2018 NFL schedule: Record predictions, analysis for all 32 teams

Pats get Texans Week 1 (1:13)

Louis Riddick analyzes the Patriots' schedule game-by-game, predicting a 11-5 record. (1:13)

The 2018 NFL schedule is out, and the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles kick off the regular season against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Sept. 6. The first Monday Night Football game of the season? The New York Jets will host the Detroit Lions on Sept. 10. Check out the full week-by-week schedule here.

Below, NFL Nation reporters predict the 2018 regular-season records for every team. One important note: Each prediction was made independent of the predictions of their colleagues.

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


Dallas Cowboys

Full schedule | Predicted record: 10-6

The Cowboys have seven games against teams that made the playoffs in 2017, including two against the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. The path back to the postseason will be difficult and the offseason has not been great with free-agent losses and the release of Dez Bryant. In recent years (2014, 2016) when the expectations at the start of a season were not Super Bowl-or-bust for whatever reason, the Cowboys have responded. Jason Garrett might need more than 10 wins and a playoff appearance to save his job. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants

Full schedule | Predicted record: 8-8

The Giants have a brutal seven-game stretch to open the season. That's going to be tough to navigate. If they can get through somewhat unscathed, there are some winnable games on the back end. -- Jordan Raanan

Philadelphia Eagles

Full schedule | Predicted record: 11-5

Quarterback Carson Wentz fully intends to be in the lineup when the Eagles begin their title defense at home on Sept. 6 against the Atlanta Falcons. Even if he reaches that goal, it could take some time until he rounds back into MVP form. The schedule is no cake walk, as the Eagles face seven teams that made the postseason last year. But the defending champs return 19 of 22 starters, and will be fueled by a talented group of players coming off injury led by Wentz and Jason Peters, who will stress that a Super Bowl hangover is not an option. -- Tim McManus

Washington Redskins

Full schedule | Predicted record: 8-8

The Redskins feel they've upgraded at quarterback with Alex Smith over Kirk Cousins, but how much a bump they'll get from this change remains to be seen. To improve, overall, the Redskins need much better health and for key young players to develop such as receiver Josh Doctson. If those happen, then they could be good. But it's hard to go much above last year's mark based on the initial part of the offseason and before seeing what happens in the draft. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears

Full schedule | Predicted record: 7-9

The Bears' offseason upgrades on offense (WR Allen Robinson and TE Trey Burton) bode well for second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who ought to have more freedom in new head coach Matt Nagy's offensive scheme. However, Chicago's strength is its defense led by veteran coordinator Vic Fangio. The NFL did the Bears no favors with early games against Green Bay and Seattle, but the schedule lightens up considerably beginning in Week 3. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions

Full schedule | Predicted record: 9-7

The Lions have a new coaching staff and new hope under Matt Patricia. The schedule, though, likely will lead to the same mediocre results Detroit has seen over the past few years. The Lions still have far too many holes on offense (the line and run game) and far too many questions on defense (pass rush and interior line) for them to be anything other than middle of the pack at this point. But the draft can change all of that. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers

Full schedule | Predicted record: 11-5

The last time Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone (2013), he came back to win MVP the next season. The last time the Packers changed defensive coordinators (2009), they made a five-win improvement. Both of those factors are in play this season and even though they supposedly have the toughest schedule on paper, those other influences are much stronger. Plus, they have a chance to get off to a fast start with three out of their first four games at home and could finish strong with three December home games if they can survive a tough middle stretch. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

Full schedule | Predicted record: 10-6

Coming off a runner-up finish in last year's NFC title game, the Vikings face Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz (assuming he's back from his ACL injury) in the first five weeks of the season. Road games at Green Bay, Los Angeles and Philadelphia during that stretch won't be the easiest way to usher in the Kirk Cousins era, along with back-to-back games at New England and Seattle in December. The Vikings enter the season with the league's reigning top defense and get a break toward the end of the regular season with Miami and Chicago at home in the final three weeks. They'll aim to capitalize on their dominant home-field advantage after losing only four games at U.S. Bank Stadium since it opened in 2016. -- Courtney Cronin


Atlanta Falcons

Full schedule | Predicted record: 9-7

The Falcons have a tough start to the season, traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Super Bowl champion Eagles in the NFL opener Sept. 6. But they turn around and start NFC South play with back-to-back home games against the Panthers and Buccaneers, then follow with another home matchup with the Bengals. Going to the cold of Green Bay in December to face Aaron Rodgers doesn't sound appealing. At least the Falcons can focus on the division race when they close the season at Carolina and Tampa Bay. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

Full schedule | Predicted record: 10-6

The schedule-makers apparently believe the NFC South could come down to New Orleans and Carolina. The two will meet on Monday night in Charlotte in Week 15 and then conclude the season in New Orleans in Week 17. Those games could be the difference between which team goes 10-6 and 11-5. A year ago they both were 11-5 with the Saints winning the tiebreaker by virtue of three wins against Carolina. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints

Full schedule | Predicted record: 11-5

The Saints are a made-for-TV team again, with five prime-time games scheduled for the first time in four years. Expectations are high for 39-year-old QB Drew Brees and New Orleans' breakout 2017 rookie class. They'll have to buck their trend of slow starts over the past four years and take advantage of their early schedule, because the final 10 weeks are loaded with likely playoff contenders. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Full schedule | Predicted record: 8-8

Seven of the Bucs' losses last year came in one-score games with five decided by three points or less or in overtime. It's not unfathomable for them to rebound from 5-11 in 2017 to 8-8 in 2018, but that's only if they can take care of business in the NFC South. A healthy Jameis Winston with improved chemistry with DeSean Jackson, a completely revamped defensive line and an improved secondary from the draft can go a long way. -- Jenna Laine


Arizona Cardinals

Full schedule | Predicted record: 6-10

Between an improved NFC West and a difficult road schedule, this won't be the season the Cardinals get above .500. They'll have stretches of difficulty in both halves of the season, but a late-season stretch of games against Green Bay, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks will make it tough for Arizona to finish on a high note. -- Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams

Full schedule | Predicted record: 12-4

The Rams will finally get a taste for what a true first-place schedule feels like. They'll play five prime-time games, two of them on Monday Night Football and one of those from Mexico City. But their travel schedule won't be as brutal as it has been in two prior seasons, and three of their first four games will come at home. -- Alden Gonzalez

San Francisco 49ers

Full schedule | Predicted record: 10-6

The 49ers have plenty of buzz after their 5-0 finish to last season but that also leaves them with much to prove as expectations soar. Still, the Niners have what looks like a manageable schedule and one that is particularly team-friendly on the back end. If San Francisco can have a strong draft and keep quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo healthy, it has a chance to be in the postseason mix until the season's final days. -- Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks

Full schedule | Predicted record: 8-8

Seattle's schedule is tied for the fifth-toughest in terms of opponents' 2017 winning percentage, and the Rams are the clear favorites in the NFC West. But anyone assuming the Seahawks will bottom out after their 9-7 campaign and an offseason of key departures is forgetting everything they still have -- such as a Super Bowl-winning QB in Russell Wilson, an All-Pro middle linebacker in Bobby Wagner and, for now at least, arguably the game's best safety in Earl Thomas. If the Seahawks trade Thomas, 7-9 might seem more realistic -- especially if they send him to the Cowboys, whom Seattle will host in Week 3. -- Brady Henderson


Buffalo Bills

Full schedule | Predicted record: 7-9

Who starts at quarterback for Buffalo remains to be seen -- AJ McCarron or a rookie draft pick -- but no matter what, the first half of Buffalo's schedule will be grueling. They play five of their first seven games on the road, and then return home to face the long-dominant Patriots. Returning to the playoffs in 2018 will probably require a bounce-back second half of the season. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins

Full schedule | Predicted record: 8-8

The return of Ryan Tannehill should help Miami bounce back from a lost 2017, but the roster has seen too many changes to assume Adam Gase can get back to the playoffs after making the postseason as a first-year coach in 2016. The Dolphins feel like a middling team teetering on another rebuild. Late-season games hosting the Patriots and Jaguars, and on the road against Minnesota, could determine their season. -- Mike Rodak

New England Patriots

Full schedule | Predicted record: 11-5

A Week 11 bye is well placed for the defending AFC champions, giving them a mid-November break. If everything goes according to plan, they will be ready to make their patented late-season push. But one thing that showed up in 2017, and bears watching this year, is that the first month of the season was essentially an extension of the Patriots' preseason (they were 2-2, and one could say were fortunate not to be 1-3). So an overall prediction of 11-5, which is below the team's normal standard, takes that into account while also considering that five of the team's first nine games are scheduled for prime time. A Monday night game in Buffalo on Oct. 29 could be one of the most rabid, pure football environments on the entire NFL schedule. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets

Full schedule | Predicted record: 7-9

Still rebuilding, the Jets are headed to their third consecutive losing season and eighth consecutive year out of the playoffs. On paper, they have one of the easiest schedules, which should allow them to hang around until December. That could change, depending on when/if they hand the team to their rookie quarterback, assuming they go that route with the No. 3 overall pick. In other words, when do they start playing for 2019? -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens

Full schedule | Predicted record: 9-7

Whether Baltimore can end a three-year playoff drought depends on how the Ravens handle one of the toughest road schedules in the league. The Ravens' out-of-conference opponents were 35-13 (.729) last season, and Baltimore has managed only eight road wins the past three years. With a healthy Joe Flacco and a stronger supporting cast around him, the Ravens will dominate at home and pull off a couple of upsets on the road to stay in the postseason hunt. Like the past two seasons, Baltimore's playoff fate will be decided in the final two weeks of the season. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

Full schedule | Predicted record: 8-8

Although the Bengals have the third-easiest schedule based on opponents' wins from last year, they still have to face five teams that participated in the 2017 playoffs. That's a tough task while breaking in two new permanent coordinators and figuring out how to improve the league's worst offense. While the trade for left tackle Cordy Glenn brought some promise, losing linebacker Vontaze Burfict to suspension hurts with three of their first four games on the road. -- Katherine Terrell

Cleveland Browns

Full schedule | Predicted record: 5-11

Not even the Browns can step backward after a winless season. But with a legitimate veteran quarterback, improved receivers and more talent throughout the roster, the Browns will win their share of games. It won't be enough to compete for a playoff spot, but it will be enough to set up future seasons. Finally. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers

Full schedule | Predicted record: 11-5

The Steelers' roster is loaded enough to compete with any team and is poised for a playoff push once again. But a leaky defense from late last season faces six teams coming off a playoff berth. Meanwhile, the AFC North should be improved enough to challenge Pittsburgh more down the stretch. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans

Full schedule | Predicted record: 11-5

If the Texans can avoid the injury bug that plagued them last year, they will be among the most talented teams in football. With the return of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus and the additions of safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Aaron Colvin, the defense is poised to bounce back, while a healthy Deshaun Watson could make the offense one of the NFL's best if he can pick up where he left off last season. There will be great competition in the AFC South with Jacksonville and Tennessee, but this Texans team should be able to compete when healthy. -- Sarah Barshop

Indianapolis Colts

Full schedule | Predicted record: 7-9

So much of Indianapolis' success in 2018 will hinge on Andrew Luck's availability. It'll be a struggle for the Colts in the AFC South, which could be one of the best divisions in the NFL. As they go through their rebuilding process, they'll be competitive every week if Luck can regain the form he had prior to injuring his shoulder in 2015. They'll have fewer than seven victories if Luck continues to have shoulder -- or any other health -- problems. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars

Full schedule | Predicted record: 11-5

The Jaguars have seven games against teams that made the playoffs last season (Tennessee twice) but the schedule still ranks as the sixth easiest based on last season's win percentages. The offense, which finished fifth in scoring and sixth in yards per game last season, should be better with the addition of LG Andrew Norwell and the development of young receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole. The second-ranked defense returns 12 of its top 14 players from last season. If QB Blake Bortles improves as much as he did last season then the Jaguars should repeat as AFC South champs. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

Full schedule | Predicted record: 10-6

The numbers say the Titans have one of the easiest schedules and the NFL did them a few favors with only one road back-to-back, a bye after their London trip and ending the season with two home games against 2017 non-playoff teams. First-year head coach Mike Vrabel will preach to his team the value of "managing expectations," but they have the roster, national attention (three prime-time games) and schedule path to return to, at a minimum, the playoffs. -- Cameron Wolfe


Denver Broncos

Full schedule | Predicted record: 8-8

The Broncos had quarterback Case Keenum as their marquee signing in free agency to help rescue them from last season's 5-11 finish. Their roster, at least pre-draft, still looks a little too thin in spots to compete in the AFC West race. But, history says the Broncos should get back to at least .500. They haven't finished back-to-back seasons with losing records since 1971-72. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

Full schedule | Predicted record: 9-7

The trick for the Chiefs will be to keep their heads above water over the season's first six games. During that stretch, they'll play four road games, with the Chargers, Steelers and Patriots among those opponents. If the Chiefs survive that stretch, things get easier and they could win at least 10 games for the fourth consecutive season. -- Adam Teicher

Los Angeles Chargers

Full schedule | Predicted record: 10-6

The Chargers finished last season winning nine of their last 12 games after a 0-4 start, and have the ninth-easiest strength of schedule in the NFL to start the regular season at .480. In their second season in Los Angeles, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn should have the advantage of continuity in a year of transition for the rest of the AFC West. -- Eric D. Williams

Oakland Raiders

Full schedule | Predicted record: 9-7

The schedule-makers did Jon Gruden 2.0 no favors with a tough start to his return, including putting him back on Monday Night Football for the season opener against the suddenly formidable Rams, whom they face in the preseason a few weeks prior. Getting to the bye at 3-3 would be an accomplishment given four of their first six games are away from Oakland, including a Week 6 tilt in London against the Seahawks. The slate evens out a bit for Oakland, which is tied for the fourth-easiest strength of schedule in the NFL, before a tough finish with two of the last three on the road, and in cold weather cities Cincinnati and Kansas City. A year after playing a franchise record five prime-time games, the Raiders are under the lights four times in 2018. -- Paul Gutierrez