2018 NFL Football Preview – Predictions for All 32 Teams

NFL Team logosBefore creating a projection model and betting on any of the 32 NFL teams, you need to know what each team looks like coming into the 2018 season and their odds of taking home the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.

Here is a rundown of which teams we believe will win each division in the AFC and NFC, advance through the NFL Playoffs, and eventually win Super Bowl 53 at the end of the season.

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots – Brady and Belichick show no signs of slowing down on the offensive side of the ball but losing defensive coordinator Matt Patricia during the offseason could cause their defense to take a step back. Expect the Patriots to win the division easily (again).
  2. Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins need QB Ryan Tannehill to stay healthy and show he is worth the 4-year, $96 million contract he signed in 2017. If he stays healthy, then the Fins will challenge for a playoff spot. If not, then the team will be sleepin’ with the fishes.
  3. Buffalo Bills – QB Josh Allen is the future of the team after picking him seventh overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. The defense should be top tier once again, the young QB will experience some growing pains, and the Bills will miss the playoffs this season.
  4. New York Jets – Speaking of growing pains: QB Sam Darnold, who was drafted third overall, will get the same treatment and on a much worse team. The Jets need a lot of help so don’t expect the Jets to fly with the first-class teams in 2018 or for a couple more years at least.

AFC NORTH

  1. Baltimore Ravens – Picking the Ravens to finish as the king of the AFC North in 2018 is mostly based on Pittsburgh’s RB situation. However, this should unquestionably be a top-10 defense and it’ll be interesting to see if Lamar Jackson makes an appearance at QB sometime this season.
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Le’Veon Bell contract situation is one no team wants to be in, but the Steelers organization has no one to blame but themselves. This is a Super Bowl contending team, so just pay the man. But even without Bell, this team should have no problem making the playoffs.
  3. Cleveland Browns – Wait… if we have the Browns finishing third in the division, then that means they win a game, right? Rejoice, Cleveland! The Browns will most likely win a few games this season. The team is filled with young talent, and the fate of becoming a title contender now rests on the arm of first overall pick Baker Mayfield.
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals under coach Marvin Lewis have always fallen prey in the playoffs and this season, they will likely fall below mediocre and finish last. If Lewis is brought back for his 16th season and he doesn’t make the playoffs and win in the postseason, then expect riots to break out in Cincinnati.

AFC SOUTH

  1. Houston Texans – If QB Deshaun Watson and DE J.J. Watt stay healthy, then the Texans could be the surprise team of the year. Watson showed glimpses of possible elite QB status in his first season and Watt is one of the most feared pass rushers in the game. It’s a big if, but don’t be shocked if the team wins 11-12 games this season to take the division crown.
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars – The QB situation will finally catch up with the Jags and don’t be surprised if the team moves on from Blake Bortles in the offseason. This is a team that made it to the AFC Championship last season and with arguably the most talented defense in the league, they need a proven QB to take them to the promise land. This season though, they will miss the playoffs.
  3. Indianapolis Colts – All eyes will be on Andrew Luck’s shoulder to see if it’s fully healed after missing all of 2017. Coach Frank Reich will bring his RPO offense from the Eagles after winning it all. The Colts could challenge for a playoff spot if Luck is a top-10 QB again and the defense can improve. Third place seems about right since Luck will be fine, but the defense won’t be.
  4. Tennessee Titans – The Titans are arguably the most confusing NFL team to figure out. Part of this is because QB Marcus Mariota can’t find a way to play an entire 16-game schedule. The team has a solid defense, but until Mariota stays healthy, it’s hard seeing the Titans making the playoffs again this season.

AFC WEST

  1. Los Angeles Chargers – Can QB Philip Rivers lead his team to the promise land? Though, the team coming up short has never been his fault. Rivers has been a top-10 QB his entire career. The Chargers are loaded with talent on both offense and defense and are poised to make a run at winning the future Hall of Fame QB his first Super Bowl title.
  2. Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs cut ties with QB Alex Smith in the offseason and tenth overall pick in the 2017 draft Patrick Mahomes will take the reigns at QB. Scouts say the QB has tremendous upside and the team is talented enough to make the playoffs. Whether he’ll need a couple more years to develop into a franchise QB remains to be seen.
  3. Denver Broncos – Filling the shoes of one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game of football is no easy task, and the Broncos believe they have found the answer in… Case Keenum? Wait, really? While the Broncos defense will likely be strong again, it’s hard to imagine the offense taking a big leap. Expect the Broncos to be mediocre in 2018 and search for another answer at QB in the 2019 NFL Draft.
  4. Oakland Raiders – Jon Gruden leaves the MNF booth and heads back to the sidelines after signing a monstrous 10-year, $100 million contract to bring the Raiders back to their glory days. However, this team will need more help in the draft so expect many “gory” days for the team on their way to finishing last in the division for 2018.

NFC EAST

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – The team won its first-ever Super Bowl last season, and Philly fans hope the Eagles will fly high again. While the team returns a lot of its starting roster and gets QB Carson Wentz back, winning back-to-back is no simple task. Though, the team winning the division and making the playoffs is a pretty safe bet.
  2. Dallas Cowboys – WR Dez Bryant is gone and TE Jason Witten decided to hang up the cleats, leading many to wonder who Dak Prescott is supposed to throw to this season. It’s a good question, and the Cowboys will need to find a pass catcher and fast if they want to challenge for a playoff spot in 2018.
  3. New York Giants – 2018 Second overall pick Saquon Barkley has the potential to be the best RB in the entire league someday and the G-men could contend of a playoff spot. However, whether QB Eli Manning has enough left in the tank is the most important question and whether the team begins looking toward the future following this season.
  4. Washington Redskins – Replacing QB Kirk Cousins and bringing in Alex Smith to replace him should be considered a downgrade. Smith plays the position safer than maybe any QB ever and the team does have an underrated defense. However, it’s hard seeing the Redskins finish higher than third and fourth place in the division is probably the better spot for them.

NFC NORTH

  1. Minnesota Vikings – It’s not often you see a team cut ties with their starting QB after leading the team to the conference championship, but that’s what the Vikings did in the offseason and upgrading to Kirk Cousins as a result. Cousins has played at a high level his whole career but has never played for a Super Bowl contender, so all eyes will be on him to see if he can handle the pressure.
  2. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers is said to be 100 percent healthy for 2018, but he himself has suggested the receivers, outside of Devante Adams of course, have a long road ahead if they want to be an elite offense at some point. While this is a worrying sign, if Rodgers is healthy then expect the Packers to make the playoffs this season.
  3. Chicago Bears – The Bears have the potential to challenge for a playoff spot, boasting a talented but underrated defense. The big question will be whether QB Mitchell Trubisky can take the next step toward becoming the franchise QB the team hopes he can be for years to come. It will likely take him another year to figure things out and the Bears will miss the playoffs in 2018.
  4. Detroit Lions – Matt Patricia comes over from the Patriots and takes over as head coach for the team, hoping to build a winning culture for a franchise that’s never won a Super Bowl. There won’t be many wins for the Lions this season and they’ll need a lot of help from the draft if Patricia wants to create that winning culture.

NFC SOUTH

  1. New Orleans Saints – Winning arguably the toughest division in football in back-to-back years is a bold prediction but the Saints on paper are simply one of the most talented teams in the NFL. Coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees have arguably more weapons than ever, and while the defense will need to step up more in 2018, this team is poised to win it all this season.
  2. Carolina Panthers – Coach Ron Rivera said he wants RB Christian McCaffrey to get at least 30 touches a game this season to help relieve some pressure for QB Cam Newton. While this is great news for fantasy owners, it’ll be interesting to see if the undersized RB can last a whole season with that volume of touches. Regardless, the Panthers have a top tier defense that can carry them into the playoffs.
  3. Atlanta Falcons – Hotlanta will likely cool off a bit 2018, two years removed from their collapse in the Super Bowl. The Falcons on paper have one of the league’s most talented offenses, but the defense will be a big question mark and as good as QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones are, they’ll likely come up just short of making the playoffs this season.
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This team is a mess right now and outside of some talented receivers, led by Mike Evans, the team doesn’t have a lot going for it currently. QB Jameis Winston will start the season suspended, so Ryan Fitzpatrick will assume the role in the meantime. Look for the Bucs to finish near the bottom of the entire league and move on from Winston in the offseason.

NFC WEST

  1. Los Angeles Rams – The Rams are stacked on paper stacked and are possibly the most talented team in the entire league. The team boasts league’s best RB with Todd Gurley and the best defensive player in football, DT Aaron Donald. If Jared Goff takes another step forward as he did in 2017, then this team could very well hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
  2. Seattle Seahawks – QB Russell Wilson is one of the best at the position, and while his numbers likely won’t dip in 2018, the Seahawks will likely miss the playoffs again in 2018. The defense is a shell of its former self and despite Wilson playing at a high level, the offensive line has been less than stellar. Look for the Seahawks to finish in the middle of the league and narrow miss the playoffs.
  3. San Francisco 49ers – Jimmy Garoppolo shocked the NFL when he made his first start at QB for the 49ers and went 5-0 with the team to end the season. While his undefeated record will not be maintained, the team will likely improve from last season’s squad but don’t fall for the Jimmy G hype until we see him for an entire season. Regardless, the 49ers will likely miss the playoffs again in 2018.
  4. Arizona Cardinals – QB Josh Rosen was drafted with the tenth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft with the hopes of becoming the franchise QB for the next decade or two. Those hopes will need to wait a couple years because outside of RB David Johnson and an aging Larry Fitzgerald at WR, this team has nothing going for it and will likely finish near the bottom of the league.

NFL PLAYOFFS – AFC PREDICTION

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Los Angeles Chargers
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Baltimore Ravens
  5. Kansas City Chiefs
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC Conference Winner: Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers will upset the Patriots in Foxborough, causing Brady and Belichick to not take a trip to their third straight Super Bowl. The team will pound the ball, relying heavily on RB Melvin Gordon to carry them in the cold weather environment and give Philip Rivers at shot at winning his first Super Bowl.

NFL PLAYOFFS – NFC PREDICTION

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Philadelphia Eagles
  3. New Orleans Saints
  4. Minnesota Vikings
  5. Carolina Panthers
  6. Green Bay Packers

NFC Conference Winner: New Orleans Saints

Sean Payton will figure out the Rams historically good pass rush and run a no-huddle offense to wear down the likes of Aaron Donald and company, allowing Drew Brees to complete high percentage throws to RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas. The Saints defense will redeem themselves in the playoffs, causing multiple turnovers for Jared Goff, and give the team a shot at winning the second Super Bowl for the franchise.

SUPER BOWL 53 PREDICTION

New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The final matchup of the season we predict will feature a top-10 QB, RB, and WR on both teams along with two solid defenses. Both defenses will be lit up this game since it will likely be a high scoring affair and both offenses have the potential to go over the 40-point mark.

However, QB Drew Brees has won a Super Bowl before and has more experience than Philip Rivers in clutch situations. The game could potentially come down to which team has the ball last, but my money would be on the Saints since Coach Sean Payton is exceptional at clock management.

Brees will lead the team on a two-minute drive to score the game-winning touchdown, giving the Saints the come-from-behind win in Super Bowl LIII, giving New Orleans its second Lombardi Trophy.

Super Bowl LIII Winner: New Orleans Saints