Sep. 10, 2018
Just in Time: Buy and Sell for All 32 Teams
Thursday, September 6, 2018: I frantically typed away in hopes of publishing this article before the inaugural moments of the 2018 NFL regular season. As the minutes dwindled, I recognized that I wouldn't achieve my goal. I closed my laptop and fixed my eyes on the TV, prepared for the next few hours of edge-of-my-seat action.
It never came.
I have no idea what I watched on Thursday evening, but it definitely wasn't football. For whatever reason, I guess the start to the NFL season was postponed until Sunday. So here I am, publishing this article on Saturday, well before any NFL action. Count it.
Arizona Cardinals: Despite the resurgence of David Johnson, the Cardinals’ season will be a letdown. Sam Bradford will grip Arizona fans’ hopes by surviving the first game, but all hope will be lost when Aaron Donald literally eats Bradford in the first quarter of their Week 2 matchup with Los Angeles. Sell.
Atlanta Falcons: Another year, another playoff run. The Falcons have enjoyed a multi-year stretch of being a Super Bowl contender, but they are running out of time. It will be a tooth and nail battle to reach the playoffs again, but Atlanta will ultimately get it done. No Super Bowl, though. Sorry, Atlanta. Buy.
Baltimore Ravens: Tough defense, but they are in no position to contend this year. A Joe Flacco – Michael Crabtree duo on offense will achieve nothing more than a 3rd place finish in the AFC North. Expect a lot of anonymous locker room statements about the quarterback situation. Sell.
Buffalo Bills: Nathan Peterman. Sell.
Carolina Panthers: After an up-and-down 2017 season, the Panthers look to have a more successful playoff venture this time around. There will be improvement, especially as McCaffrey becomes more (intelligently) involved. But with a mediocre pass defense in a conference with Matt Ryan and Drew Brees, expectations should be held in check this season. Buy.
Chicago Bears: I keep hearing rave reviews of 2nd-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but I’m yet to see consistent performance that justifies the hype. Chicago won’t be as much of a laughing stock this year, but they are in no position to dethrone Minnesota or Green Bay. They ain’t Cohen nowhere. Sell.
Cincinnati Bengals: Last year, I predicted that Andy Dalton would lose his starting job. I was wrong. Congrats, Andy, you’re sticking around to waste yet another year of AJ Green’s prime. Green is now 30 years old, and there is no hope in sight. The great hope in the state of Ohio this year is…. (Sell)
Cleveland Browns: Cleveland is ALIVE! I love the talent, but I’m not high (*wink*) on the character of some of the players. But the heck with it. 9-7 finish at worst, but I like this team to win 10 games. @ me. Buy.
Dallas Cowboys: There is a lot of doubt around the Cowboys this year, and understandably so. Both New York and Philadelphia will be better, while the Redskins have “more potential” with Alex Smith at the helm (*scoff*). The Dallas defense should be better, though, and I expect Dak to take a step forward this year. They won’t win anything major, but the Cowboys are a legitimate playoff team. Buy.
Denver Broncos: Fact: Denver’s 2017 quarterback depth chart was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read. While Case Keenum improves it, he doesn’t offer elite talent. Keenum was hugely reliant on the talent of the Minnesota receiving corps and offensive line last season. Denver will continue to struggle this year unless Keenum proves to be way more legitimate than I think he is. Sell.
Detroit Lions: One of Detroit’s biggest problem has been finishing drives. For some reason, Golden Tate’s 6-yard curl routes don’t work as well in the red zone. This is what has made Matt Prater such a fantasy stud. The addition of Kerryon Johnson is at least a step in the right direction, but this team ultimately has no hope for the playoffs this year, as Green Bay and Minnesota will continue to own that division. Sell.
Green Bay Packers: Year in and year out, the outlook for this team is the same. Aaron Rodgers is a stud, and the Packers will live and die by him. It’s boring to repeat over and over, but last season demonstrated how true it is. In a dominant comeback season, I expect Rodgers to lead the Packers to the NFC Championship game. Buy.
Houston Texans: I’m still trying to wrap my head around how Deshaun Watson has already “earned” the reputation as a great quarterback. He’s the 3rd-best quarterback in his own division. Houston’s defense will be a strong force, though, and the Texans will have a solid shot at the playoffs. Ultimately, though, the NFC is too overrun with talent, and Houston will find themselves on the outside looking in. Sell.
Indianapolis Colts: One year ago, Indianapolis graced us with a Scott Tolzien start against the LA Rams. It was a beautiful display of incompetence that I, personally, will not soon forget. Fortunately for Colts fans, Andrew Luck is back, and I’m highly optimistic about his return. This won’t be “the year” by any stretch of the imagination, but Indy will return to some form of competitiveness once again. They’re a year away from being a year away. For now, though: Sell.
Jacksonville Jaguars: After collapsing at the doorstep of the Super Bowl last year, the Jags are due for a regression. With the intra-division return of two superior quarterbacks, Blake Bortles won’t have as easy of a path through the AFC South this year. Jacksonville will squeak into the playoffs once again, but it won’t be pretty. This will be Bortles’ final year as the Jacksonville starter, though, so perhaps for that reason alone: Buy.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs’ greatest handicap is finally off of the roster! Despite consistent regular season success, Kansas City finally realized one of the universe’s chief truths: Alex Smith will never win a Super Bowl. Despite this revelation, Mahomes will have an up-and-down season, and the Chiefs will miss the playoffs. Give it another year, folks. This team is too talented to stay down. Sell.
Los Angeles Chargers: This is the year that the Chargers finally find themselves back in contention. They’re stacked on both sides of the ball, and each of their intra-division opponents seems to be due for a down season for one reason or another. Assuming Philip Rivers can find the strength to sling it for another year, look for San Diego to make a viable run at the Super Bowl. Buy.
Los Angeles Rams: After crumbling under the suddenness of their success last season, the Rams are going to be virtually unstoppable. They’ve only gotten more talented and experienced on both sides of the ball, and the brilliance (plus rugged looks) of Sean McVay will milk every ounce of potential out of that roster. Hello, Super Bowl. Buy.
Miami Dolphins: Minus New England, the AFC East is an utter disaster. Buffalo’s incompetence will buoy Miami’s potential, but even the return of Ryan Tannehill won’t get the hapless Dolphins above 3rd place in their division. Congrats on that Minkah Fitzpatrick selection, though. Sell.
Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins is an upgrade over Case Keenum, right? Yes, but not dramatically. The bigger news is the return of Dalvin Cook, who is poised to have a monster year. The Vikings can expect another successful season, though they won’t get quite as close to the Super Bowl this time around. Buy.
New England Patriots: Tom Brady is old. His wide receiver corps is average. His offensive line is average. And yet, I just don’t think that it matters. Brady and Gronk, whom I believe to be in their final two seasons, have the luxury of playing in a weak AFC late in their careers. As long as Belichick can make the New England defense somewhat respectable again, the Patriots will find themselves in the AFC Championship game. Buy.
New Orleans Saints: Speaking of old quarterbacks, Drew Brees is still chugging along, albeit with a little more help from the running game. Okay, a lot more help. Alvin Kamara is frighteningly good, and Mark Ingram will continue to be solid upon his return. The Saints seem stronger on all fronts, so not much will stand in their way. Unfortunately, I think the Brees will fade towards the end of the season, which will prevent a playoff push to overcome younger, stronger competition. Buy.
New York Giants: The Giants were the butt of countless jokes last season due to their complete lack of competitiveness. It was well-deserved, but all of that has to be put in the past. New York is back to full health, they’ve added a stud running back in Saquon Barkley, and they’ve solidified the left side of their offensive line. Despite the increase in talent, Eli Manning’s age and the Giants’ defense will ultimately be too powerful of limiting factors. Sell.
New York Jets: The Jets did a lot right this offseason, particularly in regard to their quarterback situation. Despite New York’s lack of receiving and offensive line talent, I believe that Sam Darnold has the maturity to grow in this difficult situation, which will land them at a sturdy 8-8. Jeff Fisher would be proud. Sell.
Oakland Raiders: “If I ever come back and coach, I'm never huddling again!” -Jon Gruden. With very little hope for success in Oakland this year, I’m just interested in watching Jon Gruden try to get Marshawn Lynch to be a part of a hurry-up offense. Look for Derek Carr to be carrying packs of Skittles onto the field as mid-drive incentives for Beast Mode. “I really get excited when we win. I get really upset when we don't, and I hope that still has a place in the NFL.” -also Jon Gruden. Well, Jon, you’re about to find out. Sell.
Philadelphia Eagles: I’m just resentful that, for the foreseeable future, a quarterback won’t be able to catch a pass on a trick play without some lazy commentator exclaiming, “PHILLY SPECIAL!” Despite the impending return of Carson Wentz and a stouter defense, Philly’s title push this season will fall short. That said, they’ll comfortably win the NFC East. Buy.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ah, the serial underachievers of the AFC. Pittsburgh is drowning in talent, but they always seem to find a way to fall short (post-2009, everybody. Calm down.). I’ve got a lot I’d like to dive into here, but I’ll keep it concise:
- Goodbye, Le’Veon; James Conner is an adequate replacement
- James Washington is even better than Smith-Schuster
- Ben Roethlisberger will continue his decline, but Mason Rudolph will have time to develop
The sky is the limit for this team, but I cannot help but feel like they’ll screw it up somehow. Buy.
San Francisco 49ers: Time for reality to set in for Jimmy G. San Francisco will experience multiple doses of reality, the first of which will come against the Minnesota Vikings. The 49ers have the benefit of playing in a division with mediocre Seattle and Arizona teams, but they don’t belong in the first or second tiers of NFC talent. Sell.
Seattle Seahawks: Close your eyes, Seattle. This is going to be rough to watch. Seattle’s offensive woes will continue this season; only this time, they won’t have an elite defense to bail them out. Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson will be performing one-man shows on each side of the ball throughout the year, and the Seahawks will slug it out with Arizona for 3rd place in the NFC West. Sell.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I’m about ready to give up on Jameis Winston. His occasional flashes of talent are so convincing, but then you turn around and he’s throwing ugly picks and eating his fingers on the sideline. He’s in the final two seasons of his contract, so this season will go a long way in determining his future. Unfortunately, the rest of the NFC South is head and shoulders above Tampa Bay, so the Bucs will just have to accept another 4th place finish. Sell.
Tennessee Titans: This is my dark horse team this year. The Titans reached the playoffs last season, but no one took their chances even remotely seriously. With a new offensive coordinator in town, I expect Marcus Mariota to take a surging step forward this year. The Titans will make the playoffs again, this time by dethroning the Jaguars for the AFC South crown. Buy.
Washington Redskins: Ladies and gentleman, the next team to fall into the Alex Smith trap! I give you, Washington! Redskins management correctly recognized that Kirk Cousins has a clear ceiling, but they attempted to solve that problem by signing a different but equally limited quarterback. Brass tacks: Alex Smith can’t carry your team to success. Adrian Peterson certainly cannot either. Washington is set for yet another 7-9 season… Okay, maybe 8-8? Sell.