It’s that time of the year where I make a complete fool of myself and attempt to predict how the upcoming NFL season will play out.
Predictions like these are always fun because you’ll always get a group of people who will ridicule you for making a “dumb” prediction. Last year my friends who were Cowboys fans laughed at me for picking the Eagles to win the division with a 10-6 record, and we all know how that turned out.
I’ll never be someone who claims my predictions are the best, because they’re not. I’m definitely wrong a bunch of times, as is everyone else. But we do things like this for fun, and that’s why I still decide to post my predictions every year on social media for all of my friends to see.
So without further ado, here are my (wrong and irrelevant) 2018 NFL Predictions!
New York Giants
I’m starting off with everyone’s favorite division, the NFC East.
Yes, I am picking the defending Super Bowl Champions to be the first team since the Eagles in 2004 to win the division in back-to-back seasons. There’s still no one else who is as close to being a complete team on both sides of the ball as they are, and you could argue that they’ve improved in more areas than they’ve regressed in. Plus, there are numerous players who are returning from injury that didn’t even play in the Super Bowl, including the man who would have been league MVP in Carson Wentz.
The Giants have a pretty strong starting unit overall. For starters, they finally seem to have improved their offensive line. Well, the left side of it at least. The center and right side are still question marks, but it’s a start. Their weapons on offense have the potential to be a very dangerous group: Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard. And they’ve got a few impact players on defense like Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, and Olivier Vernon. Depth is my main concern with them, along with Eli Manning. NY fans will tell you Eli can still play at a high level. Everyone else begs to differ.
The Cowboys have one great thing going for them still, and that’s their power running game with that stellar offensive line and Zeke Elliott. Their secondary also has some potential. I just question their receiving corps and front 7. Can they get a consistent enough pass rush every week, and is Dak Prescott going to have the weapons to throw to late in games when the team has to lean on him? And how good is Dak exactly? Is he the QB we saw win OROY, or the QB that struggled mightily last season without Zeke? Or maybe he’s somewhere in between the two.
If it wasn’t for the injury to Derrius Guice, I would have had the Redskins slightly above the Cowboys. That’s how significant I see that loss being. And no, I don’t believe Adrian Peterson will be able to give them similar production on the ground over the course of a full season.
Green Bay Packers
The Vikings finally have stability at the QB position with Kirk Cousins, and although he has his fair share of detractors he is still a very solid/good QB. He has the best WR duo in the league in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen to work with, as well as Dalvin Cook who is returning from an ACL injury.
I sure am excited for a full season of Aaron Rodgers. He alone makes the Packers a playoff contender. The most intriguing part of their team outside of Rodgers though is their new rookie tandem at CB: Jaire Alexander and Joshua Jackson. I ranked Alexander as my top CB in this year’s draft, and Jackson is an absolute ball hawk.
On paper the Bears have had the best offseason in the league. They’re taking the same type of approach with Trubisky as the Eagles did with Wentz last year: surround him with talent and put him in a good system to thrive. I love the acquisition of Anthony Miller. I believe this kid will be the best WR to come out of this draft class and has absolute star potential. But obviously the biggest move they’ve made is they’re most recent one, the trade for Khalil Mack. Whether or not you agree with the amount of money they gave him, there’s no denying that the Bears are a much better football team now with him. I’ll still put them at 3rd in the division for now, but that’s only because I still don’t know what I’m going to get yet from Trubisky. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they end up winning the division.
📈The Khalil Mack Effect📈 pic.twitter.com/fZRVa7nk2h
— B/R Gambling (@BRGambling) September 1, 2018
It’s going to be a tough first year for new Head Coach Matt Patricia, but I think he’ll at least get the Lions headed in the right direction (hopefully). And for the record, I’m not a huge fan of Kerryon Johnson, at least not this season while they have LeGarette Blount and Theo Riddick there.
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This very well could be the best division in the entire league. The Falcons, Saints, and Panthers; I can see any of those 3 teams winning the division.
I believe the Falcons will take the division over the Saints by tiebreaker. If Sarkisian improves at all as a play-caller then the Falcons can get back to the Super Bowl this season. If not, they’ll be one-and-done again. That’s how much I believe their season rides on him.
The Saints probably scare me the most because of their beast of an offensive line and their 2 elite playmakers in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Cameron Jordan and Marcus Lattimore are cornerstone pieces for their defense, with Lattimore having the potential to compete with Jalen Ramsey as the best CB in the league.
Is DJ Moore the next Steve Smith for the Panthers? Quite possibly. The Philadelphia native has a lot of potential. With him and Christian McCaffery as the top weapons in the passing game, Cam Newton has no excuses the next few seasons.
My favorite breakout player of the year is probably Chris Godwin of the Buccaneers. I’m pretty sure I own him in most of my fantasy leagues this year. Too bad the Bucs’ QB Jameis Winston still doesn’t get it. I hate to give up on a young QB with really good physical talent so early, but…
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers
The Rams added a lot of big name guys in free agency, so it will be interesting to see how they gel together. I like their coaching staff way too much to say they’ll end up like another failed “dream team”, but the expectations sure are high for them.
The 49ers you can argue have been overhyped going into this season, but me picking them to finish 2nd in the division isn’t me hopping on any bandwagon. I’ve been talking the 49ers up as a team with a very bright future ever since last offseason when they hired Kyle Shanahan. Trading for Jimmy Garoppolo was also a key move. I believe he will be among the elite QBs in the league for the next decade or so, along with Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. Losing Jerrick McKinnon for the season is a pretty big blow to their offense, but I still like a handful of young players they have like Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, George Kittle, Mike McGlinchey, Reuben Foster, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Fred Warner, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Jaquiski Tartt. They still might be a year or two away from being a real contender, but I can see them hovering around a .500 record.
Get ready, ladies and gentlemen. It looks like we’re going to have another season of Russell Wilson running around for his life on every snap and continuously making plays almost on his own. I don’t know how there are people out there who don’t believe Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
A big part of me wants to see Josh Rosen start ASAP. But at the same time, I’m not sure how long he would survive behind that offensive line. But at least he would have David Johnson to check it down to a lot.
New England Patriots
New York Jets
As long as Belichick and Brady are still on the Patriots, they will be my pick to win that division. And I’m sure many of you will agree. One has to wonder, though, just how much longer they can keep their level of consistent success going. I’m not saying I doubt them this season, but at some point soon it is all going to end.
Kenyan Drake is a very talented RB. The offensive line he’s running behind is not talented. If he doesn’t put up great numbers this year, I think it’s time to realize that Jay Ajayi probably wasn’t the issue in Miami, their offensive line was.
I do think the Jets could have a decent team this season, but obviously a lot rides on how well Sam Darnold can play as the starter in his rookie season. As an Eagles fan, I’m rooting for Darnold to be great so that the Giants can regret passing on him for years to come.
The Bills could end up with the worst record in the league this season. Plain and simple.
The Steelers are the Steelers. Antonio Brown is going to be Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell will show why he’s deserving of a big money contract. The question isn’t about the regular season but about the playoffs and how they’re going to bounce back after last year’s frustrating loss.
Over the course of this preseason I’ve been very impressed with the Ravens. Believe it or not, the presence of Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III (who has looked solid) has elevated the game of Joe Flacco. Their receiving corps is improved and Alex Collins emerged as their lead back last season. Jimmy Smith’s suspension does hurt, but I think they’ll still be able to hold steady in the secondary until his return in Week 5.
Is putting the Browns at 3rd in the division a bold statement? Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but they have some real talent. I’m just not sure about Hue Jackson.
There’s been some hype with the Bengals because of their improved offensive line and dangerous weapons they have in place. But I really don’t have any faith in Marvin Lewis. Or maybe I’m so tired of him being their coach that I refuse to expect much from them.
I love the Jaguars team from top to bottom, and they could very well be the most complete team in the league next to the Eagles. But they have one huge thing holding them back, and that’s Blake Bortles. There are some backups I’d rather have over Bortles. He severely limits what that offense can do.
I am a Deshaun Watson believer. He’s special. And I think they have the pieces on both sides of the ball to make some real noise in 2018.
I’m very interested to see what Marcus Mariota and this Titans team can do under an offensive system that’s actually good. New Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur has ties to the Shanahan coaching tree and is a better fit for Mariota’s skillset. And I love their new RB duo of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry. Their foundation is set to have a bright future, but I’m not sure if they’ll be ready to contend just yet.
Andrew Luck is finally back, and that’s a great thing for the sport of football. The big question is if he can be the same Andrew Luck he was before the injury, and if so, how long will it take before he becomes that. The Colts seem to have gotten the message about protecting him at least as they’ve added a couple pieces to their offensive line.
Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers always seem to have such bad luck with injuries and losing in close games, but I think this season will be different. There’s still so much talent on that team right now even with the losses of Hunter Henry and Jason Verrett.
The Chiefs are going to be a lot of fun to watch thanks to Patrick Mahomes being the starter. The guy has some unreal physical talent as a passer, but he’s going to make plenty of mistakes still as he learns how to be a QB in a pro system. And I do expect another great year out of Kareem Hunt as he continues to establish himself as a top tier RB.
To be honest, I have no clue what to expect out of the Raiders. I really don’t like how they handled the Khalil Mack situation and I don’t agree with them trading him away. With that being said, they still have enough talent on the roster to be competitive. I still think Derek Carr and Amari Cooper are very good players who just had down years last season, they have a really good offensive line, and they have some talent in their secondary. But with John Gruden being a big unknown right now after years away from coaching I wouldn’t be surprised if they go through a “rebuilding” season before making some real noise.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of Vance Joseph overall, but when the coach refuses to name Royce Freeman, who is clearly the best RB on that roster, the starter over Devontae Booker, who has been a disappointment, that’s questionable.
NFC Playoff Seeding
Los Angeles Rams
Green Bay Packers (Wild Card)
New Orleans Saints (Wild Card)
AFC Playoff Seeding
Los Angeles Chargers
New England Patriots
Baltimore Ravens (Wild Card)
Houston Texans (Wild Card)
NFC Wild Card Round
Atlanta Falcons (H) defeat New Orleans Saints (A)
This matchup between division rivals goes to OT with Julio Jones sealing the victory on a TD Reception over… you guessed it, Marcus Williams.
Green Bay Packers (A) defeat Los Angeles Rams (H)
Aaron Rodgers pulls off the upset, making the Rams go one-and-done in the playoffs for the 2nd straight year.
AFC Wild Card Round
Jacksonville Jaguars (H) defeat Baltimore Ravens (A)
Despite Blake Bortles doing very little (again), the Jaguars’ defense is too much for the Ravens to overcome.
Houston Texans (A) defeat New England Patriots (H)
In a rematch of one of the best regular season games of 2017, Deshaun Watson shows why he’s the real deal as he shocks the world by handing the Patriots their second straight playoff loss in a row. The era of the Patriots’ dynasty is officially in question.
NFC Divisional Round
Philadelphia Eagles (H) defeat Atlanta Falcons (A)
New year, same result. The Falcons might have won the regular season opener, but it’s the Eagles who get the last laugh as they beat the Falcons for the 2nd year in the divisional round.
Green Bay Packers (A) defeat Minnesota Vikings (H)
Another Minnesota Miracle, but this time it’s Aaron Rodgers who pulls it off as he throws yet another Hail Mary in the final seconds of the game to win it. After the loss, Vikings fans continue to claim that they were mistreated by Eagles fans.
AFC Divisional Round
Pittsburgh Steelers (H) defeat Jacksonville Jaguars (H)
The Steelers avenge their playoff loss from last year as they force Bortles into multiple turnovers and blow out the Jaguars. This marks the end of the Bortles era in Jacksonville.
Los Angeles Chargers (H) defeat Houston Texans (A)
The Texans are emotionally spent from beating the Patriots the week before and simply can’t keep up with the high-powered Chargers.
NFC Conference Championship
Philadelphia Eagles (H) defeat Green Bay Packers (A)
A showdown between Carson Wentz and Aaron Rodgers turns into an instant classic as both QBs make unbelievable play after unbelievable play all game. But in the end, it’s the Eagles defense that makes the critical play of the game as Ronald Darby intercepts Rodgers and takes it to the house to seal the victory.
Pittsburgh Steelers (A) defeat Los Angeles Chargers (H)
Playoff experience proves to be the difference as the Chargers make one too many mistakes, ending the their remarkable season.
Super Bowl LIII
Philadelphia Eagles defeat Pittsburgh Steelers
The long-awaited Battle of Pennsylvania finally becomes a reality. The Steelers take an early lead and seem to have the game in hand as Le’Veon Bell tears up the Eagles for 3 straight quarters. But the defense finally bounces back by forcing a couple of crucial turnovers and 3-and-outs, and Carson Wentz has the signature moment of his young career as he leads a dramatic comeback in the 4th quarter. The Eagles score a potential game-tying touchdown as regulation time expires, but in classic Doug Pederson fashion they decide to go for two instead of kicking the field goal. In what turns out to be a play for the ages, Wentz escapes the pass rush and connects with Darren Sproles in the end zone to complete the comeback win. The Philadelphia Eagles become the first team since the New England Patriots in the 2004-05 season to win back-to-back Super Bowl Championships.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Anthony Miller
I spoke about Miller’s potential earlier. I really like Saquon Barkley as well, but I think Miller will surprise a lot of people who are already giving the award to Barkley before the season starts.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Roquan Smith
Make it back-to-back years where the Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year are from the same team. Smith can be the next great Bears linebacker.
Offensive Player of the Year: Le’Veon Bell
I wanted so bad to pick Kareem Hunt here, but I think Bell is going play like a man possessed in order to get that huge contract he wants next season.
Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett
Garrett has looked absolutely unblockable in the preseason. He could be ready to breakout as one of the premier pass rushers in the league in only his 2nd season.
Comeback Player of the Year: David Johnson
When an elite player doesn’t play for an entire season, it’s easy to forget just how good they are. David Johnson is a top tier RB and he will be leaned on heavily in 2018.
MVP: Carson Wentz
Whether he comes back Week 1 or 2 or 3, I believe Wentz will be on a mission to finish what he started last season. Call me a homer all you want, but I refuse to doubt Wentz and what he’s capable of. He could be a bit rusty his first couple of games, but it shouldn’t take long before he’s back to his old self.
Coach of the Year: Anthony Lynn
Doug Pederson gets snubbed again! But no worries, he’ll prove the voters wrong once more by repeating as Super Bowl Champions.