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.

 

 

Conference Championship Weekend: Who’s Going to Atlanta?

The time of year is quickly approaching. The cold nights of January are perfect for playoff football, so we have to preview the games coming up this Sunday and see who is packing their bags to stay home, and who will live another few weeks and go to Atlanta.

AFC Championship Game: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots

So, per usual, the AFC Championship Game runs through the Patriots, as it has for the past 8 years. This time, however, we go from cold Foxborough to cold and possibly snowy Kansas City. With the kickoff temperature expected to be in the 20s now rather than in the single digits, fans going to the game can be a bit more excited about the fact that their chances of getting hypothermia and frostbite went down a bit, but this may be just another thing that plays into New England’s advantage. The Patriots play in these temperatures in January all the time, whether they practice in it, or play in it. Kansas City doesn’t know what an AFC Championship Game is like, it has been over 40 years since that last happened. That being said, soon-to-be NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes will lead his Chiefs in a rematch against the GOAT Tom Brady. The last time these teams played was a Sunday night in October, where the offenses were nonstop, defenses non-existent, and Pats Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was money. The game once again will come down to who has the ball last, and who can make the biggest plays at the right moment. The last time they played, Patrick Mahomes found Tyreek Hill on a huge touchdown play late in the 4thbut left over 3 minutes for Brady to work with to get into field goal range. Mahomes better make sure that if he wants to score a touchdown, that he doesn’t leave too much time on the clock, because Brady will find a way. 3 minutes is an eternity for Brady. Despite Brady being 1-4 lifetime on the road in AFC Championship Games, and his best target Rob Gronkowski being AWOL for most of the season, Brady always finds a way, and against a defense as terrible as the Chiefs, he won’t lose. Oh, and not to mention, the biggest choker in NFL history, Chiefs coach Andy Reid, is coaching the Chiefs still (despite all the leads he’s blown, and the lack of playoff wins before this year), so it is safe to say the Chiefs will find a way to lose this game. No betting against Brady here, Pats win.

NFC Championship Game: New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams

Another rematch of a game that ended up being an absolute thriller, with the Rams being undefeated at 8-0 at the time, and the Saints being the only team that could seemingly stop them. Surely enough, the Saints were able to end the dominance of LA, and neither team has really slowed down since. The two most complete teams in the NFC will meet again in New Orleans on Sunday, yet this time with some more questions to answer. Will Jared Goff play like he did in November when they played New Orleans (he had 391 yards passing and 3 TDs), or will he play like he did last year in the Rams NFC Wild Card Game against Atlanta? Will Sean McVay prove to be the prodigy the world is amazed by? Will Drew Brees cement his place as potentially the Greatest of All Time? Since the last rematch, Goff has been off-and-on, McVay has proven his prodigy-like skills, and Brees has broken records and put up an MVP-caliber season. Since then, the Saints have also been the #1 scoring defense, which will prove to be the difference on Sunday. The Saints defense’s ability to slow down the Rams potent offense will be what wins them this game. Last week, when they played the Eagles, they were down 14-0 after the Eagles’ first 2 possessions, but the defense didn’t allow any points the rest of the game and came up with the game-winning stop on a Marshon Lattimore interception, all thanks to Alshon Jeffery’s ‘best hands in the NFL’. There will be a ton of points scored for sure, but it will come down to if Jared Goff can outplay Brees and if the Saints defense fails to stop Goff and the Rams. I do not see that happening, so Saints win.