NFL Season Predictions Part 1: Records

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Nikhil Pradeep

The NFL season is upon us in just a few months and as of right now is set to take place as normal, with or without fans, the season will go on. With that in mind and the NFL Draft and most of free agency having taken place, we as a team make our first set of season predictions, starting with team records. Here are our predictions:

Saransh’s Division Predictions: NFC West and South

NFC West

  1. San Francisco 49ers

The defending NFC Champions stacked up their roster even more than last year. Despite losing on Emmanuel Sanders, they traded Deforest Buckner for a first-round pick, then traded up again to get Brandon Aiyuk to be the pass-catching replacement for Sanders, and they’re getting Jerick McKinnon back to add to their already deadly RB arsenal. They also added to their defense with that first-round draft pick, getting Javon Kinlaw to replace Deforest Buckner at defensive tackle. Yet again they will be an elite defense, and Jimmy Garoppolo has even more weapons to throw to. Expect a big season from San Fran. Record: 12-4

  1. Seattle Seahawks 

Seattle was about a half yard away from being the two seed in the NFC and NFC West Champions, yet instead ended up with the 5 seed in the NFC, and not getting any home games, having to play in Philly on Wild Card Weekend, have Wentz unfortunately get knocked out for Philly leaving them with Josh McCown, who had an inspired performance which nearly won them the game, and then Seattle had to play catch-up against Green Bay in the Divisional Round, but simply could not slow down Rodgers and Adams enough to win. This year, they will get unlucky again, this time with the division. I think that while they will be better than Arizona, they will struggle in their divisional games, as I have SF sweeping them, and them splitting with Arizona and LA. As good as they will play outside of their division, their division struggle will keep them away from the division title, narrowly putting them in the playoffs. Record: 10-6

  1. Arizona Cardinals

Last season, the team ended the season 5-10-1, most of their wins coming in their late-season surge when RB Kenyan Drake was traded to them and finally figured out how to run without fumbling. Drake now has been good for four career games, nice. This offseason, however, their trade for DeAndre Hopkins in which they just really gave up David Johnson, was a huge step in the right direction for a team that has not had success in the past 4 seasons. Kyler Murray to DeAndre, and a good defense? Yes, please. That being said, Hopkins could see frustrations due to his lack of targets with guys like Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald around, as Fitz was targeted 109 times last year, and Kirk had 108. That could lead to some mishaps along the way, which has me having them just a game out of the playoffs. Record: 9-7

  1. Los Angeles Rams

First off, before I go into my record prediction for the Rams, I just want to say, the Rams rebranding and new jerseys was a failure of epic proportions. I mean it is as if Best Buy and the Division II school Angelo State combined together and decided to team up to make jerseys and logos, having absolutely no idea what they are really doing. Anyways, as far as the Rams, the fall from one of the most exciting and best teams to watch in the NFL, to now a team that is fighting to make the playoffs, was a dramatic fall. In the end, Todd Gurley, who was the player that was injured which led to the downfall, has now been traded to the Atlanta Falcons. LA drafted Cam Akers to replace him, and the WR tandem of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp will be good, but the defense, like last year, will struggle with the offense not being able to produce too many points due to a struggling Jared Goff at QB. Record: 7-9


NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints

Another season goes by and another controversial ending to a playoff exit. Yeah, the Saints really cannot catch a break. That being said, they are still the most talent-filled roster in the NFC, and they only got better by signing Emmanuel Sanders from the San Francisco 49ers, giving Drew Brees yet another passing option. The defense did not really change much, but getting LB Zach Baun as late as they did in the draft was a huge steal. Saints will have a really good regular season yet again, and hopefully for them, the postseason ends differently. Record: 13-3

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Still does not feel or sound right, but eventually we have to get used to it. Brady has the best wide receiver core he has ever had in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and do not forget that he got his best friend Rob Gronkowksi to join him. I only have them getting 10 wins, however, and just one seed ahead of Atlanta due to their defense. Apart from the linebacking core, the defense is a huge issue and will force the Bucs to lose a winnable game or two. They will be a playoff team, but not a strong one. Record: 10-6

  1. Atlanta Falcons

28-3. Since they had that lead in Super Bowl LI, Atlanta just has not had a single game in which they have played with confidence. That being said, their entire defense is healthy to start a season for the first time since Super Bowl LI, and they now have an elite running back in Todd Gurley, who should find his form. The only thing holding them back from not being ahead of New Orleans or Tampa in the South is their wide receiver core. Aside from Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, they do not have a game-changing tight end like New Orleans and Tampa do with Jared Cook and Gronk, respectively. That being said, they will be a very good team again and one to look out for this season. They will turn some heads and impress. Record: 10-6

  1. Carolina Panthers

A new coach, a new QB, and some other new offensive weapons, a lot of new in Carolina. Matt Rhule, Teddy Bridgewater, and Robby Anderson are the guys I am talking about that finally can help give Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore the help they need and take the weight off of their shoulders. That being said, this team has a bright future and is very young, but right now are too far behind the rest of the South and the NFC. They will be better, but not better enough to be a playoff team. Record: 7-9

Rohan’s Division Predictions: NFC East and North

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys disappointed last year with an 8-8 record and finally moved on from head coach Jason Garrett after 9 seasons. Their new head coach is Mike McCarthy who put together a fantastic coaching staff and I feel they will do a lot better this season. All of their key players are returning to one of the best offenses in the league and it even got a boost with the addition of receiver CeeDee Lamb. They did lose Robert Quinn but their defense is still solid on paper especially with the signings of Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy. With Dak and Zeke, I think Dallas will bounce back and become a top 5 team in the NFL this year. Record: 12-4

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

I’m not sure what to make of the Eagles’ questionable offseason. Their biggest needs were wide receiver and cornerback. They took care of the latter by acquiring top corner Darius Slay from the Lions. However, they did not help Carson Wentz much. They did draft receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round, but I feel they should have gone with Justin Jefferson, or be aggressive and trade up for Ruggs, Jeudy, or Lamb. Later in the second round, they go with quarterback Jalen Hurts which is a very puzzling and surprising move. Instead of getting more offensive firepower, they took a developmental quarterback which is a true head-scratcher. Philadelphia’s defensive line looks great, but their secondary still looks shaky. But due to the elite coaching staff and Carson Wentz, I see the Eagles nabbing a wild-card spot.  Record: 9-7

  1. New York Giants

The retooling Giants have definitely improved this offseason. They got themselves a brand new coaching staff with head coach Joe Judge leading the way. New York also has a loaded offense which is good for the development of second-year quarterback Daniel Jones. It consists of top running back Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Darius Slayton. However, this team is still very young and has a lot of holes to fill. Their offensive line should be better with the addition of Andrew Thomas, but it is still not good. They don’t have a pass rush either and need the young players on the defense to raise their game. They are heading in the right direction however and I see them building off on last year. Record: 6-10

  1. Washington Redskins

The Redskins are another team that is in the rebuilding stage and have made a lot of important moves. The big one is firing longtime team president Bruce Allen after a 10 year reign of terror.  This was a move that was long overdue and something the Redskins have hoped for a long time. It was a sign of a new era and they followed this up by hiring Ron Rivera which was an outstanding move. Washington needs a culture change and Rivera is the perfect man to take charge. Later on, they drafted Chase Young who is the best player in the draft. The defensive line looks filthy, consisting of players like Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, and Jonathan Allen. However, they lost seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and the offensive line looks below average. The receiving core is also one of the worst in the league which does not bode well for Dwayne Haskins. Just like the Giants, the Redskins are trending upwards and will see improvement, but I can’t quite see them as a playoff team yet.  Record: 5-11

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers

Green Bay was absolutely dominant in the North last season. They went 6-0 against all division opponents and finished with a 13-3 record. The Packers lost the NFC Championship game due to their horrendous run defense which has been a problem all year. Despite not improving their defense over the offseason, I still see the Packers winning the division for the second straight year. Matt LaFleur was very impressive in his first year with the squad and Aaron Rodgers is still one of the best in the game. Aaron Jones and Davante Adams are also elite weapons for the Packers offense. However, the Packers surprisingly did not take a wide receiver in the draft which is one of their biggest needs. The team seems confident that their young receivers like Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling would take a leap. Packers fans were mad at the result of the draft, but I think they would be satisfied with another NFC North title. Record: 11-5

  1. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota is another team that made the postseason and pulled off an upset in New Orleans. I expect them to compete heavily with the Packers for the NFC North crown this season, but I have them 2nd due to the many notable departures. They traded Stefon Diggs to the Bills who is arguably a top 10 wide receiver in the league, but they got a good return on it. Minnesota also lost key defensive pieces as Linval Joseph, Trae Waynes, and Xavier Rhodes all found new homes. However, Minnesota still has plenty of key pieces who were huge in their success last year. Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback despite his price tag and Adam Theilen is one of the most underrated receivers in the league. They also drafted Justin Jefferson in the first round to replace Diggs and he could turn out to be better than Diggs down the road. I think the Vikings will be neck and neck with the Packers, but I don’t think it will be enough. Record: 9-7

  1. Detroit Lions

The Lions are coming off a disappointing 3-12-1 season and have made the playoffs only three times since the turn of the century. They haven’t found much success under Matt Patricia but they are getting a healthy Matthew Stafford back and that is why I see them improving this year. The Detroit Lions were 3-3-1 when Matt Stafford got hurt and proceeded to lose every game from that point on. And this offseason, Patricia once again went out of his way to add defensive players that he likes and kick out the ones who he did not. The Lions did lose top corner Darius Slay but drafted Jeffrey Okudah with the 3rd overall pick who has a high upside, and signed a talented veteran in Desmond Trufant. I think the Lions will be a better team this year and in contention for a wild card spot. Record: 8-8

  1. Chicago Bears

After going 12-4 in 2018, the Bears slumped last season to an 8-8 record. Trubisky is showing signs of being a bust and Chicago went on to acquire quarterback Nick Foles from the Jaguars. In fact, I think Foles is the favorite to win the starting job. You could say it is an upgrade, but it is minimal at best. That being said, I do like what the Bears did this offseason. They improved at several positions including safety, pass rusher, and tight end. I really love the Cole Kmet pick and he could be one of the steals of the draft. On top of that, the defense is still one of the best in the league and to me, it is even better than their 2018 defense where they went 12-4. I see this team in contention for a playoff spot, but the quarterback position has me skeptical so I have them finishing last. Record: 7-9

Pranav’s Division Predictions: AFC East and North

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have been the most dominant team of the 2000s and 2010s under the leadership of future HOF quarterback Tom Brady and legendary coach Bill Belichick. The team has made it to the AFC Championships practically every year and made a run for the Super Bowl 8 times! But after a crazy start to the offseason (departure of Tom Brady), and a wicked hard schedule in front of them, Bill and the Pats have a long run ahead. The Patriots offense has been known for producing great QB talent outside of Tom Brady, such as Jimmy Garrapolo and Jacoby Brissett. Now, the Patriots will be led onto the field with Jarett Stidham under center and a young and talented team to join him. I think the Patriots will surprise the whole NFL community and make a run for the playoffs. Everyone is doubting them to even get close to a winning record, but not me. Record: 11-5

  1. Buffalo Bills

After a long 20 years, the Buffalo Bills are given the opportunity to win the division after the break-up of the New England Patriots. A new defense and a strong and track-team like offense is surely enough to throw some pain on opposing teams next year. Last year, the Bills ended the regular season with a 10-6 record with not much talent. The Bills have been sprouting up here and there over the past few years with playoff appearances, but with the entry of Stefon Diggs and the defensive talent of DB Tre’davious White booming last year, the Bills are sure to go on a run. A hyped up team can only go so far though, so let’s not hope that the hype turns into worry. If all goes well for the Bills Mafia from now to the start of the season, expect some fear in the AFC East. Record: 10-6

  1. New York Jets

The New York Jets have been the laughing stock of the AFC East for the last 10 years, with nothing good coming to the franchise, other than the signing of Le’veon Bell which really didn’t output to anything last year. After a miserable 0-4 start to the season last year and a late surge to a 7-9 record, the Jets need to change some parts or even all parts of their team. Their star player, Jamal Adams, who is the definite leader on the team is now on the trading block, so expect some worrisome to arise for the New York Jets. Unless the Jets go through some blockbuster change, I will have to put them down at a losing record. Record: 4-12

  1. Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins were also not the greatest team last year as well, suffering humiliating losses in the beginning of the season. Don’t even let me get started on that pathetic start of the season. 0-7? Are you kidding me? Aside from that, the Dolphins made a huge plus move with the drafting of Alabama hero Tua Tagovailoa, and expect him to start the season in week 1. Expect some trouble to arise in the first few weeks but a later pull down the road. An injury-prone star doesn’t mean much in the NFL, so if Tua can stay healthy and the Miami offense can catch up, I can see the Miami team hit a .500 record or a little bit above. Record: 8-8

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the NFL’s hottest teams, especially with the presence of MVP Lamar Jackson and his amazing performance last year. Baltimore was the ticket team to win the Super Bowl last year, but after an upset loss to the Tennessee Titans, Lamar Jackson is yet to win a playoff game. The Ravens will perform well this year too, but with the entry of the Steelers, Browns, and Bengals entering this highly-competitive division, expect a lot of confusion and turmoil to happen. The Ravens offense and defense are both incredible and in healthy shape, but if the other NFL teams have learned something from playing Lamar Jackson, we probably will see some slow down in the production of the Raven’s Offense. The Ravens will make the playoffs, but not show the same strength as last year. Record: 11-5

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh has been among the greatest teams in NFL history, but has taken the role as the number 2 or number 3 team in the AFC during the reign and era of the New England Patriots. After the departure of Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell, and the injury season for Big Ben, all hope seemed lost for the Steelers. But the Steelers were able to hold their ground and make a run to end with a 8-8 season. Now the Steelers have nothing to lose this season, so expect some role reversal in the team, especially with Big Ben coming back. I think the Steelers will definitely be a team to watch next year. Record: 10-6

  1. Cleveland Browns

After years of holding the spot as the worst team in the NFL, the Browns caught a break after drafting highly praised QB Baker Mayfield and signing on star wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. And with Nick Chubb in the backfield, many thought the Browns had turned everything around and were on the road to stardom. But last year, Cleveland underperformed everyone’s prediction for the new team, performing poorly throughout the season, ending with a 6-10 record. It’s hard to see if they can get out of this disastrous drought, but hopefully they can. If all goes well, and Baker proves his worth, I can see the Browns have a turnaround season. Record: 9-7

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals! The Bengals are one of the most talked about teams pre-draft and post-draft and were in total shambles. Over the years, Cincinnati has been known for it’s mind-blowing playoff drought. Sometimes they make the playoffs and sometimes they don’t even come close, but now we all question the team’s ability to even win a single game. Last season, the Bengals finished with a horrendous 2-14 record, with some criticizers wondering how they were even able to win those two games. Whatever it may be, the Bengals needed a change, and they got what they wanted when they used to first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to pick up Joe Burrow, star quarterback from LSU. Joe Burrow is certainly a well-polished and talented QB prospect who was able to bring the NCAA championship to LSU over the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and many more talented programs across the nation. But is Joe Burrow the next Tom Brady, will he be the saviour for the miserable Cincinnati team? My answer is maybe. Joe Burrow has the talent to pull a whole team around but I don’t think he can do it by himself, certainly not this season. Cincinnati has shown no effort into picking up instrumental pieces to support Joe Burrow next season, so until the Bengals do that, they will finish last in the AFC North. Record: 6-10

Nikhil’s Division Predictions: AFC West and South

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs

It’s hard to bet against the Chiefs in any sort of scenario, and that isn’t going to change for the 2020-2021 season. Having made no real moves, for good or for bad, the team shapes up to be more or less the same in terms of poignancy and ability to make big-time plays on offense. They’re defense could be a small question mark since there’s always room for improvement, however when you have Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, and such on the other side of the ball, it becomes more of a nitpick more than anything. Expect them to make a deep playoff run, and potentially contend for another championship. Record: 13-3

  1. Las Vegas Raiders

After coming off a 7-9 season, the Raiders have sort of leveled off in terms of boom or bust potential. They are consistently average, which to be fair, is better than being horrible. However, with a new location, new stadium, and many new offseason additions, the Raiders can definitely become a moderate force within the AFC. People like Jason Witten, Nelson Agholor can breathe new life into a rather stagnant offense in prior years. And the additions of Cory Littleton, Eli Apple and Jeff Heath among others can bolster a defense that is already pretty decent. The biggest motivating factor for this team however is the addition of Marcus Mariota. Both him and Derek Carr are in my mind top tier quarterbacks at their best, and the competition that will inevitably arise between the two during training camp will easily push both of them to perform at their best during the season, regardless of who starts. We can expect to see an improved Raiders team next season, but the question remains, by how much? Record: 9-7 

  1. Denver Broncos

The Broncos have been under .500 for the last 3 seasons, and the team attempted to remedy that situation with a few notable additions to their roster. The biggest, and most polarizing, was the addition of Melvin Gordon from the Los Angeles Chargers, which when paired with Phillip Lindsay can be a devastating backfield for opponents to handle. This coupled with their draft pick Jerry Jeudy gives QB Drew Lock a slew of options, something absolutely needed for his development and potential. The Broncos defense has been a staple of their team, flaunting big names such as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and that doesn’t change at all for next season either. However, I don’t think it’s enough to contend for a playoff spot, and it might not be at the level that the Raiders could be at in terms of quality. Expect another average record for the Broncos next season. Record: 7-9

  1. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are a very hard read at this stage of the NFL offseason. On one hand, they’ve lost Phillip Rivers, the face of the franchise for the majority of the past years, as well as Melvin Gordon, who was one of the most reliable backs for the team since the days of LaDainian Thomlinson. On the other hand, they’ve kept integral pieces such as Keenan Allen and Joey Bosa, and improved an already great defense by adding Chris Harris. The big deciding factor here is the QB position, which looks to be in the hands of journeyman Tyrod Taylor, however the Chargers also have high hopes for their first-round draft pick, Justin Herbert. We can fully expect for Taylor to be pulled the instant he seems unserviceable, however there simply are too many question marks around this team’s offense to be definitive about it’s production. Defense is great, but I don’t think it’s great enough to save the offense in the event that it slips up. Expect a lot of growing pains from the team next season: Record: 6-10

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans

Ok I know, Deandre Hopkins being dealt was one of the dumbest trades I’ve seen in a long time. I myself wondered what Bill O’Brien was thinking, even with the two’s rocky relationship being exposed. However, there is still a lot to like with this Texans team, and frankly given the state of the rest of the division, they still seem like the front-runners of the group, albeit a bit less far in front as last year. They’ve added names like Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks, Darren Fells, David Johnson, Eric Murray, and Bradley Roby, among others. This, combined with the unreal playmaking ability of Deshawn Watson, as well as the never-ending reign of JJ Watt results in what can still be a devastating team for opponents. What seems to be the real deciding factor in this case is the locker room talk. Egos of coaches and players need to be put to the side in order to propel this team forward, and frankly, out of Hopkins’ shadow. I can see this team doing really well if they put everything back together properly. Record: 11-5

  1. Indianapolis Colts

Ever since the retirement of Andrew Luck at the beginning of last season, the Indianapolis Colts have been scrambling for answers. Finishing with a 7-9 record after such a sudden shock is fairly commendable, and they have gotten MILES better since then. Having found their solution at the QB position in Phillip Rivers, the Colts offense suddenly feels in stable hands. This combined with signings like DeForest Buckner, Trey Burton, Anthony Castonzo, and Xavier Rhodes creates a team with a very high upside, one that seems overdue as well. However, even with the departure of Deandre Hopkins, the Texans still seem like the owners of this division, and the Colts in my eyes are not at that level yet, especially given how new the side is with Phillip Rivers at the helm. But it’s close. Record: 10-6

  1. Tennessee Titans

The magic that the Titans tapped into last year, in my eyes, has run out. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely showed the country what they were all about, but oppositions have gotten much better, while they have sort of stagnated in many ways. Having resigned Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, they do still possess the wrecking ball capability that the offense had last year, and with additions like Vic Beasley and Johnathan Joseph, they get much needed defensive help. However, I don’t think it’s enough to contend with the conference, let alone the two teams I mentioned above. They are definitely a quality team, but just not up to the standards necessary. Record: 9-7

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars had an interesting season last year, to say the least. Minshew Mania took over for a brief period before the rest of the team started showing their true potential, or lack thereof. The team let go of Nick Foles, who at one point was thought to be the future for the club, and has gone all in on Gardner Minshew, who does have the talent and skill necessary to win, but lacks a sturdy set of surrounding environment to work with. The team has done minimal offseason moves, like adding Tyler Eifert and Chris Thompson among others, however it simply isn’t enough to be considered “good”. Expect more of the same from the Jags this year, with less drama. Record: 5-11

Links you can use to help educate yourself, donate, sign petitions, and much more for Black Lives Matter and Ending Racism and Social Injustice:

https://www.adhoc.fm/post/black-lives-matter-resources-and-funds/

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

https://www.thezoereport.com/p/10-black-lives-matter-organizations-you-can-donate-money-to-right-now-22948855

NFL Best Free Agents Remaining: But Why Are They Here?

By Saransh Sharma, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Rohan Krishnan

This year’s NFL Free Agency has been the best in NFL history, but the craziest part of all of this is that there are still elite players left as free agents right now. Players like Cam Newton, Jadeveon Clowney, and Everson Griffen still see their names on the market and not on a team. Here are the top 12 free agents, and our predictions for where they will go:

  1. Jadeveon Clowney, OLB/DE

This one to me is actually mind-boggling considering his production. Now, to be fair, the Coronavirus pandemic has hurt the value of guys like Clowney, because the outside linebacker position was one that had an abundance of talent in this year’s NFL Draft, so teams could bank on a younger, cheaper player to develop and become a good linebacker. He was hurt last season and only played 13 games and only had 3 sacks, but he forced 4 fumbles, had his first interception and pick-6, deflected 3 passes, and had 13 QB hits, which is an average of 1 per game, which is pretty solid. The problem is that the idea of waiting a season and going for a small contract for this upcoming season, and then cashing out after next season is not as viable an option as it used to be due to the impacts of Coronavirus. That being said, Clowney is open to waiting for the summer to roll around and sign a big deal if it comes then.

Prediction: Jets Sign Clowney on 3-year, $52.5M deal, $39M Guaranteed

  1. Cam Newton, QB

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just a few years ago, Cam Newton was coming off of a 15-1 MVP season, and a near Super Bowl victory. Now, Newton, having dealt with a few injuries, has been released by the Panthers and is now struggling to get a contract as even a backup for this upcoming season. Honestly, I think that Cam Newton is definitely starter material, but he just has to do his due diligence and wait it out this year and be a backup. Newton surely can still play at a starter level and play at a high level as well, I just do not see it being this season.

Prediction: Steelers Sign Newton on 1-Year ‘Prove-It’ Deal

  1. Everson Griffen, DE

Now this is a player who I understand why he is unsigned. 2 years ago, when the Vikings went to the NFC Championship Game, Griffin had 13 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles. In the next 2 seasons combined, he has 13.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and no forced fumbles. The only number that has been near the same in 2017 is the QB hits, which he had 24 just this past season after 25 in 2017. Granted, in the 2018 season, Griffen did only play 11 games, so the stats look unusually low, but these past 2 seasons, Griffen’s low number of sacks really is costing him now come free agency time. 8.0+ sacks is something Griffen is used to doing, so seeing him now barely being able to get that is strange, and the health issues have not helped either. That being said, Griffen’s talent still warrants him getting a 1-year ‘prove-it’ deal, and then signing onto another deal of a bigger salary with the same or different team. 

Prediction: Seahawks Sign Griffen on 1-Year ‘Prove-It’ Deal to Replace Clowney

  1. Larry Warford, OG

Larry Warford was a surprise release a week ago by New Orleans, but a lot of it apparently had to do with the fact that he put on some weight and New Orleans did not like that it was happening during this offseason, so they let him go, and they also have a young, worthy replacement for him at Left Guard in Andrus Peat, who got a 5-year, $57.5M extension a few weeks back. Warford, despite the weight concerns, is still capable of being an elite left guard in the NFL.

Prediction: Warford Goes Back to Detroit, Signs with Lions on 3-Year Deal

  1. Jason Peters, OT

Jason Peters has been a monumental piece of the Philadelphia Eagles offense since 2009, protecting various NFL quarterbacks who achieved stardom through their years in Philly such as Michael Vick, Nick Foles, and Carson Wentz. Jason Peters is a Super Bowl champion who is decorated with achievements such as being a 9x Pro Bowler, 2x First Team All-Pro, 4x Second Team All-Pro, and a member of the NFL 2010’s decade team is now at an older age of 38, but still has the fire to play into his 40s. He is currently a free agent coming off an average year at a price of $3.5 million, but is still holding strong communication with the Eagles and is being eyed on by the Broncos, Jets, and Browns as well, who all would perform much better with his veteran status.

Prediction: Peters re-signs with the Eagles to a 1-Year or 2-Year Deal

  1. Logan Ryan, CB

Logan Ryan is one of the NFL’s most elusive and underrated cornerbacks coming off an amazing season with the Tennessee Titans. The 29 year old is a sharp veteran, who has the ability to force turnovers and provide pass breakups during crucial plays. In 2019, finishing his contract with $9.5 million left for the year, Logan Ryan combined for 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 4 force fumbles. Teams that would benefit from Logan Ryan include the Dolphins, Eagles and Jets. Logan Ryan has commented about the Jet’s interest in him and how signing with the team he shared practiced fields with in college would make sense for him, but he is adament that he wants to sign with a “contender.”

Prediction: The South Jersey native signs with the Eagles to a 1-year Deal

  1. Carlos Hyde, RB

Carlos Hyde is one of the best players from the 2014 NFL Draft and also one of the best running backs to play the game in his time so far. After another 1000 yard season, this time with the Houston Texans (Carlos Hyde has jumped over a lot!), the free agent running back is looking for another team to call home for the 2020 season. After rejecting the Texan’s offer, Hyde sees interest coming from the Philadelphia Eagles, who need a veteran running back to mentor Miles Sanders. I don’t really see other teams very interested in him and there is major competition between three running backs to sign with the Eagles.

Prediction: Hyde stays a FA into the start of the season or signs a small deal with a rebuilding team

  1. Markus Golden, LB

Markus Golden is one of the NFL’s most underrated 3-4 edge rushers coming off a good season with the New York Giants. Last year, playing all 16 games, Golden acquired 72 tackles, 10 sacks, a force fumble and 1 defensive touchdown. When Markus Golden is healthy, he poses as a legitimate threat to any offense and will finish every season with double-digit sacks to his name. As of now, the Giants and Lions see interest in signing the electric edge rusher. 

Prediction: Markus Golden signs a 3-year deal with the Lions, fixing up that faulty pass rush

  1. Taylor Gabriel, WR

Gabriel is seen as a speedy playmaker but did not live up to the hype in Chicago. In two seasons with the Bears, Gabriel managed just 96 catches for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns. He also dealt with concussions and as a result Chicago released him to clear cap space. However, he is currently the top option on the WR market because he is still a talented player and has the speed to hurt defenses deep. He could be very serviceable to a team that needs a deep threat to complement their best receiver. 

Prediction: Gabriel signs a 1-year deal with the Packers to help stretch the field

  1. Cordy Glenn, OT

Cordy Glenn has been a solid player for the majority of his career. He is 30 years old and could be a great veteran presence for a team looking for a tackle. However, his 2019 season was suspect as he only played 6 games and had a tumultuous relationship with the Bengals which led to his release. He was suspended by the team at one point for “internal disciplinary reasons” and dealt with concussions which probably explains why he has not been signed yet. I can definitely see a team taking a gamble on him though because he was great when he played and is a serviceable starter. 

Prediction: Glenn signs a 1-year deal with the Vikings

  1. Mike Daniels, DT

Mike Daniels is coming off an injury-plagued season with Detroit. He played nine games due to foot and arm injuries and finished with nine tackles and just 1 sack. It is clear that he is not the player he once was, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful player. Before signing with the Lions, Daniels was one of the Packers best defensive players and an emotional leader. He can help mentor younger players, provide some solid IDL depth, and help stuff the run. 

Prediction: Daniels signs a 1-year vet min deal with the Cowboys and reunites with Mike McCarthy

  1. Delanie Walker, TE

Delanie Walker is another player who has been dealing with different injuries the past few seasons and was cut by the Titans due to the rise of young tight end Jonnu Smith. Walker has had a lot of success with Tennessee however and was the greatest tight end to ever play for them. He is 36 and is entering his 15th season in the NFL but I think he still has some left in the tank. He has always been productive for Tennessee when healthy and can provide endless options as a receiver and a blocker to change an offense. He could bring some good value to a team with a young tight end group.

Prediction: Walker signs a 1-year deal with the Patriots to help mentor Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi

NFL Draft 2020: What to Watch For This Weekend

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, and Pranav Thiriveedhi

The NFL Draft will commence Thursday, but instead of in the Fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, it is online. Never thought I would be saying those words in my lifetime. Anyways, this year’s draft presents a lot of compelling storylines, such as finding quarterbacks that could be Drew Brees and Tom Brady’s successor, the Justin Herbert and Tua debate, Chase Young to the Redskins, and the plethora of veterans that could be traded for draft picks. Here are the storylines to watch out for in this year’s NFL Draft:

Saransh’s Storyline: Herbert or Tua? Who’s the First QB After Joe Burrow?

Joe Burrow being the Number 1 overall pick is something that has been established for quite a while now, but the quarterback contention after him is what really gets interesting. Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama was the obvious Number 1 overall choice until Joe Burrow and LSU beat them back in November, and then Tua’s chances were completely thrown out the window when he hurt his hip and his season was over for good. Since then, Tua has been fully recovered since February, and had been doing workouts and drills with teams, and was at the Combine. Despite that, scouts and analysts, including myself, still wonder how he will be able to prevent another major injury that could derail his career, as this one nearly did.

The other big-name quarterback heading into this year’s draft is Justin Herbert out of Oregon, whom many thought would have entered the draft last year and could have been a first-round pick. He has now upped his stock and could potentially be a top-5 pick in the draft. While he could not lead the Ducks to the College Football Playoff, he led them to a Pac-12 Championship victory, as well as a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Having had his best season yet as a college quarterback and winning so many big games after a very rough season for the team the year prior, that along with his Combine and Pro Day showings are having people put Herbert ahead of Tua in their draft boards.

In the top 6 picks of this draft, 3 teams, those being the Detroit Lions at Number 3, the Miami Dolphins at Number 5, and the LA Chargers at Number 6, they all need a quarterback, and Herbert and Tua will be the first guys looked at. While I believe the reports that the Lions are trading down and believe they will trade down, I see Herbert going first over Tua, and going to South Beach and quarterbacking the Dolphins and their young yet exciting offense for the next few years, and Tua going to LA. If the Lions do not trade, however, I expect Herbert in Detroit, Tua in Miami, and then Jordan Love in LA, although speaking of Love, the soft-spoken quarterback of Utah State is someone worth mentioning in this conversation. Love could potentially go higher than both Herbert and Tua, but he could also end up as a late first-rounder, or even early second-rounder, depending on how teams judge him, much like Josh Allen did in 2018, going to the Bills, yet many even thought he could surpass Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold and go first in the draft. Keep an eye out for Love, but Tua and Herbert will be the ones getting all the attention.

Rohan’s Storyline: Where Will Trent Williams Finally Be Traded to and What For?

Trent Williams has still yet to be traded by the Redskins despite publicly demanding a trade in late March, but it could happen in this year’s draft. NBC’s Peter King recently reported that Trent Williams is the most likely player to get traded during the draft. Even though the Trent Williams holdout saga has been going on since June of last year, the Redskins still hold all of the leverage in a potential trade. Under the new CBA, if Trent sits out another year, he will not be able to enter free agency and remain a Redskin. He can either play this upcoming season and show his worth, or sit out and incur a ton of fines. Furthermore, Trent is an All-Pro Left Tackle and is still one of the best offensive lineman in the league, so Washington can still get a decent return. Now, which teams in the league make the most sense to acquire Williams? I am going to go with the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, and the Minnesota Vikings, with Cleveland being the most likely destination. 

ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweeted this morning that Trent Williams is “still on the table” for Cleveland. If the Browns miss out on or elect to not draft one of the top tackles who include Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas, then I think this significantly boosts the chances of a deal that sends Trent to Cleveland. Baker Mayfield took 40 sacks in 2019, and adding a top tier tackle would shore up the left side of the line for the Browns. The Browns also have offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who worked with Trent his whole career in Washington. I predict the Browns will trade for Trent since they have been the team showing interest for a while now, but as mentioned Los Angeles and Minnesota could trade for him too. I expect the Redskins to start fielding calls after the top 4 tackles in this draft are taken. JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington reported that the Redskins will only trade him for a package of comparable value, but what would that package consist of? I think they are asking for at least a 2nd-rounder, but at this point it seems at least a 3rd-round pick is more reasonable. If a trade with Cleveland were to happen, my prediction is that Washington will receive Pick #74 (3rd-rounder) and Pick #187 (6th-rounder) in this year’s draft. 

Pranav’s Storyline: Should New England Stick with Stidham, or Find a New QB?

Tom Brady leaving New England to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the biggest storyline of the offseason, leaving the Patriots with a huge problem: filling Brady’s shoes. After a 20 year run, Bill Belichick has to look for a new quarterback in a league with not many options. During the Brady era in New England, the coaching staff had great quarterbacks on the roster to help out when Brady was unavailable, from the 2009 season with Matt Cassel who went 10-6 (somehow missing the playoffs), to the 2016 season where Brady’s suspension from the year before came into effect, giving both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett the opportunity to perform for New England. Both quarterbacks played well under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’s coaching scheme, but due to the threat that they would likely take Brady’s spot as a starter later, owner Robert Kraft shipped them out to other teams. 

The 2020 Patriots are now left with Jarrett Stidham, a young quarterback from LSU, who showed promising features through various training camp meetings, practices, and mostly during the pre season games. The Patriots also hold 12 draft picks for the 2020 NFL Draft (4 compensatory picks), including the 23rd pick. Since this draft has only a few stellar quarterbacks (Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert), who will be taken very early, the New England Patriots would be left with quarterback picks like Jordan Love, who is an above average quarterback from Utah State. If I was Bill Belichick, I would put my money on Jarrett Stidham, giving him a year under center, and letting the first round pick in the draft go to another position in need, such as safety or defensive end. The Patriots have had a lot of success in trusting a no name quarterback to lead the team in the most difficult situations, so maybe Stidham can outperform initial expectations and prove that he was the right choice. You never know, Jarrett Stidham could be the next Tom Brady…  

 

TB12 to TB: How Brady’s Move Down South Affects His Legacy

Tom Brady might not have shocked the world by saying he was leaving the New England Patriots just two days back, but if you said that to me after he signed a 2-year, $41 million extension in 2016 after a season where Brady was one drive away from yet another Super Bowl appearance, I would have said you were crazy. If you said that his destination would be Tampa Bay, I would think you were even crazier. Either way, Brady in 2020, did just that, but he earned that right. Since that extension, Brady went to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, and won 2 of them. Though he just left New England, here’s when the dominos started to fall, which led to the door opening for Brady to leave:

The First Fallen Domino: Jimmy G

Through all that, he endured the Deflategate suspension, nagging injuries to guys like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, a new face in town in Jimmy Garoppolo, whom coach Bill Belichick loved, and much more. Keep that name in mind, however. A guy who was drafted in the second round in 2014 by New England after having won another Super Bowl, their first in 10 years. When Brady accepted his 4-game suspension in 2016, however, Belichick put in Jimmy G, who won his first 2 games, and then led the Pats to a third straight win before getting hurt and handing the ball over to rookie QB in Jacoby Brissett. But Belichick seemed to have fallen in love with Jimmy G and found his successor to Brady. Brady felt disrespected, and it fueled him to win another Super Bowl, in the infamous 28-3 blown lead by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Second Fallen Domino: The Unsung Hero, Danny Amendola

I wrote back after Super Bowl LII that New England’s demise had begun, as Brady had lost to backup QB Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles in what is, in my opinion, the best Super Bowl I have ever seen. That offseason, he ended up losing receivers Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks in free agency. The big name here is Amendola. Amendola for years had been the ‘third guy’ behind Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, but he may have been the unsung hero for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Through the Super Bowl runs where New England beat Seattle and Atlanta, and lost to Philadelphia in an epic, Amendola was the one whom Brady used to always find in the clutch, his ‘Ol’ Reliable’, per se.

To me, I thought New England made the mistake of letting Amendola go instead of Julian Edelman or Chris Hogan because Amendola was a guy Brady counted on and was close with on and off the field. Amendola seemed to be the guy that would make the big catches and touchdowns in 4thquarters of close ballgames, most notably his game-winning touchdown catch against Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game in 2017 to save Brady from being beaten by… Blake Bortles. Funny, right? Amendola wound up going to Miami, then Detroit with former Pats Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia, and he’s still there now. Looking back on the past two years, however, and seeing how the offense played, Brady could have used Amendola in many clutch moments.

The Third Fallen Domino: Antonio Brown

I understand what Bill Belichick was thinking back in October 2018 when Antonio Brown got released. Great player, but we need to know if this guy is well-minded. The last thing Belichick wanted was to get a guy on his team that would be a distraction to the team, like Aaron Hernandez. At the time, AB had been lashing out many times on social media, such as with his former teammates in Pittsburgh, and at that time, when he hired marketing agents to get himself off the Oakland Raiders. Safe to say that Belichick doesn’t normally think players like AB would fit in ‘The Patriot Way’, but somehow, he signed him. AB lasted 11 days on the team before getting released again after sexual assault allegations (which had been going on when Belichick signed him).

But Brady grew a chemistry with AB in the short time. While the stats did not show it, their love on Twitter certainly has, when Brady showed respect for AB even after his departure from New England, and even now, with Brady now in Tampa, Antonio Brown still shows up on Brady’s radar. But this was where it all fell down for Brady in New England. Brady was not happy that a guy with the talent of AB was released, but by ‘The Patriot Way’, he was not the right guy. But with Gronkowski retired and AB gone (along with Chris Hogan gone in free agency and Demariyus Thomas traded midseason), Brady just had Edelman and James White to rely on. Those guys did not stay relatively healthy, the offensive line Brady relied on got hurt as well, and Brady wilted under the pressure a bit after the 8-0 start. He had a great last season in New England, but the team had no pieces around him to keep him from leaving.

So, Tampa is Home. Now What?

Well the legacy of Brady does not require him to win a Super Bowl necessarily. Like LeBron James when he went to the LA Lakers, Brady is putting himself in the toughest position possible, going into an NFC South division with Super Bowl contenders like the New Orleans Saints, who by the way, are led by Drew Brees, a top 5 QB of all-time, an Atlanta Falcons team that just signed Todd Gurley, and a young Carolina Panthers team. Brady easily just put himself in the most stacked division in the NFL, and with the new 14-team playoff (so 7 per conference), all 4 of these teams can be playoff and Super Bowl contenders in Brady’s way. Not to mention that the NFC also has Aaron Rodgers, another top 5 QB of all-time, a near-MVP in Carson Wentz, and the defending NFC Champs in San Francisco. (Side Note: My top 5 All-Time QBs are: Brady, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Drew Brees). Brady is definitely not expected to win a Super Bowl, but as a 43-year old who has shown he can still win 10+ games every year and win Super Bowls, the expectations are high. Brady will probably have to at least get Tampa Bay to the playoffs, something they haven’t done since ’07, and then a playoff win (or more). This is a team that before Brady never had hope, but he brings it. Fans are already flocking to get season tickets, players want to play for Tampa, life is good in Tampa right now. I mean, warm weather, a stadium with a pirate ship, and Tom Brady, what more do you need?

To me, Tampa can contend for a Super Bowl with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as Brady’s weapons, his best since he had Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but the task is rather daunting. It’s hard to keep expectations low with Tom Brady, so I believe that he probably will take Tampa to at least one NFC Championship Game throughout his current contract (he signed a 2-year deal for $50M, fully guaranteed, with $9M available in incentives) to keep his legacy cemented as it is right now, which is as the Greatest of All-Time.

2019 NFL Midseason Predictions

The first half of the NFL season has presented us with many surprises, and a surge of a new generation of NFL talent. The San Francisco 49ers remain the only undefeated team in the NFL currently, the Cincinnati Bengals remain the only winless team, and players like Christian McCaffrey are taking over the league and putting on an MVP-worthy performance. Here is what has happened this season, and what will continue throughout the season.

The Panthers are 5-3 Without Cam Newton, and Will Make the Playoffs

Currently, the Panthers are on the outside looking in as the 8-seed in the NFC and 2ndin the NFC South, but their 5-3 record, Christian McCaffrey’s video-game numbers, and the new-look defense has put them in a position to compete with Kyle Allen, not Cam Newton, at quarterback. Allen, who took over for the now-on-IR Newton in Week 3, has gone 5-1 as the starter, losing only to the undefeated 49ers. Allen hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary, just played mistake-free, smart football that has kept his team in a position to win. Sure, they have 2 dates with New Orleans, a home game against Seattle, and tough road games against Green Bay and Indianapolis, they should be able to win the home games, Indianapolis, and potentially one game against New Orleans to go at least 9-7, and considering how teams like the Eagles, Vikings, and Rams have struggled this season, Carolina should be able to get the 6-seed in the NFC.

Like I Predicted in Preseason, Aaron Rodgers Will Be the MVP

Aaron Rodgers got off to, well, a sluggish start in the new Matt LeFleur offense, but Green Bay’s defense stepped up big. Then, Rodgers said that the offense needed to ‘step it up’, and A-Rod and the Pack offense has not looked back since. Currently standing at 6-2 and the 3-seed in the NFC, they will be one of the top NFC Super Bowl contenders along with the Saints. Rodgers is currently 5thin passing yards and 4thin passing TDs, is among the top of the MVP race along with Russell Wilson and Christian McCaffrey, and if he keeps this pace up, he can outpace Wilson in the MVP race and get his 2ndNFL MVP award.

Lamar Jackson Proved Everyone Wrong… and He Won’t Stop Anytime Soon

Lamar Jackson was critiqued by Bill Polian before last year’s NFL draft and was told to convert to Wide Receiver. Jackson was drafted in the first round as a QB by the Ravens and guaranteed that they would get a Super Bowl out of him. He eventually took the starting job from Joe Flacco and led the Ravens to the playoffs. This season, Lamar has been able to use his arm along with his legs and become an elite QB. Last Sunday, he beat the record-setting Patriots defense and the GOAT Tom Brady to end their undefeated season up to that point. Now, he put the Ravens in position to potentially go to the Super Bowl, currently leading the Ravens to the 2-seed in the AFC, good enough for a first-round bye and homefield in the AFC Divisional Round. Expect Lamar to keep playing the way he always does, prove people wrong, and keep winning.

The Eagles Need to Sign Either Dez Bryant or Antonio Brown

So, yeah, Philadelphia, the Super Bowl 52 Champions, have changed a lot roster-wise since then. They have lost LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi, Torrey Smith, Trey Burton, a plethora of signings that have not worked out, such as DeSean Jackson and Zach Brown, and many underperforming players, such as Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, and just about everyone on defense. Oh, and they lost their savior Nick Foles, but everyone knew Wentz would be starting either way. Anyways, the Eagles have lost many games this season due to their poor receiver play, most notably Agholor. Wentz has been let down by receivers dropping passes than I could catch, and has lost many winnable games because of it, like the game at Atlanta where Agholor dropped the ball, the game at home against Detroit where rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside dropped a wide-open TD. The other games they lost, being to Dallas and Minnesota on the road, they’ve simply been blown out due to poor overall team play. If Philadelphia really wants to compete and be the Super Bowl-contending team they once were, they NEED to sign a big-name wide receiver. They missed out on Josh Gordon, as he went to Seattle to join Russell Wilson and his already-stacked WR core, so now that leaves them with Dez Bryant, who tweeted today that he is ready to reach out to teams soon, and of course, the drama-king of the NFL, Antonio Brown. While both risky due to character issues and health, either would be an immediate impact to a team that desperately needs hands. With AB, the Eagles can challenge Green Bay, Seattle and New Orleans, and with Bryant, they can at least win the NFC East if not contend with Green Bay, Seattle and New Orleans. Whoever they decide out of these two, they need to sign one of these in order to be a legit contender.

My Saints-Chiefs Super Bowl Prediction Remains the Same

I still see these two teams meeting in the Super Bowl. In the AFC, do I think that the Ravens are ready? Not yet, simply because the defense has been suspect for the majority of the season. Does New England beat Kansas City in the playoffs again, if they meet up? No because the offense isn’t at the point where they can keep up with Kansas City. Their inconsistency in the run game will outweigh the consistency of Julian Edelman, James White, and Mohamed Sanu’s production. In the NFC, is Green Bay good enough on defense to sustain the play of A-Rod and the offense? To me, this is the very-early frontrunner to win next year’s Super Bowl, but not this year. Seattle lies in the same realm, with their defense not being able to get to the level of Wilson and the offense. The Saints and Chiefs have complete rosters, and defenses good enough to meet the level of the offense and keep them in it. Kansas City has dropped games this year due to Mahomes playing through injury and not because they have regressed as a team. If anything, they are probably better, especially with their run game, and New Orleans, the NFL’s most complete team currently, just has everything you want in a team, with their next-man-up mentality, going 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater replacing the injured Drew Brees and Latavius Murray replacing the injured Alvin Kamara, and their big-play ability on defense as well. So, expect some fireworks in Miami on February, and expect the Saints to take home the Lombardi.

NFL 2019 Season Predictions: Preseason Edition

The NFL preseason is just a few weeks away now and the NFL is now seemingly shifting towards a younger generation of talent. While the New England Patriots still reign supreme as the defending NFL Champions, teams like the Cleveland Browns, with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr, and Jarvis Landry, the New Orleans Saints with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara helping out Drew Brees, the LA Chargers, with Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon looking to help Philip Rivers get a ring before he retires, and of course the Kansas City Chiefs led by the most exciting player in football, Patrick Mahomes. Safe to say that New England will have more competition than they have had in years, but have other teams eclipsed them yet? Here are my predictions for the season (all these predictions are subject to change based on team health, performance, and other factors that can affect a team throughout the NFL season. These are just predictions are of today):

Aaron Rodgers Returns as the NFL’s Best QB & Wins MVP

Aaron Rodgers last season was said to have the ‘worst season of his career’, yet many do not realize that he had the second-most passing yards in a season in his illustrious career and threw just 2 interceptions. They let the lack of wins, good players around him, and his individual health overlook the greatness he achieved over the previous season. Now, I am not saying that it was one of his best years, but to say it was his worst is a bit overdramatic. Rodgers will have a new coach and system, a healthy receiving core, running back, and offensive line, and a much-improved defense to back him up. Expect him to rival Mahomes for the MVP.

The NFC East, NFC North, and AFC West Will Have Two Playoff Teams Each

These three divisions will come into the season with the most competition out of all of them. The NFC East and North have winners which are up in the air, unlike the AFC West which has Kansas City as the clear favorite. The NFC East has Philadelphia and a much-improved Redskins roster, as well as Dallas (assuming that they can figure out Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott’s contract issues, which I will assume they do not, knowing the Cowboys). The NFC North features the best defense in the NFL in the Chicago Bears and a healthy and vamped-up Packers team, and those will be the teams that go on to the playoffs. However, unlike last year, Green Bay will take back the crown of NFC North champions.

As for the NFC East, I think Philadelphia, having a healthy roster and simpler offense to run around Carson Wentz in order to keep him healthy, similar to how they played with Nick Foles. Coach Doug Pederson knows that with the lack of playing time that Wentz has gotten late in seasons due to injury is because of the gameplan, and he will be able to change it. I think Washington will be the next team in from the NFC East. Rookie QB Dwayne Haskins is in a great position right now, good young receivers on offense, a steady running attack, which will help him as a scrambler, and one of the best defenses in the NFL (when healthy). So, Philadelphia might win the division, but Washington will be the wild-card sleeper in the playoffs that could pull off an upset or two.

Pittsburgh Will Be Better Without AB and Le’Veon

Last season, one of the most talented teams in the NFL was blown out of proportion by one player sitting out an entire season to “protect his body” for his impending free agency, and another player who decided that rather than care about winning and the team he played for, that he would instead only care for himself. These players were Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, respectively. Now, while these are two top 5 players at their position, Pittsburgh also found themselves with two more players with top 5 potentials at their position in James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers also have a much more stout defense this year, and that coupled with no distractions should keep Pittsburgh in Super Bowl contention, although Cleveland will take the division.

While Mahomes May Not Win the MVP… The Chiefs Will Be in the Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were a non-offside call and a coin toss away from going to the Super Bowl instead of New England. However, New England won the toss, there was no offsides call, and New England scored a touchdown to end it. This year, Kansas City brings the same slew of weapons in Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Damien Williams, and a defense that looks like they can actually make some stops. They’ll win the AFC West handily, and should steamroll through the AFC Playoffs as well, leading them straight to the promise land where they will face…

The New Orleans Saints Will Be Kansas City’s Opponent

New Orleans also had their hearts ripped out of them during the NFC Championship Game when the most obvious defensive pass interference call was not called by the referees. Every single person in the stadium knew it was pass interference, including LA Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, who got away with the call and even admitted after the game that he was “thankful” for the no-call. This year, however, New Orleans kept the core of their team together and is going to bring the same energy and extra motivation to win it all. The NFC South hasn’t improved enough to the point where New Orleans will have trouble there, and they are the deepest team in the NFC, so they should find a way to be in the Super Bowl. You know what they say, third times a charm. Expect them to get home-field advantage through the NFC, the best record in the NFL, and the ring. A game like this between 2 teams that are so explosive on offense, it comes down to who is the more complete defensive team, and that is clearly New Orleans.

 

 

Super Bowl LIII: What to Expect, and Who Wins

17 years ago, Super Bowl XXXVI was played between the then-St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots. The quarterbacks were Kurt Warner and Tom Brady. Back then, Tom Brady was just 24 years old and a second-year quarterback, and Bill Belichick was in his second season coaching the Patriots. Now players WR Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski of the Pats were 15 and 12 years old, respectively, Rams coach Sean McVay was 16, and Rams quarterback Jared Goff was 8. On Sunday, Super Bowl LIII will be played between the now-Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, with players such as Edelman, Gronkowski, and Goff playing, and McVay coaching. Oh, how time flies. But the guys that are still there are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and they are not showing many signs of not showing up to Super Bowls anytime soon. The Patriots are an older, more experienced team, going against a team of young guys who are new to the Super Bowl party, yet the two teams have very similar playing styles, with prolific passing games on offense, bend-but-don’t-break defenses, and big-play special teams units. Here are how the teams compare, and who will lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The Game, The Teams, The Storylines, and The Prediction

The LA Rams started the season 8-0 and looked like the hottest team in the league until they went into the Superdome and got humbled by the Saints. As the season went on, the offense was questioned, as they began to have a dropoff, as shown in games against Chicago and Philly. They finally showed they belonged in the playoffs with wins against Dallas and New Orleans (which yes, they didn’t deserve to win because of the referees, but we can’t do anything about that anymore). Anyways, everyone knows that Todd Gurley is the best player for the Rams by far, but with him not having been 100% the past few weeks, CJ Anderson has stepped in and been their best player ever since. Bill Belichick is known for taking away the best player(s) from the opposing team, so do not expect Gurley and/or Anderson to have the same type of numbers that they have been the past few weeks. Belichick will force Goff to beat them, and with Goff being a young, yet good quarterback, you can bet Goff will get a bit frazzled at times. Sean McVay, on the other hand, will have to take away Julian Edelman, which if you watch the Patriots play in Super Bowls, you know how hard that is to do. Edelman is always the one who comes up clutch in Super Bowls and always delivers for Brady. As far as matchups go, Patriots have the advantage. As far as experience goes, Patriots have the advantage. As far as the stats and on-paper comparison goes, Rams have the advantage. But what is really going to be the determining factor for this game? Which quarterback has the ball last. This Super Bowl will be quite similar to the past two, where offenses fly around the field, but the offense that blinks first is the one that loses. If I had to guess which offense blinks first, I would go with the Rams. I just do not trust the fact that the Rams secondary can do enough to stop Brady from getting the ball to guys like Edelman (who leads the team in receiving yards this postseason with 247), Gronkowski (who had two touchdowns in Super Bowl LII), and James White (leading the team in receptions, and also holds the NFL record for most receptions in a Super Bowl game with 14 in Super Bowl LI). The Rams pass rush simply is not enough to disrupt the Pats offense, and as far as the Patriots defense goes, while they may not be great, they have all been here before, and they have stepped up to the challenge this postseason. I simply do not see a way that the Patriots lose back-to-back Super Bowls as long as Brady and Belichick are present. Another fun fact, Brady is undefeated against non-NFC East teams in the Super Bowl (two losses to NY Giants, one to Philadelphia Eagles). To all the Rams fans and Patriots haters out there, don’t get too excited. Pats win, 38-34.