2019 NFL Midseason Predictions

The first half of the NFL season has presented us with many surprises, and a surge of a new generation of NFL talent. The San Francisco 49ers remain the only undefeated team in the NFL currently, the Cincinnati Bengals remain the only winless team, and players like Christian McCaffrey are taking over the league and putting on an MVP-worthy performance. Here is what has happened this season, and what will continue throughout the season.

The Panthers are 5-3 Without Cam Newton, and Will Make the Playoffs

Currently, the Panthers are on the outside looking in as the 8-seed in the NFC and 2ndin the NFC South, but their 5-3 record, Christian McCaffrey’s video-game numbers, and the new-look defense has put them in a position to compete with Kyle Allen, not Cam Newton, at quarterback. Allen, who took over for the now-on-IR Newton in Week 3, has gone 5-1 as the starter, losing only to the undefeated 49ers. Allen hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary, just played mistake-free, smart football that has kept his team in a position to win. Sure, they have 2 dates with New Orleans, a home game against Seattle, and tough road games against Green Bay and Indianapolis, they should be able to win the home games, Indianapolis, and potentially one game against New Orleans to go at least 9-7, and considering how teams like the Eagles, Vikings, and Rams have struggled this season, Carolina should be able to get the 6-seed in the NFC.

Like I Predicted in Preseason, Aaron Rodgers Will Be the MVP

Aaron Rodgers got off to, well, a sluggish start in the new Matt LeFleur offense, but Green Bay’s defense stepped up big. Then, Rodgers said that the offense needed to ‘step it up’, and A-Rod and the Pack offense has not looked back since. Currently standing at 6-2 and the 3-seed in the NFC, they will be one of the top NFC Super Bowl contenders along with the Saints. Rodgers is currently 5thin passing yards and 4thin passing TDs, is among the top of the MVP race along with Russell Wilson and Christian McCaffrey, and if he keeps this pace up, he can outpace Wilson in the MVP race and get his 2ndNFL MVP award.

Lamar Jackson Proved Everyone Wrong… and He Won’t Stop Anytime Soon

Lamar Jackson was critiqued by Bill Polian before last year’s NFL draft and was told to convert to Wide Receiver. Jackson was drafted in the first round as a QB by the Ravens and guaranteed that they would get a Super Bowl out of him. He eventually took the starting job from Joe Flacco and led the Ravens to the playoffs. This season, Lamar has been able to use his arm along with his legs and become an elite QB. Last Sunday, he beat the record-setting Patriots defense and the GOAT Tom Brady to end their undefeated season up to that point. Now, he put the Ravens in position to potentially go to the Super Bowl, currently leading the Ravens to the 2-seed in the AFC, good enough for a first-round bye and homefield in the AFC Divisional Round. Expect Lamar to keep playing the way he always does, prove people wrong, and keep winning.

The Eagles Need to Sign Either Dez Bryant or Antonio Brown

So, yeah, Philadelphia, the Super Bowl 52 Champions, have changed a lot roster-wise since then. They have lost LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi, Torrey Smith, Trey Burton, a plethora of signings that have not worked out, such as DeSean Jackson and Zach Brown, and many underperforming players, such as Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, and just about everyone on defense. Oh, and they lost their savior Nick Foles, but everyone knew Wentz would be starting either way. Anyways, the Eagles have lost many games this season due to their poor receiver play, most notably Agholor. Wentz has been let down by receivers dropping passes than I could catch, and has lost many winnable games because of it, like the game at Atlanta where Agholor dropped the ball, the game at home against Detroit where rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside dropped a wide-open TD. The other games they lost, being to Dallas and Minnesota on the road, they’ve simply been blown out due to poor overall team play. If Philadelphia really wants to compete and be the Super Bowl-contending team they once were, they NEED to sign a big-name wide receiver. They missed out on Josh Gordon, as he went to Seattle to join Russell Wilson and his already-stacked WR core, so now that leaves them with Dez Bryant, who tweeted today that he is ready to reach out to teams soon, and of course, the drama-king of the NFL, Antonio Brown. While both risky due to character issues and health, either would be an immediate impact to a team that desperately needs hands. With AB, the Eagles can challenge Green Bay, Seattle and New Orleans, and with Bryant, they can at least win the NFC East if not contend with Green Bay, Seattle and New Orleans. Whoever they decide out of these two, they need to sign one of these in order to be a legit contender.

My Saints-Chiefs Super Bowl Prediction Remains the Same

I still see these two teams meeting in the Super Bowl. In the AFC, do I think that the Ravens are ready? Not yet, simply because the defense has been suspect for the majority of the season. Does New England beat Kansas City in the playoffs again, if they meet up? No because the offense isn’t at the point where they can keep up with Kansas City. Their inconsistency in the run game will outweigh the consistency of Julian Edelman, James White, and Mohamed Sanu’s production. In the NFC, is Green Bay good enough on defense to sustain the play of A-Rod and the offense? To me, this is the very-early frontrunner to win next year’s Super Bowl, but not this year. Seattle lies in the same realm, with their defense not being able to get to the level of Wilson and the offense. The Saints and Chiefs have complete rosters, and defenses good enough to meet the level of the offense and keep them in it. Kansas City has dropped games this year due to Mahomes playing through injury and not because they have regressed as a team. If anything, they are probably better, especially with their run game, and New Orleans, the NFL’s most complete team currently, just has everything you want in a team, with their next-man-up mentality, going 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater replacing the injured Drew Brees and Latavius Murray replacing the injured Alvin Kamara, and their big-play ability on defense as well. So, expect some fireworks in Miami on February, and expect the Saints to take home the Lombardi.

NFL 2019 Season Predictions: Preseason Edition

The NFL preseason is just a few weeks away now and the NFL is now seemingly shifting towards a younger generation of talent. While the New England Patriots still reign supreme as the defending NFL Champions, teams like the Cleveland Browns, with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr, and Jarvis Landry, the New Orleans Saints with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara helping out Drew Brees, the LA Chargers, with Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon looking to help Philip Rivers get a ring before he retires, and of course the Kansas City Chiefs led by the most exciting player in football, Patrick Mahomes. Safe to say that New England will have more competition than they have had in years, but have other teams eclipsed them yet? Here are my predictions for the season (all these predictions are subject to change based on team health, performance, and other factors that can affect a team throughout the NFL season. These are just predictions are of today):

Aaron Rodgers Returns as the NFL’s Best QB & Wins MVP

Aaron Rodgers last season was said to have the ‘worst season of his career’, yet many do not realize that he had the second-most passing yards in a season in his illustrious career and threw just 2 interceptions. They let the lack of wins, good players around him, and his individual health overlook the greatness he achieved over the previous season. Now, I am not saying that it was one of his best years, but to say it was his worst is a bit overdramatic. Rodgers will have a new coach and system, a healthy receiving core, running back, and offensive line, and a much-improved defense to back him up. Expect him to rival Mahomes for the MVP.

The NFC East, NFC North, and AFC West Will Have Two Playoff Teams Each

These three divisions will come into the season with the most competition out of all of them. The NFC East and North have winners which are up in the air, unlike the AFC West which has Kansas City as the clear favorite. The NFC East has Philadelphia and a much-improved Redskins roster, as well as Dallas (assuming that they can figure out Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott’s contract issues, which I will assume they do not, knowing the Cowboys). The NFC North features the best defense in the NFL in the Chicago Bears and a healthy and vamped-up Packers team, and those will be the teams that go on to the playoffs. However, unlike last year, Green Bay will take back the crown of NFC North champions.

As for the NFC East, I think Philadelphia, having a healthy roster and simpler offense to run around Carson Wentz in order to keep him healthy, similar to how they played with Nick Foles. Coach Doug Pederson knows that with the lack of playing time that Wentz has gotten late in seasons due to injury is because of the gameplan, and he will be able to change it. I think Washington will be the next team in from the NFC East. Rookie QB Dwayne Haskins is in a great position right now, good young receivers on offense, a steady running attack, which will help him as a scrambler, and one of the best defenses in the NFL (when healthy). So, Philadelphia might win the division, but Washington will be the wild-card sleeper in the playoffs that could pull off an upset or two.

Pittsburgh Will Be Better Without AB and Le’Veon

Last season, one of the most talented teams in the NFL was blown out of proportion by one player sitting out an entire season to “protect his body” for his impending free agency, and another player who decided that rather than care about winning and the team he played for, that he would instead only care for himself. These players were Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, respectively. Now, while these are two top 5 players at their position, Pittsburgh also found themselves with two more players with top 5 potentials at their position in James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers also have a much more stout defense this year, and that coupled with no distractions should keep Pittsburgh in Super Bowl contention, although Cleveland will take the division.

While Mahomes May Not Win the MVP… The Chiefs Will Be in the Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were a non-offside call and a coin toss away from going to the Super Bowl instead of New England. However, New England won the toss, there was no offsides call, and New England scored a touchdown to end it. This year, Kansas City brings the same slew of weapons in Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Damien Williams, and a defense that looks like they can actually make some stops. They’ll win the AFC West handily, and should steamroll through the AFC Playoffs as well, leading them straight to the promise land where they will face…

The New Orleans Saints Will Be Kansas City’s Opponent

New Orleans also had their hearts ripped out of them during the NFC Championship Game when the most obvious defensive pass interference call was not called by the referees. Every single person in the stadium knew it was pass interference, including LA Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, who got away with the call and even admitted after the game that he was “thankful” for the no-call. This year, however, New Orleans kept the core of their team together and is going to bring the same energy and extra motivation to win it all. The NFC South hasn’t improved enough to the point where New Orleans will have trouble there, and they are the deepest team in the NFC, so they should find a way to be in the Super Bowl. You know what they say, third times a charm. Expect them to get home-field advantage through the NFC, the best record in the NFL, and the ring. A game like this between 2 teams that are so explosive on offense, it comes down to who is the more complete defensive team, and that is clearly New Orleans.

 

 

Super Bowl LIII: What to Expect, and Who Wins

17 years ago, Super Bowl XXXVI was played between the then-St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots. The quarterbacks were Kurt Warner and Tom Brady. Back then, Tom Brady was just 24 years old and a second-year quarterback, and Bill Belichick was in his second season coaching the Patriots. Now players WR Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski of the Pats were 15 and 12 years old, respectively, Rams coach Sean McVay was 16, and Rams quarterback Jared Goff was 8. On Sunday, Super Bowl LIII will be played between the now-Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, with players such as Edelman, Gronkowski, and Goff playing, and McVay coaching. Oh, how time flies. But the guys that are still there are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and they are not showing many signs of not showing up to Super Bowls anytime soon. The Patriots are an older, more experienced team, going against a team of young guys who are new to the Super Bowl party, yet the two teams have very similar playing styles, with prolific passing games on offense, bend-but-don’t-break defenses, and big-play special teams units. Here are how the teams compare, and who will lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The Game, The Teams, The Storylines, and The Prediction

The LA Rams started the season 8-0 and looked like the hottest team in the league until they went into the Superdome and got humbled by the Saints. As the season went on, the offense was questioned, as they began to have a dropoff, as shown in games against Chicago and Philly. They finally showed they belonged in the playoffs with wins against Dallas and New Orleans (which yes, they didn’t deserve to win because of the referees, but we can’t do anything about that anymore). Anyways, everyone knows that Todd Gurley is the best player for the Rams by far, but with him not having been 100% the past few weeks, CJ Anderson has stepped in and been their best player ever since. Bill Belichick is known for taking away the best player(s) from the opposing team, so do not expect Gurley and/or Anderson to have the same type of numbers that they have been the past few weeks. Belichick will force Goff to beat them, and with Goff being a young, yet good quarterback, you can bet Goff will get a bit frazzled at times. Sean McVay, on the other hand, will have to take away Julian Edelman, which if you watch the Patriots play in Super Bowls, you know how hard that is to do. Edelman is always the one who comes up clutch in Super Bowls and always delivers for Brady. As far as matchups go, Patriots have the advantage. As far as experience goes, Patriots have the advantage. As far as the stats and on-paper comparison goes, Rams have the advantage. But what is really going to be the determining factor for this game? Which quarterback has the ball last. This Super Bowl will be quite similar to the past two, where offenses fly around the field, but the offense that blinks first is the one that loses. If I had to guess which offense blinks first, I would go with the Rams. I just do not trust the fact that the Rams secondary can do enough to stop Brady from getting the ball to guys like Edelman (who leads the team in receiving yards this postseason with 247), Gronkowski (who had two touchdowns in Super Bowl LII), and James White (leading the team in receptions, and also holds the NFL record for most receptions in a Super Bowl game with 14 in Super Bowl LI). The Rams pass rush simply is not enough to disrupt the Pats offense, and as far as the Patriots defense goes, while they may not be great, they have all been here before, and they have stepped up to the challenge this postseason. I simply do not see a way that the Patriots lose back-to-back Super Bowls as long as Brady and Belichick are present. Another fun fact, Brady is undefeated against non-NFC East teams in the Super Bowl (two losses to NY Giants, one to Philadelphia Eagles). To all the Rams fans and Patriots haters out there, don’t get too excited. Pats win, 38-34.

Super Bowl LI: Hotlanta Falcons or Beantown Patriots?

This Super Bowl could be the highest-scoring Super Bowl in the history of the glorious championship game, as these teams are so evenly matched on offense, and lately, also on defense. This game could also be the first to go to overtime, but here is who I believe will be the winner of this game.

How The Teams Stack Up

Atlanta has been hot of late, having won 6 in a row, and they sport the most efficient offense in the NFL. QB Matt Ryan has over 4,900 passing yards, 38 TDs, 83.3 Total QBR (QBR measures what the QB did in the game to try to lead his team to win), and 9.26 yards per attempt (highest in NFL history). WR Julio Jones averaged over 100 receiving yards a game for the 4th straight season, and they also kept a very balanced rushing attack with RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The Patriots QB Tom Brady’s number don’t match up, but considering he only played 12 games, he played phenomenal. 3,554 yards, 28 TDs, and a Total QBR of 83.0 in ONLY 12 games is amazing, and he did it without the help of Rob Gronkowski in the beginning, as well as towards the end of the season. Gronk will not be playing, although he will make the trip with the team to Houston, and backup TE Martellus Bennett did a nice job of replacing him, with 701 yards and 7 TDs. What really gave the Patriots the edge on offense this season was their run game. RB LeGarrette Blount has 1,161 yards rushing and a Patriots team record 18 rushing TDs. His big bulldozing ability helps keep drives alive for the Pats, allowing Brady to have lesser pressure on him and the defense to go after Blount. The defense of the Pats was ranked 7th overall, and 1st in scoring, as opposed to the Falcons who are 22nd overall. The Falcons haven’t needed big defensive performances to win their game this year, but they will need it if they want to be able to win a Super Bowl.

Who Wins and Why?

This game will come down to which team can come up with more defensive stops, and this game probably won’t really have much defense. This defense will be atrocious for both teams in this game, and the offenses will have a ‘walk-in-the-park’ type of game. The X-factor for each team will be their 2nd Wide Receiver, being Mohamed Sanu and Chris Hogan for the Falcons and Pats, respectively. Hogan had 180 yards on 9 receptions and 2 TDs, and Sanu, while he had just 5 catches for 52 yards and a TD, he did create problems in the formations for the Packers defense in their last game. Look for Hogan to have another big game, and CB Malcolm Butler, who will be covering Julio Jones, to be the defensive hero in a Patriot victory. Final Score: 51-48, New England

Wild Card Weekend: It’s Finally Here!

Wild Card Weekend, the weekend in which a team with a losing record can upset a heavy favorite. It is finally here, and boy will it be one to remember. Anyways, all the hype shall be settled on the field, so here is how I see it all unfolding.

AFC Wild Card 

(4) Houston Texans vs. (5) Kansas City Chiefs

Both of these teams started terribly, and yet here we are seeing them in the playoffs. The Chiefs started 1-5 and have won 10 straight, and Houston started 2-5, and finished 9-7 for the year, winning the AFC South. Honestly, as great as KC has been, the Chiefs on the road in the playoffs is never something good for them. Houston wins. Final Score: 26-23, Texans

(3) Cincinnati Bengals vs. (6) Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s hard to believe that one of the most exciting teams in NFL history is the 6th seed in the playoffs, but unfortunately for Pittsburgh, that’s just how the season turned out to be. Now, Cincy could have been the #1 or #2 seed in the AFC, giving them a week of rest and letting that carrot-top QB Andy Dalton who can’t seem to spell the word playoffs right another week of well-deserved rest, but instead, they blew a lead in Denver and lost to the now #1 seed Denver Broncos. The new QB is that kid AJ McCarron that went to Alabama and won TWO National Championships as member of Nick Saban’s Tide, yes him, AJ McCarron gets the nod, but the NFL pressure has seemed to crack on him in big games (as seen in Denver). Steel City fans will be waving their Terrible Towels to victory. Final Score: 41-34, Steelers

NFC Wild Card

(3) Minnesota Vikings vs. (6) Seattle Seahawks

Get all the coats you own and wear them to this game, because a -15°F game is not fun for a football fan. Anyways, I think Seattle has a disadvantage because their passing game has been as deadly as Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, and it may continue, but this will be an exciting game. Minnesota did crazy things last week, with fake punts and suffocating defense that helped them stop the Green Bay Packers. Minnesota will win, but Russell Wilson will have the game of his life. Final Score: 41-36, Vikings

(4) Washington Redskins vs. (5) Green Bay Packers

Just when you thought the Packers were unstoppable, they turned bad. A 6-0 start ended as a 10-6 overall season including losing 3 games at home, something that you almost never saw happen. The Redskins, on the other hand, are seemingly unstoppable in terms of winning lately, on a 4-game win streak, 3 of those coming on the road. Captain Kirk and the Redskins will sure like to see themselves in the NFL Divisional Round, and they should. Final Score: 38-28, Redskins

Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots or Seahawks?

The controversy of the Deflategate surrounding the New England Patriots hasn’t seemed to effect the Patriots. Deflategate really makes no sense because there is no real punishment that New England can see. In 2007, they were involved in Spygate, and nothing happened to New England, so punishing New England 8 years later for something doesn’t even make sense and cannot exactly be proven is just messed up. The Seattle Seahawks, on the other hand, had a miracle happen against the Green Bay Packers 2 weeks back at CenturyLink Field. Literally, a miracle. If Brandon Bostick hadn’t dropped that onside kick, Green Bay would be playing New England (New England won fair and square over the Indianapolis Colts people, so they would be here). Chris Matthews, instead, got the 12th Man roaring like never before, as they forced OT, and won. But honestly, they need more effort if they want to beat New England. Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

As I said earlier, the effort by Seattle was not the typical type of effort that we normally see. Russell Wilson threw a career-high 4 interceptions, but threw the OT winner. Marshawn Lynch was great as usual, 25 carries, 157 yards, and the touchdown that put Green Bay down 22-19 in regulation. Aaron Rodgers was stellar for the Packers despite the torn calf. If Seattle can’t beat a one-legged quarterback who has won only 1 Super Bowl, how are they going to matchup with a 3-time champ (trying to make himself a 4-time champ)? New England has more weapons than last year’s Denver Broncos team on both sides of the football. On offense, you have Brady, then you have TE Rob Gronkowski, RB LeGarrette Blount, and WRs Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola who could both put the icing on the cake for New England. On defense, they have CB Brandon Browner, who won the Super Bowl last year with the Seahawks, CB Darrelle Revis, the best CB after the Seahawks Richard Sherman, you have LBs Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, and DE Vince Wilfork, who solidify your pass rush. Seattle has just Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse on offense, who aren’t known as great receivers, and defensively, CBs Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, SS Kam Chancellor, and FS Earl Thomas III, but LBs Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril, and last year’s Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith cannot matchup with Gronkowski, and neither can Sherman, Maxwell, Chancellor, or Thomas III. Along with that, Seattle struggles with power runners such as LaGarrette Blount, and Edelman and Amendola come up with big, game-deciding plays. Brandon LaFell is another wideout for New England who is key. Also, there have been 12 Super Bowls with a pick-6, and teams with more pick-6’s than the other team are 12-0. Expect Revis, Browner, SS Kyle Arrington, or Collins to take one to the house. This game will be decided by the final drive.

Final Score: 35-28, New England Patriots

MVP: Tom Brady, New England Patriots