2018 NFL Preview
New York Giants 11-5
Last season was an epic disaster for the New York Giants, as injuries, a pathetic offensive line and an incompetent coach, combined to doom them to a 3-13 season. The Giants just needed a few fixes and things look back on track for them to contend in the NFC. Odell Beckham is happy with a new contract, they added a stud running back in Saquon Barkley taken, number two over in the draft and the offensive line now features a Hall of Fame talent in Nate Solder along with a top prospect in Will Hernandez. The new line and running of Barkley should provide the support for Eli Manning to show he can still be an elite quarterback.
Philadelphia Eagles 8-8
Has the party stopped yet? Ever since the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII the entire City of Brotherly Love has been in a delirious state of euphoria that has been second to none. The Eagles now have the task of defending the crown it took so long to win, and will quickly discover life is hard at the top. Expect at least a minor Super Bowl hangover, as they await the return of Carson Wentz. The Eagles are wisely taking it slow with Wentz hoping Nick Foles can carry over his postseason success, but with a hard schedule, the Eagles road to the Super Bowl will run into too many detours this year.
Dallas Cowboys 6-10
The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2018 season with more questions than answers as they will struggle to replace the reliable hands of Jason Whitten, and are thin at the wide receiver position. Making matters worse the offense line, which was the stregenth of this team comes into the season banged up with Zack Martin dealing with a preseason injury, while Travis Frederick’s career is a question mark with a rare auto-immune disease. The only hope is that Ezekiel Elliott in a full season can carry the team and have a MVP season, if not its going to be a long year in Dallas.
Washington Redskins 3-13
If Daniel Snyder is not the worst owner in the NFL, he has to be on the top-five. In the two decades, he has owned the Redskins, it has been one failure after another, as they have signed bad contracts, made bad trades and have not drafted wisely. They may make the playoffs and compete for a few years, but like clockwork, every four or five years it falls apart with Snyder’s meddling and they need to start from scratch. The clock is striking midnight again with the departure of Kirk Cousins. Alex Smith is a serviceable quarterback if there are good players around him, the problem is there are not good players around him.
Minnesota Vikings 13-3
Last year the Minnesota Vikings, with some talented receivers and a strong defense were able to make Case Keenum look like a decent quarterback as they fell one step short of reaching the Super Bowl. With the addition of Kirk Cousins, the Vikings hope they have the pieces necessary to reach Valhalla. After years of toiling in Washington, Cousins surrounded by talent and a team with a plan should excel in Minnesota, as the Vikings will be among the top teams in the NFL.
Green Bay Packers 11-5*
Last season, Aaron Rodgers showed he might be the most important player in the NFL, as the Green Bay Packers fell apart in his absence. Of course, that can be said about any MVP-level quarterback, but the Packers went from Super Bowl contenders to also-rans, finishing 7-9. Rodgers is back and if he stays healthy the Packers should be a contender. The addition of Jimmy Graham should make them a tad tougher, but overall Green Bay will need more versatility and running game to take pressure or Rodgers if they are to reach the Super Bowl.
Chicago Bears 8-8
The Chicago Bears have rolled the dice, and are hoping not to come up craps as they sent their next two draft pick to the Raiders to get Khalil Mack, a defensive MVP type player they also invested a lot of money into a record contract in. Mack should help the Bears defense improve right away, but it is far from being time to say that the Monsters of the Midway are back. Mitchell Trubisky still has to a lot to prove at quarterback, but things appear to be turning around for the Bears, who could be a year away from making some real noise.
Detroit Lions 6-10
If you were born in 1958 you have only seen the Detroit Lions win exactly one playoff game, but once upon a time, they were the class of the NFL winning three NFL Championships as Rock and Roll was being born. Like the City of Detroit itself, the Lions have been crumbling since, despite stars like Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson coming and going. They actually have a decent quarterback in Matthew Stafford, but as he begins his tenth season in Motown the Lions continue to spin their wheels with no signs of happy days returning any time soon.
Atlanta Falcons 12-4
With Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosting Super Bowl LIII, the Atlanta Falcons have dreams of becoming the first home to play in the big game. The Falcons are more than capable of playing in the big game, going two years ago when they were a fourth-quarter collapse away from the Lombardi Trophy. The Dirty Birds have one of the best teams in the NFC, complete with a strong passing game, the only question is can they make the necessary adjustments to win the games, because their second-half fades have become infamous as their Divisional Playoff loss to the Eagles showed last year with them being shutout after leading at the half.
New Orleans Saints 11-5*
Last year Drew Brees at the age of 38, got a much needed boost with the addition of running back, Alvin Kamara, whose ability to make big catches out of the backfield helped the New Orleans Saints have a year of rejuvination. Brees time is short and the Saints would like one more run at the Super Bowl before he head off for Canton. With rookies of the year on both side of the ball the Saints are a young and exciting team that can make a run if all the chips fall right, though their division battle with the Falcons will be a key to their success.
Carolina Panthers 7-9
The Carolina Panthers have been a funky team in the past few seasons, reaching the heights of Super Bowl 50, to missing the playoffs in 2016 to a quiet 11-5 last year. The Panthers have brought in Norv Turner to run the offense this year hoping that Cam Newton who has been great at times, but often inconsistent can find an even higher mark. The Panthers have a rather tough road, in a strong NFC South division, and will need to put up some big numbers if they are to succeed as their secondary is among the worst in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-12
Four years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the number one pick had their choice of Heisman winning quarterbacks with the number one pick and they chose Jameis Winston of Florida State. In hindsight that ended up being a huge mistake. Winston who had a questionable past has continued to have troubling incidents off the field and will miss the first two games. Meanwhile, his erratic behavior and lack of maturity have kept the Buccaneers adrift on the sea for woe, this will be the year the sink and are forced to start from scratch in 2019.
Los Angeles Rams 10-6
Last year was a big year for the Los Angeles Rams and their young coach Sean McVay as they won the NFC West, with Todd Gurley winning Offensive Player of the Year and Aaron Donald winning Defensive Player of the Year as Jared Goff proving he could be a winning NFL quarterback. The Rams are blessed with a strong offensive line and a solid front seven on defense, but it still feels like something is missing for them to make the next step. The Rams should again win the NFC West, but to go further in the playoffs they need to find another big piece.
San Francisco 49ers 9-7
It was a tale of two seasons for the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 as they got off to an 0-9 start and were 1-10 before Jimmy Garoppolo took over at quarterback and won all five games he started. Fans by the Bay now have Super Bowl dreams, but perhaps they need to curb their enthusiam as the NFL is a league of adjustments and teams will certainly have more answers for Jimmy G in 2018. The Niners are also going to miss running back Jerick McKinnonwho suffered a torn ACL in the final pre-season practice. Still the 49ers should battle for a playoff spot with all signs for the future pointing up.
Arizona Cardinals 6-10
It’s a shame that Larry Fitzgerald will soon retire without winning a Super Bowl, as the future Hall of Famer and argurablly the best player the Arizona Cardinals ever had just never had enough talent around him. They made that one run, falling just short but always had trouble finding that consistant quarterback. While the return of David Johnson should help, the Cardinals quarterback sitaution is an accident ready to happen with the fragile Sam Bradford getting the starting job, while Josh Rosen the tenth pick in the draft had a history of concussions at UCLA, that scare most other teams away in the NFL Draft.
Seattle Seahawks 4-12
When Russell Wilson arrived as a third-round sleeper he quickly rose to a Pro Bowl level as the Seattle Seahawks with a legendary secondary went to two straight Super Bowls, winning one. However, since that infamous play at the goal line that prevented them from repeating its been all downhill for Seattle. Now the Legion of Boom is gone and Wilson is alone with a weak offensive line and team that needs to rebuild. This will be the last sail for Pete Carroll, Wilson just needs to hope he can survive as the Seahawks sink into the abyss.
New England Patriots 11-5
From a distance e,verything looks good for the New England Patriots, as Bill Belichick is still leading the team with Tom Brady at quarterback and the expectation is that they will be there at the end again. However, there may be some cracks developing, there is still some unhappiness that Jimmy Garoppolo was traded, contract negotiations with Rob Gronkowski did not go smoothly and there still appear to be holes on defense and at wide receiver. Brady has made many average receivers look great, but at 41 when does he start going downhill, the loss of Nate Solder on the line can also hurt, though playing in the AFC East will keep them near the top.
New York Jets 6-10
The sense is the New York Jets on the verge of turning the corner, as they are starting to put the pieces together not just for a good team for one or two years, but to have sustainable success. The only thing they need if for Sam Darnold to develop into the franchise quarterback they have been seeking since the days of Joe Namath. Darnold has the looks, and a good head on his shoulder, the only issue is his vulnerability to turnover from his days at USC. There will be growing pains in 2018, but the future looks bright for gang green.
Buffalo Bills 5-11
Last year they were partying like it was 1999 in Western New York, as the Buffalo Bills ended a nearly year 20-year playoff drought. However, it was more good fortune as the Bills 9-7 record camouflaged many flaws. Among them, quarterback, and the Bills have completely gone a new direction trading away last year’s starter Tyrod Taylor. The Bills signed A.J. McCarron but traded him at the end of the pre-season turning their focus to rookie Josh Allen, who has the tools but is very raw, in addition, a terrible offensive line will make keeping the seventh overall pick healthy for 16 games a miracle.
Miami Dolphins 4-12
This is a make or break year for quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the Miami Dolphins appear to be heading back to square one, in the never-ending wandering the desert since the departure of Dan Marino. Tannehill missed all of 2017 after making strides in 2016 and the team around him is not nearly as good. The Dolphins practically gave away Jarvis Landry, quit on Mike Pouncey and let Ndamukong Suh walk away. There are so many holes on this team, Tannehill will have to find a level beyond what is expected to even keep the Dolphins competitive. Expect the year to end, with a complete house cleaning. Hope the next administration can get it right.
Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
With Ben Roethlisberger thinking about retiring sooner than later, Le’Veon Bell in a walk year and Antonio Brown in his prime, the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely the last chance cafe in 2018 as they need to get to the Super Bowl or think about starting over. The relationship between Bell and the team appears to be fractured as he held out during the preseason and is counting the days until he can seek a new contract elsewhere. The Steelers will again be the class of the AFC North but can they get that big postseason win to get a shot a Lombardi Trophy number seven?
Baltimore Ravens 9-7
The pressure has been turned up on Joe Flacco, as the Baltimore Ravens traded up to draft 2016 Heisman Winner Lamar Jackson at the end of the first round. Ever since signing the big contract following Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco has been inconsistent, often making the costly mistake like in the season-ending loss to the Bengals that cost them a shot at the playoffs. Baltimore has a good defense this year, but the lack of weapons will hurt Flacco’s case and could lead them to call upon the mobile Jackson to add a new dynamic to what has been for several years a stagnant system.
Cincinnati Bengals 6-10
We should all have the job security that Marvin Lewis has as he has been leading the Cincinnati Bengals since 2003 and has still yet to win a playoff game. The Bengals often have lost key games by being undisciplined, which reflects on the head coach. The Bengals appeared to be ready to part ways with Lewis last year but had a change of heart at the last minute, such indecisiveness is why the Bengals at 28 years and counting have gone the longest without a postseason win, don’t expect that to change this year as this team need a new start and keeping Marvin Lewis prevents that from happening.
Cleveland Browns 3-13
Dear HBO and the NFL, please extend Hard Knocks into the regular season, we need the cameras there when this dumpster fire implodes and creates the most real-life drama ever seen on television. Watching Hard Knocks the mystery as to why the Browns have gone 1-31 over the last two years has been solved, Hue Jackson is the worst coach in the history of the NFL. Add in Todd Haley who desires to take his job and acts more like a head coach, Greg Williams who wants to restart his bounty program and Bob Wylie who hates stretching. Baker Mayfield is combustible and needs guidance and this what he gets no wonder, the Browns quarterbacks never workout this team is a clown show and will be here for years to make us laugh and fans in Cleveland cry.
Jacksonville Jaguars 12-4
The old way to build a team was to build a great defense and center the offense around a great running back. Over the last two decades with the increase of the passing game, those two pieces have seemed to fade, though teams with great defenses still have managed to take home the Lombardi Trophy. The Jaguars have the great defense, with a killer pass rush and a secondary that is second to none. They have the star runner in Leonard Fournette, the just need Blake Bortles to be average and they can make magic in Jacksonville. The loss of Marquise Lee may hurt, but at last check, there is an All-Pro receiver looking for a job, who if he can humble himself could be that last piece the Jags need to win it all.
Houston Texans 10-6*
Last year was a season full of injury and frusrtation for the Houston Texans as J.J. Watt was lost for most of the season again. At quarterback the Texans appeared to be making strides with Deshaun Watson looking like the franchise quarterback they have been seeking since day one. However, just as Houston was falling in love with Watson, he too was lost with an ACL injury. Watson and Watt are both ready to go as the season begins for the Texans, and fans in Houston are hoping this is the year everything comes together and the Texans become a serious Super Bowl contender.
Tennessee Titans 10-6*
Despite making it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season, the Tennessee Titans made a change at coach hiring Mike Vrable. The hope is Vrable with knowledge of the Patriots system can take them to the new level. The key for Tennessee will be quarterback Marcus Mariota who has had his ups and downs. If Mariota is to reach the next level he has to limit the turnovers. Still, the Titans appear to be heading in the right direction and will again be in the mix for the postseason.
Indianapolis Colts 5-11
After missing much of the last two seasons with a variety of injuries, the Indianapolis Colts hope that Andrew Luck can return and again be an elite quarterback. The problem is that the Colts have continued to fail to put good players around him, and now have a new regime in place and are nearly starting from scratch. Which is especially bad for Luck, as the Colts defense is the worst in the NFL, the offensive line is among the worst in the NFL, they have no running game meaning Luck is going to need a miracle to stay healthy. Luck is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but on a team that would be 0-16 without him it won help much.
Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
The Kansas City Chiefs are making a new start with Patrick Mahomes taking over at quarterback. Mahomes is almost the complete opposite of Alex Smith. Smith was a game manager who never takes chances, while Patrick Mahomes with a rocket arm is a gunslinger in the tradition of Brett Favre. The Chiefs have a strong group of receivers led by Tight End Travis Kelce and a solid running back in Kareem Hunt who can make plays out of the backfield. Look for plenty of excitement in Kansas City as the Chiefs once again rule the West, now if they can find a way to win in the postseason.
Los Angeles Chargers 9-7
Whether they play in San Diego or in Carson, the Los Angeles Chargers are perpetual underachievers. Playing in a small stadium, they have trouble filling will not help as they always seem to fall short of expectations. There is talent all over the Chargers roster, from Joey Bossa and Melving Ingram on the pass rush to Philip Rivers at quarterback. However, Rivers always seems to make that key mistake when the game is on the line, don’t expect that to change this year, as the Chargers will fall just short of the postseason again.
Denver Broncos 6-10
Just three years removed from winning Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos still have a top notch defense, led by Von Miller, but their offense remains a question as they continue to flounder in their search to replace Peyton Manning. Paxton Lynch who was drafted in the first round after the Super Bowl to be the quarterback of the future was released, as they have turned to Case Keenum, hoping that his 2017 season with the Vikings was not a fluke. However, after bouncing around the league its more than likely Keenum will revert back to the quarterback that was always struggled to win..
Oakland Raiders 5-11
Oh, what mess the Oakland Raiders are. Just two years after ending a 14-year playoff drought the Raiders appear to be back at square one, after the trade of Khalil Mack. A trade that was forced in part because they have so many bad contracts they are in salary cap hell. Mark Davis has given Jon Gruden full range to build the team as he sees fits, and he has already made some terrible moves trading a third-round pick for Martavis Bryant, who after off-field troubles was cut. Mack along with Derek Carr was the main reason the Raiders turned things around, now they are solely relying on Carr, who does not have enough tools around him to get it done.
- Coach of the Year
- Comeback Player of the Year
- Defensive Rookie of the Year
- Offensive Rookie of the Year
- Defensive Player of the Year
- Offensive Player of the Year
- NFL MVP
- Mike Zimmer
- Aaron Rodgers
- Bradley Chubb
- Saquon Barkley
- Calais Campbell
- Leonard Fournette
- Aaron Rodgers
- Minnesota Vikings
- Green Bay Packers
- Denver Broncos
- New York Giants
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Green Bay Packers
- Coach of the YearMike Zimmer
- Comeback Player of the YearAaron Rodgers
- Defensive Rookie of the YearBradley Chubb
- Offensive Rookie of the YearSaquon Barkley
- Defensive Player of the YearCalais Campbell
- Offensive Player of the YearLeonard Fournette
- NFL MVPAaron Rodgers
- Minnesota VikingsMike Zimmer
- Green Bay PackersAaron Rodgers
- Denver BroncosBradley Chubb
- New York GiantsSaquon Barkley
- Jacksonville JaguarsCalais Campbell
- Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Fournette
- Green Bay PackersAaron Rodgers
FIRING SQAUDCoaches who will be looking for work after the season
- Pete Carroll-Seattle Seahawks
- Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys
- Adam Gase-Miami Dolphins
- Jay Gruden-Washington Redskins
- John Harbaugh-Baltimore Ravens
- Hue Jackson-Cleveland Browns
- Vance Joseph-Denver Broncos
- Dirk Koetter-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Marvin Lewis-Cincinnati Bengals