It is that time of year, my friends. The time of year when training camps all across the country open their doors and welcome their players back with open arms. The time of year in which we get our first taste of live football in half a year. We are back, baby.
And when we're back, so too come the hot takes. Team X is going to win the Super Bowl. Team Y stinks out loud. Three teams will go 14-2 and ten teams will go 3-13! As you may have guessed already, I'm here to take some of these wild and wacky 2019 NFL schedule predictions to task today on Studs & Duds. We have no shortage of ammunition thanks to the slew of predictions we've seen from NFL.com, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.
They serve as the inspiration and source material for today's #content.
STUD - The Bengals make a run at #TankForTua (Everyone)
Count me in on this one. The Bengals' offensive line has taken notable hits already and with a coaching hire that seems ambitious (and maybe a bit premature), the Bengals could be in for a rocky road. And the schedule predictors agree -- I've seen multiple predictions for Cincinnati that feature 4 or less wins in 2019.
With a new coach typically comes a new quarterback -- we didn't see that in Cincinnati this offseason. Will we get it next year? If we see the Bengals flop in 2019, odds are pretty strong that we will.
DUD - The 49ers win the NFC West at 10-6 (USA Today)
I don't have a problem with the assertion that the 49ers can win 10 games. If Jimmy Garoppolo turns out to be all that and a bag of chips, like some think he is? Then let's fire things up and get pumped for the Wild Card Round. But this prediction sees the Rams going 9-7 in 2019. With the same offensive pieces and critical difference makers on defense like, uh...the best defender in football (Aaron Donald) still on the roster. The Rams' 2019 schedule features the AFC North and the NFC South -- they'll get wins vs. Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Pittsburgh and Baltimore for sure, they'll sweep the Cardinals (for sure), they'll beat the 49ers at least once (FOR SURE)....so are the Rams only winning one more game between Seattle (x2), New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, Cleveland and Chicago? Because that's what we need to finish with 9 or less wins.
DUD - The Rams will go 16-0 (Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL.com)
Damn it, Maurice. Y'all went the other way on this one and I can't let this slander stand either. Because guess what...the Rams play Seattle (x2), New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, Cleveland and Chicago. They're winning all of them? Come on, man.
I get it's popular to love Sean McVay and company right now -- and I do, too. But the Rams' offense showed vulnerability and the defense thrived on turnovers (18 interceptions was 3rd in the NFL). How easy will it be to replicate that turnover success again to ensure you can run the gauntlet?
Call me crazy but I think the Rams will win between 11-13 games again this season. Wild, I know.
DUD - The Jets go 13-3 (Mark Sanchez, NFL.com)
Geez, aren't there supposed to be some studs sprinkled in here? Well, I'm glad you asked. If we're going to keep making trash predictions, I'm going to keep scooping up the low hanging fruit. So thanks for this lay-up, Mark.
The Jets, who are 14-34 in their last three seasons (with three last place finishes in the AFC East), are going to graduate into big dogs overnight after hiring their third choice for head coach and an offensive line that got better in one spot?
Sanchez has the Jets winning in Philadelphia, vs. Cleveland, vs. Dallas, vs. New England and two of their losses being lie down games to the Buffalo Bills (when 13-2 in Week 17) and then taking an inexplicable loss at home to the Raiders...you know, JUST SO THE PREDICTION DOESN'T GET TOO CRAZY!
Too late, though. The Jets are a team I like this year. They might win 10 games. But 13-2 entering Week 17? Miss me.
DUD - The Saints lose 6 games (Sports Illustrated, USA Today)
This one surprises me. The Saints get the NFC West and the AFC South -- meaning they do get tough games against the Colts, the Rams and the Seahawks. But they get the Cardinals, they get the Jaguars, they get the Titans -- three games I think they take easily this year. Add in games vs. Tampa (x2), Carolina (x2) and Atlanta (x2) and I think New Orleans probably gets a minimum of four wins there, too.
This is a Super Bowl caliber roster -- things would have to get quite hairy for them to barely make it to 10 wins.