The 2019 NFL offseason has been a roller coaster of drama and emotion to say the least. With the aftermath of free agent signings, trades and other offseason moves settling in, it is time to prepared for what may come during the 2019 season. Here are three bold predictions for the upcoming NFL season.
3. Steelers Take Back AFC North
Since the Browns acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. via trade, Cleveland has been labeled as the team to beat in the AFC North. But, after finishing with a 7-9 record and third in their division in 2018, the expectations may be too much.
It is no secret that the Browns roster is filled with talent, but will it be used in the right way? During the offseason, the Browns have brought in Freddie Kitchens as the new head coach for the team.
Before taking this job, Kitchens had only had one year under his belt as a coordinator. The rest of his experience has been as a position coach. Now being faced with the highest expectations the Browns have faced in years, the coach may fold under the pressure.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have the best coach in the division as well as the best quarterback in the division. According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers also have the best rated offensive line in the NFL. And, despite losing players such as Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the team seems to have less drama and more potential.
Being underdogs will give the Steelers the motivation to reclaim the AFC North throne.
2. Derek Carr Has MVP Caliber Year
It seems like many forget that Derek Carr was among the elite at the quarterback position just a few years ago. In 2016, the signal caller was in the running for the MVP award before he was sidelined with a season ending leg injury. Since then, Carr has been put through coordinator and head-coaching changes. Now, the offensive finally seems to be put back together.
The Raiders general manger Mike Mayock has added weapons and protection for the team’s franchise quarterback this offseason.
With the additions of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, the teams’s receiving core will be the best that Carr has played with. Also, 6-foot-8, 380 pound Trent Brown joins the team as an offensive tackle.
The Raiders organization also selected running back Josh Jacobs in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
With the Alabama alumni leading the way in the running game, it will make the passing attack that much easier to set up for Derek Carr.
Oakland’s offense now has all the components needed for Carr to succeed. The Raiders quarterback will once again be placed in the top tier at his position.
1. Earl Thomas Earns Comeback Player of the Year
Earl Thomas began his 2018 campaign by leading the league in interceptions. Through the first four weeks, the safety was rated the best at his position according to Pro Football Focus. Thomas was set to have a stellar year until he broke his leg in week 4, cutting his season short.
With 2018 being the final year of his contract with the Seattle Seahawks, Thomas quickly became one of the top free agents to hit the market. After several negotiations with multiple teams, the former Legion of Boom member landed with the Baltimore Ravens.
Despite his age (30), Thomas still seems to playing in his prime. If not for the leg injury in 2018, Thomas was set to be one of the best defensive players in the league. With his new team, Thomas will be ready to prove himself once again.
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