NFL Projections 2019

Lukas Zywicki, Sports Columnist

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This NFL season is anticipated to be extremely competitive. For many teams this is a make or break season for them. This breakdown will show a projected record, key players, and a small brief for each team.

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Record: 5-11

Key Athlete: David Johnson 

Brief: All eyes are on Kyler Murray this season, but I am very interested to see what RB David Johnson can do. Heading into his second season off an injury that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season, Johnson has a lot to prove if he wants to stay considered as one of the top RB’s in the league. He will have to show an ability to flow with Murray’s style of offense which will include a lot of Larry Fitzgerald. 

ATLANTA FALCONS

Record: 10-6

Key Athlete: WR Julio Jones

Brief: With the top three options for RB injured, Julio Jones will have to step it up and prove that this team can still compete. After a down season last year, the Falcons defense will have to improve in stopping the run. 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Record: 9-7

Key Athlete: QB Lamar Jackson

Brief: Now that Jackson is solidified as the starting QB, Jackson will have to prove that he belongs in this league. The defense will not be a very serious concern, but the offense has to improve. Jackson will have to put the offense on his shoulders due to a lack of a solid receiving core and no legit running back.

BUFFALO BILLS

Record: 7-9

Key Athlete: LB Matt Milano

Brief: Although QB Josh Allen still has a lot to show, he will not be able to shine until he has a receiver to throw to. Milano is returning off a career season in which he showed that he could potentially be a Pro Bowl level linebacker. His role will be to help this defense improve from one of the worst in the league.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Record: 9-7

Key Athlete: RB Christian McCaffery

Brief: Playing the Saints twice in the last three weeks of the season will come back to bite if they are competing for the playoffs. McCaffery will have to continue his top level play if the team wants to compete for the division. Yet again QB Cam Newton is lacking receivers and only has TE Greg Olsen to throw to. Which is why the play of McCaffery is so important.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Record: 8-8

Key Athlete: RB Giovani Bernard

Brief: With the mediocre play of QB Andy Dalton mixed with the high level play of WR A.J. Green, if Bernard can improve his speed he will become one of the top RBs in the league. If the defense on this team was better, this team would be a very dangerous team.

CHICAGO BEARS

Record: 10-6

Key Athlete: QB Mitch Trubisky

Brief: After a decent season last year, Trubisky needs to prove that he can remain at a high level of play. The defense of the Bears is proven to be good, it is reliant on the offense this season.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Record: 9-7

Key Athlete: QB Baker Mayfield

Brief: No one has been able to have the swagger and back it up like Mayfield. Now all he has to do is show that we will see his top level of play every week. Plus, he also has to be able to share the spotlight with the other stars on the team. Which will be heard enough for some of the new receivers.

DALLAS COWBOYS

Record: 11-5

Key Athlete: WR Amari Cooper

Brief: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot are both built into this Cowboys offense, but adding Cooper gives an extra boost to this team. Cooper did well last year but this year is his first full year with this team and he needs to show that he can continue to mold into this offense. Previously with the Raiders, Cooper was the number one player on that team, now he needs to show that he can adapt and not always be the first option.

DENVER BRONCOS

Record: 6-10

Key Athlete: QB Joe Flacco

Brief: This is a make or break season for Flacco. He will either emerge as a top QB in this league or he will end up on an at best mediocre level on a barely mediocre team. The Bronchos are almost all set defensively, but the lacking offense is killing this team. If Flacco can resurrect an elderly WR in Demaryus Thomas

DETROIT LIONS

Record: 9-7

Key Athlete: RB Kerryon Johnson

Brief: After a season where the Lions had their first 100 yard running game in years, Johnson needs to show that he can continue to produce. QB Matthew Stafford will have another season with average numbers and the receiving core looks promising. Other than an improved offensive line, Johnson also needs to produce for this offense. If Johnson can average at least 70 yards per game, this team will be ok.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Record: 10-6

Key Member: OC Nathaniel Hackett

Brief: The key for the Packers is not any specific player, it is Hackett, the offensive coordinator. The defense is solid as always and they definitely have the talent offensively. It just has to be utilized properly, which hasn’t been done in the past.

HOUSTON TEXANS

Record: 9-7

Key Athlete: QB Deshaun Watson

Brief: With the top wide receiver in the league, this is the season where Watson will define his level of QB skills. We have seen a Watson that can compete with the best in the league, but we have also seen the other side of him, a side that consistently makes off target throws and lacks serious arm power.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Record: 6-10

Key Athlete: QB Jacoby Brissett

Brief: With the departure of Andrew Luck, an already unstable team lost the entirety of its infrastructure offensively. Having to play with the corpse of Tom Brady’s old third string at QB, the only player this team has is WR Phillip Dorsett. An at best mediocre defense will not save this team.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Record: 4-12

Key Athlete: QB Blake Bortles

Brief: After a dream crushing year last year and CB Jalen Ramsey requesting a trade, this team needs to step up. Bortles needs to make this team, it is time for him to solidify himself as the starting QB for this team. We have seen flashes of a decent QB but we need to see more. 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Record: 13-3

Key Athlete: RB Damien Williams

Brief: With the best QB in football, this is the best team to win the Super Bowl. Other than the Patriots, this team is on a world of its own.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Record: 10-6

Key Athlete: QB Philip Rivers

Brief: This team solely depends on the return of Melvin Gorgon. When Gordon comes back, if he plays like his old self this team will immediately go back to its ways of last year. The defense is already there, it is just that the offense needs to find its scoring ways again.

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Record: 12-4

Key Athlete: RB Todd Gurley III

Brief: Coming off of a tough Super Bowl loss, the Rams have a new chip on their shoulder. They are expected to be one of the top teams again this year. Jared Goff has solidified his role as a top tier QB in the league and having the best dual threat player in the league in Gurley, the offense will put up big numbers. Also having the best defensive player in the country in Aaron Donald, there is no reason this team would expect anything less than a Lombardi Trophy.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Record: 2-14

Key Athlete: QB Josh Rosen

Brief: This team is a complete joke. No hope here this season. Two wins is a stretch.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Record: 8-8

Key Athlete: WR Stefon Diggs

Brief: Diggs will have to step up this season, he established himself in the league, now he just has to deliver. If Diggs can bring the receiving core on this team up a notch or two, success is in the near future. 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Rrecord: 12-4

Key Athlete: RB Sony Michel

Brief: The most dominant 15 year span for any team in NFL history will not go out without a fight. This team is most likely going to get QB Tom Brady his seventh ring. If Michel can help put more of a running game into this team then I do not know who could stop them.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Record: 11-5

Key Athlete: RB Alvin Kamara

Brief: If QB Drew Brees can stay healthy, this team will easily be the champions of the NFC South and will be contenders in the NFC Championship. If Kamara can develop into a Todd Gurley style with more of a receiving game mixed into his running, he will be an MVP level player that could carry this team all the way.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Record: 5-11

Key Athlete: QB Daniel Jones

Brief: This team has none of the tools necessary to win anything this year. The best situation for this team would probably include 6 or 7 wins this season.

NEW YORK JETS

Record: 4-12

Key Athlete: RB Le’veon Bell

Brief: Bell will have a slower year due to the year off. If he does end up contributing at a high level, everything about this team can change. A new QB is vital to the success of this team.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Record: 6-10

Key Athlete: RB Trevor Davis

Brief: Another team that will not do much of anything this year. Two years ago they traded away the only player on this team that had the ability to win in WR Amari Cooper. Nothing will come of this season for this team accept for a high draft pick. But do not worry, I am sure the front office will be smart and draft like they did last year. Oh wait, last year this team had three first round picks and not a single one has produced anything. 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Record: 7-9

Key Athlete: QB Carson Wentz

Brief: It is hard to put guess on what will happen to the Eagles this year. They definitely have enough talent to be a top 10 team, it is a question of how well they will flow as a team. The best teams in the nation are in that spot because they have the ability to mold together and not be 11 different players but one unit. I do not know if the Eagles will be able to do this offensively or defensively.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Record: 7-9

Key Athlete: WR Juju Smith-Schuster

Brief: When looking at this team, I see nothing that says this team will compete. The most exciting player on this team is famous for being the receiver that got left open because Antonio Brown would have two or three guys covering him. Plus, QB Ben Rothlesberger is on his way out and a new QB is needed.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Record: 9-7

Key Athlete: QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Brief: This young roster has a chance to be a high caliber team in the next couple years. This season should be all about developing the young talent on this team. Garoppolo will have to work with a currently sub-par receiving core and a list of running backs that are irrelevant. The defense is going to have to step up to win some games this year.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Record: 10-6

Key Athlete: WR Doug Baldwin

Brief: This team is the biggest sleeper to make a playoff run. Russell Wilson always carries the team and Baldwin always steps up during playoff games. I would not be surprised to see the NFC Championship game include this team.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Record: 4-12

Key Athlete: WR Mike Evans

Brief: QB Jamies Winston needs to call Terry Bradshaw and find out if Nutrisystem really works.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Record: 8-8

Key Athlete: QB Marcus Mariota

Brief: Another mediocre year for a mediocre team. Mariota will make sure that the Titans win a couple games with some 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Record: 5-12

Key Athlete: QB Dwayne Haskins 

Brief: If there was a prize for having the most washed up NFL players on a team, the Redskins would be the champions of that for 10 years now. They drafted a QB in Haskins that will never be a real NFL caliber player with his style of play. Another team going nowhere.

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