All posts by Griffin Mathiews

Updated NFL power rankings

32. Miami Dolphins

There’s not been much for Miami to be excited about this season as they haven’t scored more than 10 points in a game this season. Also, Miami has allowed at least 30 points in every game this season. It hasn’t helped that the Dolphins had a tough schedule to start the 2019 season, but they are clearly the worst team in the NFL at this point.

31. Washington Redskins

The Redskins are a really incompetent organization that has no real direction at this point. The problems for Washington starts with the uncertainty at the quarterback position. Case Keenum has struggled recently and he was benched during the game against the Giants. Rookie Dwayne Haskins got his first chance at playing time, but he clearly showed that he isn’t ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL yet. Washington has issues on both sides of the ball, but head coach Jay Gruden might be fired very soon if the Redskins continue to play poorly.

30. New York Jets

The Jets have been absolutely lost without starting quarterback Sam Darnold. Hopefully they can get him back soon because the offense has looked completely incompetent without him. The Jets still aren’t going to be a good team even when Darnold returns, but they badly need him back if they want to be a respectable team. The Jets have a few really tough games coming up and it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which they’re not 0-6 by late October.

29. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals showed some potential when they nearly beat the Seahawks and Bills. However, the team has also looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL in their other two games especially on Monday when they got blown out by Pittsburgh. The Bengals offense clearly isn’t the same without A.J. Green and running back Joe Mixon has really struggled this season. I thought the Bengals would be at least decent this season, but the Bengals have proven that their offense isn’t very good despite having new offensive-minded head coach Zac Taylor.

28. Denver Broncos

It’s been a terrible start to the 2019 season for Denver and the loss of star pass rusher Bradley Chubb for the season certainly won’t help. The Broncos have suffered a couple of really difficult losses on game-winning field goals, but Joe Flacco is proving that he isn’t the answer at quarterback. Also, the Broncos defense that was supposed to carry the team hasn’t been very good to start the season.

27. Arizona Cardinals

The new offense for the Cardinals hasn’t looked very inspiring and Kyler Murray hasn’t performed well so far. It’s still early and it’s hard to expect Murray to make much of an impact as a rookie, but the Cardinals won’t win many games this season unless he improves. Arizona’s defense is also a cause for concern and the Cardinals play in a really tough division, so the Cardinals likely won’t win many games this season.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers

It was a really inspiring win for the Steelers on Monday, but let’s not forget that the win came against a terrible Bengals team. Pittsburgh’s not a terrible team without Ben Roethlisberger and they’re trying to remain competitive this season as evidenced by their acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick. However, the Steelers still have a lot more to prove and I’m just not sure that Mason Rudolph gives them much of a chance to win many games.

25. Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta has been arguably the most disappointing team this season and it’s been really surprising that their offense hasn’t been very good despite the abundance of talent that they have. Matt Ryan hasn’t played very well for the most part this season and the rest of the team around him just hasn’t stepped up. The Falcons still have a chance of turning around their season in an unpredictable NFC South division. However, the Falcons offense needs to play much better if the team wants to improve.

24. New York Giants

The Giants are a team on the rise with Daniel Jones at quarterback as he’s won the past 2 games for the Giants. However, the Giants are a one-dimensional team without Saquon Barkley and Jones struggled somewhat against the Redskins in week 4. We’ll learn a lot more about the Giants in the next 2 weeks when they play the Vikings and Patriots. There’s no doubt that the Giants are a better team with Daniel Jones as the quarterback, but the lack of overall talent around him is still concerning.

23. Tennessee Titans

Tennessee is a tough team to figure out because they looked terrific in week 1 and last week as well. However, they were terrible on offense during weeks 2 and 3. The Titans defense is very underrated and that leads to some reason for optimism for the Titans in the wide-open AFC South. That being said, quarterback Marcus Mariota and the offense need to be much more consistent which is something that I’m not sure will happen often this season.

22. Oakland Raiders

Oakland looked good in week 4 against the Colts, but I’m still not sold on the Raiders as a team moving forward. The defense is still a cause for concern and it’s also concerning that quarterback Derek Carr doesn’t really have many reliable targets to throw to. Oakland is a decent team, but they proved in weeks 2 and 3 that they aren’t ready to compete with some of the top teams in the NFL.

21. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have a very talented roster and it’s showing because they’re able to remain competitive despite star quarterback Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement just prior to the season. Jacoby Brissett has done a very good job as the starting quarterback and that’s allowed the Colts to remain competitive in every game that they’ve played this season. The Colts will likely compete for the division title this season, but they are too inconsistent right now for me to put them higher in the rankings.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars

Gardner Minshew has been arguably the best story in the NFL so far this season as he’s been a terrific replacement for Nick Foles at quarterback. Star running back Leonard Fournette had a terrific game in week 4 and the Jaguars offense could get better if he consistently performs at a high level. The Jaguars defense is also really talented, so if Minshew can continue to play well then the Jaguars could remain serious contenders for the AFC South title.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay suffered a heartbreaking loss in week 3, but they had a terrific bounce back game in week 4 as they put up 55 points and shocked the undefeated Rams. Shaq Barrett is the frontrunner for defensive player of the year and the offense is starting to really click with Jameis Winston getting better every week since the start of the season. Tampa Bay still needs to show more consistency, but they are an underrated team that could surprise some people this season.

18. Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers looked like a team destined for a really disappointing season after an 0-2 start. However, Kyle Allen has started the past 2 games at quarterback and he’s played really well while leading the Panthers to 2 straight wins. Carolina’s defense is very good and if Allen continues to play well then the Panthers could really become a tough team to beat. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Cam Newton returns, but the Panthers might just stick with Allen if he keeps winning games consistently.

17. Detroit Lions

Detroit’s been an impressive team so far this season and they came really close to pulling off a stunning upset of the Chiefs in week 4. I keep waiting for the Lions to fall apart like they usually do and it just feels like that the process is beginning. The Lions offense is still good, but it’s the defense that’s really making the difference this season. Maybe Detroit keeps playing well, but it’ll be tough for them to remain competitive in the really talented NFC North division.

16. Houston Texans

Houston’s a talented team that has really underachieved this season and the offense appears to be a cause for concern as evidenced by their week 4 loss to the Panthers. Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins has struggled this season and that’s really held back the Texans offense because they rely on him. I keep waiting for the Texans to improve especially since they’re probably the best team in their division, but they’ll continue to fall in the rankings if they keep playing like they did in week 4.

15. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore looked like a dominant team in the AFC after the first 2 weeks of the season. However, they’ve faced stiffer competition in the past 2 weeks and it’s shown that the Ravens likely aren’t ready to be one of the NFL’s top teams. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense has been very good for the most part this season, so there aren’t many concerns in that aspect. However, the defense hasn’t performed well recently and it’ll need to improve if they are going to be a playoff team this season. Baltimore has some issues that they need to fix, but they still have plenty of reason for optimism especially in a rather weak AFC North division.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Just when the Vikings looked really impressive after a dominant week 3 win and then they come back in week 4 and look like a completely different team. The Vikings have a really talented team, but their two losses against two good teams shows that they really aren’t ready to stack up with the top teams in the NFL. The Vikings are still a playoff contender, but the play of Kirk Cousins and the Vikings passing offense is really concerning.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers haven’t been all that impressive this season, but they’re still a good overall team. They have a terrific running game especially with the return of Melvin Gordon and the passing game is still very good with Philip Rivers leading the way. The Chargers have a rather easy schedule over the next few weeks, so they have a chance to really put themselves in prime playoff positioning. Also, if some of their key players like Derwin James and Hunter Henry return from injury soon then the Chargers could get even better as the season progresses.

12. Cleveland Browns

Cleveland looked like an overhyped team to begin the season, but week 4 really was a breakout game that showed what the team is capable of. The offense looked as explosive as we thought it would be entering the season as Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and Jarvis Landry finally had big games. The Browns defense still looks good, so the team should win the division if they can put it all together like they did against Baltimore in week 4.

11. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia’s remained competitive in all 4 of their games this season and they could easily be 4-0 right now if things had gone their way in weeks 2 and 3. However, the Eagles had a really impressive win against the undefeated Packers in week 4. The Eagles made the good Packers defense look bad as Philadelphia torched Green Bay with the running game. The Eagles still have big concerns on defense, but the offense is playing well right now and that’s what will keep them a playoff contender.

10. Buffalo Bills

Buffalo’s defense was really impressive against the Patriots in week 4 as Tom Brady had one of the worst games that he’s played in awhile. However, the Bills offense still just can’t seem to get anything going this season. Josh Allen had a terrible performance with 3 interceptions in week 3 and he hasn’t been all that impressive at any point this season. The Bills defense will continue to carry the team, but the offense is really holding the team back from being true contenders in the AFC.

9. San Francisco 49ers

I’m not sold yet on the 49ers, but their defense has certainly been impressive and it’s what has led to the team’s undefeated record entering week 5. The offense really needs to improve and if they do then it’s possible that they could beat out the Rams and Seahawks for the top spot in the NFC West. San Francisco hasn’t really faced a difficult challenge this season, but they’re undefeated and that’s all that matters.

8. Chicago Bears

The Bears offense really struggled in week one and it hasn’t improved much since that point. However, the Bears defense has been so dominant this season that the lack of production from the offense hasn’t been much of a factor. Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t played well and it appears that he won’t play in week 5, but the Bears offense might actually be better without him. The Bears defense will keep them playoff contenders, but the offense needs to get much better because they can’t expect the defense to carry them in every game.

7. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks offense might be better than expected and their defense played by far the best game this season in week 4 as they held Arizona to 10 points. If Seattle can put it all together then they have a real shot at being in 1st place in the highly competitive NFC West division. Seattle has a massive game against the Rams this week, so we’ll get a really good indication of how this team stacks up against the best teams in the NFL.

6. Green Bay Packers

It’s been the defense that has carried the Packers for most of this season. However, it was the defense that looked vulnerable in week 4 against the Eagles as Green Bay gave up a ton of rushing yards. Green Bay still has a good defense and if they can get the offense to perform well consistently then there’s no doubt that they’re one of the top teams in the NFL.

5. Dallas Cowboys

Dallas looked terrific in the first few weeks of the season, but let’s not forget that they only beat the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins which is a very soft schedule. The Cowboys offense looked really vulnerable in week 4 against the Saints and it is a cause for concern going forward especially if they play top teams in the NFL. The Cowboys defense looks like the real deal as they’ve really played well this season, but the offense needs to play better than they did in week 4 if they want to be a super bowl contender.

4. New Orleans Saints

It is remarkable what the Saints have done in the past couple of weeks after the injury to Drew Brees. The offense hasn’t necessarily been very impressive with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. However, the defense is really carrying the team right now as evidenced by giving up only 10 points against a good Cowboys offense. If the Saints can continue to play well until Brees comes back then they could be on pace to be the best team in the NFL.

3. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams had a tough loss in week 4 as their defense got exposed and the team allowed a whopping 55 points overall to Tampa Bay. The Los Angeles offense made some big plays and Jared Goff had over 500 yards passing, but the difference is that Goff turned the ball over too many times. The Rams are still the best team in the NFC in my opinion, but Goff needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball and the Rams need to establish a running game with Todd Gurley as well. Los Angeles has a really tough game against Seattle this week and we’ll get a better idea about how good the Rams will actually be this season.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs came close to losing on Sunday to the Lions, but the offense continues to be very impressive. Patrick Mahomes is undoubtedly the best quarterback in the NFL and the Chiefs passing game is almost impossible to stop. Kansas City’s defense is still a big concern, but the Chiefs make up for it by having a dominant offense. Kansas City is a super bowl caliber team and they are arguably the top team in the NFL right now.

  1. New England Patriots

The Patriots offense really struggled in week 4 against the Bills and Tom Brady had the worst game that he’s had in a long time. However, the Patriots was so good that Brady’s poor performance didn’t even matter. New England hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game this season and they only allowed 10 points to the Bills in week 4. The Patriots haven’t had a tough schedule to begin the season, but the Pats offense also hasn’t quite lived up to their potential yet. If the Patriots offense can start playing better then the Patriots could be unstoppable because their defense is currently playing at an elite level.

 

Biggest training camp battle for each NFL team

Arizona Cardinals – Starting Center

The Arizona Cardinals have a really tough decision to make at the center position. Young center Mason Cole was the starter last season and he was OK as the starter. However, Cole might have his job taken from him as veteran center A.Q. Shipley returns from injury. Cole provides more upside because of his age, but he is still a rather raw player at this point in his career. Shipley has much more experience and that likely will allow him to provide some more stability at the center position right away. Cole could win the job if he does well in the preseason, but all indications point to Shipley being the starting center early in the season.

Predicted Winner: A.Q. Shipley

Atlanta Falcons – Left Guard

Rookie Chris Lindstrom seems to have the starting right guard position locked down as he enters his first training camp. However, the Falcons have some major question marks at the left guard position. James Carpenter and Jamon Brown were both signed in free agency this offseason with somewhat big contracts, but now one of them will likely have to be a high priced backup guard entering the 2019 season. Jamon Brown is a good pass protector, but he is not nearly as good as Carpenter is in the running game. Carpenter also has more experience at the left guard position and he has been successful at that position before. Brown has been a right guard for most of his career, so the edge appears to go to Carpenter right now since he is a better all-around player and he has more experience.

Predicted Winner: James Carpenter

Baltimore Ravens – Left Guard

The Ravens offensive line is stable at most positions with several key veteran players returning in 2019. However, the left guard position is an absolutely wide open position right now. James Hurst seems like the favorite to win the job right now as he became the starter late last season and he has shown a good ability to play different positions along the offensive line. Jermaine Eluemunor seems to be the biggest challenger to take over the starting left guard role as he took first-team reps during minicamp. Rookie Ben Powers also has a shot to claim the starting role, but he’ll need to really impress during the preseason in order to do so. The Ravens also have Alex Lewis who started the majority of games last season at left guard, but he has struggled with injuries and consistency issues so he’s somewhat of a long shot to re-claim the role. The Ravens have several players who are challenging for the left guard spot, but Hurst seems to be the favorite as of right now.

Predicted Winner: James Hurst

Buffalo Bills – Right Guard

The Buffalo Bills re-shaped their interior offensive line completely this offseason and that included signing guards Spencer Long and Jon Feliciano in free agency. Spencer Long has much more experience as a starting guard in the NFL as Feliciano was stuck as a backup guard for several years with Oakland. The Bills have started training camp by rotating Long and Feliciano at the right guard position, but there’s no clear favorite right now. Long would be the assumed favorite because of his experience as a starter, but don’t be surprised at all if Feliciano ends up winning the job. The Bills seem to like Feliciano a lot and if he does well in the preseason then he’ll likely get the nod at right guard.

Predicted Winner: Jon Feliciano

Carolina Panthers – Free Safety

The Carolina Panthers will be getting a new starter at the free safety position after Mike Adams departed this offseason. Young safety Rashaan Gaulden is very inexperienced as he saw limited action as a backup last season. However, Gaulden still appears to be the favorite for the job right now because of the lack of true contenders that he has to compete with for the starting role. Colin Jones appears to be the biggest challenger to Gaulden for the free safety job. However, Jones has been a special teams player for most of his career and even though he is the most experienced player in the Panthers secondary then he’ll need to really impress in order to overtake Gaulden as the starter. Either way, the Panthers have a big void to fill at free safety and they’re likely hoping that Gaulden can adequately fill the void.

Predicted Winner: Rashaan Gaulden

Chicago Bears – Kicker

The Bears found out how important it is to have a reliable kicker after Cody Parkey missed what appeared to be an easy field goal for what would have been a game-winner in the playoffs last season. However, the Bears now have a wide-open competition at the kicker position with a couple of inexperienced players vying for the role. Elliott Fry and Eddie Pineiro are the two contenders at kicker, but they are both really young and neither player has an attempted a field goal in an NFL regular season game. Fry and Pineiro are so inexperienced that it’s really difficult to predict a favorite right now until actual preseason games begin. That being said, don’t be surprised if the Bears add another kicker before the season starts to create some more competition at the kicker competition. Elliott Fry probably has a slight edge right now because the Bears didn’t sign him to a 3-year contract this offseason for no reason, but he’ll need to show up in actual game situations if he is going to win the job.

Predicted Winner: Elliott Fry

Cincinnati Bengals – Left Guard

The Cincinnati Bengals have had some turmoil along the offensive line recently with rookie 1st round pick Jonah Williams lost for the season due to injury and guard Clint Boling surprisingly announcing his retirement in July. That means Cordy Glenn will now move back to left tackle while there is a huge void at the left guard position. Guard John Jerry has the most experience as a starting guard at the NFL level and most people would assume that he would be the favorite to win the job. However, most of the hype seems to surround young guard Christian Westerman who hasn’t yet received an opportunity to show what he can do as a starter at the NFL level. Westerman still has a lot to prove during the preseason, but the coaches seem to like him the most out of anybody competing for the left guard spot. Trey Hopkins could also compete for the left guard role, but his versatility makes him more useful as a backup. Overall, Jerry and Westerman seem to be the most serious competitors for the left guard spot, but Westerman seems like the favorite right now.

Predicted Winner: Christian Westerman

Cleveland Browns – Kicker

The Cleveland Browns have a very talented roster overall, but the kicker position appears to be a weakness heading into training camp. Greg Joseph is the incumbent starter for the Browns and he did relatively well last season as he went 17/20 on field goals. However, the Browns made an investment on rookie kicker Austin Seibert in the 5th round of the draft this offseason and Seibert has a real shot of winning the kicker job. Joseph seems to be the favorite right now because of his relative success as the kicker last season. That being said, the Browns clearly aren’t sold on Joseph which is why they brought in Seibert to compete for the job. However, if Joseph can play well during the preseason then he should be able to remain the Browns kicker.

Predicted Winner: Greg Joseph

Dallas Cowboys – Strong Safety

Jeff Heath has been somewhat of an unreliable starter at safety for the Cowboys in recent years, yet he still has somehow managed to maintain his role without being challenged much. Young safety Kavon Frazier played mostly special teams last season and he was a backup to Heath, but Frazier could still win the job if he has a really good preseason. The Cowboys also brought in veteran George Iloka this offseason and he has plenty of starting experience at safety from his time with the Cincinnati Bengals. Iloka could really challenge Heath for the starting strong safety job, but Heath still remains the favorite to stay in his role at this point.

Predicted Winner: Jeff Heath

Denver Broncos – Running Back

Phillip Lindsay shocked everyone last season by being a pro bowl caliber player despite being an undrafted rookie. However, Lindsay’s wrist injury and the new coaching staff puts his job somewhat up for grabs. Royce Freeman will certainly have plenty of carries this season, but the question is whether he’ll be the feature back ahead of Lindsay. We know that Lindsay and Freeman will both see plenty of action in 2019, but the question is whether Lindsay will be able to hold onto his role as the feature back.

Predicted Winner: Phillip Lindsay

Detroit Lions – Free Safety

The Detroit Lions have a major void to fill at the free safety position after longtime starter Glover Quin retired this offseason. However, the question is who will fill the void as the starter at the position. Tavon Wilson has the most experience of the challengers for the role as he saw a lot of snaps last season as a backup safety for the Lions. Newly signed safety Andrew Adams played last well and he could compete for some snaps as well. However, the player that is most hyped at the safety position for the Lions is 2nd-year player Tracy Walker. He obviously is the least experienced player vying for the safety role, but he also has the most potential as proven by his selection in the 3rd round by Detroit in 2018. If Walker plays well in the preseason then he should be the clear favorite to win the job over Wilson and Adams.

Predicted Winner: Tracy Walker

Green Bay Packers –  Number 2 Wide Receiver

It is no question that Davante Adams is the clear number one wide receiver for the Packers. However, the Packers don’t have a clear starter on the opposite side of Adams especially after the departure of Randall Cobb this offseason. Geronimo Allison has the most experience out of the players competing for the 2nd receiver role, but he still is unproven at the NFL level. Allison struggled to make an impact last season because he missed a lot of games due to injury. However, if he can stay healthy then he’ll probably get the opportunity to prove himself as a starting receiver for the Packers. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown will certainly see plenty of action in 2019, but they are still really young receivers with a lot to prove. Valdes-Scantling seems like the biggest challenger to Allison in the passing game and it will be interesting to see if Valdes-Scantling can have an impressive preseason to solidify the starting role. That being said, Allison has been in Green Bay for several years and it seems like he’ll get the most opportunity to be the 2nd receiver for the Packers.

Predicted Winner: Geronimo Allison

Houston Texans – Left Tackle

The Houston Texans offensive line was an absolute disaster last season and there are still several positions up for grabs including at the left tackle position. Houston drafted offensive tackle Tytus Howard in the 1st round and they are hoping that he can become a consistent starter at left tackle at some point. However, Howard might not be ready for a starting role considering that he hasn’t faced much NFL competition since he played college football at Alabama State. The Texans also signed veteran left tackle Matt Kalil this offseason and he has the most experience of anyone competing for the left tackle role, but he still seems like a longshot to win the job. Julie’n Davenport was the starter for Houston at left tackle last season and he is likely to stay in that role at least to begin the season. If Howard can prove during the preseason that he is NFL-ready then he could be the week one starter, but Davenport is probably the best option at least in the short-term.

Predicted Winner: Julie’n Davenport

Indianapolis Colts – Number 2 Wide Receiver

T.Y. Hilton is locked in as the number one receiver for the Colts, but the Colts have a lot of uncertainty behind him. Chester Rogers is the only returning receiver that saw plenty of action last season for the Colts, but he likely won’t have nearly as big of a role this season. The Colts signed Devin Funchess to a big deal in free agency, but he has struggled with consistency during his time with Carolina. Meanwhile, rookie 2nd round pick Parris Campbell has terrific potential and he could win the 2nd receiver role if he has an impressive preseason. Rogers and Campbell could have a big role this season, but considering the big contract that Funchess received he’s likely to win the 2nd receiver role unless he doesn’t have a good preseason.

Predicted Winner: Devin Funchess

Jacksonville Jaguars – Wide Receiver

The Jaguars have several young players with some good potential at the wide receiver position, but they don’t really have a true number one receiver. Jacksonville is hoping that Marqise Lee can be the top target when he returns from injury. However, the Jaguars can’t rely on him because of his issues with consistency and injuries. The real competition for the number one receiver role will be between newly signed Chris Conley who is the most experienced receiver for the Jaguars. Also, they have Dede Westbrook who was the team’s best receiver last season and last year’s 2nd round pick DJ Chark who they hope can have a bigger role this season. Chark and Westbrook clearly have the most potential and the Jaguars are hoping that they can seize the opportunity to take over the top receiver role in the offense. That being said, Conley is a more reliable pass-catcher at this point in his career and his prior experience with quarterback Nick Foles will only further help his cause. The Jaguars are extremely weak at wide receiver, but Conley will likely be the top receiver for Jacksonville in week one.

Predicted Winner: Chris Conley

Kansas City Chiefs – Running Back

The Kansas City Chiefs probably won’t be able to fill the void that occurred when Kareem Hunt was released last season. However, Damien Williams showed during his limited time as the starting running back that he can do an adequate job in that role. Williams is the presumed starter heading into 2019, but he doesn’t have too much experience as a starting running back in the NFL. Meanwhile, Carlos Hyde didn’t have a good 2018 season, but he still has proven that he can be a good starting running back going back to his days with the 49ers. Hyde has starting potential and if Williams falters then don’t be surprised if Hyde could become the feature back. That being said, Williams did a good job last season and he is considered the clear favorite to be the starting back for the Chiefs.

Predicted Winner: Damien Williams

Los Angeles Chargers – Cornerback

The Chargers already have a couple of good starting cornerbacks with Casey Hayward and Desmond King. However, the starting spot opposite of Hayward is still very much up for grabs. Trevor Williams was the starter to begin last season, but a knee injury ended his season early. However, Michael Davis replaced Williams at the cornerback position and he played relatively well. Davis will have a chance to take over the starting cornerback role completely if he can have a strong preseason. Williams is the more proven option and he’s the favorite right now, but Davis will certainly make the competition close if he plays well like he did last season.

Los Angeles Rams – Defensive Tackle

The Rams have a big void to fill at the defensive tackle position after they lost Ndamukong Suh in free agency. The Rams didn’t do much to try to address the position, but they’ll have a couple of young options to choose from. Tanzel Smart and Greg Gaines are both competing for the starting defensive tackle role, yet both are very inexperienced at the NFL level. Tanzel Smart has the most experience of the two, but even he has very limited experience in the NFL especially since he didn’t record a stat last season for the Rams. The Rams drafted Greg Gaines in the 4th round this offseason to try and address the position going forward. Gaines is a rookie which means he still has a lot to prove before the coaching staff names him the starter. However, the lack of competition for the vacant defensive tackle role gives Gaines a great opportunity to be the week 1 starter.

Predicted Winner: Greg Gaines

Miami Dolphins – Quarterback

The Dolphins have what is likely the best position battle in the NFL as they are trying to decide who their starting quarterback will be in week 1. Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed in free agency, but he’s viewed as nothing more than a temporary solution at the quarterback position. Meanwhile, the Dolphins added young quarterback Josh Rosen via trade this offseason, but the question remains whether he gives the Dolphins the best chance to win right now. It’ll be a very interesting quarterback competition in Miami and there is a good chance that both quarterbacks see a decent amount of playing time this season. Rosen clearly has more potential at this point in his career, but he is viewed as the better long-term option than Fitzpatrick. It appears that Fitzpatrick is the favorite to be the Dolphins quarterback in week 1 because of his experience in the NFL, but Rosen could easily win the job if he can impress during the preseason.

Predicted Winner: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Minnesota Vikings – 3rd Wide Receiver

The Vikings have Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as their clear top two wide receivers. However, the Vikings have a huge dropoff in depth at the wide receiver position and there is a major question as to who will be the Vikings 3rd receiver. Laquon Treadwell has been in that role in recent years and he could be in that role again this season. However, Treadwell hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunity and there’s a strong chance that he might not even make the 53-man roster when the season begins. The Vikings have a variety of receivers that could fill the 3rd receiver role, but Treadwell, Jordan Taylor, and Chad Beebe seem to be the main competitors. Jordan Taylor is the veteran of the group and he was rather productive in Denver when he was given an opportunity for playing time. If Taylor plays well then he could take Treadwell’s spot on the roster. However, Chad Beebe appears to be the favorite because he is the prototypical slot receiver because of his size and shiftiness. Beebe didn’t have much of a role last season and he certainly doesn’t have much NFL experience. However, he already appears to have a good connection with Kirk Cousins and if Beebe can play well in the preseason then he’ll likely win the 3rd receiver job.

Predicted Winner: Chad Beebe

New England Patriots – Tight End

It’s not easy to replace an elite tight end like Rob Gronkowski who decided to retire from the NFL this offseason. However, the Patriots are left with a very weak and uninspiring group of tight ends heading into the season. Benjamin Watson clearly has the most experience as he is 38 years old, but clearly age has caught up to him and he isn’t the good starting tight end that he once was. Also, Watson is suspended for the first 4 games of the season which means somebody else will have to start at the position to begin 2019. Meanwhile, Matt LaCosse is probably the most intriguing tight end that the Patriots have on their roster. LaCosse saw plenty of playing time last season with Denver and the Patriots are hoping that he can at least be an average starter this season. Both Watson and LaCosse should get plenty of playing time this season, but LaCosse should be the starter because he has the most upside.

Predicted Winner: Matt LaCosse

New Orleans Saints – Center

The Saints suffered a major loss to their offensive line when starting center Max Unger retired this offseason. However, the Saints addressed the position by signing veteran center Nick Easton in free agency and drafting Erik McCoy in the 2nd round. Both players will get an opportunity to win the starting job during the preseason. However, Easton seems to be the favorite to win the job as he has 17 career starts in the NFL and he likely provides better short-term stability at center for the Saints. The Saints are hoping that McCoy can be the long-term starter at center, but it is Easton who is more ready to make an impact right away. Maybe if McCoy really does well in the preseason then the Saints could decide to start him right away, but Easton is getting paid plenty of money to be able to make an impact as the starter to begin the season.

Predicted Winner: Nick Easton

New York Giants – Cornerback

The Giants are set with Janoris Jenkins as their top starting cornerback, but the rest of the cornerbacks are really inexperienced. The really interesting competition will be for the starting cornerback spot opposite of Jenkins. Sam Beal is a talented young cornerback, but he’s never played an NFL snap as he missed all of his rookie season due to injury. Meanwhile, the Giants drafted DeAndre Baker in the 1st round this offseason, so it’s only a question of when he’ll get an opportunity to be a starting cornerback. Baker and Beal have both been impressive so far in practice, so it’ll be a tough call as to who starts week 1. That being said, Baker was more of a highly touted prospect and he probably has the edge to start right now since both players have yet to appear in an NFL game.

Predicted Winner: DeAndre Baker

New York Jets – Backup tight end

The New York Jets know that Chris Herndon is their top option at the tight end position, but the problem is that the Jets will be without him for the first 4 games of the season due to a suspension. The Jets need to decide who will be the backup tight end this season while also trying to find out which player will take his spot to begin the season. The Jets have several players that could become the backup tight end as Eric Tomlinson, Trevon Wesco, Daniel Brown, and newly signed free agent Ryan Griffin are all competing for the role. Griffin has the most experience of the tight ends on the Jets roster as he has seen plenty of playing time at tight end for Houston in recent seasons. Wesco probably has the most potential of the group, but he probably won’t make much of an impact during his rookie season. Meanwhile, the competition will probably come down to the trio of Brown, Griffin, and Tomlinson. Brown has impressed during practices this offseason and he even saw some first-team reps, so the coaching staff clearly likes him a lot. Tomlinson is an experienced tight end and he saw some playing time for the Jets over the past couple of seasons. However, Ryan Griffin is the player that really stands out among the players that the Jets have at tight end. It might take Griffin awhile to get acclimated to the offense since he just signed with the Jets this month. That being said, Griffin has plenty of experience as a starting tight end in the NFL during his time with the Texans. The Jets will have plenty of competition at the tight end position, but Griffin stands out because of his experience at the NFL level.

Predicted Winner: Ryan Griffin

Oakland Raiders – Tight End

The Oakland Raiders lost star tight end Jared Cook this offseason, but the problem is they didn’t find a starting caliber tight end to replace him. The Raiders signed Luke Willson in free agency and he figures to have a role as mainly a blocking tight end. Willson is also the most experienced tight end competing for the starting role. Also, the Raiders drafted LSU tight end Foster Moreau in the 4th round this offseason. Moreau has good potential, but he likely won’t make much of an impact this season unless he really impresses during the preseason. Finally, Darren Waller seems to have the edge on the starting tight end job. Waller is undoubtedly the best pass-catcher that the Raiders have at tight end as he is really fast and he was once a wide receiver. He hasn’t made much of an impact in his career as he only has 18 receptions in the NFL. However, Waller has tons of upside and he should win the job as long as he has a decent showing in the preseason.

Philadelphia Eagles – Cornerback

The Philadelphia Eagles have a conundrum at the cornerback position especially with starters Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills injured right now. The team did sign veteran Orlando Scandrick, but he’s likely nothing more as a temporary option for depth purposes. Meanwhile, the real competition will be between Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, and Cre’Von LeBlanc for the slot cornerback role. Sidney Jones came into the league with high expectations, but he hasn’t made much of an impact due to injuries. Maddox and LeBlanc will provide some stiff competition, but the Eagles likely want to find out if Jones is a long-term solution at cornerback.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Number 2 Wide Receiver

JuJu Smith-Schuster is obviously the new number one option in the Steelers passing game after the offseason trade of star receiver Antonio Brown. However, the 2nd wide receiver job is up for grabs as free agent signing Donte Moncrief and young receiver James Washington are both competing for that role. Moncrief obviously has more experience, but he’s more of a possession receiver than Washington is. Also, Washington barely has any experience as he didn’t see much action during his rookie season for the Steelers. Washington is a speedy receiver, but he also might not be ready to take over a full-time role as a starting receiver. Moncrief is a veteran receiver that provides more stability at this point and he fits better as an outside receiver at this point, so it’s likely that he has the edge for the number 2 receiver role.

Predicted Winner: Donte Moncrief

San Francisco 49ers – Running Back

If anybody can make sense of who will be the feature running back for the 49ers this season then please let me know. The 49ers arguably have the deepest running back group in the NFL as Matt Breida, Jerick McKinnon, and offseason free agent signing Tevin Coleman are all competing for carries. Breida took advantage of injuries last season and he played very well, but it still seems like that wasn’t enough to make him a starter in 2019. McKinnon was supposed to be the starter last season, but an injury sidelined him for the entire year. He will likely see his fair share of carries, but the 49ers might not want to make him a starter right away. Finally, Tevin Coleman was signed to a big contract this offseason and he’ll surely have a big role in 2019, but it remains to be seen whether he becomes the featured running back. The 49ers will likely use a committee approach with their running backs, but Coleman is likely the favorite since he was just signed to a big deal in March.

Seattle Seahawks – Running Back

Chris Carson had a terrific 2018 season and he held onto the starting running back job despite having 1st round pick Rashaad Penny competing for his job. Penny seems poised to have a bigger role this season, but the question remains whether he’ll be able to overtake Carson as the starter. Carson is still the favorite to win the job at this point, but if his play falters during the preseason then don’t be surprised if Penny takes over the lead back role.

Predicted Winner: Chris Carson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Running Back

The Buccaneers have arguably the worst running game in the NFL as Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones are once again competing for the starting role. Barber was the starter last season and he showed signs of great potential, but he just wasn’t very consistent. Meanwhile, Jones had an awful rookie season, yet the Buccaneers have publicly praised how much he has improved this offseason and he seems poised to have a bigger role this season. Jones certainly has the higher potential and if he looks as good as the coaching staff says then he is likely going to be the featured running back this season.

Predicted Winner: Ronald Jones

Tennessee Titans – Number 3 Wide Receiver

Corey Davis is still the presumed top wide receiver for the Titans heading into 2019 and offseason free agent signing Adam Humphries will be the slot receiver. The Titans have plenty of depth overall at the position, but nobody has really established themselves as the number 3 option at wide receiver. The Titans have three really good options for the third receiver job as A.J. Brown, Taywan Taylor, and Tajae Sharpe are all competing for the role. Sharpe and Taylor are still young receivers, but they have plenty of experience in the Titans offense. Meanwhile, Brown obviously has the least experience as he was a 2nd round pick this offseason. Brown will likely get a shot to be a starter on the outside opposite of Corey Davis. However, it remains to be seen whether Brown is ready to make an immediate impact this season. That being said, Tajae Sharpe is probably the favorite right now because he has experience as a starter for the Titans and he has experienced some success in that role. Brown could start right away if he has an impressive preseason, but Sharpe is probably most ready to be the week 1 starter.

Predicted Winner: Tajae Sharpe

Washington Redskins – Running Back

The Washington Redskins are really deep at running back heading into 2019 especially with Derrius Guice returning from injury. Washington also has future hall-of-famer Adrian Peterson who was the starter for the Redskins last season. Peterson isn’t the dynamic player that he once was, although he is still capable of competing with Guice for the starting running back job. Meanwhile, Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine could also compete for some carries as well. Guice figures to be the starter if he can stay healthy, but Peterson is the more proven option. If Guice can prove that he is fully recovered from his knee injury then there’s no reason to believe that he isn’t the favorite to be the main running back for the Redskins.

Predicted Winner: Derrius Guice

NFL power rankings entering training camp

32. Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins head into 2019 expecting a year of transition and uncertainty at key positions. The Dolphins especially have some uncertainty at the quarterback position as offseason additions Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick will battle it out for the starting job. However, the Dolphins don’t have many impact players on either side of the ball. Kenny Stills and Kenyan Drake are the biggest threats for the Dolphins on offense, but they can be inconsistent at times. Meanwhile, on defense the Dolphins have a terrific young core with Xavien Howard, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and rookie defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. However, the Dolphins still have many holes to fill on defense before it can be a good unit overall. The Dolphins have some pieces to work with for the future, but the team doesn’t appear to have the intention of competing in 2019.

31. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona has a new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and a talented young quarterback with rookie 1st overall pick Kyler Murray. However, a talented quarterback and a terrific offensive mind like Kingsbury won’t necessarily lead to many wins in 2019. The Cardinals did a good job of trying to surround Murray with some young talent on offense, but we’ll see if their young receivers can make an impact right away. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have star running back David Johnson, but he wasn’t very good last season by his standards. The Cardinals offense should be improved in 2019, but don’t expect major improvement from last season. The Cardinals defense still has plenty of talent with players like Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson, and newly signed pass rusher Terrell Suggs. However, Peterson is suspended the first 6 games of the season and that will likely impact the defense in a very negative way. Overall, the Cardinals defense doesn’t inspire much room for optimism and the offense could struggle to acclimate to a new quarterback and offensive system, so it could be a very tough season in Arizona.

30. New York Giants

The New York Giants made some major moves this offseason to rebuild their team, but the direction of the team is still confusing. They no longer have key playmakers such as Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, and Landon Collins as they all departed this offseason. The Giants still have elite running back Saquon Barkley on offense, but the problem is the Giants don’t have another reliable threat on offense. Sterling Shepard, tight end Evan Engram, and newly signed receiver Golden Tate are the top options in the passing game. Also, Eli Manning is a subpar starting quarterback that can’t be relied upon and 1st round rookie Daniel Jones likely isn’t ready to make an impact right away. Rookie 1st round cornerback Deandre Baker and defensive tackle Christian Lawrence will make the Giants defense better. However, the Giants still have many holes on defense and it’s hard to expect them to carry the team this season. Overall, the Giants are in transition with their entire roster and it’s hard to see them competing for a playoff spot this season.

29. Cincinnati Bengals

Maybe the Bengals surprise us all and somehow make the playoffs this season, but that is very unlikely with the uncertainty that the franchise has right now. New head coach Zac Taylor is still very inexperienced as a coach and he’s only been an offensive coordinator once prior to this season. The Bengals did draft Jonah Williams in the 1st round to improve their offensive line, but now he is expected to miss his entire rookie season. I do like the pieces that they have on offense with running back Joe Mixon to go along with the good duo of A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd at receiver. The offense might surprise some people especially if quarterback Andy Dalton has a good season. However, it’s difficult to overlook the weaknesses that they have on defense. The Bengals have some good veteran players with Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins on their defensive line, but they lack a good pass rush overall. The strength of the defense is clearly in the secondary and the team is hoping that they can carry the unit overall. The Bengals could be a sleeper team this season, but they play in a tough division and it could take awhile for new head coach Zac Taylor to adjust to his role.

28. Buffalo Bills

I really like what the Bills did in the draft by selecting Ed Oliver in the 1st round to make their defensive line even better than it already was. Also, 2nd round pick Cody Ford will hopefully provide some stability to what was a terrible offensive line last season. I don’t really have any concerns about the Bills defense especially with the additions they made this offseason. However, the offense is still a major concern because I don’t think they really did enough to improve. Sure, they added John Brown and Cole Beasley which should help to improve the passing game. That being said, Brown and Beasley shouldn’t be the top receivers on any NFL roster and it isn’t a significant upgrade over what the team had last season. Meanwhile, the running back position isn’t very good as LeSean McCoy isn’t the dynamic player that he once was and he probably shouldn’t even be a starter at this point in his career. Quarterback Josh Allen clearly has some potential, but he needs to fix the accuracy issues that he had last season. Overall, the Bills defense needs to carry the team because the offense likely won’t be much better than it was last season.

27. Washington Redskins

Washington’s defense should be fine this season especially with the big-time acquisition of safety Landon Collins this offseason. However, there’s not a lot to like about the Redskins offense heading into 2019. Sure, Dwayne Haskins was a really good pick in the 1st round and he has plenty of potential. That being said, Haskins is just a rookie and it’s difficult to expect him to come in and make much of an impact right away. Also, Haskins doesn’t have much talent around him. Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson are the team’s top receivers, but they haven’t inspired much optimism that they can be reliable options. The Redskins backfield is really deep and talented, but they’ll need to decide who will get the most carries between players like Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, and Bryce Love. Overall, Haskins could exceed everyone’s expectations as the starting quarterback, but it won’t help that he doesn’t have much talent around him on offense. The Redskins have the defense to succeed, but the offense is what will really hold them back in 2019.

26. Detroit Lions

The Lions are just a mediocre team heading into 2019. They aren’t really a playoff contender, but at the same time they likely won’t be a terrible team either. I do like what they have on offense as they have a few good pass-catchers with Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and rookie 1st round tight end TJ Hockenson. Hopefully Matthew Stafford can take advantage of his good pass-catchers and be better than last season. Keryon Johnson gives the running game some hope if he can stay healthy. Overall, the Lions offense should be able to score some points, but it is the defense that remains a concern. Sure, the Lions gave defensive end Trey Flowers a massive contract in free agency, but he still hasn’t had more than 7.5 sacks in a season. Cornerback Darius Slay and defensive tackle are both really good players, but it is a question of how productive they’ll be as they are unhappy with their current contracts. The Lions overall will struggle defensively this season and that is what will really hold them back.

25. Oakland Raiders

Oakland was a terrible team last season and they got considerably better this offseason with big additions like Antonio Brown, Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner, and Tyrell Williams in free agency. Also, they added three 1st round picks in the draft with Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, and Johnathan Abram. The Raiders no doubt have much more talent than they had last season and the only real big loss that they had this offseason was tight end Jared Cook. The Raiders will certainly be more competitive in 2019, but I’m not sold on them being a playoff contender just yet. They still have major needs at every position group on defense and the offseason additions of Ferrell, Abram, and Joyner won’t completely solve their defensive woes. The Raiders passing offense could be really good with Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams as their top two receivers. Also, the running game could be decent as well if Josh Jacobs is able to make an instant impact as a rookie. The Raiders shouldn’t have a problem scoring points in 2019, but the defense remains a big concern even with the additions they made this offseason.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are a team with a high ceiling and a low floor for the 2019 season, but I believe they’ll likely be somewhere in between. Jacksonville’s defense is as talented as any NFL defense especially after they drafted talented pass rusher Josh Allen in the 1st round of the draft. Jacksonville’s defense could be very good if all of their talent can mesh better than they did last season. However, the offense remains a major concern heading into 2019. The offense will rely on star running back Leonard Fournette once again, but even he is unreliable due to his injury history and character concerns at times. The Jaguars did sign new starting quarterback Nick Foles to a huge contract in free agency, but he’s been a backup for most of his career and I’m not sure that he’ll be a significant upgrade for the team at the position. Also, Foles likely won’t get much help from his receivers as players like Marquise Lee, DJ Chark, and Dede Westbrook form what is likely the worst wide receiver group in the NFL. Jacksonville has major issues overall and offense while their franchise is still dysfunctional, so it could be another rough season for the Jaguars.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a mystery team heading into 2019 as they are in transition under new head coach Bruce Arians. Tampa Bay still has an elite passing game despite losing DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries this offseason. However, the running game and offensive line didn’t see any improvements made this offseason, so those units will likely be bad once again. Quarterback Jameis Winston is the biggest question mark for the Buccaneers heading into 2019 as they hope that Arians will help him limit his turnovers. If Winston plays well and doesn’t throw interceptions then the sky is the limit for Tampa Bay’s offense. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s defense remains a major concern despite the moves that they made this offseason. The pass rush is a really big concern with star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul expected to miss a big chunk of the season. They’ll need players like Shaquil Barrett and Carl Nassib to really step up while Pierre-Paul is out. Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea should form a really good defensive tackle duo while also being terrific run stoppers. The linebacker position is solid especially with the selection of Devin White in the 1st round of the draft. The real mystery remains in the secondary. They added Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, and Mike Edwards all early on in the draft. The Buccaneers are hoping that those trio of rookies can make an impact right away or else their secondary won’t be much better than last season. Overall, Tampa Bay didn’t get much better on either side of the ball and it’s hard to expect Bruce Arians to turn the ship around right away.

22. Denver Broncos

Denver still is really solid on defense especially with their pass rush with Bradley Chubb, Von Miller, and Derek Wolfe leading the way. Also, the secondary figures to be good once again with Chris Harris returning as their shutdown cornerback. I don’t really have many concerns about the defense, but the offense continues to be a concern. New starting quarterback Joe Flacco is probably an upgrade over Case Keenum, but Flacco is still just an average quarterback. Also, Flacco might struggle to find reliable receivers in the passing game. Emmanuel Sanders is the team’s top receiver, but he is recovering from an achilles injury and he might not be as effective. Young receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton really need to step up if the passing game is going to improve. The Broncos offense will likely rely on the dynamic running back duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, so they should take a lot of pressure off the passing game. If Denver’s offense can improve quite a bit in 2019 then it’s not difficult to envision them being a playoff contender.

21. New York Jets

The Jets are an improved team and they have some really good potential if young quarterback Sam Darnold continues to get better. The addition of star running back Le’Veon Bell will take a lot of pressure off Darnold and it could really improve their offense in a big way. New York’s defense also has the chance to be good especially with the addition of Quinnen Williams to form a good duo with Leonard Williams on the defensive line. Jamal Adams and Trumaine Johnson also help make the secondary pretty good heading into 2019. Overall, New York is a decent all-around team if they can put the pieces together, but they don’t really specialize in one area. Maybe the Jets become a playoff contender in 2019, but it is unlikely that they’ll be a major threat to the Patriots in the AFC East.

20. San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco was a really bad team last season, but that was just a matter of bad luck than anything else and they should be much better in 2019. If quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo returns to form after his injury then the 49ers could have a good offense and legitimately be a playoff contender. Garoppolo also has a reliable target with tight end George Kittle, but the wide receiver group really needs to improve in 2019. The 49ers running back group is really deep this season as Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, and Matt Breida all figure to split the carries somehow. San Francisco’s offense clearly has major uncertainty, but the defense should be very good. The team added Nick Bosa and Dee Ford this offseason to form a terrific pass rushing duo, but the 49ers have a really deep defensive line overall. San Francisco’s linebacker and secondary position groups, but having Kwon Alexander and Richard Sherman leading the way should help a little bit. Overall, the 49ers have the pieces in place to possibly be a playoff contender, but they need to deal with the uncertainty surrounding how their offense will mesh with Garoppolo back from injury.

19. Tennessee Titans

I’ve seen many power rankings that had the Titans ranked lower than this, but I still believe that they have enough talent on their roster to be a playoff contender. I like what the Titans have on offense particularly with their offense and the combination of Derrick Henry/Dion Lewis at running back. The Titans also have some underrated receivers with Corey Davis, Delanie Walker, and new receiver Adam Humphries leading the way. The main question will be whether quarterback Marcus Mariota can finally reach his potential and prove himself as the franchise. Tennessee’s offense need him playing well in order to be successful and the team likely won’t be a playoff contender if he doesn’t have a productive season. Meanwhile, the Titans have a very underrated especially with their very good secondary as they have Kevin Byard, Adoree’ Jackson, and Logan Ryan leading the way. The big concerns remains in the front 7 and it could be a real struggle for the Titans to generate a consistent pass rush. Overall, the Titans have an underrated roster, but they still need many things to go right if they want to be a playoff team.

18. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore was a playoff team last season and it’s possible they could be a playoff contender once again. However, the Ravens have major question marks on both sides of the ball. What we do know is that the Ravens running game should be elite with dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson and new running back Mark Ingram leading the way. However, the passing game could be very bad once again in 2019. Lamar Jackson didn’t inspire much optimism last season that he can be an accurate passer at the NFL level, but hopefully that’s something that he’s gotten better at in the offseason. The lack of the Ravens success wasn’t all his fault though as he didn’t have a reliable target to throw to. The addition of 1st round pick Marquise Brown should help out a lot, but the rest of the wide receiver group isn’t good at all. Meanwhile, the Ravens defense was terrific last season, but they lost several key players this offseason especially in the front 7. The Ravens did sign safety Earl Thomas to a huge deal and that’ll help their secondary, but the lack of a pass rush could really hurt the Ravens. Overall, the Ravens have good potential this season, but Lamar Jackson needs to be a much better passer and the pass rush needs to hopefully at least be average.

17. Carolina Panthers

Carolina has consistently been a contender in recent years, but they completely fell apart at the end of last season. The Panthers are hoping that star quarterback Cam Newton is healthier and that his arm strength returns because that’ll be really key to the success of the offense. Carolina should have an elite running game with Christian McCaffrey and there is a chance that McCaffrey could lead the team in receptions too. The Panthers will need more out of the passing game though and if they can get that then Carolina has a legitimate shot at being a playoff team. The Panthers have a terrific defensive line that got even better this offseason with the additions of Gerald McCoy and Brian Burns. The Panthers also have a good linebacker group led by star inside linebacker Luke Kuechly. Carolina’s secondary remains a big concern except for underrated cornerback James Bradberry. The Panthers defense figures to be good this season, but the Panthers’ playoff hopes rests on quarterback Cam Newton and the wide receiver group.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are in the midst of a major transition after losing key position players Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. However, the good news is that Pittsburgh has JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner to fill the voids at running back and wide receiver. However, the Steelers will need receivers Donte Moncrief and James Washington to make the Steelers passing game better. Either way, the Steelers should be able to score plenty of points even without Bell and Brown. Meanwhile, the defense still has some big question marks. The front 7 appears to be in good shape with rookie linebacker Devin Bush joining a group that includes TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, and Cameron Heyward. However, the secondary remains and issue despite the addition of cornerback Steven Nelson in free agency. The Steelers defense should be decent in 2019 and if the Steelers offense can put the pieces together then the team could be in the playoffs again in the near future.

15. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are still a playoff contender because they kept their core together on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Dak Prescott, receiver Amari Cooper, and star running back Ezekiel Elliott forms arguably the best offensive trio in the NFL. Also, the Cowboys offensive line is really good and should help their key players to flourish. The offense does have some holes to patch, but they should be able to score plenty of points if their top players perform well. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have a really good group of core players in their front 7 with Demarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch leading the way. The Cowboys do have some needs in their secondary and they need to have another pass rusher besides Lawrence step up. The Cowboys still have several needs on their roster, but they have enough starpower that could be enough for them to be a playoff team.

14. Houston Texans

There’s tons of dysfunction going on within the Texans going on right now starting with their lack of a general manager right now and having what many would consider a bad offseason. Houston really didn’t do anything to get better, but they still have a good group of core players to keep them a contender. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is already one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and the duo of DeAndre Hopkins/Will Fuller provide him with some good weapons in the passing game. The Texans running game is somewhat of a question mark, but the duo of Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman should be able to get the job done. The Texans offensive line still appears to be a major concern and it could hold the Texans offense back. Meanwhile, the Texans still have a terrific defense heading into 2019 with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney forming what could be the best pass rushing duo in the NFL. The Texans secondary remains solid as well, although it was weakened after the departure of safety Tyrann Mathieu this offseason. Houston still has some uncertainty on both sides of the ball, but they have enough talent to possibly be a playoff team this season.

13. Seattle Seahawks

Pretty much everyone thought Seattle was in rebuild mode last season and they wouldn’t be a playoff team, but once again they proved that they are still a contender. Seattle still has Russell Wilson as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. However, there is a concern that he doesn’t have many targets to throw to in the passing game with the retirement of Doug Baldwin. The Seahawks will need Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf to really step up and take on the top receiver roles. However, Seattle has been built around the running game for the past decade and it will surely be the case this season with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny forming a really good running back duo. Meanwhile, the defense is still going through a major transition especially with star pass rusher Frank Clark traded away this offseason. The Seahawks are hoping that the new additions of Ziggy Ansah and 1st round defensive end L.J. Collier can provide an immediate spark to the pass rush. The Seahawks still have proven linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, but the rest of the defense needs to step up in order for the unit to be successful as a whole. Overall, Seattle might be overlooked once again in 2019, but it is a team that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

12. Chicago Bears

Chicago had a terrific season last year and succeeded just about everyone’s expectations, so they’re expected to be serious contenders again this season. However, they play in a really tough division with the Packers and Vikings. We know how good the Bears defense can be especially with the dynamic pass rush of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. The Bears also have a terrific secondary with players like Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson leading the way. There are absolutely no concerns about the Bears defense heading into 2019 and it is arguably the best defense in the NFL. However, the offense is the big concern for the Bears heading into 2019. Chicago needs quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to be more consistent this season and they need their top targets like Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton to be much better this season as well. Also, the Bears will look a lot different at running back with the departure of Jordan Howard. However, they’re hoping that Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery, and Mike Davis can get the job done at running back. Overall, the Bears defense is elite and they can make the Bears a playoff team on their own, but they need the offense to put the pieces together in order to become a true contender.

11. Green Bay Packers

Last year was a tough season for the Packers, but if there is any team that can bounce back to become a playoff team again then it is the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is still a top 5 quarterback in the NFL and he’s capable of carrying Green Bay’s offense by himself. He does have an elite receiver with Davante Adams, but receivers like Geronimo Allison and Jimmy Graham need to step up for the Packers passing offense to be really successful. Meanwhile, the Packers seem to have a good duo at running game with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. The Packers offense should be completely fine especially with Aaron Rodgers carrying the load as usual. It was the defense that really held the Packers back last season, but it should be much improved with the additions they made this offseason. Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, and rookie 1st round pick Rashan Gary should improve a pass rush that struggled last season. Also, the secondary likely got better with the additions of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage at safety. The Packers are clearly revolving around Aaron Rodgers, but his supporting cast should be better this season and that is why they will likely compete for the NFC North title in 2019.

10. Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta is a good team that unfortunately had some really bad luck with injuries especially on defense. Having players like Deion Jones, Ricardo Allen, and Keanu Neal will make a big difference for the Falcons defense. Also, the Falcons have a good defensive line that hopefully will perform better than last season as they have Grady Jarrett, Takkarist McKinley, and Vic Beasley as their top players on the defensive line. If the Falcons can get good play out of their defense then the Falcons should not only be a playoff team, but they could potentially be super bowl contenders. The Falcons are still built around an elite offense led by quarterback Matt Ryan and a terrific group of receivers that includes Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Calvin Ridley. Also, the running game could be good if Devonta Freeman can stay healthy and be as productive as he was a few years ago. The Falcons offense should be really good this season if all goes well and if they can get good play out of their defense then they have a real chance of being a playoff team.

9. Cleveland Browns

Cleveland finally appears to be a possible super bowl contender and it looks like they have a really good chance at making the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Browns are probably the most hyped team in football, but they are still a team undergoing a transition especially with Freddie Kitchens named as the new head coach. Their offense could be really difficult to stop especially since they added star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason to form arguably the best receiver duo in the NFL along with Jarvis Landry. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is the key to Cleveland’s offensive success this season and he showed signs last year that he can be the franchise quarterback the team hasn’t had for a very long time. Meanwhile, the duo of Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson at running back will be really tough to handle. Also, if Kareem Hunt returns later in the season then it will just add even more talent to Cleveland’s offense. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s defense is quietly getting better as well. Sure, they lost safety Jabrill Peppers this offseason, but Morgan Burnett should help fill the void a little bit. Drafting Greedy Williams should create a really good young cornerback duo to go along with Denzel Ward. Also, the addition of pass rusher Olivier Vernon could be really good especially with star defensive end Myles Garrett on the other side. Overall, Cleveland has improved on both sides of the ball and they have enough talent to be a serious super bowl contender this season.

8. Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis proved that they are a team on the rise as they built what is arguably the best offensive line in football. Also, if quarterback Andrew Luck can stay healthy then he can basically carry the offense by himself. However, he does have some good weapons around him including T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron, and rookie 2nd round pick Parris Campbell. The Colts running game could also be good if starter Marlon Mack can stay healthy during the season. Indianapolis has an offense that is ready to compete, but the defense is much better than it was just a couple of years ago. Darius Leonard has already proven himself as a pro-bowl caliber linebacker and the addition of Justin Houston will only improve the Colts front 7 even more. The rest of the Colts defense could use some work, but Pierre Desir and Rock Ya-Sin provide some cornerbacks that they can build around. The Colts strength is their offense, but their defense is beginning to come around as well. This team is definitely playoff-caliber, but they still have some work to do before they become a true super bowl contender.

7. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota really disappointed last season when it appeared that they would be super bowl contenders. However, the Vikings still have a good all-around team heading into 2019. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs form arguably the best receiving duo in the NFL, so quarterback Kirk Cousins really has no excuse to not play well this season. The Vikings are hoping that running back Dalvin Cook can stay healthy this season and if he can then that would be a big boost for the Vikings offense. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s defense has plenty of talent and it might actually be stronger than the offense. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen are a good pass rushing duo that will hopefully be better than last season. The Vikings also have a couple of really good linebackers with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Minnesota also might have the best secondary in the NFL with players like Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, and Trae Waynes. It is pretty evident that the Vikings are one of the best all-around teams in the NFL, but the Vikings must find a way to put that talent together better than they did last season.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles might not be a hyped team anymore, but they have proven themselves as a super bowl contender over the past couple of seasons. They have a good quarterback with Carson Wentz, but they’ll need him to stay healthy because they don’t have the luxury of Nick Foles as backup. The Eagles are very talented especially at the skill positions. Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Zach Ertz figure to be the top targets for the Eagles offense this season. The Eagles are also really deep at running back, but it’ll be interesting to see if Jordan Howard or Miles Sanders will get most of the carries. Philadelphia is still deep with their defensive line even with the departure of Michael Bennett. Also, the Eagles still have a good secondary that could be even better if they can get more from players like Sidney Jones. Overall, the Eagles have a really good roster on both sides of the ball and they should be a playoff team if all goes well.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City was a super bowl contender last season and it’s likely they’ll be the same again in 2019. Patrick Mahomes is a special talent at the quarterback and if he plays like he did last season then he can carry the offense by himself. However, there is some major uncertainty surrounding him on offense. The Chiefs might struggle to replace Kareem Hunt, but Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde should fill the void adequately at running back. The Chiefs also have major uncertainty with star receiver Tyreek Hill as he’s expected to be suspended for a portion of the 2019 season. The problem is the Chiefs don’t have much depth at receiver behind him as Sammy Watkins and rookie receiver Mecole Hardman are next on the depth chart. Tight End Travis Kelce should be the top target in the passing game especially if Hill is suspended. The Chiefs have major uncertainty on offense, but they should be just fine with Mahomes carrying the offense. The Chiefs front 7 should still be very good with newly added pass rusher Frank Clark and star defensive tackle Chris Jones. The Chiefs also made their secondary better by signing safety Tyrann Mathieu to a big contract. However, secondary is still a big weakness and the defense could hold the team back once again. The pressure will be on Mahomes and the offense to carry the team once again and if they can’t then this team could only be a borderline playoff team instead of a super bowl contender.

4. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers might not be the best team in the NFL, but it appears that they have the most talented roster. They still have the ageless quarterback Philip Rivers to go along with several good pass-catchers including Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry. However, the Chargers offense is built around the running game with star running back Melvin Gordon and good 3rd-down back Austin Ekeler. The offense should be good, but the Chargers defense could be even better. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram form a very good pass rushing duo. Also, the addition of 1st round pick Jerry Tillery should improve the Chargers at the defensive tackle position. Meanwhile, the Chargers got better at the linebacker position by adding veteran Thomas Davis. The secondary though appears to be the biggest strength with star players Cameron Heyward and Derwin James leading that unit. The Chargers will likely be the favorites to win the AFC West because of their talented overall roster and they have enough to challenge the Patriots in the AFC.

3. Los Angeles Rams

Jared Goff might not be the best quarterback in the NFL, but he performed well last season because of the tremendous talent around him. Todd Gurley takes a lot of the pressure off Goff, but there is some concern about how healthy Gurley’s knee is and how productive he’ll be in 2019. The Rams also have a terrific trio of wide receivers that help make the Rams passing offense elite as Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp are all returning for 2019. The Rams offense has proven that it can score tons of points and it is basically the exact same group as last season. Meanwhile, the Rams defense is still very talented as well. Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald has an argument as the best player in the entire NFL and he has a couple of good players around him with Dante Fowler and Michael Brockers. The Rams linebacker group is the weakness of the entire team, but the tremendous Rams secondary led by Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and Eric Weddle helps make up for the weakness at linebacker. The Rams have a stacked roster overall and they are clear super bowl contenders heading into 2019.

2. New Orleans Saints

New Orleans probably should have been in the super bowl last season, but they are probably the favorites to reach that point in 2019. Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. However, he doesn’t have to do as much anymore as he has a terrific running back duo to help him out with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. The Saints also have a couple of good pass-catchers with Michael Thomas and Jared Cook. The only real concern is that the Saints don’t really have a reliable pass-catcher besides Thomas and Cook, but Brees is good at spreading the ball around so it shouldn’t have much of an impact. Meanwhile, the Saints defense is still really good especially with the talented pass rush duo of Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport. Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple lead what is a somewhat strong secondary as well. The Saints already have the offense to make the team a playoff contender, but if the defense is good then there is no doubt that New Orleans is a super bowl contender.

  1. New England Patriots

New England might not be the most talented team in the NFL, but they have maybe the best quarterback and best coach of all time so that’s all that matters. Many thought Tom Brady would thought that Tom Brady would get worse as he is over 40 years old now, but he continues to play at a high level. Also, he has some good talent around him especially at running back with Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead. The Patriots did lose star tight end Rob Gronkowski and that will likely have a big impact on the offense. However, Brady will likely figure out how to utilize the pass-catchers that he has and he’ll likely have Julian Edelman and rookie 1st round pick N’Keal Harry as his top targets. The Patriots offense might seem vulnerable, but they’ll be just fine as long as Tom Brady is the quarterback. Meanwhile, the Patriots defense is decent, but they still have some weaknesses that could show this season. The Patriots lost pass rusher Trey Flowers in the offseason, but the additions of Michael Bennett and Chase Winovich could help fill the void. The Patriots secondary also should be strong this season especially with Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty coming back. This might be the year that the Patriots dynasty finally collapses, but I can’t doubt them because when I do then they just win the super bowl like they did last season.

2019 NFC West Standings Predictions

  1. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams made it to the super bowl last season, so they are clearly a very talented team. However, they did lose some really key players this offseason including Rodger Saffold, Ndamukong Suh, and LaMarcus Joyner. However, the Rams still have a terrific offense as they have young starting quarterback Jared Goff and a very talented group of receivers including Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods. The Rams also have terrific running back Todd Gurley and they just added Darrell Henderson in the 3rd round of the draft this offseason. The Rams have an explosive offense and nothing about that changed this offseason. Meanwhile, the Rams defense did experience some turnover this offseason. The loss of Ndamukong Suh hurts the Rams front 7, but they still have superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald and talented defensive end Michael Brockers as well. They also still have Dante Fowler as a good pass rusher and they added veteran Clay Matthews to add even more pass rush. The Rams also lost safety LaMarcus Joyner this offseason, yet that won’t matter too much since they replaced him with pro-bowl caliber safety Eric Weddle. The Rams also have Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and Nickell Robey-Coleman forming a terrific trio of cornerbacks. Overall, the Rams still have a stacked roster and that is why they are the heavy favorites to win the NFC West in 2019.

2. Seattle Seahawks

Just when we thought the Seahawks were rebuilding last season and then they somehow ended up making the playoffs yet again. The Seahawks are built around running the football on offense and that’s the way it’ll be again this season. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny form a terrific running back duo that should help to carry the offense. However, we can’t forget that Russell Wilson is still among the best quarterbacks in the NFL and he doesn’t need much talent around him to succeed. Sure, Wilson doesn’t have many targets to throw to especially after Doug Baldwin abruptly retired this offseason. That being said, Tyler Lockett has turned into a terrific receiver and their rookie 2nd round pick D.K. Metcalf should make a big impact right away as well. The Seahawks offense still has some holes to fill, but it will likely be covered up by the brilliant play of star quarterback Russell Wilson and the terrific running backs that Seattle has. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense has a really new identity heading into next season. Star defensive end Frank Clark is now gone and star safety Earl Thomas departed this offseason as well. Free agent signing Ziggy Ansah has shown that he can be a tremendous pass rusher, but he is really inconsistent. The Seahawks also drafted L.J. Collier in the 1st round this offseason and he could be ready to make a big impact on Seattle’s pass rush right away. Seattle also has a couple of really good linebackers with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright as the two remaining players from what was once a really dominant Seattle defense. The Seahawks are inexperienced in the secondary, but they will still likely play well in 2019 even without Earl Thomas. Overall, the Seahawks might not be in a position to challenge the Rams for the division title, but Seattle does have enough talent to make a playoff run once again.

3. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers had a really rough 2018 season, but that was mostly due to injuries especially the one that caused starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to miss most of the season. If Garoppolo can stay healthy then that should be enough to make the 49ers playoff contenders again. He will certainly have some good weapons to throw to especially with tight end George Kittle who had probably the most dominant season by a tight end in NFL history. Also, the 49ers have plenty of depth at wide receiver with Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis returning. Also, they drafted Deebo Samuel in the 2nd round and Jalen Hurd in the 3rd round to add even more competition to the wide receiver group. The 49ers also have plenty of depth at running back with Jerick McKinnon returning from an injury and the free agent signing of Tevin Coleman this offseason. Also, San Francisco has Matt Breida who turned out to be a terrific find as an undrafted free agent. The 49ers offense might not be great, but it will be much better with Garoppolo back from injury and a better supporting cast around him. Meanwhile, the 49ers defense could be much improved in 2019. In fact, the 49ers could easily claim that they have the best defensive line in the NFL. The selection of defensive end Nick Bosa in the 1st round of the draft and the trade for Dee Ford this offseason could create a really dynamic pass rushing duo. Also, the 49ers still have former 1st round picks Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner as terrific run-stopping defensive tackles. The 49ers are so strong on the defensive line that they even have 2017 1st round pick Solomon Thomas as a rotational defensive end. The 49ers also made a big splash in free agency by signing star inside linebacker Kwon Alexander who will be a major upgrade at the position and he’ll instantly become one of the leaders on the defense. The 49ers could still use some help in the secondary, but they do have Richard Sherman to at least provide some stability in that unit. The 49ers have some work to do before they become a real threat to the Rams in the NFC West, but the 49ers could be a playoff contender as long as Garoppolo and the rest of their key players can stay healthy in 2019.

4. Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals had a very wacky offseason and it just shows the level of dysfunction within the organization right now. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury should at least bring some excitement and energy to the Cardinals offense if nothing else. Arizona also drafted quarterback Kyler Murray with the 1st overall pick while they traded away last year’s 1st round pick Josh Rosen to the Dolphins in a strange turn of events. Murray should provide a spark to the Cardinals offense right away because of his athleticism, although he doesn’t have a great supporting cast around him. David Johnson is still an elite running back in the NFL and he’ll help take a lot of pressure off Murray in 2019. Murray will also have Larry Fitzgerald to throw to and learn from even though Fitzgerald isn’t nearly the player that he once was. The Cardinals are hoping that Christian Kirk can take the next step and provide a reliable target for the Cardinals offense. Also, the Cardinals drafted Andy Isabella in the 2nd round and Hakeem Butler in the 4th round to add even more depth to the wide receiver group. The main issue for the Cardinals remains the offensive line though especially since Josh Rosen was under duress consistently last season. The addition of veterans Marcus Gilbert, Justin Pugh, and J.R. Sweezy should help improve the offensive line. However, it likely won’t even come close to solving the issues that they have on that unit. Overall, the Cardinals offense should be better this season, but it is still very much a work in progress with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Meanwhile, the Cardinals defense has a chance to be pretty good in 2019. Chandler Jones still anchors the front 7 for the Cardinals as he is still one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. However, the Cardinals added some more to their linebacker group by signing Terrell Suggs and Jordan Hicks in free agency. The Cardinals secondary actually could be a big concern though especially with star cornerback Patrick Peterson being suspended for the first six games of the season. The Cardinals will need rookie 2nd round pick Byron Murphy and free agent signing Robert Alford to make a big impact at the cornerback position especially while Peterson is out. Overall, Arizona has tons of reasons for optimism with the young talent that they got in the draft. However, the Cardinals are going through a transition phase in 2019 and it’s difficult to expect them to be very competitive especially in a tough NFC West division.

2019 AFC West Standings Predictions

  1. Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers might have the best overall roster in the entire NFL and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be a playoff team in 2019. Quarterback Philip Rivers is getting older, but last year it still appeared as if he were in his prime. He also has plenty of help on offense with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry as his top targets in the passing game. Meanwhile, the duo of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler at running back takes a lot of pressure off Rivers. The main question for the Chargers is their offensive line, but the Chargers still have plenty of talent to score tons of points if their key players can stay healthy. Meanwhile, the Chargers have a defense that is very good as well. They have Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram as a really good pass rushing duo. Also, the Chargers drafted defensive tackle Jerry Tillery in the 1st round this offseason and he’ll help to make the defensive line even better. Meanwhile, Denzel Perryman and newly acquired veteran Thomas Davis will stablize the linebacker position for the Chargers. Also, the Chargers have a terrific secondary led by cornerback Jason Verrett and safety Derwin James. The Chargers might not have too many dynamic or star players, but they are still a very well-rounded team and that’s why they’ll likely beat out the Chiefs for the AFC West title.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs have tons of talent and quarterback Patrick Mahomes has already become one of the top players in the NFL. However, the Chiefs have major question marks on offense. Their top wide receiver Tyreek Hill is suspended right now and it is a question as to whether he will play this season or even be on the roster by week 1. Tight end Travis Kelce would be the top target in the Chiefs passing offense right now and they also have Sammy Watkins, but he consistently struggles to stay healthy. The Chiefs did draft Mecole Hardman in the 2nd round this offseason and he’ll be expected to play a huge role right away especially if Hill remains suspended. The offensive line remains good for the Chiefs, so that will help Mahomes and the passing game. However, the running back position is another area of concern for the Chiefs offense. Damien Williams became the starter late last year and the Chiefs are hoping that he can have success along with newly signed backup running back Carlos Hyde. Patrick Mahomes can probably make the Chiefs offense good on his own, but the supporting cast at the skill positions is very questionable. Meanwhile, the Chiefs defense wasn’t very good last season and they really didn’t do anything to improve in that area this season. Sure, they acquired terrific defensive end Frank Clark, but that came after they traded away star defensive end Dee Ford. The Chiefs also added star safety Tyrann Mathieu in free agency, but they ended up releasing pro-bowl safety Eric Berry. Kansas City still has players to build around like star defensive tackle Chris Jones and linebacker Anthony Hitchens. However, the Chiefs secondary appears even weaker than last season if that’s even possible and they still have holes to fill in the front 7 as well. The Chiefs should still be a playoff contender, but that is no sure thing considering the crazy offseason that they’ve had and the lack of improvements that they’ve made to their roster.

3. Denver Broncos

Denver’s a team that doesn’t get much attention these days, but they may surprise some people this season if everything works out well. The main question for the Broncos is their offense which has been the case for the past few seasons. Joe Flacco is the starting quarterback for at least the short-term and the Broncos are hoping that he can improve the Broncos passing offense. However, there are some concerns about his supporting cast as well. Emmanuel Sanders is probably the Broncos best receiver, but he is getting older and he’s coming off a serious Achilles injury. Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton are young receivers with terrific potential, but it is unknown whether they can be relied upon yet. Rookie 1st round pick Noah Fant should be a huge upgrade at tight end for the Broncos and he’ll add a much needed weapon to the Broncos passing offense. The one thing that we do know about the Broncos offense is that they should have a terrific running game once again with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman leading the way. If Denver can just get their passing game to improve and their offensive line to play better then Denver could have a surprisingly good offense. Meanwhile, the defense appears to once again be the strength of the team heading into 2019. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb form what could be the best pass rushing duo in the NFL. The inside linebacker position is still a concern though for the Broncos and the safety position is another area of concern. However, the Broncos are set at the cornerback position with Chris Harris and newly acquired free agent signings Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan. The Broncos defense remains the strength of the team, but the Broncos offense will have to get better if the team wants to be a playoff contender. If Flacco and the passing offense can improve in 2019 then there is a possibility that the Broncos could be playoff contenders.

4. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders made a lot of big splashes this offseason and obviously it has many people hyped for the Raiders future as they move to Las Vegas in 2020. I agree that the Raiders got better this offseason, but I’m not jumping on board the hype train just yet. The Raiders still have many holes to fill before they can become playoff contenders. The Raiders did surround quarterback Derek Carr with some more talent though. Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams should form a really good wide receiver duo, although the Raiders did lose their best pass-catcher from last season when tight end Jared Cook left in free agency. Meanwhile, the Raiders drafted Josh Jacobs in the 1st round and he should be an instant upgrade to the Raiders running game. Also, the Raiders spent a large amount of money to bolster their offensive line by signing offensive tackle Trent Brown in free agency. Oakland’s offense is already better than last season, but Derek Carr will need to play better and the supporting cast will need to live up to expectations for the Raiders offense to even be average. The Raiders defense though needs some serious help even after the moves they made this offseason. Rookie 1st round pick Clelin Ferrell will add some much needed help to a terrible Raiders defensive line and he is pretty much the only reliable pass rusher currently on the roster. The Raiders are also really weak at the linebacker position, although the free agent signings of Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict should provide some short-term stability at linebacker. Also, the Raiders secondary is much improved from last season when they signed safety LaMarcus Joyner in free agency while also drafting safety Johnathan Abram in the 1st round this offseason. However, the Raiders are still majorly weak at the cornerback position, although they did draft Trayvon Mullen in the 2nd round to try and help upgrade the position. Oakland took some big strides to becoming a more competitive team in 2019, but they still have a lot of holes to fill on their roster especially on defense.

2019 NFC South standings predictions

  1. New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees might be winding down his NFL career at 40 years old, but the good news is that he doesn’t have to be elite anymore because of the amount of talent around him. The Saints don’t have too much talent at the receiver position, but Michael Thomas and Jared Cook provide very good targets for Brees in the passing game. The Saints did lose running back Mark Ingram in free agency, but they still have a good running back duo with Alvin Kamara and newly acquired Latavius Murray. The Saints offense is about the same as it was last season and it should be elite as long as Drew Brees is their starting quarterback. Meanwhile, the Saints defense is very talented as well especially along the defensive line. They have Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport that could form one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL. The Saints still have some weakness at the linebacker position, but they have plenty of talent in the secondary led by star cornerback Marshon Lattimore. The Saints don’t have a great defense, but it is good enough especially with the Saints still having a terrific offense. New Orleans could have some tough competition in the division in 2019, but they are still the most complete team in the NFC South.

2. Atlanta Falcons

Many people thought the Falcons would be a playoff team in 2018, but injuries especially on the defensive side of the ball really had a negative impact. We all know what the Falcons offense is capable of especially in the passing game. Matt Ryan is still a very good quarterback as he gets older and he has plenty of targets to throw to. In fact, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Calvin Ridley form what is probably the best wide receiver group in the entire NFL. The Falcons addressed the offensive line early in the draft when they selected Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary in the 1st round. Those two players should make a positive impact immediately and for the future as well. The main question for the Falcons is likely at the running back position. Devonta Freeman has proven himself as a very good starting running back. However, Freeman has struggled with injuries in recent years and they don’t have the luxury of Tevin Coleman as a terrific backup option any longer. If Freeman can stay healthy then he could provide some more balance for what is an already good Falcons offense. Meanwhile, the Falcons defense has plenty of talent, but we’ll see if their key players can remain healthy in 2019. The Falcons defensive line has a chance to be very good with Vic Beasley, Tak McKinley, and Grady Jarrett leading the way. Atlanta also has one of the best linebackers in the NFL with Deion Jones, although the Falcons defense was clearly worse when he missed tons of games last season. The Falcons secondary also has a chance to be very good with Desmond Trufant and Keanu Neal as the top players in that group. Overall, the Falcons have enough talent on offense and defense to give the Saints a challenge for the division. Last year was a disappointment for the Falcons, but if they can stay healthy this year then there’s no reason they can’t be a playoff contender.

3. Carolina Panthers

Carolina is stuck in a tough spot because they have some pieces that could allow them to compete in 2018. However, they ended the 2018 season in a tough way and there is still a ton of uncertainty surrounding the team heading into the 2019 season. Quarterback Cam Newton just wasn’t the same player last season because of a shoulder injury and it remains a concern heading into 2019 even after having surgery on it. Carolina still has dynamic running back Christian McCaffrey and he’ll likely have to carry the offense once again. The Panthers offensive line should be better especially with the free agent signing of center Matt Paradis. However, even if Cam Newton is healthy in 2019, he doesn’t have many reliable pass-catchers. McCaffrey is probably the best receiver on the team, although that isn’t exactly the role that he’ll be in all of the time. Greg Olsen was once one of the best tight ends in the NFL, but age and injuries appear to have derailed his career. D.J. Moore is undoubtedly Carolina’s best wide receiver mostly due to his speed, but he probably can’t be relied upon too much because he hasn’t proven that he can be very consistent. Curtis Samuel provides some speed, but he’s not much of a pass-catcher and the rest of the group including Jarius Wright, Chris Hogan, and Torrey Smith doesn’t inspire much optimism. Carolina better be hoping for a big year from McCaffrey because the passing game with Newton and the rest of the receivers is a huge concern right now. Meanwhile, the Panthers defense looks pretty strong heading into the 2019 season. The combination of Shaq Thompson and Luke Kuechly at linebacker is still dynamic. Also, the Panthers have Mario Addison, Bruce Irvin, and rookie 1st round pick Brian Burns to lead the way for what should be a really good pass rush. The secondary is the biggest concern for the Panthers defense, but they have a good young cornerback duo with James Bradberry and Donte Jackson. Carolina has huge question marks on offense, but if they can get things figured out then maybe they could be a playoff contender in 2019.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have Bruce Arians as their new head coach heading into 2019 and there is some optimism that the new regime will finally turn Tampa Bay into contenders again. Tampa Bay lost a couple of key wide receivers this offseason when Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson departed. Those losses will have a negative impact on the offense especially since the Buccaneers only signed Breshad Perriman to replace them. However, the Buccaneers still have plenty of weapons in the passing game as they have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate as the top 4 targets. The main thing that the Buccaneers are hoping is that Jameis Winston can become the franchise quarterback and limit the turnovers that he gives up. Winston has had plenty of receivers to throw to in his career and now it is time for him to take his performance to the next level in order for Tampa Bay to be successful. However, the main issue for the Buccaneers is their offensive line and they did absolutely nothing to address it this offseason. Also, the Buccaneers need more from their running game in 2019. Peyton Barber showed flashes of potential last season, but they need more from him and they need Ronald Jones to be much better as well. Tampa Bay’s offense has the potential to be very good, but there is no doubt that they need better play from their offensive line and running backs. Meanwhile, improving the defense was the main priority for the Buccaneers this offseason. They did lose Kwon Alexander and Gerald McCoy, but they likely found upgrades over those players when they selected linebacker Devin White in the 1st round and signed Ndamukong Suh in free agency. The Buccaneers also have Lavonte David who is still one of the best linebackers in the NFL and they have a good young defensive tackle with Vita Vea. The pass rush could be a major issue though this offseason especially with star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul expected to miss about half of the season. That leaves Tampa Bay with Carl Nassib, Noah Spence, rookie 4th round pick Anthony Nelson, and free agent signing Shaquil Barrett. Those 4 guys could be surprisingly effective, but it is still an experienced and unproven group of pass rushers. The secondary appears to still be the main problem for Tampa Bay’s defense as they are very young and unproven in that area. The Buccaneers are hoping that Vernon Hargreaves and Carlton Davis can continue to improve. Also, they are hoping that rookie cornerbacks Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean are able to step in and make an immediate impact. Safety Justin Evans is just about the only proven player in the Buccaneers secondary, so Tampa Bay is hoping that their young cornerbacks can progress rapidly or else Tampa’s defense might get torched once again. Overall, Tampa Bay’s offense provides reason for optimism in 2019 and the defense should be at least a little bit better than last season. However, Tampa Bay likely won’t be a playoff contender once again unless their young players on defense can step up and make a huge impact.

2019 AFC South Standings Predictions

  1. Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis took some big strides last season mainly because of a healthy Andrew Luck and a much improved offensive line. The Colts didn’t have a great offseason by any means, but they did a good job of adding some much needed depth to their wide receiver group. The Colts drafted Parris Campbell in the 2nd round and he can be used as a deep threat to attract attention away from star receiver T.Y. Hilton. Also, the Colts signed Devin Funchess in free agency as he’ll give the team a big possession receiver on the outside. Indianapolis also has plenty of talent at the tight end position with Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle making the Colts passing game even more dangerous. The Colts can score a lot of points, but the one question is at the running back position. Marlon Mack is the top running back and he is a very underrated player in the NFL. However, Mack has struggled to stay healthy and it could impact the Colts offense if Mack can’t stay healthy. Meanwhile, the Colts defense got much better last season, but that isn’t saying much compared to what the defense had been prior to 2018. The Colts made the defense even better this offseason by adding some much needed help to their pass rush by signing Justin Houston. Also, the Colts added some much needed depth to the cornerback position by selecting Rock Ya-Sin in the 2nd round of the draft. The Colts have some talent on defense especially with young players Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker already on the roster. That being said, the Colts had plenty of money to spend this offseason and they still left many voids remaining on defense. The Colts offense will carry the team once again, but if the defense can just be average then Indianapolis has a good chance of winning the AFC South.

2. Tennessee Titans

The Titans had a good offseason and that will improve their chances of having success in the highly competitive AFC South. Tennessee had some work to do to improve their passing game in particular and they did a good job of doing that this offseason. They signed reliable slot receiver Adam Humphries in free agency and drafted A.J. Brown in the 2nd round of the draft. The Titans now have plenty of depth at the wide receiver position and now it is up to quarterback Marcus Mariota to stay healthy and perform more consistently. The Titans also have a terrific duo at running back with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis as a terrific 3rd-down back. Tennessee now has plenty of weapons on offense and if Mariota can utilize his supporting cast effectively then the Titans have a chance to win the division in 2019. Meanwhile, the defense is very underrated, although the Titans didn’t do enough to improve the defense this offseason. Jurrell Casey and newly acquired pass rusher Cameron Wake anchor a rather weak front 7 for the Titans. The Titans may struggle to sack the quarterback this season, but the good news is that the Titans secondary is very talented. Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, and Adoree Jackson form a terrific cornerback group. The Titans also have a talented duo at safety with Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro. Tennessee was already a playoff contender, but they got better this offseason on offense and that will give them a good chance to win the AFC South in 2019.

3. Houston Texans

Houston won the AFC South last season and they are in a position to possibly repeat as division champs in 2019. However, Houston didn’t have a good offseason at all and that has allowed Tennessee and Indianapolis to possibly leapfrog the Texans in the AFC South. Houston still has a terrific quarterback with Deshaun Watson and they have a couple of good receivers with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. The main question for the Texans continues to be their offensive line. They have been unable to protect Watson the past couple of years and the team really didn’t do much to address the issue this offseason. The team did draft Tytus Howard in the 1st round, but that was a major reach and he hasn’t really faced quality competition very much while at Alabama State. Houston also drafted offensive lineman Max Scharping in the 2nd round of the draft and he’ll provide some versatility for the Texans, but he won’t necessarily make an impact early on. Houston’s offensive line doesn’t look much better than last season and that could really hold the Texans offense back and it could lead Watson to get injured once again. Meanwhile, the Texans defense has the potential to be very good if everything goes well. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney form arguably the best pass rusher duo in the NFL and if they can both stay healthy then the Texans pass rush could be almost impossible to stop. The Texans also have a few really good linebackers with Whitney Mercilus, Zach Cunningham, and Benardrick McKinney. Houston’s front 7 has the chance to be elite if their key players can all stay healthy in 2019. The Texans secondary is more of a question mark heading into 2019, but it is still an above average unit. Losing Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson will hurt Houston’s secondary. However, the offseason additions of Tashaun Gipson and Bradley Roby should fill those voids adequately. Overall, Houston’s defense has a chance to be very good and the offense should be good if the offensive line can just be decent. The Texans have the pieces in place to win the AFC South in 2019, but the poor offseason that they had doesn’t inspire much confidence that they can be better than the Colts and Titans.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville is a team that is clearly trying hard to compete and maybe they can surprise some people and be a playoff contender. However, there just seems to be so much uncertainty and dysfunction surrounding the franchise in 2019. Nobody doubts the talent that the team has especially on defense, but they do have some major issues on offense. The Jaguars signed Nick Foles this offseason to replace Blake Bortles as the starting quarterback. Foles has been successful at times during his NFL career and he was especially terrific during the Eagles 2017 super bowl season. However, we shouldn’t forget that Foles has been a backup for the large majority of his career and he has hasn’t had much success anywhere besides Philadelphia. Foles is probably an upgrade over Bortles, but Foles also comes with inconsistent production and that could really hold the Jaguars offense back. Foles also doesn’t have much weapons in the passing game as they don’t really have a proven number one receiver. They have some good depth at wide receiver, but Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark, and Chris Conley are all rather unproven at the NFL level. The Jaguars need somebody from that group to step up especially since Foles isn’t the type of quarterback that can get the best out of that group. Jacksonville’s offense will clearly rely on star running back Leonard Fournette once again, but if he misses tons of games like he did last season then the Jaguars offense would be in major trouble. Meanwhile, the Jaguars defense is extremely talented still, but they are hoping to improve after they fell short of expectations last season. The Jaguars secondary is very good especially with the talented cornerback duo of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. The safety position is probably the main weakness on the team, but there really isn’t much of a weakness on the rest of the defense. The Jaguars front 7 is especially elite even with star linebacker Telvin Smith out for the 2019 season. Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, and Marcell Dareus form a terrific defensive line. Also, the Jaguars drafted talented pass rusher Josh Allen in the 1st round this offseason and he could make a big impact right away. Jacksonville’s defense will be required to carry the team once again in 2019, but if they aren’t well above average then Jacksonville could be a major disappointment like they were last season. Maybe Nick Foles can somehow use his magic to make the Jaguars offense really good, but if that doesn’t happen then the Jaguars are starting down another last place finish in the AFC South.