Today is the day.
After seven excruciating months, lots of stress and worrying over whether or not we could see football this year. Today is finally the day. The NFL is back on our screens in less than 12 hours.
So, the boys at BroSports/Sports Stack/liberate Kenny have once again got together to offer their insight into how the season will play out. Last year the boys were relatively successful with their division picks – but the less said about Freddie Kitchens for Coach of the Year the better, lets see if they can be as successful picking their division winners this time around.
Last thing I’ll say, come follow the boys on Twitter, it’s good times and good takes only – everyone’s @ will be next to their names. Right, let’s get to football:
The 2nd Annual Sports Stack Division Debacle
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): Dallas Cowboys
- On paper, the cowboys look so good on offense. On paper, they should run away with this division. On paper, Philadelphia is a distant second. But games aren’t played on paper, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the ‘Boys are wholly unreliable. It’s the dysfunction of the Washington Football Team, the inexperience of the Giants, and the shaky health of the Eagles that secures this pick for me.
William Frost (@willfrost_): Dallas Cowboys
- This might be the only time in life where I will gladly accept being wrong. There is nothing on God’s earth more irritating than a smug Cowboys fan. The problem is that whilst Philadelphia have a roster which could mount a serious challenge, the Dallas offense has the potential to cut through this division like a buzz-saw.There’s two teams in this division who could quite easily finish below five wins, whilst the Eagles and Cowboys both have deep-playoff aspirations. It could come down to the head to heads between the two sides, which Dallas match-up better for.
Michael Larson (@Larstradamus): Philadelphia Eagles
- You cannot ignore the offensive talent of the Cowboys. But their defense is dreadful. Bottom 5 bad. The Eagles have an elite QB at the helm who again is trying to get accepted by the Philadelphia fans. I trust his arm and the overall team of the Eagles than the shiny toys on Dallas.
Conner Fleegle (@McFleegle): Dallas Cowboys
- I cringe at saying it, but: the Cowboys have the most talent in the division and should get the better of the Eagles in their meetings to squeak out the division title. I would love to pick the Eagles, but I don’t trust this Philly squad enough.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): Minnesota Vikings
- This is a spicy pick. I think the NFC North is up for grabs. The Green Bay Packers got worse this off-season, and Aaron Rodgers is already on the lookout for his retirement team (Vegas is lovey in the fall and it’s decidedly NOT family friendly, just like him). The Lions will be better than people expect, though I’m still not sold on Matt Patricia. The Bears are continuing to waste Khalil Mack’s prime with a mediocre quarterback, but the Vikings? The Vikings are poised to strike for the first time since Philadelphia ruined them in the playoffs a few years back.
William Frost (@willfrost_): Minnesota Vikings
- Last year I didn’t take the Packers because I didn’t trust Aaron Rodgers. Well, guess what? I still don’t. It doesn’t look like the brass in Green Bay do either. The Vikings chances took a hit when we found out that star DE Danielle Hunter was headed to IR, but there’s enough talent throughout this team for them to make another playoff run. I wonder if they knock out the Saints again?
Michael Larson (@Larstradamus): Minnesota Vikings
- Same old consistent Vikings. They are in a tough division so 11-5 might be a bit too high, especially since their defense will need some adjustment for the first few weeks due to some new faces. However, the run game will stay elite, Kirk Cousins will get the ball to Thielan and rookie Jefferson, and Mike Zimmer is a great coach. I’ll take the boring Vikings to take the NFC North.
Conner Fleegle (@McFleegle): Green Bay Packers
- Minnesota feels like the consensus pick from most pundits, but I have a funny feeling that Aaron Rodgers has something to prove this year. A motivated Rodgers could spell trouble for everyone else in that division. This is truly a gut prediction, but I’m rolling with Green Bay.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): Seattle Seahawks
- San Francisco’s the obvious pick here, but I feel like they’ve peaked on offense. I think Jimmy Garoppolo holds this team back, and I think Shanahan’s inability to win when it counts will haunt them. The Rams still haven’t put it back together after their super bowl loss, and while the Cardinals are on the way up, they’re not there yet. Russell Wilson will carry the Hawks to the NFC West title, hopefully with some help from a developed receiving corps.
William Frost (@willfrost_): Seattle Seahawks
- Seattle got punched in the mouth by San Francisco last year, but as the games between the two teams showed this is a closer battle than the standings suggested. The two games were decided by a total of eight points. I think trading for Jamal Adams easily covers that spread. The best safety in football is the perfect piece for this Seahawks’ defense and should elevate the unit to the next level.The 49ers went 5-1 against the division last year, something I just don’t see them doing in 2020. The Rams seem to have retooled well, whilst Arizona are set to make a big jump in year two under Kliff Kingsbury. If these results even out it will give Seattle the window they need to reclaim top spot in the division.
Michael Larson (@Larstradamus): Seattle Seahawks
- Trading for Jamal Adams was such an elite move. The play-making of Adams is going to be a difference of 2-3 wins for Seattle. On the offensive end, Russell Wilson has the best combination of weapons to throw to he’s ever had. This is a Super Bowl run season for Seattle.
Conner Fleegle (@McFleegle): Seattle Seahawks
- This wasn’t honestly as hard of a pick as I thought it would be. I look for the 49ers to take a big step back after getting to the super bowl and falling short last year. The Rams I don’t think have enough offense to bounce back from a downturn last year after a high caliber 2018, and the cardinals are still probably a year or two away.Meanwhile, Seattle looks poised for a great season and the offseason trade for Jamal Adams was HUGE, and clearly signifies that Seattle is in win now mode and that the window for success could be closing with an ageing Russell Wilson and core group around him.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- I know that the Buccaneers are the darlings of the off-season, but they’re also hideously inexperienced on defense and relying on a 43 year old quarterback to run a vert offense. Carolina has a collegiate coaching staff without a true off-season, and until the Falcons make a coaching change, they’ll never be serious contenders. This is New Orleans’ last hurrah, so they better make it count.
William Frost (@willfrost_): New Orleans Saints
- I get that the Buccaneers are the hot new thing in the NFL – which is weird to say considering their starting quarterback is as close to pension age as the average age of a college student. The Bucs are going to compete this year, but the Saints might have the best roster from top to bottom in the entire league. The fact they play each other Week One is perfect for fans and analysts as we can quickly find out who has the upper hand i the race for the NFC South.
Michael Larson (@Larstradamus): Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- It’s really not hard. Tom Brady is the greatest QB of all time and this is the most motivated Brady we’ve seen since they lost to the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Now double that motivation. Brady will have one of his best statistical seasons, approaching the 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns he threw in 2007. Watch out
Conner Fleegle (@McFleegle): New Orleans Saints
- Yes, I know, Tampa Bay added Tom Brady. Yes, I get it. But the Saints are still a loaded team, and while Brady will certainly help the Bucs, I still think they finish second behind Drew Brees and company in the division. Alvin Kamara could have an Offensive Player of the Year caliber year and the Saints have more overall pieces than the Bucs do.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): Buffalo Bills
- The AFC East has always been a weak division, and with Father Tom absconding with Gronk for a warmer climate, it’ll be at its worst in 2020. Adam Gase’s Jets are a train-wreck, losing to their own practice squad, and while Miami may have a bright future, Sean McDermott’s defense will get it done in Buffalo.
William Frost (@willfrost_): New England Patriots
- Keeping Tre’Davious White around will help the Bills chances of knocking the Patriots off the top spot in 2020, but that Buffalo defense simply isn’t good enough to win in spite of their quarterback. We’ve seen bad signal callers make post-season runs before – the prosecutor calls Bortles, Blake to the stand, but that 2017 Jaguars defense is an all-time great unit. Something this Bills team just isn’t.Now, some might say: “Surely Josh Allen is nowhere near as bad as Bortles was in Jacksonville?”, and this might be true. But it certainly doesn’t mean Allen is good enough to win with.Cam Newton seems to have settled like snow in Foxboro, already a team captain and comfortably beating out Jared Stidham for the starting job. There have been lots of opt-outs over in New England, but there’s enough talent still on the roster to make a run at yet another AFC East title.
Michael Larson (@Larstradamus): New England Patriots
- It is NOT Bills szn. I was fooled once by a young mobile QB that couldn’t throw the ball well but was carried by a run game and elite defense (see: Bears, Chicago). I trust former MVP Cam Newton and the coaching of Belichick and McDaniels to squeeze this division title out.
Conner Fleegle (@McFleegle): New England Patriots
- The New England Patriots. Brady being gone or not, Cam Newton is serviceable enough to get them back to the top of a division in which the Bills still have Josh Allen at QB, the Jets are, well, the Jets. Whilst the Dolphins are going to be starting a rookie QB by the end of the year. Unless Cam is awful or someone else in the division REALLY improves, it should still be the Pats’ division crown to lose.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): Baltimore Ravens
- This feels pretty safe. The reigning number one seed in the AFC only got better this off-season. Pittsburgh is a fringe wild-card team, the Bengals are starting a rookie quarterback, and I think Cleveland’s ceiling is nine wins.
William Frost (@willfrost_): Baltimore Ravens
- They might have moved on from former All-Pro Earl Thomas but this Ravens defense looks even better than last year. Calais Campbell is a phenomenal pick-up for a team already impressive on the defensive line. Whilst rookie linebacker Patrick Queen plugs the only major hole from 2019. If the offense can continue to move the ball at electric pace, the Ravens are easily a twelve-win team.
Michael Larson (@Larstradamus): Baltimore Ravens
- The Ravens reloaded their front seven by trading for Calais Campbell and drafting Patrick Queen. Their secondary is one of the best in the NFL. Their offense will continue to be high powered and the motivated Ravens will tear through the regular season once again.
Conner Fleegle (@McFleegle): Baltimore Ravens
- The Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have the reigning league MVP in Lamar Jackson and every other team in the division didn’t improve nearly enough to challenge Baltimore for the crown next year. This pick is a slam dunk.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): Kansas City Chiefs
- The Chiefs managed to keep everyone in free agency and added my Rookie of the Year in Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the mix… even a good team wouldn’t be able to push KC in 2020.
William Frost (@willfrost_): Kansas City Chiefs
- Imagine not picking the half a billion dollar man. The Chiefs come into 2020 with over 90% of their starters from their Super Bowl victory in February and a strong desire to run it back. The team stayed intact and Brett Veach drafted well, this is another easy division title for the Chiefs.
Michael Larson (@Larstradamus): Kansas City Chiefs
- The dynasty begins. After locking in their first championship, the Chiefs retained all of their most valuable players and management in the offseason on long term deals. The Chiefs will begin their attempt to replicate the Patriots success in the AFC for the next decade.
Conner Fleegle (@McFleegle): Kansas City Chiefs
- Again, this pick shouldn’t be hard. The chiefs are the defending super bowl champions and unless Patrick Mahomes goes down, nobody in this division will even come close.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): Houston Texans
- The Tennessee Titans were last year’s Cinderella team, and a lot of people will be duped into buying their fools gold. Not me, my money is on top 5 quarterback Deshaun Watson’s Houston Texans doing enough to take home the AFC South crown. A decrepit Philip Rivers isn’t saving the colts and the Jaguars are skipping the storm for some sunshine.
William Frost (@willfrost_): Tennessee Titans
- Do I trust Ryan Tannehill? No. Do I trust Derrick Henry to keep doing what he’s been doing for the last two years? Not really. But what I trust less than everything I’ve just mentioned is the other teams in the AFC South. Deshaun Watson might just be my favourite player in all of football but that team looks worse than last year. Thanks Bill O’Brien. Whilst anybody expecting Philip Rivers being able to lead the Colts to enough wins hasn’t watched enough recent Chargers football (not that I blame them, I wouldn’t want to either).The core of that Titans team is good enough that it should steal a march on it’s division rivals. If Tennessee go 4-2 or better against the rest of the South, I think it’s their title to lose.
Michael Larson (@Larstradamus): Indianapolis Colts
- Philip Rivers switched allegiances for a chance at a championship to end his career. The Colts have the best offensive line in the game but the talent everywhere else doesn’t match up to the Chiefs and Ravens. It’s enough to take the AFC South.
Conner Fleegle (@McFleegle): Houston Texans
- Maybe. I guess. Honestly, every team in this division save for the Jaguars feels like they have a shot at it. I think Tennessee will regress a little bit this season and, I’ll say it, Philip Rivers isn’t that much of a game changer for the colts. There’s a reason the chargers let him walk and why they never won with him: he’s not that good. Houston has the most balance, even without Deandre Hopkins, and they should take the division, by a slim margin.