Football is coming! With last night’s Hall of Fame Game marking the beginning of pre-season action, the dark, football-less months are officially behind us. This time of year is full of hope for all 32 teams. Anything can happen! But what will happen? Here at ninetynineyards.com, we’ve been pondering that exact question. So let’s jump in to our Bold Predictions for the 2019 NFL season!
2019 will be the year of the backup quarterback!
Tannehill to lead the Titans – Alex Chinery
The Tennessee Titans traded for the former Miami Dolphins starter in the offseason, as downside protection for Marcus Mariota. Mariota has oft been injured during his Titans tenure and his play has been inconsistent. It’s conceivable that the Titans turn to Tannehill to take over as QB1. If Tannehill gets meaningful snaps this season, I predict he will outplay Mariota and lead the Titans in passing yards.
Teddy Bridgewater leads Saints on deep playoff run – Adam Barton
We’ve seen this story before where a veteran QB on a “win now” team is replaced. Having seen Drew Brees struggle late in 2018, would it be a surprise to see Teddy Bridgewater under centre? In his brief NFL experience he has shown flashes, and that could be enough to lead the league’s most talented roster to key wins in January.
Ryan Finley replaces the Red Rifle – Johnny Cumbleton
The Marvin Lewis era is over for the Cincinnati Bengals and Zac Taylor brings with him his new offence. He has no attachment to Andy Dalton, who hasn’t exactly set the world alight in his time with the Bengals. 2015 was a good year, but one that he’s failed to build upon.
Despite Taylor saying “Andy is going to be very successful. He fits what we want to do. So I’m excited to get a chance to work with him. He’s going to have a bright future here”, I expect Dalton to struggle.
More than that, I expect Dalton to get benched for Ryan Finley by week 8. Finley is the first QB selected by Taylor. He’s a smart, accurate, quarterback who makes good decisions. He has also been compared to a player Taylor helped develop as the Rams quarterback coach, Jared Goff.
Bortles Rides Again – Stuart Taylor
Picture this: The Jaguars are riding along well in the AFC South. Foles is flourishing under OC John DeFillipo, his former Eagles QB coach. Fournette is back to being a force. The defence are once again being christened “Sacksonville” in the twittersphere. However, Foles goes down in practice and is out for the year. Backup Tanner Lee leads the team to a humiliating defeat with an abject performance.
Couglin and Marrone turn to the only man who knows the offence well enough to step right in at this stage of the season, and send a 7th round pick to the Rams for Blake Bortles!
Old guard beat out new kids for passing yards leader!
Big Ben leads the league in passing yards – Owain Jones
Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball a ton in 2018. He led the league with 5,129 passing yards and also led the league for pass completions and attempts. Now that the carnival [Antonio Brown] has left town, I predict Big Ben throws for more than 5,000 yards and tops the NFL once again.
Ben threw 10 interceptions in the direction of Antonio Brown last season. Not having to force the ball in his direction, for fear of persecution, means Roethlisberger leads a more consistent and balanced offence. Ben will prove again in 2019 that he is elite, even without his star wide receiver.
Matt Ryan sets passing yards record – Adam Barton
The Falcons have made a big emphasis on addressing their offensive line. With this improvement, Matt Ryan should be able to set all kinds of records in a return to his 2016 form. He has the weapons in Julio Jones, Mo Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman, making the Falcons arguably the most talented skill position group this season.
Pair that with a weak defence and Atlanta will need to score a lot of points. For Matt Ryan, a first 5,000 yard season is on the cards and Peyton Manning’s record 5,477 yards is well within reach.
No repeat of Super Bowl 53!
Patriots lose on Wildcard Weekend – Max Hillman
The New England Patriots have a season that is de-railed by injuries! Although they still win the AFC East, they do it narrowly. Their record is only good enough for the fourth seed and they lose out on Wildcard Weekend!
Rams fall short – Shona Duthie
The Los Angeles Rams remains favourites to win the division and make the playoffs. Some are tipping them as NFL Champions but that’s ambitious! If the coaches in the NFC West were smart, they would have watched the Super Bowl to see how Bill worked out Sean McVay’s game plan to shut down the Rams.
They’ve made some improvements on defence, but they need Todd Gurley at his best on offence to succeed. They will make the playoffs but I don’t see them riding in to the Super Bowl. I also maintain, if they don’t win a Super Bowl soon, it’s ta ta to their chances. They’re built around a young QB, and guess what Kroenke, his pay day is coming!
Bold Predictions in the NFC East!
Dak Prescott will be in the discussion for MVP – Stuart Taylor
Not since 2012 has there been a non-QB winner of the MVP Award, so odds on the winner coming from the QB ranks in 2019 is high.
I feel the Cowboys have one of the stronger all-round rosters and are well placed to make a deep run in the playoffs. Behind a top level offensive line and surrounded by elite playmakers in Zeke Elliott and Amarillo Cooper, as well as being in a contract year, this could be the year that Dak puts it all together and hits the big time.
Redskins beat Cowboys to a wild card spot – Duncan Terry
Is this bold enough? I think so! The Eagles and the Cowboys are coming out on top of many power rankings right now. Both have seemingly elite rosters, yet I see a Cowboys roster that is unfinished. Yes they have the skill positions, Elliott and Cooper, plus great corners in Awuzie and Jones. They have superb young linebackers and that offensive line. Prescott is a good quarterback. This is the issue, he’s good but no great. He’s not a problem but I just don’t see him ever leading them to greatness.
The Redskins on the other hand have an unknown quantity at quarterback in Dwayne Haskins. I’m not going to make a pitch that he’s elite in his first year. They have, however, got what many teams with rookie quarterbacks have when they gain early team success. That is, a really strong defence on all three levels and a great running game. Much will depend on Trent Williams’ hold out but I’m sure he’ll show up when it’s time to get paid.
Don’t sleep on the Redskins!
Bold Predictions for NFL Honours!
An AFC East head coach wins Coach of the Year – Alex Riley
Doesn’t sound so bold? Spoiler alert, it’s not the AFC Coach you think! First year head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins wins the award as the Dolphins go 9-7. Everyone will realise how terrible the Dolphins roster is, showing what a truly great job Flores has done to get them a winning record!
Philip Rivers: MVP – Oliver Hodgkinson
As Stuart alluded to in his NFC East prediction, it’s highly likely the MVP award follows recent history and goes to a QB. The Kansas City Chiefs have the current incumbent Patrick Mahomes, and he’s a hot favourite to repeat. However it’s another AFC West gunslinger that scoops the award.
I genuinely believe it’s now or never for Rivers. The Chargers have the most complete roster in the NFL. Melvin Gordon’s holdout is less than ideal, but they have a decent replacement ready to go in Austin Ekeler. Hunter Henry is back healthy. Keenan Allen is back healthy. Rivers has plenty of offensive weaponry and he’s still got the skills to enable them. The Chargers are my tip for the Super Bowl and Rivers scoops the top individual prize along the way.
Winston wins Comeback Player of the Year – Adam Barton
This has to be Winston’s last chance as a starter. But it’s also his best one. Bruce Arian’s is a QB whisperer and surely wouldn’t have signed with the Bucs if he didn’t see talent in Winston. Winston IS talented, just error prone. He has two great tight end options, and with Tampa struggling for a running threat, Winston could earn Comeback Player of the Year.
NFL looks to CFL to increase entertainment value – Chris Lawton
What is the one thing that Roger Goodell and the NFL cares about most? Garnering interest, eyeballs on games, and numbers they can parlay from media companies into bigger deals. Not to mention potential future customers to sell to. And what sells the most?
Sexy football! That doesn’t mean “Jimmy G’s beautiful face” Shona Duthie! We’re talking about offence and rules that favour the boys on that side of the ball. Where can the inspiration come from? North of the border of course!
In the CFL, one foot in bounds means a catch. A receiver need only get one foot, elbow, or knee in bounds to have a legitimate catch.
By adding this rule, the NFL can have more highlight reel spectacles, more diving catches, more opportunities to move the ball, and just what the league like most: more touchdowns!
The Boldest of Bold Predictions – Oliver Hodgkinson
Every year, the teams that make up the post season in the NFL differ slightly. The nature of the league ensures this. Some of this churn is predictable, others not so much.
The Kansas City Chiefs will be the surprise team to miss out on post season football this season. No, I’ve not lost my mind (at least I don’t think I have.) Patrick Mahomes will still be great. After months of drama, it looks like they will have Tyreek Hill return. Travis Kelce will be TE1 in the league.
However, I’m not sold on how they’ve replaced the lost pieces. Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Mitch Morse to name a few. I’m not convinced by a ground game led by Damien Williams.
Then you factor in the AFC West. The division is set to be the most competitive in the NFL with each team capable on their day of taking wins away from the others.
If you’ve enjoyed these bold predictions, feel free to send us your own over on Twitter, @Ninetynineyards. Enjoy the 2019 NFL season with us!
Feature Image Photo Credit: www.gamblingsites.org