I’m a fairly pessimistic person. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. And no where am I more pessimistic then when it comes to the realm of sports. I generally believe that most teams will never be nearly as good as they think they can be, and that hardly anything truly “miraculous” happens over the entire course of a season.
Hence, the title of this piece. It’s physically impossible for me to think that every team will have a down year, but I would definitely dampen the expectations of several fan bases if I could. I read through a large majority of the Football Outsiders Almanac 2019 to fully prepare myself for the season, and the general feel I got is that teams either over achieved and will regress, or they’re stuck in an immutable rut of incompetence and have shown almost no promise of improvement. But there has to be 12 playoff teams each year, and I have to pick certain teams to at least cross the borderline of acceptance.
One thing to note–I will reference DVOA rankings and stats quite a bit. There is a lot that goes into DVOA and it’s a fascinating metric, but I figure that most of you didn’t come here to listen to me ramble about how to properly calculate football stats. All you need to know is that DVOA is probably the most accurate football analytics stat out there, and it properly ranks teams based on the context of their situations and the efficiency they produce. Also, the teams are listed by division in the order in which I think they’ll finish. Hopefully, I didn’t crap on your favorite teams too much. Try and stick around till the end of this giant article to get my pick for the Conference Champion. Thanks!
New England Patriots – Won’t suck. I’m 99% confident they’ll be 12-4 again.
1. The rest of the NFL missed its chance last year. The Pats only graded out as the 7th best team in the league in DVOA. They only got a first round bye after the Texans blew their opportunity against the Eagles, while the Pats fattened up on the 4-12 Jets and the 6-10 Bills. They then beat a Chargers team playing its third road game in three weeks, lost to the Chiefs but advanced to the Super Bowl because Dee Ford was half an inch offsides on Brady’s game losing interception, and didn’t really play well in the Super Bowl itself. They only managed to play not as profusely horrific as the Rams did.
2. The Pats’ schedule ranks 32 out of 32, easiest in the league. Their strength of schedule each of the last four years: 24th, 28th, 32nd, and 23rd. Darn you AFC East.
3. One very unlikely road block: Brady finally looking like an actual 42 year-old. It’s not as unlikely as you’d think. By practically every advanced metric, Brady had his worst season since 2013. He basically gave up on deep passing in favor of safer check downs. Belichick adjusted accordingly as the Pats shifted to a power run and play action team, a smart move as they ranked #1 in DVOA on play action passes. They’re probably fine as long as Brady doesn’t turn into 2015 Peyton Manning this season.
Buffalo Bills – Will suck by average standards. Fortunately, Buffalo has below average standards.
1. The Bills were 31st in offense last year but had the league’s 2nd best defense. This is a bad sign for this year. Why you might ask? Well, according to Football Outsiders extensive study on how teams grade out each year, a team’s offense is more consistent than its defense year to year. Good defenses sometimes spring up because of high, unsustainable turnover rates and a good draw of weak opposing quarterbacks. They usually regress to the mean the following year unless they have already been consistently great for multiple seasons. Meanwhile, the best offenses usually get where they are not due to luck, but by being able to execute their scheme no matter what defense opposes them.
2. Josh Allen is more likely a bust than a boom. There’s a simple counter to every supposedly good attribute he brings. Most peg him as an awesome runner at quarterback, but his numbers last year were deceiving. His designed runs were inefficient and his scrambles racked up most of his yardage, but the reason he scrambled so much was because he would freak out after his first read wasn’t open and just take off. Two scary bad stats about his throws: 22% of Allen’s passes were either overthrown or underthrown last year, and his 3.22 seconds from snap was not only the lowest in the NFL, but the lowest since 2011 Tim Tebow. Yikes.
3. Brief point of optimism–Young corner Tre’Davious White had a 58% success rate in pass defense and seems like a future Pro Bowler. Veteran Defensive End Jerry Hughes is one of only two players in the league with at least 30 quarterback hurries in each of the last five years. The other is Von Miller. Finally, they have the 28th ranked schedule and I like how it’s easier in the first half, giving them a chance for a winning start before needing to upset better teams.
New York Jets – Will suck because Adam Gase sucks.
1. The Jets schedule is the opposite of the Bills and therefore a reason for pessimism in my mind. Their first seven games: Bills, Browns, Patriots, Eagles, Cowboys, Patriots, Jaguars. 1-6 or 2-5 is highly likely. Even though their schedule grades out as the 2nd easiest in the league, I don’t like the idea of the team already quitting on the season by the time they get to the creampuffs.
2. I can’t do Football Outsiders’ roasting of the Adam Gase hire justice. It’s pure comedic gold. I’ll just mention this. Gase went out of his way in Miami to say how he prefers short passing, evidenced by the Dolphins finishing near the top in failed completions (short passes that really didn’t help at all) year after year. Meanwhile, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was much better in December last year when he started tossing the ball deep, as it seems to be his best quality. Not an ideal match.
3. The Defense should be good, but is far from a sure thing. Defensive Tackle Quinnen Williams is one of the most sure fire rookies we’ve ever seen, Jamal Adams proved himself as a top tier safety last year and free agent linebacker CJ Mosely, while an overpay, is an upgrade over Darron Lee. However, they did hire Gregg Williams as Defensive Coordinator, the same man who in Cleveland last year told Myles Garrett that he should only ever use two pass rushing moves, and that everything else would be too complicated. Can we hide Quinnen Williams from him please?
Miami Dolphins – Will certainly suck, but not as historically bad as everyone may think.
1. Let’s first address the roster talent, or lack thereof. Players that will not be on their roster this year: Laremy Tunsil (important as he was coming into his own, and his only weakness is penchant for penalties), Kenny Stills (not important, he’s subpar), pass rushers Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake (who combined for 12.5 of Miami’s 31 sacks last year, big loss), Kiko Alonso (actual quote by an NFL writer, “Alonso is bad at everything but keeps getting opportunities”), and Ndamakong Suh, who wasn’t on the team last year either, but the fact that the Dolphins are still paying him is hilarious enough that it’s worth mentioning. So yes, this team is really weak at everything except maybe cornerback as Xavien Howard is elite and Minkah Fitzpatrick isn’t bad. The linebackers also have potential, as former Buckeye teammates Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker are great at what the other is terrible at.
2. Things were already pointing down before general management threw in the white flag. Despite going 7-9 last year, the Dolphins finished 26th in offense and 25th in defense last year, and their overall level of play resembled a 5-11 record more than a 7-9. Consequently, this abnormality means the Dolphins play a second place schedule this year (meaning they play the Steelers, Colts, and Chargers) and have by far the hardest schedule in their division at 18th. Not looking good.
3. They shouldn’t suck too much because all reports indicate that Brian Flores is a competent head coach. Unlike other Belichick assistants, he didn’t become acclaimed because he’s loud mouthed and brags of his offensive genius or because he’s a big bearded guy with a pencil. Rather, Flores slowly climbed his way through the organization, made a team with limited defensive talent good enough to not drag down the offense, and was complemented by writers everywhere for his assistant hires. The downside is the potential of Dolphins’ management firing him if they go 2-14 or something. Unless he’s a Hue Jackson or Chip Kelly guy off the field, keep him around for at least a second year no matter what happens on the field in 2019.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Won’t suck. Tons of talent and Ewing Theory potential.
1. The Ewing Theory–it was popularized by legendary writer Bill Simmons, but ultimately formulated by a friend of his who sent him an email with the theory. The idea originally stemmed from this fan noticing that both Georgetown and the Knicks had played better when Ewing was injured or in foul trouble. He sent Simmons the email in 1998, and wouldn’t you know it, the 1999 Knicks were the 8th seed in the playoffs but pulled an improbable upset to make the Finals that year after Ewing got injured. The theory then applies across all sports as this: there are teams that are over-reliant on stars that have never actually won anything and when that star leaves the team, the public stops believing in them, and they play better team ball, no longer held down to pleasing their star. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are the two of the biggest headcases in the league and their greatest team accomplishment was getting curb stomped by the Patriots in the 2016 AFC Championship. How could the 2019 Steelers not be a Ewing Theory team?
2. Just about every factor indicates that the Steelers were a really good 11-5 or 12-4 team that somehow finished 9-6-1. They finished as the 9th best team in total DVOA in the league and many of their losses seemed fluky and weird, most notably the loss to the 6-10 Broncos, where victory was all but assured until Big Ben was shockingly intercepted by a defensive tackle who read the slant pattern. In addition, they lost several close games due to a terrible year from the once dependable kicker Christ Boswell, who missed seven relatively easy field goals and five extra points last year! Just one or two of those kicks go in and they beat a team like the putrid Raiders and make the playoffs. This team has been too good for too long to simply fall off a cliff.
3. They were really bad in some stats that are bound to turn around in their favor this year: They only forced turnovers on 7.9% of opposing team’s drives which was four points below average, they ranked 31st in average starting field position and still found a way to field a good offense, and after being 1st in defending tight ends in 2017, they flipped that around to finish 2nd to last in tight end defense last year. My bet would be that they finish more around average on that scale this year.
Cleveland Browns – Finally won’t suck, but actually probably will because I like them this year.
1. Not a sophisticated point: the Browns got a lot of talented guys this offseason. Everyone knows they traded picks plus human missed tackle machine Jabril Peppers for superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but they also added two top tier pass rushers in Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson. In a questionable but not entirely illogical move they signed the uber-talented Kareem Hunt after he was released for his several misconduct issues (he will be suspended for the first eight games this year). This all added on to the incumbent Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward core makes the Browns one of the league’s highest upside teams.
2. Everyone has talked about the struggling offensive line as the potential pitfall, but I’m more worried about the linebackers and the defense overall. The Browns led the league with 157 missed tackles on defense last year and have finished near the bottom of the league each of the last few years. The Browns also forced turnovers on 16.1% of opposing drives last year, finishing 3rd in the NFL, and are most likely going to regress in turnover luck in 2019.
3. A lot NFL writers are trying to do the “Are we sure they’re going to be good?” thing with the Browns, trying to act smart as they point out all the reasons the Browns are being over-hyped and will fail to meet expectations. I think they’ve reverse-jinxed themselves, and the Browns are now feeding off these last minute prognostications. I wanted to put them down for an incredible 12-4, first round bye season, but I was scared off by some of the DVOA numbers. Hopefully Cleveland fans don’t mind settling for the first playoff birth in 17 years.
Baltimore Ravens – Won’t suck, but I don’t think simply not sucking is enough in one of the NFL’s best divisions.
1. Their vaunted run game that took over the NFL for seven weeks last year was overrated. Yes, it produced a solid yards per carry stat, but the Ravens also fumbled a league ten times in that stretch, a huge no-no for DVOA stats. They got lucky and recovered seven of those ten fumbles, and teams who recover a high percentage of their fumbles usually take a step back the next year as they recover a more average amount of those turnovers.
2. I’m confused about how their defense will be. On the one hand, they lost a ton of talent in the front seven, with Pro Bowlers Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, and CJ Mosely exiting as cap casualties. However, their secondary should be lethal. 23 year-old corner Marlon Humphrey had the 2nd highest success rate in the league last year and seems destined for stardom, Tony Jefferson had the league’s 13th highest pass defense success rate and ranked as the 10th best safety against the run and recently acquired Free Safety Earl Thomas makes the group elite. In the last three years, the Seahawks gave up 31 passing touchdowns and only intercepted seven passes in the 19 games Thomas missed. In the 29 games Thomas played, the Seahawks somehow only gave up 30 passing touchdowns and accrued an astounding 30 interceptions.
3. Their 21st hardest schedule ranking seems like a positive until you remember that the Browns and the Steelers have 25th and 23rd ranked schedules respectively. In a division where all three of those teams should beat up on each other and finish 9-7, 10-6, or 11-5, that small gap could be the difference.
Cincinnati Bengals – They’re insulted that people assume they can’t suck more than the Dolphins.
1. After an eternity with Marvin Lewis, the Bengals finally hired a new coach in Sean McVay wannabe Zac Taylor. I think this was a bad move. Taylor has limited experience in the NFL and in his one season as Offensive Coordinator for Cincinnati’s college team, the Bearcats finished 99th out 130 teams in S&P+ offense. Bengals fans need to hope that the McVay mythos somehow supersedes evidence.
2. Let’s see how the offensive roster is doing: First round pick Jonah Williams, an absolute stud lineman from Alabama, severely hurt his shoulder, is out for the year, and may never be the same again. Star receiver AJ Green suffered a foot injury on a Dayton practice field that was littered with holes and is out for at least four games, and most likely more given his injury history. Tyler Eifert probably got injured reading this sentence, so it should be a good thing that the Bengals drafted tight end Drew Sample in the 2nd round, right? Wrong. Almost every draft scout and website projected Sample as a 4th round pick, categorized him as a blocking tight end as he only caught 25 passes in 14 games last year, and Scouts Inc’s Big Board went as far to say that, “Sample will never be a good starter in the NFL.” The only real positive on the offense is … Andy Dalton and Joe Mixon? Dalton’s 69.3% DVOA against defensive back blitzes ranked first in the NFL and Mixon topped 1,000 yards, but when a 31 year-old red head and a running back once accused of domestic violence are your “positives” you have serious problems.
3. I love listing off a team’s corners. If I know the guys, there’s a good chance they can stop top receivers in one on one situations. If they’re human beings that I’ve never heard of before, the likelihood of a team’s pass defense being dreadful is high. Here are the top cornerbacks for the Cincinatti Bengals: William Jackson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, BW Webb. Not exactly a murderer’s row. I have a strong feeling Baker and Big Ben torch this secondary for 4 easy wins this year.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Won’t suck even though I’m scared to predict it.
1. Nick Foles is an immense upgrade over Blake Bortles. The Jaguars defense still managed to finish 6th in last year’s circus, but were dragged down by the league’s 30th ranked offense. In addition, the Jags hired John DeFillipo as their offensive coordinator, the same guy who served as Foles’s QB coach during his 2017 Super Bowl run with the Eagles. Even outside of Foles, the offense almost has to be better due to injury luck. To sum it up, the Jags offense suffered the most value lost due to injury of any team this decade!
2. As mentioned above, the defense is elite and projects that way again. I know I said that year to year defense is less consistent than offense, but the Jags have finished with an above average defense for three straight years now. The Vikings are the only other team in the NFL with that distinction.
3. Devil’s advocate: I never want to put my name forward for the Jaguars. They’re the only franchise that can historically rival the Browns for consistent ineptitude, and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if a full scale locker room fight breaks out in week 3 courtesy of Jalen Ramsey. I’m picking them to reclaim the AFC South, but that’s more of an indictment on the other three than an endorsement of them.
Houston Texans – May suck this year, but will definitely suck in a few years.
1. Generally, intelligence is rewarded in sports. A smart General Manager corresponds to the team itself being good. You know what’s not smart? Trading away massive draft capital and Jadeveon Clowney (one of the best linebackers in the league) for a talented offensive lineman who also released a video of himself doing drugs on his draft day, an underperforming, highly controversial receiver and backup linebackers all in under 24 hours is not smart from any notion. It shows the signs of a poorly run franchise.
2. The Texans had a cakewalk through their joke of a schedule last year to an 11-5 record. This year, the Texans face the 2nd toughest schedule in the league, and the road games are especially brutal. Outside of their three road division games, they make trips to play the Saints, Chargers, Chiefs, and Ravens. That feels like four out of four losses to me.
3. Bill O’Brien never gets the most out of his talent. Despite having Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans offense rarely explodes. One NFL writer went so far to say that, “O’Brien wants to control the clock and win games 20-13.” It’s not ideal to desire 20 points from your offense each game. It’s hard to argue against this with stats too, as the Texans are an atrocious 4-32 under Bill O’Brien when the other team scores more than 22 points. Not good.
Indianapolis Colts – Won’t suck as much as we think, but are not a “Ewing Theory” team like the Steelers.
1. Why are they not a Ewing theory team after Andrew Luck’s impromptu retirement? First off, Luck is not even close to the off field distractions that are Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. But more importantly, I do not qualify Andrew Luck as never having won anything important like I do the Killer B Steelers. “But Dan, both teams’ greatest accomplishment was being blown out by the Pats in the AFC Championship!!!” I’m aware. The difference is that the Steelers were an incredibly talented team that should have made at least three more conference championships. Andrew Luck played behind an O-Line so poorly constructed, that former GM Ryan Grigson might actually be liable for criminal negligence. The Colts never should have had three straight 11-5 seasons. Luck somehow found a way, and he will be missed.
2. On the contrary, the offense won’t be a problem. Frank Reich has proven himself as a play caller that can take an average quarterback to great heights (see the Nick Foles Super Bowl run). Their one offensive weakness, their wide receivers, was addressed in the offseason. They signed the always solid Devin Funchess and drafted Ohio State’s Parris Campbell in the 2nd round. Campbell is fantastic on screens and swing routes, and nearly led the nation in yards after catch due to his speed. The Colts finished 30th in yards after catch last year, so expect that to improve.
3. Unfortunately, I have to end on a gloomy note with the Colts: Defensive Regression. The Colts were fortunate enough last year to finish with least amount of offense faced for the year i.e. they faced a lot of terrible offenses last year. This year they play the Chargers, Chiefs, and Saints. Darius Leonard was a fantastic rookie linebacker, 2nd in overall run stuffing only to Luke Kuechly, but was bad in zone pass coverage. Finally, as I always like to do, I’ll list the cornerbacks. Kenny Moore, Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson, and Rock Ya-Sin (I do give bonus points for that name, but the point still stands).
Tennessee Titans – Will suck in even more painful fashion this year.
1. When you do it year after year, we know what you are. The Titans went 9-7 each of the last three years. That’s all they can be, and that’s all they ever will be. Frankly, I don’t even think they’ll hit that mark this year. 9-7 was somehow an overachievement last year, as DVOA stats told that they were actually the 20th best team in the NFL–below average. I’m predicting around 6-10 or 7-9.
2. Defensive Problems: They were 3rd in Red Zone Defense, but that stat is often random year to year and regressing after a good year is the usual tendency. The Titans also made their defense look more impressive than it was by feasting on weaklings. In their three most important games last year (two against the Colts, one against the Texans), their defense gave up an average of 28.3 points per game. Terrible.
3. Even more glaring offensive problems: The question is not if, it’s when the Titans start Ryan Tannehill over Marcus Mariota this season. Just one terrible Mariota stat of many that show his problems: He had a league worst -63.6% DVOA against the blitz last year. It’s not like the coaching staff is coming up with any genius offensive schemes to hide their lack of talent. The Titans ran the ball with the 2nd most frequency last year and ran the ball on 2nd and long a league high 44% of the time. Running the ball more than passing is a big football analytic no-no, and running on 2nd and long is the basketball equivalent of shooting a jumper with your foot just barely over the three point line.
Kansas City Chiefs – Won’t suck but are a virtual lock for regression.
1. Despite their defense finishing 26th overall, the Chiefs managed to finished as the best team by DVOA in the NFL thanks to their historically great offense. As addressed earlier, the Chiefs aren’t as likely to regress as other great teams due to the fact that their built on offense and not defense. They’re all but guaranteed to at least be a top third team, as the Chiefs have never finished outside of the top 10 in DVOA during Andy Reid’s six year tenure. The 2019 offense won’t top the 2018 version, but it will still be awesome and just a reasonable jump to average by the defense would be a huge bonus.
2. I love Mahomes. There’s like a 70% chance he’ll be the most entertaining quarterback of my lifetime. His 2,039 Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement were the best ever for a quarterback under 25 years old, and only Tom Brady has ever had two seasons over 2,000 in that stat. I did come across one concerning thing: Mahomes threw 11 interceptions last year, but actually had 21 “expected interceptions”, meaning that opposing defenders dropped 10 easy interceptions thrown by Mahomes last year. Don’t be surprised by a 15+ interception season.
3. The offense will be worse, and I’m not sure the defense will pick up the slack. They added Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark, but that more or less offsets the losses of Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Eric Berry. I want to see if new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has fixed this defense. It could be the difference between an AFC championship team and a Super Bowl victory.
Los Angeles Chargers – Will suck compared to how good they should have been this year. Typical Chargers.
1. Melvin Gordon was the third most efficient running back in the league last year. This year he’s most likely missing around eight to ten games with his hard to justify holdout. Russell Okung, who broke out as a very good O-Lineman last year, will miss six games after nearly dying from a blood clot in his lungs this summer. Derwin James, the hybrid-box safety who spearheaded the Chargers dangerously effective six defensive back approach last year and was described by many as arguably the most valuable safety in the league, will miss at least half the season and probably more after he had to get surgery on his foot. Losing three of your ten best players before the season starts is never a good sign.
2. Before all this news broke, Football Outsiders projected the Chargers as the favorite to win the AFC this year. Even though that would definitely change now, it can’t be completely forgotten. They face only the 19th hardest schedule in the league, Hunter Henry and Joey Bosa are both back after injuries in 2018, and they finally found a solution at kicker in Mike Badgley. They have a baseline level of talent that will prevent them from a losing record.
3. I never like teams who feel like they missed their chance already. Last year, the Charges finished tied with the Chiefs for the best record in the AFC at 12-4, and finished as the 3rd best team by total DVOA. If just a few more things had broken their way, they might have hoisted the Lombardi last year. Like if they hadn’t lost to the Ravens in week 16 and secured the one seed instead of a wildcard. Or if they hadn’t run into a Patriots team whose power run scheme was the specific counter to their six defensive back strategy. Phillip Rivers is now another year older, and had a Brees-like late season downturn. Rivers had a 36.9% DVOA through the first three months of the season, which would have ranked only behind Mahomes as the best quarterback season in the NFL. He then dipped to 6.8% in December and 2.8% in the playoffs, which over a season would rank him right in between Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins. Oof. They’ll still probably make the playoffs in 2019, but 2018 was their chance to do something special.
Denver Broncos – Will suck. Don’t buy the sleeper love they’ve been getting.
1. The number one hardest schedule in the NFL. It’s looming like a dark shadow over their season. Sometimes you can overcome tough opponents with an elite offense and a brazen quarterback that can score enough to keep you in every game (see Brees 2014-16). The Broncos have Joe Flacco. Happy trails.
2. On the other hand, head coach Vic Fangio is a huge upgrade over Vance Joseph. For example: Last year the Broncos trailed the Browns with a little over five minutes remaining, down four with a 4th and 1 from the six-yard line. Joseph took a delay of the game and kicked the field goal. You know those things that calculate a team’s chance to win the game at each point in the game? Well, Joseph’s decision dropped the Broncos chances of winning by 33% on that play, making it the worst decision ever recorded statistically speaking. Fangio took the Bears from the worst defense in the NFL his first year to one of the best the league has ever seen in 2019. He already has good pieces in superstar pass rusher Von Miller, the league’s best slot corner in Chris Harris Jr. (who will play more outside corner now) and second-year Bradley Chubb who set a rookie record with 34.5 quarterback hurries.
3. Unfortunately, the Broncos’ defense is likely headed to a rough transition year. The defense was filled with specialists that focused on being great at one thing, but Fangio’s scheme requires versatile players who are good at every aspect of the position. The main position that will suffer is inside linebacker. Fangio wants athletic inside linebackers who eat up space and play well in coverage, something he had in Chicago with Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. The Broncos inside linebackers are not that. Josey Jewell is a beefy run stuffer who grew up on a farm in Iowa, and Todd Davis was 60th in linebacker pass defense success rate last year.
Oakland Raiders – Will suck, both on the field and definitely off.
1. Antonio Brown. That’s it. He’s the reason they’ll suck. I know he’s led the league in receiving stats for almost the entirety of the decade, and he’s a Hall of Famer if he retired today (there’s honestly like a 30% chance he does retire today), but I just can’t stand it. The frozen feet. The helmet debacle. Blaming former teammates for every single thing. Asking for everyone to pity him on The Shop. And just recently, posting a private letter his GM sent him telling him he was fined $53,950 for skipping practice multiple times on Twitter, saying that his team hates him. This is bad. It’s even worse than T.O.
2. Let’s talk about all those offseason acquisitions, shall we. Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams are both good receivers, however, Brown posted a 1.7% DVOA last year (meaning he was pretty much an average receiver in terms of efficiency), and both rely more on deep catches. Not a great pairing for quarterback Derek Carr who had the lowest yards per attempt in the league last year. Speaking of quarterbacks, why did the Raiders keep four of them on the roster? The 3rd and 4th guys are Nathan Peterman and DeShone Kizer, who had two of the worst DVOAs ever recorded at -85.8 and -102.7 respectively. They made Trent Brown the richest Offensive Tackle in football even though he’s never made a Pro Bowl. Just in case AB wasn’t enough, they also brought in locker room cancers Richie Incognito and Vontaze Burfict. They drafted Clelin Ferrell at fourth overall and later admitted they wanted to trade down and get him but couldn’t find a partner. The only good move they made was signing safety LaMarcus Joyner.
3. Broncos. Chiefs. Vikings. Colts. Bears. Packers. Texans. Lions. Chargers. Bengals. Jets. Chiefs. Titans. Jaguars. Chargers. Broncos. That right there is the Raiders’ schedule, ranked fourth most difficult in the NFL. 3-13 is definitely possible.
After all of that, I have these teams in the playoffs, 1 to 4 being the division winners, 5 and 6 being the wildcards.
- Chargers (the two just missing out being the Ravens and the Texans)
From there, I would take the Steelers and Browns to advance from the Wildcard round, only to be squashed by the Pats and the Chiefs, setting up rematch in the AFC Championship. Like I’ve said before, I believe that most teams are who they are. There aren’t as many surprises as we think, and the team that usually prevails, will prevail again. The Chiefs are really good but they still don’t have any Championship winning experience, and are coached by the king of can’t-get-it-done teams, Andy Reid. The Patriots are winning the AFC again. My condolences.