What better way to tarnish this epic 100th NFL season than by trying to predict it – especially since we did so amazing last season…(Falcons/Chargers Super Bowl! That happened, right??)
Read ’em and weep!
(3) New York Giants (12-4)
(5) Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
(6) Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
Washington Redskins (3-13)
Nope, that’s not a misprint: the New York Football Giants will win the East, based on the old addition by subtraction theory (Odell who??), aided by a relatively cupcake schedule. The presence of Dan Jones lights a fire under Eli Manning, while Saquon Barkley becomes the best back in the league… Carson Wentz stays healthy for the Eagles, and loves his two new toys – DeSean Jackson and Jordan Howard. The Cowboys survive a tough schedule that includes NO, GB, NE, MIN, CHI, the Rams – and of course, the Eagles twice. The less said about Washington the better. Jon may have starred on “Hard Knocks,” but Jay will suffer them IRL – during his last season as Skins coach.
(2) Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
Chicago Bears (7-9)
Detroit Lions (1-15)
The Pack is back, as Aaron Rodgers can finally be his own man in a new offensive scheme. The Vikings are loaded on O, but it’s all about the D – which will fight through injuries and suspensions to stay relevant. The Bears feel a tangible loss on D with Vic Fangio’s departure, and an unsteady O won’t be able to save them. And a Week 1 loss to subpar Arizona sends the Lions reeling to an almost winless season. They just don’t have any major talent to speak of.
(1) New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
Atlanta Falcons (5-11)
Carolina Panthers (4-12)
Those aren’t pads on the Saints’ shoulders – those are chips, the size of boulders. And while that rhyme may be cute, New Orleans taking out their revenge on the league over last year’s infamous PI non-call will be ugly. The Buccaneers put together a surprisingly decent season, mainly because Jameis Winston finally has a coach worth respecting. The Falcons’ Super Bowl hangover continues, two seasons later. And the Panthers inevitably rush Cam Newton back too quickly – and end up losing him and a ton of games.
(4) Los Angeles Rams (10-6)
San Francisco 49ers (10-6)
Seattle Seahawks (8-8)
Arizona Cardinals (2-14)
The Rams shake off last year’s Super Bowl disappointment, helped largely by the lousy division in which they play. Jimmy G finally gets to shine for an entire season, as the 9ers prove they’re for real. The Seahawks find out that having Clowney around is not all fun and games, and the Cardinals wish they were playing baseball in St. Louis.
PLAYOFFS: Dallas beats New York Giants; Philadelphia beats Los Angeles Rams; New Orleans beats Dallas; Green Bay beats Philadelphia; NEW ORLEANS beats GREEN BAY.
(3) New England Patriots (12-4)
Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Buffalo Bills (6-10)
New York Jets (3-13)
Death, taxes – and the Patriots winning the AFC East. Belichick is the master of plugging in new (even controversial) parts and making them work… the Dolphins’ fire sale singes them a bit, but they ultimately (sort of) defy perceptions of tanking… the good news for the Bills is the return of essentially all of their top notch ’18 D – the bad news is that at some point the O has to take the field… the Jets will find out why they can’t have nice things, with all of their high-priced free agents resulting in another double-digit loss season.
(1) Cleveland Browns (14-2)
(5) Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
Baltimore Ravens (6-10)
Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)
Sorry Chuck D, but we believe the hype: the Browns were mere inches away from being 12-4 last year, and a huge infusion of talent and swagger will land them the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs for the first time since 1986 (!) … the Steelers, like the Giants, will benefit from their two high profile departures, allowing them to focus on, hey – football. Terrell Suggs is a heart and soul player, and losing him will hurt the Ravens, who still don’t quite know what they have in Lamar Jackson … and as innovative as he might be, new Bengals coach Zac Taylor doesn’t have the same pieces that his buddy (Rams wunderkind) Sean McVay has.
(4) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
(6) Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Houston Texans (8-8)
Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
And the winner of the Andrew Luck retirement is… the Jaguars! Their D is still solid, Fournette is primed for a comeback – and um, yeah: Nick Foles is better than Blake Bortles. Just a bit… the Titans get it up for great teams (’18 Ws over the Pats, Eagles and Cowboys) but play down to bad ones, all of which will equal a fourth straight 9-7 finish – though this one will eke them into the playoffs… the Texans lose their edge (literally) on D and a plodding O scheme will render the fantastic DeShaun Watson almost useless… and then there’s the Colts, who will feast on a generally weak AFC on route to a Luck-less yet surprising 8-8 tilt.
(2) Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)
Los Angeles Chargers (8-8)
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Denver Broncos (2-14)
The Chiefs are about to embark on a Patriots-like domination of the AFC West, as Mahomes and Co. march to their first Super Bowl since there before the AFL/NFL merger… just when the Chargers were back on the map, disarray and age will slap them back down – they’ll take their usual midseason snooze and miss the playoffs… you thought Hard Knocks was painful to watch, just wait until the Raider games actually start… just what the Broncos needed: to get more defensive-minded, when their O has a guy who won a Super Bowl – 7 seasons ago.
PLAYOFFS: New England beats Tennessee; Pittsburgh beats Jacksonville; Cleveland beats Pittsburgh; Kansas City beats New England; KANSAS CITY beats CLEVELAND.
SUPER BOWL: NEW ORLEANS beats KANSAS CITY.
Drew Brees hoists a second Lombardi trophy – and one thing we can already guarantee for 2019 and beyond: there will never be another non-call that egregious ever again.
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