Feb. 26, 2019
2018 NFL Season Predictions
For the record, predicting the outcome of an entire NFL season, between 256 regular season games, the multitude of injures that inequitably hits teams, the 10 postseason games done in a tournament format, and the Super Bowl, is ultimately a fool's errand. But it's still fun to try. Plus, who actually calls writers and talking heads for inaccurate predictions when it's not a surprise team's fan base for disrespect? That all stated, let's begin.
1. New England As long as Tom Brady is on two legs and Bill Belichick is game planning, this division belongs to the Patriots
2. N. Y. Jets The Jets are playing better than advertised and look to have finally solved their question at quarterback in drafting Sam Darnold. But they'll need another season or two to get it together.
3. Miami The good news is that the Dolphins have dumped a lot of their headache players. The bad news is that also jettisoned undeniable talent. At least they get Ryan Tannehill back.
4. Buffalo From snapping a horrendous playoff drought to right back in the division cellar? Hard to believe that the Bills will repeat as postseason qualifiers without a quarterback with 2 pro games experience as a starter.
1. Pittsburgh The Steelers should be contending for the conference crown. Instead, they play to their competition's level. And in the AFC this year, that's not great.
2. Baltimore The Ravens selected their quarterback of the future in Lamar Jackson. How soon that future will arrive will be based on how Joe Flacco performs in the present.
3. Cincinnati In terms of individual talent, the Bengals are better off than some of their AFC contemporaries. But is anyone on the roster even listening to Marvin Lewis at this point?
4. Cleveland Another year, another roster and/or front office house cleaning. The good news? Win 2 games and it's the best this franchise has done in three years.
1.Houston The injuries got so bad for the Texans last year, they were barely able to field a team, much less a competitive one. If the injury bug leaves the Lone Star State, the Texans will have a nice bounce back campaign.
2. Jacksonville The Jaguars enjoyed a brilliant season that ended one quarter short of a Super Bowl berth. While it will be harder to duplicate last year's effort, they should own an inside track to a wild card berth.
3. Tennessee The Titans made the playoffs for the first time in a decade, even winning on the road. A new head coach in Mike Vrabel will more than likely translate into taking one step back to ultimately go two steps forward.
4. Indianapolis Andrew Luck is finally returning to the field after a yearlong absence from a shoulder injury. That bright spot aside, GM Chris Ballard is trying to rebuild the team. It would be best to temper expectations here.
1. L.A. Chargers The last couple of seasons, they've either been snake bit with injuries or dealing with the distraction of relocation. The Chargers have a strong pass rush, a veteran under center, and the rest of their divisional rivals in some form of compromised status. The Bolts are in a plum position.
2. Kansas City The Chiefs are injecting youth into their roster. While QB Patrick Mahomes will be learning on the job, Andy Reid will give his men chances to succeed. The results will probably be mixed.
3. Denver The Broncos finally settled down at quarterback by signing Case Keenum. If he replicates his play in Minnesota, Denver shocks the junior conference. If he reverts back to journeyman form, the Broncos get stuck in neutral.
4. Oakland The Raiders have one disappointing season with a bevy of young talent, so they respond by hiring back Jon Gruden and bring in players whose careers are generally on the down side?
1. Philadelphia Yes, repeating as division champs in the East is hell, but with a strong roster, a fearless head coach and play caller, & an effective front office, this Eagles team can turn the trick.
2. N.Y. Giants Big Blue was hung out to dry due to injuries crippling their wide receiving corps and crummy coaching. The Giants drafted a bellcow back in Saquon Barkley and new head man Fritz Shurmer should be an upgrade.
3. Dallas Ezekiel Elliott is back without distractions and the defensive front seven looks sturdy. But injuries on the offensive line and concerns in the defensive secondary poses major concern.
4. Washington The Redskins ended their saga with Kirk Cousins by trading for Alex Smith. The bad news is that the offensive skill players leave something to be desired and the defense does not look improved. This could be a long year in the Beltway.
1. Green Bay Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers would be lucky to earn a wild card berth. With him, they can win the division and be a dark horse Super Bowl challenger. While they won't be the latter in 2018, they will certainly be the former.
2. Minnesota The Vikings played over their heads last year. A new quarterback, new offensive coordinator, an unimproved offensive line, and a tough first place schedule will ensure a regressive season.
3. Detroit The Lions changed coaches and addressed their lackluster run game. But the defense will be in a state of flux, and are starving for pass rushers in a division with pass reliant schemes.
4. Chicago Between the recent Khalil Mack trade and improvement of the roster as a whole, Bears fans are giddy with optimism. While they're on the right path, it will take 2018 to iron out the wrinkles.
1. New Orleans Picking the Saints to repeat as division champs in the South is a big ask, but they are loaded for right now. Given the age of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, it's more than likely Super Bowl or bust.
2. Carolina The Panthers are going though an organizational change with new ownership, but there's enough pieces in place to challenge the Saints for the division crown and take a wild card if they fall short.
3. Atlanta The Falcons proved their Super Bowl loss did not mentally ravage the squad. However, the loss of many role players could be the difference between a conference contender and a marginal playoff contender.
4. Tampa Bay The Buccaneers were easily one of the most disappointing teams in 2017. That won't happen in 2018. They're anticipated to do little as the Pewter Pirates try to figure out what to do with the suspended Jameis Winston.
1. San Francisco There's always one division winner who goes leaps and bounds past any objective observer's reasonable expectations. And if Jimmy Garappolo proves that the second half of last year was no fluke, then the Niners are candidates for a rapid turnaround.
2. L.A. Rams It goes against the groupthink that with the Rams picking up big names that are automatic Super Bowl contenders. History has shown that such free agent sprees bust far more than hit. They should get a wild card, however.
3. Seattle The Seahawks' roster is atrophying into potential irrelevance. Russell Wilson will need to keep playing MVP level ball for the 'Hawks to stay in playoff race. That is unreasonable.
4. Arizona The Cardinals are beginning the rebuilding process. The head coach and quarterbacks have completely been changed, with Sam Bradford coming in as the veteran presence and rookie Josh Rosen as the future. Given Bradford's penchant for injuries, the future will be sooner than later.
-L. A. Chargers
Super Bowl LIII
New Orleans over Pittsburgh
Both teams are playing with urgency, as their franchise quarterbacks are getting to the twilight of their respective careers. The Saints are in a slightly better position than the Steelers, as the projected NFC champion is building in preparation of Drew Brees' departure, while Pittsburgh could see their status as conference elites as free agency threatens to split off the current core of players. Besides, how fitting that either one, be it Brees or Ben Roethlisberger, get the chance to ride off into the sunset with the Lombardi Trophy in tow?