NFL Preview 2018
Posted by: Paul Nichols
03 Sep 2018
Here’s a quickie NFL preview for the 2018 season. Teams are listed in their predicted finish in their division.
New England Patriots – On top until proven otherwise. I barely have to edit this column from year to year thanks to good quarterbacks. Unfortunately, at some point this column does have to rate the teams in the AFC South. Even Tom Brady at 41 can win this thing
Miami Dolphins – Can’t quite recall if Cutler or Tannehill will be their quarterback. 5 wins may be enough for second in this division due to tiebreakers over the rest of these teams.
New York Jets – Their rookie QB is Sam Darnold, who I can’t help but confuse with Cleveland’s rookie QB Baker Mayfield. Even 5 wins will get them to third in this division.
Buffalo Bills – Made the playoffs for the first time since the 2nd millennium…and GOT RID OF the quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, that got them there! Last place for you!
Pittsburgh Steelers – My continuing logic on Pittsburgh is that it’s an every-other-year kind of team. They got back on track four years ago by winning the division, but they remained good three years ago, and the same for the last two years. Seems like I need a new continuing logic. Nah, let’s stick with it. That means they’ll be “good” this year. So let’s put them in first place in the division. Hopefully Bell shows up sometime before the season actually starts. It’s actually fun to root for this team compared to the rest of the teams in this division…
Cleveland Browns – …except this year’s Cleveland Browns! They’ve won 1 game in the past two years, but were gifted Tyrod Taylor, still criminally underrated, and the first pick of the draft, Baker Mayfield. And they traded for some peeps. So it’ll be fun to see if they can get to six wins and second place in this division.
Baltimore Ravens – This is a team I love to root against after they beat the Broncos on the road in the playoffs years ago and somehow won a Super Bowl. So regardless of how good they are, they’re down here in third place. I do like Lamar Jackson, their rookie QB. If their starting QB gets injured, I like Baltimore in second place behind Jackson.
Cincinnati Bengals – I predicted them winning this division last year. Whoops. So let’s punish them for my mistake and put them in last place.
Jacksonville Jaguars – They won this division last year despite going 10 years since having a winning record and last winning the division in 1999. And they were better than their record of 10-6, actually! [autotext] I still assume Blaine Gabbert is their quarterback. I looked it up again this year. It's Blake Bortles still, just like last year.
Tennessee Titans – Finished 9-7 for the second year in a row. Feels like they should be winning this division, yet they don’t…Deshaun Watson is great, but he needs to stay healthy. Let’s hope he’s healthy and put the Titans in second place here.
Indianapolis Colts – Let’s put the Indianapolis Lucks in third place. Not sure who’s on this team, and I have no idea if they’ve decided to fix their 5-year old offensive line problem. But shouldn’t they be better than last year’s 4-win team?
Houston Texans – Let's put the Houston Watts and the proset offense in fourth in this division. After winning 9 games three years in a row, last year they won 4 times. Watt has missed two years straight. And it’s just a matter of time until he’s injured again.
Los Angeles Chargers – It’s almost impossible to choose this division winner from year to year. You knew what you were getting with Alex Smith and Kansas City but now that they’ve broken up the band, let’s go to the sure-thing QB in this division and say that San Diego will pull out the first-place finish.
Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid wins football games. With a change at QB I don’t have them winning the division, but they make the playoffs with solid running back play.
Oakland Raiders – Looked really good for two years before taking a step back last year. Carr has got to be the QB he was a couple years ago, and with Gruden as their coach, I expect good things. Let’s say third place, though. Better things await them next year, when maybe they change their name to their new venue, Las Vegas.
Denver Broncos – Started out good last year and then laid an egg. Defense could return to stellar this year, but I think the offense continues to be offensive. And that puts them in last place in a really tough division. They haven’t had consecutive losing seasons since 1971-1972. So perhaps they can avoid that here with an 8-8 finish.
Dallas Cowboys – Were quietly good last year, finishing second in the division at 9-7. I say they take it this year.
Philadelphia Eagles – They did well last year. Some of you might have heard about a Super Bowl victory and all that. Will they be that team, or the one that sputtered a bit at the end of the year? I think about 10 wins for them puts them in second place.
New York Giants – A terrible 3-13 last year. They’ll have to be better, technically. A lucky bounce here or there gets them ahead of the Redskins.
Washington Redskins – They’ve got very consistent Alex Smith as QB from Kansas City. But I think they go backwards from last year’s 7-9 team. Last place.
Green Bay Packers – [autotext] Rodgers all by himself can get it done. They're always one injury away from a total meltdown of a season it seems. And the injury always happens in their receiving corps. [end autotext] Except last year it was Rodgers himself! And they still finished 7-9 and in third place. Let’s pretend he stays healthy and wins the division.
Minnesota Vikings – Won the division no problem last year with a dominating defense and capable offense. I think the offense is better with Kirk Cousins, but replicating a 13-3 season is nigh impossible. And if Rodgers stays healthy, this’ll get interesting. Let’s put them in second.
Chicago Bears – I'm still not sure who's on this team. But there’s been some hubbub, quite a bit of hubbub, about the Bears actually making some moves to improve during the offseason. I don’t know what those moves are because I don’t know who’s on this team. But let’s go with it. Third place!
Detroit Lions – I don’t see how Detroit is improving at all. And given some of the hubbub about Chicago improving, I’m forced to put Detroit in last.
Atlanta Falcons – I correctly predicted them in third place last year, but that was still a 10-6 season. Let’s put them on top given that I’m not sure how the other teams will either maintain or improve on their good seasons.
Carolina Panthers – Second place this year. Playoffs ahead! Er, actually not. Not if I’m gonna ride that San Fran bandwagon!
New Orleans Saints – When I die Drew Brees will still be quarterbacking the Saints. And there is still no defense. Despite winning the division last year, I’ve got them in third place.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs were terrible last year. Please don’t look at last year’s column. Please assume I had them in last place in the division.
Los Angeles Rams – Actually won the division last year! And got it done on the road, going 7-1! I don’t think they’re replicate that road record, but they could make up for it with home wins and still go 11-5. Let’s give them first place again.
San Francisco 49ers – Correctly called 6 wins last year, but it was through the miracle of starting a new quarterback and running off 5 victories in a row! And I’m sold on the hype—second place for these folks! Playoffs? You wanna talk about playoffs??!! Well, maybe…wait, hmmmm…this is a tight competition! These guys are just outside of the playoffs if Dallas and Minnesota are getting in. Sorry bay area.
Seattle Seahawks – I'm still upset about their playoff win from 8 seasons ago. Remember? When they won 7 games and hosted a playoff game?!? I think they'll finish third in this division; at some point they have to get better players and stop relying on Russell Wilson, right?
Arizona Cardinals –They won 10 five seasons ago, 11 four years ago, 13 three years ago, 7 two years ago, and 8 last year. Remember that video of their coach doing something stupid after that 13-win season? Well, they’re not winning a playoff game until he’s gone, and he’s still around. So last place it is!
AFC 1st Round: New England, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Tennessee, Kansas City.
2nd Round: New England, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Tennessee.
3rd Round: Pittsburgh, Tennessee.
NFC 1st Round: Green Bay, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Philadelphia.
2nd Round: Green Bay, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles.
3rd Round: Green Bay, Atlanta.
Super Bowl: Green Bay over Tennessee. Goodness, I love picking the Green Bay Packers…
I'm two-for-eight so far with predicting Super Bowl winners, having predicted Green Bay (Green Bay won), then New Orleans (the Giants of New York), then Green Bay (Baltimore), then Denver (Seattle won), then Denver (New England won), then Denver (Denver won), then Pittsburgh (New England), then Denver (Philadelphia). Good thing I've got a day job.