- New England
Even if they lost the Super Bowl, they’ve still got Brady, Gronkowski, and Belichick. These guys aren’t moving down the rankings anytime soon.
They’ve got no ground game and they’ve got a quarterback with an accuracy problem and the habit of coughing up the ball.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill still isn’t healthy and the team lost Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, and Mike Pouncey. Gonna be a long season.
- New York Jets
It’s tough to be a Jets fan these days, especially when they have to play in the AFC South and NFC North.
As long as Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger remain on the field, the Steelers will win the division this year. Hopefully Le’Veon Bell will join them soon.
Three years of missing the playoffs will be on everybody’s minds in Baltimore this year. If Joe Flacco doesn’t get his rhythm right out of the gate, they’ll be looking for another quarterback.
On paper, the Bengals look pretty solid, especially on offense: good runners, good catchers, and a good offensive line. But they’ve looked good on paper before, and last year’s 6-10 may be a strong indicator of what to expect this season.
Oh boy, where to start? The Browns have been one of the worst teams in the NFL for the last three seasons. But the surprise showing of last year’s defense against the run (14th in the league, according to SI.com) coupled with the almost inevitable turn of Baker Mayfield as the starter might finally get the Browns out of the NFL doghouse.
SI.com made this comment about Jacksonville’s chances back in June 2018: “Tom Coughlin understands that Blake Bortles doesn’t have to win the game as long as he doesn’t lose the game.” Sound dismissive? It isn’t; the defense is mean mean mean and the offensive front line isn’t to be messed with.
The running game is good, the offensive line is solid, so the Titans should have no problem lighting up the score board this year, right? Well, only if Marcus Mariota can throw the ball to the guys with the same colored jersey he’s wearing.
Five words will define the season for the Colts: what’s up with Andrew Luck? If he’s healthy, they should do better than last year’s 4-12 record. If he’s not, well, 4-12 might be the best they can hope for.
Depending on who you ask, Deshaun Watson is a better quarterback than the last three guys who had the job at Houston. J.J. Watt will be back and hopefully stay healthy, so that should make the opposing teams a little nervous every week.
- Kansas City
Alex Smith has gone to Washington, and Pat Hahomes is in the driver’s seat in Kansas City. The defense has been swapped out, and everyone agrees head coach Andy Reid knows what he’s doing.
- Los Angeles Chargers
They were down for two years before taking second place in the division last year with an 11-5 record, but the Chargers will need to figure out their tight end situation ASAP.
Why the excitement? GRUDEN! Why the nervousness? Also Gruden. No matter how awesome he is as an NFL coach, it would be silly to ignore the fact that he’s been gone for ten years and not expect there to be some growing pains (he traded Khalil Mack, for Pete’s sake!).
How do you improve on a 4-12 record with only one win on the road and eight straight losses in the middle of the season? Figure out the quarterback situation. Can Denver do that? Well…
As of right now, the Eagles look like they can repeat on last year’s roller coaster of a season and win another Super Bowl. The quarterback situation has been wonderful for this team.
Dak Prescott may be looking better, but they don’t have the proper receiving corps to compliment his skills.
The team has to stay healthy to improve on being ranked 27 in the league for scoring, and that will depend on Alex Smith.
- New York Giants
No pass rush means a big problem for the Giants, so they better hope Odell Beckham Jr. stays healthy enough to make a few miracle catches this season.
Don’t dwell on the awesomeness that was the Minneapolis Miracle. A third NFC North crown in four years? They could do it. The only soft spot on the offense may be the interior of the offensive line.
They went 9-7 last year, and the forecast seems to be calling for more of the same in this tough division.
- Green Bay
Four words: Keep Aaron Rodgers healthy. Why? Six words: They want to reach the playoffs.
After going 4-12 last year, everyone is labeling the 2018 season as a rebuilding year for the Bears. Nothing on the roster suggests anything to contradict that, but that’s why they play the game.
- New Orleans
With Drew Brees under center, the offense will do its job. But if the defense doesn’t, they won’t make the playoffs this year.
Norv Turner and Cam Newton? Haven’t seen an arranged football marriage like that since Mike Ditka and Ricky Williams. Still, being solid on both offense and defense doesn’t hurt.
Remember the 2017 Super Bowl? The Falcons still do, even two seasons later, and they’ve got the offensive weapons for a return trip.
- Tampa Bay
Last year wasn’t kind to the Buccaneers, so there should be no place to go but up, right? Well, if Jameis Winston wasn’t going to be out those first few games…
- Los Angeles Rams
Between a defense that now sports Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald, Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib, this team has built a monster. Early Super Bowl favorites.
This isn’t going to be the Seahawks we’ve come to know over the last few seasons. The Legion of Boom has disbanded, so now we get to find out what will replace them.
It seems like Arizona is always in the process of finding its identity out there in the desert. Maybe they’ll find it this year, although history doesn’t suggest they will.
- San Francisco
Keep an eye on the Niners this year. After finishing 10-6 last year and adding a bunch of guys (hello, Richard Sherman!), they might make the playoffs this year if they can improve slightly.