For the longest time, I didn’t want to pick the Cleveland Browns to win the AFC North this year. Even with all the surrounding hype, how could I pick a team that’s gone 100-267 in my lifetime to win the division? Yet here I am, picking Baker Mayfield and co. to win the AFC North and host their first playoff game since 1994. Granted, I haven’t had much luck with my predictions recently, picking the Saints and the Giants to win the Super Bowl each of the past two years. But these Browns are the real deal. They may not win the Super Bowl or even the AFC, but the Browns are good. And that’s something I’ve been able to say very few times in my lifetime.
As for the rest of my NFL Predictions? I guess you’ll just have to keep reading.
|AFC East||AFC North||AFC South||AFC West|
|Patriots||12 – 4||Browns||10 – 6||Colts||9 – 7||Chiefs||13 – 3|
|Jets||7 – 9||Ravens||9 – 7||Texans||9 – 7||Chargers||10 – 6|
|Bills||6 – 10||Steelers||9 – 7||Jaguars||8 – 8||Raiders||6 – 10|
|Dolphins||2 – 14||Bengals||3 – 13||Titans||5 – 11||Broncos||5 – 11|
Wild Cards: Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens
AFC East: Even without Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots are once again the class of the AFC East and should win yet another division crown … The Jets should improve in year two under Sam Darnold, but New York still needs help along the offensive line and an edge rusher if they want to overtake New England … The Bills need to figure out if Josh Allen can be their “guy,” but have done a good job surrounding Allen with the right pieces. Even if Allen can be their franchise QB though, Buffalo is still a year or two away … As for the Dolphins, the “fish tank” (shoutout to ESPN’s Mina Kimes) has begun, and the long road back to relevancy for Miami starts with a lengthy rebuild.
AFC North: The Cleveland Browns are the real deal, and finally have their franchise QB in Baker Mayfield. Though they might not yet have realistic Super Bowl aspirations, they are well on their way … Count me as a believer in Lamar Jackson. Greg Roman is the perfect coordinator to design the Ravens’ offense, and along with potentially the best secondary in the NFL, Baltimore could find their way back to the playoffs … The Steelers’ secondary still has a few question marks, and at some point, Pittsburgh is going to feel the losses of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. This team will still be in the hunt though … As for the Bengals, they’re another team looking at a rebuild. Andy Dalton is not the long-term answer, but the Bengals should be at least somewhat more competitive than Miami.
AFC South: Even without Andrew Luck, the Colts have the talent to win the AFC South. Jacoby Brissett is more than capable under center, with a lot more talent around him to succeed than in 2017 … Even with the trade for Laremy Tunsil, Houston didn’t do enough to improve an offensive line that ranked dead-last in the NFL in pass protection, meaning DeShaun Watson will continue to run for his life. The Texans should still be good, but one or two sacks could be the difference in a tight playoff race … The Jaguars are betting a whole lot on Nick Foles, and while he should be better than Blake Bortles, I’m still not sure he can lead a team to the postseason. Jacksonville’s defense will keep them in games, how many Foles will win or lose is the question … The Titans have to figure out Marcus Mariota this year. He came into the league with so much promise, but Tennessee might just have to move on. Their defense is good enough, but I’m not sure Mariota is.
AFC West: If Kansas City’s defense is just mediocre, the Chiefs will be the best team in football, at least in the regular season. Patrick Mahomes is only going to get better, and Andy Reid is an offensive genius … Melvin Gordon’s holdout is concerning, but Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are capable replacements, at least in the regular season. Philip Rivers will have the Chargers right there, but injuries and the offensive line are always a concern with this team … Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock added a whole lot of talent, but it won’t matter if Derek Carr doesn’t rebound from a poor 2018. The Raiders could surprise, or they could be drafting a QB in the Top 10 next year … Joe Flacco isn’t the answer in Denver, and I’m not sure Drew Lock is either. The Broncos defense should once again be among the NFL’s best, but John Elway has to find his franchise QB for Denver to return to the postseason.
|NFC East||NFC North||NFC South||NFC West|
|Eagles||13 – 3||Bears||10 – 6||Saints||12 – 4||Rams||12 – 4|
|Cowboys||9 – 7||Packers||10 – 6||Falcons||10 – 6||Seahawks||11 – 5|
|Washington||5 – 11||Vikings||8 – 8||Panthers||8 – 8||49ers||6 – 10|
|Giants||4 – 12||Lions||6 – 10||Buccaneers||4 – 12||Cardinals||6 – 10|
Wild Cards: Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers
NFC East: Howie Roseman has put together one of the most talented teams in the NFL, and as long as Carson Wentz can stay healthy, the Eagles are poised to be Super Bowl contenders … The Cowboys need Ezekiel Elliott, and even if he only misses a game or two, that could be the difference between making the playoffs or not. And more so, Dallas needs Dak Prescott to bounce back, especially if they’re going to commit upwards of $30 million to him … Alex Smith’s injury was a brutal blow to a Washington team that was right in the thick of the NFC East hunt last year. Now with Dwayne Haskins under center, Washington could complete a quick turnaround, just maybe not this year … The Giants are fooling themselves if they think they can compete for a playoff spot. It’s time New York moved on from Eli Manning and figure out if David Gettleman is right about Daniel Jones, or if the Giants will again be drafting a QB.
NFC North: Without Vic Fangio calling the plays, the Bears’ defense could take a step back. But as long as Mitchell Trubisky takes a step forward under Matt Nagy, and Chicago figures out its kicking game, the Bears should once again win the NFC North … Aaron Rodgers needed a change, and even if Matt LeFleur and Rodgers aren’t best friends, the added talent on defense should be enough to get Green Bay back to the playoffs … The Vikings are a boom or bust team. If the offense line protects Kirk Cousins, the Vikings could win the NFC North. If not, the Vikings will once again miss the playoffs … The Lions have talent, but they’re still their fourth-best team in this division. Matt Patricia has his work cut out for him, and if he misses the playoffs again, Patricia and GM Bob Quinn and both might both be out of a job.
NFC South: The Saints were a blown pass interference call away from the Super Bowl last year, but with Drew Brees another year older, it’ll only be tougher to get back. Still, though, the Saints are the best team in the NFC South, even as their competition grows stiffer … The Falcons got hit by the injury bug last season, but with better health and Dan Quinn taking over defensive play-calling duties, Atlanta could return to the postseason and has the talent to go further … Carolina’s season rests on Cam Newton’s shoulders, and more specifically, his throwing arm. If Newton can stay healthy, the Panthers have added enough on defense to push for the postseason, but that’s a big “if” … Jameis Winston has been an enigma, one that I’m not sure Bruce Arians is going to be able to solve. Tampa Bay will put up points, but their poor defense will be their undoing.
NFC West: Don’t expect the Rams to repeat last year’s 13-3 record, but with Sean McVay and Jared Goff running Los Angeles’ offense, and Aaron Donald in the middle of their defense, the Rams are still NFC West favorites … Russell Wilson is one of the best QBs in the NFL, but the Seahawks’ play-calling has to improve. Defensively, Seattle has questions in the secondary, but the acquisition of Jadeveon Clowney should dramatically improve their pass rush and help the Seahawks get back to the postseason … The 49ers may have their franchise QB in Jimmy Garappolo, but John Lynch has drafted so poorly over the past few years that won’t matter. The 49ers’ defense got better this offseason but is still lacking talent, while Garappolo just doesn’t have enough weapons to compete with the Seahawks and Rams … Maybe Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury take the NFL by storm this year, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Murray will be running for his life behind a putrid offensive line, while Arizona’s defense isn’t going to get much better.
- AFC: Chiefs, Patriots, Browns, Colts, Chargers, Ravens
- NFC: Eagles, Saints, Rams, Bears, Seahawks, Packers
Wild Card Round:
- AFC: Browns over Ravens and Chargers over Colts
- NFC: Packers over Rams and Seahawks over Bears
- AFC: Chiefs over Chargers and Patriots over Browns
- NFC: Eagles over Packers and Seahawks over Saints
- AFC: Chiefs over Patriots
- NFC: Eagles over Seahawks
Super Bowl LIV
- Eagles over Chiefs
- Super Bowl MVP: Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
- Offensive Player of the Year: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
- Offensive Rookie of the Year: David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
- Defensive Rookie of the Year: Quinnen Williams, DT, New York Jets
- Coach of the Year: Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns
- Comeback Player of the Year: Earl Thomas III, FS, Baltimore Ravens
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