How will the 2014 NFL season play out? If we really knew, we'd keep the answers to ourselves and join Johnny Manziel in Las Vegas. But USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis is willing to offer one outcome after picking all 256 regular-season games and 11 playoff contests (he predicted the Seahawks would beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, eight months before the game kicked off, after doing this exercise in 2013). Here are the results (wild-card entries noted by *; all postseason teams also listed with seeding):
Patriots 11-5 (3): With Gronk, Wilfork back and Revis on board, how won't they win 12th AFC East title in 14 years?
*Jets 10-6 (5): If Geno Smith can sustain steady play from late last season, Rex's bunch primed for playoff return.
Dolphins 8-8: O-line chemistry typically takes time to achieve, and Dolphins had to replace 80% of their unit.
Bills 3-13: Sammy Watkins needs time to adapt. So will defense, which lost Jairus Byrd and is changing scheme. Again.
Ravens 10-6 (4): Healthy Dennis Pitta, fueled Steve Smith and revamped defense mean return to postseason.
Bengals 9-7: The roster returns mostly intact, but breaking in two new coordinators might be killer setback.
Steelers 9-7: Defense in transition — and maybe old in spots — could be undoing despite all the offensive firepower.
Browns 6-10: May be on cusp of something special, but expected suspension of Josh Gordon will delay that a year.
Colts 13-3 (1): Return of Reggie Wayne, favorable schedule give them great shot at third AFC title in nine years.
*Texans 9-7 (6): If this year's QB can avoid self-inflicted wounds, they have horses to be playing again in January.
Titans 6-10: Something promising is taking shape. But new coaches need time, and Jake Locker needs to stay healthy.
Jaguars 4-12: They're on right track with far superior roster, but win column won't reflect that for another year.
Broncos 12-4 (2): Could be better than 2013 team even if wins and offensive output dip. But schedule is murderous.
Chargers 8-8: Last year's schedule allowed late-season charge. This year's could easily produce late-season slide.
Chiefs 4-12: Tight salary cap meant crippling free agent defections, and they didn't sufficiently reload in draft.
Raiders 3-13: Best thing influx of over-the-hill vets can do is change culture. Carr, Mack promise brighter days ahead.
Eagles 11-5 (4): Class of weak division. But can Nick Foles reproduce 2013 magic? DeSean Jackson's speed will be missed.
Redskins 7-9: If the line and RG3's knee hold up, this offense will be hard to slow, but defense may be year away.
Giants 6-10: Eli Manning's supporting cast is getting younger, even if he isn't. Team speed doesn't impress.
Cowboys 3-13: Tony Romo's back, defense are looking awfully frail. Dallas fans might end up pining for .500 teams.
Packers 12-4 (2): Healthy Aaron Rodgers means another healthy shot at Super Bowl. Defense looks markedly improved.
*Bears 11-5 (5): If defense was slightly better in 2013, this is a playoff team — and D seems signficantly better now.
Lions 4-12: So much talent but so much to prove. Tough to find a lot of wins given lack of improvement on defense.
Vikings 3-13: If the 2008 or 2010 version of Matt Cassel shows up, this might be playoff team. That's a big if.
Saints 11-5 (3): Rookie Brandin Cooks adds new layer of mayhem to offense, but undervalued D could also take Saints a long way.
Falcons 10-6: Their problems in pits have been addressed, but Julio Jones' health could determine playoff prospects.
Panthers 7-9: They lost a lot of key bodies in free agency, which probably means a lot of lost ground in standings.
Buccaneers 3-13: Big gamble that 2013 Josh McCown is real deal, and journeyman QB of previous 11 years is gone for good.
Seahawks 12-4 (1): Full season of Percy Harvin plus intact championship nucleus could equal Super Bowl repeat.
*49ers 11-5 (6): Likely extended absences of star LBs Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman could be too much to overcome.
Cardinals 10-6: They could be 10-win team once again. And once again, that may not be enough to reach playoffs.
Rams 10-6: They could win a lot of 17-13 games. They may also lose too many given lack of weapons on offense.
Patriots (3) defeat Texans (6)
Ravens (4) defeat Jets (5)
Saints (3) defeat 49ers (6)
Bears (5) defeat Eagles (4)
Colts (1) defeat Ravens (4)
Broncos (2) defeat Patriots (3)
Seahawks (1) def. Bears (5)
Packers (2) def. Saints (3)
Colts (1) defeat Broncos (2)
Seahawks (1) defeat Packers (2)
Super Bowl XLIX
Seahawks defeat Colts
By Nate Davis, USA Today