Welcome back to the NFL!
What an off-season!
- The Browns loaded up and many have them making the postseason just 2 years after going 0-16. Will it actually happen?
- The Steelers finally determined Antonio Brown was no longer worth the headaches and the Raiders figured how bad could it be? Well, now, I think they are starting to understand – from frostbite to helmets to fines to a possible suspension from the Raiders – and it is not even week 1 yet.
- What exactly are the Giants doing? They traded OBJ and reached for Daniel Jones. They are in a quasi-rebuild but also try and compete mode. I think Jones is the starter coming out of their BYE week.
- Zeke gets paid while Melvin Gordon continues to holdout. Will the Chargers pay him, trade him or let him pull a LeVeon Bell?
- Jimmy G is back! The 49ers loaded up on defense and hope that Jimmy G can help them get back to winning ways, but he has to stay healthy first.
- The Dolphins telegraphed their season plans to tank by trading away their good players and accumulating tons of draft capital.
- Is this the season that Tom Brady finally ages?
- Can Patrick Mahomes repeat such a spectacular year?
These are only a small snippet of the offseason questions, the only way to get the answers is to play the games and today, we do just that. As usual, I will have my weekly NFL picks with the spread posted each week of the season. But before we begin the season, let’s get to how I see the 2019-20 NFL season finishing up:
1. New England Patriots
2. New York Jets
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Miami Dolphins
Comments: Until proven wrong, the Patriots are the chalk pick to win the AFC East. The Dolphins are clearly tanking. Second place will be decided by who progresses best – Josh Allen or Sam Darnold. My bet is Darnold.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Cleveland Browns
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Comments: The Steelers lost Antonio Brown, but JuJu Smith-Schuster is more than capable of being the #1 receiver and I expect them to still put up tons of points. I also love the addition of rookie Devin Bush to the defense. The Browns could win 10 games this season if everything falls into place. I am still not sold on the Ravens offense around Lamar Jackson so I have them miss the playoffs.
1. Houston Texans
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Tennessee Titans
Comments: Don’t rule out the Colts because Andrew Luck retired. The Jacoby Brissett led Colts of 2019 are going to be much better than the 2017 version. The offensive line is vastly improved from then and the skill positions are solid all around. The Texans are the wild card. They have a very tough schedule and they always seem to have injury issues. If Watson and Watt stay healthy, I think they win a tough division battle.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Los Angeles Chargers
3. Denver Broncos
4. Oakland Raiders
Comments: The Chiefs and Chargers will be battling for this division all season, and I think they will both make the playoffs again this year. For the Chiefs, I definitely think Mahomes regresses a little since he had an all-time great season last year. That would have given the Chargers an opening to take this division but the injury to Derwin James is a dagger. I think the Chargers will be ok without Gordon similar to the Steelers without Bell last year. Vic Fangio gets his first head coaching gig with the Broncos and that defense is built perfect for his strengths. It could be the best unit in the league this year with his coaching. Unfortunately, his QB situation leaves some to be desired, but lets see if the old school defense and pound the ground can work in today’s NFL. The Raiders, well, they are entertaining.
1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Philadelphia Eagles
3. Washington Redskins
4. New York Giants
Comments: This is a two tier division. The Cowboys and Eagles could be racing to 12 wins while the Redskins and Giants will be racing to who goes with the rookie QB first. The Cowboys were on fire last season after they traded for Amari Cooper and I think they will continue that this season. The team is loaded on both sides of the ball.
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Chicago Bears
4. Detroit Lions
Comments: How much does a coach mean to a defense? We will find out this year with the Bears. They lose Fangio, but the primary pieces are still all there. I think they still finish with a Top 7 defense. I am still not sold on Trubisky being able to consistently score enough points. I like the Packers to open the offense up a little more this season and that will lead to good things for them. Cousins consistently puts up good numbers, but always remains around .500. I think this is the season those numbers start to lead to more wins. He will be motivated to prove he is worth that contract.
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Carolina Panthers
4. Tampa Bay Bucs
Comments: The Saints are still the team to beat in this division. They are solid on both sides of the ball. Matt Ryan gets 13 games in a dome this season and that could lead to MVP level numbers once again, especially with the receivers that he has. The Panthers will live and die by the health of Newton and I’m not convinced he plays all 16 games this season. Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles make the Bucs an intriguing team this season, but the rest of the division is just too good right now.
1. Los Angeles Rams
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Seattle Seahawks
4. Arizona Cardinals
Comments: The Rams have a question mark with the health of Gurley, but that offense is going to score points regardless. The 49ers are banking on Jimmy G being back to the guy they traded for and I think they will get him. The Seahawks are interesting and just got even more interesting with the signing of Clowney. The Rams, 49ers and Seahawks will be in this race to the end. Then there is the air-raid offense of Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray? Do they do something so unique and catch the league off-guard? I don’t think so.
Wild Card Weekend
3. Steelers over 6. Browns
5. Chargers over 4. Texans
1. Chiefs over 5. Chargers
2. Patriots over 3. Steelers
1. Chiefs over 2. Patriots
Wild Card Weekend
3. Rams over 6. Falcons
4. Packers over 5. Eagles
1. Saints over 4. Packers
2. Cowboys over 3. Rams
1. Saints over 2. Cowboys
Super Bowl LIV
Saints over Chiefs
MVP: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) – as rare as it is to go back-to-back, I think the numbers will be there
Coach of the Year: Freddie Kitchens (Browns) – if the Browns make the playoffs, the award is his
Offensive Player of the Year: Alvin Kamara (Saints) – why is this even an award if the MVP is an offensive player?
Defensive Player of the Year: Von Miller (Broncos) – Fangio boost
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kyler Murray (Cardinals) – he is going to need to put up numbers to cover for the defense
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Devin Bush (Steelers) – Steelers defense is going to be good this year and he will be a major reason why
Comeback Player of the Year: Jimmy Garoppollo (49ers) – The Niners get back over .500 this season