Each year some teams decide to turn up the intensity and some teams go ice cold. this article will be all about predicting and exposing five improving teams that make their way up the ladder and then do the same with five teams that will fall down a hole of despair for 2019. Also, I am going to try to use teams that I normally wouldn’t use or think of. So sorry no decline for the Bengals here or an improvement of Pittsburgh. This one is gonna be unique. Here we go.
The Bills have some potential of maybe making the playoffs this season and it is not hard to see why they might. Josh Allen did some incredible things as the quarterback and that was done with virtually no weapons at his disposal other than LeSean McCoy. Now Allen will have some weapons to work with in former Baltimore Ravens receiver John Brown and former Dallas Cowboy heartthrob Cole Beasley. It also includes the workhorse running back Frank Gore. They also made huge draft picks with running back Devin Singletary, offensive tackle Cody Ford and probably the steal of the draft Ed Oliver. Look for the Bills to improve immensely.
The Seattle Seahawks find themselves in an unusual situation heading into the 2019 season. First off let us take their division which by the looks of it is starting to get more competitive. the Rams were a force to be reckoned with last year and now the 49ers coming up and Arizona slowly rebuilding, the Seahawks will have a tougher time being at the top of the division. They also lost key players like Frank Clark to the Chiefs, Earl Thomas to the Ravens and finally Doug Baldwin to retirement. The one positive factor they have was them drafting D.K. Metcalf in the second round to replace Baldwin. However, the big key issue I see is Russell Wilson’s huge payment. Big money sometimes can affect the minds of players and I wouldn’t be surprised if it might affect Wilson’s play making.
This one might be a bit of a reach as I had the Arizona Cardinals roughly doing the same as they did last season. However, the more I think about it this team might surprise me a lot this year. One thing that we have to keep in my mind is this all depends really on one thing; Kyler Murray. The Cardinals basically drafted around him and made him the center point for this team. They got three wide receivers in Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and Keesean Johnson. Plus they got my breakout tight end with Caleb Wilson. They also improved the defense with Byron Murphy who should see more work now that Patrick Peterson is suspended for six games. They also drafted some big names for the defense with Zach Allen out of Boston College and Deionte Thompson from Alabama. They also got veteran Terrell Suggs from the Baltimore Ravens which will make him sort of a role model figure for this defense. They won’t be great, but Arizona should still improve from where they were especially with still having David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald with them.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs might have been the hottest team last year, but mark my words the flame will start to diminish going into 2019? Now you’re probably thinking “Austin why in the world would one of the hottest teams last year suddenly be bad”? Defense. That is the answer people. This defense was fairly trash before, but now they are without Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Eric Berry and Steven Nelson. Add to the fact that Tyreek Hill will most likely not play football again after his instance of abuse towards his wife and son, and you are left without one of the most dynamic wideouts in the game. Consider the Chiefs to be going down the tube in 2019.
If you know me I am a huge Steelers fan, but it is hard to not acknowledge what the Cleveland Browns have done in 2018 and in the offseason. Getting stars like Odell Beckham Jr and Kareem Hunt will definitely help out the offense and drafting a rookie like Greedy Williams will help the secondary now that he will playing opposite of Denzel Ward . The thing that bothers me with Cleveland is the coach, but after finishing last year with a record of 7-8-1 compared to 0-16 it seems like Cleveland can only go further up the ranking especially with Baker leading the charge.
The Carolina Panthers are in trouble and the sooner people realize this the better. Cam Newton is going through an Andrew Luck situation with his throwing shoulder and that does not bold well for Carolina who rely on Cam’s intuition and strategy making. Personally, I believe that running back Christian McCaffrey made this team in 2018 and I believe he will continue to do that in the 2019 season. Without Cam Newton however, this team might rely on 3rd round selection Will Grier to take the helm early on. This team might do well with Grier, but Cam needs to time to heal and without that leadership and charisma the questions is this; “Will Carolina diminish without Cam Newton there to lead them”? The answer in my mind is yes.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers thought they found the answer to their quarterback problems with the signing of former Patriot backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Then he went and tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. They then had to rely on multiple quarterbacks ranging from C.J. Beathard to Nick Mullens. When the season finally ended the 49ers finished with a 4-12 record. Now I believe everything will change this year. Garoppolo has a new weapon in a fantastic wide receiver named Deebo Samuel to work with alongside Marquise Goodwin and tight end George Kittle. You also have a huge running back committee made up of Tevin Coleman, Matt Bredia, Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert. The defense is the true power here though as they have cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker Kwon Alexander, defensive end Dee Ford and newly drafted rookie Nick Bosa. Expect the 49ers to hit hard and fast and if Garoppolo can stay healthy the 49ers could maybe look to taking the division and maybe even get into the playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens surprised everyone by winning the AFC North division last year with a win over the Cleveland Browns. However, they didn’t fair to well in the AFC Wildcards as they took a hard loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Why is that? The Chargers figured out their scheme in only two games. I am sure that Harbaugh will find different ways to use Lamar Jackson, but if he cannot throw more than 200 yards a game and keep up with this rush heavy offense with Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and even Jackson himself they will suffer for it. Plus newly drafted rookie Marquise Brown will begin to also suffer if he cannot get the deep ball throws he needs to succeed. Let us also not forget the defense suffered immensely with the loss of C.J. Mosley, Eric Weddle and Terrell Suggs. They won’t be last in the division, but I can say with confidence they will place third and be out of playoff contention.
Okay here’s the thing. I believe the Lions possess all the talent they need to succeed in the NFL. The problem is that they are in such a tough division that it is hard to see if they will improve. I will say that while it is a tough division I believe they can make it out of their last place scuffle. I just do not like Matt Stafford. if you’ve read my articles in the past I think he is a very overrated quarterback. However, they do now have Danny Amendola and a returning Kerryon Johnson from injury and a decent receiving core in Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Not to mention they also got a very good tight end in the draft in T.J. Hockenson. Plus, their defense got better with the signing Trent Flowers, Justin Coleman and Andrew Adams. They also got C.J. Anderson and Jesse James in free agency as well. Hopefully, the Lions can use these tools to help them try to improve in the 2019 season.
Los Angeles Rams
Okay so I feel like everyone is gonna harp on me for this one, but just listen up. Goff is a good quarterback, not a great quarterback but a good one. This team however, was exposed hard in last year’s Super Bowl. The main reason besides Belichick’s amazing defensive stops against the Rams was this one factor; Todd Gurley. If a team does nt have a decent run game they will fall hard when Goff has to throw the ball more times than needed. Gurley’s knee issues continue to cloud the suspected success of this group and you could see that in the draft when they took Darrell Henderson in the third round. They also lost some key veterans in the defensive side of the ball, but have quickly replaced some such as Eric Weddle with Lamarcus Joyner going to the Oakland Raiders. That division might be getting tough especially with the 49ers creeping up in the division. They’ll still be good, but don’t look for this team to play in back to back Super Bowls.