2021 NFL Season Predictions: Josh Allen wins MVP, surprising COY choice

NFL season predictions are in, and the individual awards might look a bit different than most outlets have. What pick surprises you most?

Nothing quite brings on a strong whiff of fall and football quite like some NFL season predictions. Who’s winning this division? Who’s winning that award? Will there be any surprises on the sheet? Well, the Pro Football Network staff came together, and all picked who they believed were the winners of each. Let us know how we did.

2021 NFL season predictions | AFC Divisional Champions

This is how the staff believes the American Football Conference will shake out. There shouldn’t be too many surprises here. There seems to be a pronounced hierarchy within the AFC.

AFC East

As our season prediction shows, the mood has shifted in a division most recently dominated by the New England Patriots.

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. Miami Dolphins
  3. New England Patriots
  4. New York Jets

The Bills have one of the best rosters in football and are the AFC East division winners in our season prediction. Josh Allen took a massive step last season. If he continues to hone in his mental process, he’ll become relatively unstoppable. His arm strength, accuracy, and athleticism make him one of the more dangerous weapons in football. The Bills’ defense finished top 10 in the past two seasons. With this offense, that gives them a Super Bowl shot.

If Tua Tagovailoa plays the regular season at anywhere near the level he played in the preseason, this Dolphins team could be a problem. They’re well-coached defensively with legitimate top-end talent at both outside cornerback spots. They have unique offensive weapons. Will Fuller, Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, and Preston Williams all provide stellar weapons at receiver. Mike Gesicki is one of the more gifted tight ends in the league, and Myles Gaskin can go by land, sea, and air. If this team doesn’t win 10 games, it’ll be because Tua couldn’t elevate his game.

While doing my individual picks, the Patriots were one team that made the NFL season predictions process difficult. They have a solid roster, but it’s difficult to see the upside with them. The offensive line is good, which will help rookie QB Mac Jones remain upright and confident. They have talent at tight end, but their receivers will be an issue. Losing Stephon Gilmore for at least the first six weeks of the season is also a massive blow.

The Jets made a move to improve their pass rush with Carl Lawson, but they quickly lost him to a season-ending injury. Their defensive backfield and pass rush is a mess. However, Joe Douglas and Co. have done a fantastic job trying to cultivate an offense that can survive around rookie QB Zach Wilson. They went out and attacked OL and WR in the draft and even got great value in RB Michael Carter in Round 3. They could play spoiler to a team or two later in the season if Wilson gets into a groove.

AFC North

The AFC North is the last bastion of the old school. Each team is a cold-weather team. The teams in the AFC North legitimately hate one another. It’s the most entertaining football there is.

  1. Cleveland Browns
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Cincinnati Bengals

The Browns might have the scariest roster of all the divisional powerhouses. Their questions lie within the playsheet of the coach and the right arm of the quarterback. Baker Mayfield must show he can elevate an already tremendous roster to the next level. They invested heavily in their secondary in free agency, which should allow alien lifeform Myles Garrett to get to the quarterback even more often in 2021. Add in their excellent OL, and you have a team worthy of winning the AFC North in our NFL season predictions.

Baltimore still has Lamar Jackson, who is a better passer than anybody gives him credit for. The Browns have an outstanding secondary, but the Ravens have the upper hand in LB play, and their CB group is stronger. If Baltimore’s receivers can stay healthy, they could compete with the Browns in the North. It wouldn’t be shocking to see them win it in the end.

The Steelers are another team that makes the NFL season predictions difficult. They dismantled their offensive line during the offseason, and they lost Mike Hilton in free agency. Najee Harris looks like the real deal, but it remains to be seen if this OL can get the job done enough in the regular season to have an explosion in the offense. Big Ben already uses the football as a hot potato in the pocket, and that was with a good OL.

Cincinnati could also play spoiler to some more talented rosters, but they don’t have the firepower to compete. Hopefully, Ja’Marr Chase gets back into a receiving groove as the season progresses. But the biggest question involves protecting their quarterback. Joe Burrow is coming off a gruesome knee injury, and they need to do whatever it takes to keep him upright.

AFC South

The AFC South is the weakest division in the AFC. Each team has legitimate questions surrounding their roster.

  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Houston Texans

The Tennessee Titans should walk away from this division. They have a talented roster, with two of the most gifted receivers in the league. Our NFL season predictions have them winning the division because of those weapons, a great quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, and the most intimidating running back in the league, Derrick Henry. But they may just win the division by default in 2021.

The Colts might not get their quarterback on the field at this rate. Carson Wentz came to camp and almost immediately needed surgery on his foot. From there, he landed himself on COVID-19 protocol and was forced to miss more time. The Colts have a low vaccination rate, making their ability to remain available on Sundays more difficult. They still have to answer the other Wentz question. Is he going to be any good again?

The Jaguars are finishing this division a step up from the basement by default in our NFL season predictions. They appear to be a bit of a train wreck. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to be more of a dumpster fire when you have the Texans in the division. Hopefully, Urban Meyer and Co. don’t do anything to stunt the growth of their talented rookie QB.

The Texans would be relegated if American sports weren’t so cowardly. This team has consistently made poor decision after poor decision, making them the lowest-rated team in our power rankings and our NFL season predictions. There isn’t anything to even get excited about with this team outside of their talented left tackle, Laremy Tunsil.

AFC West

The Chiefs might not be staring in the rearview mirror at the Chargers, but the Chargers might be just a corner or two behind them.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Los Angeles Chargers
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Las Vegas Raiders

The Chiefs showed us they still exist in the preseason when they mopped the floor with the Vikings on their first two offensive drives with Patrick Mahomes under center. Sure, they have a “new” offensive line this year, but it might be better. If Mahomes stays healthy in 2021, it’ll be difficult for anybody to usurp them in the AFC. But it’s not impossible.

The Chargers remain challenging to place in NFL season predictions because they’re always underwhelming. It’s seldom their fault, either. Hopefully, their stars — Joey Bosa and Derwin James — stay healthy this season. Justin Herbert is set to light the NFL on fire in Year 2 with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler.

The Broncos have one of the best rosters in the entire league, but it’s difficult to see the team’s upside with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm. Vic Fangio’s seat must be a bit spicy because this looks like a decision to take the higher floor than ceiling. The Broncos’ defense alone could have the team much higher in our NFL season predictions. Their secondary is the deepest in recent memory. They have a good OL with good, young weapons. Hopefully, Pat Shurmur can maximize this offense around Bridgewater’s limitations.

The Raiders are like a moody teenager. Whatever they need to do, they make an effort to do the exact opposite. Despite all the confusing moves, they’ve improved their record every season under Jon Gruden. However, if Derek Carr can’t find time to deliver the football, this team has no chance to improve on last season. Even with the addition of LB K.J. Wright, this defense will struggle mightily.

AFC Playoff Standings

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Buffalo Bills
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Tennessee Titans
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. Miami Dolphins
  7. Los Angeles Chargers

Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch