familiarity with what new coaches want them to do on either side of the ball.
Some other bold predictions from the list:
- New England Patriots will finish with a perfect 16-0 record in the regular season
- Denver Broncos will finish last in the AFC West while the LA Chargers earn a wildcard spot
- Tampa Bay will end their playoff drought and finally reach as a wildcard spot behind Atlanta
- Both New York teams will see opposite results. The Giants will enter the postseason as a wildcard candidate with a 10-6 record. The Jets will finish with the league worst 1-15 record.
You can see the full listing of predictions on USA Today‘s page.