Pro Football Predictions #1

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The Super Bowl champion Eagles will start the NFL season in Philadelphia on Thursday, September 6, against the Atlanta Falcons.  Around here, there is no better way to open the new football year.  NBC will have the match-up.  Do I think the Eagles can overcome the hangover from winning the 2018 Super Bowl?  You will have to wait until next week for my NFC predictions.  For this week, the focus is on the AFC.

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs – There’s a new quarterback here – Pat Mahomes (Alex Smith went to the Redskins), but Andy Reid remains with a new defense.  This team is a regular in the playoffs and this division is not strong.
  2. Los Angeles Chargers – They finished a surprising second last year. Their defense is improved.  They play Kansas City in Week 15 in a game that could seal the fate of their conference standing.
  3. Oakland Raiders– Jon Gruden leaves the safety of the broadcasting booth and returns to the NFL sidelines. He is certainly not an analytics guy (he specifically said that) and it may take him a while to get comfortable as a head coach again.  This team has a young defense.  The good news is their schedule is pretty weak to start the season.
  4. Denver Broncos – The defense was solid last year, but the offense was not. This team could not win on the road at all.  The offense has to be better.  Don’t bet on it.

AFC South 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars– If defense wins championships, give this team a chance. Their linebacker/secondary group is outstanding.  QB Blake Bortles’s numbers should impress due to an improved offensive line.  With veteran Tom Coughlin around again this year in the front office, the Jaguars are solid.
  2. Houston Texans – The last three offensive seasons have been run by three different quarterbacks. This year, it’s Deshaun Watson’s turn.  Bill O’Brien’s team had the worst scoring defense in the league last year, but they can only go up in those stats.  Dare I say, they may actually contend for a division title?
  3. Tennessee Titans – I really enjoy watching Marcus Mariota at quarterback. He is always exciting, but he threw 15 interceptions last year.  They look strong enough in all aspects and this could be my worst prediction, but I have more confidence in the two teams above them.
  4. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck? Andrew Luck?  What can he do coming off shoulder surgery?  He was shut down last season.  They open with the Bengals and with any Luck (see what I did there?) they might win and get rolling.  Without any Luck (I know – knock it off), their season looks dismal.

AFC North (PS – this is the same order I picked last year)

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben, Bell, and Brown make the offense superior. There’s a new defensive coordinator (Randy Fichter) and some defensive additions make them better on the other side, too.  This should be a lock.
  2. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens continue to be desperate for a playoff berth – it’s been three straight years that they have not played in the post season. Joe Flacco will be aided by the additions of three new receivers.  They shored up their defense last year. Ravens fans are desperate for a winner – so is Coach John Harbaugh.  They’re better and desperate – could be a winning combination.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals – Here we go again – I never know what to do with the Bengals. This team should be good – maybe even very good.  They often do not play to their capability, but, also, seem better than their record.  I picked them third last year and see no reason to change this year– so be it.
  4. Cleveland Browns – Three years – four wins: I always know where to pick the Browns. Dead last.  But they have another new starting quarterback – the #1 pick in the draft, Baker Mayfield, but it might take him awhile to become the starter.  The offensive line remains from last season, the receiving crew is adequate and their young defense is back and should be better.  They have not won a road game since 2015.  They will remain dead last.

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots – This is a lock! They have won 15 East titles in the last 16 years.  Ten straight!  Even though they lost a number of players since last year, the division remains weak; but there is a Brady and a Gronkowski.  Oh, and there’s Bill Belichick.  They may have lost a bit of their luster, but not enough to lose this division.
  2. New York Jets – #3 draft pick QB Sam Darnold is in the fold and I have moved the Jets from a last place pick last year to second. The schedule doesn’t help any of the teams below the Patriots because they crossover with the AFC South and the NFC North.  Because of that, the Jets will improve, but they will not make the playoffs.
  3. Miami Dolphins – Is Ryan Tannehill healthy after knee surgery? If so, can he last a season?  They added Danny Amendola from New England to aid the offense, but lost some key defensive players.  They will not contend for the playoffs either.
  4. Buffalo Bills – There are no positives to report on here. Josh Allen was spotty at QB last season and with a porous offensive line, there will not be much improvement. They will not make the playoffs for the eighth straight year. 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. What would you pay for a signed baseball with the names Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and Walter Johnson on it? This was the first group inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It was sold this past week for a record $623,369.  The previous high was $388,000 for a Babe Ruth ball.
  1. The Red Sox (85-35) have the same number of wins as the Orioles (35-84) have losses. They are 50 games over .500.  Their season has been phenomenal.
  1. Years ago, we broadcast the PIAA state baseball championships from Williamsport’s Bowman Field. It was adjacent to the Little League complex where the Little League World Series is played.  The Phillies will play the Mets there Sunday, August 19, in what is being called the Little League Classic.  Phillies infielder Scott Kingery played in the World Series in 2006.
  1. Lafayette football media day is this week. The Leopards open their season at Sacred Heart, September 1, at 6:00pm.  Sacred Heart beat Lafayette 38-24 last year, racking up 504 yards of total offense.  RCN-TV’s first Lafayette game will be at Delaware with a 3:35pm start on September 8.
  1. We will start the high school season on Friday, August 24, when Southern Lehigh hosts the Saucon Valley Panthers. These two teams should be in the hunt for a Colonial League title.

 

 

 

 

Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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