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.

NFL Storylines Week 15: #StarWars Edition

The NFL season heads into its 15th week and at this point, teams are either playing for draft picks, a spot in the playoffs, or home-field in the playoffs. Here is how I see some of the biggest NFL storylines panning out, as compared to characters and movies of the Star Wars franchise:

What to Expect in The Return of Aaron Rodgers (the NFL’s Luke Skywalker)

Aaron Rodgers, the best quarterback in the NFL (yes, he is better than Brady), comes back off of a 9-week layoff from a collarbone injury he suffered in a Week 6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Since his injury, the Packers have gone 3-4, and the Vikings have only lost 1 game. The Packers this week go to work in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers, a team that currently holds the 5th seed in the NFC, but a loss could cost them a playoff spot. Now, you may be wondering, what do I expect out of Aaron Rodgers? I didn’t write a blog post about this, yet my preseason Super Bowl prediction was Packers-Steelers, with the Packers winning. My prediction has stayed the same, and the return of Rodgers, with all of the odds against him, gives me even more confidence as to what the Packers can do. In 2013, Rodgers had injured his collarbone and came back for Week 17 against the Chicago Bears. The winner of the game would go to the playoffs, and Rodgers won the game on a 4th and 8 with 46 seconds to go by throwing the game-winning TD to Randall Cobb. In 2014, after the team started 1-2 and people counted the Packers out, Rodgers had the famous R-E-L-A-X press conference, and the team ended up going 11-5 and were 1 game away from the Super Bowl. I expect Rodgers to work his late-season magic and lead the Pack to the playoffs, and to the Super Bowl. The force is strongest with Rodgers when they need it most.

A New Hope for Philly?

Carson Wentz was not just the possible MVP QB of the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was the man the city rallied around. He had done so much in supporting the city, especially through the AO1 Foundation, that he became a savior for the city of Philadelphia. Their dream season with Super Bowl hopes looked like it would become a reality, but Wentz’s ACL injury last week ended most hopes of that (by the way, my best wishes and prayers are out to Carson in hopes that he has a speedy recovery and comes back better than ever next season). Now, go back to the previous sentence where I said ‘most hopes’ are gone and not all. Yes, the Eagles have hope, ‘A New Hope’, as Star Wars fans would like to say. Nick Foles replaced Michael Vick in 2013 after his injury, and threw 27 TDs-2 INTs, won the NFC East, and became a Pro Bowler in that season. Now, I am not saying that you should expect Foles to play at that high a level, but to say that the Eagles have no chance at a Super Bowl is not right. I see NFC Championship Game for sure, but Super Bowl is unlikely. Don’t count out Foles.

The Steelers Killer B’s

The Killer B’s, Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and yes, even kicker Chris Boswell, are orchestrating a season similar to the way Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca fought their way to victory against Darth Vader and the Emperor in ‘Return of the Jedi’, as The Killer B’s have led the Pittsburgh Steelers to an 11-2 season so far. This has led them to first place in the AFC, and nothing but smiles on the faces of them and all those in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh now goes faces their biggest test, ‘The Dark Side’ of the AFC, the New England Patriots, who are 10-3 after their suspect loss to the Miami Dolphins Monday night. Now, of course, this game not only will determine who will get home-field advantage, but the winner of this game will probably win the AFC and go the Super Bowl. After watching the stagnant and lethargic Pats offense, and the confused Pats defense, I have supreme confidence in Pittsburgh, especially since the game is in their house.

NFL Conference Championship Weekend

This is the weekend where teams will receive a ticket to MetLife Stadium for the Super Ice Bowl. Here are the predictions for who wins and who goes home.

 New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos; 3:00PM EST

The Pats historical run without rook WR Aaron Dobson and star TE Rob Gronkowski has highlighted a team for the ages, with big plays from WR Julian Edelman and RB LaGarrette Blount. The Broncos got away with a huge game, with a 24-17 over the San Diego Chargers. The Patriots will go to MetLife Stadium. Final Score: 26-23, Patriots.

San Fransisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks; 6:30PM EST

The 49ers came away with huge wins over the Green Bay Packers, 23-20, and the Carolina Panthers, 27-10. The Seahawks survived after the the New Orleans Saints huge comeback, winning 23-15. The 49ers and Patriots will meet in a Clash of Clans at MetLife. Final Score: 30-23, 49ers.

The AFC Playoff Predictions: After Week 17

The AFC has had many surprises which you won’t even believe would have happened even before the season started. Here is what I think will happen after Week 17.

Number 1: Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are winners of 11 straight games. They are led by 4-time MVP Peyton Manning. Another key part of their success has been Eric Decker becoming Manning’s favorite target, and Von Miller and Co. getting some big stops on D. There is no one stopping ‘em now. Though, they will lose in the Divisional Round to the Colts 34-31.

Number 2: New England Patriots

The Patriots had a strong offseason after losing the Super Bowl, making Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley great replacements for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They also got former Pat Jabar Gaffney, and Brandon Lloyd, who have had great seasons. They will lose to the Colts in the Divisional Round 31-29.

Number 3: Houston Texans

Houston has had the best season ever as a team. Arian Foster has improved, and Matt Schaub has played better than ever. On the D, JJ Watt is having a MVP-caliber season. This combo of offense and defense has made the Texans the most dangerous team in the NFL. They will lose to the Bengals in the Wild Card Round 31-10.

Number 4: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were the number 2 seed, then lost to the Steelers in OT 23-20, and the Redskins in OT 31-28. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are aging, and Lewis is injured. Terrell Suggs hasn’t been able to lead the team on a struggling D, though Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb is a shut-down corner. Joe Flacco has had an all-over-the-place-styled-season. Ray Rice had carried this team to some big wins early in the season. They will lose to the Colts in the Wild Card Round 44-20.

Number 5: Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck has made the Colts forget about Peyton Manning, and also, he is playing just like Manning, leading his team to huge come-from-behind wins in the 4th quarter. Rookie Wide Receivers T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery have had spectacular seasons. Reggie Wayne had been criticized and many said he was to old to lead the team and play as Andrew Luck’s go-to guy, though he changed that this season. Former Baltimore Ravens Defensive End Corey Redding was signed to a $10.5 million dollar contract, and Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have had some great seasons leading this always-brilliant D. They will make it to the Super Bowl, though lose 38-26.

Number 6: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were the 6th seed last year, and will repeat that same result. Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and AJ Green have had great seasons. They will lose in the Divisional Round to the Broncos 38-33.