Ouch, they predict the Browns to go 2-14--a full three games worse than last year's pathetic showing. It'll be a fun experiment to review these predictions in about six months, so here's who they picked for division winners:
AFC East: Jets
AFC North: Ravens
AFC South: Colts
AFC West: Chargers
NFC East: Cowboys
NFC South: Atlanta
NFC North: Vikings
NFC West: 49ers
Now, since there are four teams in each division, pure random chance would result in about a 25% success rate. If the Sporting News can significantly exceed that, we'll know they have some idea what they're talking about. (for those interested, they predict the Jets beating the Cowboys in the Super Bowl).
Oddly, though, their prediction of teams' final season records is often at odds with their evaluations of whether the same teams are getting better or worse. For example:
The Bills are predicted to go 3-13, a three game drop from last year's 6-10 record. Yet their "stock report" is "up."
The aforementioned Browns are also receiving an "up" grade, and are also predicted to lose three more games than last year.
The Titans, on the other hand, are predicted to win three more games than last year and make the playoffs, but have only a "steady" stock report.
The Broncos, predicted to lose a whopping four more games than last season, also receive a "steady" stock report.
Does this make any sense?
And for the sake of posterity, the biggest jump the magazine predicts is the Chiefs, who they think will win five more games than last year to jump from 4-12 to a winning 9-7 record.