The National Football League always has surprises. Divisions change hands, great teams regress and squads come out of nowhere to make improbable playoff runs. It’s nearly impossible to predict the parity of the NFL year in and year out.
That doesn’t mean I can’t try.
Here is who I believe will take every division in the NFL for the 2019 season.
Winner: Chicago Bears
With quarterback Mitch Trubisky trending in a positive direction and the defensive trio of Roquan Smith, Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson still prowling Soldier Field, Chicago shouldn’t have too much trouble trouncing over Detroit, Minnesota and Green Bay to put the Midway back on top.
Winner: New Orleans Saints
New Orleans may not have ended its season on a pleasant note after the controversy surrounding the NFC title game, but virtually none of the key pieces that made the Saints so dominant are departing. Cameron Jordan will still be a terror on the defensive front, Drew Brees is still one of the league’s top quarterbacks and running back Alvin Kamara looks to dominate out of the backfield for years to come.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
Another year with running back Ezekiel Elliot is all Dallas needs to retain its division title. It wouldn’t hurt to have wide receiver Amari Cooper continue to dazzle and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch follow up on a strong rookie year, either.
Winner: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are the perfect team to break the chain of repeating champions in the NFC. Quarterback Russell Wilson is likely to play inspired after becoming the NFL’s highest paid player, and the addition of D.K. Metcalf gives him a dangerous vertical weapon.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ demise has been greatly exaggerated. James Conner looks to be more than capable of being the Steelers’ lead back, and Ben Roethlisberger can rely on him to open up the passing game as he looks to the lethal Juju Smith-Schuster through the air. With the addition of linebacker Mark Barron and cornerback Steven Nelson in free agency, the Steelers should make up for missing the playoffs last year.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck showed us last year that his career is far from over, and with a stout defensive corps consisting of linebackers Anthony Walker Jr., Darius Leonard and safety Malik Hooker, the Colts have few holes for the 2019 campaign. Offensive guard Quenton Nelson had a stellar rookie campaign last year as well, and his performance gives Luck room to breathe.
Winner: New England Patriots
In what should surprise absolutely no one, the Patriots do not waver. Despite the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski, quarterback Tom Brady has shown no signs of mortality in the past few seasons and cornerback Stephon Gilmore is the centerpiece of a very capable defense.
Winner: Los Angeles Chargers
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a great player, but you can only do so much without weapons. The Chiefs released running back Kareem Hunt and could lose receiver Tyreek Hill for considerable time because of a suspension, which effectively neuters the high-powered offense they had last year. The Chargers, meanwhile, have quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon on offense and defensive end Joey Bosa and safety Derwin James on defense. They’re the more complete team, and they’ll dethrone the Chiefs.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].