06 September 2019 02:51

For years, New Orleans soared on offense while fielding some of the league’s worst defenses.

The second-year passer will finish in the top five of MVP voting and instantly become the best quarterback in franchise history once New York fans realize that Joe Namath was overrated. Andrew Luck's shocking departure will act as the tone-setter for this season: NFL players are well-aware of the long-term health effects involved with playing football and know that a single injury can ruin their lives. GB The Chicago Bears may have the league's best defense, but their league-leading 27 interceptions were a statistical outlier that is unlikely to repeat. The Cleveland Browns have a genuine shot at winning the division (don't laugh) and the Pittsburgh Steelers are always in the playoff mix. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Expect Baltimore's dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson to make a leap forward in his second NFL season.

NFL 2019 predictions: our writers call the winners, losers and also-rans

There are legitimate concerns about a team with a new head coach (Adam Gase) and one that fired their general manager in May. Fortunately, New York have a budding star in second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. Add linebacker CJ Mosley to one of the league's top defenses and the Jets should nab one of the two AFC wild card spots. HF The Miami Dolphins are desperately trying to tank, but what if starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has the tendency to play fantastic when nobody expects anything from him and incredibly badly when handed the keys, backfires and they win enough games to sink their draft position? Either a new staff revitalizes the most talented player (second now?) at the most valuable position in sports, or he's become some kind of uncoachable individualist who cannot work within a team construct, regardless of its construct. Well, there's the looming presence of Drew Brees, particularly if the Chiefs end with a worse record than the Saints, and the general difficulty of remaining fully healthy year in and year out in the NFL. There are two Josh Allens to keep an eye on in the NFL this season, but only one of them is a rookie pass rusher who I'm expecting to light things up on a Jacksonville defense that could bounce back strongly in 2019. No 1 overall pick Kyler Murray is probably the favorite to win this one, but there are always questions when it comes to a rookie quarterback. Second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson is ready for a star turn, and the Baltimore offense will wear down opposing defenses with exhausting drives while their defense will provide its trademark tenacity. Even with Andrew Luck's shocking retirement, Indianapolis will start one of the league's more reliable backups in Jacoby Brissett while returning one of the game's best defensive players in Darius Leonard, a stacked offensive line and an extremely creative offensive mind in head coach Frank Reich. Watch as the Texans win the division by default, potentially with a.500 record, lose in their first game of the playoffs and suffer buyer's remorse for the next few seasons. A toothless Chiefs defense means Los Angeles will shock the NFL and win the division. Facebook Twitter Pinterest The AFC East is the Patriots' division to lose as long as the Brady-Belichick union remains intact. Philadelphia's offensive line has combined to start 378 games as members of the Eagles, an astonishing feat of consistency that should help protect oft-injured quarterback Carson Wentz. Bonus prediction: Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz will be the Comeback Player of the Year. Kirk Cousins disappointed during his first season in Minnesota, but another year with receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs plus a reliable defense will help the Vikings outlast the Bears and Packers in one of the league's toughest divisions. I've picked Aaron Rodgers to win the MVP, so I'll give the division nod to Green Bay. I still think the Lions go deeper in the playoffs, though. Atlanta drafted to strengthen their offensive line but should be better in any case simply by virtue of having Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen and Deion Jones – three key starters – back on defense after losing all three to injury early last year. For years, New Orleans soared on offense while fielding some of the league's worst defenses. HF New Orleans were defeated in overtime by the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC championship game after the referees missed an easy pass interference call that would have put them in position to win in regulation. New Orleans went 13-3 last season and probably should have been in the Super Bowl. It's improbable that quarterback Jared Goff will be quite as good in 2019, but the Rams remain the class of the division. They still should be favorites to win the division but watch out for the Seattle Seahawks, who should challenge them throughout the rest of the season. In a thrilling clash of high-flying offense against punishing defense, Drew Brees finally overcomes the brutal playoff defeats that have ended the last two seasons in New Orleans before announcing his retirement. When you have a top-five offensive line and top-five pass-rush, you should be winning Super Bowls. I want to say Kansas City here, but the fact is the Chiefs defense continues to lag well behind their offense.