NFL 2019 Season Divisional Predictions: Surprises In Store

by Garrison Williams

AFC North – Cleveland Browns

This is by far the biggest surprise. We all remember the famous 2017 0-16 season for the Browns. However, at the same time, is it a surprise? For the first time since 2002 (their last playoff appearance), it feels like the Browns are doing the right things. They drafted their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield and fired their winless season coach Hue Jackson which proved they were ready to put the past behind them. Despite not going for an outside hire like Cincinnati did, promoting Freddie Kitchens was the step in the right direction that they needed. Ever since, picking up big names like Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham, Jr. to add to Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb is solidifying their offense. The best thing they can do at this point is draft a cornerback round 1 after losing Jabrill Peppers to the Giants. The next closest thing is the Ravens; however, competing with Cleveland is going to be tough without a star receiver for Lamar Jackson. Pittsburgh won’t draft a receiver to replace Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger isn’t getting any younger. Cincinnati is excited about Zac Taylor; however they aren’t making the strides necessary to compete in this conference. See you next year Cincinnati.

  1. Cleveland Browns
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC East – New England Patriots

This pick seems like a no-brainer. The defending Super Bowl champions have won the AFC East every season consistently since 2009. While they might not be Super Bowl winning quality, there isn’t another team in this division to even come close to beating them. Buffalo proved to us how serious they are about losing after rejecting Antonio Brown. Miami has Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback but not a strong enough defensive line to stop anyone’s run game (and unfortunately, “Fitzmagic” isn’t good enough to compensate for that). Despite the Jets picking up Le’veon Bell in free agency, they have too many holes to fill in almost every other position.

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Buffalo Bills
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. New York Jets

AFC South – Jacksonville Jaguars

Somehow this team is proving to us just how much a quarterback affects the team’s success. Unfortunately, Blake Bortles’s football career will be laid to rest in Los Angeles; however when (not if) the Jaguars pick up the Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, they’ll be right back to where they were in 2017. It was respectable to try out Carlos Hyde, and I personally would’ve kept him to see if he would fit better with Foles than Fournette does, but Jacksonville has room to breathe when they pick up Foles and draft a right tackle to protect him. I want to believe in Deshaun Watson and the Texans, but sadly their depth chart makes all signs point to a worse 2019 season. Indianapolis will work their way back to obscurity and mediocrity but they definitely will surpass the team who signed Ryan Tannehill.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars
  2. Houston Texans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Tennessee Titans

AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs

    Had it been for the lost coin toss in the AFC championship game, I would’ve told you Kansas City had more than a legitimate shot at winning Super Bowl LIII. I predict 2019 will hold a similar fate for this team, providing that Tyreek Hill isn’t making himself unavailable/releasable due to his investigations. Kansas City’s defense was holding them back last season, and after releasing Eric Berry and Justin Houston in the off-season to make room for Houston star safety Tyrann Mathieu and linebacker Damien Wilson, they are set up pretty well for next season on the defensive side. Losing Kareem Hunt didn’t seem to affect them as much as anticipated, but having a star running back again would be ideal.

Obviously, I have to pity the Chargers in this division. They’re going to have a steep road ahead of them if they want to win the division, and they deserve it. Philip Rivers had a stunning performance last season (I doubt we’ll see it again but, who knows) and once Joey Bosa is back, they’ll have enough key elements to give Andy Reid a scare. The Raiders actually will jump the Broncos in this division. They have three first round picks and Antonio Brown. They’re going to fill in some substantial gaps this season, and who knows, maybe give the Chargers a run for their money. No doubt the Broncos fall to number four. I believe in Case Keenum, and at the very least I don’t think Joe Flacco is a better option. There’s a reason Lamar Jackson is the Raven’s quarterback. Why would he be Denver’s choice over the Minnesota Miracle man?

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Los Angeles Chargers
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Denver Broncos

NFC North – Chicago Bears

So it wasn’t in the stars for Chicago the 2018 season. Of the things that happened for the Bears this season, no one expected their playoff loss to come down to their sub-par kicker. If fixing that problem is what they need to make it to the conference semifinals at least (they would’ve) then that is an easy solution. Fortunately they have plenty of time to fix more than that, and they did. Adding Redskins Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety and Cordarrelle Patterson at wide receiver is the start they need, and next season I don’t just predict they win the division, I predict they go to the NFC championship game. I’m not a huge fan of Aaron Rodgers, but I respect his talent. At 35, he’s more consistent than ever. Draft a talented receiver and they’ll secure number 2 in this division. Unfortunately on the decline is Minnesota. Going back a season, why get rid of Case Keenum? Kirk Cousins isn’t exactly living up to the hype so I predict another rebuilding year for this team. Detroit stays at the bottom. To say this team has a lot to do is an understatement. They filled the hole in the receiving core left by Golden Tate with Tommylee Lewis, and resigned cornerback Marcus Cooper. However, on top of that and scouting out Montez Sweat, even beating Minnesota in the division will be a problem for this team.

  1. Chicago Bears
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Minnesota Vikings
  4. Detroit Lions

NFC East – Washington Redskins

Boy has this team been busy. Good decisions do happen in Washington. The gaining of quarterback Case Keenum was by far the best after what happened to Alex Smith. The next best being resigning Adrian Peterson. This is an elite running back, and one of few good things that happened to the Redskins. It is no wonder why they made resigning him a priority. Also a big move for Washington was signing safety Landon Collins, just one of the many ways the Giants have pulled rugs out from underneath themselves. Collins is going to contribute significantly to this defense. Another big signing was cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, out of Oakland. Rodgers-Cromartie is a 15 year NFL veteran, and will be an asset to this team. Last but certainly not least, the tackle Ereck Flowers was signed out of Jacksonville. Getting some experience out there to protect Keenum will be a change of pace from where he was at in Denver. These signings bump them ahead of the Cowboys and the Eagles. The Cowboys are going to be a force to be reckoned with if they can make the right drafts, but are they doing enough to place them ahead of this Washington team? History points to no.

The Eagles unfortunately sit back at number three in the division. Without Nick Foles to be Carson Wentz’s safety net, and seeing how prone to injury he is, I cannot explain why Foles wasn’t franchise-tagged. But, it happened, and watching the Eagles fall farther down the chain will be fun because of it. Last and certainly least, the New York Giants. I predict the giants have the worst season of all teams in the NFL. In the process of “rebuilding” they have lost their star receiver and star safety. Granted, they got Jabrill Peppers, but look at what they lost in the process. Odell Beckham Jr. was one of the things that this team was doing right. This trade was truly inexplicable. The only dumber thing they could’ve done would be to trade Saquon Barkley, and to sign Eli Manning on for more. They’ve already done the latter, who knows what their plans are at this point

  1. Washington Redskins
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. New York Giants

NFC South – New Orleans Saints

    Losing Alvin Kamara was a hit to the Saints, but signing Latavius Murray was the perfect patch on that hole. I do not think that the Saints will be back in full force like they were last season. Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger and unfortunately despite my admiration for Taysom Hill, he and Teddy Bridgewater are not viable replacements. They are all together too unreliable away. With a later draft pick, I don’t see things going too well for this Saints team overall. This is because in the division, no one can really beat them. I do predict Carolina drafting higher and improving their struggling defense, surpassing Atlanta. These teams were closely ranked at the end of last season, and with Matt Ryan on the decline, I give advantage to Carolina. Also, sorry about your luck Tampa Bay fans, your golden boy is gone. Without Ryan Fitzpatrick there to clean up after Jameis Winston, this team needs more help than most.

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Carolina Panthers
  3. Atlanta Falcons
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West – Los Angeles Rams

    This is going to be an interesting year for the Rams. I fully expect them to go back and win that Super Bowl. They have all of the necessary tools, minus the experience that comes along with it. One thing that would be a strong step in the right direction (aside from all the other good things they are doing to build up the defense, of course) is sign Ndamukong Suh. There is no doubt that he has contributed to what I consider to be top three best defensive lines in the league. Why change that? Now, do I think the 49ers have a legitimate shot at winning this division? Sure. Once Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon and the rest of the IR are back, the Niners have made substantial progress in the loose ends they’re picking up. I predict they draft Nick Bosa, and solidify the pass rush game. Unfortunately I’ll play it safe and stick with the Rams. See you next season San Francisco. Arizona is going to make all of the wrong decisions and draft Kyler Murray with the first pick, thus placing them behind Seattle. Somehow Kliff Kingsbury has failed his way upwards in spectacular fashion. Bringing him on to be a mini Sean McVay isn’t going to work. They would be better off trading their first round pick for several later first round picks (or any picks) to patch up the seemingly endless amount of holes in the system.

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. Arizona Cardinals

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