Week 3

It was the week of new starting signal callers across the league. Some performed better than others and 3 of them picked up wins. Injuries and penalties are defining the season and neither of those things are ideal. 8 teams are still unbeaten, and 6 teams haven’t won their first game yet. We missed on 4 games this week as most of the favorites took care of business.

Titans 7 Jaguars 20 – Gardner Minshew and his mustache took over NFL Twitter this week. Jalen Ramsey and the defense had a good game in the win.

Lions 27 Eagles 24 – Offense, defense, and special teams all contributed for the undefeated Lions. The Lions had a field goal blocked but stopped the Eagles at midfield to seal the win.

Jets 14 Patriots 30 – Another classic win for the Patriots. They came out and had enough good drives to seal the deal early for their 3rd win to start the season.

Raiders 14 Vikings 34 – Adam Thielen caught a touchdown and ran for one in the win. The Vikings came back from the loss to the Packers with a great win.

Ravens 28 Chiefs 33 – Patrick Mahomes makes it look easy, and it seems to be getting easier for him every week. Mark Ingram had over 100 yards and scored 3 touchdowns as the Ravens put up the best challenge to the Chiefs so far.

Falcons 24 Colts 27 – Bad injuries and struggles on the defense were the story for the Falcons in 2018 and it looks like it is happening again this season. Meanwhile the Colts are putting together a case to be the surprise team of 2019.

Broncos 16 Packers 27 – Aaron Rodgers started another game off strongly, but then reverted to average. The Packers picked up a 3rd straight win and had another nice defensive game.

Dolphins 6 Cowboys 31 – The Dolphins were down 6-10 at the half in by far their best game of the season. Dak and Amari hooked up for 2 touchdowns as the Cowboys made easy work of the bye week.

Bengals 17 Bills 21 – The Bills picked up another win thanks to a touchdown from Frank Gore inside the final 2 minutes. The defense forced 4 turnovers in the win.

Giants 32 Buccaneers 31 – Daniel Jones showed some 4th quarter Eli magic in the victory. With the game on the line he scrambled into the end zone with a minute and a half left. The Bucs missed a last second field goal in another tough loss. Saquon will miss significant time with an injury.

Panthers 38 Cardinals 20 – When the Panthers have a passer who can throw the ball the difference is night and day. Kyle Allen threw the first 4 passing touchdowns of the Panthers season in the season saving win.

Steelers 20 49ers 24 – It was an ugly game with several turnovers in the 4th quarter but the 49ers are 3-0. Garoppolo threw the winning touchdown with 1:20 left on the clock.

Saints 33 Seahawks 27 – Probably the biggest surprise of the week. The Saints scored on defense and special teams and at one point led 27-7.

Texans 27 Chargers 20 – Both of these teams have played in some tight games already early in the year. Deshaun Watson wasn’t hit as much as usual and had a great game to hand the Chargers another heartbreaking loss.

Rams 20 Browns 13 – The Browns are once again a losing football team. All that talent and they managed 270 yards? That’s not going to cut it. The Rams won another sloppy game, but they are 3-0 and the defense played well.

Bears 31 Redskins 15 – Khalil Mack is a one-man wrecking crew and spent his night dominating the Redskins offensive line. Trubisky and Taylor Gabriel hooked up for 3 touchdowns as the Bears had their best game of the season.

Week 4 picks

Last Week: 12-4

So far: 22-10

Eagles Packers

Redskins Giants

Chargers Dolphins

Raiders Colts

Panthers Texans

Chiefs Lions

Patriots Bills

Browns Ravens

Titans Falcons

Buccaneers Rams

Seahawks Cardinals

Jaguars Broncos

Vikings Bears

Cowboys Saints

Bengals Steelers

BYE: 49ers, Jets

Week 2

If your team still has a Quarterback, you should be grateful. Brees, Roethlisberger, and Darnold join Foles on the list of significantly injured signal callers. Week 2 is always fun because of the stats that show how hard it is to make the Playoffs after starting 0-2 (although 2 teams did it last season). We were 10-6 this week with the predictions, let’s look around the league.

Buccaneers 20 Panthers 14 – Jameis Winston had a decent game as the Bucs surprised the Panthers.Cam Newton lost his 8th straight start and the Panthers offense was worse this week than last. His outfits are also getting worse.

Cowboys 31 Redskins 21 – Dak Prescott proved again why he is deserving of a QB 1 contract. The Cowboys scored over 30 again and get the Dolphins next week. Adrian Peterson passed Jim Brown on the Rushing TD list.

Colts 19 Titans 17 – Jacoby Brissett only threw for 146 yards, but he tossed 3 touchdowns. The Colts are determined to not be an easy win even without Luck.

Seahawks 28 Steelers 26 – Ben Roethlisberger is done for the year. Mason Rudolph played well but Russell Wilson threw for 300 yards and 3 TDs.

Bills 28 Giants 14 – Eli Manning is done whether the Giants are ready to admit it or not. The Bills look like they have a solid defense and have taken care of the other New York teams to start the season.

Patriots 43 Dolphins 0 – Football fans worst fears were confirmed as Antonio Brown fit in with the offense right away. The Pats have a 76-3 advantage in the first 2 weeks while the Dolphins have been outscored 102-10.

Jaguars 12 Texans 13 – There were 12 punts and 3 field goals in the 1st 3 quarters. J.J. Watt picked up a fumble and Deshaun Watson ran it in for the first touchdown of the day. Gardner Minshew led a gutsy drive for a touchdown before Leonard Fournette’s run up the middle was stuffed.

Vikings 16 Packers 21 – Aaron Rodgers went 9-10 with 2 touchdowns in the 1st quarter as the Packers jumped out to a 21-0 lead. It looked like it was going to be a perfect passer rating day for Rodgers, but 21 was all the points they would score. The defense forced 4 turnovers in another solid game.

Chargers 10 Lions 13 – That’s another game where the Chargers are left with plenty of questions. The Lions have to feel good about that win despite being outplayed in a number of areas.

49ers 41 Bengals 17 – 572 yards of offense has the 49ers riding high. Jimmy G looks like a franchise QB so far as they tore through the Bucs and Bengals.

Cardinals 17 Ravens 23 – Lamar Jackson was great throwing and running the ball for the Ravens. Kyler Murray threw for a ton of yards but no touchdowns as the Cards couldn’t complete another comeback.

Chiefs 28 Raiders 10 – The Chiefs scored 28 points in the 2nd quarter as Patrick Mahomes led them to yet another win. Rookie Josh Jacobs ran for 99 yards.

Saints 9 Rams 27 – Drew Brees is hurt and may be out for six weeks. The Rams weren’t dominant, but they pulled away in the 2nd half.

Bears 16 Broncos 14 – Trubisky hit Allen Robinson for 25 yards to set up the game winning field goal by Eddie Pineiro. It doesn’t cure all of the Bears ills, but they will take it.

Eagles 20 Falcons 24 – SNF is officially back as we got a great game. Ryan threw 3 picks, but Julio Jones caught 2 TDs and is the all-time leader in receiving yards for the Falcons.

Browns 23 Jets 3 – Yikes. The Jets are on their 3rd QB and 4th kicker in week 2. The Browns had fun though as OBJ caught a slant and took it to the house for an 89-yard TD. Next week against the Rams will be a big test.

Week 3 picks

So far: 10-6

Titans Jaguars

Lions Eagles

Jets Patriots

Raiders Vikings

Ravens Chiefs

Falcons Colts

Broncos Packers

Dolphins Cowboys

Bengals Bills

Giants Buccaneers

Panthers Cardinals

Steelers 49ers

Saints Seahawks

Texans Chargers

Rams Browns

Bears Redskins

Week 1

Week 1 was great for the simple reason that glorious football returned to brighten our miserable lives. Teams seemed a little sluggish and were still getting over early season problems. There were plenty of penalties and good QBs who struggled. Overall, it was a pretty plain week until the Saints and Texans took the field. The Superdome was loud and ready to get over the terrible no-call in last year’s NFC title game. Watson and Brees both put on great performances, but both defenses showed up with some plays as well. The second half was nuts and the last few minutes even crazier. If you haven’t seen highlights yet or even if you have, watch them. Let’s dive into some of the other happenings around the league.

Packers 10 Bears 3 – Rodgers looked rusty, but healthy. 5 sacks would hurt any team and that needs to be cleaned up, and the pressure is on Trubisky to respond after that dreadful performance. Bears fans are longing for the day when the kicker was the biggest concern.

Redskins 27 Eagles 32 – No defense to be found, but Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson balled out. Redskins lost Darrius Guice to injury but were buoyed by the strong play of Case Keenum.

Bills 17 Jets 16 – The Bills won despite turning over the ball 4 times and suffering a safety. The Jets lost after leading 16-0 even with Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley having strong games.  

Falcons 12 Vikings 28 – The Vikings defense/special teams blocked a punt and picked off Matt Ryan twice. They forced a fumble and picked up 4 sacks in a convincing effort. Dalvin Cook ran for 111 yards and 2 TDs as the Vikings led 28-0 after 3 quarters.

Ravens 59 Dolphins 10 – Lamar Jackson went 17-20 with 324 yards and 5 touchdowns. Mark Ingram ran for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Marquise Brown had 147 yards with 2 touchdowns. The Ravens had 59 points on 643 yards of offense. The Dolphins didn’t come to play, and this may be a reoccurring theme over the rest of the season.

Chiefs 40 Jaguars 26 – Sammy Watkins caught 9 passes for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mahomes was almost flawless as the Chiefs great offense returned as good as new. Nick Foles broke his clavicle and went on IR and thus begins the career of Gardner Minshew.

Titans 43 Browns 13 – With great expectations comes great boos. Baker Mayfield threw 3 interceptions and was sacked 5 times. Meanwhile Marcus Mariota threw 3 touchdowns as the Titans audition for a division crown that seems up for grabs.

Rams 30 Panthers 27 – It doesn’t look like they are suffering from a Super Bowl hangover. They forced 2 fumbles and led 13-3 at the end of the first half. In the second half they had an answer for every Panthers score. Christian McCaffery tried to win the game by himself but fell short. Cory Littleton was all over the field in the win.

Bengals 20 Seahawks 21 – It was a little too close for comfort for the Seahawks who barely beat the Bengals. John Ross caught 7 passes for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns. D.K. Metcalf looked pretty good in his debut, but the Seahawks must play better.

Colts 24 Chargers 30 – The Colts put up a real fight before losing in overtime on an Austin Ekeler touchdown. This may have been a case of the Colts being better than anyone thought even without Luck. Even so, the Chargers run defense allowed Marlon Mack to run for 174 yards.

49ers 31 Buccaneers 17 – Jameis Winston seems to be getting worse every game of his career not better. Jimmy Garoppolo wins yet another game despite not being particularly strong.

Giants 17 Cowboys 35 – The running back battle of the decade turned out to be a Dak Prescott audition for a new contract. Prescott threw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. Eli Manning was fine, and Daniel Jones got some action.

Lions 27 Cardinals 27 – The offense was lethargic, and the Cardinals were down 24-6 going into the 4th quarter. Kyler Murray led a furious comeback that ended in a tie. Ties are generally boring, but we can make an exception for this debut.

Steelers 3 Patriots 33 – “All the linemen except for the center.” Enough said.

Texans 28 Saints 30 – This game saved the weekend. Drew Brees was kept protected while Deshaun Watson was most definitely not. The Saints can hopefully begin to recover from the NFC Championship game because the rest of us are tired of hearing about it.

Broncos 16 Raiders 24 – Josh Jacobs had 2 touchdowns in his NFL debut. No more Antonio Brown is just as much of a win as the actual one. The Chiefs will be a different challenge.

Week 2 picks

Bucs Panthers

Cowboys Redskins

Colts Titans

Seahawks Steelers

Bills Giants

Patriots Dolphins

Jaguars Texans

Vikings Packers

Chargers Lions

49ers Bengals

Cardinals Ravens

Chiefs Raiders

Saints Rams

Bears Broncos

Eagles Falcons

Browns Jets

NFC Preview 2019-20

NFC East

2019 predictions

Eagles 12-4*

Cowboys 9-7

Giants 8-8

Redskins 5-11

*2nd seed

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

Nick Foles is gone which means Carson Wentz needs to stay healthy if this team wants to make a Playoff run without another miracle. Wentz has proven he can be one of the better Quarterbacks in the NFL, but the list of injuries is extensive. The good news is he will have at the very least a good line in front of him. The Eagles have the pieces to have the best line in football, but injuries have put that in doubt. Jason Peters and Jason Kelce have proven they are up to the task and as they age the Eagles drafted Andre Dillard in the first round. Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson are both extremely talented but coming off of injuries. The Eagles traded for Jordan Howard and drafted Miles Sanders and both should have at least some success behind this line. The big move on the offense was the acquisition of DeSean Jackson which gives Wentz a downfield threat. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor will pair up with Zach Ertz to give Wentz plenty of talent to throw the ball to. Fletcher Cox is still the star of the defense and will need to be even better this year. There is a chance he will be as the Eagles signed Malik Jackson which gives them a scary tandem upfront. Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett will be in charge of rushing the QB and they both have the talent to do it. They will replace Jordan Hicks with Zach Brown who will team up with Nigel Bradham. The secondary is less impressive than the rest of the defense, they have depth at corner but not enough talent. Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills need to take steps forward this year. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod will start at Safety. The Eagles also signed Andrew Sendejo for depth. The return of a healthy Carson Wentz will make all the difference in the world to the Eagles. A dominant line on both sides of the ball make this a team that could make a long run into January. Some injuries and age questions could derail them but expect this team to win the division.

TL;DR: Carson Wentz will come back healthy and better than ever. A good roster that is stacked in some places and has plenty of depth will pace this team as they win the division. They have some tough games on the schedule, but they will go 12-4.

Dallas Cowboys (10-6)

Last season the Cowboys started the season 3-5 before ripping off 7 of 8 wins to finish the season. In the Playoffs they beat the Seahawks before falling to the Rams. As usual Jason Garrett’s future is anything but certain and the Cowboys have plenty of drama to deal with. Dal Prescott shows great promise, but sometimes he looks mediocre, which is at the heart of an argument over how much he should earn. It might not be so bad if it was just him, but the Cowboys have several players looking for big pay days. Ezekiel Elliot is in a holdout over his new contract, but if the Cowboys can figure it out, they have a solid QB and a great RB behind a tremendous line. Travis Frederick will return and could make the offensive line the best in the NFL. Amari Cooper returns for a full season, but Cole Beasley is playing for the Bills. Randall Cobb is going to try to replace him in an offense that often featured him on third downs. The Cowboys have high hopes for Michael Gallup and of course Elliot adds a receiving threat out of the backfield. Jason Witten being back will provide for an interesting story, but he will have a limited role. The defensive line will be led by DeMarcus Lawrence who returns with a big contract to his name. The Cowboys added Robert Quinn who they hope can take some of the blocking schemes away from Lawrence. The line has several injuries and it will be interesting to see the growth of Taco Charlton. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch anchor this defense from their Linebacker spots. Both of them are so good that Sean Lee is now a third Linebacker for the Cowboys. Byron Jones is a Pro Bowl corner, but beyond him the secondary drops off. Chidobe Awuzie will start opposite of him. The Safety position is probably the biggest whole on the roster and may hold the team back in big games. It is a good and balanced roster and they have great potential. The biggest worry is that the drama and contract worries bury them. They will win 9 games and fight for a Wild Card spot in a tough NFC.

TL;DR: Off field drama and contract disputes are hurting a great young collection of talent. A similar team from last year will win 1 less game and lose the division.

New York Giants (5-11)

The Giants addressed the QB problem by taking one with the 6th pick of the draft, but they took Daniel Jones who was not rated highly by experts or fans. Meanwhile Eli Manning is coming off a decent year in 2018 and will probably still be the starter even though they should have moved on from him several years ago. On the surface it seems like a terrible position to be in, to have a veteran who can’t win now and a rookie who will need seasoning. However, even if Jones started and had a great year, this team doesn’t have the talent to make a real run. Maybe sitting him for a year and handing him the reigns in 2020 will help with his growth. Golden Tate is the replacement for OBJ which pretty much tells you what you need to know about the receivers Manning will be working with. Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley will have to be seriously involved in the passing game. Barkley was incredible last year and is one of the best weapons in football. The offensive line is improved as the Giants acquired Kevin Zeitler and Mark Remmers. Nate Solder’s health will go a long way in deciding how good this offense can be. After the shocking Jones pick, the Giants selected Dexter Lawrence to help their defensive line. Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill are both great upfront and they could have a ton of success in stopping the run. Getting after the QB was a major struggle last year and after trading Oliver Vernon it looks like it might get worse. Markus Golden is coming off an injury and Lorenzo Carter is young and unproven. Alec Ogletree will lead the Linebacking corps that looks average at best. The Giants also traded up in the draft to pick a corner named DeAndre Baker. He will join a secondary that underwhelmed last year and lost Landon Collins to boot. Janoris Jenkins needs to rediscover his form and Antoine Bethea is too old to be effective. Jabrill Peppers isn’t as talented as Collins, but he isn’t a major downgrade. The Giants lost some close games last year but losing 3 extremely talented pieces isn’t going to help. Giants fans will be anxious to see what Jones has to offer. The problem will be getting sacks and finding receivers to throw the ball to. I’m not as bullish on Eli as many are, I think he still has some wins in their and the Giants will win 8 games.

TL;DR: The Giants lost 3 huge talents, but they argue that the team is overall better. It is a tough argument to make and regardless they will struggle in some of the areas they struggled at last year. Manning will play well enough to hold off Jones for much of the season and the Giants will finish 8-8.

Washington Redskins (7-9)

The Redskins were 6-3 before QB Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury that may have ended his career. The team was probably playing above its talent level and the loss of Smith highlights some holes in the roster. With the 15th pick they drafted Dwayne Haskins, but Case Keenum will be the starter to begin the season. The young QB will probably be forced into action at some point and right away they will miss LT Trent Williams who is undergoing a lengthy holdout that may run into the season. They signed Ereck Flowers and drafted 2 linemen. Morgan Moses should be good and the line without Williams has a chance to be better than average. The Redskins lost Jamison Crowder to Free Agency and cut Josh Doctson making the receivers a giant liability. Jordan Reed could prove to be the only real option to throw to for Keenum. Adrian Peterson had a magical year last year as he rushed for 1,000 yards. Pairing him up with Chris Thompson should at least make the running game potent. In addition to the excitement over Haskins, Redskins fans will enjoy watching a young and talented defense. Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne return to stuff the run. Matt Ioannidis and Ryan Kerrigan will get after the Quarterbacks. The solid defensive line will also allow them to show off their rookie, Montez Sweat. Losing Rueben Foster to injury was a huge blow to the Linebacking group. Josh Norman hasn’t lived up to his contract and Quinton Dunbar has been held back with injuries. The Redskins splashed some money to get Safety Landon Collins who will replace D.J. Swearinger. It isn’t a great situation anywhere but the defensive line which is young and stacked. Keenum isn’t good enough to push them anywhere and Haskins isn’t ready to take over. The wide receivers are awful, and the line is having injury and contract problems. Jay Gruden is on his way out and they aren’t going to finish anywhere near .500.

TL;DR: Keenum will need to be more than a stopgap, but doesn’t have enough talent around him to pull it off. The defensive line can be built around and will show its talent throughout the season. The team will win 5 games.

NFC North

2019 predictions

Packers 11-5*

Bears 10-6^

Vikings 9-7

Lions 8-8

*4th seed

^6th seed

Green Bay Packers (6-9-1)

Back-to-back losing seasons and a fired coach don’t usually make for Super Bowl contenders. However, their QB is still Aaron Rodgers and despite injuries he is the most talented Quarterback on the planet. It is easy to blame everything on Mike McCarthy but is Matt LaFleur the answer? The Packers spent some money on Guard Billy Turner, but the main plan of the offseason was to improve the defense. Obviously, this team will live or die with the health of Rodgers, but the defense was pretty bad last year. The line has some good pieces and is led by LT David Bakhtiari. By going after defense and Guard, the Packers didn’t do much to improve the Receivers for Rodgers. Davante Adams comes back as one of the best in football, but after him the experience and talent drops. Jimmy Graham is past his prime, but the Packers will be happy to get any sort of solid production from him especially in the Redzone. Aaron Jones has been explosive out of the backfield, but like Rodgers he has struggled with injuries in recent seasons. For most QBs, holes in the line and at Receiver would spell a death sentence, but Rodgers will thrive. The Packers have these holes on offense because they spent their offseason addressing the defense. They are bringing in Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith to instantly improve their pass rush. They will join Kyle Fackrell at the Linebacker spots, Fackrell had over 10 sacks last season. The Packers drafted Rashan Gary who will be on the line with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark. Improving the front-7 was only half the job so the Packers made sure to sign former Bears Safety Adrian Amos and they drafted Darnell Savage. Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, and Kevin King will improve just from having another year of experience. The Packers did lose plenty of veterans who still have talent left. Randall Cobb, Nick Perry, and Clay Mathews all moved on. The Packers have much to be excited about, but they will be asking a bunch of players to adjust to a new team and a different system. Aaron Rodgers is going on a comeback tour and it will be something to watch. The problems with the rest of offense will become apparent and will hold him back in January, but he will be there.

TL;DR: Aaron Rodgers will show why he is headed to the Hall of Fame. The Packers defense is much improved, but it will take time for the new pieces to mesh. The Packers are returning to the top of the division and will win 11 games.

Chicago Bears (12-4)

In doing these previews, it feels like the NFL is full of teams who are waiting for a young Quarterback to take the next step. The Bears version of this is Mitchell Trubisky the second pick of the 2017 draft. The good thing is that his numbers were better before his injury last season although you could argue those numbers are inflated by a great game against Tampa. Either way the young QB has looked decent but not special. In 2018 the Bears were 3-3 before winning 9 of their last 10 games. In the Wild Card round they lost a heartbreaker to the Eagles. The team only managed 15 points and will need more from their offense to go deeper this year. Jordan Howard was traded away because he didn’t really fit into Matt Nagy’s system. The Bears will replace him with 2 main players. Tarik Cohen will continue to catch passes out of the backfield, and rookie David Montgomery can run and catch. Allen Robinson is another year removed from an ACL tear and will show his quality as a number 1. Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller aren’t the best options, but they will be joined by Tight End Trey Burton. The offensive line returns all of its starters which is great news for Trubisky. Nagy ran a complicated system last year, but he has the weapons to pull it off. If Trubisky improves this offense can be a force to be reckoned with. The defense emerged as the best in football last season but did undergo a few changes. The main change is Vic Fangio departing to be a Head Coach and Chuck Pagano replacing him. Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols join Eddie Goldman in a dominant front that get stop the run and get after the QB. Khalil Mack is in a class of his own and with him anchoring the defense, there is only so much that can go wrong. Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith won’t get the same recognition as Mack but they both produce at high levels. Leonard Floyd hasn’t lived up to his draft pick and even a small turnaround could make a big difference. The changes for the Bears come in the secondary. Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos are gone and are being replaced by Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Buster Skrine. Skrine struggled on the Jets but Clinton-Dix has proven he can play at a high level. The Bears will return Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, and Eddie Jackson. The defense is still great, and the offense has a chance to improve. The problem is many are projecting this team to regress like the Vikings and Jaguars in recent years. They will still be good, but their schedule is much tougher, and it will take a lot more to win 12 games.

TL;DR: Trubisky is another young QB looking to take a step forward. Khalil Mack and the defense will keep them in games, and it will be up to Trubisky and co. to show some improvement. The schedule is much harder, and the Bears will win 10 games.

Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1)

Last year was a frustrating one for the Vikings. It was the first year of having Kirk Cousins and he played well, but they could not string wins together. A big part of that was a tough schedule which meant anytime they would come off a win they would have to go up against the Bears or Patriots. Year 2 for Cousins can’t go the same way or there will be major changes in Minnesota. The real knock on Cousins is how bad he was against the better teams, but to be fair the entire team was worse in those games. Offensive line was a mess and so the Vikings spent their first pick on Garrett Bradbury, and they acquired Josh Kline from the Titans. Both those moves should improve the interior of the line, but the Tackles need to play better. After struggles last year, the Vikings are hoping to return to more of a running offense. Dalvin Cook has had injuries since he came into the league, but he certainly has talent. The strength of the offense is the weapons that surround Cousins. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are both star Receivers and they will be complemented by Tight End Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings defense retains a very similar unit to the one that was so great in 2017. Sheldon Richardson is gone, and Everson Griffin had a rough season last year mentally and physically and a rebound from him would be huge. Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph are 2 studs who will keep the opponent’s running and passing game in check. Anthony Barr was going to the Jets until all the sudden he wasn’t. The Vikings won’t complain as he will pair up with Eric Kendricks to form a great duo. Xavier Rhodes was less productive than usual as he dealt with injuries in 2018, and Trae Waynes struggled in coverage. Despite this, the Vikings are solid at Corner and great at Safety. Andrew Sendejo is gone but Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris will do fine. It is rare in today’s NFL to have a unit that has played together for so long. The schedule is a mixed bag. 3 of their first 4 games are against the Falcons, Packers, and Bears. It does get easier after that, but the season will come down to their last 3 games when they play the Chargers, Packers, and Bears. Last year they couldn’t come up with enough at the end, will this year be different? The defense will be better, but its hard to see them winning 10 games.

TL;DR: They are tough to predict. There is a lot to like and fans should enjoy watching a better defense. Kirk Cousins still struggles against good teams and they play enough of them to keep them at 9-7 and out of the Playoffs.

Detroit Lions (6-10)

It is interesting to wonder if in a few years we will be discussing the failed Sean McVay coaching tree. It isn’t fair to judge Belichick because his assistants haven’t been great, but football isn’t fair. Matt Patricia is turning this team around and it isn’t being appreciated. The jokes about the Detroit Patriots are fair but don’t let them distract you from a better roster. Because here’s the thing, Patricia is building a good team, but it will take a few years. Matthew Stafford isn’t Brady or Rodgers, but he has the talent to be a Playoff winning Quarterback. He really struggled last year after they traded away Golden Tate. The Lions went out and got Danny Amendola and they drafted T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson is a rookie Tight End so it might not be immediate production. Aside from Amendola, Kenny Golladay could become a favorite target for Stafford. The Lions are solid at Tackle, but the Guard spots and the Center position will be a concern. Kerryon Johnson will return from injury and should produce, and he will be joined by last year’s Playoff star C.J. Anderson. The Lions were weak at all 3 levels on defense in 2018 and should be stronger this year. Trey Flowers cost 90 million dollars but has the talent to transform the line. Flowers will instantly make Devon Kennard more productive. Damon Harrison solidified the line against the run last season when he was brought in via trade. A’Shawn Robinson and Da’Shawn Hand were both solid as well. Jarrad Davis should improve at Linebacker and will be joined by second rounder Jahlani Tavai. Darius Slay was the only decent member of the secondary last year so the Lions went out and got some players. Justin Coleman, the former Patriot, will play Corner. The Safety position will be taken by Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker who both need to improve. The interior of the offensive line is the biggest weakness, but that in itself is a huge improvement from 2018 when it was hard to name the biggest weakness because there were so many. The Lions have been getting better the last 2 years and if they keep Patricia maybe they will be a Playoff team in the future. An easy schedule will get them to 8 wins and keep Patricia around and the team on the right track.

TL;DR: The jokes about the mini Patriots will continue and the Lions won’t be very good. However, the roster is balanced and certainly better than it was when Patricia started. They will be improved on defense and will win 8 games, but don’t be shocked when they are good in 2020.

NFC South

2019 predictions

Saints 11-5*

Falcons 11-5^

Panthers 8-8

Buccaneers 4-12

*3rd seed

^5th seed

New Orleans Saints (13-3)

The Saints looked like the real deal last season. They went 13-3 and stopped the Eagles from another improbable run behind Nick Foles. They were undone by an unfair no call and a loss in overtime to the Rams. A slight change could’ve had them in the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t to be. Drew Brees played like an MVP for most of the season but faltered over the last few games. He did play well in the Playoffs, but any dip in production at his age is concerning. Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara return as 2 of the best weapons an offense can have. Mark Ingram is gone and will be replaced by Latavius Murray. The Saints also brought in Jared Cook which will be important because after Thomas the Receiving corps drops off. The line is solid but lost Center Max Unger. The Guards are good, and the Tackles are arguably the best tandem in the league. On defense Cam Jordan runs things. Jordan is the rock of the defense, but New Orleans could use another edge rusher. Marcus Davenport played well as a rookie but struggled with injuries. Malcolm Brown was signed to help stop the run and the Saints eagerly await the return of Sheldon Rankins from injury. Demario Davis, Alex Anzalone, and A.J. Klein return as Linebackers. They each are solid and should be better this season. The Saints secondary is the weakest of the three levels. Marshon Lattimore had a tough sophomore year, but he is too good to play bad for long. The Saints traded for Eli Apple who has been inconsistent. Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams play the Safety position. Williams struggled last season, but the Saints are still high on him. It’s a talented roster, led by a Hall of Famer, who were snubbed last year. It could be a recipe for a Super Bowl, and it is hard to see a situation where they don’t at least make the Playoffs.

TL;DR: The Saints were one play away from a Super Bowl last year. They return a very similar team that is balanced and talented. Brees isn’t ready to decline yet, but a harder schedule will knock them down 2 wins to 11-5.

Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

The only thing that rules the NFC South is inconsistency. The Falcons had a Super Bowl in their grasp before letting it slip away. They won a Playoff game the next season but last year they finished at 7-9. Matt Ryan’s play hasn’t dropped off, if anything he was better last year than most other years. The Falcons suffered from some injuries and some even worse play in 2018. They stripped the coaching staff down aside from Dan Quinn who remains. Matt Ryan will benefit from being reunited with Dirk Koetter, but how much better can he be already? The Falcons Front Office spent most of their resources on the offensive line. Jamon Brown and James Carpenter were picked up in Free Agency, and their first 2 draft picks were linemen. Alex Mack and Jake Mathews are returning Pro Bowlers who will make the rest of the line better. Julio Jones as always is a major force for this offseason, and he needs more touches in the Redzone. Calvin Ridley continues to improve, and Mohamed Sanu can play as well. Austin Hooper had a solid 2018 and adds another dimension to the passing game. The biggest return is Devonte Freeman who only played 2 games last season. He will feature even more than normal after the departure of Tevin Coleman. Quinn takes over the defense and should see immediate improvement with guys returning from injuries. The Falcons brought back Adrian Clayborn in Free Agency, but the pass rush will hinge on Vic Beasley returning to form. Bruce Irvin went to the Panthers and the Falcons look thin here. Grady Jarrett was great last year and was rewarded with a big extension. The Falcons added Tyeler Davidson from the Saints to help stop the run. Linebackers are super important in a division featuring Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. Deion Jones was banged up last year and he was probably their greatest loss. With him back the Falcons get a huge boost. Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen also missed significant time with injuries and having them back will solidify Safety. Desmond Trufant will be the number 1 Corner and Damontae Kazee will play well after emerging in the absence of Allen. The Falcons have their Bye Week in Week 9 and then play divisional opponents for 5 games in a row. The season ends with the 49ers, Jaguars, and Buccaneers.

TL;DR: Matt Ryan is still great, and the defense will be better just because the injuries can’t continue at that pace. They will win 11 games and finish in a tie for the division lead.

Carolina Panthers (7-9)

When you have a Quarterback as dynamic as Cam Newton it feels like everything rests on his shoulder. That takes on new significance this year for Cam and the Panthers after Cam underwent shoulder surgery. After he was deemed healthy enough to take some snaps in a preseason game, he went out and injured his foot. It seems he will start in Week 1, but it isn’t a great start for a team that will be relying on their Quarterback’s health. Last year the Panthers were 6-2 and Cam was playing great. After the shoulder troubles they won just 1 more game in an epic collapse. The Panthers replaced Center Ryan Kalil with Matt Paradis. That may even be an upgrade, but Tackle will be a problem. Taylor Moton can play either spot, but they are looking to rookie Greg Little to take one of those spots. The Guard position will be fine and of course with a backfield of Newton and McCaffery the line will look good. Christian McCaffery was even better than expected in 2018 and catches passes like no other Running Back. D.J. Moore showed he has the talent to be a great Receiver, but can he be the number 1 guy? Devin Funchess is gone, and Curtis Samuel will need to step up in his place. Greg Olsen returns for another year and is one of the more underappreciated players in football. The Panthers drafted Bryan Burns with their first-round pick in the hopes that he can improve their dreadful pass rush from 2018. Julius Peppers retired even though it felt like he could play for ten more years. The Panthers also added Bruce Irvin to help with pass rush. Kawann Short and Dontari Poe had down years in 2018 and so the Panthers signed Gerald McCoy. Luke Kuechly has looked like the best Linebacker in the NFL ever since he came into the league. His longtime partner, Thomas Davis, departed. Shaq Thompson will be more than fine as his replacement, but they will miss the toughness that Davis brought. James Bradberry keeps improving and is quietly a very good Corner. Across from him is Donte Jackson who gets a lot of comparisons to Josh Norman because of his swagger. 2019 will be key in seeing if he can live up to that. Eric Reid returns at one of the Safety spots while the other is going to be up for grabs. Graham Gano won’t play this season which is a big blow for the Panthers. The truth is that they showed signs that they weren’t the real deal before the second half of the season. They needed a 63-yarder to beat the Giants and lost to the Redskins. They open against the Rams, but things get easier after that.

TL;DR: Cam’s health will decide this team’s fate. They still have extremely talented pieces, but there are a few holes on the roster. They will win 8 games and finish at .500. Will they keep Rivera?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

“Jameis Winston enters a make-or-break year.” They will be saying that in 2053. Bruce Arians was brought in to see if he can fix Winston. The offense has talent and Arians believes in Peyton Barber. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin return but Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson have moved on. O.J. Howard has some serious talent at Tight End and will feature even more this season. The other Tight End is Cameron Brate who is a good backup.  The Bucs are weak at Tackle and only slightly better at Guard. The best of the bunch is probably Guard Ali Marpet but it’s a sorry group. The offense will live and die with Jameis and that isn’t a good thing. Todd Bowles gets another chance to coach as he was hired as the Defensive Coordinator for Arians. The Buccaneers continued the rebuild with the 5th pick of the draft. They took Devin White out of LSU. On the line, Gerald McCoy is playing for the Panthers. They replaced him with Ndamukong Suh who will play with Vita Vea. Beau Allen struggled on the line last year and would be a huge help if he could return a little better. Jason Pierre-Paul has aged but he still has enough talent for another year. He will pair up with Carl Nassib to get after QBs. The Bucs added Shaq Barrett but lost Kwon Alexander. The secondary has some serious holes. Vernon Hargraves was bad last year, and the Buccaneers didn’t have the talent or experience to fill around him even if he had been good. They spent some picks on Defensive Backs and they will be forced into action early. Justin Evans is alright at Safety, but there is no one to line up with him. The offense put up good numbers last year, but they also turned over the ball too much and weren’t much better with Winston over Fitzpatrick, if at all. Jameis Winston has had the time to prove himself and it hasn’t worked out. Arians is a good coach and he could have an impact, but they need to fix the QB situation first. Tanking for Tua or Justin begins now.   

TL;DR: Winston is at the end of his rookie contract and it hasn’t been pretty. Arians comes back to coach and will see an improved defense. This team is filled with holes but has some pieces to build on for the future. They will go 4-12.

NFC West

2019 predictions

Rams 12-5*

Seahawks 9-7

49ers 5-11

Cardinals 5-11

*1st seed

Los Angeles Rams (13-3)

TL;DR: They are coming off an incredible year, but teams don’t make it back to the Super Bowl so easily. Aaron Donald and Jared Goff are good enough to win alone, but they have plenty of talent around them. Super Bowl hangover is real, but they will still win 12 games.

The Rams were so good last year that their young coach Sean McVay has already created a coaching tree. They were 8-0 before losing their first game and their 3 losses were to the Saints, Bears, and Eagles. They rolled into the Playoffs and beat the Cowboys before beating the Saints in overtime. They had scored 30+ points in 12 games and scored 29 in another. In the Playoffs, they beat the Cowboys with 30 points and the Saints with 26. And then it was all undone by a Super Bowl where they scored 3 points. Part of it was the brilliance of the Patriots and some of it was inexperience, but such a good offense did not show up in the most important game. Luckily, they are a young and talented team and it will not be their last chance. Just before the season started, the Rams locked up Jared Goff through 2024 with an NFL-record 110 million dollars guaranteed. Goff is coming off a year where he threw for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns. Todd Gurley was having a good year and then a terrible one. His arthritic knee is a huge concern and its hard to gage exactly how much it will hinder him. McVay has talked about using all of his Running Backs and many predict the Rams to throw more. Roger Saffold and John Sullivan are gone on the line which is strange for a Rams team that has kept their line intact and healthy for the last few years. Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods each had 1,000-yard seasons and Cooper Kupp will return from his ACL tear. Goff has the weapons around him to show the contract is justified. However, the loss of 2 starters on the line and Gurley’s health could set them back. On defense Aaron Donald is the winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award for the second year in a row. He is simply unbeatable and gets into the backfield quicker than anyone. Ndamukong Suh left, and he won’t be missed that much as far as production goes. They will rely on Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews to provide pressure from the edge. Mark Barron is gone, and the Linebackers are a weak unit. The Rams improved their secondary by signing Eric Weddle. Aqib Talib missed plenty of 2018 with injury and he is 33 years old. Marcus Peters struggled last season and he represents the questions in the secondary.

Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

The Seahawks have won 10 games in 3 of the last 4 seasons and the other year they won 9. They aren’t the dynasty that everyone envisioned when they crushed the Broncos in the Super Bowl with the Legion of Boom, but they find a way to win. The Seahawks won 10 games again but came up just short in a loss to the Cowboys in the Wild Card round. They played a clichéd brand of football which focused on running the ball despite having Russell Wilson. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny will figure to get as many touches as last season. The strange thing is despite featuring one of the game’s best rushing attacks, the line can not keep Wilson out of harm’s way. They added Mike Lupati which will be an upgrade, but nothing extreme was done and Wilson will seemingly be pounded again as a result. Doug Baldwin retired which feels like the end of an era for Seattle. Tyler Lockett is still around, and the Seahawks drafted D.K. Metcalf. Wilson is one of the most talented Quarterbacks in the NFL, but without a strong line or Receiving crew its hard to see how he can dominate, especially if they won’t turn him loose. Frank Clark was traded to the Chiefs which will be a big blow for the defense. They drafted L.J. Collier as a replacement and will look to Al Woods to anchor the line, at least until Jarran Reed comes back from a 6-game suspension. The line is a mess but behind them Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright will continue to dominate. With Earl Thomas gone the team officially lose their last Legion of Boom member. Shaq Griffin struggled this year, but Tre Flowers was better than expected. Bradley McDougald is a fine Safety and will pair up with second rounder Marquise Blair. It is a far cry from having Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. There are too many holes to overcome in order for them to play their run-first offense and keep the ball out of Wilson’s hands. The line will let him down and the defense needs some work.

TL;DR: The Seahawks have been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL. They will keep their streak of finishing over .500, but there won’t be a Playoff appearance this time. They will finish 9-7.

San Francisco 49ers (4-12)

Much like the list of failed Belichick assistants, Brady has a litany of promising underlings who never made it after leaving New England. The Patriots draft or sign a guy, play him for the few games Brady isn’t and then let him go. Everyone gets really excited and then the prospect does not become the next anything. With Jimmy Garoppolo it would be unfair to put him in that category. After the Patriots received a second rounder for him, Garoppolo proved his worth by winning 5 starts. Then they gave him a 5-year deal for $137.5 million. He hadn’t lost in his first 7 career starts, but it was 7 starts and he threw 5 picks in those 5 wins with the Niners. In 2018 expectations were high, but unfortunately, he only got to play 3 games before tearing his ACL. Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard did a poor job replacing him, and the 49ers won 4 games. This year we will finally get to see if Garoppolo is the guy they paid all of that money for. Jerick McKinnon also suffered an ACL tear in 2018 and his return will make the rushing attack more potent. The 49ers added Tevin Coleman who had some productive years in Atlanta. They got rid of Pierre Garcon and replaced him with Jordan Matthews. The Front Office also selected a couple of Wide Receivers in the early rounds of the draft. George Kittle was a revelation last season as he easily crossed 1,000 yards. Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey are both great Tackles. Their Center Weston Richburg struggled last season and the interior of the line is fairly average. Deforest Buckner was the only player who had more than 6 sacks for the Niners who really struggled in pass rush. The team traded for Dee Ford and took Nick Bosa with the number 2 pick. The Front Office spent a ton of money to pick up Kwon Alexander who will pair up with Fred Warner at Linebacker. Richard Sherman will be productive at Corner, but they don’t have a solid number 2. Jason Verrett has been too injury prone and Ahkello Weatherspoon struggled in coverage. The Safety position is lacking talent and could be a concern.

TL;DR: QB1 is back, but the schedule is rough and there are still a few holes on defense. Garoppolo and Bosa are enough to be excited about, but this time next year we will be talking about a 3rd talent and a new coaching staff.

Arizona Cardinals (3-13)

The Cardinals had the worst record last year which was predictable enough. What wasn’t predictable was the decision to fire Head Coach Steve Wilks after just 1 year. The hire of Kliff Kingsbury from Texas Tech may have been even stranger than the firing of Wilks. Kingsbury coached some good college QBs including Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes, but the team wasn’t very good. In his last 3 years at the college, the Red Raiders had 3 straight losing seasons. His overall record was 35-40, and his best asset seems to be a friendship with Sean McVay. The new look Cardinals had the joy of having the number 1 pick in the draft and picked Kyler Murray. Murray takes over as the face of the franchise from Josh Rosen who was picked 10th in 2018. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals utilize Murray’s rushing ability. The Cardinals improved the line by signing J.R. Sweezy and trading for Marcus Gilbert. The line suffered from a rash of injuries last season and seemed to have a revolving door of starters. David Johnson was the best RB in football in 2016, but that feels like a long time ago. Injuries and subpar play have become the norm over the last 2 years and any sort of comeback would be welcome. Larry Fitzgerald keeps forgetting to age and will have another productive season. It can be really good for a young QB to have a veteran WR to lean on (like Cam Newton and Steve Smith). They picked up Charles Clay at Tight End but there isn’t much talent or depth beyond Fitzgerald. Chandler Jones is extremely productive for this defense. He could be even better this season as the Cardinals got Terrell Suggs. Suggs will make an impact on and off the field for the Cardinals. Corey Peters and Rodney Gunter are fine on the line and Darius Philon has high upside. The Cardinals spent some money to get Jordan Hicks and hopefully he can help Haason Reddick improve. Patrick Peterson is still a top Corner, but he is suspended for the first 6 games. They drafted Byron Murphy and signed Robert Alford, so they still have some talent at that position. D.J. Swearinger and Budda Baker should improve the Safety position.

TL;DR: After finishing 3-13 any team should improve. Murray offers a ton of excitement for fans and the defense has gotten better with some solid moves by the Front Office. They will show some flashes, but this is still a work in progress that will finish with 5 wins.

AFC Preview 2019-20

AFC East

2019 predictions

Patriots 12-4*

Jets 8-8

Bills 7-9

Dolphins 3-13

*2nd seed

New England Patriots (11-5)

The Patriots entered the Playoffs last season looking for a sixth Lombardi trophy and a third in the last five years. Even with this run of dominance they weren’t given much of a shot. The Patriots finished 11-5 and all five of their losses were against teams that failed to reach the Postseason. In three of those losses the offense only managed ten points. However, In the Playoffs they scored 41 against the Chargers and 37 against the Chiefs, and then outlasted the Rams in a 13-3 defensive battle. In 2019 they will be defending champions, but they will be without Trey Flowers and Rob Gronkowski. The questions reside on the offensive side of the football with Gronkowski retiring and LT Trent Brown leaving in Free Agency. In addition, they put David Andrews on IR and cut Demaryius Thomas. The Patriots will rely more on running the football as Brady is now 42, and that is a fine strategy as long as Sony Michel’s knees stay healthy. After Edelman the receiving group gets thin. On defense they are bringing in veteran Michael Bennett and handing play calling duties to Belichick. This will smooth things over and should give the Patriots the talent and ability to rush the passer. Kyle Van Noy is a force and Jamie Collins will have a comeback season with the Pats. The secondary will be fine with a returning Stephon Gilmore and the 2 McCourty brothers, although there are questions about Patrick Chung and cocaine use. Brady and Belichick have won with less and in this division 9 or 10 wins might be enough to win it. They may lose in week 1 to the Steelers but then they will rip off 7 or 8 wins. Things get interesting in week 9 as they start a string of 5 consecutive games against Playoff teams from 2018. Even with that stretch, the Patriots schedule is less than tough, they will go 12-4 and win the division for the 11th consecutive year.

TL;DR: They have several important replacements to make, but as usual Brady and Belichick will figure it out and win the division with 12 wins.

New York Jets (4-12)

The Jets confused everyone when they let Mike Maccagnan make major decisions in the offseason and then fired him. The questionable move doesn’t change the fact that the Jets are infused with more talent than they have been in a long time. Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley are big additions to a young Jets team looking to make some noise after winning just 14 games in the last 3 years. Adam Gase is there because of his record with QBs, but after a disappointing tenure in Miami, many are unsure if he is the answer to help Sam Darnold. Beyond just Darnold, there were reports that Gase disagreed with moves made to get Bell and Mosley. A strange firing, a coach who doesn’t agree with moves made in Free Agency, and a star who sat out a year over a contract dispute. It will be an interesting year for the Jets. They flashed a ton of money and have exciting talent but there is potential for it to go south fast. Darnold will need to focus on turning over the ball less on interceptions and fumbles. The offensive line will need to help him with that, but there are more questions than answers there. Robby Anderson and new acquisition Jamison Crowder give the Jets a solid receiving group. Darnold will also get to use Bell as a receiving threat out of the backfield. The defensive line is one of the best in football. Quinnen Williams was unstoppable at Alabama and will join Leonard Williams to wreak havoc on teams’ offenses. In addition to Mosley, the Jets have Jamal Adams to lead the defense. They suffered a huge blow with the ACL tear of Avery Williamson, the questions continue with a lack of pass rushers and a spotty secondary. Based on the schedule alone the Jets might start 1-5, before getting the winning started. Darnold will still have growing pains in year 2, but the Free Agency moves, and the strong defensive line will keep them afloat. This is an 8-win team that has to be excited for the future.

TL;DR: The Jets are more talented than they have been in years, but with Darnold growing and some weak spots on defense they will finish 8-8.

Buffalo Bills (6-10)

The Bills understand that good teams are built around franchise QBs and so they spent the offseason getting help for theirs. The jury is still out on Josh Allen and his ability to be more of an NFL QB, but like any Quarterback he needs to play behind a solid offensive line and with good receivers. The Bills brought in John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Tyler Kroft. They also signed Frank Gore and a bunch of offensive linemen. Even with all of the turnover this is still a bad offense. LeSean McCoy fell off last year and was cut before the season started. Zay Jones is very talented but not quite a number 1 guy. Allen emerged as a prolific runner and showed flashes of a brilliant arm but struggled with completion percentage and avoiding interceptions. The defense is good enough to carry a team and keep them competitive as the offense grows. Tremaine Edmunds and TreDavious White are two of the more talented young players in the league. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer make up a dominant Safety punch. The defensive line is stuffed with good players and gets a boost with the drafting of the uber talented Ed Oliver. Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have built a talented roster that may very well be in position to take over from the Patriots, but this year will be another building block. I could see the Bills winning their first 3 games or at least going 2-1, but after that they will regress and finish at 7-9.

TL;DR: The Bills have a talented roster and the most important thing this season will be the growth of Josh Allen. Too many holes on offense will leave them with 7 wins and on the outside looking in come Playoff time.

Miami Dolphins (7-9)

The Dolphins are having a rather confusing QB controversy. After 7 years of Ryan Tannehill, the team finally moves on to the future. In the meantime, they signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and traded a second rounder for Josh Rosen. Signing the veteran Fitzpatrick is the perfect tanking move but trading for Rosen muddies the waters. Technically Rosen doesn’t prevent them from drafting a QB in the draft next year, but if Rosen shows signs of being the man, do you then use a top draft pick on another QB? Brian Flores is not in New England anymore and the lack of talent will be apparent from day one. He will try to implement values from the Patriots but like any other team things will depend on the Quarterback. Rosen has the tough task of showing he can be the guy in an offense that is just bad. The offensive line is arguably the worst in the NFL and the Dolphins lost their QB, top WR, top RB, and the LT. The offensive line got worse before the season began when they traded Laremy Tunsil to the Texans. There is some hope as Kenyan Drake has been freed from the prison that Gase put him in. Kenny Stills was set to lead a semi-talented receiving corps, but he was traded in the Texans deal. The nice thing about the deal is that the Dolphins get 2 first rounders and a second rounder as well as 2 players who are under 30. The defense has its own problems. Cameron Wake, Kiko Alonso, and Robert Quinn are gone and Reshad Jones could be next. Christian Wilkins was a good pick out of Clemson and might be their only force on the line. The secondary has some talent but is too spotty to shut down an offense. Wilkins, Xavien Howard, and Minkah Fitzpatrick are three solid building blocks to build a great defense. It’s possible they add another in 2020 if they like Rosen enough, but offensive line might be more of a pressing concern. I see an 0-4 start to the year as they face the Ravens, Patriots, Cowboys, and Chargers. They will maybe get to 3 wins and have a serious look at the QBs in the 2020 draft.

TL;DR: Even if Josh Rosen is the QB of the future, they are still well behind the Bills and the Jets in the rebuilding process. The roster is a series of holes and the tanking has begun. No one should lose to them, but a few teams will.

AFC North

2019 predictions

Browns 11-5*

Steelers 10-6^

Ravens 9-7

Bengals 5-11

*3rd seed

^6th seed

Cleveland Browns (7-8-1)

You don’t need me to tell you how hyped the Browns are. If you have read anything about the NFL, then you have heard about what the Browns roster can do. They finally got rid of Hue Jackson and replaced him with the unknown Freddie Kitchens. Kitchens did well in his time calling plays last season but being the Head Coach will be a different animal. Baker Mayfield threw 27 touchdowns as a rookie and now will be throwing to OBJ and Jarvis Landry along with David Njoku. Nick Chubb came within 4 yards of a 1,000-yard season and the Browns added Kareem Hunt for the last half of the season. The Browns were 3-6-1 heading into the bye week before turning it around and winning 4 of their last 6 games. Even with the new and exciting pieces on offense, questions remain regarding the offensive line. Left Tackle duties will be handed to Greg Robinson who has struggled since becoming the number 2 pick in the 2014 draft. Baker will have plenty of weapons to allow him to get rid of the football, but a faulty line can bring the whole offense down. Myles Garrett has lived up to his potential and continues to get better. The Browns traded for Oliver Vernon to add another pass rusher into the mix. Sheldon Richardson was added to help stop the run. Denzel Ward is a shutdown Corner but there isn’t a solid number 2 behind him. The Browns drafted Greedy Williams to be that guy. Morgan Burnett and Damarious Randall will be good in the Safety position. Aside from LT and maybe a second Corner, it is hard to find real weaknesses on this team. The Browns will have the luxury of playing the AFC East, and if it all comes down to week 17, they have a date with the Bengals. The Browns will win 11 games and the division.

TL;DR: The Browns have high expectations going into the year and its easy to see why. A weaker schedule and more talented roster will give this team its first division crown since 1989.

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1)

The Steelers are going to try to prove that they are going to be better without one of the league’s best RB and WR. JuJu Smith-Schuster will replace Antonio Brown and James Conner will continue to take over from Le’Veon Bell. Both of those are fine options as long as Conner can stay healthy. The problem is it leaves a serious hole at the number 2 WR spot. Donte Moncrief will probably have the best chance at filling that role. Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 5,000 yards and had 34 touchdowns while playing every game for the Steelers. The Steelers then locked him up through the 2021 season. The offensive line will once again be a strength and becomes steadily more important every year as Ben grows older. The Steelers lost 6 games last year and scored over 20 in 4 of them, and over 30 in 2 of them. The Steelers traded up to pick Devin Bush who they hope can replace Ryan Shazier. The defensive line is one of the more talented in the NFL, led by Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. T.J. Watt had 13 sacks in 2018 and Javon Hargrave can get after the QB and stuff the run. Joe Haden and Steven Nelson will be tasked with covering Receivers and they will get some help from the pressure the line will put on backfields. Safety might be the biggest hole on the roster unless Terrell Edmunds makes some major strides. Much of the progress on defense will depend on a second edge rusher and a second Linebacker. The season will get off to a tough start with games against New England and Seattle. Playing the rest of the AFC East will be a blessing for them as the season will end with games against the Cardinals, Bills, and Jets before the big week 17 matchup in Baltimore. The Steelers will win 10 games and just get beaten out for the division.

TL;DR: It will be a much quieter season in Pittsburgh without the spectacle of Bell and Brown. The offense won’t have the easiest time replacing them, but the defense will be better, and the team will win 10 games and challenge for the division.

 Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

After a 4-5 start and an injury to starting QB, Joe Flacco, the Ravens put Lamar Jackson in at Quarterback and won 6 of their last 7 games to make the Playoffs. They were beaten by the Chargers 23-17 in the Wild Card round while many experts called for Joe Flacco to be given a chance. In 2019, Flacco is gone and this team for better or worse will be run by Lamar Jackson. In the stretch of 6 out of 7 wins, Jackson completed just 58 percent of his passes, but was extremely dangerous when he set out to run. Jackson is built smaller than Cam Newton, but the Ravens are certain they can run him and still keep him healthy. A large part of that is thanks to a strong offensive line that will keep hits in the pocket to a minimum. The problem is that new and different offenses don’t always hold up when the NFL gets a second look. Jackson will need to grow as a passer and unfortunately, he doesn’t have strong weaponry around him. Michael Crabtree and John Brown are gone, and Willie Snead remains as the best option. Mark Ingram was a good pickup because it will bring another dimension to the running game. The Ravens were one of the best defenses in the league last year and were a large part of the strong finish. C.J. Mosley, Za’Darius Smith, Eric Weddle, and Terrell Suggs will all be playing for different teams in 2019. Most of the replacements will come from within the roster which means the Ravens will have less talent and less depth. The team did bring in Earl Thomas to replace Eric Weddle and if he can stay healthy that could prove to be a game-changer. Marlon Humphrey looks like a star and the secondary won’t lose much. The problem will be regarding pass rush and the holes left by veterans like Suggs. The Ravens have a mixed schedule as they play the AFC East and NFC West. The division may very well come down to their last 2 games of the season, when they take on the Browns and Steelers. This team will win 9 games and fall short of the division.

TL;DR: The offense will have to adjust to the adjustments the league will make. The defense has too many good players to replace, and yet there is still enough talent to challenge for the division. They will finish 9-7.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)

The Bengals have had Marvin Lewis coaching for 16 seasons, so any change was going to be a big one. They hired Zac Taylor, the 36-year-old QB coach for the Rams. The hire was exciting, but the roster remains the same and the injury problems have already picked up where they left off in 2018. First rounder Jonah Williams is out for the year with a torn labrum. A.J. Green is still walking with a boot and will miss several games. Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon give the Bengals 2 talented players at skill positions. The offensive line will hurt this team more than any other group. Tyler Eifert is another skilled player who has been hampered by constant injury. Dalton needs time in the pocket more than most QBs and Mixon can only do so much. Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins return to anchor the defense, while Vontaze Burfict is gone. Carl Lawson can help Dunlap rush the passer, but he is coming off an ACL tear. The Linebacking corps is as shaky as the offensive line and that was part of the reason, they struggled so much against the run last year. The secondary has some pieces such as Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick. The question with the Bengals is how much of the team’s struggles were due to injury? The Front Office seems to think a lot of it was due to injury because they didn’t do much to overturn the roster. The injuries and thin parts of the roster will hold the Bengals back. They will get beaten by the 3 teams above them in the division, but Dalton and Green are talented enough to win 5 games.

TL;DR: The Bengals suffered injuries to key players which derailed their 2018 season. Health will make the team better, but the roster is still too untalented to challenge for the Playoffs. Dalton, Green, and a solid defensive line will win 5 games.

AFC South

2019 predictions

Texans 10-6*

Jaguars 9-7

Titans 7-9

Colts 5-11

4th seed

Houston Texans (11-5)

Experts were cautious to predict the Texans to win a bunch of games last year. Deshaun Watson had an incredible rookie year, but he was coming off an ACL tear. In the beginning it looked like picking against the Texans was a smart move as they started off 0-3. However, Watson and co. ripped off 9 straight wins on their way to a division title and the 3rd seed. They finished the season going 2-2 over the final 4 games and then were stifled by the Colts in a 21-7 loss. In 2019 Watson is another year removed from the injury, but he returns with a very similar line to the one that let him get pummeled last year. It speaks to his incredible talent that he still had a good year despite getting hit at record levels. The Texans drafted a couple of offensive linemen, but they are works in progress and Matt Kalil is a replacement level player. A few days before the season started the Texans pulled off a deal to get LT Laremy Tunsil to bolster the line. In the same trade they improved their receiving corps by acquiring Kenny Stills. DeAndre Hopkins played through injuries last year and still caught 115 passes for over 1,500 yards. The Texans will lineup Will Fuller across from Hopkins, and if he performs it will make Hopkins even tougher to defend against. The Texans suffered a major blow when Lamar Miller tore his ACL during the preseason. Duke Johnson was brought in which will give Watson an out when he’s being chased around. On defense J.J. Watson is still king. Jedeveon Clowney was traded to the Seahawks as the Texans couldn’t reach a deal with the former number 1 pick. In return the Texans received a 3rd round pick, Jacob Martin, and Barkevious Mingo. Whitney Mercilus also had a good season last year after suffering injuries in 2017. The Linebackers are solid and therefore Houston boasts one of the better front-7s in the league. Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson are gone, and their replacements are a downgrade. The offensive line and secondary are going to decide whether this is an improved team or a team that falls back into mediocrity. The Texans looked like they had the toughest schedule in the NFL, but with Luck’s shock retirement two games just got easier. Even if they go 5-1 in the division, the schedule is still tough enough to hold them from a great season. The struggles on the line and the loss of Miller will be tough to overcome, the Texans will win 10 games.

TL;DR: The talent of Watt, Watson, Hopkins, and Mercilus will help overcome the injury to Lamar Miller and the loss of Clowney. Even with the trade for Tunsil, the line will have Watson running for his life, but his talent will run them back into the Playoffs with a 10-6 season.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)

The Jaguars were 10-6 in 2017 and made a run at the Super Bowl but fell to New England 24-20. 2018 was a different story as they finished 5-11 in a drama filled season. This offseason they went out and spent 88 million on Nick Foles in order to have the QB that Blake Bortles never was. Foles of course won that Super Bowl in 2017 and has shown long stretches of brilliance in the NFL, but also has struggled. Which Foles will the Jaguars see? Well part of that will be up to how they use him. Leonard Fournette can take a large load off of the passing offense if he can stay healthy. The problem is the offensive line is bad and they were porous last year. They also are missing a number one WR. The top target last year was Dede Westbrook who will have a chance to prove he is the guy if he can improve under Foles. Foles will have his former QB coach, John DeFilippo, which the Jags are hoping will make the transition easier. The Jaguars defense took a major blow before the season started when Telvin Smith announced he will be stepping away from football in 2019. Malik Johnson left in Free Agency, but up front they return a talented line with Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. Taven Bryan and Josh Allen are two young players who will play a big role. Myles Jack will replace Smith at Linebacker but that leaves a gaping hole at number 2. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye will do fine in coverage, but Safety is an issue after Tashaun Gipson left in Free Agency. The 2 starters are both unproven and untested. The Jaguars start off with a game against the Chiefs before getting two division tests in a row. The NFC South and AFC West aren’t the two divisions you would choose to play. They will take advantage of division games and easy matchups against the Raiders and Buccaneers but will still only manage 9 wins.

TL;DR: Every team depends on their Quarterback, but that might be more true for the Jaguars. Nick Foles cost 88 million dollars, but he has a Super Bowl to his name. Foles will produce, but an inconsistent offensive line and key pieces leaving will keep them from being a powerhouse in the AFC. They will finish 9-7 and fight for the last Wild Card spot.

Tennessee Titans (9-7)

After 4 consecutive victories the Titans had a chance to play for the Playoffs against the Colts. The week 17 matchup wasn’t all it was cracked up to be because QB Marcus Mariota sat out with an injury and Blaine Gabbert and the Titans were beaten 33-17. Last season was derailed by injuries to their Quarterback which has been an ongoing problem since he was drafted. Mariota looked great in his first two seasons as he showed brilliance and seemed to be maturing, but the good years were followed by injuries and bad play. This is the final year of his rookie contract and the Titans went out and traded for Ryan Tannehill. The Titans also signed Rodger Saffold to boost the interior of the line. Adam Humphries joins a thin Receiving corps that is led by Corey Davis. The biggest surprise of 2018 for the Titans was the emergence of Derrick Henry who dominated down the stretch. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan both retired which leaves the Titans with few options to use to pressure the Quarterback. Cameron Wake is too old to be the factor they need him to be. Jurrell Case will keep the running game in check, and it will be interesting to see what they can get from first rounder Jeffery Simmons who is coming off ACL surgery. The Linebackers are a solid group and will do a decent job against the run and the pass. The secondary has more questions as Malcolm Butler struggled last year and Adoree’ Jackson had surgery on his foot. Kevin Byard is one of the best Safeties in the world and will be joined by Kenny Vaccaro. The Titans have a well-rounded roster, but it will start and end with Mariota’s health because Tannehill is not the answer. Mariota will have a better year and should get paid but they will miss the Playoffs and he will miss out on a rich payday. The Titans will win 7 games.

TL;DR: The Titans enter a pivotal year as they decide where to go with their QB. The Titans will have the unfortunate experience of having a better team but a worse record than 2018 because they have a tough schedule. They will go 7-9 and miss the Playoffs again.

Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

The story begins and ends with whatever happened on August 24th. Andrew Luck shocked the football world when he announced the end of his prolific career at the age of 29. He cited the mental wear he dealt with over the many injuries he had. His decision is his and everyone should wish him the best of luck, but from a football perspective this changes some things. Instantly fantasy teams were crushed and predictions about the season, especially the AFC South, seem archaic. Last season they lost 5 of their first 6 games before turning it on and winning 9 of the last 10. They beat the Texans in the Wild Card game 21-7 but fell to the Chiefs in the Divisional round 31-13. Through all of this doom and gloom of Luck retiring we are forgetting an important point. The Colts are talented in a whole host of positions. The offensive line is one of the youngest and best in the NFL. T.Y. Hilton is a clear number 1 and Eric Ebron is a great Tight End. The Colts signed Devin Funchess who showed some promise in a disappointing time in Carolina. Marlon Mack ran for over 900 yards with 9 touchdowns in 10 starts in 2018. The benefit of all these weapons will be Jacoby Brissett who started for the 2017 Colts when the team went 4-12. He threw for 3,000 yards with 13 TDs against 7 interceptions and had a completion percentage of 58.8%. On that note let’s talk about the defense. Darius Leonard emerged as an NFL star last season and will need to build on that if the Colts are going to overcome the offensive downturn. Justin Houston was brought in and he can have a major impact if he can stay healthy. Pierre Desir showed he can play Corner last year, despite being a mid-round pick. Malik Hooker anchors things from the Safety spot and his worth was shown when they were shredded by the Chiefs without him. Like the rest of the division, they face a rough schedule. Brissett will be better than 2017 and the team is super talented, but you need a Quarterback better than Brissett. They will win 5 games and will either spend Foles money on a Free Agent Quarterback or they will draft one in a QB-heavy draft.  

TL;DR: Andrew Luck stepped away and leaves a very talented roster to his backup Jacoby Brissett. Brissett led the Colts to a 4-12 season in 2017, but this team is certainly better. The loss of the franchise cornerstone will be too much to overcome and they will go 5-11.

AFC West

2019 predictions

Chiefs 12-4*

Chargers 11-5^

Raiders 7-9

Broncos 6-10

*1st seed

^5th seed

Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

When Alex Smith was Quarterback the Chiefs were built around a balanced roster with a game managing QB. Smith has never thrown 5,000 yards or even had more than 26 TDs in any season of his career. In 2018 Patrick Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards with 50 Touchdowns while leading the Chiefs to a 12-4 season. The Chiefs losses included tough defeats at the hands of the Patriots, Rams, Chargers, and Seahawks, and their biggest loss was by 7 points. They handled the Colts easily in the Playoffs before losing 37-31 in overtime to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The best offense in the NFL returns a very similar one from last year. The biggest loss was Running Back Kareem Hunt, but they believe they have his replacement in Damien Williams. Williams helped the team to the finish last year and did well. They also signed LeSean McCoy after he was cut by the Bills. Tyreek Hill avoided suspension and will be the number 1 Receiver after posting 1,479 yards last season. With Rob Gronkowski gone, Travis Kelce is the best Tight End in football. The Chiefs don’t really have a good number 2 Receiver and will miss Hunt out of the backfield. The Chiefs lost two linemen to Free Agency but do have Duvernay-Tardif returning from injury. It’s hard to be super excited over this line especially with their performance during the Championship game. The Chiefs fired their defensive coordinator and lost Dee Ford and Justin Houston. It was a major turnover because the defense was bad last year and was terrible against New England. The Chiefs traded for Frank Clark to bring in talent and a few other linemen for depth. Chris Jones will also be extremely important upfront after his breakout season in 2018. Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens don’t inspire a ton of confidence for the Linebacking crew. The Chiefs signed Damien Wilson and traded for Darron Lee, so they definitely have some players even if they aren’t great. Eric Berry is being replaced by Tyrann Mathieu and that is where the good ends for the secondary. Kendall Fuller can play but hasn’t shown it recently and the rest of the corners haven’t shown enough to believe in them. However, we should keep in mind how terrible the defense was last year. It might be that different names are good enough. The team might be a bit better on defense, but the offense will take a step back. Mahomes can’t keep up that pace, can he? The schedule is soft for the most part and they will go 12-4 again and this time the Chargers will be a game or two below them.

TL;DR: Patrick Mahomes may have had the greatest season ever last year, but will take an inevitable step back. The defense underwent major change and will be slightly better. The schedule is easy enough that a step back will still result in a 12-4 season and a division title.

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)

It wasn’t too long ago that Melvin Gordon was all in on the Chargers Super Bowl chances, but now he enters a full month of a holdout. The Chargers have pieces to replace him and they still return a skilled roster, but it would be a big shame to have this play out similar to Bell in Pittsburgh. Phillip Rivers had one of his best years last year and led the Chargers to an 11-2 finish to the season after starting 1-2. Their first 2 losses were to the Chiefs and Rams, but the last 2 were to the Broncos and Ravens. They beat the Ravens in the Playoffs before falling to the Patriots to end the season. Sometimes a team comes out flat and that could explain the loss to the Broncos but the loss to the Ravens was particularly tough because it cost them a 1st seed and Bye. If Gordon and the Chargers can’t figure it out, they will have to turn to Austin Ekeler which would be a big downgrade. Kenan Allen and Mike Williams are a devastating duo to cover, but once you throw in Hunter Henry it feels impossible. Ekeler does have the ability to replace Gordon regarding catching passes out of the backfield which will be important for Rivers and a shaky line. Russell Okung suffered from blood clots that kept him out of training camp. Without him the line gets even weaker. Mike Pouncey will anchor things from the Center spot, but the rest of the line inspires more questions than answers. On defense Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are a problem for any offense they encounter. Those 2 were quieter in 2018 due to some injuries but expect a major bounce back in 2019. The Chargers drafted Jerry Tillery to help the interior of the line. Thomas Davis was signed from the Panthers to lead the Linebackers. Davis was often overshadowed by Kuechly, but he is one of the toughest players in the league. The Chargers had major injuries that ravaged the Linebacking corps, with Davis and some health they could be much improved. Derwin James was the 17th pick in the draft but played like a number 1 pick. They released Jahleel Addae and replaced him with second rounder Nasir Adderly. The Cornerbacks are led by Casey Hayward and Desmond King. King lines up in the slot so the Chargers really need another CB to lineup across from Hayward. Their schedule should be easy, and they could easily start the year with 4 of 5 wins. The Chargers always find a way to lose a game or 2 they shouldn’t, and this team will go 11-5.

TL;DR: Phillip Rivers will never receive enough attention until he wins a Super Bowl. The future Hall of Famer was incredible in 2018 and even if Melvin Gordon doesn’t report, he will still lead them to the Playoffs in 2019. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram look to rack up a record number of sacks as the team will go 11-5 and finish just below the Chiefs.

Oakland Raiders (4-12)

The season hasn’t started, and Antonio Brown has already become a headache. No one is really surprised as the only reason the Raiders were able to acquire him was because of how much of a diva he was in Pittsburgh. The Raiders also added Richie Incognito and Vontaze Burfict which has to make you wonder if they are trying to win the award for the best “Hard Knocks” show of all time. If by some miracle those personalities don’t combust, the Raiders actually improved this team. Brown and Tyrell Williams add talent to the ball catchers after the team let Jared Cook leave in Free Agency. Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin are gone and will be replaced by Josh Jacobs. The other major move made for the offense was the signing of Trent Brown from the Patriots. Brown alone will improve the Raiders offensive line which was poor last year. All of these weapons will be used by Derek Carr who after a slow start, finished a quality season for Oakland. With the new and improved offense Carr will also be expected to step up and if he can’t the Raiders will be one of those teams looking for a Quarterback in 2020. The defense is still recovering from the trade that sent Khalil Mack to Chicago. The Raiders had an embarrassingly low total of sacks last year and almost any production would be an improvement. With the 4th pick in the draft they reached a bit to pick Clelin Ferrell out of Clemson. Burfict and Brandon Marshall will add talent to the Linebacking corps. Tahir Whitehead should come back after an ok 2018. In the back end they improved by signing LaMarcus Joyner from the Rams. They also drafted Johnathan Abram who played Safety at Mississippi State. At Cornerback they will start Gareon Conley and Trayvon Mullen. On offense it will be all about the drama of Antonio Brown while defense will be a lot more about the rookies on the field. The Raiders seem like they could be turning a corner with a great draft in 2019 and Derek Carr playing better. Bringing in guys with a history of character issues seems like a strange thing to do with a young team, but you can’t deny they have talent. The team is improved and as long as the drama and injuries are kept down this team could improve by a few wins.

TL;DR: Antonio Brown has already brought over some controversy regarding his helmet. Derek Carr played better at the end of last year and will have better weapons in 2019. They are still far from the Chiefs and Chargers, but after a 4-win season last year they will win 7 this year.

Denver Broncos (6-10)

The Broncos suffered back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1972. After finishing 6-10 they are moving on from Case Keenum and Vance Joseph. Vic Fangio was an interesting hire as Head Coach because everyone in the NFL is looking for a young offensive mastermind. However, it pales in comparison to the move to trade for Joe Flacco. Flacco has been average for a good couple of years now and we know what he is. It seems like wishful thinking to imagine that he will suddenly become 2012 Flacco at 34 and on a worse team. The Broncos also drafted Drew Lock and chances are they will hear they should start him after game 1. Flacco may not be the answer, but he does bring a veteran presence and a ton of experience. Emmanuel Sanders was having a good season in 2018 before he injured his Achilles. If he can come back healthy, he will pair up with Courtland Sutton to catch passes from Flacco. The Broncos drafted Tight End Noah Fant in the first round, but Tight Ends generally take some time to grow. The star of the offense last year was Phillip Lindsay who went from being undrafted to making the Pro Bowl. They also have Royce Freeman who compliments well with Lindsay. The other big move they made in the offseason was to sign Ja’Wuan James which shores up their RT. Strangely they let Matt Paradis walk which leaves a gaping hole at Center. The Guards are going to be trying to recover from injuries or have to start in a rookie year which is less than ideal. With holes in the line and at the Receiving position, the offense looks like it will struggle. The defense is supremely talented. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller could both have 15-20 Sacks and it wouldn’t be a shock. Quarterbacks will be running the whole game with those 2 coming around the end or up the middle. Shelby Harris and Derek Wolfe will try to stuff the run up the middle which is an area that Denver struggled with in 2018. Chris Harris will be back from injury in 2019 and still is an elite Cornerback. The Broncos signed Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan in Free Agency and they are considering moving Jackson to Safety. Vic Fangio has the ability to upgrade this defense and get it closer to what he had in Chicago. The roster has too many weak positions and it looks like the ceiling for the offense will be an average season. The defense has tremendous talent and is a few pieces from being one of the best in the NFL. It isn’t an easy schedule and they will again finish with 6 wins.

TL;DR: The key to the season will be an improved defense, but the offense will hold them back. Flacco may be an upgrade from Keenum, but he doesn’t have the pieces to be successful and he is an average QB who is 34. The Broncos will be 6-10 and the calls to start Drew Lock will be loud.

The Curious Case of Joe

The end of the era of Joe Flacco in Baltimore got me thinking about franchise QBs and more specifically drafts. I remember the ’08 draft pretty well because at the time I was obsessed with the PS2 game: Head Coach. The graphics were terrible, but I loved being the Head Coach of a franchise, making all the tough decisions but having the actual game out of your hands. The first pick that year belonged to the Miami Dolphins who believed in Chad Pennington enough to forego a QB and draft Jake Long, the Tackle, from Michigan. At the time, this was shocking. There were certainly valid questions about the two top QB prospects, but the traditional thinking always was if you could get your QB, you get him. Joe Flacco was an unknown until the combine. He was the Quarterback for Delaware and had put up solid numbers after transferring from Pitt. The problem most scouts had was that Flacco wasn’t used to the routine NFL drop back since Delaware mainly played out of the shotgun formation. He had the physical skills that GMs dream of but lacked the fundamentals to back it up. To some, he was the next Ben Roethlisberger but with an even better arm, but to many he was another bust and unworthy of a first rounder. NFL.com compared him to Derek Anderson, who at the time was coming off a 10-5 season with the Browns where he threw 29 TDs and 19 Interceptions. Matt Ryan was the safer pick, Matt was the field general for Boston College and set multiple records. The main concern with Ryan was his arm strength which was far from elite. NFL.com compared him to Matt Schaub, which was hardly a compliment at the time. The Falcons took Ryan with the third pick and the Ravens traded down. The Ravens traded back up a few picks to land number 18, where they took Joe Flacco. So, what qualifies a guy as a franchise QB. Requiring a Super Bowl seems too much, as less than 35 have achieved this. The same argument would apply to an MVP award. The Pro Bowl is too easy because of all the players who drop out. My personal estimation isn’t a very scientific one, but basically a franchise QB is a QB who has a streak of 7-10 years where they have the team competitive and are never in danger of losing their starting spot. Many would say that’s too lenient, but they can write their own blogs. Flacco started 163 games for the Ravens and finished with a record of 96-67. Flacco benefited from having a strong team around him and reached the Playoffs in each of his first five seasons. In these 5 seasons, Joe threw for an approximate average of 3,500 yards and 21 TDs with 11 Interceptions. In 2012, The Ravens finished the season with the magical Super Bowl run to complete the unbelievable career of Ray Lewis. The following year Flacco took a step back throwing 22 Interceptions and the team finished 8-8. He would bounce back in 2014, but that would be the Ravens last playoff appearance of his tenure. Joe Flacco is a strange case because his first 5 years he seemed well on his way to establishing himself as a great QB. The next six years were mostly pretty rough and of course ended with him being benched in favor of a rookie and then traded for a mid-round draft pick. The Ravens may have made the right choice in selecting Flacco, but I don’t think he did enough for us to give him the label of “Franchise Quarterback,” and don’t even get me started on “elite”.