NFL Predictions: Which Teams Will Be Division Champs in 2016?

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have been disappointing in 2016 | Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With five weeks remaining in the 2016 season, each of the eight division races throughout the National Football League are heating up. Based on what we know right now, some division titles could be clinched within the next couple of weeks, while others likely won’t be decided until the final week of the season. Nonetheless, we have a pretty good idea as to which teams still have a chance at claiming a division crown in 2016.

A handful of teams that we expected to contend in their respective divisions this year have fallen flat on their faces. The Carolina Panthers, who won the 2015 NFC championship, currently have a 4-7 overall record; the Cincinnati Bengals, who won two of the last three NFC North titles and made five straight postseason appearances, have struggled to a 3-7-1 overall record; the Arizona Cardinals, who were one of the popular picks to win Super Bowl 51 at the start of the season, are sitting at 4-6-1; and the Denver Broncos, who are defending Super Bowl champions and winners of five straight AFC West titles, have a lot of work to do to make the postseason at all in 2016.

On the flip side, there are also several teams — the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, and Detroit Lions — that have all come out of nowhere this year to emerge as surprise division title contenders. With that being said, here are our predictions on which eight teams will win division championships in 2016.

AFC East

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Tom Brady and the Patriots are heavy favorites in the AFC East | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Current standings:

  1. New England Patriots (9-2)
  2. Miami Dolphins (7-4)
  3. Buffalo Bills (6-5)
  4. New York Jets (3-8)

Current Vegas odds:

  1. Patriots (-6000)
  2. Dolphins (+2000)
  3. Bills (+6500)

The Dolphins may be on fire — they have won six straight games — but at the end of the day, we’d be completely stunned if the Patriots do not win their eighth straight AFC East title in 2016. In fact, the only way we see New England coming up short is if future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady is somehow forced to miss a significant stretch of time.

Prediction: Patriots

AFC North

Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesPITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08: at Heinz Field on December 8, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

The Pittsburgh Steelers should win the NFC North title in 2016 | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Current standings:

  1. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)
  4. Cleveland Browns (0-12)

Current Vegas odds:

  1. Steelers (-220)
  2. Ravens (+180)
  3. Bengals (+15000)

In our eyes, the AFC North title is the Steelers’ to lose. Their remaining schedule shapes up more favorably than the Ravens’ schedule, and quite frankly, we believe that behind the trio of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and running back Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh simply has the better roster.

We picked the Steelers at the start of the season, and nothing has changed our minds.

Prediction: Steelers

AFC South

It looks like the Indianapolis Colts are wasting Andrew Luck's best years | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

If Andrew Luck is healthy the Colts should win the AFC South | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Current standings:

  1. Houston Texans (6-5)
  2. Tennessee Titans (6-6)
  3. Indianapolis Colts (5-6)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)

Current Vegas odds:

  1. Texans (-110)
  2. Titans (+160)
  3. Colts (+450)

There may not be a Super Bowl contender among them, but the AFC South remains one of the most wide-open divisions in the National Football League. The Texans currently lead the race, despite the atrocious play of quarterback Brock Osweiler, but we see this coming down to a battle between the Colts and the Titans.

Based on their remaining schedule, we see Houston finishing the season with a 7-9 overall record. On the other hand, we see Indianapolis (if Andrew Luck plays in all of their remaining games) and Tennessee both finishing with 8-8 overall records. If that proves to be true, the Colts, who still have serious holes all over their roster, will win the division based on their 2-0 head-to-head record against the Titans this year.

Prediction: Colts

AFC West

Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

The return of Justin Houston is huge for the Chiefs | Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Current standings:

  1. Oakland Raiders (9-2)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3)
  3. Denver Broncos (7-4)
  4. San Diego Chargers (5-6)

Current Vegas odds:

  1. Raiders (+110)
  2. Chiefs (+140)
  3. Broncos (+550)
  4. Chargers (+25000)

The Broncos’ run of five-straight AFC West championships seems to be coming to an end in 2016. The reality of the situation here is that Denver will likely have to win out to have any kind of a chance at winning a sixth straight division title. And with a game against the New England Patriots looming, we just don’t see that happening. As a result, this is now a battle between the Chiefs and Raiders.

For as much as we love what Oakland has done with their roster, the Chiefs are our pick here. Kansas City’s schedule shapes up much more favorably than Oakland’s, and with Justin Houston back in the mix, the Chiefs will be incredibly difficult to beat. When it comes down to it, this division title could ultimately be decided by outcome of the Week 14 matchup (at Arrowhead Stadium) between the Chiefs and Raiders — a game we see Kansas City winning at home.

Prediction: Chiefs

NFC East

Ezekiel Elliott has given the Cowboys plenty to cheer about in 2016 | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys are running away with the NFC East | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Current standings:

  1. Dallas Cowboys (10-1)
  2. New York Giants (8-3)
  3. Washington Redskins (6-4-1)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

Current Vegas odds:

  1. Cowboys (-1200)
  2. Giants (+800)
  3. Redskins (+1800)

Simply put: It will take a major collapse by the Cowboys for any other team to have a legitimate chance at winning the NFC East title. The Giants can help themselves by beating Dallas in Week 14. Even if they do, they will likely need to win out and hope another team can knock off the Cowboys — something that seems highly unlikely to us.

Prediction: Cowboys

NFC North

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Will Matthew Stafford lead the Lions to a division title in 2016? | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Current standings:

  1. Detroit Lions (7-4)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
  3. Green Bay Packers (5-6)
  4. Chicago Bears (2-9)

Current Vegas odds:

  1. Lions (-185)
  2. Packers (+340)
  3. Vikings (+400)

Heading into the season, the Packers looked like a slam-dunk pick to win the NFC North. While the Pack still has a chance, and the Vikings have one of the better defenses in the league, this division is now surprisingly the Lions’ to lose. Detroit has the comfort of a having a two-game lead over Green Bay and a quarterback who is playing himself into the MVP discussion. However, the Lions also have a much more difficult remaining schedule than the Packers.

In the end, though, we see the Lions having a magic number of three. If they win three more games, Jim Caldwell’s team will win the division. Anything less, Green Bay takes the crown.

Prediction: Packers

NFC South

If only Matt Ryan showed up all the time | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Matt Ryan has the Falcons on track to win the NFC South title | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Current standings:

  1. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5)
  3. New Orleans Saints (5-6)
  4. Carolina Panthers (4-7)

Current Vegas odds:

  1. Falcons (-400)
  2. Buccaneers (+350)
  3. Saints (+1700)
  4. Panthers (+10000)

There is a very good chance that the NFC South will have two teams reach the postseason in 2016. But when it comes to winning the division title, the Falcons are the team to beat.

Tampa Bay has the look of a team on the verge of breaking out, and New Orleans is capable of beating any team in the league on any given Sunday. Regardless, Atlanta has an MVP candidate (Matt Ryan), a nearly unstoppable wide receiver (Julio Jones), a dominant rushing attack, an improved defense, and a advantageous remaining schedule. The Falcons will win this division.

Prediction: Falcons

NFC West

Russell Wilson could be the difference in whether or not the Seattle Seahawks are a serious Super Bowl contender | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Seahawks are running away with the 2016 NFC West title | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Current standings:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)
  2. Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (4-7)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (1-10)

Current Vegas odds:

  1. Seahawks (-7500)
  2. Cardinals (+1500)
  3. Rams (+25000)

There’s not really much to say here. The Seahawks have been extremely inconsistent all year (by their standards), yet they are still running away with the NFC West crown.

Prediction: Seahawks

Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference and ESPN. Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag.