Each year, USA Today NFL writer Nate Davis puts together an exercise where he predicts the results of all 267 NFL games, including all 17 weeks of the regular season and the full playoffs. July predictions hold limited overall value, but they are still fun for discussion purposes. And as usual, fans of plenty of teams will have some beef with Davis.
Davis goes out on a heck of a limb with his Super Bowl pick, predicting the Atlanta Falcons will beat the Los Angeles Chargers in Super Bowl 53. His San Francisco 49ers prediction on the other hand, while it will annoy some people, is not exactly out of the realm of the possible. He predicts the 49ers will finish the season 7-9, thanks in large part to a challenging schedule against the AFC West and NFC North.
We know — they’ll probably go 19-0 given Jimmy Garoppolo’s perfect NFL ledger. Bold Prediction Number 1: That streak ends Week 1 in Minnesota. The Niners are definitely on the road to relevance, but a challenging schedule that winds through the AFC West and NFC North suggests they’re not quite ready for a postseason return.
I think the 49ers realistic range of potential records is somewhere between 7-9 and 10-6. They could finish better or worse than those options, but I see them most likely somewhere in there this season. As has been discussed ad nauseam, the first quarter of the season could tell us a lot. They travel to Minnesota, host Detroit, and then travel to Kansas City and Los Angeles (Chargers). If they walk away with two or more wins, the playoffs are a possibility. If they walk away 1-3, they still have a decent shot at a winning record. If they go 0-4 out of the gates, it could be a rocky road back to contention.
At the same time, their first four games don’t guarantee how the rest of the season will go. There will be teams expected to finish poorly that will impress, and vice versa. Looking at his 2017 predictions, he, like many, was way off on the Rams (4-12). He had the Eagles with a winning record (9-7), but was way off on just how good they would be. He was also way off on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6). We’ll see similar examples this year, we just don’t know who yet.
His overall NFC West predictions are fascinating. He has the Rams winning the division with a 12-4 record, which is not a surprise. However, he has the Cardinals tied with the 49ers at 7-9, and the Seahawks going down the drain with a 4-12 record. I could see the Seahawks going south in a hurry, but I would be more inclined to swap those records. Sam Bradford is a talented quarterback, but it’s a safe bet he gets hurt at some point. Josh Rosen could surprise as a rookie, but it’s just hard to see the offensive side of things working out well, even with David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald out there.
What kind of record predictions do you have across the NFC West?