by Terri Bey
On Thursday, September 5, 2019, the NFL will be celebrating its 100th NFL season with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Chicago Bears in the two storied and legendary rivals’ 199th meeting opening the 2019-20 NFL regular season. Kickoff will be at 8:20pm, EST on NBC. I am sure there will be plenty of pre-game celebrations by the NFL, so check your local listings for that. This does break a recent tradition where the previous year’s Super Bowl champion hosting an opponent on their schedule and celebrating their victory and such, one last time. In this case, the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots who will raise their sixth banner at Gillette Stadium, when they face their opponent, the six-time Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh, are relegated to Sunday Night Football on September 8, 2019 with a kickoff time at 8:20pm, EST on NBC.
Even though in this blog, I will give you my predictions for the 2019-20 NFL season, I want to say a couple of brief things about the defending Super Bowl Champions. First of all, I think that the NFL and the networks could have down SOMETHING so the Patriots could have had their game against the Steelers or whichever opponent on a separate night, and not relegate it to a ho-hum Sunday Night Football game. If anyone has watched SNF, you have to put up with all the pre-game stuff with highlights from that week’s game. So, on September 8th, fans have to watch all the highlights and and injuries from Week ONE, instead of just concentrating on the pre-game celebrations from Gillette Stadium. I get that 2019-20 is the 100th Season of the NFL. I just think that somehow and someway the Patriots game could have been scheduled to play on Friday the 6th or Saturday the 7th. The Patriots are the defending champions, and their game deserved to be treated as special, not some ordinary “Sunday Night Football” Game.
The second thing I want to say is that ever since the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl and won it, there has been crying about “fairness” and changing the over-time rules. Everyone who watched the AFC Championship game between the Patriots against the Chiefs who is reading this should remember what happened. In essence, the New England Patriots defeated the much favored Kansas City Chiefs in OT to advance to Super Bowl 53 to face the Los Angeles Rams who defeated the New Orleans Saints, also in OT. In speaking of THAT mishap, I admit that the Rams benefited from a very obviously missed Pass Interference call. Yes, Saints fans and you all in the Saints Organization, we all know it was a very badly missed call. However, I am NOT so sure that this rule change for PI review was really needed, because NOW, it looks like every little PI call or non-PI call is going to be looked at with a microscope. Oh, and by the way, a facemask call was missed that should have gone against the Saints earlier in the game, and in the OVERTIME period, when the Saints got the ball, QB Drew Brees threw an INT, and then Rams QB Jared Goff marched his offense into position for the game winning FG. So, both teams got their hands on the ball.
Many people from Chiefs Coach Andy Reid to writer Peter King in a ridiculous article giving his Super Bowl 54 predictions, https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/01/super-bowl-54-prediction-nfl-fmia-peter-king/ , where King talks about a “Fairness Super Bowl,” are whining about how it wasn’t fair that the Patriots got to Super Bowl 53 because of the OT rules. Let me clear up some of those myths, right now. The current rules were changed once already because of people whining about how “Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers didn’t get the ball.” I also wonder if people watched the actual game. Andy Reid was physically there. Was he mentally there? The Chiefs’ powerful offense, led by the NFL’s new “Golden Boy” Patrick Mahomes was kept scoreless at halftime by a score of 14-0. Whose fault was that? It was AFTER halftime, when the Chiefs offense decided to get on their horse, so to speak and make this a game. The fact that the Chiefs were scoreless at home, by itself ,should tell anyone with a brain, that this game had no business going to OT. I mean, the Chiefs had the LOUD CROWD behind them. Arrowhead Stadium is also supposed to be one of Tom Brady’s “houses of horrors.” Does anyone remember 2014 Week 4 when the Chiefs just destroyed the Patriots? The Chiefs had plenty of chances to win this game in regulation. Their first half performance didn’t help them. Had nothing to do with the OT rules.
Let’s continue. In OT, the Chiefs had MORE opportunities to finished off the Patriots. There were three 3rd and long situations. Did the Chiefs stop Brady and the Pats offense? No. Does Andy Reid take action and call for something called a TIME OUT to give his obviously tired defense a rest? No, of course not. People are whining about the so called bad call that cost the Chiefs the possible game sealing interception. People need to look at the game tape, because Dee Ford was off-sides.
This nonsense about “fair,” is ridiculous. Life isn’t fair. The Chiefs had all the advantages in this game, and just because Patrick Mahomes, who I like, did not get his hands on the ball in OT because his defense could not get the ball back in a game that should NEVER have gotten to OT in the first place, doesn’t mean the Patriots didn’t win the game fairly. I guess had the coin flip gone the other way, and Mahomes had thrown the game winning touchdown and had defeated the Patriots, the outcome would have been “fair” in the eyes of many jealous haters. Well, that is not how life works. The Participation Trophy attitude has to go, and just because an outcome doesn’t go the way you want it to, doesn’t mean the rules aren’t “fair.” We need to also stop changing rules or wanting to change rules because people don’t like the outcome, or a team that many don’t like keeps on winning. You change a rule because it will help the sport, not to try to stop a team or athlete you don’t like from winning. Stop wanting greatness to disappear.
Now, that I have gotten Super Bowl 53 out of my system, here are my predicitons and preview for the 2019-20 Regular Season and Super Bowl 54:
PREVIEW OF THE 2019-20 NFL REGULAR SEASON
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE:
AFC EAST OVERVIEW:
This is the division where, to many folks’ dismay, the defending Super Bowl Champion resides, in other words, the New England Patriots. The Patriots are like the Great White Shark in “JAWS,” and their division rivals, the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins portray Oceanographer Matt Hooper, Shark Hunter Quint and Police Chief Martin Brody, the three men assigned to try to catch and kill the “predator” and try to knock them off their perch. Only Miami in the past dozen or so years has been able to knock off the Patriots, but that was in the 2008 Season.
Miami has a new coach in former Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flories. However, it appears the team has done a fire sale in trading a few good players like their LT Laremy Tunsil and LB Kiko Alonso. The Jets added former Steeler RB Le’Veon Bell. I can’t for the life of me figure out what Buffalo did. The Patriots lost LT Trent Brown to free agency and C David Andrews to pulmanary embolisms. The Patriots also have some new faces on their wide receiving core. Their defense, should they play up to their potential, will be nasty this season. Of course,they have QB Tom Brady playing in his 20th season and Head Coach Bill Belichick.
The Great White escapes, barrels and all.
- New England Patriots: 13-3
- New York Jets: 8-8
- Buffalo Bills: 7-9
- Miami Dolphins 6-10
AFC NORTH OVERVIEW:
This division could be one of the most interesting divisions in the NFL. There are lots of questions for each of the teams. Can the Baltimore Ravens, who jettisoned now Denver Broncos QB Joe Flacco, win with QB Lamar Jackson? Can Jackson win with his arm as well as his legs. Jackson recently praised the current offense. It will be interesting to see how good the offense will be. Ravens fans can definitely count on the defense being excellent. Will the Cincinnati Bengals be able to dust themselves off from a rather disappointing season? That remains to be seen.
Now that the two “drama kings,” former WR Antonio Brown (Oakland Raiders) and Le’Veon Bell are gone from Pittsburgh, will the Steelers be able to function without the dis-function? Can QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR JuJu Smith Schuster and company and the Steelers defense lead the Steelers to the Promised Land? The first team offense and defense looked great in the pre-season. Looking forward to seeing them this season. I want to add that if the Steelers fail to make the playoffs, I don’t want them or their fans to blame the Patriots. I also want to add that even though Brown and Bell brought much of the drama to the team, Ben Roethlisberger’s calling out Brown on his now defunct radio show didn’t help matters. Now, that the drama is gone, this is Ben’s team. Much hype has also centered around the newly vamped Cleveland Browns and their QB Baker Mayfield. Can he live up to the hype? Can newly acquired WR Odell Beckham Jr. behave himself? The team looked pretty good this pre-season. I am not on the “Browns to the Super Bowl” bandwagon, but I think the Browns could make some noise this season.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5
- Baltimore Ravens: 10-6
- Cleveland Browns: 9-7
- Cincinnati Bengals: 6-10
AFC SOUTH OVERVIEW:
With the sudden retirement of Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, and with Jacoby Brissette at QB, the Colts look a bit more vulnerable. I was going to give them a much better record had Luck been under center, as their whole team looks a lot better. Many people like the Jacksonville Jaguars with new QB Nick Foles, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. Can Foles get on another “magic carpet ride” and lead the Jaguars to a Super Bowl Title? Can RB Leonard Fournette stay healthy? We will see. I do expect the defense to do much better than last year.
The Houston Texans have me scratching my head. They traded away one of their best defenders, Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks pretty much for a song and a sandwich. Yes, I know the team received a 3rd round draft pick and two players, but I don’t know what head coach Bill O’Brien, who is getting GM-like power, was thinking. Is he making the same mistake that fellow head coach Jon Gruden might likely have done when he traded away Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears last season? Maybe. Look, QB Deshaun Watson is a terrific player. and and J.J. Watt is still pretty awesome. However, RB Lamar Miller tore his ACL in the pre-season. WR DeAndre Hopkins is still on offense, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in this team. In Tennessee, can the Titans offensive line keep QB Marcus Mariota upright? I saw their defense against the Patriots in their Week 2 pre-season match-up, and the defense didn’t blow me away.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 10-6
- Indianapolis Colts: 8-8
- Houston Texans: 7-9
- Tennesse Titans: 7-9
AFC WEST OVERVIEW:
Much like the AFC East Division, this particular division is fairly easy to handicap. Of course injures will strike every team in every division in the NFL, unless something happens to their star QB Patrick Mahomes, I am almost positive that the Kansas City Chiefs will be the division winners. Looking at them offensively, on paper, they are a powerhouse. Troubled WR Tyreek Hill miraculously avoided a suspension for his off the field issues. The team has star TE Travis Kelce, and newly acquired RB LeSean McCoy, a surprise release from the Buffalo Bills. McCoy played with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid when both were with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Chiefs defense has a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo. He should definitely improve the team’s pass rush, as he is known for coaching the 2007 Giants defense that helped the team win Super Bowl 42.
The only team that might be able to even challenge the Chiefs are the Los Angeles Chargers with Phillip Rivers at quarterback. The team has an awesome offense and defense, even without their embattled RB Melvin Gordon. Would they be better with him? Of course, they would, but I am sure they will carry on without him. Of course, we have the Oakland Raiders. They are a mess. The huge story from Raiders Camp is the war that brand new WR Antonio Brown is having with the NFL over a darned helmet. Are you serious? Brown is used to wearing a Schutt Air Advantage helmet, and has been wearing it since 2009. The NFL will not allow him to wear it, as it is not approved by The National Operation Committee on Standard for Operating Equipment. The issue was that not that the helmet that Brown was using was unsafe, but that it was over ten years old. Anyway, Brown was not going to be allowed to play, unless he complied. Brown lost two grievance hearings. What a mess. Oakland brass said Brown is “either in or out.” The Raiders were not fooling around, either as they fined Brown $53, 950 for missing two practices. Brown was NOT happy. On the Helmet front, Brown FINALLY has a helmet he likes, a Xenith Shadow Helmet. I am SO glad that is over. You can sense my sarcasm, I hope.
I have spent so much time talking about the Oakland Raiders that I nearly forgot about the Denver Broncos. This team could surprise as their defense is still led by the brilliant OLB Von Miller, and has most of the 2015 Super Bowl winning defense. Can new starting QB Joe Flacco show the NFL that the Ravens made a mistake in letting him go? New head coach Vic Fangio is a defensive minded coach, as last year he was the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. I think he could possibly get this team back into the playoffs, should some expected participants fail to get in. After all, there are always new faces in the playoffs, when one or more teams who made it the previous year falters. Denver could be one of those new faces this year.
- Kansas City Chiefs: 12-4
- Los Angeles Chargers: 11-5
- Denver Broncos: 9-7
- Oakland Raiders: 5-11
AFC PLAYOFF SEEDS:
- New England Patriots
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Baltimore Ravens
- Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC PLAYOFF SCENARIO:
- Los Angeles Chargers d. Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Wild Card Round
- Pittsburgh Steelers d. Baltimore Ravens in AFC Wild Card Round
- New England Patriots d. Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Divisional Round
- Kansas City Chiefs d. Los Angeles Chargers in AFC Divisional Round
- New England Patriots d. Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Championship Game
NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE:
Let’s discuss the team with all the drama that finally ended in the morning of September 4, 2019. If you guessed the tug-of-war between Dallas Cowboys star RB Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys over his contract/holdout, you are right on the money. Elliott and the Cowboys agreed to a contract worth up to 6 years and up to $90 million dollars, with a $50 million dollar guarantee. The team definitely needs him, as the consensus is that head coach Jason Garrett is coaching for his job. I agree with this. QB Dak Prescott is good, but Elliott is essential to the team.
It appears that the crown jewel of the NFC East, the 2017 Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles are going under the radar. QB Carson Wentz is back, and hopefully can stay healthy the entire season. The team doesn’t have Nick Foles anymore. I thought the team looked really good during the pre-season on both sides of the ball. Their bitter rivals Washington and the New York Giants are both messes, however. Will Washington’s first round pick Dwayne Haskins eventually usurp starter Case Keenum at quarterback? Will Washington eventually mend fences with Trent Williams?
The New York Giants received the Bronx cheer from the brutal New York press core to the man on the street over their sixth round pick, QB Daniel Jones. People thought the Giants lost their collective minds. Well, Jones played very well during the pre-season. Could the Eli Manning Era be coming to an end sooner than later? Was Jones’ playing that good or was it a mirage? Stay tuned, Giants fans.
- Philadelphia Eagles: 11-5
- Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
- New York Giants: 7-9
- Washington 4-12
Let’s start with the Chicago Bears. Will QB Mitch Trubisky take a step forward in his development? Much is expected from the defending NFC North Champions. Matt Nagy returns as head coach, but the team has a new defensive coordinator in former Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano, replacing Vic Fangio, now the head coach of the Denver Broncos. I suspect that the Chicago defense will still be as good as last year with Khalil Mack leading the way.
There has been quite a few teams with off-season drama, and one of those teams was the Green Bay Packers. As most people know, the Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy with one or two games left in the season. There were lot of allegations about the difficult relationship between QB Aaron Rodgers and McCarthy during the off-season. The Packers also had a terrible regular season last year, which saw Rodgers try to play through a tough knee injury. The team has a new coach in Matt LeFleur, and LeFleur has a new offense, and LeFleur and Rodgers have reportedly had some sort of “thing,” over how much Rodgers was going to be able to audible, or change the play at the line of scrimmage. Can Rodgers get along with LeFleur? Even though Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and the best quarterback in the division, can he stay healthy? Can the Packers improve on defense as well?
As for the other two teams, will Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia be feeling the hot seat, if the team stumbles out of the gate early? Can the Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford stay healthy? Can the Minnesota Vikings depend on QB Kirk Cousins to close the deal? What I mean is that Cousins is a very good quarterback. However, if I needed a quarterback to win my team a big game, such as a game that could decide the division, etc., Cousins is not one of those guys I would pick. Cousins needs to prove he can do that. The rest of the of the team is very good. They can be sneaky good. I just don’t trust Cousins.
- Chicago Bears: 10-6
- Green Bay Packers: 10-6
- Minnesota Vikings: 8-8
- Detroit Lions: 5-11
Let’s start with the Carolina Panthers. Much has been made of Panthers’ QB Cam Newton and his injuries. He hasn’t been throwing much because of his shoulder injury and he suffered a minor foot injury against the New England Patriots in their pre-season game. Newton is reportedly ready to go for Week 1. Newton is facing the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams. Good luck to him as he will need it.
While I will get to the Los Angeles Rams later, I will now discuss the team that lost to the Rams in that rather controversial 2018 NFC Championship Game, the New Orleans Saints. Yes, Saints fans and you all in the Saints Organization, we all know it was a very badly missed call. However, I am NOT so sure that this rule change for PI review was really needed, because NOW, it looks like every little PI call or non-PI call is going to be looked at with a microscope. Oh, and by the way, a facemask call was missed that should have gone against the Saints earlier in the game, and in the OVERTIME period, when the Saints got the ball, QB Drew Brees threw an INT, and then Rams QB Jared Goff marched his offense into position for the game winning FG. So, both teams got their hands on the ball, thus we again need to stop pushing for rule changes when we don’t get our way.
Now that I have gotten THAT off my chest, I am going to continue to say that the Saints can go one of two ways. The team can let what happened in said NFC Championship Game eat at them, and let it affect their new season, or they can put it aside, and move forward and have a great season. I think with star QB Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton at the helm, this team can have a great season. I expect this team to be in the thick of the playoff race at the end. I also expect, and yes, I am tipping my hand, the Saints and Rams, along with the Eagles to chase the coveted #1 seed.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a complete mess. Yes, Bruce Arians is the new coach and “quarterback whisperer,” but he is going to have to do more than “whisper”to get through to QB Jameis Winston. Winston, in my view is playing for his job. I mean, he goes from brilliant to terrible from one throw to the next. I don’t get it. The rest of the team is competent, enough. I just don’t get Winston’s wild inconsistency.
As for the Atlanta Falcons, former NFL MVP Matt Ryan should have a decent season. Their star WR Julio Jones and the organization are supposedly “close” to a deal, per Falcons owner Arthur Blank. The team has issues on their offensive line. That won’t help Matt Ryan stay vertical. The team recently re-hired K Matt Bryant. The Atlanta Falcons don’t impress me much, but their talent may be able to give their fans a decent to good season.
- New Orleans Saints: 12-4
- Atlanta Falcons: 9-7
- Carolina Panthers: 7-9
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-10
Let’s start with the defending divisional champion and divisional conference champions, the Los Angeles Rams. The team just signed their QB Jared Goff to a four-year, $134 million contract extension that includes a record $110 million in guarantees. The Rams have pretty much backed up the Brinks Truck to Goff’s house. In all seriousness, the Rams are “all in” on Goff, who had a great season last season and lead his team all the way to Super Bowl 53, where his team fell to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
I am expecting the Rams and head coach Sean McVey to have another great season, as most of the team is still together. Of course, there will be higher expectations, and teams have more tape on Goff. Can Goff lead this team to another Super Bowl and win it? Can Goff forget about his poor performance in Super Bowl 53? Can the team’s vaunted defense do a repeat performance? I think this team will definitely compete for the top seed.
The Arizona Cardinals will be the Cardinals, even with QB Kyle Murray looking pretty good during pre-season. Murray will have his growing pains. WR Larry Fitzgerald is aging, but he will have highlights, and be a security blanket for Murray. The defense doesn’t impress me. I think they will be finishing last in the division.
The last two teams in this division I will discuss are the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. As there are so many good teams in the NFC, I think the Seahawks just miss out on the playoffs, even though Russ Wilson is still QB and they have acquired Jadeveon Clowney in a trade. I am not confident with their team in general. As for the San Francisco 49ers, there are lots of questions surrounding QB Jimmy Garoppolo. There are those who are concerned about his interception rate in practice, and that awful performance in pre-season action. There are those who are wondering about his recovery from that ACL tear suffered last season. I think Garoppolo will be fine. The rest of the team is pretty solid.
- Los Angeles Rams: 11-5
- Seattle Seahawks: 9-7
- San Francisco 49ers: 8-8
- Arizona Cardinals: 5-11
NFC PLAYOFF SEEDS:
- New Orleans Saints
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Los Angeles Rams
- Chicago Bears
- Green Bay Packers
- Dallas Cowboys
- Los Angeles Rams d. Dallas Cowboys in NFC Wild Card Round
- Green Bay Packers d. Chicago Bears in NFC Wild Card Round
- New Orleans Saints d. Green Bay Packers in NFC Divisional Round
- Philadelphia Eagles d. Los Angeles Rams in NFC Divisional Round
- New Orleans Saints d. Philadelphia Eagles in NFC Championship Game
SUPER BOWL 54 PARTICIPANTS AND PREDICTION:
New England Patriots vs New Orleans Saints
Winner of Super Bowl 54: New England Patriots
I hope you enjoyed this blog. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.