Today is September 3rd, the day after Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer hashtag sad face. Kids go back to school and white pants go away for the winter hashtag sadder face. We are < 48 hours away from real football. Every major sports media outlet will or already has released their BOLD NFL predictions leading up to Thursday night. I mean it's #NFL100 you need to bring it. Predictions that are so God damn bold your brain involuntarily presses CTRL-B as your read them. Your internal dialogue will proclaim "WHAT?'" as you read CBS Sports say the Browns make the playoffs this year. Where does one muster up the courage to have the same take that no less than 80% of football fans have? FedEx a Medal of Valor their way pronto.
As we all know, pre-season prediction posts are the ONLY WAY to show how good you are at guessing what's going to happen. dol-nfl-predictions.html dol-2018-nfl-predictions.html
There is no other way.
Between Andrew Luck retiring 2 weeks before the season started, Zeke (as of now) and Melvin Gordon holding out, Gronk flirting with coming back before ever officially missing a game, Antonio Brown showing signs of CTE, new coaches across 1/4 of the league, the Bears not having a real kicker, the Jets fugly new uniforms, the Saints response to back-to-back soul crushing playoff defeats, Daniel Jones 6 overall, the Browns actually having expectations, Tom Brady making "the cliff" his bitch, Patrick Mahomes' encore, the possibility of a lady kicker next year, can we just let the players smoke weed(?), Bruce Arians being back, Aaron Rodgers still not talking to his parents, and Blake Bortles finally shaving his head there are plenty of things to talk about heading into the 2019 NFL season.
1. New England Patriots 12-4
2. Buffalo Bills 7-9
3. New York Jets 7-9
4. Miami Dolphins 4-12
The Patriots have a chance to do something no team has ever come close to in NFL history; win a division for an entire decade. If the Patriots win the AFC East this year they will have won the division every year of the 2010's.
With the exception of losing TE Rob Gronkowksi to retirement (for now) the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots look to take off right where they left off in 2018. Sure this team's best tight end is almost 40 and suspended, but the Pats are always zigging when the league zags. Watch out for 4 running back sets.
Tom Brady is 42 years old, but he's not going to have the entire weight of this offense on his shoulders. A solid group in the running game highlighted by second year back Sony Michel should limit the workload. He doesn't need to be the MVP. Julian Edelman is available from day one, Josh Gordon is back (for now), and this team has one of best lines in football (although losing Andrews terrifies me). I'm very intrigued to see how this defense looks after allowing 3 points the last time they played a game that counts. Bentley looked great until he got hurt as a rookie, he's back. I'm so excited to see Winovich in real action. He's been an absolute stud so far. Is Pat Chung straight for the year? The whole coke thing definitely worries me, but the secondary is so good they may be able to survive losing him. The Patriots will be there all year even if they start slowly.
Unlike years past, the rest of the AFC East actually has some young QB talent and the Patriots may not win this division in like 2023. The Jets have Sam Darnold, the Bills have Josh Allen and the Dolphins have Josh Rosen until they trade him when they draft Tua. The Jets have been a hot wildcard pick around the league, I just don't know if I'm ready to make the claim yet. I do love the additions of C.J. Mosley and LeVeon Bell but don't believe in Adam Gase as a head coach.
They did change their uniforms from the classic Jet look to something you can create in Madden. Teams changing uniforms do actually have a history of translating new uniforms to more wins. Just off the top of my head 1997 Broncos won the Super Bowl after ditching the "Orange Crush" look. 1999 Titans made the Super Bowl after revealing new uniforms as they officially became the Tennessee Titans. 2012 Seahawks made the playoffs after becoming the first team to embrace the "modern" uniform.
However, new uniforms equaling postseason success is not gospel.
The Bills will go as far as Josh Allen will let them. He showed flashes last year, like the Minnesota game, but staying on the field is going to be his biggest challenge. To paraphrase Zac Brown "I'm a lover, he's a runner and he'll get knocked around". Buffalo does have one of the most underrated defenses in the league and while the likely won't compete for a playoff spot, they should be a tough out in 2019. Talking covering lots of games. As for the Dolphins, they continue to be a joke organization. Congrats on your miracle win last year. That's as good as it's going to get for some time in South Beach. That fate may eventually change as Brian Flores has brought multiple Patriot coaches with him down south, and promptly traded the locker room's most popular player, but expect the Fins to be picking close to 1st overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7
2. Indianapolis Colts 8-8
3. Houston Texans 7-9
4. Tennessee Titans 5-11
Before Andrew Luck retired I was going to have the Colts at 11-5 and division champs. I was so high on the Colts this year you could call me Willie Nelson. Now that that brainiac called it quits things become much more interesting in the AFC South + Indianapolis as the NFL's divisional geography continue to be poor at best. The AFC South was already one of the closest divisions in football. Now like you and your friends after committing a crime together; things are only closer. This is one of those divisions where I wouldn't be utterly shocked to see any team win. I guess the only other division that can even come close to that is the NFC North. All four teams have blah QB play and some play makers on both sides of the ball, but overall a lot of question marks.
I feel like most people will pick the Texans to win the South and they totally could, but idk man. I was such a big DeShaun Watson guy, but the way he handled himself in the Wild Card round last year will makes me question him as a big time QB. I don't want my guy signalling first downs losing in the 4th quarter of a playoff game at home.
Down a hundred to nothing in the 2nd half he kept doing it and it drove me crazy. Can't win with that. I'm probably being a tad too hard on him, but as a guy who forgets almost everything that is something that'll always stick with me. Granted in the shitty AFC South he could end up winning this division 7 more times.
The Titans have gone 9-7 three years in a row. No franchise in NFL history has gone 9-7 four straight seasons, so it feels like this is the year they either make the jump or go back to the bottom of the pack. I'd bet on the latter. With Pro Bowl LT Taylor Lewan suspended the first four games and the shakiest QB play in the division between Mariotta and Tannehill (yeah I said it) I think this is a disappointing year in Nashville (been there).
I love the Jags defense and while they too had a star quit the game, most of the 2017 pieces are still there. They get to play a last place schedule this year and have upgraded at QB. I don't think this division has a double digit win team in it, but the Jags get close replicating a lot of what they did in 17 with a QB who has shown the last two seasons (also in 2013) that he may actually be the guy.
1. Cleveland Browns 11-5
2. Baltimore Ravens 9-6-1
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-8-1
4. Cincinnati Bengals 5-11
The Browns are the "surprise" team everybody is picking to make the playoffs like the 49ers last year that will likely end up disappointing. That being said, I too am drinking the Baker Mayfield kool-aid and am picking the Browns to make the playoffs.
I'm gonna be a man though and say they win the North instead of 9-7 6 seed like most other pundits. Expectations may end up being too much in Cleveland. Plus there is only one football, I just love and believe in Baker Mayfield too much to not pick this team to win the North.
Now for some quick hate on the Browns and Cleveland. Would it really be shocking if a Cleveland sports team disappointed when there's a ton of hype? I think Freddie Kitchens was the wrong choice for HC and these uniforms are a hate crime against fashion.
The Ravens will be right there in the hunt but I just don't trust Lamar Jackson lasting the entire season. Do you? Not that I want him to get hurt, but I would love to see RG3 get some meaningful snaps this season. I hate their receiving core and Mark Ingram is just a guy to me. Baltimore lost a lot of key defensive pieces in Mosley, Weddle, and Suggs (granted he's like 54). Earl Thomas on paper is an upgrade from Weddle but he is 30 coming off a broken leg. That being said this team making the playoffs wouldn't exactly be a Jethro Tull winning the Grammy over Metallica type upset.
The Steelers will be without the headaches that are LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown, but I think the damage is already done. I like JuJu, but how much will he produce with opponents keying in on him with no AB on the other side of the formation? The Mike Tomlin Steelers are the biggest underachievers in recent sports memory. Two playoff wins since 2010. With the exception of barely eeking out a Super Bowl win against the lowly 9-7 Arizona Cardinals with Cowher's team what has he done? They did beat Mark Sanchez in an AFCCG. I don't believe in Mike Tomlin and frankly never have. Another disappointing year in the steel city. If I was a Rooney I'd make a coaching change if this team misses the playoffs again.
At least the Bengals don't have Marvin Lewis and his 0-7 career playoff record anymore. Brighter days (eventually) in Cincy, just probz not in 2019. Joe Mixon is going to get beat up like white girl at the bar who allegedly used a racial slur as teams will regularly live with 8 men in the box. Probably Andy Dalton's last year in Cincinnati too.
1. Kansas City Chiefs 11-5
2. San Diego (of Los Angeles) Chargers 10-6
3. Denver Broncos 8-8
4. Oakland Raiders 3-13
I love Phil Rivers. Should the Patriots not win the Super Bowl my next personal choice is the Chargers, but I'm hesitant to put the Chargers atop this division. They still could win it all without winning the division like the 2000 Ravens or 2010 Packers. Since they have no home field advantage playing football in a soccer stadium in a city that doesn't care about them, maybe 3 road playoff wins is the way to go? The Chargers tied the Chiefs with a 12-4 record last year before losing the division on tiebreakers. This year Melvin Gordon is holding out, although the team is saying they're confident with what they have. I personally would be more worried about Derwin James missing at least half the year. To me the Chargers are one the biggest swing teams in the entire NFL. Talent wise this roster may be the best. I could see them winning anywhere from 6-12 games.
Because of that I'll stick with Kansas City winning the AFC West. Everybody is saying Mahomes won't throw 50 TD again, and while that is likely true I'm not gonna write it off entirely. As much as he pisses me off there's no denying the dude's talent. I just cannot wait for the day one of his no look passes is returned for touchdown. If Tyreek Hill gets himself kicked off the team, which is never completely out the question things drastically change for this offense. KC's defense stinks worse than Andy Reid's belly button but the Chiefs will still be a power and likely a final four team again. FTR people saying this team was a coin flip from the Super Bowl need to understand it's no guarantee they score on the opening drive like the Patriots did when they won the AFC (at Arrowhead).
As for the bottom half of the West I expect the Broncos not to suck that bad. I don't really like or respect Joe Flacco as a man, but I don't expect him to go out like this. He must have some pride and want to prove the Ravens wrong, right? With a solid defense and two good running backs this team will be in a lot of games. I'm so mad I didn't get to draft Manny Sanders again in fantasy. I expect a season similar to last year. They're like 6-6 ish with a chance to make the playoffs if they finish strong, but falter.
The Raiders are going to be a dumpster fire and I cannot wait to watch from afar. I do feel bad for the fans of Oakland. At least you get one game of A's playoff baseball this October.
1. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6
2. Dallas Cowboys 9-7
3. Washington Redskins 6-10
4. New York Giants 4-12
The Cowboys are defending NFC East champs, but as of now Zeke is still holding out. They have seemingly given everybody an extension this off season except him (and Dak). That could easily change before I post this. Assuming Zeke does come back as the reports have indicated I think the race between the Eagles and Cowboys will be great all year and could very well go down to week 17. If for some reason Zeke doesn't play the Cowboys are like a 7 win team.
As is tradition, the NFC East winner is likely to have a lower win total just because this division always beats up on each other. The division winner has only surpassed the 10 win threshold three times in the 2010's (2014, 16, 17). Even if the Giants are a 3 win team one of those wins will come against the Eagles or Cowboys. I'm giving the Eagles the edge for one reason and one reason only: coaching. Doug Pederson is approximately 93x the coach Jason Garrett is.
I'm a huge narrative guy and would like to note the Cowboys have a recent history of disappointing after playoff seasons and have only made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons once this millennium (2006-07). The Eagles biggest question mark is Carson Wentz. Will he be 100% because when he is it's clear he's an MVP candidate. Unlike the last two years the Eagles do not have Nick Foles as insurance policy, so if Wentz goes down again the Birds may head south for the winter sooner than expected.
The Redskins will hopefully let Dwayne Haskins get some game action sooner rather than later because they have no chance to win this division with Case Keenum. I like Keenum but he may be the least exciting QB ever. Nothing will ever surpass 2017 for him. At least see what Haskins can do. If you don't wanna throw him in the fire right away I totally get it and that may be exactly what Keenum is here for as the Skins schedule is brutal the first 5 weeks. Could this be Jay Gruden's last year in DC? Probably not since they just drafted a QB, but things could get uglier than Alex Smith's leg injury early in DC as 4 of their first 5 games are likely losses.
The Giants have Saquon Barkley for at least two more years and QB situation that is surely to play out drama free. 6 wins are an absolute best case scenario for the G-men. I almost feel bad for Eli but then I remember he gets the credit that his defensive line and the greatest fluke play in NFL history (Edelman catch was designed that way) for beating the Pats in the Super Bowl twice so it's gonna be hard to get a tear out of my eyes for him.
1. New Orleans Saints 11-5
2. Atlanta Falcons 9-7
3. Carolina Panthers 8-8
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-11
I really want to pick a team not named the New Orleans Saints as I really do think this could be the year Drew Brees shows his age. I'm not some Kellerman type hater, just using my eyes. Last year he faded like he was in Soul Decision down the stretch. Brees threw for only 175 yards a game weeks 11-15 and 7 touchdowns in his final five starts; four came in one game. His year really reminded me of Peyton Manning in 2014. Everybody seems to forget Drew's HORRIBLE INT on the Saints opening OT drive thanks to the missed PI call in the 4th quarter. I do think the heartbreaking endings of the last two season in New Orleans could lead to a disappointing year. It's hard to keep bouncing back. That being said I'm not too high on the Falcons, Panthers or Bucs so it's more-so Saints by default. Plus the Brees-Payton duo desperately needs another Super Bowl ring to legitimize this run in NFL lore and the clock is ticking. As RG3 famously said "no pressure, no diamonds".
Idk what to expect from the Falcons. I feel like they're on the downswing, but I could totally see them making the playoffs just because of Matt Ryan and Julio. They'll be better than last year with Freeman back, but Coleman is gone. Matty Ice sneaky had one of his best statistical seasons ever despite a poor team record. Dan Quinn is one of those coaches I could never believe in, mainly from every single decision he made in the last 20 minutes of Super Bowl 51. Nobody cares about the Falcons.
The Panthers are a really fun team that totally has the potential to make the playoffs. Cam Newton has won an MVP and shown what he's capable of when healthy. They were 6-2 last season right in the heart of best teams in the NFC before a free fall lead them to 7-9 and that last win was in week 17 when the Saints gave Teddy Bridgewater his first start since the 2015 playoffs in a meaningless game. It's all about Cam and whether he can stay healthy. Christian McCaffery has a real shot at a 1000-1000 season tbh the rushing part will likely be harder for him. Greg Olsen is another year older. No more Thomas Davis who was the heart of the defense (outside of Luke). Panthers compete, but ultimately fall a little short.
Tampa Bay is going to be a science experiment. They're gonna throw the ball 45 times a game. I love Bruce Arians, but I don't know if he can salvage this bunch. Who is on this defense? Can a running back on this team average over 3.1 yards/carry? It is a make or break year for Jameis Winston as he enters year 5. Mike Florio has been saying all off-season there is no middle ground with this team, they either fly high or crash and burn. I completely agree. I don't see a way this team is 8-8. Arians either surprises everybody and they win 10 games or are a sub 6 win team. I drafted Chris Godwin so either way throw that rock, Jameo.
1. Green Bay Packers 10-6
2. Chicago Bears 9-7
3. Minnesota Vikings 7-9
4. Detroit Lions 6-10
Last year I had the Vikings at 14-2 with Kirk Cousins as league MVP and I couldn't have been more wrong. (although I did project them to lose in the divisional round)
Instead the Bears were a surprise division winner last year at 12-4, led in part by the acquisition of Khalil Mack. Mack helped transform the Bears into a league leading defense from his first snap. As we all know football has three phases of the game; offense, defense and special teams. When Cody Parkey double-doinked a 43 yarder in the Wild Card round we all saw the importance of the final third component of the game. He was replaced Eddie Pineiro. Who? Exactly. With shaky QB play and a great defense the Bears are going to need a legit NFL kicker as they should be in a lot of close games. This guy could be one, but if he's not it could derail an other wise solid team.
Because of that I'm being a basic bitch and picking the Packers. They've missed the playoffs two straight years, have a new head coach and healthy Aaron Rodgers. While I do believe Aaron Rodgers is one of the most overrated athletes of all time, I still think the Packers deserve a loinshare of the blame why they both haven't been in the Super Bowl since the 2010 season. Their schedule down the stretch gets pretty difficult as they only have 3 home games after week 8 so a hot start is a must for the Packers if they want to make the playoffs in 2019.
The Vikings are kind of like the NFC version of the Texans with a much more storied history of heartbreak. If they win the division okay, if they win 7 games okay. Either way they aren't winning the Super Bowl so who fucking cares?
Lions are in year two of Matt Patricia. As much as I loved him as Pats DC I don't know if he's an NFL head coach. This will be a big year for him. Detroit sports fans have pretty shitty lives so for their sake I hope I'm wrong.
1. Seattle Seahawks 10-6
2. Los Angeles Rams 10-6
3. San Francisco 49ers 6-10
4. Arizona Cardinals 5-11
The Seahawks are the west coast Patriots. The LOB is gone and they're in the 2nd wave of players behind Pete Caroll and Russell Wilson. Last year they made the playoffs after most people (myself included) wrote them off before the season began. Idk who Russell Wilson is going to throw to, but like Brady it won't really matter. I love the combination of backs they have. Chris Carson is going to be a top 10 RB this season. They'll be in the hunt all year even with no volume pass catchers on this roster.
I think the Rams take a step back this year after a disappointing Super Bowl loss where they could only muster up 3 points. I don't believe in Jared Goff. **HE JUST GOT A 4-YEAR EXTENSION WTF**He's shown flashes, but definitely has a low ceiling. I honestly just don't think he's that smart of a guy or polished enough. Seems like a chill dude but there's like 10 other QBs I'd rather have. I feel like a lot of who he is is because of the system and McVay. Honestly I'm down on McVay after the Super Bowl too. Too worried about blowing Belichick pregame and telling Jared Goff he's playing great when they haven't scored and it's the 3rd quarter. Be better bro. I have much more faith in McVay rebounding, although I wonder at what point does this team get tired of his shtick? Todd Gurley's health is paramount for postseason success. Just look at the Super Bowl last year and tbh NFCCG if the Saints and refs have half a brain. Clay Matthews is there now which would be cool if it was 2013.
The 49ers are sort of in the same camp as the Chargers in the range of legitimate outcomes this season has. The only difference being their 6 win range is from 4-10. Is Jimmy the guy? Idk. I thought he was but now he may just be a more handsome Rob Johnson. In a tough division it's going to be hard to see the 49ers making the playoffs unless the Rams regress even more than I expect or the Seahawks cannot overcome their lack of pass catchers.
The Arizona Cardinals will play football in 2019. That is for certain. That's about all that is certain with this team as they have a brand new coach and quarterback for the second year in a row. I still cannot believe Cliff Kingsbury is an NFL Head Coach but the Cards are all in on his system and Kyler Murray. We saw essentially nothing of what they're going to be doing in the preseason, but as someone who has played a lot of madden with this team let me tell you their offense line is dog shit. This team wants to lead the league in plays run which is an interesting goal to have. I'd rather lead the league in postseason wins but that's just me. Much like Bruce Arians and the Bucs, Kingsbury is either going to revolutionize the game or be out of the league very quickly. I don't see him getting a second chance if the Cards amass 8 wins the next three years which is very possible with a 5 foot 5 running QB and an offensive line of guys who are 68s in Madden.
1. New England Patriots 12-4
2. Kansas City Chiefs 11-5
3. Cleveland Browns 11-5
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7
5. Los Angeles Chargers 10-6
6. Baltimore Ravens 9-6-1
Wild Card Round:
(3) Browns over (6) Ravens
(5) Chargers over (4) Jaguars
(1) Patriots over (5) Chargers
(2) Chiefs over (3) Browns
(1) Patriots over (2) Chiefs
Everybody and their mother is going to have this as the AFCCG and while that makes me apprehensive to include it as well, to me the AFC is a two team race. It's going to be all about home-field advantage even though that didn't matter last year. The Chiefs offense is better on paper and the Pats defense is better in reality. Give me the coach and QB who live at the Super Bowl over the 3rd year guy and career bridesmaid.
1. New Orleans Saints 11-5
2. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6
3. Seattle Seahawks 10-6
4. Green Bay Packers 10-6
5. Los Angeles Rams 10-6
6. Dallas Cowboys 9-7
Wild Card Round:
(6) Cowboys over (3) Seahawks
(5) Rams over (4) Packers
(1) Saints over (6) Cowboys* I was this close to having the Saints lose*
(2) Eagles over (5) Rams
(2) Eagles over (1) Saints
Third straight year the Saints get their heart ripped out. All dependent on Wentz' health, but should he finally make it to the playoffs I like him lead this team back to the Super Bowl.
(A1) Patriots over (N2) Eagles
Redemption for Super Bowl LII. I definitely feel a little lame picking the Pats to win it all and of course my bias is showing, but as of now these are teams I truly believe can win the Super Bowl in 2019: Patriots, Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, Chargers, Cowboys and Bears (and I don't even have them in the playoffs).
MVP: Patrick Mahomes (lame pick but he's gonna throw for 40+ again and the league is dying for him to overtake Brady as its face)
Offensive Player of the Year: Christian McCaffery (1000-1000 with over a dozen TDs)
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald (boring af, but likely af)
Coach of the Year: Freddie Kitchens (purely for bringing Browns to the playoffs)
Offensive Rookie of the Year: David Montgomery (Kyler gets hurt because of all the plays and 68s on the line)
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Josh Allen (Jags bounce back with him in a big role)
Comeback Player of the Year: Earl Thomas (would you believe he has zero career sacks? I know he's a FS but in 9 years not one?