The Philadelphia Eagles remain the team to beat as the 2018 NFL season is on the horizon
Two days ago marked the last Sunday for quite a while without a National Football League game. Here are my predictions for how this NFL season should play out.
AFC East: The New England Patriots have one of the most dominant dynasties in all of sports, and they are still run by the likes of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick so their fortunes are unlikely to change. The Jets and Bills will also be interesting teams to watch, as we will be able to see the development of rookie quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Josh Allen, respectively.
AFC North: The Pittsburgh Steelers are still this division’s team to beat, with one of the game’s most potent offenses. The Baltimore Ravens have a lot of the pieces for a Super Bowl run, but it will all come down to the play of longtime quarterback Joe Flacco. After finishing 0-16 last season, the Cleveland Browns made some significant roster changes and hope to begin this season with a renewed sense of purpose behind rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield.
AFC West: As of now, the path to the playoffs in the AFC West runs through the Los Angeles Chargers. They have one of the most dominant rosters in all of football and an incredibly balanced team. The other three teams in the division are fairly mediocre, especially after the loss of the Oakland Raiders’ Khalil Mack.
AFC South: What was once the dumping ground of the AFC has quickly turned into one of the League’s best divisions. The Jacksonville Jaguars have made a major turnaround on both sides of the wall and now compete with the best teams in the League. The Texans welcome the return of second year quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was dominant last year before his injury. He will rejoin wide receiver Deandre Hopkins and defensive tackle J.J. Watt to lead a team hoping to take the next step.
NFC East: The defending Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, are the team to beat in the NFL;they did not lose any major pieces. The Dallas Cowboys will return with the dynamic duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The Washington Redskins are now led by veteran quarterback Alex Smith, and the New York Giants look for rookie running back Saquon Barkley to make an impact alongside one of the greats, Odell Beckham Jr.
NFC North: The Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers will be locked in a fearsome competition for control over the division. Aaron Rodgers will return after a broken collarbone to lead the pack yet again. Kirk Cousins was a good quarterback on a bad team in the Washington Redskins, and now he has a Super Bowl talent to back him up. The Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears will definitely begin the season playing catch up.
NFC West: The Los Angeles Rams will look to continue their dominant strategies from last season and put together a Super Bowl run. However, an electric offense and a dominant front should not make that too hard. The San Franscisco 49ers could potentially make some strides if the Seattle Seahawks loses a step or two, and the once dominant Detroit Cardinals seem to have returned to their irrelevancy.
NFC South: Drew Brees and his team, the New Orleans Saints, have the most complete team in the division and will be hard to keep up with. The Atlanta Falcons will still give them a run for their money if Matt Ryan can return to his MVP form from 2016. The Carolina Panthers are a hit or miss team that will try to work out the kinks in their third new offense in three years. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still very much a work in progress.
— Zach Kaufman