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Mike Sando predicts final 2017 records for all 32 NFL teams

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Can the Chiefs upset the Patriots Week 1? (1:21)

Darren Woodson and Dianna Russini discuss what the Chiefs have to do to beat the Patriots. (1:21)

The New England Patriots are a betting favorite in every one of their games heading into the 2017 season. The New York Jets are underdogs all the way through. The disparity illustrates the tendency toward extremes when predicting winners for all 256 NFL games.

It's an exercise I've enjoyed in recent seasons, despite its limitations. After picking winners for every game, I plugged in results from my 2017 QB Tiers survey to see which teams faced the toughest and easiest lineup of opposing QBs -- one variable that should be stable until injuries knock out a starter or three.

Note: Cleveland's DeShone Kizer and Week 1 Indianapolis starter Scott Tolzien were not in the survey. I projected Kizer with a 4.0 tier average -- in the Blake Bortles range for now -- while slotting Tolzien at the bottom with a 4.5. All over/unders are courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook as of Sept. 5.

AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West


AFC EAST

New England Patriots (14 wins)

Vegas over/under: 12.5

Wins: Chiefs, at Saints, Texans, Panthers, at Buccaneers, at Jets, Falcons, Chargers, at Broncos, at Raiders, Dolphins, at Bills, Bills, Jets

Losses: at Dolphins, at Steelers

Analysis: New England enjoys the NFL's largest average weekly advantage at QB, defined as the difference between Brady's average Tier figure (1.0) and the averages for New England's opponents (2.82). It's tough finding likely defeats on the Patriots' schedule. I had them going 12-0 before losing back-to-back road games during a six-day stretch as part of a three-game road trip in December.

Miami Dolphins (8 wins)

Vegas over/under: 7

Wins: at Jets, Saints, Titans, Jets, Broncos, Patriots, at Bills, Bills

Losses: Buccaneers, at Chargers, at Chiefs, at Falcons, at Panthers, at Patriots, Raiders, at Ravens

Analysis: My projections had the Dolphins going 5-1 in the AFC East, which seems unrealistic. But with QB Tiers voters seeing little difference between Jay Cutler and injured 2016 starter Ryan Tannehill, an 8-8 finish seems within reach for a team that overachieved by going 10-6 last season. Jay Cutler has an 0-2 career record against Brady, in case you were curious.

Buffalo Bills (6 wins)

Vegas over/under: 6.5

Wins: at Bengals, Broncos, Jets, at Jets, Saints, Colts

Losses: Buccaneers, at Chargers, at Chiefs, Dolphins, at Dolphins, at Falcons, at Panthers, Patriots, at Patriots, Raiders

Analysis: The Bills play 13 games against teams with higher-rated starting QBs, tied with San Francisco for the seventh-highest total. But if their running game remains strong and their defense holds up, Tyrod Taylor has shown he can be efficient. Winning home games against Tampa Bay and Miami would push the Bills nearer to the .500 range in this projection.

New York Jets (0 wins)

Vegas over/under: 3.5

Wins: None.

Losses: at Bills, at Raiders, Dolphins, Jaguars, at Browns, Patriots, at Dolphins, Falcons, Bills, at Buccaneers, Panthers, Chiefs, at Broncos, at Saints, Chargers, at Patriots

Analysis: The difference between Josh McCown's 4.12 average in QB Tiers balloting and the Jets' average opponent tier (2.58) marks the largest QB deficit for any team. That assumes McCown will start all 16 games, which he has never done in a season previously. It's not looking like the Jets have an obviously better alternative, either.


AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers (12 wins)

Vegas over/under: 10.5

Wins: at Browns, Vikings, at Bears, Jaguars, Bengals, at Colts, Titans, Packers, Ravens, Patriots, at Texans, Browns

Losses: at Ravens, at Chiefs, at Lions, at Bengals

Analysis: Ben Roethlisberger trailed only Brady and Rodgers in QB Tiers voting. His Steelers will face both of those unanimous Tier 1 QBs in Pittsburgh this season (the Steelers are the only team outside the NFC South scheduled to face both Rodgers and Brady this season).

Cincinnati Bengals (10 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8.5

Wins: Ravens, Texans, at Browns, Bills, Colts, Browns, Steelers, Bears, Lions, at Ravens

Losses: at Broncos, at Jaguars, at Packers, at Steelers, at Titans, at Vikings

Analysis: Ten victories seems like too many for the Bengals based on their overall trajectory. My projection had them going 8-0 at home, something Cincy last accomplished in 2013. They were only 4-3-1 at home last season. Eight of the projected victories are against teams with unsettled QB situations.

Baltimore Ravens (7 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8.5

Wins: Browns, Steelers, Bears, Dolphins, Texans, at Browns, Colts

Losses: at Bengals, at Jaguars, at Raiders, at Vikings, at Titans, at Packers, Lions, at Steelers, Bengals

Analysis: While Vegas has the Ravens' over-under at 8.5 wins, I feel as though my seven-victory projection could be optimistic. My thinking holds that Joe Flacco was declining even before a back injury forced him to miss training camp. Back problems tend to linger. Will Flacco hold up all season, and if he does, will he be better? I do have Baltimore beating Pittsburgh at least once for a ninth consecutive season, something they did twice even while going 5-11 in 2015 (one of those victories was with Michael Vick subbing for Ben Roethlisberger).

Cleveland Browns (2 wins)

Vegas over/under: 4.5

Wins: Jets, Jaguars

Losses: at Bears, Bengals, at Bengals, at Chargers, at Colts, at Lions, Packers, at Ravens, Ravens, Steelers, at Steelers, at Texans, Titans, Vikings

Analysis: My projections for the rest of the AFC North are inflated by across-the-board sweeps of the Browns, on the theory that if DeShone Kizer does ultimately elevate Cleveland, it probably won't be as a rookie still finding his way. As things stand, I have Cleveland beating teams with Josh McCown and Blake Bortles behind center.


AFC SOUTH

Tennessee Titans (11 wins)

Vegas over/under: 9

Wins: Raiders, at Jaguars, Colts, at Browns, Ravens, Bengals, at Colts, Texans, at 49ers, Rams, Jaguars

Losses: Seahawks, at Texans, at Dolphins, at Steelers, at Cardinals

Analysis: I've warned Titans fans against overconfidence, simply because Marcus Mariota hasn't shown he can stay healthy, let alone consistently elevate his team when called upon as a passer. But because Tennessee plays in the AFC South while also drawing games against Cleveland, San Francisco and Denver, the Titans trail only Indianapolis for most games against Tier 4 QBs. They have six. Indy has seven.

Houston Texans (7 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8.5

Wins: Jaguars, Titans, Chiefs, Browns, Colts, Cardinals, 49ers

Losses: at Bengals, at Patriots, at Seahawks, at Rams, at Ravens, at Titans, at Jaguars, Steelers, at Colts

Analysis: The Browns take heat for starting so many different QBs over the years, but the Texans have led the league in that category since Bill O'Brien took over as head coach. Houston has had eight starters over that span, one more than the Browns have had. Deshaun Watson will become the 10th at some point, but when?

Jacksonville Jaguars (6 wins)

Vegas over/under: 6.5

Wins: Ravens, at Jets, Rams, Bengals, Colts, Texans

Losses: at Texans, Titans, at Steelers, at Colts, Chargers, at Browns, at Cardinals, Seahawks, at 49ers, at Titans

Analysis: Drafting Leonard Fournette and paying $15 million per year for Calais Campbell showed how determined the Jaguars were to minimize their reliance on Blake Bortles. Their season could hinge on whether other teams' QB situations become worse. Will Andrew Luck start against the Jaguars in Weeks 7 and 13? How sharp will Joe Flacco be in Week 3? Will Marcus Mariota still be healthy in Week 17?

Indianapolis Colts (4 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8

Wins: Browns, 49ers, Jaguars, Texans

Losses: at Bengals, at Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, at Jaguars, at Rams, at Ravens, at Seahawks, Steelers, at Texans, at Titans, Titans

Analysis: The Colts play a league-high 13 games against Tier 3-4 QBs, which is why they'll be back in the 8-8 range if Andrew Luck is healthy and plays a full season. When will Luck be healthy? How will he perform with zero offseason work? I can't assume the best in the absence of any evidence, and so the Colts come away with a four-win projection.


AFC WEST

Oakland Raiders (11 wins)

Vegas over/under: 9.5

Wins: Jets, Ravens, Chargers, Chiefs, at Bills, at Dolphins, Broncos, Giants, Cowboys, at Eagles, at Chargers

Losses: at Titans, at Redskins, at Broncos, Patriots, at Chiefs

Analysis: Derek Carr was seventh in QB tiers voting. His Raiders face only one QB ranked higher (Brady). The 11-victory projection is more optimistic than I was anticipating; somewhere in the nine- to 10-win range seems realistic. The 2016 Raiders were the only team over the past decade to finish 5-0 or better in games decided by three or fewer points. Projected home victories over Kansas City, Denver, Dallas and the Giants could easily flip the other way in a couple cases.

Kansas City Chiefs (10 wins)

Vegas over/under: 9

Wins: Eagles, at Chargers, Redskins, Steelers, Broncos, Bills, at Jets, Raiders, Chargers, Dolphins

Losses: at Patriots, at Texans, at Raiders, at Cowboys, at Giants, at Broncos

Analysis: The Chiefs play nine games against QBs ranked higher than Alex Smith in the QB tiers survey. My projection has them winning five of the nine, including home games against the Chargers, Raiders, Steelers and Redskins. The 10-win projection includes the Chiefs sweeping the Chargers, which they have done each of the past three seasons.

Denver Broncos (8 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8

Wins: Chargers, Cowboys, Raiders, Giants, Bengals, Jets, at Colts, Chiefs

Losses: at Bills, at Chargers, at Chiefs, at Dolphins, at Eagles, Patriots, at Raiders, at Redskins

Analysis: This projection has the Broncos going 7-1 at home while riding their defense to road victories against Buffalo and Indy. QB Tiers voting has Denver holding an advantage at the position for only one game, a Week 14 matchup against the Jets. The question for Denver is whether the pass protection can improve enough for Trevor Siemian to move solidly into Tier 3 from his current spot atop Tier 4.

Los Angeles Chargers (7 wins)

Vegas over/under: 7.5

Wins: Dolphins, Eagles, Broncos, at Jaguars, Bills, Browns, at Jets

Losses: at Broncos, Chiefs, at Giants, at Raiders, at Patriots, at Cowboys, Redskins, at Chiefs, Raiders

Analysis: Philip Rivers leads the NFL in interceptions during the past three seasons. Whether you think that's a reflection of Rivers or his supporting cast or a combination of both, the implications are telling for a Chargers team that seems to be about the same as it was in 2016. QB tiers voters placed Rivers one spot below division rival Derek Carr. Where will voters see them next offseason?


NFC EAST

New York Giants (11 wins)

Vegas over/under: 9

Wins: Lions, at Buccaneers, Chargers, Seahawks, Rams, at 49ers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Eagles, at Cardinals, Redskins

Losses: at Cowboys, at Eagles, at Broncos, at Redskins, at Raiders

Analysis: The Giants are one of four teams to face zero Tier 1 QBs all season, which seems like a sweet deal for a team that should again field a top-five defense. Derek Carr, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson are the highest-ranked QBs on a schedule that will become tougher if Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston elevate in 2017.

Dallas Cowboys (10 wins)

Vegas over/under: 9.5

Wins: Giants, at Cardinals, Rams, Packers, at 49ers, Chiefs, Eagles, Chargers, Redskins, Seahawks

Losses: at Broncos, at Eagles, at Falcons, at Giants, at Raiders, at Redskins

Analysis: Dak Prescott ranked atop the third tier, with some expectation he could make a significant jump in his second season. How high can he climb? Dallas plays nine games against teams whose QBs are within one-half tier of the 2.52 average for Prescott. Only the Giants (10) and Redskins (nine) play as many, but their QBs are more established and less likely to ascend sharply at this point.

Washington Redskins (9 wins)

Vegas over/under: 7.5

Wins: at Rams, Raiders, 49ers, Cowboys, Vikings, Giants, at Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos

Losses: Eagles, at Chiefs, at Eagles, at Seahawks, at Saints, at Cowboys, at Giants

Analysis: Vegas has set the Redskins' win total at 7.5. I've got them beating that with Kirk Cousins leading shootout victories over the Raiders (home) and Chargers (road). I didn't go into this exercise thinking the Eagles would sweep the Redskins after going 0-4 against them over the past two seasons, but it worked out that way when picking games week by week.

Philadelphia Eagles (9 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8.5

Wins: at Redskins, Giants, Cardinals, Redskins, 49ers, Broncos, Bears, at Rams, Cowboys

Losses: at Chargers, at Chiefs, at Cowboys, at Giants, at Panthers, Raiders, at Seahawks

Analysis: Quite a few QB tiers voters thought Carson Wentz could ascend to the second tier and eventually threaten Tier 1, but they had him eighth out of 12 QBs in Tier 3 for now. That's an interesting spot for him as the Eagles prepare to play a league-high eight games against Tier 2 QBs, including four within the division, not counting games against Dallas (Dak Prescott sat atop the third tier).


NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers (12 wins)

Vegas over/under: 10.5

Wins: Seahawks, Bengals, Bears, at Vikings, Saints, Lions, at Bears, Ravens, Buccaneers, at Browns, at Panthers, Vikings

Losses: at Cowboys, at Falcons, at Lions, at Steelers

Analysis: The Packers face three of the other four teams with Tier 1 QBs. This projection has them winning one of those games -- at home against Drew Brees' Saints -- while losing on the road against Matt Ryan's Falcons and Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers.

Minnesota Vikings (8 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8.5

Wins: Saints, Buccaneers, Lions, Ravens, at Browns, Rams, Bengals, Bears

Losses: at Steelers, at Bears, Packers, at Redskins, at Lions, at Falcons, at Panthers, at Packers

Analysis: The Vikings play the third-toughest lineup of opposing QBs, with five games against Tier 1 QBs and two more against Matthew Stafford, who climbed into the top 10 and is now solidly in the second tier. That lineup becomes tougher if Cam Newton bounces back from a down 2016 season.

Detroit Lions (8 wins)

Vegas over/under: 7.5

Wins: Cardinals, Panthers, Steelers, Browns, Vikings, at Ravens, Bears, Packers

Losses: at Giants, Falcons, at Vikings, at Saints, at Packers, at Bears, at Buccaneers, at Bengals

Analysis: NFC North teams are facing the NFC South this season. That and having to face Aaron Rodgers twice help explain why Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit rank among the top five for hardest opposing QB schedules.

Chicago Bears (5 wins)

Vegas over/under: 5.5

Wins: Vikings, Panthers, Lions, 49ers, Browns

Losses: at Bengals, at Buccaneers, at Eagles, Falcons, at Lions, at Packers, Packers, at Ravens, at Saints, Steelers, at Vikings

Analysis: The gap between what QB tiers voters thought of Mike Glennon (3.86 average) and what they thought of the QBs on the Bears' schedule this season (2.34 average) creates the second-largest average deficit for any team (the Jets are playing at the fattest deficit). The Bears will be banking on Glennon to exceed outside expectations. Rookies were not in the QB Tiers survey, so there are no calculations to apply if Mitch Trubisky replaces Glennon.


NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons (11 wins)

Vegas over/under: 9.5

Wins: at Bears, at Lions, at Jets, Green Bay, Bills, Dolphins, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Vikings, Saints, Panthers

Losses: at Panthers, at Patriots, at Saints, at Seahawks, at Buccaneers

Analysis: The Falcons play the fourth-toughest opposing QB schedule based on Tiers voting. Of the 10 teams with the toughest QB schedules, the Falcons are the only one with a Tier 1 QB on their side. Matt Ryan squeaked into the top tier. My projection has the Falcons going 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road against some tough teams.

Carolina Panthers (9 wins)

Vegas over/under: 9

Wins: at 49ers, Bills, Saints, Eagles, Falcons, Dolphins, at Jets, Vikings, Buccaneers

Losses: at Patriots, at Lions, at Bears, at Buccaneers, at Saints, Packers, at Falcons

Analysis: The Panthers and Buccaneers each play a league-high six games against Tier 1 QBs, thanks in part to Matt Ryan's ascendance into that category. How well Cam Newton plays will determine to what degree Carolina is operating at a QB deficit (or advantage).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8.5

Wins: at Dolphins, Bears, at Cardinals, at Bills, Panthers, Jets, Lions, Falcons, Saints

Losses: at Falcons, Giants, at Packers, at Panthers, Patriots, at Saints, at Vikings

Analysis: Despite considerable excitement surrounding Jameis Winston, the Bucs' third-year starter still was only a Tier 3 QB in voting this year. Will he ascend? That question is paramount in part because the Buccaneers play a league-high 10 games against QBs in the top two tiers. How frequently will Winston give Tampa Bay an edge?

New Orleans Saints (8 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8

Wins: Lions, Bears, Buccaneers, Redskins, at Rams, Panthers, Jets, Falcons

Losses: at Vikings, Patriots, at Panthers, at Dolphins, at Packers, at Bills, at Falcons, at Buccaneers

Analysis: This projection has the Saints going 7-1 at home, with the only home defeat coming against the Patriots. While Drew Brees landed solidly in Tier 1, some voters thought there were signs he was slipping physically and could fall off. The assumption here is that Brees will continue to do what he did last season, which was give New Orleans a chance to win in spite of a defense that is striving for subpar after a run of historically bad.


NFC WEST

Seattle Seahawks (12 wins)

Vegas over/under: 10.5

Wins: 49ers, at Titans, Colts, at Rams, Texans, Redskins, at Cardinals, Falcons, at 49ers, Eagles, at Jaguars, Rams

Losses: at Packers, at Giants, at Cowboys, Cardinals

Analysis: The Seahawks face the NFL's fifth-easiest schedule of opposing QBs, and they'll do it with a defense featuring eight Pro Bowlers. They have the 10th-best QB playing against the fifth-worst QBs, backed by a great defense. The opposing QB schedule for Seattle and every NFC West teams gets easier if Andrew Luck can't play for the Colts.

Arizona Cardinals (8 wins)

Vegas over/under: 8.5

Wins: at Colts, 49ers, at Rams, at 49ers, Jaguars, Rams, Titans, at Seahawks

Losses: Buccaneers, Cowboys, at Eagles, Giants, at Lions, at Redskins, Seahawks, at Texans

Analysis: The Cardinals' opposing QB schedule is easier than the Seahawks' because Arizona draws Jameis Winston instead of Matt Ryan. Their own QB is a key variable. What is Carson Palmer at this stage of his career? Most QB tiers voters thought he was trending downward into the third tier, but if he's better than that, so are the Cardinals.

Los Angeles Rams (3 wins)

Vegas over/under: 6

Wins: Colts, Texans, 49ers

Losses: at 49ers, Cardinals, at Cardinals, at Cowboys, Eagles, at Giants, at Jaguars, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, at Seahawks, at Titans, at Vikings

Analysis: The poor first impression Jared Goff made as a rookie might not reflect what lies ahead, but it's defining perceptions for him and the Rams. QB tiers voting has the Rams playing at a QB deficit in 15 games, with the only advantage (a small one) coming against Houston. On the positive side, the Rams face only one Tier 1 QB (Drew Brees), and they also draw Indy without Andrew Luck.

San Francisco 49ers (2 wins)

Vegas over/under: 5

Wins: Rams, Jaguars

Losses: at Bears, at Cardinals, Cardinals, at Colts, Cowboys, at Eagles, Giants, Panthers, at Rams, at Redskins, at Seahawks, Seahawks, at Texans, Titans

Analysis: The gap between the average tier for 49ers QB Brian Hoyer (4.00) and the team's opposing QBs (2.88) is the NFL's seventh largest. San Francisco faces zero Tier 1 QBs and five Tier 4 QBs, so there could be opportunities for the 49ers if Hoyer can outperform expectations in Kyle Shanahan's system, as some think he might.