By Matt Koontz
NFL 2018 Season Outlook: The season is here and here are my predictions for the season ahead and where I see the teams going.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): The Steelers have drama surrounding this team and I still don’t think their defense is a top of the league type defense.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7): The Bengals are going to have some ups and downs with no offensive line. I do not trust their WR’s behind AJ Green though and believe it will cost them a few games to only have one reliable target.
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): The talent on this team is great and could win 10 games or even the division with an 11th win but I have them 8-8 because their offensive line is HORRENDOUS. This will cause issues as the season goes on and the injuries add up.
4. Cleveland Browns (7-9): The Browns have a solid team I just need to see more of them after a 0-16 season last year. This year will be a test to see if Hue Jackson can control this team because they have talent dripping off the page now.
1. New England Patriots (13-3): The Pats are still Belichick and Brady’s team which means you have to trust them. The formula always works regardless of the talent on the team.
2. Miami Dolphins (8-8): The Dolphins have issues at QB and I don’t think their offensive line is great, but their defense will keep them in games. They could win some of the close games, but I do not trust Tannehill to win late drives.
3. NY Jets (7-9): The Jets have begun their future movement with Sam Darnold at the helm this season. Get Darnold a better RB and a legit #1 WR and they will be a playoff bound team. Keep an eye on the Jets moving forward.
4. Buffalo Bills (4-12): Nathan Peterman is a bad QB and is not a starter in the NFL but the Bills are starting the season with him there so expect them to go winless until he gets to the bench. Josh Allen should be their starter with the options they have. The Bills still need a legit #1 WR which they have needed for years.
1. Houston Texans (12-4): This number is based off the team remaining healthy this season. Deshaun Watson is a top 5 QB talent with Lamar Miller and a great WR corps this offense is ready to roll. Their O-Line is pretty iffy but their QB can work around that. Their defense is lethal if Watt and Clowney can finally play 16 games together this year.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6): The Jags have an almost perfect roster. Their issue is that their QB isn’t top 15 and their offensive line isn’t the best. Thankfully for them Fournette is a beast and their WR’s are young and very fast. Sacksonville will help this team win games.
3. Tennesee Titans (8-8): I believed in the Titans last year. I won’t trust them again until they prove they aren’t the team we saw last year. 4 Division losses this year and I don't like the fact that Mariota has missed at least 1 game every year since entering the NFL.
4 Indianapolis Colts (6-10): Yes Luck is back, but I do not trust him to stay healthy. Their offensive line is very weak with exception to Quenton Nelson. Their defense is below average and will force their offense to sling it out a lot. Also hate their RB situation.
1. LA Chargers (12-4): The Chargers secondary might have lost Verrett, but they have Derwin James now and that is a huge addition. Their whole defense is terrifying, and their offense is lethal. They might be weak at tight end, but their extremely talented everywhere else. I know it sounds crazy to get excited about a guard, but I am also excited to see the season they get from Forrest Lamp.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Mahomes is an extremely talented QB and the talent surrounding him on offense is remarkable. I unfortunately do not trust their defense and believe it will cost them a couple close games this season.
3. Oakland Raiders (9-7): Derek Carr and Amari Cooper need to improve on last season big time, if they do they could contend with this division. The defense without Khalil Mack concerns me big time and I believe they need to push hard to overcome the loss of a player like Mack.
4. Denver Broncos (6-10): Case Keenum isn’t the answer, you would think John Elway knew how to find a good QB to replace Peyton Manning, but he has failed since. The Broncos defense won’t carry them, and it couldn’t last year. The addition of Chubb is huge, but it still won’t help this defense carry the Broncos. Bad season ahead Denver fans.
1. Green Bay Packers (12-4): The defense has gone through alot of changes. Tramon Williams is back in a Packers uniform. The rest of their secondary is incredible young talent which will develop more as the season goes on. Rodgers is currently healthy and that is a huge plus. Keep an eye on these underdogs.
2. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): The loss of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will affect them and cost them some offensive production. The defense though could keep them in games and with Dalvin Cook running this year they will be hard to beat.
3. Chicago Bears (8-8): The Bears have added Khalil Mack and that is huge to their defense. Adding Allen Robinson and Trey Burton is great to their offense. We just need to see more out of Trubisky this year and the growth during the offseason. If he didn’t add much to his skill set then they could be in trouble offensively.
4. Detroit Lions (7-9): The defense is going to be the downfall and they will continue to pay Matt Stafford an insane amount of money who has never won a playoff game. The positive for the Lions offense is that they added a beastly rookie RB Kerryon Johnson. He will become a star if they can get some offensive line help this coming offseason.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5): The Eagles are coming off an impressive super bowl season. This year will be different I believe with Foles starting off the year. It could be a rough season after seeing what he did in the preseason.
2. Dallas Cowboys (9-7): The Cowboys have Zeke, and I love the addition of Michael Gallup to their roster. The defense has a great front 7 but their secondary is concerning and will cost them games against the great passing offenses they will face this season.
3. NY Giants (7-9): Odell is getting paid big money but do the Giants have enough WR talent around him to prevent double teams. The offensive line is pretty weak on the right side and the addition of Barkley doesn’t make them much more dangerous. He already got banged up during the offseason and with their offensive line I am not sure he will be a complete superstar until they give him something upfront.
4. Washington Redskins (5-11): Alex Smith is a top 10 QB but they don’t have a ground game. Their WR’s are weak. The offense is just all-around concerning. I do like the defense a bit this year but still don’t see them being a top 12 defense or game changing defense just yet.
1. Atlanta Falcons (12-4): The Falcons offense is lethal, and the addition of Calvin Ridley is huge to this explosive offense. Their defense needs to remain healthy because with Keanu Neal and Deion Jones in this defense and a healthy cast around them could be terrifying.
2. New Orleans Saints (11-5): The Saints are a fun team to watch. Kamara and Brees are exciting as hell. Michael Thomas, Cameron Meredith, and Tre’quan Smith are a thrilling young trio to watch. I love the Saints offense this year and their defense has grown, and the youth is extremely talented.
3. Carolina Panthers (9-7): The Panthers are a competitive team, but I do not believe with Cam Newton they will ever be the super bowl team again that they were years ago. I love the addition of DJ Moore and think he will help this offense, but Cam hurts the offense still. He needs to remain healthy and play a less selfish game of football.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11): The Buccaneers are bad. Their defense is terrible. The QB situation now has a cloud around it though I think Winston is a clear starter, I don’t think he belongs to be benched after his suspension as he does have great talent. He can’t help his terrible offensive line and previous lack of a run game. I love Ronald Jones III and believe he will be great for the Buccaneers.
1. LA Rams (13-3): This team has the talent to be 14-2 even, but things happen, and injuries happen. I love what the Rams did during the offseason and where this team is going. Possibly super bowl bound.
2. San Francisco 49ers (9-7): I am not a huge believer in Jimmy G as a top 10 QB. I think the 49ers have the talent to be competitive, but not enough talent to be a playoff team this season. They need a better #1 WR, they don’t have a real pure 3 down RB, and their defense still needs to grow some more. They are getting close.
3. Seattle Seahawks (8-8): Russell Wilson is this team entirely at this point. He can’t carry them to the playoffs by himself. I really miss the legion of boom, but that time has come and past and now the Seahawks will struggle to find a winning record this season.
4. Arizona Cardinals (6-10): The Cardinals have a new coach, and with a new system in place it will have moments of difficulty. Sam Bradford is an injury riddled QB behind a shaky offensive line. If Bradford gets hurt they have Josh Rosen behind him, but he isn’t ready to be an NFL starter yet and wouldn’t bring them great success just yet. That being said the return of the best running back in the league will get them all of their wins, David Johnson. Rosen is the future franchise QB of this team he just needs time to learn how to handle the NFL defenses.
Playoff Picture Predictions:
Bye Week Teams: New England Patriots and LA Chargers
AFC Wildcard Round:
#3 Houston Texans defeat # 6 Jacksonville Jaguars
#5 Kansas City Chiefs defeat #4 Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC Divisional Round:
#2 LA Chargers defeat #3 Houston Texans
#1 New England Patriots defeat #5 Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Championship Round:
# 2 LA Chargers defeat #1 New England Patriots
Bye Week Teams: #1 LA Rams and # 2 Green Bay Packers
NFC Wildcard Round:
#3 Atlanta Falcons defeat #6 Minnesota Vikings
#4 Philadelphia Eagles defeat #5 New Orleans Saints
NFC Divisional Round:
#2 Green Bay Packers defeat #3 Atlanta Falcons
#1 LA Rams defeat #4 Philadelphia Eagles
NFC Championship Round:
#1 LA Rams defeat #2 Green Bay Packers
LA Chargers defeat the LA Rams to become the Super Bowl Champions.
Player of the Year Predictions
OROY: Sam Darnold
DROY: Tremaine Edmunds
NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Comeback POY: Deshaun Watson
DPOY: JJ Watt
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