With so many marquee teams operating with legitimate hope for success, and with a handful of star players beginning fresh eras with new franchises, the 2019 NFL season is ripe for the kind of drama and excitement that's worthy of the league's celebration of its 100th year.
Many of the NFL's most popular teams — the Cowboys, Steelers, Packers, 49ers and Bears, just to name a few — are Super Bowl contenders. Big names like Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. have the Jets, Raiders and Browns, respectively, thinking they can make runs to the postseason, too.
As is the case before every NFL season begins, league-wide optimism is never higher than it is as the calendar hits September. But 31 teams will see their 2019 season end with disappointment. There are 256 games in the NFL season, and barring a few pesky ties, somebody has to lose them.
QUICK LINKS FOR PICKS: AFC East | AFC West | AFC North | AFC South NFC East | NFC West | NFC North | NFC South
That's where Sporting News comes in with our annual NFL predictions. Our method is as follows.
SN NFL writer Vinnie Iyer picks a winner for each of those 256 games. Once those picks are made, SN's NFL team debates each team's final record, and wins and losses are adjusted accordingly. Once the final division standings are set, playoff predictions can be made based on the seeding, all the way to our Super Bowl 54 pick.
Below are the results for 2019. If these predictions come true, the NFL's 100th year will be one to remember, to say the least.
The Browns have not won their division since 1989. The AFC North was called the AFC Central then. The Oilers were in Houston, and in the division, and the Ravens did not exist.
So, yeah, it's been a long time. There is no question Cleveland has been the hype team of this offseason. Can the likes of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Myles Garrett deliver on those lofty expectations in 2019, just two years removed from the Browns' 0-16 season?
Baltimore won the AFC North with a 10-6 record last season. The Steelers, who let Le'Veon Bell leave and traded Antonio Brown, are in for interesting season. Rookie coach Zac Taylor will start a new era in Cincinnati.
Based on SN's picks for the entire 2019 season, here are our predictions for the AFC North.
Either the Texans or the Colts have won the AFC South in nine of the last 10 seasons, and heading into 2019, the tough choice in the division is again between those two teams at the top.
Houston won the division last season for the third time in four years behind a healthy Deshaun Watson and a defense that still features J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Indianapolis, however, beat the division champion in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Based on SN's picks for the entire 2019 season, here are our predictions for the AFC South.
PlaceTeamRecord1.New England Patriots13-32.New York Jets9-73.Buffalo Bills5-114.Miami Dolphins2-14
The Patriots last season made it 10 consecutive AFC East titles on their way to winning another Super Bowl. In 2019, they will attempt to finish first in the division for the 17th time in the 19 years of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.
New England, though, actually showed some vulnerability before getting things perfect in the playoffs, as its 11-5 record was its "worst" in nine seasons. The NFL's reigning dynasty still won the East by four games. Will the competition get better enough to make the Patriots sweat?
Based on SN's picks for the entire 2019 season, here are our predictions for the AFC East.
PlaceTeamRecord1.Kansas City Chiefs(14-2)2.Los Angeles Chargers(11-5)3.Oakland Raiders(5-11)4.Denver Broncos(5-11)
Of the NFL divisions that featured two-team races at the top last season, the AFC West featured the closest competition. Don't expect that to change in 2019.
The Chiefs and Chargers finished with the same record (12-4) last season. Both ended up falling short of the Super Bowl after falling to the Patriots in the playoffs.
The Raiders, in their second year under Jon Gruden, are looking to start fresh after the coach's hands-on, massive overhaul assisted by Mike Maycck. The Broncos are undergoing even more transition, with Vic Fangio and Joe Flacco as their new veteran coach-quarterback combination.
Based on SN's picks for the entire 2019 season, here are our predictions for the AFC West.