Adam’s picks, made by pulling opinions out of his rear end:
Rams (11-5): Last year’s losses to the Bears and Patriots appeared to expose Sean McVay and Jared Goff, although I’m pretty confident McVay will add new wrinkles to his offense that will keep defenses guessing. I don’t believe in Goff, but there’s enough pieces around him to maintain a high powered offense. In 2018 the Rams defense severely underachieved relative to their talent, so I really have no idea what to expect from that unit in 2019.
49ers (9-7): Kyle Shanahan’s offense shined last season, somehow making C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens look like good quarterbacks. If Jimmy Garoppolo can stay healthy (a big if), I could see the Niners winning the NFC West. The defense was so bad in 2018 that it almost has to regress upward; opposing passers threw 35 TD’s and only two interceptions!
Seahawks (8-8): The 2019 ‘Hawks are almost unrecognizable from the squad that won Super Bowl XLVIII five years ago. Russell Wilson will be great and Brian Scottenheimer will try to nullify Wilson’s greatness, but otherwise I have no clue what to expect from this team.
Cardinals (5-11): I’m very excited to see the new look Cards in action, with Air Raid guru Kliff Kingsbury designing an offense around the unique talents of Kyler Murray. It’ll likely be a roller coaster ride of highlight reel plays and head scratching mistakes, but the offense will be much improved from the dismal showing by Josh Rosen and Steve Wilks in 2018. This team is a year away from becoming a legitimate contender.
Falcons (12-4): For reasons I can’t quite articulate, I’m picking Atlanta to field the best offense in the league behind an MVP caliber season from Matt Ryan. If this comes to fruition, and the defense improves to merely below average as opposed to hideous, the Falcons will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC.
Saints (10-6): Toward the end of last season Father Time began nibbling away at Drew Brees, and I expect that trend to continue in 2019. I don’t think Brees will fall off a cliff, but I do think his days as an elite QB are just about over. I also don’t trust Sean Payton defenses so I expect them to be bad until proven otherwise. The offense will remain good enough to keep NOLA competitive, but I’m afraid their Super Bowl window is closing fast.
Panthers (7-9): If Cam Newton were 100% healthy I’d be a lot higher on this team. But given the number of hits he’s taken over the years and a nagging injury to his throwing shoulder, I have doubts about his effectiveness in the future. I also think the Ron Rivera era seems to have run its course and feels stale going into year nine. Carolina has too many talented players to outright suck, but this squad is the definition of “meh.”
Buccaneers (7-9): A mad bomber coach paired with a mad bomber QB trying to keep up with a terrible defense will give Jameis Winston an outside shot at the single season passing yardage record. Of course, he could also get benched mid season and never see the field in a Bucs uniform again. Tampa Bay feels like a high variance team with combustible personalities, and I could reasonably see them winning anywhere between 3 and 11 games.
Packers (11-5): Aaron Rodgers will have a chip on his shoulder trying to prove that Mike McCarthy was at fault for the Packers’ recent struggles, and that he’s still an elite quarterback. I don’t think Rodgers will ever be MVP caliber again but I do expect him to play better than he did in 2017 or 2018. That coupled with an improved defense will help propel Green Bay to a division title.
Vikings (7-9): This is one of those teams that looks great on paper but always seems to be missing something once they step on the field. Kirk Cousins isn’t as good as his stats would indicate and Mike Zimmer isn’t as a good as his reputation. There’s too much talent in Minnesota for this team to be really bad, but I don’t believe in them at all.
Bears (7-9): Regression alert! Chicago stumbled their way to 12 wins last year with unsustainable defensive play and performance in close games. The defense will be worse without Vic Fangio and Mitch Trubisky is still an inconsistent quarterback with a low ceiling. I would actually be surprised if this teams makes the playoffs in 2019.
Lions (7-9): Matt Patricia thinks he’s Bill Belichick but is really just a loud, pompous buffoon who appears to be in over his head. Matthew Stafford has turned into a checkdown machine and still makes some mind numbing mistakes. Despite their deficiencies at head coach and QB, the Lions have enough talent to avoid embarrassment.
Eagles (12-4): This is the most complete team in the NFC on both sides of the ball; all they need is for Carson Wentz to stay healthy, which I’m banking on happening in 2019 (possibly a foolhardy bet). I trust Doug Pederson to make aggressive in-game decisions that will give the Eagles an edge over their more traditionally minded opponents.
Cowboys (8-8): Dallas is far more successful at creating drama than they are at winning actual football games. If the Jones clan caves in to the contract demands of Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott, the Cowboys will have sunken a huge chunk of their salary cap into an average quarterback and an immature dolt who plays a position that doesn’t matter. A great offensive line an emerging young defense will keep this team competitive, but the ‘Boys will find always find new ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
Redskins (6-10): I’m only giving them six wins because I think the defense will be pretty good. But the offense? Yikes. Case Keenum is a below average starter and a guy with Dwayne Haskins’ attitude seems like a bad fit for such a dysfunctional franchise. Washington is a team with a low floor and a low ceiling.
Giants (4-12): Where do I even start with this train wreck? Eli Manning should’ve been benched permanently two years ago, but the Mara family didn’t have the balls to move on from their washed up quarterback living off his last name and a pair of fluke rings. Dave Gettleman, perhaps the worst GM in the league, has been giving away the Giants’ best players while wasting the #2 pick on a running back and the #6 pick on an underwhelming Eli clone. The defense appears to be one of the most talent starved units in the league. I think this squad has 0-16 potential but the law of averages says they’ll scrape together a handful of wins somehow.
Chiefs (12-4): While it’s a near certainty that Patrick Mahomes will regress from his 50 touchdown sophomore season, he’s still an elite quarterback surrounded by dynamic playmakers. Kansas City will still field the most potent offense in the AFC and that should be more than enough to overcome a shaky defense.
Chargers (11-5): This is probably the most complete team in the AFC, potentially fielding a top five offense and defense. Philip Rivers turns 38 in December, but his playing style and durability make him a prime candidate for being an effective signal caller into his 40’s. The pass rush will be a force and Anthony Lynn appears to have turned around the find-ways-to-lose culture that afflicted this team for so long.
Broncos (5-11): Joe Flacco is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league, Drew Lock is yet another misguided Elway project, the offensive line is a mistake prone mess, and their #1 receiver is old and coming back from an Achilles injury. This offense is going to be hideously bad. I do think Vic Fangio will rally the defense into a very good unit, but it won’t be enough to overcome the futility of the offense.
Raiders (5-11): More of a circus than a legitimate football team, the Raiders just can’t get out of their own way. Antonio Brown is already causing major headaches and the season hasn’t even started yet. Derek Carr is a below average starter who crumbles under pressure and adversity. I’m not convinced that Jon Gruden 2.0 is even a good coach. This feels like a throwaway season as the Raiders await their move to Las Vegas.
Texans (10-6): Riding a fraudulent nine game winning streak to the AFC South title in 2018, the Texans weren’t as good as their record would indicate. This year their luck regresses and reveals Houston as a slightly above average team with a relatively low ceiling. Deshaun Watson is a good young quarterback, but he holds the ball way too long and takes too many hits. JJ Watt is still a dominant anchor on defense but one player can only do so much.
Titans (9-7): A poor man’s version of the Eagles, Tennessee has a lot of good pieces but desperately needs their starting quarterback to stay healthy. I have little faith that Marcus Mariota can survive a full season, as he always seems to be nursing some sort of injury. Sure Ryan Tannehill is perhaps the best backup QB in the league, but he wouldn’t be enough to keep the Titans in contention.
Colts (7-9): Before Andrew Luck shockingly retired two weeks before the season, I considered Indy the most well rounded team in the AFC save for maybe the Chargers. Even without Luck the Colts still have a lot of good players and I expect them to remain competitive. But I think there is going to be hangover in the locker room, with players feeling like all the air has been let out of their Super Bowl chances. This team will lose games it should win because they just aren’t 100% focused anymore.
Jaguars (5-11): Doug Marrone is my pick to be the first head coach fired in 2019, as he flails around with a rudderless Jacksonville roster. The defense might improve but won’t come close to the dominance it showed in 2017, but the offense? Oh boy. I have no confidence in Nick Foles being a long term franchise quarterback, and the rest of the offense is below average at best. If not for the Giants, I’d pick the Jags to be the lowest scoring team in 2019.
Steelers (10-6): This might be the final season of good Ben Roethlisberger, as he appears to be wearing down and showing his age. The loss of Antonio Brown’s playmaking is bouyed by a presumably healthier locker room culture. Who knows about the defense; that unit could be anything from good to terrible and I wouldn’t be surprised. The stability and continuity of the Steelers franchise will be enough to keep this team atop the division for one more year.
Browns (9-7): The offseason champion Cleveland Browns are facing more pressure than any middling team in recent memory, and their range of outcomes for the 2019 season is probably wider than that of any other team. I’m high on Baker Mayfield and think he will be a top ten quarterback this year, but the addition of Odell Beckham makes me nervous. If he buys in, he should help elevate the offense to a new level, but he could just as easily go full diva and poison the locker room a la Terrell Owens with the 2005 Eagles. I like the players on defense but need to see them put it all together before I can call the unit as strength. Freddie Kitchens is a wild card head coach and I have no clue what to expect from him now that he’s facing real expectations. The Browns could be the #1 seed in the AFC or picking in the top five of the 2020 draft and neither outcome would shock me.
Ravens (7-9): It’s been a long time since I believed in a first round quarterback less than I believe in Lamar Jackson. He appears to be a slightly better version of Tim Tebow, a guy who can’t hit the broad side of a barn, can’t read a defense, and loves to put the ball on the ground. Jackson’s supposed strength, his running ability, is an illusion – in 2018 he ranked near the bottom in rushing EPA and DVOA among quarterbacks. The traditionally mighty Ravens defense is a question mark, although I think they’ll be an above average unit. This team’s MVP may very well be kicker Justin Tucker, which is never a good sign.
Bengals (5-11): What is there to like about his team? Andy Dalton is famously mediocre, the defense was horrendous in 2018 and will probably be bad again this year, and their new head coach is a laughably inexperienced dude whose only real accomplishment was working in the same building as Sean McVay. Granted, I’m happy that Bengals brass finally pulled the plug on the stale beyond belief Marvin Lewis regime, but they didn’t have to punch themselves in the dick in hiring his replacement.
Patriots (12-4): Brady is old and Gronk is retired, but that’s of little concern with Bill Belichick continuing to coach circles around the rest of the league. As long as The Hoodie is still roaming the sidelines, New England is all but guaranteed a winning season.
Jets (9-7): I think this team is going to surprise a lot of people. Sam Darnold improved significantly at the end of his rookie season and I expect another leap in 2019. The defense has some nice pieces and should be an above average unit this year. My primary concern with the Jets is new head coach Adam Gase; his scheme of bubble screens galore may have worked five years ago, but the league has figured him out. Gase also strikes me as the type of personality who is better served studying film in a dark room than leading a group of men.
Bills (6-10): Coming out of college I thought Josh Allen was going to be a bust; he checks all the boxes as a player with superb measurables that don’t translate into the actual games. But Allen surprised me by looking reasonably competent despite a terrible supporting cast, and his teammates seem to genuinely believe in him. That said, he’s a still a guy with major accuracy issues which will prevent him from ever becoming a great quarterback. Buffalo’s defense is a sneaky good unit but they won’t be enough to overcome the inconsistency of the offense.
Dolphins (4-12): With new head coach Brian Flores having already named Ryan Fitzpatrick the starting quarterback, Miami is once again treading water with no foreseeable plan for improvement. This is a bad roster with no hope of competing in 2019, so why not hand the reigns to Josh Rosen and see if he has what it takes?
Super Bowl LIV: Eagles over Chiefs (35-31)
MVP/OPOY: Matt Ryan (4,800 yards, 8.6 Y/A, 41 TD, 8 INT)
Receiving Leader: Mike Evans (1,650 yards, 12 TD)
Rushing Leader: Saquon Barkley (1,800 yards, 9 TD)
DPOY: Khalil Mack (only due to Aaron Donald voter fatigue)
Sack Leader: DeMarcus Lawrence (17 sacks)
League Points/Game: 23.1
League Total Yards/Game: 351.3
League Pass Ratio: 58.6%
League Comp Rate: 63.8%
League Yards/Comp: 11.53
League Yards/Pass Att: 7.36
League TD Pass Rate: 4.74%
League INT Rate: 2.45%
League Sack Rate: 6.61%
League Net Yards/Att: 6.49
League Adjusted Net Yards/Att: 6.33
Bryan’s subjective picks:
Teams we predicted the same: Rams, Seahawks, Panthers, Cowboys, Redskins, Giants, Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Texans, Browns, Ravens, Bills
Teams we most disagree on: Falcons (Adam 12, Bryan 8), Saints (Bryan 12, Adam 9), Jets (Adam 9, Bryan 6)
Projected wins using Bryan’s statistical formula ODS:
MVP: Russell Wilson
OPOY: Saquon Barkley
Receiving Leader: DeAndre Hopkins (1460 yards)
Rushing Leader: Ezekiel Elliott (1485 yards)
DPOY: Von Miller (only due to Aaron Donald voter fatigue)
League Points/Game: 22.9
League Total Yards/Game: 349.0
League Comp Rate: 63.6%
League Yards/Comp: 11.37
League Yards/Pass Att: 7.33
League TD Pass Rate: 4.66%
League INT Rate: 2.36%
League Net Yards/Att: 6.38
League Adjusted Net Yards/Att: 6.25
Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think!