Detroit Lions Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: CHI, @GB, @ARI, NO, BYE, @JAX, @ATL, IND, @MIN, WAS, @CAR, HOU, @CHI, GB, @TEN, TB, MIN

Additions: S Duron Harmon (Trade), OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai (FA), LB Jamie Collins (FA), CB Desmond Trufant (FA), DL Nick Williams (FA), DL Danny Shelton (FA), LB Reggie Ragland (FA), WR Geronimo Allison (FA), CB Jeff Okudah (Draft), RB D’Andre Swift (Draft)

Losses: CB Darius Slay (Trade), OL Graham Glasgow (FA), EDGE Devon Kennard (FA), DL A’Shawn Robinson (FA), OL Ricky Wagner (FA), P Sam Martin (FA), TE Logan Thomas (FA), RB J.D. McKissic (FA), CB Rashaan Melvin (FA), DL Mike Daniels (FA), S Tavon Wilson (FA), DL John Atkins (Opt-out), WR Geronimo Allison (Opt-out)

Analysis:

Matt Patricia should be fired. Let me just get that out of the way. Matt Stafford is the only reason I have the Lions winning six games. I have little-to-no faith in the rest of the roster and coaching staff.

Stafford has a proven track record of putting the team on his back, though. Prior to Patricia’s tenure, the Lions had back-to-back 9-7 seasons, so 6-10 certainly isn’t out of the question. Plus, they were 3-4-1 last year before 9’s injury. Of course, they didn’t win a game without him, so this team will only go as far as its quarterback goes.

Stafford isn’t the only reason the passing game excels. Receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are a great outside duo while Danny Amendola is a solid option in the slot. Jones is good for a couple monster games a year and Golladay is good now with an even brighter future ahead. Rookie tight ends never do much, so there’s no reason to sour on T.J. Hockenson’s potential. The 23-year-old could be in for a second-year breakout. D’Andre Swift is a nice option out of the backfield as well. With the signing of Adrian Peterson, the rookie isn’t likely to get many carries, though.

Kerryon Johnson will get in the mix as well, so this is pretty much the definition of a running back by committee. The offensive line ahead of them has a good foundation, but they’re down two starters from last year. Both new guys are on the right side, too, so this unit could end up being pretty lopsided. Rookie third-rounder Jonah Jackson is the starting guard while longtime Eagles reserve Halapoulivaati Vaitai will line up at tackle. There’s both risk and potential here.

The defense features much more of the former than the latter, as Patricia and GM Bob Quinn are still devoted to acquiring every ex-Patriot possible. It hasn’t worked out great so far, but you have to respect the commitment. This year’s batch isn’t likely to flip the script. The crown jewel of the bunch, linebacker Jamie Collins, bombed the first time he left New England while Danny Shelton and Duron Harmon are hardly team-changing additions.

Besides their lingering Patriot fandom, Detroit made a concerted effort to get better across the board. They beefed up the interior defensive line, added a couple intriguing LBs, and completely overhauled the secondary.

With that being said, it’s hard to see this being a great unit. Even average might be a stretch. For as great as Trey Flowers is, you won’t get very far with him as your best defensive player. And while the defensive line looks solid, the linebackers are worrisome. The secondary could be a weakness as well, with the Lions relying on a rookie and aging veteran at corner. Jeff Okudah locking up top receivers from day one is a tough sell. Same goes for a major career revival for Desmond Trufant.

As per usual, Detroit is going to have to dominate through the air to be competitive. While he’s certainly capable of that, Stafford’s health is worth monitoring. Back injuries are no joke, and his was bad enough that he had to be placed on IR. Lingering problems are a definite possibility. If the issues persist, the Lions will bottom out again. That should mean the end of the Patricia era with an outside chance of Stafford joining him. Sometimes teams just feel they need to make a change, whether it’s warranted or not. To end on a more positive note, this team could snag a wildcard spot if everything clicks. Even a playoff win is a possibility.

What’s your record prediction for the Lions? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Chicago Bears Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: @DET, NYG, @ATL, IND, TB, @CAR, @LAR, NO, @TEN, MIN, BYE, @GB, DET, HOU, @MIN, @JAX, GB

Additions: QB Nick Foles (Trade), EDGE Robert Quinn (FA), TE Jimmy Graham (FA), OL Germain Ifedi (FA), CB Artie Burns (FA), TE Cole Kmet (Draft), CB Jaylon Johnson (Draft)

Losses: OL Kyle Long (Retired), LB Nick Kwiatkowski (FA), QB Chase Daniel (FA), EDGE Leonard Floyd (FA), DL Nick Williams (FA), OL Cornelius Lucas (FA), S HaHa Clinton-Dix (FA), DL Eddie Goldman (Opt-out), CB Artie Burns (Injury)

Analysis:

Is there a more fun quarterback situation than Chicago’s? Sure, they’re not very good, but Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky are at least going to make us laugh. You’ve got the most improbable Super Bowl winner and greatest tweeter of all time on the same team. From an entertainment standpoint, that’s tough to beat.

On the field, not so much. While Trubisky is the week one starter, expect a flip-flopping on the level of the 2018 Bucs. Unless the Bears somehow make it to January and we get to see playoff BDN, quarterback play is going to hold this team back. Well, offensive play in general, actually. Outside of Allen Robinson, the offense sucks.

You have to feel bad for Robinson. He’s gone from Blake Bortles to Trubisky/Chase Daniel to Trubisky/Foles throwing him the ball. It doesn’t get much worse than that, yet he still produces.

The rest of the receiving corps doesn’t make it look as easy. At this point in his career, Ted Ginn runs fast, and that’s about it. Anthony Miller lacks consistency. While Ryan Pace worked hard to acquire 47 tight ends, none of them are that great. Rookie Cole Kmet has a bright future ahead of him, and Jimmy Graham had a bright one behind him. Together, they should offer decent, unspectacular tight end play.

Running back David Montgomery was hyped up all offseason before flopping last season. His current groin injury doesn’t bode well for a breakout year. Neither does the poor offensive line. With Germain Ifedi the only new starter, substantial improvement from the unit is a long shot.

Luckily, Chicago has an offensive genius who can maximize the little talent they do have. Oh wait, they don’t. I didn’t think Matt Nagy deserved the COTY award in 2018 and last year showed why. That team was great because of Vic Fangio and the defense, not Nagy or his offense. While I think he’s a solid coach overall, Andy Reid’s disciple isn’t in the play-calling stratosphere of Big Red.

Offensive ineptitude sunk the Bears last year, but the defense taking a step back didn’t help, either. Was it really regression, or just the result of the offense consistently putting them in awful spots? I’d say more the former than the latter, as Chicago’s defense was unsustainably great in 2018. Along with the league-lead in takeaways (36), they scored an insane 6 touchdowns. Unsurprisingly, they came back to earth last year, finishing with just 19 takeaways and 1 touchdown. As a result, Chicago went from a +12 turnover differential to 0 in 2019. That played as big a role in the four-win drop as anything the offense did.

Besides the fluky drop off in takeaways, Chuck Pagano did an admirable job filling in for Fangio. With the talent he has, the defense could be in for a bounce back. Robert Quinn is a great complement to Khalil Mack on the edge. His arrival, along with a return to form from Mack and lineman Akiem Hicks (only healthy for five games), could vault the pass rush back to the top of league rankings. Besides those two stars, most of the key contributors from the 2018 unit remain on the team.

Outside of minor worries like a rookie possibly starting at corner, Chicago’s only weakness could be stopping the run. Eddie Goldman opting out was huge. One of the better nose tackles in the league, he’s clogged the middle of the Bears defense for years. If that doesn’t sound like a huge deal, consider this: the best way to neutralize a pass rush is to run the ball down their throats. Goldman’s loss could be felt all across the defense.

Chicago’s defense needs to be almost perfect to make up for the offense, so that could give opponents just enough of an edge. The defense being dominant all game only to have a couple plays decide a 20-17 win or 24-20 loss is a theme I expect all season.

However, if the offense can scrape together enough decent drives, Chicago could ride a pretty easy schedule to the postseason. This team finished 8-8 last year, so a return to the playoffs really isn’t that far-fetched. I just think the offense is going to be a huge burden once again, and the slight defensive weaknesses will keep them from carrying the team. If I’m right, watch out for Nagy getting canned.

What’s your record prediction for the Bears? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Washington Football Team Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: PHI, @ARI, @CLE, BAL, LAR, @NYG, DAL, BYE, NYG, @DET, CIN, @DAL, @PIT, @SF, SEA, CAR, @PHI

Additions: CB Kendall Fuller (FA), CB Ronald Darby (FA), RB Peyton Barber (FA), TE Logan Thomas (FA), RB J.D. McKissic (FA), LB Thomas Davis (FA), OL Wes Schweitzer (FA), WR Dontrelle Inman (FA), EDGE Chase Young (Draft), RB Antonio Gibson (Draft)

Losses: OL Ereck Flowers (FA), QB Case Keenum (FA), RB Chris Thompson (FA), CB Quinton Dunbar (Trade), RB Adrian Peterson (Cut), WR Kelvin Harmon (Injury), LB Reuben Foster (Injury)

Analysis:

What a stupid, stupid name. It doesn’t even feel like I’m talking about a real team. Here’s to hoping I don’t slip up and use the old name.

With that being said, there’s still a lot to like about Washington. For starters, how can you not be happy Alex Smith is back? Even if he never plays, it’s great just to see him healthy again.

As a whole, I really like this team. You don’t know how tempted I was to pick them for double-digit wins. But, just as I did last year with the 49ers, I chickened out. Yeah, the same Niners who went 13-3 and were a fourth-quarter collapse from winning the Super Bowl. After hyping them up as a sleeper all offseason, I cowardly predicted a 7-9 record.

The main reason for my belief in San Francisco was an unbelievable pass rush on paper that ended up being even better on the field. Washington’s group has that kind of special potential. Chase Young, the annual “generational” edge rusher in the draft, will headline a rotation featuring 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat and the underrated Ryan Kerrigan. On the inside, Washington is just as stacked, with Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and Tim Settle all poised for sizable roles. If you don’t know all those names now, you will by year’s end. This front is capable of winning games single-handedly and should announce itself before long.

An elite pass rush makes life way easier for the rest of the defense. Resilient and ageless, Thomas Davis is reunited with his old Panthers coach. Along with Jon Bostic and Kevin Pierre-Louis, he should provide serviceable play for the Football Team. While the linebackers don’t have the highest ceiling, the secondary is intriguing. Cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Fabian Moreau have solid potential on the outside. The return of Kendall Fuller gives DC Jack Del Rio a versatile piece who can be used all over the field when he’s not manning the slot. Landon Collins disappointed in the first year of his huge contract, but he could return to form with more talent around him. Starting at the other safety spot, Troy Apke is really fast for a white guy.

The defense is brimming with potential, but the offense is what keeps me from going all-in on Washington. Most importantly, there’s no Kyle Shanahan. That guy could make anyone look like a Pro Bowler. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner might give a passable Shanahan impression, though. There was definitely some nepotism to get him there, but Turner served on some Carolina offenses full of interesting wrinkles.

His quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, didn’t have the best rookie year. On the bright side, he seemed to get better every week. He was a first-rounder for a reason, so 2020 could bring out the pinpoint passer we saw at Ohio State. If Haskins struggles again, that’ll open the door for Smith to see his first playing time in two years.

No matter who’s at quarterback, his support will be underwhelming. After releasing Adrian Peterson, Washington is putting all their eggs in receiver-turned-running back Antonio Gibson’s basket. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t. Having so much faith in a third-round rookie is certainly risky, though.

At receiver, Terry McLaurin displayed the same chemistry he had with Haskins in college as a rookie. While Scary Terry has star potential, the group behind him is terrible. Haskins will have to rely a lot on Gibson and tight ends Jeremy Sprinkle and Logan Thomas. Washington seems to love the TE duo, but it’s hard to find a less inspiring group of weapons in the league.

Playing on the franchise tag, Brandon Scherff is one of the better guards in the league. With him, great play at right guard is a lock. Center and right tackle look solid as well, with returning starters at both. The left side of line is where it gets scary. Geron Christian Sr. and Wes Martin won the battles at tackle and guard, respectively. If Haskins gets dropped instantly, there’s a good chance one of those two was at fault. They do have potential, though, and Washington’s offensive line could return to being a quiet strength of the team, as it’s been for years.

As far as 6-10 teams go, this was probably the most positive breakdown you’ll see. That’s because I really believe in the potential of this team, especially with two-time Coach of the Year Ron Rivera taking over. There’s just way too much uncertainty for me to go out on a limb here. Defensive line is the only surefire unit on the team. Questions surround every other group. Even Riverboat Ron comes with risk. Besides the fact that he just got fired, his health situation could force him to step down midseason. Even having said all that, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if Washington wins its weak division.

What’s your record prediction for the Football Team? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

New York Giants Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: PIT, @CHI, SF, @LAR, @DAL, WAS, @PHI, TB, @WAS, PHI, BYE, @CIN, @SEA, ARI, CLE, @BAL, DAL

Additions: CB James Bradberry (FA), LB Blake Martinez (FA), TE Levine Toilolo (FA), DB Logan Ryan (FA), EDGE Kyler Fackrell (FA), OL Cameron Fleming (FA), (FA), DL Austin Johnson (FA), K Graham Gano (FA), LS Casey Kreiter (FA), CB Isaac Yiadom (Trade), OL Andrew Thomas (Draft), S Xavier McKinney (Draft), OL Matt Peart (Draft)

Losses: OL Nate Solder (Opt-out), CB Sam Beal (Opt-out), OL Mike Remmers (FA), S Michael Thomas (FA), S Xavier McKinney (Injury), LB David Mayo (Injury)

Analysis:

Is Joe Judge Matt Patricia 2.0? He seems to be taking the same Belichick-esque approach as his fellow disciple. Modeling your style after the leader of the greatest dynasty in pro sports history has to be smart, right? Well, not exactly. For a six-time champion, it works great. For a first-year coach, not so much. Lions players quickly grew tired of their authoritarian coach during his 6-10 debut season. Now, his job is on life support. Six wins is a good ballpark estimate for the Giants, so Judge could be headed down the same dark path.

While the head coach makes his bold transition, New York’s new offensive coordinator should have a much easier time. Leading a team proved not to be his thing, but Jason Garrett has a good track record as an OC. He deserves some credit for Dallas’ number one offense in 2019. There are some exciting pieces for him to work with, too.

After being a much-maligned pick, Daniel Jones changed a lot of opinions last year, including mine. He had the typical promising rookie season, alternating between inexcusable turnovers and huge plays. A huge year in 2020 could be in order given all the talent around him. In the backfield, Saquon Barkley is one of the best in the game. After battling injuries for most of last season, he could deliver the special season many expected last time around.

For targets, Jones has no shortage of options. There’s no Odell Beckham-level player, but the Giants are loaded with good WR2s. Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton are likely to frustrate fantasy owners with weekly rotations of top receiver performances. Evan Engram will get in the mix, too. Despite his tight end listing, the 2017 first-round pick is essentially a big receiver.

Offensive line play is the one thing holding this unit back from elite status. Opt-out Nate Solder hasn’t come close to living up to his contract, but he’ll be sorely missed nonetheless. His replacement, Andrew Thomas, was the most pro-ready tackle in the draft and should enjoy an easier transition than most of his peers. Still, putting too much faith in a rookie is a dangerous game. Outside of right guard Kevin Zeitler, the rest of the offensive line is scary. If this group is just average, New York has the firepower to make a little noise this year. Even adequate play feels ambitious, though.

Defensively, the three-man front of Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Leonard Williams should be dominant. Last year, they were merely good. For this defense to stop anyone, they’re going to have to be special in 2020. I still have faith.

They won’t get much support from an edge group led by Markus Golden. While the former Cardinal had double-digit sacks last year, he had so little free agent interest that the Giants were able to bust out a fun loophole to keep him for nothing. He must’ve done something to become such a league-wide pariah. Despite showing him no love, New York needs a repeat performance to compensate for the weak pass rush around him.

Blake Martinez is not going to fix the linebacker position. Being a “tackling machine” isn’t nearly as important as being a good coverage guy in today’s NFL. Martinez is great at first and not so much at the latter. Opposing running backs and tight ends should eat against this weak group.

The Giants’ recent flurry of moves should tell you all you need to know about the state of the secondary. With Sam Beal opting out and DeAndre Baker being a really, really sore loser, the corner spot opposite James Bradberry is a major worry. Recent signee Logan Ryan will split time between safety and corner, so Big Blue still needs an every-down option. With nothing special around them, Bradberry and Ryan aren’t enough to keep this unit afloat. I don’t think highly of the defense, and the secondary is a big reason why.

Expect a lot of shootouts for New York this year. Also, expect them to come out on the losing end most of the time. The offense will have too many sacks and turnovers while the defense is just plain bad. Throw in potential locker room issues, and you have the recipe for a poor record. The schedule isn’t doing them any favors, either.

What’s your record prediction for the Giants? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Philadelphia Eagles Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: @WAS, LAR, CIN, @SF, @PIT, BAL, NYG, DAL, BYE, @NYG, @CLE, SEA, @GB, NO, @ARI, @DAL, WAS

Additions: CB Darius Slay (Trade), WR Marquise Goodwin (Trade), DL Javon Hargrave (FA), S Will Parks (FA), CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (FA), WR Jalen Reagor (Draft), QB Jalen Hurts (Draft)

Losses: OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai (FA), S Malcolm Jenkins (FA), RB Jordan Howard (FA), CB Ronald Darby (FA), LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (FA), DL Timmy Jernigan (FA), WR Nelson Agholor (FA), WR Marquise Goodwin (Opt-out), OL Brandon Brooks (Injury), OL Andre Dillard (Injury), WR Alshon Jeffery (Injury), S Will Parks (Injury)

Analysis:

Well, this won’t be the year the Eagles break their injury curse. The season hasn’t even started yet and two starters are already out for the year. Not only were they starters, but Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard were two of the most important players on the roster. Brooks is one of the best guards in the league and Dillard was slated to replace Jason Peters at left tackle.

Well, the franchise icon is reportedly staying at guard, so the Eagles are essentially screwed. Even if they pay up and convince Peters to return to left tackle, this offensive line is still likely to be a mess. Given the injury history of a guy like Lane Johnson, there’s a good chance they’ll be starting three intended backups at some point this season. Heading into the season, this group was supposed to be elite once again. Now, it’s a major worry and could cost the team a couple wins.

Another consequence, Carson Wentz’ chance of injury probably just doubled. He’s not a guy you can risk shoddy protection with. For him to carry a group of no-name receivers like he did last year, he at least needs a little time in the pocket. Speaking of the receivers, they can’t possibly be any worse than last year, but it’s still not a good group. Rookie Jalen Reagor is already injured. Alshon Jeffery still isn’t back. Who knows how long Desean Jackson will stay healthy. Stud tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert will once again have to make up for the bad receivers.

Unsurprisingly for this team, running back Miles Sanders is also banged up. Unlike some of the other guys, though, he’s expected to be ready for Week 1. He’s another player I’m really excited to watch this year. Barring an unexpected move, the Penn State product is due for a huge workload after showing promise as a rookie.

If there’s anything synonymous with the Eagles other than injuries, it’s investing in the defensive line. Every year, they seem to use their last $7 in cap space on a big name at defensive tackle or end. This time around, it was big nose tackle Javon Hargrave switching Pennsylvania teams. He’ll open up space for Fletcher Cox and last year’s surprising signing Malik Jackson. It’s another good rotation on the edge, especially if 2020 is a breakout year for Derek Barnett. I’d say there’s a decent chance, and that would bring this defensive line to the forefront of league-wide rankings.

For as good as they are, the linebackers are almost equally as bad, so as a whole, the front seven isn’t much above average. Entering year four, Nathan Gerry is fresh off his first year as a starter and the centerpiece of the unit going forward. That’s not good. Besides the inexperience, he didn’t play all that well last year. No one around him screams difference-maker, either. Philadelphia chose to bank on potential here. If it fails, that’s the type of blunder that could sink the not only the defense, but the team’s playoff chances.

For years, it was the secondary Howie Roseman refused to invest in. Matt Patricia pissing off his entire locker room changed that. Darius Slay wanted out of Detroit, and the Eagles GM pounced. This group, largely full of holdovers, looks a lot more imposing with a lockdown corner on its side. Free agent acquisition Nickell Robey-Coleman will do a great job in the slot as well. The three returning starters—with Jalen Mills now at safety (and hopefully safe from double moves)—aren’t great, but they aren’t crippling, either.

The offensive line injuries cannot be overstated. Philadelphia’s recent success was due to the offensive line as much as any other unit. Not only are they due for a major drop off, but Wentz’ already high risk of injury is now an even bigger concern. If he goes down, they’re done. Not even wannabe Taysom Hill can save them. Even if Ginger Jesus somehow stays upright, they’ll be hard pressed to win more than seven games with this brutal out-of-division schedule.

What’s your record prediction for the Eagles? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Dallas Cowboys Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: @LAR, ATL, @SEA, CLE, NYG, ARI, @WAS, @PHI, PIT, BYE, @MIN, WAS, @BAL, @CIN, SF, PHI, @NYG

Additions: EDGE Everson Griffen (FA), S HaHa Clinton-Dix (FA), DL Gerald McCoy (FA), DB Daryl Worley (FA), OL Cam Erving (FA), K Greg Zuerlein (FA), TE Blake Bell (FA), DL Dontari Poe (FA), WR CeeDee Lamb (Draft), CB Trevon Diggs (Draft), DL Neville Gallimore (Draft)

Losses: OL Travis Frederick (Retired), DL Michael Bennett (Retired), CB Byron Jones (FA), EDGE Robert Quinn (FA), DL Maliek Collins (FA), WR Randall Cobb (FA), OL Xavier Su’a-Filo (FA), S Jeff Heath (FA), TE Jason Witten (FA), OL Cameron Fleming (FA), EDGE Kerry Hyder (FA), FB Jamize Olawale (Opt-out), DL Gerald McCoy (Injury)

Analysis:

Maybe hiring Mike McCarthy will unlock a Super Bowl contender. Maybe Jason Garrett really was holding the Cowboys back from greatness. Maybe not, though. If Dallas flops again, they’re going to have to find a new scapegoat. For a team boasting one of the highest-paid players at seemingly every position, there will be plenty of candidates.

At the top of that list is Dak Prescott. Contrary to popular belief, I actually think he’s a good quarterback. Everyone just loves to hate the Cowboys and put all the blame on the quarterback. It really is a perfect storm of vilifying. Despite his public perception, Prescott is one of the premier playmakers at the position and far from the only on the offense.

Ezekiel Elliott just keeps feasting and begging to be fed behind one of the top offensive lines in the league. Even with Travis Frederick retiring, this is still a great line. Tony Pollard is an excellent change-of-pace back as well, so all signs point to the Cowboys’ years-long dominance on the ground continuing.

Dallas is far from a one-dimensional offense, though. The fifth-ranked rushing attack was fortified by the league’s second-best passing game. Drafting CeeDee Lamb more than makes up for the uninspiring options at tight end. Good luck finding a better receiver trio than Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. Defenses are going to have to pick their poison once again next year.

Contrary to what their record would suggest, the Cowboys’ potent offense wasn’t paired with a porous defense. Nope. The defense wasn’t up to the offense’s level, but they more than held their own.

Linebacker is the crown jewel of a unit full of talent. Sean Lee would be start at linebacker for any team in the league. Except Dallas. Well, kind of. While Lee technically starts, playing time was hard to come by for the 11-year vet when Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith were healthy. In fact, there’s even murmurs that Lee could be a surprise roster cut this Saturday.

Everson Griffen was unsigned until mid-August, but that’s no knock on his talent. Dallas was lucky to get him for just a $3 million base contract. His presence could reinvigorate DeMarcus Lawrence after the star’s down year.

Those two studs are going to have to make up for the uncertainty on the interior. Maliek Collins left for the Raiders and Gerald McCoy was lost for the season before he even played a down. That leaves the unspectacular Antwaun Woods, newcomer Dontari Poe, Tyrone Crawford (fresh off surgery on both hips), and youngsters Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore at defensive tackle. There’s teams in the league who would kill for this rotation, but for a team with hopes of a deep playoff run, it’s less than ideal.

The secondary is a similar story. Outside corner is a bit of a weakness with Byron Jones departing. Someone needs to step up opposite Chidobe Awuzie. Whether it’s Darryl Worley or rookie Trevon Diggs, they’ll have big shoes to fill. On the inside, Dallas is has two good options in Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown. Some of these corners will need to take reps at safety, too. There’s likely going to be a piecemeal approach to filling the spot next to Xavier Woods.

Dallas’ mediocre record wasn’t because of the offense or defense. It can only be explained by a remarkable ability to blow games. Whether it was missed kicks, untimely turnovers, or the failure to get a stop, they just found ways to lose. That’s not a habit I see breaking in 2020. Given the tough schedule, I only have the Garrett-McCarthy swap resulting in one extra win.

What’s your record prediction for the Cowboys? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Los Angeles Chargers Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: @CIN, KC, CAR, @TB, @NO, NYJ, @MIA, JAX, LVR, BYE, @DEN, @BUF, NE, ATL, @LVR, DEN, @KC

Additions: OL Trai Turner (Trade), OL Bryan Bulaga (FA), DL Linval Joseph (FA), CB Chris Harris Jr. (FA), QB Justin Herbert (Draft), LB Kenneth Murray (Draft), RB Joshua Kelley (Draft)

Losses: OL Russell Okung (Trade), QB Philip Rivers (FA), RB Melvin Gordon (FA), FB Derek Watt (FA), S Adrian Phillips (FA), LB Thomas Davis (FA), DB Jaylen Watkins (FA), OL Michael Schofield (FA), S Derwin James (Injury), WR Mike Williams (Injury)

Analysis:

It really sucks seeing Derwin James injured again. After a surprising tumble in the draft, he was great as a rookie. Since then, though, he will have only played 5 out of 32 games, considering he’s expected to miss all of 2020. Injuries have quickly become a trend in his career.

While he will be missed, the defense remains excellent. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are as good as any edge duo in football. Linval Joseph should plug the one weakness from last year—stopping the run. Rookie Kenneth Murray will help on that front as well. He’ll be a difference-maker in the middle from day one while the Chargers have a bunch of unique linebackers to rotate around him. Between Justin Jones and 2019 first-round pick Jerry Tillery, L.A. is set at the other defensive tackle spot as well. Outside of underwhelming edge depth, the front seven is flawless.

The secondary will miss James, but his loss is far from crippling. Former division rival Chris Harris Jr. will join Casey Hayward and Desmond King to from a versatile and fearsome corner trio. Safety play will be an issue behind them, though. Rayshawn Jenkins returns at one spot while Nasir Adderley and his 10 career snaps will take the other. While Jenkins is solid and experienced, he isn’t good enough to compensate for his unproven positionmates. L.A. also uses three or four safeties as much as any team in football, so the underwhelming depth is even scarier. They have to be looking hard at outside options. Earl Thomas, anyone? Anthony Lynn can deny it all he wants, but they need help.

Even with the safety situation, the defense is good enough to keep the Chargers in games. They should give the offense a shot to win late pretty much every week. As you can see by my record prediction, I don’t have that side of the ball pulling through very often.

At the most important position in football, L.A. is arguably the worst in football. Just like Miami, they’ll start an uninspiring veteran with a first-round rookie expected to take over at some point. Tyrod Taylor is officially the starter, and he’ll neither win nor lose games for the team. It shouldn’t be long before the team grows tired of his conservative style and inserts Justin Herbert. I’ll call my shot and say Week 6 against the Jets, with that being the start of a 4-game stretch of nonthreatening defenses. It’s hard to expect much from him as a rookie, though he’ll make more plays—both good and bad—than Taylor. Expect a couple great opposing fantasy defense performances when he’s starting.

Opponents could feast against the Chargers all year. Despite some offseason moves, the offensive line remains a concern. Left tackle is a nightmare after trading Russell Okung. Sam Tevi is the favorite to start despite being a turnstyle at right tackle. In return for Okung, L.A. received Trai Turner. He’s a good player, but he’s missed three games in each of the last three seasons and is a perfect example of why offensive line Pro Bowl nods are meaningless. The other two interior spots are almost as scary as left tackle. The most promising spot is right tackle, where former Packer Bryan Bulaga will take over. Expect the sack number to skyrocket now that Philip Rivers and his legendary quick release are gone.

Outside of the two most important pieces, the offense is good. After dominating for years as a rotational player, Austin Ekeler will get his first starting opportunity. I don’t expect L.A. to fully unleash him, though. Expect a heavy dose of Justin Jackson and/or rookie Josh Kelley. Keenan Allen is the last proven receiver standing after Mike Williams injury. When he’s healthy, Hunter Henry is a difference maker at tight end. Don’t be surprised when the receiving numbers fall short of the Rivers years.

While the offensive outlook isn’t great, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if this team makes the playoffs. They’re going to play through the defense and run game, and are equipped to do so as well as almost anyone. They also get possibly the easiest schedule in the league, featuring the Bengals, Jaguars, Dolphins, Panthers, and Jets (depending on how you feel about them). It’ll all come down to whether the offensive line can hold up and the quarterbacks can make enough plays.

What’s your record prediction for the Chargers? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Las Vegas Raiders Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: @CAR, NO, @NE, BUF, @KC, BYE, TB, @CLE, @LAC, DEN, KC, @ATL, @NYJ, IND, LAC, MIA, @DEN

Additions: LB Cory Littleton (FA), EDGE Carl Nassib (FA), LB Nick Kwiatkowski (FA), QB Marcus Mariota (FA), S Jeff Heath (FA), DL Maliek Collins (FA), TE Jason Witten (FA), S Damarious Randall (FA), WR Nelson Agholor (FA), WR Henry Ruggs (Draft), CB Damon Arnette (Draft), RB/WR Lynn Bowden (Draft), WR Bryan Edwards (Draft)

Losses: EDGE Benson Mayowa (FA), CB Daryl Worley (FA), LB Tahir Whitehead (FA), S Karl Joseph (FA), RB DeAndre Washington (FA), WR Tyrell Williams (Injury)

Analysis:

Remember two years ago when Raiders fans were literally counting down the days until Jon Gruden was gone? While that site is awesome, the perception around Chucky come a long way since then. Leading the team to a three-win jump from his first season helped put an end to the articles calling for his head. So did the move to Las Vegas.

Did you know the Raiders moved to Las Vegas? Of course you did. Every article or video you see about the team is required to mention it at least twice.

I’m sure a lot of Raiders fans are expecting another sizable jump in 2020, but I don’t see it. Let’s not forget that they finished with an abysmal -106 point differential despite their average record. Or that their best win came against an 8-8 Bears team starting Chase Daniel at quarterback. While fans will be disappointed by an unchanged record, I think they’ll be a much more legitimate 7-9 this time around.

Anyone who’s been following me for a while knows I’ve been high on Josh Jacobs from day one. After hitting the ground running as a rookie, I think he takes another step forward in year two. This season, the Raiders might actually throw him the ball. Despite a huge year on the ground, Jacobs was only targeted 27 times, catching 20 and totaling 166 yards. Gruden said himself that they want to get him more involved. Draft this man in fantasy with confidence.

The Alabama product also has the benefit of a great offensive line. PFF doesn’t love them, but they rank very highly in most offensive line metrics. Just use the eye test, too. That line is full of big, mean dudes who move people off the ball. Las Vegas spent a lot on this group, and they’ve gotten a great return on their investment.

Ground and pound is this team’s identity, partially because the quarterback and receiving options are so lackluster. I actually like Derek Carr, but it’s clear the Raiders don’t view him as the future. Marcus Mariota isn’t, either.

With Tyrell Williams out for the season, the receivers aren’t much better. Las Vegas is relying on Hunter Renfrow, Nelson Agholor, Zay Jones, and three rookies. One of those rookies is insanely fast and was the 12th pick this year, but the point stands. I’m worried about rookies this year, and even in a normal season, this group wouldn’t be great. The Raiders do have a talented and deep tight end room, though. Darren Waller is the best receiving option on the team.

Defensively, Las Vegas was great against the run and terrible against the pass. After a sizable offseason overhaul, the latter should see improvement. Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkowski will be much better in coverage than last year’s linebackers. That doesn’t say much, but the duo has potential. Littleton is excellent while Kwiatkowski was great down the stretch last season. 2020 will be his first season as a full-time starter, so we’ll see if that was just a mirage.

Carl Nassib will boost a pass rush that totaled just 32 sacks last year. I love him as a third end. A breakout from Clelin Ferrell will go a long way, too. A 2019 first-rounder, he was upstaged badly by fourth-rounder Maxx Crosby (10 sacks). I’m a little skeptical of Crosby repeating that total considering 4 of those sacks came in one game and he only had 14 qb hits. Still, those three are a nice young edge group. If this is the year the “inevitable” Arden Key breakout finally happens, they’ll be better than just nice.

On the inside, Maliek Collins is the most notable example of the Raiders’ obsession over former Cowboys. He’ll join Johnathan Hankins and Maurice Hurst to form an excellent interior trio.

Once again, I got unbelievably lucky with timing. Just as I was starting the secondary section, I got the alert that Damon Arnette broke his thumb. It’s too early for details on his season outlook, but he was so impressive in camp that the Raiders released Prince Amukamara. The rookie was expected to start across from 2019 second-rounder Trayvon Mullen while Lamarcus Joyner handled the slot.

Starting safety Johnathan Abram is intriguing after only playing 48 snaps as a rookie. He’ll start next to free agent signing Damarious Randall with The Goat Jeff Heath hopefully getting some time as well. I didn’t love the secondary to begin with, and Arnette’s makes me even more skeptical. They won’t get torched like last year, but expecting above-average play might be too optimistic.

The Raiders are one of the teams I’m most interested to watch this season. They have playoff potential, yet too many weaknesses to actually predict a postseason berth. Their schedule is perfect, at least from an analyst perspective. Instead of a cupcake slate like fans would hope for or a murderer’s row like rivals would, they get a bunch of similarly-talented teams, including two in their own division. By the end of the year, we’ll know how Las Vegas stacks up.

What’s your record prediction for the Raiders? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Kansas City Chiefs Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: HOU, @LAC, @BAL, NE, LVR, @BUF, @DEN, NYJ, CAR, BYE, @LVR, @TB, DEN, @MIA, @NO, ATL, LAC

Additions: OL Kelechi Osemele (FA), OL Mike Remmers (FA), RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Draft)

Losses: CB Kendall Fuller (FA) EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah (FA), OL Cam Erving (FA), TE Blake Bell (FA), RB Lesean McCoy (FA), Reggie Ragland (FA), RB Damien Williams (Opt-out), OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Opt-out), OL Lucas Niang (Opt-out), OL Martinas Rankin (Injury), CB Bashaud Breeland (SUSP), DL Mike Pennel (SUSP)

Analysis:

The downside to winning the Super Bowl is your roster is a lock to get pillaged in free agency. The upside, of course, is literally everything else. And to their credit, the Chiefs were able to lock up most of their core this offseason. I don’t think losing Kendall Fuller or Emmanuel Ogbah spoil the joy of their championship.

With that being said, they will hurt a little. Since being acquired in the Alex Smith trade, Fuller has been a key piece of the secondary. After returning to Washington in March, he will be missed—especially for the first four weeks of the season. During that time, the Chiefs will also be without Bashaud Breeland, who’s serving a four-game suspension for PEDs. Once he’s back, this secondary will go back to being great. Corners Rashad Fenton and Charvarius Ward and safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill comprise the rest of the stacked group.

At linebacker, Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson return as starters. They’ll play the overwhelming majority of the snaps while Ben Niemann will be the new third backer. Chris Jones and Frank Clark may be a little delusional, but they’re an elite pairing on the d-line. Derrick Nnadi leads a deep group surrounding the two stars. Kansas City’s defense is a far cry from the unit that got steamrolled weekly two years ago. As we saw last year, they’re actually good. Paired with the highlight reel offense, this team is borderline unfair.

Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce are all back.Just having those three would guarantee you a high-powered offense, but they’re far from alone. Sammy Watkins will give you a few games of superstar play a year. Mecole Hardman is a young guy who can do as good a Hill impression as anyone. While Damien Williams was huge in the Super Bowl, rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the far more talented player. Running backs usually have an easy transition to the NFL, so there’s no reason to expect him to struggle.

The one worry for Kansas City is the offensive line. While they got whooped at times in the Super Bowl, so did every other team playing the Niners. As a whole, they were a strong group. In 2020, though, they will be without starting guard (and literal doctor) Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, supersub Cam Erving, and some other key depth. The interior line being the weakness if more by default than anything, but Kelechi Osemele starting in 2020 is less than ideal. If any starters go down, the team will have to rely on some questionable depth.

Unsurprisingly given that they just won the Super Bowl, this team is amazing. They’ll start more superstars than supposed weak links. Even after losing some good players and signing virtually no one notable, they remain one of the best teams in the league. Throw in the increased value of continuity this season, and the Chiefs have as good a shot as anyone to return to the big game. Their main competition in the AFC is Baltimore. The Ravens could have the leg up in the race for the one seed, though, with the matchup between the two teams taking place at M&T Bank Stadium.

What’s your record prediction for the Chiefs? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Denver Broncos Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: TEN, @PIT, TB, @NYJ, @NE, MIA, KC, BYE, @ATL, @LVR, LAC, NO, @KC, @CAR, BUF, @LAC, LVR

Additions: DL Jurrell Casey (Trade), CB A.J. Buoye (Trade), OL Graham Glasgow (FA), RB Melvin Gordon (FA), TE Nick Vannett (FA), OL Demar Dotson, P Sam Martin (FA), WR Jerry Jeudy (Draft), WR K.J. Hamler (Draft), OL Lloyd Cushenberry (Draft)

Losses: OL Connor McGovern (FA), CB Chris Harris (FA), DL Derek Wolfe (FA), S Will Parks (FA), DL Adam Gotsis (FA), LS Casey Kreiter (FA), FB Andy Janovich (Trade), OL Ja’Wuan James (Opt-out)

Analysis:

Denver is an interesting team. Just looking at the depth chart, this looks like one of the best teams in the league. So did the 2019 Browns, though. There’s a lot of similarities between these two teams. Just like Cleveland in 2018, the Broncos ended last year on a hot streak, with four wins in their last five games. Hyped up all offseason, the Browns finished a lowly 6-10. Now, the Broncos’ hype train hasn’t gotten nearly as out of control and I still expect this team to take a step forward. The playoffs just might have to wait a year.

Another glaring similarity between the two teams is at quarterback, only Drew Lock is even less proven than Baker Mayfield was at this time last year. While Lock showed great potential as a rookie, so did Mayfield, and in a larger sample size. Don’t be shocked if he has a sophomore slump.

Lock has similarly intriguing, though less established, weapons at his disposal as Mayfield’s. Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are up there with Cleveland for the best running back duo in the league.

Rookies Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler join Courtland Sutton in what should be a fun receiver room for years to come. Add in the explosive Noah Fant at tight end and we could see fireworks.

Another thing Denver has going is Mike Munchak. You know that guy is going to drain every drop of potential out of the offensive line. He has some interesting pieces to work with, too. Left tackle Garett Bolles graded well at PFF, but hasn’t been able to shake his penalty issues. The other bookend is less certain with Ja’Wuan James opting out. Just as he did when James was hurt last year, Elijah Wilkinson will fill in. He’ll have a short least, though, with recent signee Demar Dotson breathing down his neck. The interior is talented, even with a rookie starting at center. Munchak should lead this group to fringe-top-10 status.

Comparisons to the 2015 unit are delusional, but this defense looks great on paper. After a slight down year, they should be much better. Bradley Chubb returns after missing most of last season. After a few weeks to shake off the rust, he and Von Miller—who’s coming off a disappointing season of his own—should return to being one of the most fearsome edge duos in the league. Adding Jurrell Casey to the d-line will buff up the pass rush, too. The linebackers are dealing with injuries, but when healthy, Alexander Johnson and Todd Davis are a nice duo inside. As a whole, the front seven is stout.

In the secondary, A.J. Bouye has an excellent opportunity to return to form now that he’s out of Jacksonville. Bryce Callahan will start opposite him after missing all of last season. That’s a solid corner duo with good potential. Whoever joins them in nickel looks will be a little dicier. At safety, Justin Simmons is a budding star while Kareem Jackson is a great veteran next to him.

I like everything about this roster. There are some worries, though. Vic Fangio got the standard free first season for a head coach. In year two, both his and the team’s performance will be more scrutinized. Lock is promising, but he’s played just five career games. Untested youth is abundant on the Broncos’ offense. And for as great as the defense looks, there are lots of aging vets or players with injury concerns. With a decent schedule, I expect Denver to take its lumps and come back next year as a team to truly watch out for.

What’s your record prediction for the Broncos? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.