This morning, Football Outsiders posted their record projections for the 2016 NFL season (insider only). Some of these projections will change between now and the July publication of their "Football Outsiders Almanac 2016." There are numerous factors that go in to their win/loss model, but here is what they start with:
Our projection system starts with Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings for the past three years, although last year's ratings end up about six times as important as either 2013 or 2014. (You can find last year's final ratings here.)
Despite having an easier schedule in front of them this year, they have the Browns finishing last in the AFC North and last in the AFC. Even the Ravens are getting a significant bump in the win total column, which is something I'd be surprised if it actually came to fruition.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4 (11.8 mean wins; SOS: 23)
2. Cincinnati Bengals: 10-6 (9.8 mean wins; SOS: 20)
3. Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 (9.6 mean wins; SOS: 24)
4. Cleveland Browns: 4-12 (3.6 mean wins; SOS: 7)
They project the Steelers to have the best offense in the NFL this year. They feel the Bengals will suffer a regression offensively -- although Hue Jackson leaving is not cited as a reason for that prediction, they do mention the fact that Cincinnati lost two of their top receivers. As for the Ravens, Football Outsiders is giving them the benefit of the doubt due to the number of injuries the team suffered with key players in 2015. Unfortunately, while Football Outsiders wrote a few sentences to a paragraph on each of the first three teams, they reserved just once sentence for the Browns:
Cleveland will spend the year scouting college quarterbacks.
I wish there would've been a little more substance there. I get the low projection, though -- the Browns have lost key free agents, and the 14 draft picks added this year probably don't factor in to the formula very much until we know what they can do on the field.