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PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: 2020 NFL Predictions

Crystal ball gazing and palm reading before the season kicks off tonight.

NFL Combine - Day 2 Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Before the 2020 season begins, the Masthead has joined together to make their 2020 NFL season predictions. First are our playoff predictions for the upcoming season.

2020 Playoff Predictions

Playoff Predictions Matt Weston Kenneth L. Diehard Chris Carlos Flores Joe Critz l4blitzer
Playoff Predictions Matt Weston Kenneth L. Diehard Chris Carlos Flores Joe Critz l4blitzer
AFCE Patriots Bills Patriots Patriots Bills Patriots
AFCN Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Steelers
AFCS Titans Colts Texans Titans Texans Colts
AFCW Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs
AFC WC 1 Bills Steelers Bills Texans Steelers Ravens
AFC WC 2 Colts Texans Colts Bills Titans Texans
AFC WC 3 Texans Broncos Steelers Chargers Broncos Bills
NFCE Cowboys Eagles Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys
NFCN Vikings Packers Vikings Vikings Vikings Packers
NFCS Saints Saints Saints Saints Buccaneers Saints
NFCW Seahawks 49ers 49ers Seahawks Seahawks 49ers
NFC WC 1 Bucaneers Seahawks Buccaneers Eagles Eagles Buccaneers
NFC WC 2 Falcons Buccaneers Seahawks Buccaneers Saints Seahawks
NFC WC 3 Cardinals Vikings Packers Rams Rams Vikings
Super Bowl Ravens over Saints Ravens over Packers Ravens over 49ers Chiefs over Bucs Ravens over Vikings Saints over Chiefs

Next are our end of season award predictions.

2020 NFL Award Predictions

Award Matt Weston Diehard Chris Carlos Flores Joe Critz l4blitzer Kenneth L.
Award Matt Weston Diehard Chris Carlos Flores Joe Critz l4blitzer Kenneth L.
Defensive Rookie of the Year K'Lavon Chaisson Chase Young Chase Young Chase Young Isaiah Simmons Isaiah Simmons
Offensive Rookie of the Year Joe Burrow Jonathan Taylor Joe Burrow Joe Burrow Clyde Edwards-Helarie Justin Jefferson
Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett Nick Bosa Aaron Donald Myles Garrett Nick Bosa TJ Watt
Offensive Player of the Year Patrick Mahomes Pat Mahomes Patrick Mahomes Christian McCaffrey Deshaun Watson Aaron Rodgers
Comeback Player of the Year Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Alex Smith Cam Newton AJ Green
Coach of the Year Bill Belichick John Harbaugh Bill Belichick Mike McCarthy Bill Belichick Matt LeFleur
Executive of the Year Steve Keim Chris Ballard Brett Veach John Elway John Lynch Jason Wright
MVP Russell Wilson Pat Mahomes Patrick Mahomes Russell Wilson Patrick Mahomes Patrick Mahomes

Finally, here are our Houston Texans season predictions, along with regular season record and how their season will end.

JOE CRITZ: 10-6 (AFC Championship Game)

I think the Texans will go 10-6 and win their division (either #3 or #4 seed depending on how the Bills play). Same record as 2019, but we’ll feel much better about this team going into the postseason since Watson will be in MVP conversation, Will Fuller and J.J. Watt will be healthy, and the either Ross Blacklock or Jonathan Greenard will be showing plenty of promise as rookies. Even though the Texans will be 10-6, they’ll feel like a team that can go toe-to-toe with anyone.

They’ll win their wildcard game against the Steelers in a game I’ll personally have...complicated emotions about. Then, in a divisional round rematch against the #1 seed Chiefs, the Texans will win in dramatic fashion (could easily see them losing here, but I feel like the football gods will smile on the Texans if they make it here again). For the first time, the Texans will be in the AFC Championship game, where they’ll face the Ravens. Unfortunately, I think the Texans will be completely outclassed by the Ravens on both sides of the ball, and despite Watson’s heroics, the Texans will never come close to beating Baltimore. As great as I predict this season will be (if we even get this far without an outbreak), I think it will end with many of us wondering if that is as close as we’ll ever get.

L4BLITZER: 10-6 (Wild Card Round)

I have the Texans going 10-6 for this season, securing at least a Wild Card Berth (but probably not going any further than that). The strength of the team will be the offense, with a healthy Watson conducting what could be the “Warp Speed” passing attack, assuming all the key players stay healthy. I am curious to see the versatility of the running back firm of Johnson and Johnson, especially if Tim Kelly can use them effectively. The biggest contract issues are settled, so that shouldn’t create too much conflict between BO’B the head coach and BO’B the GM.

The key to whether the Texans go 10-6 or 6-10 (the historic range the team always seems to be stuck in) rests on the defense. I have no illusions that Weaver will have the defense back to its glory days of the early and mid-2010s, but can he get them to be at least serviceable? Can they do just enough to get stops and allow the offense to race by people? Aside from reports from practice and scrimmages, the first signs of the future of the defense come on Sept 10, at Kansas City. Hardly the best way to break in an uncertain aspect of your team.

Provided the team finishes no worse than 1-3 to open the season, and goes at least 2-2 against the Colts/Titans, I think the rest of the schedule sets up for the team to at least finish in the top seven of the AFC. If the defense gets on a bit of a hot streak, and Watson can go thermo-nuclear in the playoffs, then a dark horse run at the Super Bowl is in play. However, anything beyond getting past the Divisional Round for the first time in franchise history will be gravy for this season.

DIEHARD CHRIS: Houston 10-6 (#4 seed, Divisional Round)

I see this year playing out similar to last. I just think the Texans didn’t do enough to improve the defense, and the offense will struggle out of the gate, both due to the significant changes and the difficult schedule. I think a lot of people are going to freak out a bit when Deshaun Watson struggles early, but this will be due entirely to the changes in the offense. With hardly any work this offseason and no preseason to build chemistry with his new teammates, I expect both Watson and the team in general to struggle mightily in the first quarter of the season.

But Deshaun is Deshaun. He will figure things out, bounce back, and lead this team to yet another 10-6 record, and another division title. The defense will struggle all season, especially the back end—and the Texans will once again make a second round playoff exit.

CARLOS FLORES: Houston 11-5 (#5 seed, Divisional Round)

Look, I know that the record and seeding seems WILD. I think most of the team’s losses come from the division this year. I don’t see the AFC North as much of a threat. I’m predicting an upset win over the Vikings and Steelers. We’ll split the series with the Colts and Titans, while no one should lose to the Glitter Kitties this year. The offense will take the first few games to identify themselves, while the defense will be a constant issue throughout the year. With Deshaun Watson at the helm, points will be scored by any means necessary.

The seeding might be more controversial than anything. Even with an 11-5 record, I’ll see the Titans going 12-4 and winning the division. Getting into the playoffs, we’ll still be stuck on the treadmill. We’ll meet a competent team in the divisional round and Deshaun Watson’s heroics won’t be enough as the defense turns into silly putty in the second half. We’ll enter the offseason with more questions than answers and BOB will escape the hot seat once again.

MIKE BULLOCK: 9-7 (#4 Seed, Divisional Round)

With Bill O’Brien’s trend of slow starts and the Texans tough first four games, it’s easy to see them going 1-3 or 0-4 in the first month.

But, Deshaun Watson has shown he can will this team to a win, as can J.J. Watt. Which takes them on a five-game win streak, or “just enough to give us hope” stretch before blunders have the Texans losing to a few teams they should beat. When it all shakes out, the AFC South will have 3 teams at 8-8 or better, but the Texans will slide past the Colts and Titans on strength of tie-breakers, basically backing into the post-season.

They’ll hit the playoffs as the #4 seed, win their first playoff matchup, and lose in the Divisional Round once again simply because defense wins championships (or at least keeps you from giving up 51 unanswered points). The Houston D is one Watt injury away from bottom of the barrel.

MATT WESTON: 9-7 (#7 Seed, Wild Card Round)

Before the Jadeveon Clowney signing, I had Houston at 9-7 and as the AFC South Champion. Now that Clowney signed with the Titans, I have Tennessee winning the division. I flipped these teams around.

The Texans were a fortunate team last season. They went 8-3 in one score games, won 2.2 more games than their Pythagorean total, and finished tied 20th in DVOA. This offseason, they didn’t get better. They were worse after the DeAndre Hopkins trade. They did nothing dramatic to improve one of the worst pass defenses in the league, a pass defense that relies entirely upon J.J. Watt’s health to be even below average. The run defense will be worse without D.J. Reader around.

That being said, Deshaun Watson is going to be even better entering this fourth season. He rises beyond the structure of the offense to carry this team farther than it should go. Even after a tumultuous offseason and a fortunate 2019, Watson should be able to carry Houston to enough wins to make the NFL Playoffs. Even a wild card round berth would be incredible considering the context he’s playing and the forces he’s up against.

TIM: 10-6 (AFC South Champs, Brian; Eliminated in Divisional Round of NFL Playoffs)

The first quarter of the season is not going to be much fun. Opening with @ Chiefs, Ravens, @ Steelers, and Vikings is a recipe for a 1-3 or, if we’re lucky, 2-2 record; frankly, 0-4 wouldn’t be a fraction as surprising to me as 3-1 or 4-0 would. After that, however, the schedule eases up considerably, and I still believe the Texans are the class of the AFC South because they are fortunate to employ one Deshaun Watson as their quarterback. Additionally, I remain skeptical that Ryan Tannehill can repeat what he did last season and that Philip Rivers will resemble more of the player he was in 2018 than what he was in 2019 (though I think Rivers has a better chance of accomplishing his feat than Tannehill does his).

After starting 1-3, I say the Texans go 4-2 in the division and also pick up wins over the Browns, Patriots, Lions, Bears, and Bengals before winning a home wild card contest and losing in the Divisional Round to the Ravens or Chiefs.

What are your predictions for the Texans and the rest of the NFL this year?