Over half the teams have played exactly half of their 16 games through the first eight weeks of the NFL season. Plenty of football is still left to be played and all teams are yet to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs; however, there’s no realistic chance the Bengals and Dolphins make it to January. Few could have predicted the 49ers hot 7-0 start, while many saw the Patriots going 8-0. Fans often try their best to predict the NFL, but rarely, if ever, are they correct. I will attempt to break that mold, as here are my boldest predictions for the remainder of the 2019 NFL season.
Patrick Mahomes Will Return In Two Weeks, Win MVP
As the grandson of a lifelong Chiefs fan, this may be wishful thinking, but Mahomes has the ability to bounce back after dislocating his knee. Earlier in the season I traveled to Oakland to watch the Chiefs take on the Raiders and the game was 10-0 in favor of the Raiders after one quarter. At halftime, Mahomes had given the Chiefs a 28-10 lead, thanks to four passing touchdowns in the second quarter alone. Despite only playing 6 1/4 games, Mahomes is a mere 200 passing yards and two TDs off of the league lead for the respective totals. He has the big play potential to easily make up for those quantities like no other quarterback and should return soon to the field.
49ers Go 15-1, Lose Final Regular Season Game to Seahawks
Of the nine remaining games on the 49ers schedule, six are against teams with a record above .500. The 49ers have the second toughest strength of schedule for the back half of the season, only behind their division rival, the Seahawks, who sit at 6-2. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), the 49ers are projected to win eight out of their remaining nine games, with the only loss projected for their week 14 trip to New Orleans against Drew Brees and the 7-1 Saints. If they can prove the FPI true in every game except for when they take on the Saints, the 49ers will be heading into week 17 with a 15-0 record. Logically, they will bench most key starters with nothing to play for against a Seattle team that will most likely be fighting for a wildcard spot.
Packers vs. Vikings Week 16 Decides NFC North Division Winner
The 7-1 Packers currently sit atop what some have dubbed the toughest division in pro sports, with the 6-2 Vikings close behind. If not for a missed 41-yard field goal by Bears kicker Eddy Piniero, all four NFC North teams would have winning percentages of .500 or above. The Packers and Vikings have the 13th and 12th toughest strength of schedule remaining, respectively, and the Vikings only play two games against teams two games above .500 or more ahead of their matchup with the Packers. The Packers only play two games against teams above .500 and are projected to win five out of their next six games before week 16. I see the Packers winning a close one on the road if they can stay healthy.
Patriots Defense Goes Down as the Best of All Time
Yeah, this one pained me. As a lifelong Bears fan, I have always marveled over the most successful Bears’ season in the Super Bowl Era. I must admit that this Patriots team is on pace to have a strong case for best defense ever. Through eight games, the defense has 27 takeaways, on pace to match the 54 of the ‘85 Bears. The Patriots defense has allowed a trivial four touchdowns (2 rush/2 pass) and has scored five themselves. In addition, they are on pace for a whopping 62 sacks, which would be the highest team total since the 2000 Saints. The Patriots defense and special teams has given up just 40 points so far, as the offense has allowed 18 points from turnovers. Even if the 18 points not allowed by the defense were included in the statistic of points allowed, the Patriots defense would still be on pace to shatter the previous record of 165 points allowed by the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Some attribute the dominance of the Patriots to their cake walk of a schedule, but it will get noticeably tougher in the weeks to come as none of their next five opponents have losing records. In these upcoming weeks the Patriots defense will truly be tested, but my intuition tells me there is no challenge too big for this defense.