It’s finally July. Fireworks, beach towels, and 32 optimistic fanbases. Every single NFL team has signed, traded for, or drafted players they believe will make the franchise better. Whatever held them back from winning in 2018 is finally gone, and now they’re primed to make a run at a Super Bowl.
With that being said, every single year, regardless of how many TwEeTs YoU tYpE lIkE tHiS, only one team can win the Super Bowl, and the odds say it won’t be yours. Here’s why you should probably lower your expectations for your favorite team this season.
Why Your Favorite Team Will Struggle This Year (2019 Edition)
Let me throw some quarterback stats at you really quick. I’ve picked three seemingly random quarterbacks and given you the first seven starts of their careers.
Quarterback One– 1,258 passing yards, six passing touchdowns, three interceptions, 39 rushing yards, one rushing touchdowns, six fumbles.
Quarterback Two– 1,114 passing yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions, 556 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, 10 fumbles.
Quarterback Three-1,601 passing yards, seven passing touchdowns, three interceptions, 468 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, seven fumbles.
God, those are some hideous numbers, yeah? They’re all pretty terrible, with the exception of maybe the third quarterback. Good news, Ravens fans, quarterback three is on the Ravens roster. Bad news, Ravens fans, he’s backing up quarterback two. Keep pretending you can teach a running quarterback how to throw like Tim Tebow, Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Manziel, and Vince Young are thriving.
Oh, and QB1?
That’s Jamarcus Russell. Just for perspective.
After years and years of guaranteed first round playoff losses, Marvin Lewis is finally gone in Cincinnati. In his place is yet another former back-up quarterback, Zac Taylor. The same Zac Taylor that’s never even served as a coordinator in the NFL and only got the job because he was on Sean McVay’s staff last year. He has a roster featuring Andy Dalton, a bunch of players nobody has ever heard of on defense, and a 30 year old A.J. Green. Good luck.
It feels like the Cleveland Browns botched this off-season, even if they didn’t necessarily blow it. After firing Gregg Williams and opening up the coaching search, the Browns job should’ve been the best one on the market. How many coaching gigs offer you a young franchise quarterback, an elite pass rusher, and a great young corner, all in the first three years of their career?
But instead they kinda stumbled through the progress and ended up keeping their quarterback coach, Freddie Kitchens as the head coach. This is despite the fact that Kitchens has never been a head coach or an offensive coordinator on any level before last year. Then they landed an elite wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr, which is a huge gamble for this reason.
Kitchens was brought in for Baker Mayfield. Odell was brought in for Baker Mayfield. They signed Kareem Hunt to help… guess who? There’s a lot of pressure on the second-year quarterback, who has a propensity for volatility. Then throw in the struggles of his new offensive coordinator, Todd Monken… and it’s just unsettling. This team is really talented, but it feels like they’re already teetering out of control.
A better coached team will beat a more talented team every single time.
Remember when the Pittsburgh Steelers had a Hall of Fame quarterback, and arguably the best running back and wide receiver in the NFL for nearly five years and didn’t even sniff a Super Bowl? Then the team refused to pay Le’Veon Bell, choosing one-year rentals over rewarding him with the contract he deserved, and then “obviously the picture of morality and not someone with a dark past at all” Ben Roethlisberger publicly criticized his Hall of Fame wide receiver on his own radio show, creating a schism that led Antonio Brown to threaten retirement if it meant he never had to play with him again?
The North Remembers. Good luck trying to sell people on AB being the problem and Bell being a system player though.
What should be the off-season before a highly anticipated campaign has been a predictably controversial one. After failing the basic tasks of protecting Deshaun Watson or finding an adequate partner for J.J. Watt, general manager Brian Gaine was fired after one season. Then they tried to steal Nick Caserio from New England and the Patriots were ready to take it to court. Deshaun Watson might end up being M.V.P. but that’s only if he can make it 12 games without being killed by his mediocre offensive line.
Andrew Luck is going to turn 30 this season, and he hasn’t been able to carry this team over the top, why should that change in 2019? The Colts team looks good on paper, but they looked good on film last year until they ended up in Kansas City and they completely fell apart. The AFC South is more competitive than ever, and if Andrew Luck can’t win the big one this year, then maybe he should start getting comfortable with the label “modern day Dan Marino” or “third best quarterback in franchise history.”
Nick Foles has never started all 16 games in a season before, and he hasn’t always been injured. In both seasons where he was the starter coming into the season, he has struggled mightily. He’s never thrown for over 3,000 yards and he hasn’t reached 27 touchdowns since 2013. What is he going to do when he’s not built into a gimmick-friendly offense with a QB-minded coach?
Not to mention, the team’s best player, Jalen Ramsey, is straight up not having a good time, bro.
The Tennessee Titans have been in purgatory for a long, long time. They’re coming off of their third 9-7 season, which sounds good on the surface, but think about this. If you’re going 9-7, especially in the AFC South, you’re probably not winning the division. So at best, you’re a wild card team, and you have to go on the road for the entirety of your post-season run, assuming it lasts that long. It also means you’re not bad enough to justify firing a head coach or getting a high enough draft pick to take a franchise-changing player.
And their mediocrity is epitomized by quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who never seems to be anywhere near as good or as bad as everyone says he is. He’s obviously good enough to help the team win, but statistically, he never really pulls his weight.
Last year, Josh Allen, the physical freak with a cannon for an arm and no accuracy to speak of, only completed 52.8% of his passes. What did the Bills do to rectify it in the off-season? They traded for All-Pro, future Hall of Fame wide receiver Antonio Brown.
He said, “lol no thanks.”
But I guess someone in Buffalo thinks all short receivers are the same, because they went out and signed John Brown and Cole Beasley, who is definitely just there for a paycheck.
The defense might be solid though, so you can win some ugly, really boring games. But not the division, and I don’t think I really have to explain why.
You’re kidding, right? Look, everyone needs a fresh start and a rebuild every now and then, but take a good, hard look at this roster. A questionable offensive line, no offensive playmakers to speak of, and a pair of quarterbacks that couldn’t cut it for other teams.
And then on defense, who are you leaning on? Xavien Howard is a good young corner, but to make him the highest paid in the league? Doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. In a bad division, I’m not optimistic about Miami’s chances to make a meaningful impact.
New England Patriots
Nothing lasts forever, and as impressive as New England’s reign atop the AFC East has been, it becomes more and more likely with each year that passes that this will be the season the team finally falls apart. Tom Brady will be 43 years old when the season starts, and he’s coming off a post-season run where he threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
It’s easy to brush past the rumored rift between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick when they’re winning Super Bowls, but if they have a losing season? Well, someone’s gotta take the blame.
New York Jets
So after an underwhelming rookie season where Sam Darnold didn’t look half as good as Baker Mayfield, the Jets overpaid an overweight Le’Veon Bell, which upset the coach to the point where he fired the general manager over it. This team still doesn’t have a receiving corps to speak of, or even a reliable tight end.
The defense has some pieces, and Quinnen Williams is great, but they’re still not good enough to carry this team past New England. Sorry not sorry, but good luck with “guy who just realized he didn’t clear his internet history” as head coach.
Imagine having a great defense but little-to-no offensive production, and then going out and hiring a defensive mastermind and trading for Joe Flacco. Seriously, imagine thinking that Joe Flacco, who has done nothing over the last seven years but fail to win games with great defenses, is going to come in and make you competitive in a division with the reigning MVP, one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, and a quarterback three years removed from a MVP-quality season with the best supporting cast of his young career. Elway’s career as an executive mirrors his career as a quarterback, a couple of wins that he was barely involved with, making up for a career of devastating losses.
Kansas City Chiefs
There’s a lot to be excited about regarding Kansas City…’s offense. Patrick Mahomes is back (albeit as the Madden cover boy), it looks like Tyreek Hill won’t face a serious suspension, if he’s suspended at all, and Travis Kelce finally has a shot at being the NFL’s best tight end.
But the defense is still trash, and your team dramatically overpaid for a middle of the pack pass rusher to replace the two they inexplicably let go of. Throw in the fact that Andy Reid probably holds some kind of record for blowing playoff games and that your franchise hasn’t won a meaningful game since Richard Nixon was in office and I don’t know man, just start rooting for the Patriots so you can actually enjoy an AFC Championship game for once.
Los Angeles Chargers
Honestly, I could list all of the great things about this Los Angeles Chargers team, but then we’d both have deja vu, wouldn’t we? Every single year, the Chargers look amazing on paper and we pencil them in as AFC West champions, and then a number of things happen. Firstly, crazy injuries take place. Maybe it’s the field, maybe it’s a shoddy strength and conditioning team, but someone gets hurt. Secondly, someone else in the division gets hot. Peyton Manning’s Broncos, that one time the Raiders didn’t suck, and Pat Mahomes’ Chiefs make life for all seven of LA’s fans miserable.
But ultimately, death, taxes, and someone forgets to cut Philip Rivers’ food into small enough pieces and he chokes when the weather gets cold. Sorry, not sorry, remember this for the team’s eulogy in early January next year.
If Hard Knocks doesn’t destroy this team, Tom Cable’s coaching will. If Tom Cable’s coaching the offensive line doesn’t destroy this team, the lack of a pass rush will. If the lack of a pass rush doesn’t destroy this team, the psychotic personalities of Jon Gruden, Antonio Brown, Richie Incognito, and Vontaze Burfict will. If the psychotic personalities of Jon Gruden, Antonio Brown, Richie Incognito, and Vontaze Burfict don’t destroy this team, the rest of the AFC West will.
I’m sorry Raider Nation, Hard Knocks will be a blast and you’ll be significant better this season, but don’t get your hopes too high. And also, don’t get mad at Raiders fans that love the team more than life itself but are also realistic.
The NFC North is the best division in football, and while the Bears defense is good, it took a step back this off-season. Khalil Mack’s contract essentially cost them Adrian Amos, meaning they had to settle for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who will be on his third team in two years. Meanwhile Mitch Trubisky has more games with multiple interceptions (six) than 300 yards passing (five) and hasn’t taken the leap that his draftmates Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson have, despite being taken first. The Bears had their chance in 2018 and they double-doinked it, now we’ve gotta tolerate Aaron Rodgers again.
The NFC North is the best division in football, and the Detroit Lions are the worst team in it. They had a good off-season, but I still have doubts about Matt Patricia, who isn’t even the latest in a long, long line of Bill Belichick disciples that hasn’t panned out. Matthew Stafford had over 5,000 yards in a season… nearly a decade ago, and he hasn’t done much since, other than lose a quarterback duel to Chase Daniel last year. Sorry guys, I wouldn’t bank on being excited about 2019.
Green Bay Packers
The NFC North is the best division in football, and the Packers are, by far, the most problematic. The Green Bay Packers haven’t played a single scrimmage with new head coach, Matt LaFleur, and there’s already drama between him and Aaron Rodgers. LaFleur, who played in the short-lived National Indoor Football League and has a thoroughly underwhelming resume, is telling his first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback that he isn’t allowed to call audibles. Even Derek Carr calls audibles, but Aaron Rodgers can’t?
The NFC North is the best division in football, and honestly, I can’t figure out why this team is bad. They have arguably the best wide receiving corps in the league, a solid defense, a myriad of talented tailbacks, a very good tight end, and a quarterback that is, at the very least, statistically impressive. Maybe it’s just the offensive line or maybe Kirk Cousins’ numbers are just misleading, but this team got rid of Case Keenum and somehow got worse.
It’s not like they got better over the off-season either, so if they couldn’t win last year…
I’m gonna do this whole thing without referencing… well… you know…
In a way, the 2018 season was pretty perfect for Falcons fans. The stakes were super low, so you didn’t end the year in devastating heartbreak, but Matt Ryan played so well that nobody could blame him.
Now in 2019, the defense is healthy again, and Matt Ryan has to play to those same standards in games that matter. Do you wholeheartedly believe he can do that, consistently, over 16 games? Especially in a division where the other three teams should be competitive? We’ll see.
Also you blew a 28-3 lead. Ah dang, I was so close.
Where to begin? The team went out and signed Chris Hogan, because they insist the receivers are the problem, not the quarterback, knowing damn well Christian McCaffrey will lead the team in receptions anyway. Cam Newton has struggled to rebound from his abysmal Super Bowl performance, failing to replicate anything remotely similar to his 2015 season while his injuries continue to pile up. In a very competitive division, I wonder if Cam Newton is even capable of carrying this team when he’s healthy…
New Orleans Saints
Here’s something I want Saints fans to think about, and it’s not going to be pretty, so I’m sorry in advance. With a minute and 58 seconds left in the game, the Saints are at the Los Angeles Rams 13 yard line, well within field goal range. On first down, Sean Payton calls a passing play, and Drew Brees can’t find Michael Thomas. On the next play, the Saints run the ball for no gain with Alvin Kamara. And then on third down, Brees targets Tommylee Lewis, who is demolished by Nickell Robey-Coleman way before he has a chance at the ball, but there’s no penalty.
The Saints kick the field goal, and the Rams get the ball back with only about 20 seconds leaving the clock. They go down the field, forcing overtime with a field goal, where Brees throws an interception and the Rams are able to score a game-winning kick.
The penalty that wasn’t called got the lions share of the attention this off-season, but let’s play “what if” for a second. Instead of throwing to Michael Thomas, what if Alvin Kamara got the ball instead? Even if he was stuffed, the Rams have to take a timeout. If they ran it again on second, even if he was stuffed, the Rams would’ve had to spend their last timeout. And then if they ran on third down, they could’ve drained a good chunk of the clock.
It took the Rams a full minute and a half to tie up the game, and they would’ve been able to do that if the Saints had practiced even the most basic time management. Sean Payton is considered one of the best coaches in football, but on this day, he looked more like a Dollar Tree Andy Reid.
For every surprise onside kick out of half-time, Sean Payton has a play like this, where he confuses “having big balls” with situational football, failing to grasp Bill Parcells’ philosophies as well as another one of Tuna’s disciples.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the “worst roster in the NFL” conversation, and it’s not particularly close. Mike Evans is a great receiver, and Jameis Winston is better than people think he is, but what else is there to be excited about? Devin White could be great, but he might already be the best player on a defense that decided to get older by swapping Gerald McCoy for Ndamukong Suh over the off-season. Here’s hoping Bruce Arians brings more than weird hats to the table.
Do you guys wanna hear some really wild statistics? Let’s look at the first 48 of two seemingly hypothetical quarterbacks.
QB ONE- 12,766 yards, 92 touchdowns, 49 interceptions. 33-15 record. One playoff win.
QB TWO- 10,876 yards, 67 touchdowns, 25 interceptions. 32-16 record. One playoff win.
Guess which one is Dak Prescott, who has spent most of his career with one of the league’s best offensive lines and tailbacks, and which one is Tony Romo, who had to watch Felix Jones run out of bounds on fourth down. Just imagine what Romo could’ve done with a top five defense, a great line, and weapons like Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb.
Oh! Speaking of Amari Cooper. Remember how Oakland and Derek Carr were the reasons he would disappear for games at a time, and only the great and powerful Dak Prescott was able to unlock his true ability?
As a Cowboy.
Games with more than 100 yards: Two.
Games with fewer than 50 yards: Four.
And before you hit me with, “he opened up the other receivers” or some defensive nonsense, Prescott targeted him 11 times in week 17 against the New York Giants, in a game they barely won, and he had five catches for 31 yards. Have fun paying him quarterback money and trying to retain your defensive playmakers though.
New York Giants
Do I really have to?
Okay, fine, I’ll try.
Saquon Barkley is fantastic, maybe the best tailback in football. Give me something else to be excited about. Just one. Just. One. I dare you to say Daniel Jones.
That’s what I thought.
If you looked at tweets about Derek Carr from 2016, then 2017, and then did the same for Carson Wentz in 2017 and 2018. Young quarterback makes a serious MVP push, suffers injury, returns and isn’t quite the same or healthy. Unlike Carr, Wentz had a good back-up (or at least adequate coaching), and his team won a Super Bowl without him. The next year, Wentz struggled with his injuries, going 5-6 as a starter before yet again, Nick Foles stepped in and took the team to the playoffs.
Now Nick Foles is in Jacksonville, Wentz’s back-up is Nate Sudfeld, and the Cowboys have one of, if not the best front seven in the league. Iggles fans are now desperately hoping 2018 was the fluke and not 2017.
I want to like what the Washington Redskins have done this off-season, because it looks fantastic on paper. But at the end of the day, Dan Snyder was responsible for everything that happened, and there’s no way he possibly knocked a draft out of the park. In a division with Philadelphia and Dallas, it’s not like the Redskins really have a chance to compete this season anyway.
First of all, your head coach is named Kliff Kingsbury, which sounds like a chocolate egg disguised as a protein bar in a position of English royalty. Secondly, the sugary protein king wants to run his air raid offense with a 5’8 quarterback in the same division as Nick Bosa, Aaron Donald, and Bobby Wagner. The Arizona Cardinals dealt with some poor coaching and unfortunate injuries last year, but so did the Raiders and even they managed to win more games. Make sure you never update your Madden roster because the Cardinals are going to start out as probably the most enjoyable team to play as and progressively get worse over time.
Los Angeles Rams
After your franchise quarterback and wunderkind quarterback-guru coach crapped the bed in the most important game of their lives, your franchise went out and signed Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle. That would’ve been intimidating a decade ago when they were productive defenders, but it’s not so intimidating in 2019. Also you have to wonder if other teams will emulate New England’s plan of using a fullback and just beating Aaron Donald up the whole game to prevent him from eating their quarterbacks alive.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are that team on Madden that year in and year out, has a higher rating than they deserve because of how good they’re supposed to be. Jimmy Garoppolo has ten career starts and has already made well over $45 million with around $100 million more on the way, and Nick Bosa has the same injury bug as his brother. Everyone’s hoping that the dream team of John Lynch, who spent a top three pick on Solomon Thomas, and Kyle Shanahan, the man responsible for the biggest Super Bowl meltdown in NFL history, can get the best out of guys that can’t seem to stay on the field.
Several years removed from a team that had the makings of a dynasty, the Seattle Seahawks are in a weird spot. No Earl Thomas, no Richard Sherman, no Doug Baldwin, no Marshawn Lynch, no Kam Chancellor, these aren’t my Mom’s Seahawks. Throw in an increasingly competitive division and a monster contract for Russel Wilson, and the future of the Seahawks looks a little bleak. The importance of second round pick, D.K. Metcalf, turning into a great receiver can’t be understated as the murmurs about Pete Carroll’s ability to consistently coach adults get louder.