It’s that wonderful time of year where the NFL is back, and all is right in the world of sports. No more Draft talk, off season issues, contracts or anything else. I can finally go back to talking about the games and matchups which is the way things should be.
Every year since 2011 on the Wednesday before the Thursday NFL Kickoff game I make my predictions for every team leading all the way to the Super Bowl. I’ve only predicted one Super Bowl champion correctly (2014 Patriots), but I’ve accurately predicted at least two of the four teams in each conference championship game but one. In 2011 I had the Packers, Eagles, Steelers and the Ravens.
After predicting the Eagles and the Patriots to be in the Super Bowl last year (I had the Patriots winning), my friends convinced me to write my predictions in an article, rather than in a notebook. Without further ado, let’s dig into my predictions for the 2018-2019 season!
I couldn’t have dropped the Bucs into a worse situation. Jameis Winston is gone for the first four games, they start off with the Saints, Eagles and Steelers and you’re in the most competitive division in the league. This is a recipe for a rough start which won’t improve as the season progresses.
I think the Falcons are the most talented team in the division, but the Saints schedule plays out more favorably. I have Atlanta losing late in the year at New Orleans and Green Bay which will heavily factor into their seedings.
The Saints are my pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. This will be Drew Brees’ last good chance to make a postseason run and I like this team to beat Atlanta in the NFC Championship.
The Panthers are unfortunately the stepchild who is talented, but they are overshadowed by their brethren who are bigger, faster, and stronger. I think Norv Turner will do things to help improve Cam Newton, but it won’t ultimately be enough to keep up.
Many people have the Vikings as the favorites, but with Rodgers back and Pat Shurmur gone it’s tough for me to say the same. I love their defense and run game, but Kirk Cousins and new offensive coordinator John DeFillipo will take some time to get on the same page.
The Bears are doing all of the right things and I had to do a lot of reevaluating on them, but I have them at 7-9. Mitchell Trubisky needs to make the jump this year after a rather lackluster showing last year.
Players have said nothing but positive things about Matt Patricia, but I don’t believe talk translates to wins. I love fun statistics and boy do I have a great one for you. Only one out of seven of Belichick’s assistants have a winning record, which was Al Groh who went 9-7 with the 2000 Jets in his one and only season as a head coach. I don’t believe Patricia will set a new trend.
Congrats Eagles fans! For the first time since 2003-2004 this division will have a back-to-back winner.
Look, I’m feeling this is a generous record to the Cowboys. Eli Manning will not form the triplets with Odell Beckham and Saquan Barkley. Lastly Jay Gruden will be gone by the end of the year.
The Eagles should win this division by default. They have the best defense, the best special teams and while their running game will take a hit with the loss of Legarette Blount, they are still very formidable with MVP candidate Carson Wentz.
On a side note, I’m not surprised Dez Bryant isn’t signed yet. Anyone who watched him play last year should not be surprised (looking at you Mr. Jones).
Upon further review I dropped the 49ers upsetting the Packers in Lambeau. I was high on this team all off-season, but I still believe they’re a year away. The Rams are the best coached team in this division and have the most talent, for now.
Sean McVay surprised me big time last season by making Jared Goff look pretty good. I was not a fan of Goff and am still skeptical. He was carried by a great defense and this team showed its limitations in the playoff loss to the Falcons.
The Seahawks LOB is done and they are a team who will struggle to close games the way they used to. I love the youngsters and swagger they have on their defensive unit, but they are rebuilding in pretty much every area. They are an average team at best.
Josh Rosen to the Cardinals was the best fit of any player from this years’ draft, but he is taking a team over that is completely rebuilding. This defense is still formidable, but they simply are the least talented team in this division.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien NEEDS to win this year. He is now the longest tenured head coach in this division, his team is healthy, and they are far and away the most talented team in all three facets of the game. I understand that this team went through a ridiculous amount of injuries last season, but they are all healthy and have lost all excuses.
I don’t understand the hate for the Jaguars. Sure Jalen Ramsey has done a lot of talking, but Doug Marrone is a heck of a coach and their defense is still talented. I also think Blake Bortles will take another step this year. They are my second wild card team.
The Colts ceiling is 9-7 and their floor is 6-10. I have them at 7-9. This is not the AFC South of 2015 where Andrew Luck can steamroll weak opponents. Even the Titans at 4-12 are not a weak team.
After firing Mike Mularkey I thought the Titans would go with an offensive minded head coach to help develop Marcus Mariota. They instead went with former Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel and I don’t understand why. This defense will be solid again, but the offense will toil in a tough division.
This division is beyond frustrating and I don’t even know where to start.
Every year since 2015 I have said the Steelers should be in the Super Bowl, but Mike Tomlin is holding them back. He runs a loose ship and has made Ben Roethlisberger very upset. Reminder: it’s been 10 years since they won a Super Bowl.
The Ravens don’t understand that Joe Flacco isn’t the problem, it’s the players they’re putting around him. Ozzie Newsome has failed to build a legitimate roster since they won the Super Bowl in 2012 and has left John Harbaugh to work his magic, only to ultimately have zero left in the tank by the end of every season.
The Bengals should’ve left Marvin Lewis behind 5 years ago, but he’s still the second longest tenured coach behind Bill Belichick. Reminder: he has not won a playoff game since he joined the team in 2003.
The Browns are a comedic team with a coaching staff that is just a pot waiting to explode. Hue Jackson, Greg Williams and Todd Haley are three too many egos to work.
For once the Patriots are kind of weak, kind of. They are still the best team in a laughable division. Their receiving corps is the most notable thing here since they lack depth and I don’t feel any explanation is needed for the other three teams.
My last three dark horse teams have been really solid. In 2015 the Cardinals made it to the NFC Championship. In 2016 the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl. Last season the Eagles won the Super Bowl. My dark horse team which will carry my good torch this year is the Chargers of Los Angeles (that’s still not normal to say).
The stars are aligning for this team in many different areas. They have a really favorable schedule, they have a roster capable of winning now and they are in a division with so many question marks. I have them facing the Saints in Super Bowl LIII. Their run defense is a little shaky, but they have the path of least resistance.
The Chiefs are relying upon the big arm of Patrick Maholmes and it will take him some time to adjust to Andy Reid. It took Donovan McNabb a year to figure things out, but for the long term I see this working out. Their team is still very well-rounded.
*Sigh. The excitement of Jon Gruden went away once he traded Khalil Mack. I see this as a Dick Vermeil situation in Oakland. Vermeil took 15 years off to broadcast football once he left the Eagles. It took him three years to change his ways and connect with the players of current. I foresee this happening with the Raiders.
Lastly the Broncos are simply a mess. Von Miller and first round pick Bradley Chubb will do great things, but this offense is worrisome. I don’t like the combination of Case Keenum and Mike McCoy. Vance Joseph is on a very tight leash and this team just doesn’t have enough to keep up with the division. A lot of changes will come to the Mile High city by the end of the year.
6: Jaguars- 17
3: Patriots- 30
5: Chiefs- 20
4: Steelers- 28
3: Patriots- 24
2: Chargers- 28
4: Steelers- 28
1: Texans- 31
2: Chargers- 30
1: Texans- 27
6: 49ers- 14
3: Rams- 28
5: Falcons- 24
4: Eagles- 17
3: Rams- 24
2: Packers- 31
5: Falcons- 35
1: Saints- 38
2: Packers- 28
1: Saints- 31
Super Bowl LIII:
Top Five Games to Watch
Falcons vs. Eagles Week 1- The previous two NFC champions meet in a pretty pivotal week one matchup. Very rarely does a week one game have potential playoff implications, but this game could change the course of Atlanta’s season as they will be in a tight race with the Saints.
Patriots vs. Jaguars Week 2- The rematch of last years AFC championship will be a bloodbath. Two very defensive teams who both want to be the top dog in the conference. This time the Jags have the home field advantage and they will throw everything they have towards the Pats.
Chargers vs. Steelers Week 13- If the Chargers want to make the next jump they need to beat good teams on the road. The Steelers are talented and this game will tell us everything we need to know in terms of how real they are.
Vikings vs. Patriots Week 13- This is a big matchup for both teams as the Pats will be fighting for home field advantage and the Vikings will be fighting for a playoff spot. It’s also a defensive fans dream as Bill Belichick and Mike Zimmer will square off, two Bill Parcells disciples.
Falcons vs. Packers Week 14- A game on the NFC side which could have serious playoff implications. The Packers could be in the hunt for home field advantage, while the Falcons could be in the hunt to be the NFC South’s top dog.