2019 NFL Predictions – Vol 6
All Everything Entertainment brings you our 2019 NFL Predictions. We will have an 8 part series featuring predictions from our NFL writers and correspondents.
We will bring our predictions for each division winner, who will win and get in the playoffs as a wild card and ultimately win the Super Bowl. We also predict the winners of every major NFL award this coming season.
Let us get into the predictions, with Brian Attard (Dallas Cowboys)
AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs –
This is going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight to the very end. For all intents and purposes, this is a two-team race. No disrespect to the Broncos and Raiders, but this division features two of the best teams in the sport. The Chiefs and Chargers are not without holes and questions, specifically at running back. Kansas City comes into the season with 2nd year back Damien Williams poised to take the role vacated by the released Kareem Hunt, while Los Angeles is going to be without their star runner, Melvin Gordon, who is holding out over a very public contract dispute. With Philip Rivers closing in on age 40, the window for the Chargers might be shorter than people think. There is no long-term plan for quarterback succession. On the other side, Kansas City has the most exciting young passer in the game in Patrick Mahomes, who will look to build on his 50-touchdown number from a year ago. These two teams are going to make this a back and forth fight all year long, but a Week 17 matchup that should decide the division is in Kansas City. You’ll recall Kansas City hosted a week 15 matchup between these two teams last year, and the Chargers came out on top in dramatic fashion. Lightning won’t strike twice in the same place, pun intended, and the Chiefs should repeat as division champions. The Chargers will be in as a wildcard.
AFC North: Cleveland Browns –
Call me a skeptic, but I’m not buying Lamar Jackson. Quarterbacks need to be able to throw the ball, and Jackson has the accuracy of a Stormtrooper in training. The Ravens defense is among the best, but Jackson’s running isn’t going to be enough for Baltimore. The Bengals are just spinning their wheels right now, so they’re not a threat. This division comes down to two teams for me. For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger put up a career year at age 36. Whether or not you think Antonio Brown is right in the head, he still put up 15 touchdowns last year. Where that production is going to come from this year remains to be seen, but given the landscape of the AFC, the Steelers should still find their way into the playoffs as a wildcard. The Browns come in with a lot of hype, and that’s an understatement. Baker Mayfield has the city of Cleveland in the palm of his hands, and he knows it. They were very aggressive this offseason in bringing in a legitimate number one on the outside in the form of Odell Beckham Jr., and he didn’t come cheaply. Cleveland finished just under .500 a year ago, and there were games lost early in the year that should have been in the win column. I think the Browns find their way to an AFC North crown.
AFC South: Houston Texans –
This was basically a process of elimination experiment. If you asked me this question a few weeks ago, the answer was, without a shadow of a doubt, the Colts. The loss of Andrew Luck, especially this close to the start of the season, is just going to be too much for them to overcome. It’s really a shame for Indianapolis because this is a very good and very deep roster. The Titans have their own quarterback issues to worry about, as Marcus Mariota may not have a solid hold on the position as he once did. Those questions have to be answered quickly because this offense was pretty terrible last year through the air. For the Jaguars, they absolutely improved at quarterback, but not because Nick Foles is all that great. Blake Bortles was just that bad. Defensively, everyone knows the Jaguars will be fine, but you have to score points to win. The offense should be somewhat better, but how much better is the $88M question. I don’t feel the Jaguars are a playoff team. So, by that process of elimination, I’m giving this division to the Texans. There is a slew of questions for Houston too. Lamar Miller wasn’t very sexy, but he got the job done year after year, despite running behind an offensive line that almost succeeded in getting Deshaun Watson killed. I’m higher on Duke Johnson than most, and I think he will do well. Bill O’Brien as a general manager leaves a lot to be desired, after just getting bent over a barrel on a pair of deals with the Seahawks and Dolphins. He is clearly managing to try and save his coaching job. That’s never a recipe for success. But this division is clearly theirs to lose, by default.
AFC East: New England Patriots –
Death, taxes, and the Patriots winning the AFC East. New England has lost this division twice since the turn of the millennium. That’s money in the bank. Even if you think the light is starting to dim for the defending champions, what team in this division is going to take their spot? The Dolphins are in full rebuild mode after moving Laremy Tunsil to the Texans in a deal I think is fantastic for them. The Bills are still working on identity and building around 2nd-year quarterback Josh Allen. They’re not quite there. The Jets might be the 2nd best team in the East, but they’re not in the Pats’ neighborhood just yet. To their credit, New York was very aggressive in free agency, adding Le’Veon Bell, CJ Mosely, and others. They will be better this year, but not by enough to give the Patriots a real challenge.
AFC Wildcards: Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks –
In many ways, valid cases can be made for any team not named the Arizona Cardinals to come out on top here. The Cardinals and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray are far and away from the four teams in this group. Ask me again next year. The 49ers are definitely a team to watch, as Jimmy Garoppolo looks to bounce back from an injury-shortened 2018 to make his mark and begin to earn his $137.5M contract. San Francisco should take a step forward, but they’re still behind the top two teams in the West. I’m somewhat skeptical on the Rams this season. I love their aerial attack, without question. I expect the trio of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp to all clear 1000 yards in receiving and all end up with around 6-7 scores. Where my concern comes in is with running back Todd Gurley. Sean McVay, who I feel is one of the brightest young minds in the game, has already said that we will see less Todd Gurley this year. Gurley is battling arthritis in his knee at the young age of 25. The Rams will look to extend his career as long as they can in efforts to maximize the value of the massive contract he signed before last year. I think we have seen peak Todd Gurley, so that production is going to have to come from somewhere. Defensively, they were very average last year. I don’t see a reason to believe there’s going to be much of a jump up there. The Rams will be a playoff team, in my eyes, but the division crown finds a familiar head in Seattle. The Seahawks are once again the class of the West, and it’s all on the shoulders of quarterback Russell Wilson. It’s arguable that no individual does more for his team than Wilson does for this Seahawks squad. I think Chris Carson is going to have a fantastic season, as will Tyler Lockett in the number-one receiver role. The addition of Jadeveon Clowney will be a huge boost to the pass rush. Give me Seattle to win the West.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers –
There are three very good teams in this division. The problem is that they’re all going to beat up on each other, and the North’s schedule is very difficult this year. The Lions are far and away team number four in the North. Matt Patricia’s first year in Motown left much to be desired. Matthew Stafford, known for years for huge passing attempt and yards numbers, finished outside the top 10 in attempts and didn’t break 4,000 yards in a full season for the first time in his career. The defense did have an above-average 2018, and did add former Patriot Trey Flowers, but allowed quite a bit of point a year ago. They’re not in the conversation for the playoffs. As for the Bears, Vikings, and Packers, a solid case can be made for any of these three to take the North. Because they’ll be beating up on each other, that’s going to result in just one team making it out alive. The Bears had a fantastic 2018, mostly on the backs of their defense. Mitchell Trubisky is going to have to take a quantum leap forward to keep the defending division champions on top, and it would help if the kicker could make a field goal when it mattered. The Vikings are poised to bounce back in a big way. The return of Dalvin Cook is a very welcome sight in Minnesota, and he looks ready for a huge year. I’m picking the Packers to come out of the North for the simple reason that they have the best quarterback in the division, and possibly the NFC, in Aaron Rodgers. A healthy Rodgers makes all the difference for Green Bay. Without Mike McCarthy there, I think that’s a boost for Rodgers. On defense, they’ve quietly built up an excellent secondary. Rodgers leads the Packers back to January football.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints –
Now that the offseason is coming to a close, hopefully, those pesky lawsuits in Louisiana will as well. On the field, the Saints look like a team ready to avenge the wrongs of a year ago. The clock is ticking on Drew Brees’ career, as the future Hall of Famer will turn 41 during the playoffs. They’ll miss Mark Ingram a little bit, but Latavius Murray can handle whatever workload doesn’t go to do-it-all running back Alvin Kamara. Michael Thomas has a lot more cash to play with after his new deal, but keep an eye out for Jared Cook. Brees has not had a legitimate tight end target since Jimmy Graham was traded to Seattle, and that should open things up a little bit for him. It’s worth noting that despite having all-world talents around him, 2018 was the first year as a Saint for Drew Brees where he did not crack the 4000-yard passing mark. Expect the Saints to be contending for the top spot in the NFC. The Falcons brought back Dirk Koetter to take his old role as offensive coordinator, and that could be good news for Matt Ryan. Devonta Freeman is working without Tevin Coleman as a safety net, and you can expect Austin Hooper’s role to come back down to Earth. I don’t think the Falcons did enough to address their defense to get them back into the postseason in a crowded NFC. The Panthers will once again rely almost exclusively on Christian McCaffrey, and they run the risk of wearing their young running back out, but they don’t have much of a choice. Look for DJ Moore to become more of a household name as the primary target on the outside. The Buccaneers come into the year with many questions, but their receivers aren’t one of them. You’ll be hard-pressed to find too many groups better than Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and OJ Howard. New coach Bruce Arians must be chomping at the bit to get the offense going, but this is going to be the Jameis Winston show, for better or for worse. The schedule looks like Tampa could get off to a hot start, but it’s going to be hard for a team without much of a running game and a pretty awful secondary to keep winning games. Maybe losing will end up to be a plus for Tampa, and they’ll avoid locking up Winston to a long-term deal they’d be bound to regret. Keep your eye out for RB Dare Ogunbowale, who could find himself as the lead back if Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones can’t grab the brass ring.
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles –
As the AFC West, this is a two-team race. Both the Redskins and Giants took quarterbacks in the first round of the 2019 draft, and it doesn’t sound like either Dwayne Haskins nor Daniel Jones will see much of the field, at least early on. Saquon Barkley will once again do it all for the Giants offense, but without Odell Beckham on the field, it will be interesting to see who fills the gap. Golden Tate, signed in the offseason, is suspended for the first four games of the year. For the Redskins, Case Keenum will start the year under center, which probably doesn’t get the needle on the excitement meter in DC moving a whole lot. Running back Derrius Guice, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury, is one to watch. The division comes down to the Eagles and Cowboys. At the time this is written, Ezekiel Elliott is still holding out and has not yet found the long-term deal he’s looking for. On top of that, both quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are going into the final years of their deals and will want raises. There are huge question marks for the Cowboys on offense, but their defense is one of the best in the league. The linebacking tandem of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch is the core of this unit, and the Cowboys will rely on them to replicate the success they had a year ago. For the Eagles, it all comes down to Carson Wentz’s health. The team has legitimate championship aspirations if Wentz can regain his 2017 form. Their defense might be a little on the overrated side, but it really is going to be about what Wentz does. He has all the ability to take the team on his shoulders all the way to February, even if that’s asking a lot. The addition of Jordan Howard via trade did not solve the running back woes, which led to the selection of Miles Sanders out of Penn State. He’s one to watch, as is tight end Dallas Goedert. We may have seen the best of Zach Ertz, which could open the door for the 2nd year player to take a larger role. Philadelphia should come out of the East on top, but if Wentz falters, the Cowboys are primed to take the division for the 2nd year in a row.
NFC Wildcards: Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams
Comeback Player of the Year: QB Jimmy Garoppolo –
These sorts of awards tend to favor quarterbacks, and with Garoppolo having missed pretty much the entire season a year ago if he’s even average, I think he runs away with this one.
Coach of the Year: Doug Pederson –
If Carson Wentz does what I think he will do, and regain the form he had in 2017, Pederson stands to benefit tremendously. Many believe he should have gotten this award during the Eagles championship year, so the voters may look to “right a wrong” and give this one to Doug.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Josh Jacobs –
I think this is a matter of opportunity meets talent. Jacobs was absolutely the top talented running back in the draft, and he will have every opportunity to be the lead guy in Oakland this season. If Kyler Murray does well out of the gate, he could also take this award, but Jacobs is the lead horse going in for me.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Nick Bosa –
I thought about Quinnen Williams here, but I went with Bosa as I feel the 49ers have a better overall year, and that will lead the voters to look his way.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Patrick Mahomes –
I don’t think he replicates the 50 touchdowns, but it’s hard to pick anyone else for this award. His talent is immense, but he’s also in an ideal situation, with a coach who loves to sling the ball around. Mahomes wins this one for the 2nd year in a row.
Defensive Player of the Year: DT Aaron Donald –
They may want to consider renaming this to the Aaron Donald award. The best defensive player in the game walks away with his third consecutive award, a feat that has never been done in NFL history.
Regular Season MVP: QB Patrick Mahomes – Since 1987, only quarterbacks and running backs have won the MVP award, with the quarterbacks taking 6 in a row, and 11 out of 12. If Mahomes wins offensive player of the year, it’s hard to think he won’t take the MVP as well.
Super Bowl Matchup: New England Patriots vs New Orleans Saints –
Ric Flair was famous for saying that to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. He also had a “wooooo!” in there. The Patriots are there every year. I’ll pick them to be there again. As for the Saints, the heartbreak of a year ago rallies the team all season. They just walk into the buzz-saw that is the New England Patriots.
Super Bowl MVP: QB Tom Brady
Water is wet.
Brian Attard (Twitter @SportsBox_BA)
Catch me every Tuesday night at 8:30 pm EST on The Highly Opinionated Show on The Sports Box (Facebook @sportsboxshow)