104.5 The Team’s 2019 NFL Preview
The 2019 NFL season kicks off tonight as the Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers. Below the staff members at 104.5 The Team offered up their predictions for the NFL season. Who do you agree with? Plus what are your picks? Let us know below. Don't forget your home for all Thursday, Sunday and Monday night football match ups is 104.5 The Team. Plus 104.5 The Team is your home this season for all NFL playoff games and Super Bowl 54.
Jeff Levack-Co Host of "Levack and Goz:" Mondays-Fridays 2-7pm
AFC East Champion: New England Patriots
AFC North Champion: Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC South Champion: Houston Texans
AFC West Champion: Kansas City Chiefs
Wild Cards: Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns
NFC East Champion: Philadelphia Eagles
NFC North Champion: Chicago Bears
NFC South Champion: New Orleans Saints
NFC West Champion: Los Angeles Rams
Wild Cards: Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys
MVP: Carson Wentz
AFC Title Game: Kansas City Chiefs defeat New England Patriots
NFC Title Game: Philadelphia Eagles defeat New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl: Philadelphia Eagles defeat Kansas City Chiefs
Coming out of a loaded NFC, I have the Philadelphia Eagles winning the conference and Super Bowl. Seeking their second Super Bowl in three seasons, the Eagles roster checks off all the boxes. Carson Wentz comes into the season finally 100% healthy after rehabbing the knee and overcoming the back that went along with it. The weapons surrounding Wentz give the Eagles offense one of the best in football and will help guide him to an MVP season. The trio of Alshon Jefferey-DeSean Jackson-Nelson Agholor is one of the best out there. They have a top 3 tight end in Zach Ertz backed up by promising second-year weapon, Dallas Goedert. The running back position has been remade, brining in Jordan Howard and drafting Miles Sanders. The defense remains one of the steadiest in football as well with one of the best pass rushes led by Fletcher Cox. The NFC remains head-over-heels better than the AFC. I like the Saints this year as a team that can push the Birds in the conference. In the AFC, I think the Patriots are finally going to hit that decline ever so slightly (famous last words). A lot of question marks surrounding the offense. Does Josh Gordon behave himself? Who steps up as Brady’s third weapon? Can Sony Michel stay healthy? I get a weird vibe from Foxboro this season. That’s why I went another direction with the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC title. The Chiefs defense is suspect, to be fair. That was their downfall last season and very well could this year, as well. I’ll give Andy Reid and company the benefit of the doubt, though. Patrick Mahomes will come down to earth just a tad, but this offense is extremely dynamic and will be the driving force for the Chiefs this season. I’ve been looking for a Chiefs-Eagles Super Bowl ever since Andy Reid was hired in Kansas City. Doug Pederson comes from the same coaching tree. That would be a great game with big storylines. Sign me up.
- Dallas Cowboys
Depending on when Ezekiel Elliot comes back this offense should build off the success that they had in the post Amari Cooper trade. With Jason Witten trading in the microphone for his helmet, Dak Prescott gets his security blanket back. Bolstered again by one of the leagues finest offensive lines, the running game and passing game will again flourish. The defense is led by one of the most exciting linebacking duos in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch who will tackle anything that comes their way.
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Washington Redskins
- New York Giants
- Los Angeles Rams
Following a disappointing Super Bowl performance, the Rams look to return to the high powered offense that struck fear into the hearts of the entire NFL and made front offices wondering where they can find their next Sean McVay. While Jared Goff gets Cooper Kupp back after an ACL tear shortened his season, the offense should return to full strength…well depending on how Todd Gurley's knee heels.
The defense has a ton of pressure pressed upon them. We all know what we will see from Aaron Donald, but it is the supporting cast that is the question. Will the play styles of Eric Weddle at safety along with the defensive backs of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters mesh well? Will the defense rely on Clay Mathews to return to his old pass—rushing ways? Time will tell. Luckily for them, the separation in talent they have from the other teams in the division is substantial.
- San Francisco 49ers
- Seattle Seahawks
- Arizona Cardinals
- Minnesota Vikings
The team that was one win away from the Super Bowl two seasons ago, failed to replicate that last season. Additionally disappointing, was the failure to return to the postseason after signing franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was supposed to be the missing piece to the puzzle. Now with a full offseason under the Kevin Stefanski-Gary Kubiak hybrid offense, and a full arsenal of weapons like Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, and Dalvin Cook this offense should explode.
The defense will follow the lead of their head coach Mike Zimmer who always tries to shut down their opponents. After getting Anthony Barr back (barely) this off-season the Vikings carry several playmakers at all levels of their defense. On the defensive line, Danielle Hunter has proven his elite level pass-rushing status. Xavier Rhodes is as physical and as close to a shutdown corner as you’ll find league wide. And Harrison Smith is the X-Factor who will sneak to the line and blitz, play in the box, and will cover and plug any holes that the other defensive players leave open. SKOL!
- Chicago Bears
- Green Bay Packers
- Detroit Lions
- Atlanta Falcons
While the Saints might be everyone’s favorites to be kings of the NFC, most fans out there are sleeping on the Atlanta Falcons. After the injury bug severely bit the Falcons last season, they return to full strength this season with a lot to prove. Getting back key defensive players like Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Ricardo Allen will allow them to limit opponents to the big plays the Falcons were susceptible to last season. The offense gets Devonta Freeman back and still has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL with Julio Jones.
- New Orleans Saints
- Carolina Panthers
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- New England Patriots
I’ll keep this short and sweet for why they will win this division. They still have Tom Brady. They have won the division for 10 straight season and 16 of the last 18 years.
- Buffalo Bills
- New York Jets
- Miami Dolphins
- Kansas City Chiefs
This is close for me to pick due to the firepower that both the Chargers and Chiefs both possess. It is going to be similar to how the division went last year with teams winning a ton of football games (both finished 12-4). At the end of the day as much as I would love to see Phillip Rivers win the division and overthrow the reigning MVP, the question of whether or not OTHER NFL teams can stop Patrick Mahomes and the high-octane offense has yet to be seen.
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Denver Broncos
- Oakland Raiders
- Baltimore Ravens
I know a lot of people are on the Browns bandwagon after an off-season for the ages. Rightfully so, they got offensive help with Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt (after 8 games). On the defensive side they add Sheldon Richardson, Greedy Williams (NFL Draft), and Olivier Vernon to an already stout unit. Well none of that matters to me because at the end of the day the Ravens are the cream of the crop in this division. Lamar Jackson will take the next step as a thrower and they FINALLY get a premier running threat with Mark Ingram. I have it as a close battle and it still is the black and blue division, but the Ravens have fewer new pieces than the Browns. For Cleveland there is just too many new pieces for the Browns for it all to click in one season. Be patient Browns fans. I know you hear that a lot, but this is not your year.
- Cleveland Browns
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Houston Texans
Before the regular season started there were two things that scared people away from picking Houston to win the South. Andrew Luck and the Texans poor offensive line. Now, with Andrew Luck retired and the Texans making moves to land one of the bets left tackles in the league in Laremy Tunsil, Houston appears to be the favorite for this division. Lamar Miller did go down with a torn ACL, but the Texans were able to replace him with veteran running back Carlos Hyde. Hyde took 402 less carries than Miller last season but still found the end zone the same amount of times (each had five rushing touchdowns, Miller had one receiving touchdown). Hyde joins Duke Johnson in a backfield that will complement each other nicely. Outside of that, the Texans have one of the most electrifying QB-WR duos in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. Of course, the absurd stat of Hopkins having the most catchable targets without a drop speaks to the level of dominance he and Watson exuded last season. Getting a healthy Will Fuller back along with the underrated Keke Coutee, and veteran pass-catcher in Kenny Stills as additional weapons sets this offense up to be arguably the best in the league.
They might have traded a superstar in Jadeveon Clowney but replaced him with a promising player in Jacob Martin and got veteran linebacker Barkevious Mingo. Mingo joins a defense that still has one of the best players in the league in J.J. Watt, linebacker Zach Cunningham, and Whitney Mercilus. Time will tell who gets playing time where, but the expectation is that the offense will be so potent that the defense will just have to do ‘enough’ for them to win games.
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Indianapolis Colts
- Tennessee Titans
1st Round Bye - #1 Los Angeles Rams #2 Dallas Cowboys
#6 Chicago Bears vs. #3 Minnesota Vikings
#5 New Orleans Saints vs. #4 Atlanta Falcons
#4 Atlanta Falcons vs. #1 Los Angeles Rams
#3 Minnesota Vikings vs. #2 Dallas Cowboys
#4 Atlanta Falcons vs. #3 Minnesota Vikings
NFC CHAMPION: Minnesota Vikings
1st Round Byes - #1 Houston Texans #2 New England Patriots
#6 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. #3 Kansas City Chiefs
#5 San Diego Chargers vs. #4 Baltimore Ravens
#5 Los Angeles Chargers vs #1 Houston Texans
#3 Kansas Chiefs vs #2 New England Patriots
#3 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #1 Houston Texans
AFC CHAMPION: Kansas City Chiefs
SUPER BOWL LIV:
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings
NFL CHAMPIONS: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
For the first time in Franchise history, the Minnesota Vikings take home the Vince Lombardi trophy. This season, the Vikings show a perfect blend of complimentary football on all three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. Cousins has a fantastic year building off the chemistry with arguably the best WR duo in the NFL with Diggs and Thielen while Cook plays the full year with no injuries and finishes with over 1000 yards. In the Super Bowl the defense shines through with stars like Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, and Danielle Hunter making one impact play after another. Too much firepower on this team and too much to prove to the NFL world that has written them off.
NFL 2019 MVP: Deshaun Watson
As stated previously, the targets that Watson has at his disposal alongside more protection and a running back duo that may surprise a lot of people, the stars are aligned perfectly for Watson to take the MVP trophy. Add alongside that the running ability that Watson possesses, and you have a recipe for a statistical season that leaves us all with our mouths agape.