Football is on its way back as NFL teams are beginning training camp. Last year brought an explosion of offense, highlighted by the third 50-touchdown passer in league history, a few dormant teams started to come out of the dead, and others took significant steps back.
The 2019 season has given us a lot of change – a massive amount of player movement in free agency and a draft that could turn the fortunes of a few teams around (cough, Arizona).
Here are six of our bold predictions heading into the kickoff of the 2019 NFL campaign.
Bears will miss the playoffs in 2019
In his second season, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky showed a lot of promise, and if a certain unnamed kicker makes a field goal, maybe we’re talking a bit more optimistically about Chicago. Nonetheless, the Bears benefitted from a quarterback who fit in the first year of a system and a defense that not only improved but played out of its mind. Historically, the Bears defense hasn’t finished in the top-10 of the league for more than two years in a row since the ’80s, and finished in the top-10 in back-to-back years for the first time since 2005-06. Realistically, the only way Chicago makes the playoffs over the Vikings and a rejuvenated Packers team is if Trubisky carries them. Don’t count on it.
Daniel Jones will start the final four games for the New York Giants
The Eli Manning era in New York/New Jersey is coming to an end, regardless of the apparent new campaign to have Eli return in 2020.If the Giants actually turn things around, are winning, and are on a playoff run in 2019, then they’ve got to stick with the hot hand. However, the Giants drafted Daniel Jones sixth overall for a reason and given their not-too-distant past with how Eli’s time started, Jones could get similar treatment. Jones’ debut in his rookie season seems inevitable. The Giants don’t seem like much of a playoff contender an NFC East that has two potential contenders in Philadelphia and Dallas, and a team seemingly on the rise in Washington.
The Raiders will suffer Hard Knocks curse, miss the playoffs in their final season in Oakland
Only three teams featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks have made the playoffs – Cincinnati twice in 2009 and 2013, losing both times in the wild card, Houston in 2015 losing in the wild card, and the New York Jets, who lost in the AFC championship game. Every other team that has been on Hard Knocks has missed the playoffs and the Raiders could be the latest and it falls on quarterback Derek Carr. Ever since breaking his ankle to end the 2016 season, he hasn’t been the same, looks shellshocked, and has produced less. He’s thrown fewer touchdowns in each of the last two seasons and suffered his worst last year tossing a career-low 19 touchdowns (despite throwing for over 4,000 yards for the first time) while getting sacked a career-high 51 times. He’s starting to look a bit like his older brother David, who was beaten up and shellshocked early and never lived up to his hype. The Raiders may, in fact, be taking a busted Carr to Vegas.
Carson Wentz proves right by Eagles and leads them to second Super Bowl appearance in three years
Entering his fourth year under center for the Eagles, Carson Wentz has a lot to prove thanks to his hype, a strong first two seasons in the league, and a brand new $100-plus million contract extension. With more than a full offseason to heal and prepare, Wentz will come back and prove that he doesn’t need Nick Foles to relieve him every December heading into the playoffs and that he can play a full 16-game season. With Jordan Howard protecting him in the backfield, a few new weapons including a veteran DeSean Jackson, this will be the year Wentz not only proves everyone that supported him right but the year he makes his mark in Eagles’ history.
Baker Mayfield takes MVP as Browns offense lives up to the hype
Where the previously mentioned Wentz finally establishes himself as the Eagles’ franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield has already done that in Cleveland. Now he has the weapons to send he and the Browns into the next level. With Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry in his second season with the Browns, Nick Chubb and David Njoku, the Browns are as lethal of an offense as one team can be. It could all be a complete failure in the end, but they’ve made it hard for defenses to focus on just one guy when the other is just as productive, if not slightly more. Like Patrick Mahomes in 2018, Mayfield and this Browns offense should put up video game-like numbers in 2019, if they don’t become a complete trash-fire during the preseason.
Patrick Mahomes beats the Madden curse but produces lower numbers than 2018
To say that Patrick Mahomes exploded onto the scene last year would be an understatement. He obliterated it. In just his second season, Mahomes became just the third passer in NFL history to reach 50 touchdowns along with two guys you might’ve heard of – Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. His play earned him the cursed Madden cover for this year’s game. His physical skills should keep him healthy through the season, breaking the famed Madden injury curse. However, don’t expect 50 or more touchdowns again. Not even Brady or Manning came close to matching that total the year after they threw 50 touchdowns. Brady tossed 28 in 2009 (missed all of 2008 with a knee injury), and Manning tossed 39. Even with weapons like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Mahomes numbers should take a drop back to reality in 2019.