NFL predictions: NFC superior over AFC not that wide
The National is the better conference in the NFL. On that we can all agree.
Seven NFL teams have at least eight wins. Five of those teams are in the NFC. A 6-4 record (Houston’s) is good enough to be in an AFC wild-card slot right now. In the NFC, the two teams currently in the wild-card slots have eight wins each (Seahawks, Vikings).
NFC teams sport a combined 25-21 record against AFC teams this season, with 18 games still to play.
But the interconference records seem to be quite fluid.
In 2017, NFC went 41-23 against the AFC. But in 2018, the AFC went 34-30 against the NFC. And in 2016, the AFC was 33-30-1 vs. the NFC.
So interconference superiority swings back and forth. And rarely does the difference get massive. Here are the four best interconference records since the 1970 merger:
1. 1970: NFC, 27-12 (69.2%)
1. 1979: AFC, 36-16 (69.2%)
3. 2004: AFC, 44-20 (68.8%)
4. 2017: NFC, 41-23 (64.1%)
Just to reach a .600 winning percentage, the NFC will have to go 14-4 in interconference games the rest of the way, but the NFC figures to be favored in in more than half of those 18 remaining games.
So it comes down to this. Sure, the NFC has more good teams. But the difference between the conferences is not likely to be significantly relevant.
Let’s get to the predictions:
Colts at Texans: Houston 27-26. The winner takes over the lead in the AFC South. The loser could end up just a game out of last place in the division.
Buccaneers at Falcons: Atlanta 31-25. What’s got into the Falcons, winners of two straight after a 1-7 start? It’s too late, but it’s interesting.
Broncos at Bills: Buffalo 16-14. The Bills could get to 8-3, and they better get to 8-3. Buffalo’s next four games – at Dallas, Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at New England.
Giants at Bears: Chicago 21-18. Crazy as it sounds, 2-8 New York might be in better shape than the 4-6 Bears. At least the G-Men know who their quarterback of the future will be.
Steelers at Bengals: Pittsburgh 26-17. What a mess. From the brawl to the suspensions to the accusations. How can anyone in Pittsburgh keep their sanity?
Dolphins at Browns: Cleveland 23-13. Fortuitous scheduling. Both the Browns and the Steelers get virtual automatic victories on the week they need a breather the most.
Panthers at Saints: New Orleans 30-13. Kyle Allen finally had a clunker for Carolina. The Saints are likely to make it two in a row.
Raiders at Jetropolitans: Oakland 27-13. The soap operaic Raiders are only a half-game out of first place. The Jets are about a half-decade out of first place.
Seahawks at Eagles: Seattle 27-24. Philadelphia is 5-5, but the schedule is about to lighten up. Philly’s next three games – at Miami, the Giants, at Washington.
Lions at Redskins: Detroit 27-13. Washington is bucking to be one of the worst teams in NFL history, despite a victory over the Dolphins.
Jaguars at Titans: Tennessee 24-23. If Jacksonville wins, both teams are 5-6 and only a game behind the Indy-Houston loser.
Cowboys at Patriots: New England 26-14. Dallas suddenly can’t run the ball, which is bad news for the Cowboys.
Packers at 49ers: Green Bay 25-17. With a win, the Packers rise to the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and their next three games are at the Giants, then home for the Bears and Redskins.
Ravens at Rams: Baltimore 22-14. Remember when Ram coach Sean McVay was the newest cool thing? That was 10 months ago. Now it’s Raven quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Last week: 12-2. Season: 104-57-1.