Football is almost back, and I wanted to have these out earlier, but here are my 2019 NFL Predictions. I’ve broken it down by division and put playoff seeding info at the end. Who do I have winning it all, you may ask? Keep reading to find out.
The Patriots may miss Gronk, but they have a great defense and one of the best WR corps in Pats history. After yesterday’s signing, they have Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Demaryius Thomas, with N’Keal Harry returning from IR later this year. Expect a very strong season, but I don’t expect perfection, as AB and Gordon may cause problems and I worry about DT’s health.
The Jets will be better this year for sure. Darnold will take a leap forward, and he has Le’Veon Bell in his backfield. However, I think the Jets are a bit overhyped and will struggle get more than 6 or 7 wins. The Bills won’t see too much improvement either, as Kyle Williams was a key piece of this defense. The Dolphins will sit in the basement of the league, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick on the team. The roster just isn’t talented enough for Fitz to work his magic. When Fitzpatrick played for Bucs, he had Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and DeSean Jackson. Miami has DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson. That’s not enough for the offense to see improvement.
Unlike the Jets, I am buying the Browns hype. I understand there may be chemistry issues between Baker Mayfield and his receivers. But Cleveland still has Nick Chubb, David Njoku, and Jarvis Landry, all of whom Baker Mayfield played with last year. OBJ and Kareem Hunt are just extra additions for this offense. The defense is much better as well now that they’ve surrounded Myles Garrett with some veteran talent in Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon.
The Steelers aren’t going to be as good as they were in the Killer B era, but Big Ben still has James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Vance McDonald. People also forget how good this front seven can be. The Ravens will have a decent season, as Lamar Jackson continues to improve and Mark Ingram anchors the backfield. The defense has regressed a bit though, and the defense is what brought Baltimore to the playoffs last year. The Bengals won’t be as bad as people say, but they are washed up, and they shouldn’t even be thinking about the playoffs.
This might be the worst division I’ve seen in a long time. The Texans backfield took some major hits when Lamar Miller went down and D’Onta Foreman was released. The defense won’t be as dominant either now that Jadeveon Clowney is gone. The Texans still have some great receivers for Deshaun Watson though, so I could see them edging out the win in a weak division. The Colts will take a big step back without Andrew Luck. The defense is still unproven, and the offense needs to find a new rhythm. The Titans are no more than an average team. The defense is okay, and the backfield looks good, but the team needs better QB play in order to succeed. The Jags may have Nick Foles and Leonard Fournette, but the defense lost some key pieces this off-season, so I don’t expect much improvement overall. No team stands out as a Super Bowl contender here.
The Chargers now have one of the best defenses in the league, and even without Melvin Gordon, Philip Rivers still has some talented surroundings. But the Chiefs will give them a run for their money when it comes to winning the division. Kareem Hunt is gone, but Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce will still lead the offense to dominance so long as nobody regresses. I could see a slight regression from Mahomes, and that would make a difference in the division race. It’s hard to repeat a 50 TD season. But the Chiefs are still a surefire playoff team.
Without AB, the Raiders may be a little better than last year thanks to their other additions, but I can’t see too much improvement with Derek Carr lacking trustworthy weapons. The Broncos still have some good pieces to the team, so they’ll outperform Oakland. But the defense has regressed, and there’s still question marks at QB, so don’t expect contention in Denver.
Expect the Eagles to return to a dominant form this year. Carson Wentz will last a little longer after resting for almost half of the 2018 season, and now he’s 2 years removed from his ACL tear as opposed to 1. The team still has most of what it had in 2017, even though the backfield has some question marks now. I expect the Cowboys to underperform a bit this year. Their defense is talented, but some of the younger players have failed to prove themselves thus far. The Redskins and Giants will still occupy the NFC East basement. Both of those teams need to find a reliable starting QB and improve on defense before they go anywhere. Both have some nice pieces on offense, but they need reliable QB’s for everything to click.
I originally thought this division would be one of the hardest to win. But the Packers don’t have much going for them beyond an aging Aaron Rodgers and star WR Davante Adams. The Lions have some serious problems on defense, and if Matt Patricia can’t fix those, that’ll be pretty concerning. The Vikings and Bears will be competing for the division crown. These two teams might very well have the two best defenses in the league. But Mitch Trubisky needs to improve for the Bears to become legit Super Bowl contenders, and the Vikings may struggle as they lack depth on offense and have several injury prone players.
My boldest prediction in this article is that the Falcons will beat out the Saints and win the NFC South. The Saints were dominant last year, and if it weren’t for a questionable no-call, there’s a chance they would’ve made the Super Bowl. But I think the team will have a hard time moving on, as Drew Brees ages and the defense takes a step back. This offense still has some talented pieces, but things aren’t going to go as smoothly this year. The Falcons got a little better on defense, and defense is what held them back from playoff contention in 2018. With Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley healthy, this team could be going places.
The Panthers will improve this year as well now that Cam Newton and Greg Olsen are back close to full health. Carolina’s front seven looks pretty scary now that Brian Burns and Gerald McCoy have been added, so that will lead to some improvement as well. The Bucs will be left on the bottom in this division. Without DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, the offense won’t be as dominant, and the defense that cost Tampa last year hasn’t gotten so much better either.
The Rams will stay on top despite facing talented division rivals in the Niners and Seahawks. Aaron Donald will lead one of the better defenses in the league, and LA’s WR corps could be up there with New England’s. The Niners will see improvement, but I don’t quite trust Jimmy Garoppolo yet. We haven’t seen a full season of Garoppolo, and it’s hard to tell if he’s back to full health after an ACL tear in 2018. The Seahawks, on the other hand, will take a step back, as Doug Baldwin and Earl Thomas leave for good. The defense may be good now that Jadeveon Clowney is here, but it’s no match for LA, Minnesota, or Chicago, and it’s nowhere close to how good the Legion of Boom was. The Cardinals should see some slight improvement with Kyler Murray here, but we don’t know yet how well Murray will adjust to the NFL. I expect Murray to make some rookie mistakes and have a similar, but slightly better season than Sam Darnold last year.
Below is my projected seeding and bracket for the playoffs:
I think the Super Bowl will be a battle for LA, as the Rams and Chargers duke it out. The Patriots and Eagles have good chances to return as well, and the Chiefs could make a run. But I think the Pats will fall a bit short without Gronk, and Philly will fall a bit short as they struggle to run the ball and Carson Wentz wears out a bit. The Madden Curse will strike KC as they struggle against ex-Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt and the Cleveland Browns, causing them to fall short in the Wild Card Round.
Well, football starts in less than 2 hours. In the meantime, I’ll be answering start/sit questions on my new fantasy football Instagram account (@bsmfantasyfootball) and working on my picks for Week 1.