While watching television with my Dad a month ago, we both realized that NFL Training Camp arrived. Then the scintillating preseason action followed a few weeks later. Last weekend was […]
While watching television with my Dad a month ago, we both realized that NFL Training Camp arrived. Then the scintillating preseason action followed a few weeks later. Last weekend was my second fantasy draft in as many weeks. Now, we’re here, folks. Feel the power.
Look it—a lot has happened since my first fantasy draft two and a half weeks ago. You would think that eventually people won’t get hyped about the start of the NFL season. Nope. Never. It’s no surprise that many people in the sporting loop have the National Football League on the brain in some way or another heading into the opening weekend. Utilize your Google Machine if you don’t believe me.
Last year, my NFL predictions were more “Reasonable” than “Unreasonable,” like Grant’s. He’s the reasonable one. (And here are his 2018 “Reasonables.”) I knew during the last episode of MLP that once Grant Sawyer and I began agreeing with each other, something was off. Don’t get me wrong, we often agree, but last year was weird for so many reasons. We had no idea what was coming. Let’s face it, no one did. That is, except for one guy who wears a power-visor every Sunday and loves to eat ice cream. He knew from day one of camp. Now, Doug Pederson is the head coach of Super Bowl Champions.
My eyes are welling up. I need to settle down. This is the first time I’ve written at length about the 2017 NFL season since before Super Bowl LII. Geez. Enough dwelling on missed opportunities to spread my joy and admiration for NFL action. Again, we’re here. Why waste any more time?
Instead of breaking the league down by divisions, I’m taking a more “tiered” approach. The records I project aren’t accurate. I’m not breaking down the schedules beyond traveling and consecutive home or away games. If any of you read my predictions of the past, it’ll all make sense here in a minute.
A BRIEF RECAP OF THE 2017 NFL SEASON: The Philadelphia Eagles—with a backup quarterback and some of the ballsiest playmaking—beat the New England Patriots in the greatest Super Bowl ever played. The Atlanta Falcons should’ve beaten the Eagles in the divisional round. They didn’t. In the NFC Championship, Vikings (and their fans) were exposed as frauds on many levels and were smashed like Mangog (the Eagles’ D) ripping through Asgard (the stupid Vikings). It came out of nowhere. The Birds did it. Now, they can eat at the same table with all the other World Champions. (And it feels so good.)
MY SYSTEM: I’ve placed the following NFL teams within a tier system similar to weaponry classes of a popular video game. Best to worst (for the most part). Daniel Snyder could figure it out, I’m sure. Here we go.
THE NFL’S “LEGENDARY” TIER:
Philadelphia Eagles – Defending World Champions of football. I can’t say that enough. As fun as it’s been basking in the glory, the hourglass for celebration has almost run out. Win, lose, or draw—the honeymoon ends after the 2018 season concludes (or begins). For all the greatness Nick Foles and the 2017 Eagles’ run was, this isn’t Foles’s team. It’s Carson Wentz’s team. (It’s fine. Everything’s fine.) Winning back-to-back Super Bowls is hard enough, but if you have something else to play for, winning a second Super Bowl in a row is achievable. Wentz was a main reason the Eagles won the right to host all their playoff games last season. Had he not exploded his knee in L.A., he may (should) have been MVP. “If’s and but’s,” y’know? The Eagles team plays for Wentzy in 2018, plain and simple. I don’t want to report to you people from a bias standpoint, so, before I flip the Philly switch off, I’ll say this: As an Eagles fan of 36+ years, I always said I never cared how the Birds won a Super Bowl, just as long as they won one. Well, we all got what we wanted. Now, the Eagles have two top-notch quarterbacks. There will be no controversy at any point… Nick Foles isn’t hurt-hurt. We now know he’s going to be the Week 1 starter. Feels like knowing the #1 entrant in the Royal Rumble. Wentz will return in a matter of weeks. Arguably, the Birds’ offensive line is top-3 and their defense is now even better than they were at the start of 2017 with the additions the likes of Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. All fanboying aside, the Eagles are the best team in the NFL because they still haven’t played since their World Championship win. REMEMBER BIRDS’ FANS: No matter what happens this season, the Eagles have a fresh Super Bowl championship and one season to get over it. Be happy. Five more and those assholes on the other side of the state can settle down and act like they’ve won football games before. This concludes my annual bias reporting. 12-4
New England Patriots – One of the main reasons I have the Pats in the upper echelon of NFL teams is because Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are still showing up on Sunday to beat any squad put in from of them. No other head coach/quarterback tandem plans and consistently executes at this level for so many years. Was Super Bowl LII the last SB appearance for this duo? Possibly, but look at what the Patriots bring to the table in 2018. It’s basically the same team offensively sans weapons Brandin Cooks (Rams) and Danny Amendola (Dolphins). When have wide outs leaving via free agency (or trade) ever effected Tom Terrific? It’s why he’s “terrific.” He’ was “LeBron ’17-‘18” before LeBron throughout the ’17-’18 NBA season. Julian Edleman’s return is imperative to the Pats’ success. The defense is the biggest question mark. They don’t have a pass-rush. Their secondary is suspect. How much magic remains inside the wands of the most successful sports franchise of the modern era? Does it matter if a spry Tom Brady is your starting quarterback? Lucky they play the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets twice. 12-4
Pittsburgh Steelers – Speaking of that team on the other side of PA… Wait, here’s a quick disclaimer: The following analysis as if LeVeon Bell is in the line-up by Week 3. Okay, so, the venom from 2017 still runs hot in the bloodstream of Steelers Nation. Why wouldn’t it? Jesse James caught that ball. Then, they watched Zach Ertz catch a ball. Would that change Pittsburgh’s road to a potential Super Bowl appearance last year? Maybe. But let’s face it, the Steelers didn’t show up when they needed to by giving up 45 points to the Jags in the Divisional Round at Heinz Field. The Steelers have the best top-to-bottom offensive talent in the league. They shouldn’t worry about LeVeon Bell’s contract drama because he has a new contract to play for. Y’know, for someone else. The bridge may be burned. If Bell gets out on the field at some point, he’s gonna go nuts in 2018! With a receiving core consisting of 2017 rookie phenom JuJu Smith-Schuster and perennial MVP contender Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger has an opportunity to ride off into the sunset with one more championship. The questionable AFC North squares off against the questionable NFC South. The front end of their schedule is favorable with the back end a bit bumpy. If they manage to pack several wins early, later battles @ Raiders, vs. the Patriots, and @ the Saints won’t be as dire. 11-5
Atlanta Falcons – As I said before, the Falcons could’ve played New England in Super Bowl LII. They had/have the talent. One or two plays took that chance away. With revenge on their minds, Atlanta takes to this new season much like the Vikings did last year. Will the Falcons be the first team to host a Super Bowl? Some consider that position as the kiss of death to start of a new season. All hocus pocus aside, in 2018, the Falcs’ offense is built nearly as strong as Pittsburgh’s. They’re not as strong across the board like the Eagles or Rams, but this team should score a lot of points week-to-week. Their defense isn’t on the same level as my Legendary tier. What the Falcons benefit from more so than any of the other Legendary teams is their divisional opponents. The Saints may have something for them one week, but all of ATL’s other opponents aren’t in the Dirty Birds’ league. Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and rookie Calvin Ridley make up one of the best wide receiver tandems on paper heading into the Philadelphia Week 1. That Ryan kid is pretty good too. Much like New England, the Falcons need their defense to show up and take no prisoners or this offense will have to score, score, score. (Next Week. Not this week, please.) 12-4
Los Angeles Rams – An interview with Rams’ head coach Sean McVay came on the NFL Network at the end of July. The NFL has another great coach on the horizon. He’s similar to a John Gruden a decade ago, but smarter—more cerebral to his approach and knowledge of the game. The Rams organization are in the process of building and offensive and defensive machine. A giant Miracle Machine of scoring power and an impenetrable defense wrecking chaos across the NFL’s landscape. The Rams are right there in the NFC as preseason favorites. Along with the addition of Cooks on offense, the Rams added veteran All-Pro run-stopper Ndamukong Suh, fellow All-Pro corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to their already super-strong defense led by elite DE Aaron Donald. 11-5
THE NFL’S “EPIC” TIER:
San Francisco 49ers – “Whoa, whoa. Settle down. The NINERS? ‘EPIC?’” If the 2017 49ers were allowed in last year’s playoffs based on a fan-vote scheme they won over Carolina, they probably would’ve found a way to beat New Orleans. Jimmy Garoppolo had this team rolling through December winning the last five games of the season. They would’ve been that team no one wanted to play in January, too bad that didn’t have Jimmy G for the first half of the year. He played under Tom Brady. I feel like he’s picked up more from Brady than a Matt Cassel, a Ryan Mallett, or a Jacoby Brissett ever did. Or did he? The kid’s good, and although his receiving core leaves much to be desired, he and Kyle Shanahan going to make it work. Richard Sherman’s arrival adds some pop and pizzazz to an already decent defensive unit. These guys are going to make the NFC even more interesting and may possibly ruin the Rams’ season. 10-6
Los Angeles Chargers – “Whoa, whoa. Wait.. WHAT?!” Chill. Hear me out. Staying healthy is one of the main things a team prays for each offseason. (Duh.) Losing Hunter Henry for the season wasn’t what the Chargers had in mind. He’s a decent TE, but his numbers aren’t crazy. All of that aside, the Chargers made some moves. Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey brings experience to a veteran offensive line. Melvin Gordon is Melvin Gordon. Joey Bosa leads the defense featuring first rounder Derwin James from Florida State. Second year Head Coach Anthony Lynn’s squadron pulled nine wins together after an 0-4 start (if it weren’t for those missed field goals.) This team could possibly be the story of 2018. Philip Rivers can solidify his ticket to Canton. So could Antonio Gates! The smart money is on this team as the 2018 underdog favorite. Will this season be the one where the AFC West is the most entertaining to watch? (Crom knows, I thought it would be last year and I was so wrong.) The Chargers making a run would be definitively Epic. (I’m a believer.) 10-6
New York Jets – This team is the one exception to the tier system. The Jets aren’t necessarily one of the “best” teams, but damnit if they are not super-intriguing. Sam Darnold will be the youngest quarterback to start an NFL game this Monday night. While the Jets aren’t a likely candidate for a Wild Card entry, they could be. Robby Anderson and Terrell Pryor aren’t awful. Who is Eric Tomlinson? It doesn’t matter today. If Darnold’s the real deal, we’ll all know about Tomlinson by midseason. If this team can somehow make it to 10-6, it would be an extremely interesting story entering the Playoffs. There is always a chance. Much like the Chargers, if this team really goes for it: Epicness. (This is even more of a stretch than LAC, I know.) 8-8
THE NFL’S “RARE” TIER:
Minnesota Vikings – This is the first team that could land in a few of the upper tiers. After a miraculous journey to the NFC Championship, the Vikings executed one decent drive in the game’s opening stanza, but were completely leveled for the remaining 45 minutes. The team that left Lincoln Financial Field last January with their heads hung low were not the same team that fought so hard to get to the NFCCG. The Vikings rans out of mead, er, steam. What’s really amazing is that they did it on the back of Case Keenum, a career-backup QB who fit into the scheme. Dalvin Cook’s injury last season was huge. If that didn’t happen, we’d talk about him the same way we talk about Alvin Kamara’s or Kareem Hunt’s breakout season. This offseason, Kirk Cousins signed with the Vikings to become their new ace quarterback. His recent “success” in Washington D.C. went only as well as his teammates played around him. It will be interesting to see what Cousins does with a top-tier offense. 10-6
Houston Texans – Injuries destroyed the Texans last season. The season began alternating wins and losses, but the potential was there. Deshaun Watson is going to be one of the NFL’s premiere players like Houston’s defensive and cultural MVP, J.J. Watt. The loss of each of the aforementioned players wrecked the team’s confidence and they slowly but surely faded away at the end of the season. Everyone is back. Can the Texans take the reigns of the AFC South in 2018? They gotta stay healthy. The Texans have the league’s easiest schedule. (That plays a role into projections.) 10-6
New Orleans Saints – I’d say Drew Brees didn’t “LeBron ’17-‘18” his way into the Playoffs last year so much as “Peyton ‘15 without getting hurt.” His QBR was higher than it’s been in four years. NFC Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara helped out, a lot. Like a lot of teams that “should” be good in 2018, the Saints defense has to bare down and hold teams to less than 20 points a game. They’re in the same division as the Falcons, so NOLA can easily get four wins out of the six divisional games. They play the AFC East, so, outside of the Pats, there shouldn’t be problems. The Saints can very well win ten games in 2018, it just all hinges on keeping their defense on the field grinding away. 9-7
Green Bay Packers – Much like the Patriots, you have to consider the Pack to be Playoff contenders if the NFL’s richest quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is healthy. He’s pretty good making chicken salad out of you-know-what. Jimmy Graham is now in Green Bay which causes for some excitement. When has Rodgers had a decent tight end? Jared Cook made one of the greatest catches in Playoff history two years ago, but he’s not “elite.” Let’s face it, JG’s better days are behind him but that doesn’t mean Rodgers can’t bring out the best in Graham to help make a deep run. The Vikings should be good. Detroit has a new coach and practically the same team from last year. The Bears just overpaid for Khalil Mack. It’s a good thing the NFC Central, er, North is kind of up in the air. Why? Well, GB’s schedule is brutal, so brutal. The Packers get just two home games in the months of October and November combined. Two home games in two months. One is a much-needed battle against San Fran on a Monday night at Lambeau. The other home game is just one versus the Dolphins. No biggie there. Through the first four games—vs. Chicago, Minnesota, @ Washington, and back home for Buffalo—it’s key the Packers wind up 3-1/4-0 to start. This team could be a story one way or the other. I still like MIN to win the NFC North, but I’m in no way counting out the Pack to do the same if not more. 9-7
New York Giants – Rookie running backs leading unlikely teams to the playoffs seems to be a common trend in the NFL over the past couple of seasons. Ezekiel Elliott blasted onto the scene in 2016, then Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, and Dalvin Cook showed up last season to keep the trend up and prove that in the end, running backs are the most important position in fantasy football no matter what the “experts” think. The G-Men drafted Penn State running back Saquan Barkley in the first round. New York still believes in Eli Manning—he’s won two Super Bowls. (Two, people.) Right? Nate Solder is their new offensive tackle. Will these additions be enough? There’s no telling how could they could’ve been last season if not for the injury bug hitting almost every key component. Odell Beckham is one of the league’s top three receiving threats. If his head’s screwed on right, he’s double-dangerous. Winning tends to help. The Giants have zero back-to-back home games, which doesn’t. That said, these guys could be one of the sleeper teams. 9-
Dallas Cowboys – To say the Cowboys underachieved in 2017 is a definite understatement. Sure, many probably blame the team’s failures on Zeke Elliott’s suspension woes. The truth is, nothing was clicking for Dallas last year. They went 6-4 with Zeke in the lineup. That couldn’t be a big reason. It always seems like their star players end up upset with Cowboys management and it causes a distraction. Dez Bryant is no longer a Cowboy. That could ease the tension on the sidelines, but who will replace a threat like Bryant? Allen Hurns? Michael Gallup? Dak Prescott is a solid, young quarterback. However, if he stays at the same level three to four years from now—without a Playoff win—would we consider him to be “solid” anymore? They need more offensive weapons. Defenses will load the box versus Zeke. Prescott’s third year will officially begin to tell his true story. Cowboys lost some key defensive talent this offseason. They have a nice set of linebackers, but everywhere else is expendable. While Dak seeks new ways to score and a new story this season, the Dallas “D” seeks help defensively and that will be the real story of the 2018 Cowboys: they won’t find enough help. 8-8
Kansas City Chiefs – The Patrick Mahomes Era begins in Kansas City as Alex Smith’s ended unceremoniously in another playoff loss. Has Andy Reid found his new Golden Goose? Seems like Mahomes has a cannon. Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill are back. The Chiefs brought in Sammy Watkins, so the receiving core is set along with returning All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. Defensively, the Chiefs look to find a new leader as Tamba Hali was released after 12 seasons. One step they made in the draft was selecting defensive players with each pick. For Andy Reid, that’s a bit odd. The Chiefs came out like gangbusters last season only to stumble but then miraculously recover. Mahomes lack of experience may prove costly if the Chiefs find themselves scrapping to get into the playoffs again in 2018. Besides, the AFC West is about as brutal of a division to survive as the NFC North. 8-8
Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks appear to be in disarray defensively. On top of cornerback Richard Sherman’s departure, safety Cam Chancellor retired, and Sherman’s tag team partner, Earl Thomas, wants a new contract or wants out of Seattle completely. Fortunately for SEA, Thomas recently reported to the camp. Then, you have Michael Bennett signing with Philadelphia, plus, CB Jeremy Lane, DE Cliff Avril, and DT Sheldon Richardson leaving the team and are currently free agents or signed other franchises. The Legion of Boom has left the room, so to speak. Four years ago, the Legion carried the ‘Hawks to their Super Bowl XLVIII victory—undoubtedly one of the best defenses of the modern era. The window appeared to be closing last season as Seattle managed to pull out a 9-7 record, but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The mass exodus of defensive talent puts pressure of Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson to lead this team through the rough terrain that is the NFC West. The Niners and Rams caught up to the ‘Hawks last season. Will the Seahawks climb into the backseat for a while? Wilson has to stay healthy or the Seahawks’ 2018 season is doomed. 8-8
Indianapolis Colts – What’s “rare” about the 2018 Colts? Andrew Luck is healthy. So, let’s see if he can “LeBron ‘17’-18.” His limited weaponry are enough to win games, but can he carry a team he hasn’t played with in two seasons? Their defense is as suspect as one can be. They drafted a ton of players on both sides. If the Colts have success this year, it’ll be because of their new Head Coach, Frank Reich. He just spent two years with Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Now, they’re all World Champions—if you didn’t already know. Reich also coached Philip Rivers and some Manning kid who used to play in Indy back when Reich was an offensive assistant from 2006-2011. He’s familiar to the Colts organization and could contribute to future success. Keep an eye on these guys. 8-8
Oakland Raiders – The last time an NFL head coach left the sidelines only to return over 10 years later was when Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs (who first retired in 1992) returned to the Redskins in 2004. That didn’t end well. Jon Gruden is once again the head coach for the league’s poorest team financially. But it’s cool, Raider Nation. Gruden already said if he doesn’t get the job done, he won’t take the franchise’s money. So, basically, if it doesn’t work, what’s another year bottom-feeding? Oakland has a good quarterback in Derek Carr. Jordy Nelson became a Raider this offseason. Khalil Mack left for Chitown, but the Raiders received two First Round picks in the exchange. (Raiders win.) Knowing the history of this franchise’s imbalance, I don’t think this season will be very pretty. Hold out another year or so on “Vegas magic.” 7-9
Jacksonville Jaguars – If the Eagles winning the Super Bowl isn’t the biggest surprise of the 2017 season then it’s probably the Jaguars road to the Playoffs. Blake Bortles efficiency brought them to the postseason. If he becomes more consistent, the Jaguars offense becomes even more dangerous. Leonard Fournette had an excellent rookie season. Donte Moncrief moves south from Indy for a fresh start with a team that has upside. You can’t look at the Jags success last year and not consider that the Texans and Colts lost their starting quarterbacks for the season—both are more than ready to go in 2018. This forces the best cornerback tandem in the league—Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye—to return to the same, if not better form this season. However, Ramsey spent the offseason “cutting promos” on the NFL’s elite weapons. He better be ready for the thunder. The AFC South is once again interesting. This won’t be a cakewalk for Jacksonville like it was at times last season. I originally pegged them for a Playoff return, but I believe Houston and Indy will prove to be more suitable. 7-9
THE NFL’S “UNCOMMON” TIER:
Tennessee Titans – What’s the true identity of this team? Mike Vrabel’s the new head coach. Mariota’s still there; decent weapons still there—Derrick Henry, Corey Davis. Their defense is okay—not good. Aside from the Texans, they have the easiest road from now until Week 17. Their schedule may play into their win-loss total at season’s end, but they’re probably not making the Playoffs, unless the rest of the AFC South’s premiere players stay off the field again this year. 7-9
Detroit Lions – The NFC North was weak last season for many reasons. Proof of that lies in the Lions record in 2017: 9-7. The Lions won nine games and almost made the Playoffs. They did this without taking many chances. Matt Stafford threw but a handful of passes over 30 yards. He’s a pretty good QB. Hopefully, LeGarrette Blount’s signing will give Stafford more play-action capability. All this said, Matt Patricia takes over as the new head coach but the Lions front office did little to nothing in order to help them defensively. Patricia’s a defensive specialist. At least give him something. 7-9
Buffalo Bills – Bills fans should be satisfied with the results of 2017. Sure, they lost in the Wild Card round of the Playoffs but at least they made the Playoffs for the first time in 87 years. Quarterback Josh Allen headlined a decent draft class, but his weaknesses are glaring. Plus, the Bills added another QB in A.J. McCarron and then traded him. Nathan Peterman is the Bills’ starting quarterback Week 1. They tell you anything? Their defense’s stability is key in their quest to go back to the playoffs for a second straight year. The AFC East is pretty thin aside from the Darnold-led Jets and its perennial divisional champions. Bills have a decent chance to make a run, but do they have everything they need? Also, the offseason drama regarding LeSean McCoy looms. Will that garbage effect Shady on the field? One way or another, the Bills take a step back this season. 6-10
Denver Broncos – Case Keenum was arguably the Vikings’ MVP last season. The Broncos desperately needed a quarterback. The Vikes had their hearts set on Kirk Cousins this past offseason. Keenum played for a contract last year and now has to prove his worth in Denver. While the Broncos defense will be something to watch this year due to their shake ups, the offense has to stay on the field because Von Miller and co. can’t/won’t stay on the field forever. Before last year, Keenum wasn’t considered a starting QB. Remember Brock Osweiler in 2015—that guy who basically helped lead the Broncos through the end of the season to the franchise’s third Super Bowl Championship? A similar thing happened to him two years ago. Osweiler earned a big-money deal with the Texans in 2016 only to get traded the next year, and then traded again. Why? Because the 2015 Broncos were built for a championship run, much like the Vikings last year. Brock Osweiler isn’t a big-money guy and neither is Keenum. Will Keenum be “Osweiler 2.0?” (Probably.) 6-10
Carolina Panthers – So close to vanilla, but with Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey—who should be the featured RB—in action, they have a chance to win games. Greg Olsen is still a solid tight end and their defense is better with defensive tackle Dontari Poe in the mix. Torrey Smith can be a deep threat at wide out. McCaffrey has to get more touches. Still, not a lot of excitement here. The Falcons and Saints are much better. 6-10
Baltimore Ravens – Another team that tastes like vanilla, but it has purple and gold swirls, so it’s unique. Joe Flacco’s days are numbered as starting quarterback. Hey, the guy won a Super Bowl. (Like Eli won two.) He’ll never have to pay for a meal in Baltimore forever. Hall of Famer? Probably not. The Flacco Era is over. (Makes me feel old.) They have two nice 1st rounders in TE Hayden Hurst and QB Lamar Jackson. The first is about to undergo foot surgery and the latter is a project like Josh Allen in BUF. So that sucks. Head Coach John Harbaugh wasn’t impressed with his rookies’ toughness early on in training camp. That’s not a good sign, but then again, no rookies are as hardnosed as they used to be. The league won’t allow it. The Ravens: not built for excitement in 2018. 6-10
THE NFL’S “VANILLA” TIER:
Cincinnati Bengals – When the Bengals are 7-9, it’s more like they finish the season 4-12. Is it Marv? He doesn’t play rookies if he doesn’t have to. Bengals fan have to be fed up. Despite the talent, there isn’t any sign of “miraculousness,” or, “get-up-and-go” with this team. A.J. Green isn’t a guy getting in other players faces and hyping them up. He looks more like, “Why me?” Andy Dalton is the worst quarterback in primetime history (can’t-miss television, though.) The Bengals don’t have a defense to write home about. Just another “bleh” year. Super-vanilla. My dad likes their chances this season, though. 5-11
Arizona Cardinals – Tough division. A QB controversy revolving around Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. It’s kind of a Jets-situation. Their rookie QB Josh Rosen will eventually get to start because Bradford and Glennon won’t stay on the field long enough. The Cards’ best player, Larry Fitzgerald, could be retired from the field waiting from the phone call from canton in 2022, but no. The team wanted him back and I’m sure he wants to be back as well. Ask him how he’s doing at 3-4/2-5 staring down the barrel of a fifth consecutive loss heading into Week 13. 5-11
Chicago Bears – So, he now wants to be called “Mitch” Trubisky. The offense added WR Allen Robinson and TE Trey Burton—so there’s that. Khalil Mack will likely trouble the better teams they face in the NFC (almost all of them), but this team as a whole is a long way from Playoff contention and are officially without a First or Second Round pick the next two years. 5-11
Miami Dolphins – The AFC East is plain awful from a “watchable teams” standpoint. Teams like the Jets, Bills, and the Dolphins didn’t really want to make any player-personnel changes to give them the appearance of a playoff team in 2018. Did the Patriots finally tap them out? The Bills were a Wild Card team, sure. They didn’t beat the Pats in the regular season. Neither did the Jets. The Fins were the only AFC team to beat New England last season—and conspiracies indicate that Belichick may have pulled the plug that night because he was sore about the front office shipping Jimmy Garappolo to San Fran for next to nothing. This isn’t about New England. It’s about the Dolphins likelihood of winning the AFC East and/or making the playoffs in 2018. But, they’re not. I can’t get behind the hype. 4-12
Cleveland Browns – Bears. Beets. Baker Mayfield. (That’s all I got.) 4-12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers –
Washington Redskins – (Still never ranked higher than #32.) Alex Smith was the Redskins’ big offseason snag to fill the void left by Kirk Cousins. Typical Snyder hilarity. Then there’s Darrius Guice. I thought he would be the surprise rookie running back to break out this season. Nope. He’s done. (You sure he’s not a 76er?) Orlando Scandrick and Josh Norman could become a potent pair at the corners… if it were 2013. The Redskins quit on Scandrick (who quit on them). They should probably just quit now. 6-10
And there they were. My semi-petty predictions. Congratulations, NFL fans. You made it to another season without any doubt of watching all the games opening weekend. Don’t worry about a thing, just do it. Er, I mean just do it—as in, watch the games, not, y’know, all that stuff. All jokes aside, I’m all jacked up for this weekend.
2018-19 NFL PLAYOFF TEAMS –
AFC: 1. NE, 2. PIT, 3. HOU, 4. LAC, 5. KC, 6. IND – NFC: 1.PHI, 2. ATL, 3. LAR, 4. MIN, 5. GB, 6. NO
SUPER BOWL LIII – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS when Carson Wentz catches Philip Rivers with a backslide at 34:21.
ENJOY THIS WEEKEND! GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE! #FEF
Matt de Simone is writer and procurer of pop-culture. If he takes the time to sit down and present commentary on his passions in life, it’s better for the Internet. Stay tuned.