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5 Predictions for the 2018 NFL Season

Posted on September 08, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Expect Ezekiel Elliott to have a huge season in 2018.

Expect Ezekiel Elliott to have a huge season in 2018.

It is finally that time again, can you say “Are You Ready for some football?”

The 2018 NFL season should be an interesting one as the Philadelphia Eagles are the defending champions, the New England Patriots may finally be coming back to earth and the Cleveland Browns seem likely not to go 0-16 again.

For anyone looking to make a killing at 10 Bet Football below are five predictions for the 2018 season.

Buy Ezekiel Elliott and Sell Le’Veon Bell

Last year Le’Veon Bell was one of the best players in the NFL and Ezekiel Elliott suffered through a rough sophomore year that included a six game suspension.

After a full training camp, watch for Elliott to be focused on returning to the elite running back status he displayed during his first NFL campaign in 2016.

Conversely, Bell sat out training camp for the second straight year and after returning before the first game last year, he is not playing in the 2018 opener and could be out for a while.

Given that the prime performance years for running backs is historically short-lived, Bell is determined to get a large guaranteed payday while still at his highest level.

Last year he touched the ball more than 400 times, which is usually one of the major reasons that running backs don’t last. Knowing that the Steelers are not going to use him wisely once he joins the team, Bell and his representatives have decided that they need to take control by sitting for what appears to be multiple games.

So, my prediction for 2018 is that Elliott will be an All-Pro while Bell will not have a special season, but will likely position himself for a pretty good payday in 2019.

Watch Out For the Browns

I am tempted to predict that the Cleveland Browns will win more games than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, but that might be just a little too bold.

What does seem likely is that the 2018 Cleveland Browns will win more games than has been won in Cleveland over the last two seasons. Granted, they just need two wins to exceed that total, but I do believe the Browns have elevated their talent level and will be competitive this season.

Heck, even though they were the second team in NFL history to go 0-16 last year, head coach Hue Jackson had them playing hard almost every week. They just lacked enough talent to make enough great plays to win games.

This year they have a solid quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, a top-level receiver in Jarvis Landry and a quality running back in Carlos Hyde. In fact, they felt good enough about their offensive talent that they have played hard-ball with former Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant even though he is desperate to get back into the league. They also have a potential future star quarterback in Baker Mayfield.

Cleveland has also been stock-piling defensive talent with all their high choices in recent years and should be good enough to stop some teams from having big offensive performances.

I think it is a bit premature to predict the Browns will make the playoffs, but they will certainly win at least five games and if things fall right could have a chance at a winning season.

The Los Angeles Rams Will Take a Step Back

Last year the Los Angeles Rams emerged as a playoff team after struggling in recent years.

Will Jared Goff continue his growth in 2018?

Will Jared Goff continue his growth in 2018?

After an aggressive offseason, the Rams are looking to take another step forward in 2018. Though many are looking at them as a potential Super Bowl team, I tend to think they are going to struggle to make the playoffs again in 2018.

Third year quarterback Jared Goff went from potential bust during his rookie year to a Pro Bowl player in his second. One key for how well the Rams will do in 2018 will be based on whether he is able to continue to improve and have consistency.

The Rams do have some great offensive weapons to compliment Goff in running back Todd Gurley and receiver Brandin Cooks.

Defensively, the Rams have one of the best players in the NFL in defensive tackle Aaron Donald. They also added this season perennial All-Pro Ndamukong Suh.

It would appear that the Rams have the ingredients to be a Super Bowl contender, but something tells me that they will struggle more in 2018 and be fortunate to return to the playoffs.

Someone Other Than New England Will Represent the AFC in the Super Bowl

Yes, I am aware that the New England Patriots have played in the last seven AFC Championship Games and in three of the last four Super Bowls. It would be easy for me to use those numbers to simply say that the Patriots will be back in the Super Bowl again in 2018.

However, even though the Patriots still have one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, the rest of the team has been a revolving door of players who plug a hole for a few years before being replaced by someone younger (and usually cheaper).

With top receiver Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games, Brady will be throwing to veteran tight end Rob Gronkowski and a bunch of young or journeymen receivers with limited experience or success.

Last year the NFL ranked 29th in the league in yards allowed, but fifth in points allowed. If the Patriots want to return to the AFC title game and another Super Bowl, the defense cannot expect to depend on another bend-but-don’t-break season.

Of course, part of the problem is the question of what team is good enough to move past the Patriots to win the AFC.

Pittsburgh would seem to be a likely candidate, but with Bell perhaps out for much of the year, they may not be as strong as a year ago. Jacksonville reached the Championship Game last year, but have to rely on their defense and may struggle to maintain that quality. It seems likely that the teams that eventually compete with the Patriots for the title are teams that were not among the top in the league last year.

Kirk Cousins will Not Make the Minnesota Vikings Better

Given that the Minnesota Vikings won 13 games last year, it probably isn’t a huge reach to predict that the Vikings will not be better this year with new quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Of course, the reason they added Cousins and jettisoned Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum is not about regular season record, but because they believe Cousins gives them a better chance at winning the Super Bowl.

Cousins certainly makes a lot of money and has posted good statistics as a quarterback, but I struggle to find any signs that he gives them a significantly better chance of winning big games than any of the previous quarterbacks.

In his six year NFL career, Cousins has a 26-30-1 record as a starter and has started just one playoff game (a loss). He has 99 career touchdown passes and 55 career interceptions while completing 65% of his passes.

Minnesota will learn early if they are a title contender. Their first five games include games against the 49ers, Packers, Bills, Rams and Eagles. If they start strong, it could be another big year in Minnesota, but if not, they could quickly be having buyer’s remorse for making the deal for Cousins.

NFC Playoff Predictions:

East – Dallas Cowboys

South – Carolina Panthers

North – Green Bay Packers

West – Los Angeles Rams

Wild Cards – Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles

NFC Champion – Carolina Panthers

AFC Predictions:

East – New England Patriots

South – Houston Texans

North – Baltimore Ravens

West – Los Angeles Chargers

Wild Cards – Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC Champions – Houston Texans

Super Bowl – Carolina Panthers defeat Houston Texans

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