With seven more weeks remaining in the 2019 NFL regular season, I think it is time to take a look at this year’s most surprising and disappointing teams thus far. I decided to create a Top 4 ranking for both categories. So that this article ends on a more positive note, I’ll start with the most disappointing first. Then I will give an early Super Bowl forecast.
Top 4 Most Disappointing NFL Teams in 2019
- Chicago Bears (4-5) – The Bears were 12-4 last season and had one of the NFL’s best defenses. All hopes in the Windy City were that the Bears offense would improve by leaps and bounds in Mitch Trubisky’s third season as a starter. So far, that hasn’t happened. Bears fans now are grumbling and wonder why GM Ryan Pace took Trubisky with the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Pace passed on taking QBs Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson with that pick. For those who know me well, I had Mahomes as top pick in that draft and was giddy like a kid on Christmas Day when the Chiefs traded up with Buffalo to land him. To make matters worse for Da Bears, their defense has not been as dominant as they were last season. A playoff spot this season seems unlikely as the Bears still have road games vs the Rams, Packers and Vikings.
- Los Angeles Rams (5-4) – The reigning NFC Champions. Remember they went 13-3 last year and another run for the Super Bowl was expected this season. But the Rams currently find themselves in 3rd place in the NFC West and appear to be fighting for a Wild Card spot. Not exactly what they were expecting in the City of Angels. Rams QB Jared Goff hasn’t produced to the level that he did in 2017 or 2018. Many are grumbling about the Rams $134 million investment in him. To make matters worse, the Rams remaining schedule isn’t going to be a cakewalk.
- Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) – As a Chiefs fan living in the Kansas City area, many here were excited when the Chiefs were picked as the favorite to win the Super Bowl before the season by Vegas oddmakers. They’re still are in 1st place in the AFC West Division. However, nobody in Kansas City expected four losses by this point in the season. And especially three straight home losses. Patrick Mahomes did miss 2 1/2 games but backup QB Matt Moore delivered a win in relief in the Thursday Night Football game in Denver when Mahomes went down with a dislocated knee cap. Then Moore went 1-1 as a starter. The biggest problem the Chiefs have had thus far has been on the defensive side of the ball. The Chiefs defense, which was woeful last year, has not improved to everyone’s level of expectations under newly hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say but many hoped and thought that Spagnuolo would get them to at least NFL average.
- Cleveland Browns (3-6) – The Browns were picked by a few football analysts to win the AFC North. A great many who didn’t at least picked the Browns to be a Wild Card team. It has been a tough sophomore campaign for Browns QB Baker Mayfield to say the least. Last season, Mayfield threw 27 TDs and 14 INTs. This year, 9 TDs and 12 INTs. The Browns still have a good defense but the reason that they are 3-6 thus far is mainly due to the fact that Baker Mayfield has regressed this season.
Top 4 Most Surprising NFL Teams in 2019
- San Francisco 49ers (8-1) – Last season, the 49ers were 4-12. Through nine games this season, the 49ers have one loss, an overtime loss at that. The only team remaining that has yet to lose a game on the road. Despite the home loss to the Seahawks, the Niners are still in the drivers seat to win the NFC West. I was one of the few who predicted that the Niners would make the playoffs this year. A few analysts actually picked them to win the division. However, I think most everyone would agree that the San Francisco 49ers have been the biggest surprise this season. It’s probably not even debatable.
- Buffalo Bills (6-3) – The Bills already have as many wins this season as they had all of last season when they went 6-10. And they have seven more games left in 2019 to improve on that win total. The Bills have a good defense and actually had and opportunity to knock off the New England Patriots a few weeks ago in Orchard Park. Late in that game, down 16-10, Bills backup QB Matt Barkley threw interception in New England territory with 1:27 left on the clock. Hey, nobody nationally expected the Bills to be 6-3 at this point. They also have a decent shot for one of the two Wild Card spots.
- New Orleans Saints (7-2) – Although the Saints are coming off a head-scratching loss this past weekend at home vs the Atlanta Falcons, they have performed way above expectations after Drew Brees went down with an hand injury in Week 2. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater delivered five straight wins in relief as a starter to help keep the Saints playoff hopes alive and well.
- Indianapolis Colts (5-4) – Many thought when Andrew Luck surprisingly retired during preseason, that the Colts season was over before it started. The Colts have had their share of injuries but they are still in the mix for a Wild Card spot. Jacoby Brissett has surprisingly done an admirable job as the Colts starting QB. Although I am not picking the Colts to make the playoffs, I wouldn’t bet against them either. The Colts proved a lot nationally when they went into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes.
Early Super Bowl Forecast
If I had to make a Super Bowl prediction at this point, I have New England representing the AFC as long as Tom Brady stays healthy. The Patriots are not unbeatable but very hard to beat in Foxboro. All signs point to the Patriots getting the #1 seed. They will beat the Ravens in Foxboro in a rematch. A healthy Chiefs team really has the best chance of beating the Patriots on their home turf and that is mostly due to abilities of Patrick Mahomes.
In the NFC, it gets more cloudy. Really, it is wide open. The Green Bay Packers with a healthy Aaron Rodgers will be a tough team to knock off. If they can somehow manage to get home field advantage, I see very little chance of anybody beating the Packers in that frozen tundra environment. If the New Orleans Saints can get a seed ahead of the Packers, I like Drew Brees in a shootout in the Superdome. The 49ers could land the #1 seed but I don’t see them beating the Packers or Saints in the playoffs.
The Seattle Seahawks with QB Russell Wilson, the early MVP favorite, will play a huge factor in who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl. Could the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl? Sure but I think they are going to need to get the #1 seed.
For those who are not desiring to see another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl victory, I think the NFC representative, whoever that may be, will be Super Bowl Champions in Miami this February. I think it will be the Saints or Packers and that will be depend on who gets the higher seed.
Looking over the remaining schedules, Green Bay (8-2) has potential losses @ San Francisco and @ Minnesota. New Orleans (7-2) gets San Francisco in the Superdome and really has a lighter schedule the rest of the way. The Saints two toughest road games come at the end of the season @ Tennessee and @ Carolina. If the Packers and Saints tie with the same record, the tiebreaker will be conference record and that could swing in favor of Green Bay since one of their losses came against an AFC opponent in the Los Angeles Chargers.
I will go out on a limb and say that New Orleans finishes 13-3 and Green Bay 12-4. So I am forecasting a New England Patriots vs New Orleans Saints Super Bowl. And the Saints marching home Super Bowl champions.