By Big Man Mike
As the dust begins to settle after the NFL Draft and as OTA’s being, the picture is starting to become clear about which teams are looking hot and which teams are looking like a garbage fire. I will be ranking every team by the strength of their roster, the strength of their schedule, potential injury impacts, and coaching changes. I will also be giving my prediction for each team’s record to end the season out.
32. New York Giants (3-13)
The Giants were able to pick up their QB of the future in Daniel Jones, solidify their defensive line with Dexter Lawrence, and pick up a potential CB1 in Deandre Baker with their first round picks. Unfortunately, these additions cannot make up for the losses of Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins in free agency and the mind boggling fact that Eli Manning is still the starter. Saquon can only carry the team so hard, but cannot prevent this team from having the first overall pick.
31. Tennessee Titans (3-13)
As sad as it is to say, 2019 might be Marcus Mariota’s final season in the NFL. In addition to constantly being plagued by serious injuries, he simply has not taken the next step needed to be successful at the NFL level. The defense has proven it can win, but without an offense that can keep them off the field it’ll be for nothing. As a team marred in inconsistency, they will be picking in the top of the 2020 draft.
30. Miami Dolphins (4-12)
The Miami Dolphins appear to have one of the least talented rosters in the NFL, with very few players likely to remain in the post-rebuild era. With their draft day trade for Josh Rosen, the team appears to be set in one of the closest QB camp competitions of the offseason, but neither option is really a standout figure. This team needs to find leadership and find it fast. The defense looks manageable on paper, but the offense shows little promise.
29. Arizona Cardinals (4-12)
In the midst of a complete team overhaul, the Cardinals appeared to complete crush the draft in 2019. With the additions of Kyler Murray, Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, Byron Murphy, and Zach Allen, the team appears much stronger on paper than in 2018. The team completely neglected to efficiently address their weakest spot, the OL, in the draft or in free agency. It will be difficult for the offense to get rolling with turnstiles at every position on the OL, and that will certainly lead to a team collapse through the growing pains.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (5-11)
I can’t fault the Bengals too hard for their poor ending in 2018. Their top playmaker and starting QB died on the field along with half of their defense. I think that the Bengals could potentially pull some upsets, but it is looking very apparent that the AFCN could contend for the toughest division in the league. They just simply won’t be able to stay in games, and will ultimately have a top 5 pick in 2020.
27. Detroit Lions (5-11)
The Lions offseason was somewhat baffling to me personally. You have one of the strongest armed gunslingers in the league, and you want to transition to a run first team? Personally I think that the NFCN just edges out the AFCN for toughest division in football, and the Lions really did nothing to put themselves in contention for the division. The Matt Patricia experiment might not last much longer, and he may end up the most recent Belichick disciple to flop outside of NE.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)
Bruce Arians may be a top coach in the league, but even he may not be able to stop this team from being a dumpster fire. With a shaky OL, a nonexistent run game, an abysmal defense, and a QB with a turnover problem, Arians certainly has his work cut out for him. It would take some serious coaching up to get Tampa Bay out of the top 10 picks in 2020.
25. New York Jets (6-10)
In an offseason where both teams from NYC are trying to come across as the most dysfunctional, the Jets may actually take the cake. With the recent firing of their GM Mike Maccagnan, they essentially let their whole free agency and draft be run by someone who was swiftly cut from the organization. However, the additions of Le’Veon Bell, Quinnen Williams, C.J. Mosley, and the improvements Sam Darnold showed last season bring them a higher finish than last season.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
Jacksonville is a team appearing to be lacking a form of identity on offense. Sure, they want to run the ball down the other teams throats and let the defense close out the game, but with Leonard Fournette battling to stay healthy and unsuspended constantly, they keep having to rethink their strategy. While I do think that the Nick Foles signing was a good call, I think that the lack of talent on offense and the regression that the defense showed last season are going to plague the Jaguars for yet another season.
23. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
The Buffalo Bills had a wildly odd offseason that really focused on strengthening their strengths. Firstly they addressed the WR position with bandaids in the form of Cole Beasley and John Brown, who do not inspire fear in the opposing secondary in the slightest. Secondly, they threw even more bandaids at the running back situation, backing up the aging LeSean McCoy with the even older Frank Gore, the ineffective T.J. Yeldon, and the unproven Senorise Perry and Devin Singletary. However, the were able to improve the OL and they made a stout defense even tougher. If Josh Allen can put the pieces together this season, they might get out of a top 10 pick.
22. Oakland Raiders (7-9)
The Raiders did everything they could this offseason. From signing Mr. Big Chest, to drafting the top running back in Josh Jacobs, improving the OL, and adding leadership in every position. Unfortunately, Derek Carr will continue to let this team down. Ever since his MVP caliber season, Carr has looked like a shell of his potential and this year may be his final chance to prove himself before the Raiders move on. Anything worse than an even record may necessitate the Raiders drafting his successor.
21. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)
The 49ers were absolutely gifted potentially the best player in the draft in Nick Bosa at a point of heavy need. That was also potentially the only great pick made by San Francisco. Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd are okay, and a punter in the 4th might have been a reach, but it’s more about what positions they didn’t fill. They have got to plan for life without Joe Staley on the OL, and they have got to solidify their secondary. With the return of his handsomeness Jimmy G, the 49ers with certainly improve upon their record from last season, but one must wonder what could have been.
20. Washington Redskins (7-9)
The Redskins shocked everyone, including their own fans, by drafting really damn well. Dwayne Haskins was a steal at 15, Montez Sweat was a steal at 26, and Kelvin Harmon was a steal in the 6th round. Additionally, adding Landon Collins was a vast improvement to the defense, albeit a slight overpay. The reason I have them so low is the fact that many key pieces on this team are new faces, and might need some time to adjust. In time, I think the Redskins will be doing just fine.
19. Denver Broncos (7-9)
The Broncos are in a no win situation. After a couple years of rough drafts by John Elway, this draft appears promising. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done and the team will be relying very heavily on first and second year players to carry the offense. It’s a major gamble that may pay off, but also may crash and burn. While I don’t anticipate the Broncos being atrocious next season, they simply will not be world
18. Green Bay Packers (7-9)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. In a division that they were thoroughly expected to dominate throughout Aaron Rodgers’s career, the Packers have appeared to fall behind in the race. All through his career, it has been up to the offense to lead Green Bay to wins, not the defense. The WRs behind Davante Adams are unproven, the OL is aging, Aaron Rodgers has been injured two seasons straight, and if the run game set up by Matt LaFleur in Tennessee is indicative of the productivity in Green Bay, then the run game is in trouble. The team appears talented on paper, but relies very heavily on a few players that have question marks.
17. Carolina Panthers (8-8)
Carolina will continue to live and die by Cam Newton until the day he retires. The team upgraded on defense immensely during the draft, but I would have liked to see an improvement on the receiving core. Greg Olsen is not getting any younger, and behind DJ Moore the WRs looks rather unappealing. I’m also concerned over Newton’s shoulder injury, as the Andrew Luck shoulder injury is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Not saying it is as bad as that, but Cams aggressive running style coupled with aging and injuries makes me nervous.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
This offseason has been a wild ride for Steelers fans. Losing two of the killer B’s in one offseason has got to sting. Fortunately, it appears that JuJu Smith-Schuester and James Conner are more than ready to fill the gap. While the offense might slightly regress, they are not the key concern. This secondary has shown very little promise in the last few seasons, and that is not expected to change much in 2019. If Big Ben wants another ring before he retires, he must put the team on his back and carry them there.
15. Seattle Seahawks (8-8)
The extension of Russell Wilson alleviates much of the worry for Seahawks fans going into 2019, as the team does not show much promise without him. DK Metcalf should hopefully help fill the gap left by the retirement of Doug Baldwin, and the run game and OL look relatively stable. In traditional Seattle fashion, the pickup of LJ Collier in the 1st round was completely out of left field and was probably a slight reach. The only issues facing this team are protecting Russell Wilson and generating pressure on the edge.
14. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
The Ravens are attempting one of the more curious experiments in NFL history. Just from looking at their offseason, it appears this team has zero desire to throw the ball more than 10 times a game. And honestly that’s okay. With the one-two punch of Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, the team looks like it can run over people at will. This year will be a big one for Jackson, who must prove to teams willing to sell out to stop the run that he can be a competent passer as well. Additionally, I think slight regression is expected in the defense with so many key pieces leaving in free agency.
13. Minnesota Vikings (9-7)
One of the more disappointing teams last season, I think that the Vikings will slightly improve their record but still miss out on a playoff spot. Another season with Kirk Cousins in the system should bring some positive improvement, and their receiving core remains elite, and the defense is still amazing on paper. The team drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, but I really wanted to see more investment in the OL in free agency and the draft. The team is currently in a championship window, but in the toughest division in the NFL nothing is guaranteed.
12. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
The Dallas Cowboys were a tale of two teams in 2018. Before the Amari Cooper trade, the offense looked anemic and the defense was constantly gassed. After the Amari Cooper trade, the offense looked much improved and the defense wasn’t forced to stay on the field constantly. In addition to getting Travis Frederick back, the team looks pretty solid on paper. Not solid enough to make Jason Garrett look like an elite coach, but still solid.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
Philadelphia is a perplexing case. Their team appears to have all the talent in the world, apart from an iffy looking secondary. Virtually every position appears average at the very least. The only piece to the puzzle that is questionable is Carson Wentz. His durability is cause for concern, and his ability to finish the season will be a key portion in his negotiations for a second contract. If he can return to his 2017 MVP contending form, then the Eagles may just make a deeper run in the playoffs than expected.
10. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
The Falcons 2018 season was one to forget. Half the defense died on the field, the starting running back was shut down for the season very early on, and half the OL was hobbled throughout the season. It was truly a talented roster, but the injury bug decimated them. With players returning from injury, and still star studded offense, and Matt Ryan putting up numbers comparable to his 2016 MVP season, I think the Falcons are a dark horse to make the NFCCG in 2019.
9. Houston Texans (10-6)
The Texans 2018 season played out like a cheesy teenage coming of age story, in which the ugly duckling turns into a beauty. In this case, the Texans 0-3 start appeared to signify a potential dumpster fire until they won 9 games straight to turn their season around and make the playoffs. While the OL needed more addressing during the offseason, the fact that Deshaun Watson performed so excellently in spite of that OL is exciting. With one of the best WR groups in the NFL, an electric QB still on a rookie contract, and one of the best defenses in the league, the Texans should not be slept on in 2019.
8. Cleveland Browns (10-6)
I’m buying into the hype here. Cleveland is Believeland again. With the offseason acquisitions of Odell Beckham Jr, Olivier Vernon, Kareem Hunt, and Sheldon Richardson as well as potentially getting the steal of the draft in Greedy Williams in the 2nd round, the Browns essentially won the offseason. However, growing pains along with inexperienced coaching may halt the Browns from going deep in the playoffs, but they should still top the division regardless.
7. Chicago Bears (11-5)
I have the Bears regressing slightly from last season, but still cleanly winning the division and making the playoffs. The defense was able to keep most of their key pieces and the offense should improve after another year in the same system. The only concerns are whether Mitchell Trubisky can become more consistent and whether the Bears kickers can somehow maintain a level of competency. Regardless of that, the defense will lead them to at least 6 wins just by themselves, and the offense should be able to put a few more wins on the board as well.
6. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
This is going to come across like a hot take, but I was somewhat disappointed with the Colts offseason. You have over $100 million in salary cap to play with, and already playoff caliber roster, and a top 5 quarterback on a very team friendly deal. Go for it. Make a splash in the market. Regardless of their conservative offseason, Indianapolis still has one of the most well rounded rosters in the league and can solidly contend for a deep run in the playoffs.
5. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)
Despite the embarrassment inflicted on them in Super Bowl 53, the Rams are still one of the more dominant teams in the NFC. With the return of Cooper Kupp from an ACL tear, the offense should see elevation. Unfortunately, the issues surrounding Todd Gurleys knee may be problematic for this team and for the player in the long run. Despite that, the Rams have one of the brightest minds in football calling the shots and still have an absurd defensive and offensive presence that simply cannot be overlooked.
4. New England Patriots (12-4)
Some QBs have a great arm, some amazing scambling, others insane accuracy. While Tom Brady may not be a standout in any of these categories, his intense ability to impose his will on the other team can only be compared to Michael Jordan. The Belichick-Brady marriage will continue to be fruitful until one of them decides to retire. Until then, expect to see Brady in your nightmares.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
Simply put, any team that has Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball and Andy Reid telling him where to throw the ball is constantly in a position to win. The issues surrounding Tyreek Hill are disturbing, and we hope that justice comes forth. His potential loss would definitely hurt the Chiefs offense, but if Andy Reid could win without TO in Philly, he can win without Tyreek in KC. The offseason additions of Tyrann Matheiu and Frank Clark bring vocal leadership and proven production to the Chiefs defense, and make this team all the scarier.
2. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
As much as it pains me to say as a Chiefs homer, the Chargers have potentially the most complete roster in the NFL. They are solid at the bare minimum at virtually every position, and have drafted well enough in recent years that the team is teeming with talent at a fraction of their market value. Like many other teams with aging star QBs, the Chargers appear to be shooting to give Rivers his first ring before he hangs them up.
1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
New Orleans appears to be making one last try for a ring before Drew Brees rides off into the sunset. With star play makers on offense in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, and star play makers on defense in Cameron Jordan and Marshon Lattimore, the team is stacked with talent. My personal favorite to win it all, the opposing teams better fear when the Saints come marching in.