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2019 NFL Season Storylines and Predictions

Happy NFL Kickoff my fellow fans. With the season underway tonight, I wanted to share some thoughts on what I believe are the most interesting stories of the 2019 NFL Season. At the conclusion, you will find my standings, playoffs and championship predictions. Enjoy!

It’s Time for Big Red

Andy Reid is only missing a Super Bowl victory before becoming a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. He enters the 2019 season with the 8th most Head Coaching victories in NFL history (195). Reid has led a team to the playoffs in 14 of his 20 years as an NFL Head Coach. He is a great coach with uniquely tremendous ideas but has fallen victim to repeated mistakes. Regardless of his past, he is in a Super Bowl window with the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes appears to be the most talented quarterback he has ever coached. He’s got his guy, and at a cheap price for another couple of years. Andy Reid has a true Super Bowl contending team. He’s had the squad before and on multiple occasions. But can he finally bring it home? I’d love to see it. 

Houston is….all in?

The Houston Texans have been operating without a General Manager since June 7th and have certainly been acting like it. In the past week, they have shipped out Jadaveon Clowney for a modest return and shortly after sent multiple first round picks to Miami for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. On the surface, these look like very contradictory moves. They traded away an elite pass rusher who most could argue has not reached his full potential. It’s also safe to question whether Clowney ever will. But he was entering the final year of his contract and all signs were pointing to him leaving in free agency. So, Houston cashed in on his value in a move that usually resembles that of a rebuilding team. But the trading of high picks for two players who fit immediate needs is certainly a “win now” move. So, I guess they are in win-now mode. But, you’d think they’d love to have a guy like Clowney rushing the QB down the stretch of a Super Bowl run. 

The second-year QBs

The 2018 NFL QB Draft Class is a fascinating group. There were five selected in the first round (1 – Baker Mayfield/CLE), 3 – Sam Darnold/NYJ, 7 – Josh Allen/BUF, 10 – Josh Rosen/ARZ, and 32 – Lamar Jackon/BAL), the most since 1999.  It’s one with the potential to be historic. A case can be made for all five former first-rounders to make significant jumps in their second year. Rosen already finds himself on his second team, being traded to Miami when Arizona determined they wanted to select Kyler Murray #1 overall this year. He is being thrown into a tough spot: a team that has made every move suggesting they have already punted on the season. I really like Darnold to progress this season. He has a good pedigree, is still very young he really started to show a lot of promise towards the end of the season. I’m a big fan of the talented young QB who takes early lumps, is forced to get better faster, and learn to overcome those challenges. You could say Allen and maybe to an extent, Jackson fit in that category. Either way, I think all three take big steps forward in 2019. And Mayfield, he’s the star of the class…for now. He’s got the QB moxie that I love and is present with several all-time great QBs. He has the spotlight on him this year, but I think he may be ready for it. 

Brady and Brees…decline?

Tom Brady and Drew Brees are the lone starting QBs in the 40+ club. While both are unquestionably first-ballot hall-of-famers, it seems inevitable that at least one, if not both will decline in 2019. Brees and Brady have already defied father time, managing to be very effective at their respective ages. In many cases, the decline for QBs is steep is sudden. Just look at Peyton Manning in 2015. The good thing for both guys is that they on teams where they are not forced to carry the load like they had to do occasionally at different points of their career. There were moments in 2018 that Brees and Brady showed their age (like Manning in 2014), and I will not be entirely shocked if either QB shows a prominent decline this season. Either way, regardless of your rooting interests, it has been a pleasure to watch both these guys over the past two decades.

Carson Wentz Revenge Tour

The failure of Wentz to finish the past two seasons have significantly impacted his perception around the league. I will not completely dismiss the injury concerns, but it blows my mind how so many people forget how great he was in 2017, prior to tearing his ACL against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15. He was well on his way to winning the NFL MVP, finishing the season with 33 TDs, 7 INTs and a passer rating of 101.9. Despite improving his rating to 102.2 in 2018, Wentz was clearly limited and still recovering before injuring his back in December. For the first time since 2017, Carson Wentz is completely healthy and has an arsenal of weapons that should help him have a big year. If he can stay healthy, Wentz will be a serious challenger for the MVP. 

Predictions
Playoff Seed in ()

AFC East
New England Patriots 11-5 (2)
New York Jets 9-7
Buffalo Bills 8-8
Miami Dolphins 3-13

AFC North
Pittsburgh 11-5 (3)
Baltimore Ravens 9-7 (6)
Cleveland Browns 8-8
Cincinnati Bengals 4-12

AFC South
Houston Texans 10-6 (4)
Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7
Indianapolis Colts 8-8
Tennessee Titans 6-10

AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs 12-4 (1)
Los Angeles Chargers 9-7 (5)
Denver Broncos 7-9
Oakland Raiders 4-12

AFC Playoffs

Wild Card
Chargers over Texans
Steelers over Ravens

Divisional
Steelers over Patriots
Chiefs over Chargers

Championship
Chiefs over Steelers

 

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles 11-5 (3)
Dallas Cowboys 9-7
New York Giants 5-11
Washington Redskins 3-13

NFC North
Minnesota Vikings 11-5 (2)
Green Bay Packers 10-6 (5)
Chicago Bears 9-7
Detroit Lions 6-10

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons 10-6 (4)
New Orleans Saints 9-7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-9
Carolina Panthers 6-10

NFC West 
Los Angeles Rams 12-4 (1)
Seattle Seahawks 10-6 (6)
San Francisco 7-9
Arizona Cardinals 3-13 

 

NFC Playoffs

Wild Card
Packers over Falcons
Eagles over Seahawks 

Divisional 
Eagles over Vikings
Packers over Rams

Championship
Eagles over Packers

 

Super Bowl
Chiefs over Eagles

 

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