2019 NFC North Standings predictions

  1. Green Bay Packers

It won’t be easy at all for the Packers to win the division, but I believe that they made the necessary changes to win the NFC North in 2019. The Packers offense was never much of a problem with quarterback Aaron Rodgers leading the way. The team didn’t do much to surround him with talent on offense this offseason, but he still has Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham as really good weapons in the passing game. Meanwhile, the defense was the main issue last season and that will likely be better after the big additions made this offseason. The Packers pass rush wasn’t very good last season and they addressed that problem during free agency as they signed Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith to massive contracts. Both players are likely being overpaid, but at least the Packers pass rush should be much improved in 2019. Also, the Packers also added some much needed stability to their defensive line when they selected Rashan Gary in the 1st round. Green Bay also added safety Adrian Amos in free agency which should add some experience to a really young and unproven secondary. Green Bay will be a new-look team in 2019 especially on defense and that is what should allow them to be a playoff team once again.

2. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota was a major disappointment last season as they didn’t even make the playoffs. However, there is no denying the talent that Minnesota has on their roster and they could even win this division if all goes well. The Vikings have plenty of talent on offense especially with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs forming arguably the best receiver duo in the NFL. Also, the Vikings have a really good running back with Dalvin Cook and a good quarterback with Kirk Cousins. That being said, the main thing holding back the Vikings offense was the offensive line. However, that should be improved this season with the addition of Josh Kline in free agency and the selection of center Garrett Bradbury in the 1st round of the draft. Minnesota’s offense wasn’t bad last season, but the Vikings offense could be much better if the offensive line improves. Meanwhile, the Vikings defense has a chance to be really good in 2019 because they have talent at basically every position. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen have the ability to form a dynamic pass rushing duo. Also, the combination of Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks at linebacker really solidifies that area of the defense. Finally, the Vikings secondary has a legitimate claim to be the best secondary in the NFL as they have Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, and Trae Waynes leading the way. There is no doubt that Minnesota has enough talent to be a playoff contender and if they can live up to that potential then it is very possible that they could win the NFC North.

3. Chicago Bears

The Bears aren’t a bad team by any stretch, but they unfortunately play in a really tough division in 2019. There is no doubt that the Bears have the defense to compete with any team in the NFL, but the offense is what could hold the team back. The Bears do have a good young quarterback with Mitchell Trubisky and a good offensive line led by Charles Leno and Kyle Long. However, the Bears don’t have too much talent at the skill positions especially after they traded away starting running back Jordan Howard this offseason. The Bears signed running back Mike Davis and selected running back David Montgomery in the 3rd round of the draft. Maybe those guys can fill the void at running back, but I doubt that either guy will be an upgrade over Howard. Meanwhile, the Bears aren’t really any better at the wide receiver position. Sure, the Bears added Riley Ridley in the 4th round of the draft, but he likely won’t make much of an impact right away. Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel all have plenty of talent. However, the problem is that all three are very inconsistent and none should be a number one receiver on an NFL team. Overall, the Bears offense didn’t improve that much this offseason and that could be a problem if they are as inconsistent as they were last season. Meanwhile, the Bears defense was absolutely dominant last season and it appears like it’ll be the same this season. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks is a dominant pass rushing duo while the Bears also have talent at linebacker with Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. Finally, the Bears secondary did suffer a key departure when Adrian Amos left for Green Bay, but the Bears adequately filled the void by signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in free agency. Also, the Bears have a couple of really good players in the secondary with cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. The Bears defense will be expected to carry the team just like they did last season. If they can accomplish that goal then the team has a really good chance of winning the division again. However, the Bears offense is a liability and the team just doesn’t have the amount of depth that the Packers and Vikings have.

4. Detroit Lions

Detroit isn’t a bad team, but they are clearly the worst team in the division since they clearly don’t have the talent to match the Bears, Packers, or Vikings. That being said, the Lions do have some room for optimism especially on offense. They have a good quarterback with Matthew Stafford and he has a few good receivers to throw to as well. Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Danny Amendola form an underrated wide receiver group that could up some big production in 2019. Also, the Lions selected TJ Hockenson in the 1st round of the draft this offseason in order to fill the big void that the team had at the tight end position. The Lions also have a good running back with Kerryon Johnson who could provide some much needed balance for the Lions offense. Detroit’s offense shouldn’t be a problem, but the defense is the major question mark going into 2019. The Lions did make a big move to bolster their pass rush in free agency by signing Trey Flowers to a massive contract. The Lions are hoping that Flowers has a big season because they really don’t have another decent pass rusher on the roster, but they do have some good run-stoppers with players like Damon Harrison. Detroit also has really good cornerback Darius Slay who should carry the Lions secondary once again in 2019. Detroit’s offense will be relied upon to carry the team in 2019, but this team likely won’t be a playoff contender because of the many positions of weakness that they still have on defense.

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2019 AFC North Standings predictions

  1. Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns have been a miserable franchise for a very long time and it wasn’t too long ago that they went 1-31 combined for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. However, the Browns are now a team with a stacked roster to go along with high expectations heading into the 2019 season. I am hesitant to say that they will win the division this year, but I am a big believer in the team because of the talent that they have on offense and defense. It appears Cleveland has finally found their franchise quarterback with Baker Mayfield. However, he has plenty of help on offense as he has Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson at the running back position. Also, they have Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and newly acquired all-pro receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns defense appears to be even more talented as they acquired defensive end Olivier Vernon this offseason and he’ll form a formidable pass rushing duo to go along with tremendous young pass rusher Myles Garrett. The loss of safety Jabrill Peppers might hurt the Browns secondary, but the Browns still have a couple of very good young cornerbacks with Denzel Ward and this year’s 2nd round pick Greedy Williams. Overall, the Browns are very talented on both sides of the ball and the moves that they made this offseason prove that they are ready to possibly make a playoff run in 2019. It’s been awhile since the Browns have made the playoffs, but they are clearly all-in for the 2019 season.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers didn’t get any better this offseason especially after the departures of key offensive weapons Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. However, the Steelers seem poised to fill those voids with the expanded starting roles of James Washington and James Conner. There is no doubting the talent that Pittsburgh still has especially on offense with Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner forming a terrific trio of playmakers. However, they’ll need more from James Washington and newly acquired receiver Donte Moncrief if the offense is going to reach its full potential. The offense should be fine for Pittsburgh, but it is the defense that is the main concern. Pittsburgh did add some impact players to the linebacker position though with 1st round pick Devin Bush and free agent signing Mark Barron. The defensive line for Pittsburgh is good and nothing changed in that aspect, but it is the secondary that remains a big concern. Pittsburgh did address the cornerback position by signing Steven Nelson and drafting Justin Layne in the 3rd round. However, the Steelers secondary still needs some impact players and I’m not sure that Nelson or Layne will do much to change that. Overall, Pittsburgh didn’t have a good offseason and they likely got worse. That being said, Pittsburgh still has plenty of talent and they should be a playoff contender once again in 2019.

3. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are one of the most unpredictable teams heading into the 2019 season especially with Lamar Jackson taking over the full-time role at quarterback. Baltimore had a strange offseason as they made some big moves, but they also lost several key players from last season. Baltimore added some more speed to their offense by selecting receiver Marquise Brown in the 1st round, but the Ravens didn’t do enough to add some more depth to that position. The Ravens won’t do much passing this season with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, so it made tons of sense to sign running back Mark Ingram in free agency. The Ravens offense does have the potential to be dynamic if the Ravens offense can be successful running the ball. However, it is somewhat of a concern that Baltimore’s offense could become one-dimensional with Jackson’s difficulty with his accuracy and the lack of depth at the receiver position. There is no doubting that the Ravens running game will likely be among the best in the NFL, but it won’t matter much if the offense can’t find a good balance with the passing game. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s defense was terrific last season and it will likely carry the team once again in 2019. However, the Ravens front 7 will undoubtedly be weaker this offseason after they lost Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, and Za’Darius Smith in free agency. Don’t expect Baltimore’s defense to be dominant in 2019, but they still have plenty of talent especially in the secondary with the talented duo of Tony Jefferson and Earl Thomas at safety. Baltimore still has tremendous potential and it is very possible that they could win the division again in 2019. That being said, the Ravens have so much uncertainty on both sides of the ball that it will likely hold them back.

4. Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati is a team in transition this offseason as they hired Zac Taylor to be their new head coach. The Bengals likely won’t be a playoff contender, but they still have plenty of talent especially on offense. They are particularly deep at the wide receiver position with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross as their top pass-catching options. Also, they have a good duo at running back with Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Cincinnati even has an improved offensive line especially with the selection of offensive tackle Jonah Williams in the 1st round this offseason. Cincinnati barely did anything in free agency, but they didn’t really lose much besides linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The Bengals have several glaring weaknesses on the defense, but they also have plenty of talent. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap form a terrific defensive line duo. The Bengals secondary is also really good especially at cornerback with William Jackson, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Darqueze Dennard. The major weakness for the Bengals continues to be at the linebacker position and they didn’t really do anything to address the problem this offseason. Cincinnati is an underrated team in 2019, but they could surprise some people because of the decent amount of talent that they have. However, the Bengals still have many weaknesses and they’ll have a tough time competing in the difficult AFC North in 2019.

2019 NFC East Standings Predictions

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles quietly had a very good offseason. Sure, they lost Michael Bennett, Nick Foles, Golden Tate, and Jordan Hicks. However, the Eagles also added some really good talent in free agency when they acquired Malik Jackson and DeSean Jackson. They also added some really good young players in the draft that can help for many years to come. Andre Dillard will likely replace Jason Peters at left tackle possibly after this season. Wide Receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside adds even more depth to the Eagles already crowded wide receiver group. Also, running back Miles Sanders will likely see a big role right away considering the Eagles uncertainty at the position. The Eagles are stacked on offense overall and if quarterback Carson Wentz can stay healthy then the team could be a super bowl contender once again. The Eagles also are stacked at pretty much every position on defense which makes the team even more complete. Overall, it is difficult to find a weakness on the Eagles roster and if they live up to their potential then they will be the favorites to win the NFC East.

2. Dallas Cowboys

If there is a team that can challenge the Eagles for the division then it is likely the Dallas Cowboys. The good news is that the Cowboys barely lost any players this offseason except for reliable slot receiver Cole Beasley that they replaced with Randall Cobb. Dallas also didn’t add much in the draft since they didn’t have a 1st round pick. The Cowboys are still a playoff caliber team if all goes well, but they didn’t really do much to get better this offseason. The Cowboys still have a terrific core of talented players on offense with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper leading the way. Dallas shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring points, but they do have some holes remaining on defense. They have a few talented players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, and Leighton Vander Esch. However, they still have needs at safety and some more impact players on the defensive line as well. Dallas has a good roster overall and they will likely challenge the Eagles for the division in 2019, but the Cowboys likely don’t have enough depth to be a better team than the Eagles.

3. Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins had a good offseason overall and they certainly had a terrific draft by landing quarterback Dwayne Haskins and elite defensive end prospect Montez Sweat in the 1st round. The Redskins also added elite safety Landon Collins in free agency which should improve their defense even more. They did lose impact outside linebacker Preston Smith in free agency, but that was the only key loss this offseason. Overall, the Redskins have really good potential in 2019, but they also have some major questions especially at the quarterback position. The Redskins will be without Alex Smith this season, so the team is hoping that Haskins can step in as a rookie and make a big impact right away. If the Redskins can get solid play out of Haskins then Washington could be a playoff team. They have Derrius Guice back from injury to give a boost to the running game, but the passing game is the main concern for the Redskins. Washington really doesn’t have an impact player at wide receiver and they of course still don’t know who will be their starting quarterback in week 1. The Redskins have plenty of talent on defense with Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, and Ryan Kerrigan leading the way in the front 7. However, they also have Landon Collins and Josh Norman to be the impact players in the secondary. The defense shouldn’t be much of an issue, but the offensive uncertainty is what could hurt the team’s playoff hopes in 2019. Washington has tremendous potential if all goes well, but they also could be a major disappointment especially if they don’t get good play out of the quarterback position.

4. New York Giants

The New York Giants are widely considered the worst team in the NFC East especially after the strange offseason that they had. They lost pro-bowl caliber players by letting go of Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, and Landon Collins this offseason. They did add some good talent in the draft by selecting defensive tackle Christian Lawrence in the 1st round and cornerback DeAndre Baker in the 2nd round. However, the Giants are a team in a major rebuild mode. Sure, the Giants did add Golden Tate, Jabrill Peppers, and Kevin Zeitler, but that won’t be enough to make the Giants even close to being playoff contenders. The Giants do have some good pieces to build around on offense with Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. However, the Giants still have aging quarterback Eli Manning, a bad offensive line overall, and a defense that has concerns at most of the spots. The Giants do have some players that they can build around for the future, but they are at the beginning stages of what could be a painful rebuilding process.

2019 AFC East Standings predictions

  1. New England Patriots

The Patriots might dynasty might not be at its peak any longer especially with Tom Brady nearing the end of his career. However, there is just no team in the AFC East that has been able to challenge the Patriots for many years. That will likely be the case again this year even though the Patriots lost Rob Gronkowski, Trey Flowers, and Trent Brown this offseason. The Patriots weren’t very busy this offseason other than adding Michael Bennett via trade and wide receiver N’Keal Harry in the 1st round of the draft. Tom Brady doesn’t have many options in the passing game and the Patriots are somewhat weak on defense as well. However, the Patriots always find a way to win and they’ll win the division again because the other teams in the AFC East are still really dysfunctional.

2. New York Jets

Just when it appeared as if the Jets were heading in the right direction they then fired their general manager in a very surprise move especially since the GM helped hire new head coach Adam Gase in January. The Jets certainly didn’t shy away from spending in free agency as they likely overpaid to sign key free agents such as Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, and Jamison Crowder. The Jets theoretically got better this offseason especially since they didn’t lose much in free agency. The Jets defense got even better in the draft with the addition of Quinnen Williams and he should make a big impact right away. The Jets have a talented roster overall, but it remains to be seen whether that will translate into wins. The Jets likely have enough talent to make a playoff run, but I’m just not sure whether they are a playoff caliber team or not.

3. Buffalo Bills

Some people view the Bills as being a sneaky team in 2019, but I’m just not sold on that idea yet. Buffalo did some serious work to try and improve their offense in particular. They added wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley in free agency to try and give young quarterbacks some weapons in the passing game. The additions of those two receivers will undoubtedly make their passing game better, but it likely won’t improve the position drastically. The offensive line was particularly bad for Buffalo last season, but I really like the moves that they made by signing proven veteran players like Mitch Morse, Spencer Long, and Quinton Spain. Also, the Bills added Cody Ford in the 2nd round of the draft and he should make a big impact right away. Buffalo’s offense will likely be better in 2019, but they still have some more work to do to make it even an average offense. Meanwhile, on defense the Bills have some talented players and they made the unit even better by drafting dominant defensive tackle Ed Oliver in the 1st round. I’m not too concerned about how the defense will play in 2019, but the Bills need to be much better on offense if the team is going to be a playoff contender. Maybe Buffalo can surprise us this season, but it seems unlikely considering the lack of talent that they have especially on offense.

4. Miami Dolphins

Miami likely is the worst team in the AFC East, but it seems as if they aren’t even trying to win games in 2019. The Dolphins just hired new head coach Brian Flores and that will likely create a tough transition for the franchise in 2019. Also, the Dolphins have a major question mark at the quarterback position after trading away Ryan Tannehill. Miami did add veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and young quarterback Josh Rosen, so those two players will likely compete for the starting job. Overall, the Dolphins lost several key players this offseason and they barely did anything to replace the players that departed. The Dolphins roster wasn’t good to begin with and now it is even more depleted after this offseason. Miami especially doesn’t have much talent on offense, but they could have a decent defense if their young players can step up. The Dolphins added defensive tackle Christian Wilkins in the 1st round of the draft and he should add to a good young core of defensive players to go along with Xavien Howard and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Miami will likely be battling for the honor of being the worst team in 2019, but at least they are starting to build their roster around some good young players.

Ranking the top 5 tight ends in the draft

1. T.J. Hockenson – Iowa

T.J. Hockenson lacks the athleticism that his college teammate Noah Fant has. However, Hockenson is still a very good pass-catcher and he was actually more productive last season than Fant. Hockenson needs to add more strength, but he is a good enough blocker that he has the ability to be an every-down tight end at the NFL level. Hockenson should go in the 1st round and he would be a terrific addition for a team that has a need at the position.

2. Noah Fant – Iowa

Fant was just as productive as Hockenson during his time at Iowa, but Fant arguably has a higher upside because of his athletic ability. Fant is a terrific pass-catcher and he would be a major threat in the passing game for any NFL team that drafts him. However, Fant should be an every-down tight end because he is a capable blocker and that is why he’ll likely be a 1st round pick.

3. Irv Smith Jr. – Alabama

Irv Smith Jr. isn’t nearly the all-around tight ends that Hockenson and Fant are. However, Smith Jr. is still a terrific receiving tight end that can be used as a major weapon even as a slot receiver at times. Smith Jr. has some work to do as a blocker, but he can still be an every-down tight end which is why he’ll likely get picked at some point in the 2nd round.

4. Jace Sternberger – Texas A&M

Jace Sternberger is probably the best pass-catching tight end in this draft class and he put up terrific numbers at Texas A&M last season. However, his draft stock is lower than it should be because of character concerns and his below average blocking skills. Sternberger certainly isn’t an every-down player, but his terrific receiving skills will make him a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick.

5. Dawson Knox – Ole Miss

Dawson Knox is one of the more intriguing options in this draft’s tight end position group. He might not be the terrific pass-catcher as some of the other guys, but he is surprisingly fast as proven by his 4.51 40-yard dash time. Also, he is a good enough blocker that he can be used as an every-down tight end. Knox probably isn’t versatile enough to use in the slot often, but he is a really good old-fashioned tight end that should go somewhere in the 3rd round.

Ranking the top 5 wide receivers in the draft

  1. D.K. Metcalf – Ole Miss

The wide receiver class might not be very strong this year, but D.K. Metcalf is one of my favorite players in this draft mostly because he is an athletic freak. Metcalf has ideal size for a wide receiver as he’ll spend most of his time on the outside. However, Metcalf also has terrific speed as proven by his 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine. Metcalf didn’t have much production at the college level, but he has the physical tools to be a very good NFL wide receiver and that’s why he’s a lock to be a 1st round pick.

2. Marquise Brown – Oklahoma

Maybe Brown doesn’t have the size and physicality to be able to make contested catches at the NFL level, but that’s not why Brown will likely be drafted in the 1st round. Brown is extremely fast and he can be used specifically as a deep threat at the NFL level. Brown isn’t the all-around player that Metcalf is, but Brown will be a major weapon for any NFL team that drafts him.

3. A.J. Brown – Ole Miss

A.J. Brown might not have the same physical tools that his college teammate D.K. Metcalf has. However, Brown was an even more productive receiver at Ole Miss than Metcalf was. Brown doesn’t project very well as a strictly outside receiver because he lacks the size and physicality to go up against bigger cornerbacks. That being said, Brown is a really good slot receiver and he can be a 1,000 yard receiver very soon at the NFL level. Brown has the chance to go in the 1st round of the draft, but he could be taken early in the 2nd round as well.

4. N’Keal Harry – Arizona State

N’Keal Harry had very good production at the college level and he has proven that he can he can be very good at making contested catches because of his size. He’ll likely play mostly on the outside because of his physical style of play, but he can occasionally be used in the slot as well. Harry isn’t great after the catch and he might not be the biggest playmaker out there, but he still has the potential of being a decent number one receiver in the NFL. Harry will likely be picked early in the 2nd round, but he could manage to slip into the 1st round of the draft as well.

5. Parris Campbell – Ohio State

Parris Campbell had a terrific college career at Ohio State mostly because he was elite at running outstanding routes out of the slot position. Campbell is most known for his elite speed as evidenced by his 4.31 40-yard dash at the combine. Campbell didn’t run many deep routes in college, yet he has the speed to beat just about any cornerback at the NFL level. Campbell will likely go early on in the 2nd round of the NFL draft.

Ranking the top 5 QB’s in the 2019 draft

  1. Kyler Murray – Oklahoma

Kyler Murray might not be the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft, but ultimately he has the highest potential in this draft. Murray has tremendous athletic ability as proven by being a 1st round pick in the 2018 MLB draft. Murray isn’t necessarily a great pocket passer, but he still has the ability to extend plays very well. Murray reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson mostly because of their height and athletic ability. Murray might never play at that level in his NFL career, but he could be pro-bowl caliber quarterback for a very long time.

2. Dwayne Haskins – Ohio State

Dwayne Haskins doesn’t necessarily have the potential that Murray has, but he probably is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft. Haskins is a terrific pocket passer and he has underrated athletic ability as well. Haskins’ draft stock has fallen somewhat since Murray declared for the draft, but Haskins should still be draft in the top 10.

3. Daniel Jones – Duke

Daniel Jones is another quarterback that probably isn’t ready to start right away at the NFL level, but he has the intangibles to be a very good NFL quarterback. Jones is a good pocket passer and he has some good athletic ability as well. Jones probably will get picked around the middle of the 1st round in the draft, but he could go sooner than that if some team really likes him.

4. Drew Lock – Missouri

Drew Lock will probably go higher than Daniel Jones in the 1st round of the draft, but that doesn’t mean that I believe he’ll be the better quarterback. Lock is ready to start right away at the NFL level because he is a really good pocket passer. However, he doesn’t have as much potential as Jones which is why I’m saying that Jones will ultimately be a better quarterback. That being said, Lock still has a decent chance of being a top 10 pick in the draft.

5. Ryan Finley – North Carolina State

There is a big dropoff between Drew Lock/Daniel Jones and Ryan Finley in the draft. Finley won’t be a 1st round pick, but he can still be a decent starting quarterback at some point in the NFL. That’s why Finley will likely go in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft and he could be a good pick for a team like the Patriots or Chargers that have the patience to be able to develop him. Finley doesn’t have a high upside, but he is an intelligent quarterback that is a good pocket passer as well.