One of the best days of the year is a day that is marked on every fan’s calendar. It is better than Christmas, birthdays, and Taco Tuesday combined. Tons of beer and buffalo wings are consumed on this day.
A true stalwart is flicking through multiple games at a time with a laptop in reach tracking your fantasy picks. Each team enters this day with so much optimism because this could be their year. There’s only one day of the year that evokes such emotion: NFL Kickoff Sunday.
The week featured many amazing games and performances that got everyone excited for the upcoming season. Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens nearly scored 60 points, routing the Miami Dolphins by a 49-point victory. The Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts went into overtime and the Washington Redskins nearly pulled off a huge upset against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Of course, the most thrilling game of the day was also the most frustrating for Detroit fans. The Lions held a 18-point fourth quarter lead and looked poised to start the season off with a victory. Then, in typical Lions fashion, that lead was erased by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. The game went into overtime and resulted in a tie, 27-27. It’s tough being a Lions fan sometimes but nonetheless, both teams put on a great show.
I love football and predictions are fun.
So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2019 NFL Season by division:
- Philadelphia Eagles: 12-4
- Dallas Cowboys: 10-6
- New York Giants: 3-13
- Washington Redskins: 3-13
Verdict: If Carson Wentz stays healthy, the Eagles would be highly favored to win the Super Bowl. They struggled early against the Redskins in week one, but they are still one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league. The Cowboys have the talent to be a serious contender. But there are some question marks lingering about Ezekiel Elliot’s off-season affecting team chemistry. They could easily land into a wild-card spot in their division. The Giants and Redskins are two of the worst teams in football. Rookie quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins provide a silver lining for the future of their respective franchises.
- Minnesota Vikings: 11-5
- Green Bay Packers: 11-5
- Detroit Lions: 9-6-1
- Chicago Bears: 7-9
Verdict: This is one of the best divisions in football. All four of these teams have a chance to reach the playoffs, and yes, even the Lions. The Vikings could possibly be a 14-win team if Kirk Cousins can win the big games on the schedule. For the Packers, it’ll take a little time for Aaron Rodgers and new head coach Matt LaFleur to build synergy. Talent-wise, they are still one of the best teams in the NFC and their record will show at the end of the season.
The tie with the Cardinals is going to come back to bite the Lions.They have the formidable talent to contend for a wild card spot, but the coaching staff has to make better adjustments to avoid anymore 4th-quarter collapses. The Bears remind me of a slightly upgraded version of the 2018 Jaguars. They have an elite defense and a quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky, who is not considered among the best at his position. His sub-par performance against Green Bay in week one further supports that notion.
- New Orleans Saints: 11-5
- Atlanta Falcons: 10-6
- Carolina Panthers: 8-8
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-10
Verdict: The Saints were a controversial pass-interference no-call away from reaching the Super Bowl last season. This team is determined to get back and rally for another chance. 40-year old Drew Brees has a few health concerns that cause for pause. If he can sustain his elite level play throughout the season, the Saints will be a nightmare in the playoffs. Although the Vikings destroyed them in week one, the Falcons are still a pretty darn good team.They’ll be able to rebound and compete for a last minute playoff spot.
The Panthers at best are a .500 win team. They will win some games, but Cam Newton’s health will ultimately cause them to miss the playoffs for a second straight year. Coach Bruce Arians was the right choice to lead Tampa Bay’s rebuild. The big story in Tampa will center around Jameis Winston being able to level up or if the Buccaneers will release him after the season.
- Los Angeles Rams: 12-4
- Seattle Seahawks: 9-7
- San Francisco 49ers: 7-9
- Arizona Cardinals: 6-9-1
Verdict: Coach Sean McVay is one of the most influential coaches in football. He and the Rams will remain elite on both sides of the ball and will again contend for the Super Bowl. The Seahawks made a huge move in acquiring Jadeveon Clowney to help bolster their defense. Russell Wilson is a top tier quarterback in this league and Seattle will compete with Los Angeles for the NFC West crown.
The 49ers are one year away from being formidable. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the rest of their young core could make serious strides this season and possibly dethrone the Rams in 2020. Although they will not win many games, the Cardinals will be fun to watch if Kyler Murray in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense works.
- New England Patriots: 12-4
- Buffalo Bills: 7-9
- New York Jets: 3-13
- Miami Dolphins: 2-14
Verdict: The AFC East continues to be the most lopsided division in football. The Patriots are serious contenders to defend their ring. Antonio Brown being added to the mix of the best wide receiver core almost feels unfair for any opposing team. My biggest takeaway from this division is that Tom Brady is the GOAT.
- Cleveland Browns: 11-5
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6
- Baltimore Ravens: 8-8
- Cincinnati Bengals: 3-13
Verdict: I am sticking with my gut and predicting that the Browns will still win their division, even after looking abysmal against the Titans in week one. The offensive line is a serious problem, but an offense with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Nick Chubb is as talented on-paper as any team in the AFC. Not to mention they’ll get back running back Kareem Hunt in week eight. The Steelers looked like they had no business being on the same field with the Patriots, losing 33-3, but I think that Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell’s drama being over could help this team finally reach their true potential.
The Ravens looked like a Super Bowl contender in week one, but it was against the Dolphins who could easily go 0-16 this year. They deserve praise for their week one performance but I still have questions about how effective Lamar Jackson and the offense can be against better teams.
The Bengals have more talent on-paper than a three-win team, but they unfortunately play in a really good division. First-year coach Zac Taylor should make the team fun and set them up nicely for the future.
- Houston Texans: 10-6
- Indianapolis Colts: 8-8
- Tennessee Titans: 7-9
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-10
Verdict: This may be the most evenly-stacked division and hardest to predict. None of these four teams are spectacular, but all are good enough to win the division. I believe the Texans will rise above the crop because Deshaun Watson is one of the top stars in the league. If J.J. Watt and the rest of the defense stay healthy, Houston should be able to make a deadly-run in the postseason.
Andrew Luck’s retirement shocked the NFL world and erased any Super Bowl aspirations that the Colts had. They are still a really good team and will win some games, but it may prove to be too much for Jacoby Brissett to step in and fill the shoes left by Andrew Luck. A return to the playoffs in 2020 feels more likely for this team.
The Titans destroyed the Browns in week one and their defense remains elite. However, I remain unconvinced by the Marcus Mariota hype and the rest of the offense. They will miss out on the playoffs again in a similar fashion as previous seasons.
Jacksonville’s playoff hopes slightly diminished when quarterback Nick Foles got injured against the Chiefs last week. Rookie Gardner Minshew stepped in and was impressive after Foles went down. If Minshew plays well and the defense remains spectacular, the Jaguars could contend for a playoff spot.
- Kansas City Chiefs: 12-4
- Los Angeles Chargers: 10-6
- Oakland Raiders: 6-10
- Denver Broncos: 5-11
Verdict: The Chiefs were close to reaching and possibly winning the Super Bowl last year but they ran up against Tom Brady and the Patriots. MVP QB Patrick Mahomes leads the best offense in the NFL and remain the Patriots’ stiffest competition. The defense is still a concern, but if they can tighten up a bit, look out for the Chiefs to take the next step and reach the Super Bowl.
The Chargers would be serious Super Bowl contenders if they were not missing many key players. Starters Derwin James, Russell Okung, Hunter Henry, and Mike Williams are all injured and star running back Melvin Gordon has still not reported to the team due to a contract holdout. Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen will be enough to put Los Angeles in the playoffs, but not enough to compete with Kansas City and New England.
The Raiders are finally done with the Antonio Brown saga. Unfortunately, he was their best player and Oakland will again have a disappointing season. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will continue to lead Denver’s impressive defense. The offense, now quarterbacked by Joe Flacco, will not be able to hold up its end of the bargain and will result in a playoff miss for the Broncos.
Here are my 2019 NFL Playoff predictions.
NFC Playoffs AFC Playoffs
- Eagles 1. Patriots
- Rams 2. Chiefs
- Saints 3. Browns
- Vikings 4. Texans
- Packers 5. Chargers
- Cowboys 6. Steelers
Wild Card Round Wild Card Round
Saints defeat Cowboys Browns defeat Steelers
Packers defeat Vikings Chargers defeat Texans
Divisional Round Divisional Round
Eagles defeat Packers Patriots defeat Chargers
Saints defeat Rams Chiefs defeat Browns
Conference Championship Conference Championship
Eagles defeat Saints Chiefs defeat Patriots
Super Bowl LIV
Chiefs defeat Eagles
After coming up short last year, head coach Andy Reid will turn it another notch to defeat his former team in Super Bowl LIV leading the Chiefs to their first championship since 1970. Patrick Mahomes will be the MVP of both the regular season and the Super Bowl.
Although the Chiefs are my pick to win it all, the Eagles, Saints, and Rams all have legitimate shots, too. Of course, the Patriots cannot be ignored as viable winners of the Super Bowl again. Tom Brady will continue to play until father time defeats him.
The NFL season is one of the greatest six month-spans of the year. All the surprising twists and turns makes every moment worth it. There is no holiday season quite like football season.