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An Early Look Around the NFL

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An Early Look Around the NFL

The journey to week 1 will be beginning league-wide and each team will look to have their system and playbooks firmly in place heading into training camp and the preseason schedule.  

From now until the end of July, all 32 teams will be faced with the challenge of molding their free agent and draft classes into pieces that will fit their system, fill their needs, and produce favorable results during the 2019 season.  In the months ahead, NFL coaching staffs will earn their paychecks by the way they teach those players the team's system, scheme, playbook, and technique.  

The teams that have the most productive OTA's and training camps will put themselves in the best position to take a step forward in 2019.  The Packers hope that Matt LaFleur and his staff are up to the task and are able to use their offseason programs effectively so the Packers can hit the ground running in 2019.

With this in mind, here are my early predictions for division winners, conference championship games, and our Super Bowl 54 matchup.             

AFC Division Winners:

AFC East: New England Patriots 12-4

AFC South: Indianapolis Colts 12-4

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6

AFC West: Kansas City 11-5 (Yes Patrick Mahomes is good enough to make the new skill players around him into household names)

AFC Wildcard: LA Chargers 11-5* lose a tiebreaker with Kansas City

AFC Wildcard Houston Texans 10-6


NFC Division Winners:

NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles 10-6

NFC South: New Orleans Saints 13-3

NFC North: Chicago Bears 10-6

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks 12-4

NFC Wild Card: LA Rams 11-5

NFC Wild Card: Atlanta Falcons 10-6


AFC Divisional Round:

New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers- New England advances

Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs- Indianapolis advances


NFC Divisional Round:

New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles-Saints advance

Seattle Seahawks vs. LA Rams-Seahawks advance


Conference Championship Games:

AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts-Colts win the AFC

NFC Championship Game: New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks-Saints win the NFC


Super Bowl LIV:

New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts

2019-2020 Super Bowl LIV Champions: Indianapolis Colts


Season Notes:

1. The Cleveland Browns Saga: I think John Dorsey and the rest of Green Bay North receives instant karma and suffers from a very toxic lockerroom environment and miss the playoffs finishing somewhere in the 8-8 to 9-7 range.  

2. I think San Fransisco improves dramatically with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon and an up and coming defense and finishes 9-7.

3. I think Adam Gase just torpedoed the Jets franchise and everyone in the organization will despise him by week 1.

4.  Last but certainly not least, I see the Packers taking a month or so to transition into LaFleur's new system which could equate to a slower start.  I also think the end of the year road schedule most likely will be too much for them to reach the 10-6 record they would most likely need for a division title or wild card birth.  I see the Packers falling just short of the playoffs finishing in the 8-8 to 9-7 range.  

Despite missing the playoffs in 2019, I see this being a very productive transition year into a new system which will help the Packers continue to grow, develop, and add players to the franchise during LaFleur's second and third years at the helm.  Ultimately, I can see a scenario in which the Packers are back in the playoffs in 2020 and 2021 contending for a Super Bowl Championship.

Sound Off:

Let me know your predictions for this upcoming NFL season. 


David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (56) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

ricky's picture

Wow. So, Indy is going to the SB? With a new coach and a QB that has nagging injuries? And they're going to beat the Patriots? When they couldn't do that for years with Peyton Manning at QB? Sure. And the Bears (the BEARS!) are going to win the North. Not the Vikes, who have a better QB and more offensive weapons? Not the Packers, who will (as usual) get off to a slow start, and then Rodgers willl find his rhythm and the defense will step up, and the team will shock everyone and win the division and (hopefully) end up in the championshipgame. Sorry, but at this point, I'm going with unbridled optimism and hope. Realistic? Maybe not. But the idea of watching an entire season be frittered away and AR being another year closer to retirement without at least making a deep playoff run just isn't acceptable at this point. If it happens, it happens. I just want at least the illusion of hope.

Qoojo's picture

It's the offseason. Stories are more for generating clicks, than sense.

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kevgk's picture

The vikings regressed last season, then this offseason they overpaid their own guys instead of acknowledging their lack of top talent amd making moves. I see a 7 win season in their future.

dobber's picture

They seem to think that 2018 is the anomaly and not 2017 when just about everything broke their way, their starters stayed remarkably healthy, and their journeyman QB played at a near MVP level. I think some degree of regression in 2018 was predictable.

kevgk's picture

Exactly. Starting a new season where a team left off is the biggest fallacy in NFL fandom I see. It puts into perspective Bears fans hoping for internal improvement to send them to the Superbowl when they couldn't even win a playoff game at home.

Nick Perry's picture

What will be interesting is watching the Vikings try and work around all of these contracts they've passed out. They already had to redo Kendricks deal in just the 2nd year to sign their 1st round draft choice for this past draft. Nice Job Spielman!

The Bears are okay this year but next year Mack's salary jumps to $26.6 million or $15 million more than this year and then the same in 2021and up to $27.15 million in 2022 when he's 31 years old! By that time they'll have had to get Trubisky signed to a new contract OR they'll be looking for another new QB. Either way it's a good thing for the Packers.

Is ANYONE still pissed at Gutekunst for not completely killing the Packers cap for years to come for not trading for Mack. There's also all those draft picks the Bears gave up for Mack too.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"The Cleveland Browns Saga: I think John Dorsey and the rest of Green Bay North"

Interesting takes, but what is Green Bay North? Cleveland is about 400 miles southeast of Green Bay.

Coldworld's picture

Winnipeg Blue Bombers?

Stu M's picture

I was thinking the Edmonton Eskimos, they're at least Green and Gold.

Bart_Starred's picture

His map is upside down, just like most of his predictions.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

David, David, David...the Seachickens will have a worse record than the Pack. No way will they be 12-4. Packers will win the Norris. Bears will be in their rightful place (3rd in the division).

4thand1's picture

Totally agree Doug, seahags will miss the playoffs.

MarkinMadison's picture

Green Bay North? You mean Green Bay East? Because Cleveland is pretty much a straight shot east from Chicago, and I'm pretty sure Chicago is not north of Green Bay. I mean really, anything east of Michigan that is north of Green Bay is Canada, until you hit upstate New York. You know, the part where the two guys escaped from prison after romancing that past prime seamstress? And Green Bay is north of Toronto, which is definitely north of Cleveland, and is also north of Niagara Falls. Which is kind of nice if you want a two-hour pit stop, but I don't know why people go there for vacation. I know this post has been kind of long, but God knows there is not really NFL news to talk about right now. Anyway, I'd say with all of the alleged dysfunction in Title Town I'd hold off on the hate for the guys in Cleveland.

Coldworld's picture

I read that Gase’s CEO wants to bring in Peyton Manning now as a sort of strategic genius. He was a QB who called plays, not a HC or manager Johnson,

If I were the current ambassador to the UK, I’d be resigning and kicking Gase and Johnson out. They are threatening outdoing Matt Millen’s hard won legacy in Detroit. Next up the 70 years of almost total sucking managed by the Bidwell’s on behalf of the Cardinals. It must be an in thing in NY these days because Gentleman may now be trying to keep pace.

flackcatcher's picture

heh heh heh heh.................

sonomaca's picture

Take a look at the Jets schedule. Very easy. With Lev Bell doing most of the work, running the clock, and with the good defense, I see Jets getting 10 wins!

Nick Perry's picture

Sorry David but I just don't see the Packers struggling THAT much early in the year. The offense maybe a little but not the defense.

This is year 2 in Pettines scheme. This defense is going to be a force from week one. I see the Packers at worst 5-2 going into week 8 against the Chiefs BECAUSE of the Defense and could make a case for 7-0 or 6-1 very easily.

I also don't think the Offense will struggle THAT much as long as a few things happen.

1) PROTECT RODGERS! Holding the ball to long wasn't the only problem. The Packers finally have some decent depth on the O-Line. Billy Turner is going to take care of the RG position and either Taylor will get his act together or Jenkins will start his NFL career at LG...O-Line issues solved and Rodgers is protected.

2) Aaron Jones STAYS healthy. I'm also excited about Dexter Williams BUT Jones is a HUGE key to making this offense one of the best in the NFL. I STILL would like to see the Packers trade for Duke Johnson just for some insurance or sign a veteran though.

3) ESB or MVS... Either one will work but one of them needs to take the "Jump". IMO it will be ESB but that's my 2018 draft crush taking. Or how about this BOTH take a jump and the Packers actually have something that seems to evade them every damn season.....A little LUCK. Now that would be awesome and entirely possible.

4). Health... It's GOT to be the Packers season to have just a shade of luck on the injury side of the game. If so this is a 12-4 team and possibly the #1 seed in the NFC.

Coldworld's picture

If LaFleur tailors roles to fit their abilities that would help a lot on its own. I do look forward to a Rodgers that can plant and throw deep balls to MVS this year.

Tundraboy's picture

And ESB.!

Coldworld's picture

Just meant that’s MVS’s game. ESB May be all over the place

Tundraboy's picture

For sure. The more the merrier.

Lare's picture

It all comes down to health, any starting QB getting injured pretty much blows that team's chances of winning the Super Bowl. Hopefully the Packers have some injury luck and make the playoffs.

Dylan Smith's picture

Seriously 8-8 wth.. u really think that the smartest QB almost ever an certainly most talented is going to struggle or start slow because there employing a fast paced quick throw offense that Rodgers actually thrives in on top of running more which he's been begging for??? If anybody thinks they'll struggle ur crazy I'm sorry.. then u take both Smith's who will thrive with each other jus on there past alone.. are offense and deffence will be top 10 jus on those factors alone.. more QB pressure with Alexander, savage and Jackson in the back end shutting down one side and that's not even Amos on other back end with Williams underneath.. I'm sorry but very high yes hopes but very realistic

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Always comes down to health for the Packers.

Coldworld's picture

For any team. Look at the Bears last year.

sonomaca's picture

Khalil Mack and friends can make quick work of Packers season, as they did last year.

kevgk's picture

I don't think Indy is winning twelve games. they overperformed and didn't do enough in the offseason. I see another 10 win season for them.
this will be drew brees' last year, and it will be obvious. He is past his prime and the team ran out of fuel and momentum from the last two seasons.
I think someone out of the NFCE wins 11 games.
I think the biggest difference with lafleurs system and better defensive depth yields an end to beating ourselves. If the packers played to their talent last year, theyd be a 10 or 11 win team. This year I don't see the same lack of adjustments, lack of depth when starters go down, and stupid mistakes keeping us from winning games we are in to the end. A little more luck from the refs would sure help (remember the special teams """"turnover"""" @detriot?).
Honestly running the damn ball instead of dropbacks every goddamn play in the 3rd and 4th quarter would have won several games last year. I can only imagine it was just a butting heads match between rodgers and mccarthy, because no other way two football professionals ignore such a glaring philosophy error.

sonomaca's picture

Agree on NO. Brees really can’t get anything on the ball at this point. No need to defend him deep.

Boneman's picture

I guess Indy stepping up is as sensible as anything else in the AFC other than penciling in NE. Weak NFC predictions. The Bears, Saints and Eagles are chalk. Do better! I really believe the Bears and Saints both drop off this year and the Seahawks will be 8-8 or 9-7 at best. They lost too much. The Packers are poised to reassert themselves in the North while Dallas the Falcons and the Rams will all take their Divisions. I see Packers and New England finally facing off as so many people have predicted so often over the last 10 years!

David Michalski's picture

Wait they’re all chalk but then they’ll also drop off, which narrative would you like to go with?

Boneman's picture

Good point David! Chalk in the sense that they are the familiar choices that many people go with because of last years performance (and year before). Everything went right for the Bears last year including health and the demise of the Packers. They've done nothing to bolster themselves this off season, only hurt their depth or downgraded (Dix for Amos). Seattle over achieved last season and lost more good players again. They'll threaten .500 only because of coaching and Wilson. The Eagles have been eroding slowly since their Super Bowl. They'll still be good and probably get a WC but they're not better. New Orleans is dangerous but they missed their window much like the Packers did with their 0-2 Championship game showing a few years back. I think they're the other WC team. Packers step up mostly because of dramatic improvement in the defense and a more modern and complementary approach to offense. All the components are in place.

ShooterMcGee's picture

If this is the prediction for last year its pretty good. As for next year there are always surprises such as the worst to first division winners and vice-versa. No imagination here.

Samson's picture

I really have no response to this article.
Another "click generator" by Dave. -- C'mon Dave, you can do better.

BoCallahan's picture

A pretty good response, for having NO response.

Coldworld's picture

If he didn’t write this, there would be nothing to respond to.

David Michalski's picture

No response would mean you’d shut the hell up, and clearly you have trouble doing that. Forgive me for making logical boring picks that will most likely come through.

MarkinMadison's picture

"Anger, fear, aggression, the dark side of the force are they."

dblbogey's picture

And it was effective as a click generator. There are a whole lot of comments here, and interesting opinions. You're a grumpy cat.

David Michalski's picture

Yea y’all suck and have been making me grumpy lately. Lol

Sol's picture

I seems to me that now Blake Martinez is one of the senior players on defense and his high football IQ along with Mike's creative defense he will really shine at helping all the young speed demons they have acquired over the past two years perform at a high level pushing them into a top ten defense at least.

By getting more bites at the apple thanks to the top 10 defense and the new offence strategy of run, run and run some more along with better protection on the O line this should lead to something we haven't seen in years.

A good play action pass that will finally fool someone. Aron hasn't had this in his tool belt for years.
Along with all the other things they do well, this alone should vault them into the playoffs.

Now I am not going predict a perfect record but I do think they have enough young horses on this team that if they do get to the playoffs it will be like 2010 a wild card team or division winner that no one wants to play.

David Michalski's picture

Clearly I missed how Green Bay is going to end up in the 12-4 to 14-2 range this year. For all of you that can cure leprosy, please let me know how this 6-9-1 team is winning the damn Super Bowl in 2019. Give me logical reasons not fairy dust and roses....Go!

zeroluv's picture

You must have not watched games last year. Your comment is stupid at best. Green Bay lost three games last year that came down to bonehead plays. That normally don’t happen to them.

1. Mason crosby missing 4 easy kicks against Detroit
2. Montgomery fumbling the game away against the Rams when he was supposed to down the ball.

With those wins they are a 8-7-1 team at worst and who knows where these wins take their momentum....possibly another 2 wins against the Cardinals and the Lions in the last game which they wouldn’t have threw away. The Packers aren’t that far off from a Championship team. I think they will be dangerous this year with there improvements on defense.

sonomaca's picture

You forgot the bogus call vs. CMIII that cost Minnesota game.

David Michalski's picture

There’s just so much wrong with this logic. Do you think the Packers were a good team that was snake bit? Are we blaming these losses all on McCarthy and Zook? Did you watch when we lost at home to the team who landed the number 1 overall pick? Bad teams find a way to lose and good teams like the Pats find ways to win.

At any rate I think the Packers are a year away

LarryPennell's picture

I don't understand the logic behind the idea of Montgomery takes a knee in the end zone the Packer's automatically win. The only for sure win taken away was the Minnesota game and the roughing the passer call, all others you never know what would of happened.

sonomaca's picture

I’m a GB fan, but the NFC North is very tough. Even the Lions will be better.

OTOH, this is likely to be the best “D” since 2010. Last time Rodgers had this good a defense, he won the SB, although the offense was better then, and the division was weaker.

MarkinMadison's picture

1. INJURIES. Historically, you look at this team, and their success is tied to health. They were WELL below average on the health meter last year, like 30th in the NFL. Flip that around and there is really not much reason to think that #12 doesn't carry them into the playoffs again last year, and this roster is better than last years.

2. DEFENSE. The Packers basically threw in the towel on the season when they traded Ha-Ha. I'm not saying that wasn't the right move in the long run, but they simply had no credible S player last year, and a lot of inconsistency, injury and youth literally everywhere else. Again, see above regarding injuries, but this year you a revamped safety position and have younger, healthier, more consistent OLBs. IF and I mean IF Savage develops quickly and Amos is what we think he is, this is a MUCH better defense.

3. OFFENSIVE LINE. Injuries rendered this group a total mess last year. The same potential problems exist this year, but there are a lot more options for filling the injury holes when they occur.

Bottom line, there is really no reason that this team can't be a playoff team this year IF certain key players stay relatively healthy. If some of the younger players take a reasonable step forward, they will be a playoff team. And if they get in the dance then you really never know. Look at 2011.

elisbona's picture


elisbona's picture

I don’t understand why you still comment on David’s articles if you’re so bothered by his demeanor. Do you have nothing better to do? Or is this what you’re doing while whacking off to his picture? Please be clearer in your objective. I’m starting to get mixed messages. Send help.

LeotisHarris's picture

You're clearly reading your work aloud before publishing, David. Much better. Now, choose a verb tense and stick with it (see paragraph 1), and axe the almighty "that"; it'll continue to make your meandering more efficient.

And your prognostication and logic? Meh. Adding "I think" to the beginning of a sentence doesn't transform your fairy dust and roses into logic.

Maybe start working on Here's My Way too Early Mock 2020 NFL Draft Primer #1 Which is Really Way too Early Because it's Only 2019 and the Draft Order Hasn't Been Determined Yet and Won't be Determined Until 2020 by David Michalski?

David Michalski's picture

The hard on from the great Leotis returns, great project ideas during this slow time. Maybe I’ll plan Aaron Rodgers retirement ceremony next week.

Coldworld's picture

A thick skin is necessary for anyone putting their head above the parapet in this environment.

I have appreciated the articles and opinions you have posted and that you are not afraid to voice an unpopular opinion. Sometimes I agree and sometimes not. Always the way when dealing with amateur GMs, but that’s good because it stimulates debate. However, please understand that the crowd here will not always agree and won’t hold back. Some will be eloquent and thoughtful, others emotional and illogical.

You get discussions going. That’s a coup in a time of no news. I for one appreciate your efforts. Debate is a measure of success in May.

LeotisHarris's picture

David, son, write harder. You can do it.

Remember, It’s very difficult to dispel ignorance if you retain arrogance (and it's hard-on, btw).

4thand1's picture

There is no such thing as a crystal ball. Will the Packers be considered a surprise team if they win more than 10 games? All we have to go on is what happened last year, FA's, hirings and firings and the draft. More happened with the Packers than almost any other team. The one certainty was change was needed and it looks on paper that the Packers are younger, faster, and better.

croatpackfan's picture

Good idea for click baits!

Call Packers 88 or at the best 97 team...

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"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
"The Bears still suck!"