The 2016 season is upon us, and that means there’s a lot of football to be played.
In this year’s edition of the FiveThirtyEight FiveThirtyTwo, we’ve picked the best teams to root for this year, with our own rankings for each team.
New England Patriots The Patriots are one of the best football teams in the NFL.
They’ve won four Super Bowls and have one of those weirdly high-profile quarterback combos (Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Garoppolo) who could win three more.
Even with all of this talent, the Pats still haven’t won a Super Bowl in 20 years, and there are some players in the locker room who may have to give up the big game for their health.
There’s a reason why New England has won five Super Bowl championships.
But they’ll need a few more to get there.
If the Patriots don’t get the win they need this year — and if they don’t beat a team they should be favored to win — they’re in trouble.
Cleveland Browns The Browns won their first playoff game in 21 years in 2016, and they’re now in a good spot.
The team hasn’t lost a game in more than six years, but it has the least amount of wins (18) of any team in the AFC South.
The Browns are also the only team in that division to have won six straight playoff games (they also won the first two of those).
Cleveland is a very talented team, but the question will be whether it can sustain that level of excellence without star quarterback Josh McCown.
If they can’t, the team will be a disaster.
Indianapolis Colts The Colts lost five of their last six games, and with the additions of veteran quarterback Andrew Luck and rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton, they’re poised to have one hell of a season.
They won’t win a game for a long time, but if Luck can keep up this level of play, this Colts team could be a real contender for a Super.
Carolina Panthers It’s easy to say the Panthers will be the first team to go into 2016 and not make the playoffs.
But their roster is a big reason why they’ve been successful so far this season.
After starting the season as a low-ceiling pick, they went into 2016 with a roster that included a lot more depth than anyone expected and was poised to challenge for the Super Bowl.
That could change if quarterback Cam Newton can keep playing like he did in 2016.
Detroit Lions The Lions have an exciting offense, and coach Jim Caldwell is a proven winner who can keep his players fresh.
If that’s what Detroit needs to get back to winning, it’s tough to argue that they’ve done enough to earn a playoff berth.
Seattle Seahawks The Seahawks were a mess last year, and now they have a new quarterback in Russell Wilson.
The problem is, he has yet to win a playoff game.
The Seahawks have the worst record in the NFC West, and if that trend continues, they may be out of the playoff picture altogether.
New York Giants The Giants have a ton of talent on their roster, and the question for head coach Ben McAdoo will be how much that can translate to winning games.
The Giants also don’t have a quarterback that is capable of winning a Super, and it may be time to start putting more faith in a rookie or two.
Tennessee Titans The Titans are poised to be one of college football’s biggest surprises this year.
They have the league’s second-ranked offense, along with a young defensive core that should give up little in terms of turnovers.
There are some issues on defense, but they also have a good young quarterback in Marcus Mariota.
And they’ve got a big, strong defense that should help stop anyone.
Kansas City Chiefs It doesn’t get much better than this Chiefs offense, which led the league in total offense for the first time in 2016 and finished with a 9-5 record.
It’s the most balanced offense in the league, and Alex Smith should be able to run the ball effectively and win games with his legs.
It also has a defense that has allowed just 21 points per game.
It could be the best offense in football this year and McAd, as the offensive coordinator, will have a huge influence on what happens.
Atlanta Falcons The Falcons will be in a great position to go deep into the playoffs this year with their new offense, but there’s no question that they’re going to have to get better on defense.
The Falcons had a tough 2016 season, but a few good pieces — linebacker Paul Worrilow, cornerback Desmond Trufant and tackle Jared Veldheer — should help them rebound.
Green Bay Packers It may not be the Packers’ year, but Aaron Rodgers will be back and they’ll have to replace the rest of