2019 NFL Season Predictions
Chicago Bears 10-6
The Bears have tough matchups with the Saints, Chargers, Eagles, Rams, Cowboys, and Chiefs, along with their division rivals the Vikings and Packers. If they can survive their last 4 games (Dallas, @ Green Bay, Kansas City, and @ Minnesota) they should repeat as division champs.
Minnesota Vikings 9-7
The Vikings whole season, and post-season hopes, will rest on the shoulders of Kirk Cousins. Despite having a solid defense, and what should be a good run game, he has to figure out how to beat teams with winning records for Minnesota to have a chance to take over the throne from the Bears.
Green Bay Packers 9-7
The two main questions for Green Bay are how good is their rookie head coach, and can Aaron Rodgers stay healthy. With a healthy Rodgers, the Packers should be in the mix for the division; but without him being healthy, this team will struggle to be above .500.
Detroit Lions 4-12
Was Matt Stafford’s down year just a fluke? Can Matt Patricia take a step forward as a head coach? Is there a serviceable corner that can play across from Darius Slay? The Lions have a lot of questions, and not many answers right now. Could be a rough season for them.
Philadelphia Eagles 11-5
The Eagles have one of the deepest rosters in the league at almost every position, except for the one they are most vulnerable at, QB. With Carson Wentz’s injury concerns, the loss of Nick Foles is looming large. If Wentz gets hurt again, this talented roster could go to waste. With a healthy Wentz, Philly has a good chance to be special.
Dallas Cowboys 10-6
Dallas has one of their most complete rosters since their mid 90s dynasty. A December 22nd trip to Philly (the road team has had a lot of success in this series recently) could decide who claims the NFC East crown. They are legit contenders to be the first repeat division winner in the NFC East since 2004.
Washington Redskins 5-11
A solid defense will keep Washington in games this year, but they lack a competent offense and will eventually turn the reigns over to 1st round pick Dwayne Haskins at quarterback. Expect the Redskins to have some growing pains.
New York Giants 3-13
New York is in the middle of a transition period. Outside of Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram, the offense lacks proven playmakers, has an aging Eli Manning on the decline, and a highly drafted replacement for Eli that showed some flashes in pre-season and will take over at some point this season. The defense lost its 2 best players last year, Snacks Harrison and Landon Collins, and will struggle to stop everyone. The Giants will be in the mix for the first pick in the 2020 draft.
New Orleans Saints 12-4
The Saints are the class of the NFC South. An explosive offense headlined by Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara, combined with an improving defense, make New Orleans a legit Super Bowl contender. The biggest question for the Saints is how can they escape the memorable plays (Beast Quake, Minnesota Miracle, and Pass Interference No Call) going against them in the playoffs and ending their quest for a ring.
Carolina Panthers 10-6
Carolina has one of the easier schedules in their division. If Cam Newton’s shoulder is healthy, they will be in the mix for a playoff spot, and could put some pressure on the Saints for the NFC South championship. If Newton isn’t healthy, the Panthers could be cellar dwellers in their division.
Atlanta Falcons 10-6
Dirk Koetter returns to Atlanta as the offensive coordinator, which should help fix some of the struggles from last year. Tak McKinley needs to take a step forward, and the Falcons have to find a pass rush if they want to make a playoff push.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-11
New head coach Bruce Arians has his work cut out for him with this team. His first order of business is to develop his young, inconsistent quarterback, Jameis Winston, and work towards a competent running game. The Bucs should take steps in the right directions, but are far from being in the playoff hunt.
Los Angeles Rams 12-4
The Rams have a tough schedule this year, being paired up with teams from the NFC South and AFC North, along with last year’s division winners from the NFC and a solid Seattle team twice. If LA can take care of business at home, and split some of their tougher matchups on the road, they should win the NFC West again.
Seattle Seahawks 10-6
Seattle also has a tough schedule this season, with long trips cross-country to Pittsburgh, Philly, Carolina, and Atlanta adding to the difficulty. The Seahawks’ strong run game and solid defense will give them a chance to compete in every game.
San Francisco 49ers 6-10
Injuries derailed the 49ers season last year, and they started off early this year by losing 1st round pick Nick Bosa for at least the pre-season, possibly the first week or two of the regular season. If the injury bug bites the 49ers again this year, they don’t have a deep enough roster to stay afloat. The defense will need to take a big step forward for San Francisco to finish the season with a winning record.
Arizona Cardinals 3-13
The Cardinals have a shiny new head coach and quarterback this season, but unfortunately didn’t beef up their porous offensive line during the offseason, and have some glaring needs in the secondary with the suspension of stud cornerback Patrick Peterson and the injury to the second best cornerback on their team, Robert Alford. It will be a long year for the Cardinals, securing them a top 10 pick to continue the rebuild efforts.
Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
Losing Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell in the offseason has the Steelers facing a potentially distraction free season. Pittsburgh’s toughest games outside the division will all be played from the comfort of Heinz Field, with the exception of a trip to New England and a matchup with the Chargers. Roethlisberger has the experience on the young quarterbacks in the AFC North, and for that reason the Steelers should be the favorites to win the North.
Baltimore Ravens 8-8
Lamar Jackson was electric in his short time as a starter in his rookie season, leading the Ravens to a 6-1 regular season record (the one loss was to the Chiefs). With the keys to the offense being Jackson’s full time this season, he will have to find a way to consistently move the offense and limit his turnovers. The defense has a few holes to fill as well, with 2 of their sack leaders no longer on the roster. Expect the Ravens to play a lot of close, low scoring games early in the year until the team finds its groove.
Cleveland Browns 8-8
The Browns had a fantastic offseason, adding top talents like Odell Beckham and Kareem Hunt and selecting cornerback Greedy Williams early in the draft to lock down the field opposite of Denzel Ward. Unfortunately, when adding talented players, teams have to learn to handle the big egos and baggage associated with the top end players, and the Browns are full of very expressive personalities. When things are going good, Cleveland will be a fun, exciting team to watch. How the team handles adversity will tell the story of their whole season though. The Browns will take their first step towards being a winning franchise this year, but overcoming years of a losing culture won’t be easy, so getting to .500 could propel this team into becoming one of the top AFC contenders starting next year.
Cincinnati Bengals 2-14
Cincinnati is in a full rebuild. With a new head coach, a questionable defense, and an offense with an injury to its best player, the Bengals will be captains of the struggle bus this season and have the inside track to the top pick in the 2020 draft.
New England Patriots 12-4
Life is good for the defending champs. Hall of fame coach and quarterback both return to lead the Pats to their 16th consecutive division-winning season while publicly claiming that everyone thinks they are ‘too old’ or ‘nobody believes in them.’ Don’t buy into the slow start though, this team will be making another postseason trip, and could potentially be playing against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game for a second straight year.
New York Jets 10-6
Is this the year that a team from the East actually poses a threat to the Pats reign at the top of the division? Sam Darnold and the Jets have all the tools to challenge New England for the division crown; provided that Darnold can avoid a sophomore slump, and head coach Adam Gase can leave his Miami struggles behind.
Buffalo Bills 8-8
Josh Allen and the Bills are an up and coming team. A solid defense, mixed with a young quarterback fresh off a good pre-season campaign and a slippery rookie running back give Buffalo some hope for the future. This might not be their year to be contenders, but in the very near future, the Bills will be making noise in the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins 3-13
Miami had a busy offseason, hiring new head coach Brian Flores, letting quarterback Ryan Tannehill leave in free agency, trading for quarterback Josh Rosen, only to name journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick the starter, and then cutting or trading most of the remaining top talent on the roster, including the most recent trade of Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills to the Texans. The Dolphins will struggle to compete this season while they wait to use their stockpile of draft picks to resupply the roster in the next few years.
Houston Texans 10-6
Deshaun Watson and the Texans look to repeat as AFC South champs, albeit with a different cast of characters. Jadaveon Clowney was traded to Seattle, Lamar Miller was lost for the season to an ACL tear, and Laremy Tunsil was traded for to help bolster the porous offensive line. As long as Watson can stay upright, Houston has a great chance to return to the playoffs as division champs.
Indianapolis Colts 9-7
Before Andrew Luck’s retirement, the Colts should have been the favorites to win the South, and even to be legit contenders to be in the AFC Championship Game. Without Luck, all the weight falls on Jacoby Brissett’s shoulders to carry this team to new heights. Although the Colts’ Super Bowl aspirations may have diminished because Brissett isn’t Andrew Luck, he is more than capable to lead this talented team and have them fighting for a playoff spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars 7-9
Jacksonville thoroughly disappointed last year. The once stout defense struggled to make stops, while the offense struggled to do much of anything. The Jags signed Nick Foles to take over for the ineffective Blake Bortles at quarterback, and then selected pass rusher Josh Allen to help return the defense to prominence. While all of this should be an upgrade, the Jags have a daunting schedule ahead of them, and will have to fight and claw to get to .500.
Tennessee Titans 4-12
The Titans play good defense, but have yet to find a way to play consistent offense. There have been flashes from running back Derrick Henry, but below average quarterback and receiver play has plagued this team for a few years. Expect more of the same this season, especially while starting left tackle Taylor Lewan is suspended for the first 4 games.
Kansas City Chiefs 13-3
Reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Legion of Zoom join a rebuilt defense in pursuit of redemption from a disappointing home loss in the AFC Championship last season. Some of the big names on defense have left, including Eric Berry, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston, but new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has plenty of talent left to implement his scheme and compliment the high flying offense. Expectations couldn’t be higher for the Chiefs in what is shaping up to be a Super Bowl or bust type of year.
Los Angeles Chargers 11-5
The Chargers are the only real threat to the Chiefs in this division. Philip Rivers will have to carry more of the load on offense while Melvin Gordon is holding out for a new contract. While Gordon is a big loss for this team, his impact fails to compare to what Derwin James brings to the LA defense. With James being sidelined for several weeks with an injury, the defense will need someone to step up to fill the attitude and leadership void. The Chargers will have a strong season, but still have to settle for a wild card playoff spot.
Denver Broncos 7-9
Denver hired new head coach Vic Fangio that has led some of the best NFL defenses in recent memory, last as the defensive coordinator for the 2018 Bears. Expect the Broncos defensive be stout again this season. Denver also brought in Joe Flacco to be the interim quarterback while they groom rookie Drew Lock to eventually take over. Flacco might not be the most impressive quarterback by any means, but when paired with an elite defense and playmakers on offense, he has taken a team to a Super Bowl championship. So don’t sleep on Denver this season, but don’t expect Flacco to be able to outduel the better quarterbacks on the schedule.
Oakland Raiders 3-13
Jon Gruden used the draft this year to overhaul the Raiders, and honestly it looks like he made some really good draft choices in 2019. Unfortunately, the Antonio Brown sideshow has overshadowed any good things going on with the team. Oakland should be an improved team, but aren’t ready to compete with the best just yet. If Antonio Brown is able to calm down the antics some, the Raiders could finish around .500, but don’t plan on that happening.