Nov. 27, 2018
2018 NFL Midseason Prediction
We are officially halfway through the NFL season, as every team has now played at least eight games. How will the second half of the season shape up? Find out here with my NFL Midseason Prediction!
1) Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-5-1 (3 seed).
-The Steelers started the season 1-2-1, and looked as if they had a chance of missing the Playoffs. Since then they've gone on to win four straight and the defense has vastly improved, allowing only 18 points per game in the last four games compared to 29 points per game in their firs four games. The Steelers currently sit 5-2-1 and look like a Playoff team. If/when Le'Veon Bell comes back the Steelers should have a Running back 1-2 punch only rivaled with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara in New Orleans. This division is the Steelers to lose.
2) Baltimore Ravens, 9-7 (6 seed).
-The Ravens have a tough team led by a stingy defense. Joe Flacco has looked much better in 2018 than in recent years due to an improved offensive line and upgraded receiving core. John Brown, an offseason signing from the Arizona Cardinals has in particular has broken out for the Ravens this season with 34 receptions, 603 yards, and 4 TD's in nine games. The Ravens currently sit at 4-5 so they have their work cut out for them but I believe a strong defense can help carry them to the Playoffs. Let's not forget that the Ravens losses in the last three games have all came against teams with 6 or more wins, they're not losing to bad teams.
3) Cincinnati Bengals, 8-8.
-The Bengals have been absolutely electrifying this year, with four of their five wins so far coming on a game-winning drive or facing a deficit entering the fourth quarter. The Bengals have had a way of making every game interesting, well every one but their 45-10 loss to Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. The Bengals currently sit at 5-3 and are well in the Playoff discussion, but tough games plague the second half of their schedule (vs. Saints, @ Ravens, @ Chargers,
@ Steelers). The Bengals defense has been an absolute disaster as they're on pace to give up the most yards in a single-season in NFL history. The Bengals simply can not make the Playoffs if the defense keeps playing so poorly, and if they have to keep coming from behind the fourth quarter in order to win. Today's news that AJ Green will miss at least the next two games does not help the Bengals playoff chances either.
4) Cleveland Browns, 4-11-1.
-The Browns made some big moves last week, firing Head coach Hue Jackson and Offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The Browns now will be finishing out the season with Greg Williams as their interim Head coach. The Browns have looked much better in 2018 than recent years, but that's not saying much. Former no.1 pick, rookie Quarterback Baker Mayfield is currently having some growing pains but those should improve throughout the season. I could see the Browns winning two or three more games in 2018. Once 2019 comes around the Browns will likely move Greg Williams back to Defensive coordinator, and find a permanent Head coach and offensive coordinator
1) New England Patriots, 13-3 (2 seed).
-The Patriots started the season 1-2, and fans and analysts alike were flipping out and questioning if this was the end of the Patriots dynasty. Since then the Patriots have won _ straight games, and have looked great doing it. The offense has been averaging _ points over those/the last six games and only allowing _ points per game. An improved offense and defense have the Patriots looking like a Super Bowl contender once again.
2) Miami Dolphins, 7-9.
-The Dolphins started the season 3-0, which got people's attention pretty fast. Since then they've gone 2-4, putting them just outside of the Playoff picture. The Dolphins have had Brock Osweiler start their last four games while Ryan Tannehill has been injured. Quite frankly, I don't think having Osweiler or Tannehill under center is good news for the Dolphins as they try to make the Playoffs for the first time since 2016.
3) New York Jets, 6-10.
-The Jets have looked super inconsistent so far this season with the offense scoring in the 30's one game and the 10's the next, and the defense doing virtually the same. Rookie Quarterback and no.3 overall pick Sam Darnold has looked underwhelming so far, but he is a rookie. Darnold's statline to this point: 1,934 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Over time I think Darnold will figure it out, and improve but 2018 is likely just a season for Darnold to get his feet wet in the NFL. The Jets definitely don't look like a Playoff team in 2018, but with tons of salary cap space (https://overthecap.com/salary-cap-space/) and a young franchise QB in place the Jets have potential in the years going forward.
4) Buffalo Bills, 4-12.
-After the first two games it was practically presumed the Bills were going to be the worst team in the NFL this season. Well, that's changed. The Bills haven't necessarily been anything special still, going 2-7 and having lost their rookie Quarterback Josh Allen for the last three games. One big problem for the Bills has been an unusual lack of production from veteran Running back LeSean McCoy. The Bills offense may have problems for a few years if they don't find ways to be more productive on the ground, and get a better receiving core.
1) Houston Texans, 10-6 (4 seed).
-After starting 0-3 the Texans playoff chances looked slim. Since then the Texans have won six straight. The team traded for veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas last Tuesday in hopes of filling the void left by Will Fuller tearing his ACL. It'll be interesting to see how Thomas fits into this offense as the season progresses, regardless, the Texans look like the deepest and most well-rounded team in the AFC South.
2) Tennessee Titans, 9-7.
-This Titans team have been consistent on offense and defense, the only problem, the offense has consistently been abysmal. The Titans at the moment are scoring only 16.8 points per game, and 20.8 points per game in their four wins so far. Despite the lack of scoring, the Titans defense is tied with the Cowboys when it comes holding opponents to the least amount of points in the league (17.6 points per game) and has kept the team in positions to win at the end of the game. I'm not going to put my money on the Titans making the Playoffs, but they should be in the race down the stretch.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars, 6-10.
-This season has been a disappointment for a Jaguars team that made the AFC Championship game last season. Last season's tough Jaguars defense hasn't looked quite as tough to this point. If the Jaguars want to have any shot of making the Playoffs this defense is going to have to carry Blake Bortles and one of the NFL's worst offenses. I don't think this 2018 Jaguars squad has it in them to turn around their 3-5 record to this point.
4) Indianapolis Colts, 5-11.
-I can't be the only one who's extremely happy to see Andrew Luck back in the NFL and performing well. Luck has thrown for over 300 yards in four of the Colts eight games to this point, and has been fairly efficient in the other four games. The problem with this team is they don't have a super impressive offensive line and their secondary needs major improvement. The Colts aren't a Playoff threat this year, but keep your eyes on them moving forward.
1) Kansas City Chiefs, 14-2 (1 seed).
-Who's going to stop this Chiefs offense? Nobody. The Chiefs have scored 30 or more in all but one of their games to this point. It's not everyday you see an offense that's so good they instantly make their team favorites to win their game. The Chiefs defense is flat out bad, but I don't think that's going to hurt their regular season record. Right now, I think the Chiefs have the NFL MVP at Quarterback with Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs will lock up home-field advantage in the AFC.
2) Los Angeles Chargers, 11-5 (5 seed).
-The Chargers are one the NFL's most well-rounded teams with a good amount of talent on the offense and defense, this team would win nearly any division in the NFL. The only problem is that this is one of the divisions they probably won't win due to how good the Chiefs are. Veteran Quarterback Philip Rivers will take the Chargers to Playoffs where he'll try to make it to his first Super Bowl.
3) Denver Broncos, 6-10.
-It's weird not seeing the Broncos in the Playoffs, I got used to seeing them in the Playoffs because they made them every year from 2011-2015. The last two years the Broncos just haven't been able to find their way back to the Playoffs, and I don't think they have the offensive talent to do it this year. Offseason Quarterback signee Case Keenum hasn't returned to the high level of play he had in 2017, and upfront the offensive line is below average. The Broncos should be on the outside looking in come Playoff time.
4) Oakland Raiders, 1-15.
-At this point, it seems clear that the Raiders are going into tank mode. They got whooped 34-3 on National television to a poor 49ers team and a QB making his first start. I don't think Jon Gruden has what it takes to turn around this franchise, but that's for a different time. The Raiders will have a lot of questions as they enter the offseason with the number one pick, and two other first round selections.
1) Minnesota Vikings, 11-4-1 (3 seed).
-The Vikings got off to a slow 1-2-1 start including being dominated at home by one of the NFL's worst teams (the Bills). Since then the Vikings are 4-1, and looking a lot better than they did at the beginning of the season. With a good defense and a now healthy Dalvin Cook going forward, the Vikings are trending upwards. The NFC North is could end up being a dog fight, but the Vikings are clearly the biggest dog in that fight.
2) Chicago Bears, 9-7.
-The Bears currently have the _th ranked defense in the NFL, and that's a big reason they are 5-3 at the midway point of the season, and currently have the lead/are right in the picture in the NFC North. The trade for Khalil Mack is a big reason why the Bears defense has been so good; Mack has five sacks, four forced fumbles, and one interception...Oh yeah, he's missed two games by the way. The Bears will be relying on that stout defense and a good offense under first year head coach Matt Nagy down the stretch. All-in-all, I think the Bears will fall just short of the Playoffs but I think in the following years they will continue to be in the Playoff hunt.
3) Green Bay Packers, 8-7-1.
-The Packers are only a potential playoff team because of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers aren't that talented, especially not on the defensive side of the ball. The defense should only get worse after they traded a good young safety in HaHa Clinton-Dix to the Washington Redskins. I did not understand this move at all, and in the end I think it will derail the Packers season.
4) Detroit Lions, 6-10.
-The Lions have been an interesting team to this point, winning games vs. the Patriots but getting blown out by the Jets. Nothing about this team has screamed consistency. This doesn't necessarily come as a surprise to me with a first year coach (Matt Patricia) at the helm, a defense that ranks bottom half of the league in every single category, and an offensive line that hasn't been so great so far. A lot of people questioned the Lions trading away receiver Golden Tate, but I agree with the trade as it gives the Lions a higher round draft pick and gives them the chance to see how they'll do with the younger receiving duo of Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay.
1) Philadelphia Eagles, 10-6 (4 seed).
-The defending Super Bowl champions haven't been spectacular to this point, sitting 4-4 at the midway point of the season. This team has a very talented defense, one of the NFL's best offensive line's, and a great young QB in Carson Wentz. The Eagles went ahead and gave Wentz some help at the trade deadline, trading for veteran receiver Golden Tate. Tate could play a big role for the Eagles down the stretch since the Eagles run game hasn't been performing well since Jay Ajayi's season was ended after tearing his ACL. I believe this division will come down to a Week 17 matchup with the Eagles visiting the Redskins, give me the defending Champions!
2) Washington Redskins, 9-7.
-The Redskins have surprised me to this point. A stout defense (minus Week 5 and Week 9), and 33-year old Running back Adrian Peterson have the Redskins looking very much in the Playoff picture. Can we just take a second to talk about Peterson? He's on pace to go over 1,000 yards for the season after not even being on a roster prior to the Preseason. The Redskins traded for young safety HaHa Clinton-Dix from the Packers, a perfect counter move to the Eagles trade for Tate. As I said before, I think the NFC East title will come down to a Week 17 matchup between the Redskins and Eagles in Washington. I think the Redskins have a good squad, just not one that's better than the Eagles.
3) Dallas Cowboys, 6-10.
-The Cowboys aren't necessarily off to a great start, going 3-5 in their first eight games. The team's defense has been their strong point so far, allowing only 17.6 points per game and 313.7 yards per game. Ezekiel Elliott is doing what he does, rushing for 680 yards in eight games to this point. Good news is for the Cowboys is that Elliott shouldn't have to carry the offense the rest of the season since the Cowboys traded away a first round pick for 24-year old receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper gives third year Quarterback Dak Prescott a decently reliable target going forward.
4) New York Giants, 3-13.
-Well, it's safe to say the Giants season isn't off to a pretty start. The team is 1-7 and may be the worst team in the NFL. 37-year old Quarterback Eli Manning has been better than people have been giving him credit for, but it's clear Father time is taking it's tole on Manning and his time in the NFL is running low. It'll be interesting to see if Manning will hang them up after 2018 or not, my money's on him retiring after this season. Whatever Quarterback that is next in line for the Giants will have some nice weapons to work with, with star rookie Running back Saquan Barkley, one of the NFL's best Wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr., a good third year receiver in Sterling Shepard, and second year Tight end Evan Engram.
1) New Orleans Saints, 14-2 (2 seed).
-The Saints are in control when it comes getting home-field advantage after their big win against the Los Angeles Rams. Drew Brees and the offense are rolling as expected, and the defense has done about what it was expected to (be good one game, bad another). Unfortunately, I think a trap game in Tampa Bay will be what derails the Saints having home-field advantage. Regardless, the Saints have the type of team built for the present day NFL and are very much a Super Bowl threat.
2) Atlanta Falcons, 10-6 (5 seed).
-Young star linebacker Deion Jones was put on IR after Week 1, young safety Keanu Neal tore his ACL Week 1 and is out for the season, and the other safety Ricardo Allen is out for the entire season too. Despite this, the Falcons are 4-4. Even more impressive? Their starting Running back Devonta Freeman has missed nearly all of the season so far. The Falcons high scoring offense has fixed this team after their 1-4 start to the season. Don't blink now, but the Falcons are right back in the middle of the Playoff picture. I'm not confident in the Falcons defense, but I think their offense is more than good enough to get them into the Playoffs.
3) Carolina Panthers, 10-6 (6 seed).
-The Panthers sit at 6-2 at the midway point of the season, and look like one of the NFL's best teams. The offense has been great averaging _ points per game so far, and the defense has held it's own. Cam Newton has remained one of the NFL's better QB's, and second year back Christian McCaffrey has really broken out this season with 880 yards from scrimmage and 5 TD's in eight games so far this season. Newton and McCaffrey will carry a dangerous Panthers team into the Playoffs.
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7-9.
-The Buccaneers have been a pleasant surprise this season. They may only be 3-5, but they're a good 3-5 if their is such thing. Veteran Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a stellar 14th season in the NFL, and the Buccaneers receiving core has looked tremendous to this point. In my opinion, the Buccaneers have the best receiving core top-to-bottom. The only thing that's kept the Buccaneers from having a better record so far is their abysmal defense. The biggest question facing this Buccaneers team is what they'll do with former no.1 overall pick and fourth year Quarterback Jameis Winston.
That's a question better saved for the offseason than now.
1) Los Angeles Rams, 15-1 (1 seed).
-The Rams were 8-0 until they took their first loss of the season on the road against the Saints. The Rams should not fret, the rest of the games on their schedule look more than winnable. The Rams have arguably the most well-rounded team in the NFL. They can beat you in all three phases of the game: Offense, Defense, and Special teams. If the Rams survive a tilt with the Chiefs in Mexico City they'll go 15-1.
2) Seattle Seahawks, 8-8.
-How does Russell Wilson continuously make this team look better than they actually are? The Seahawks have a weak offensive line, no good Tight end's, a receiving core that's seen Doug Baldwin pass his no.1 receiver role onto Tyler Lockett, a front seven where only three of the players are undeniably good (Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, and Frank Clark), and a weak secondary even before they lost Earl Thomas for the season. I can't help but feel like Russell Wilson is the only thing keeping this team from being one of the NFL's worst. I still won't downplay how good Bobby Wagner is, he may be the second or third best Middle linebacker in the league. The Seahawks are 4-4 right now, and I think they'll probably go 4-4 in the second half of the season too.
3) Arizona Cardinals, 3-13.
-This has been a flat out bad season for the Cardinals. Offensively this team is a mess, the offensive line is terrible, the receiving core has been hit or miss, David Johnson is no longer playing like the superstar he was in 2015 and 2016, and rookie Quarterback Josh Rosen has thrown for over 250 yards only once in his seven starts. Let's not put too much of the blame on Rosen and Johnson though, without this bad of an offensive line it's hard to do much. No wonder the Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy after their 45-10 loss in Week 7 to the Broncos. Luckily for the Cardinals, they have a pretty good defense. The Cardinals fully focus their time and money on upgrading the offense before the 2019 season.
4) San Francisco 49ers, 2-14.
-If you're the 49ers, at this point why try your hardest to win games? I get that you should never play to lose, but this team's season is already over and they'd only be hurting their draft positioning by winning more games. Before the season even started the 49ers Playoff chances took a huge hit when offseason Running back signee Jerrick McKinnon tore his ACL in practice. The 49ers Playoff chances completely died when their highly-paid new franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in a week 3 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Fear not 49ers faithful, this team is young and talented, has a ton of cap space (https://overthecap.com/salary-cap-space/) and if they can get back to full health by the time 2019 rolls around, they could be dangerous.
(5) Los Angeles Chargers @ (4) Houston Texans // Chargers win 27-23
-The Texans were my preseason pick to win the Super Bowl but an 0-3 start to the season put them an unfavorable spot. Even worse than that, if things shape up how I see them shaping up, the Texans don't have a favorable Playoff matchup. Veteran Quarterback Philip Rivers has no fear of playing Playoff games on the road, in road Playoff games he's 2-3 for his career. The Texans are a very talented team, but I'm taking the Philip Rivers lead Chargers in a win-or-go home situation.
(6) Baltimore Ravens @ (3) Pittsburgh Steelers // Steelers win 24-20
-A bitter rivalry comes to the forefront when the Ravens visit the Steelers in the AFC Wildcard round. These teams split the regular season matchups with both winning on the other teams. This game here, the tiebreaker. When push comes to shove, I'll take the Ben Roethlisberger lead team over the Joe Flacco lead team.
(5) Atlanta Falcons @ (4) Philadelphia Eagles // Eagles win 35-24
-These two teams met week one, with the Eagles squeaking past the Falcons 18-12 at home. These are two very evenly matched teams, and this game should be very tightly contested. The difference maker? Golden Tate. When these teams met in Week 1, the Eagles only had two serious receiving threats (Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery). The Falcons have a beat up secondary, and adding a weapon like Golden Tate will push the Eagles over the Falcons.
(6) Carolina Panthers @ (3) Minnesota Vikings // Vikings win 30-24
-So far this season it looks like these tow teams have been battling for the title of third best team in the NFC. This game will have to be the deciding factor. I love what the Panthers have done so far, but the Vikings are simply a more complete team than the Panthers. Vikings take this one!
(3) Pittsburgh Steelers @ (2) New England Patriots // Patriots win 38-24
-What a familiar sight, the Steelers and Patriots meeting in a game of big importance. In this one, a spot in the AFC Championship is on the line. One of the biggest factors in this game is how the Patriots will game plan for the Steelers potential Running back duo of Le'Veon Bell and James Conner. If anyone can come up with perfect game plan to neutralize/slow down the Steelers attack it's Bill Belichick. The Belichick led Patriots will be rolling on offense and defense as they advance to their eight straight AFC Championship game appearance.
(5) Los Angeles Chargers @ (1) Kansas City Chiefs // Chiefs win 29-27
-Two division foes face off with a spot in the AFC Championship on the line. Philip Rivers guides a very talented Chargers team on the road against phenom Patrick Mahomes and the NFL's best offense. The Chargers will lead all game..right until the end. The Chargers mistake? They'll put the ball in Patrick Mahomes hands to determine the game. Mahomes guides the Chiefs on a game-winning drive that ends in a Harrison Butker field goal as time expires. The Chiefs move onto the AFC Championship!
(3) Minnesota Vikings @ (2) New Orleans Saints // Saints win 31-17
-Last year it was the Minneapolis Miracle that ended the Saints season in absolutely devastating fashion. This year? The New Orleans beatdwon will end the Vikings season. I know a 14-point loss doesn't scream beatdwon, but I'm going to say one of the Vikings TD's comes in garbage time. The Drew Brees lead Saints will give the Vikings defense nightmares, the pressure of the moment and the crowd noise will get to Kirk Cousins. New Orleans gets their revenge!
(4) Philadelphia Eagles @ (1) Los Angeles Rams // Rams win 31-23
-The Rams seemed unbeatable until the Saints beat them this week in New Orleans. Should that discourage anyone from having faith in the Rams going forward? Absolutely not. The Rams will prove how good they are right here when they take down the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.
(2) New England Patriots @ (1) Kansas City Chiefs // Chiefs win 30-28
-What's the best way to take down Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Playoffs? Make them play you on the road. Tom Brady is 2-3 in AFC Championship games on the road, with his last road AFC Championship win coming in 2004. All three of Brady's three road Championship losses came at the hands of Peyton Manning lead teams. The Chiefs have a pretty great Quarterback too in Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes excellent play combined with the NFL's loudest crowd will propel the Chiefs past the Patriots and onto the Super Bowl!
(2) New Orleans Saints @ (1) Los Angeles Rams // Saints win 28-21
-After watching these teams meet up this past week I learned one thing, I want to see them matchup again. Well in this scenario I get my wish and these two excellent teams meet for the NFC title. The hardest task you can ask of any is to win an NFL playoff game on the road. The teams who can, well they're special. This Saints team is special. Drew Brees will be the difference maker in what will be another great matchup between these two powerhouses. Fear not Rams fans, your team is loaded and will be in the Super Bowl discussion for many years to come.
Super Bowl 53
New Orleans Saints vs. Kansas City Chiefs // Saints win 45-41
-How do you beat the Chiefs? You have to outscore them, because your defense will not stop them. The same could be said for the Saints. Defensive fans close your eyes, this game is going to be an absolute shootout. This game very well may come down to who has the ball in their hands last, Drew Brees or Patrick Mahomes? Storybook endings don't always happen, but Drew Brees will have a chance to further etch his name into the NFL history books. Drew Brees gets it done and leads the Saints on a game-winning drive to win the Super Bowl! The Saints get a title and Drew Brees ends his career with a second Super Bowl championship.