With it being April, it is now time for predictions to flood. While many predictions will not come true in the season, these eight predictions reflect a high level of uncertainty mixed with a high level of delusional. The predictions will probably not come true, but if they were to, the NFL would have serious talking points entering the playoffs.
AFC East: It takes until Week 17 for the Patriots to lock up the division.
Probably the boldest prediction of all, the Patriots have eased into a lengthy run of division titles. With 10 consecutive AFC East crowns, the Patriots have had minimal competition. However, and an improved Jets or Bills team could challenge the Patriots. While there is doubt to suggest that either the Jets or the Bills win the division, they should keep it close into December with the potential for the Patriots’ Week 17 game to be a division-deciding game rather than the traditional playoff tune-up.
AFC North: Three teams make the playoffs.
Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland all have decent chances at worst to make playoffs. While the Ravens are defending champions of the AFC North, they lost a handful of pieces through free agency before replacing them with stars Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram. With Pittsburgh, they lost their two biggest stars on the roster, but they could experience a better season based on the addition by subtraction rule. Cleveland, the champion of the offseason, comes into 2019 with exceptionally high expectations. There is a decent chance that two if not three of these teams find their way into January football.
AFC South: Jacksonville wins the division.
This prediction would not have been bold 12 months ago, but due to the ineptitude of the Jags this season, they are looking up at their three competitors of the AFC South. With newly acquired Nick Foles, Jacksonville should have an improved offense with the former Super Bowl MVP. While the offense may not be as good as Houston or Indianapolis, Jacksonville could parlay a last-place schedule into a potential 10-win season. The defense should return to an elite level in 2019.
AFC West: Patrick Mahomes misses the 30 touchdown mark.
Patrick Mahomes will regress statistically in 2019. He may assert himself as the best quarterback in football, but it is unlikely that he replicates his 50 touchdown campaign. With that said, if Mahomes were to regress buy more than 20 touchdowns, many stat gurus would freak out about the prospects of Mahomes moving forward. A dip in Mahomes touchdowns would not imply that he is a worse quarterback. It would just suggest that the Chiefs offensive talent went in a different direction, especially if Damien Williams is highly productive.
NFC East: For the third time in four years, the NFC East plays home to the best team in the NFC.
With the Cowboys in 2016 and the Eagles in 2017, the NFC East has played home to some of the best football in the NFL over the last few seasons. In 2019, both the Cowboys and Eagles could fight for the top spot in the NFC. The Cowboys have an incredibly effective defense, led by Demarcus Lawrence while the Eagles could have the MVP if Carson Wentz returns to his 2017 form. The Giants and Redskins only serve as fodder for the Cowboys, Eagles, the remainder of the NFC, and AFC East, boosting their win totals.
NFC North: Only one team makes the playoffs, but the worst team finishes 7-9.
Detroit is the only bad team in the NFC North, but they could win a handful of games due to playing a last place schedule. Green Bay and Minnesota have major flaws, but both tend to hover around the eight or nine-win mark from year to year. Chicago should win double-digit games for the second consecutive season and contend for a bye. Green Bay and Minnesota should contend for Wild Card berths, but the likes of Seattle and Dallas/Philadelphia could end the dreams of a playoff return for the Packers or Vikings.
NFC South: Saints finish below .500.
In a prediction that rivals the Patriots’ prediction in absurdity, the thought of the defending NFC No. 1 seed finishing with a paltry seven-win record appalls most fans, especially those from New Orleans. New Orleans has little in the way of draft capital, but they have enough talent on the roster to avoid the seven-win season. However, all three teams in the NFC South look to get better in the off-season while the Saints might come out passively after the results of the NFC Championship game. If the Saints start slowly, the Falcons, Buccaneers, or Panthers could waltz to a home playoff game.
NFC West: The Cardinals’ quarterback makes the Pro Bowl.
Josh Rosen was legitimately bad in 2018. However, with a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury, Rosen’s offensive upside took a dramatic uptick. The offense supports a high-flowing passing attack and, if Rosen is efficient in the attack, he will certainly post numbers that are worthy of a Pro Bowl appearance, especially if a high-end quarterback plays in the Super Bowl, eliminating them from Pro Bowl contention. Rosen, or Kyler Murray, should be effective in the Kingsbury system if it works at the NFL level. As a rookie, Murray would face an uphill battle, but he could ride a productive rookie season to a Pro Bowl and Rookie of the Year double.
Come back next January to reminisce about these potentially subpar predictions.