Here we are again! Another new Madden season is ready to kickoff. There’s something about the nostalgic feeling you get when you open that brand new package every single August. The air starts getting crisper, the controller gets a little cooler, and the MOF opens its doors once again for another series of Madden seasons!!
Season 46, who would’ve thought in 2003 that we’d still be here in 2018 with our 46th season. It’s beautiful crazy if i say so myself. The MOF is surging and we have to thank everyone involved for that. We completed the Season 46 team draft in less than 24 hours, we’re in the middle of the free-agent draft and we’re ready to kick off the season on Thursday August 23. But first…. The seasonal predictions that everyone loves so much! I hope you all enjoy!
*Remember all these predictions are very in depth. We go game by game with the current schedule and predict games 1 by 1 and that's how we come up with our algorithms. Remember this is all in good fun and for some, some bulletin board material! Enjoy*
Buffalo Bills - Coach Trigrdan
Coach Trigrdan surprised some of us with the pick of the Buffalo Bills at #26. A Lot of experts thought the Bills would go dead last or in the 30s for sure, but Trig proves us wrong. Trigrdan controlled the Cardinals for Madden ‘18 and he went a combined 28-36 which is what happens when you take the Arizona challenge. Trig is a hall of fame coach, he made the Super Bowl 1 time in his illustrious MOF career and looks to return to the promise land with the new look Bills and their sexy rookie QB Josh Allen. Armed with six picks in the top 100 of the draft, The Bills didn’t disappoint in landing a top quarterback prospect to replace Tyrod Taylor, trading up five spots to take Allen seventh overall. While another Josh, UCLA’s Rosen, is more MOF ready and was available, the Bills believe Allen’s ceiling is much higher and aren’t afraid to give him the time and the coaching he needs to succeed. Veteran AJ McCarron and second-year pro Nathan Peterman give Buffalo options until Allen is ready. McCarron, the former Alabama star who sat behind Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, refuses to believe he’s a “bridge” quarterback. But Allen is the highest QB ever taken by Buffalo, and it won’t take much of a stumble out of the starting gate for fans to start calling for the prized rookie. For the short term, new coach Trig will have no choice but to give lots of touches to venerable running back LeSean McCoy, who just gets better with age. McCoy has rushed for 3,300 yards (on a 4.6-yard average) and 22 touchdowns since coming to Buffalo three seasons ago in a trade with Philadelphia that still seems too good to be true. The Bills have finished, first, first and sixth in rushing with McCoy on board. The addition of Chris Ivory gives the Bills a bigger change-of-pace back who can spell McCoy and keep his workload at about 250 carries now that he’ll be 30 years old. A major unknown, however, is whether Buffalo can rebuild a line that was jolted by the retirements of center Eric Wood and Richie Incognito and a trade that sent left tackle Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati. Dion Dawkins, who earned 11 starts as a rookie, will step in full time at left tackle, and free agent Russell Bodine, a four-year starter for the Bengals, will fill the giant hole left by Wood at center. But Incognito’s left guard spot will be open for competition, with former starter John Miller penciled in. Incognito was placed on the reserve/retired list, but it’s possible he could return for a 13th season at age 34. If not, Wyatt Teller, a fifth-round pick from Virginia Tech, has a chance to start at one of the guard spots. Jordan Mills returns at right tackle. If the Bills can keep their QB upright, improving the passing game will depend on a troubled receiving corps. Beane and McDermott tapped their connections to add Jordan Matthews and Kelvin Benjamin with in-season moves last year that didn’t produce much. If the 6'5" Benjamin can shake his history of injuries, he can cause matchup headaches in the red zone. Meanwhile, Zay Jones, who caught 27 passes for 316 yards and two scores as a rookie, must overcome the dropsies and a bizarre offseason episode in a hotel hallway to get his career back on track. The Bills did not bring in a lot of receiving competition and lost Deonte Thompson to Dallas and Matthews to New England. Brandon Reilly, who turned heads in camp last year, has a chance to earn more time. Buffalo’s most reliable targets are tight ends Charles Clay, who had one of his better seasons, and underrated backup Nick O’Leary. The Bills have a large stable to rotate on the defensive line in their 4-3 look. All four starters are back in ends Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson and tackles Kyle Williams and Adolphus Washington. That foursome combined for 12 sacks in 2017 in Buffalo’s one-gap assault. Williams, 34, will return for a 13th season and will groom Phillips to take his place. Williams has 575 career tackles and 43.5 sacks and can still bring it. He’s someone McDermott leans on heavily. Hughes’ sack production has tailed off since back-to-back 10-sack seasons in 2013 and ’14, but he still must be accounted for. Lawson, Buffalo’s first-round pick in 2016 who was slowed by injury in his rookie season, established himself with 33 tackles and four sacks and will be expected to double those totals. Eddie Yarbrough and free agent Trent Murphy, coming off a nine-sack year with Washington, add depth. At linebacker, Lorenzo Alexander, 34, another of Rex Ryan’s productive holdovers, is coming off a 73-tackle, three-sack season. He is a team leader but will need a big training camp to stick. Edmunds is a huge addition. He led the Hokies in tackles with 109, adding 5.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. The belief is that he’ll be for Buffalo what Luke Kuechly was for McDermott in Carolina: a three-down, sideline-to-sideline player who makes it all click. Matt Milano, who earned five starts as a rookie out of Boston College, should man the left outside spot. He proved to be an underrated playmaker. The strength of the defense is the secondary, which got even stronger with the addition of longtime Colt Vontae Davis. Safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, along with rookie corner Tre’Davious White, combined for 246 tackles and 14 interceptions. Davis adds 22 career interceptions to the group. He appeared in just five games last year for the Colts due to groin surgery, but if he can return to his Pro Bowl form he would give Buffalo a top 1-2 cornerback combination with the talented White, who earned NFL All-Rookie honors. Poyer and Hyde already have chemistry at safety in the Bills’ zone-heavy scheme. Poyer had a career year with 95 tackles and five interceptions, and Hyde was a solid pickup from Green Bay. Fourth-round pick Taron Johnson of Weber State will get a long look at nickel after the Bills lost two solid veterans in Shareece Wright and E.J. Gaines. Trig’s dominance on the ground in Madden ‘18 makes me believe he’ll be even stronger with LeSean McCoy and a building rookie QB. I expect Trig to do damage here in the AFC and not really be contended with.
Prediction: 9-7, 1st place AFC East
Miami Dolphins - Coach Jerdog101
Coach Jerdog had himself a tough rookie edition with the Colts, going 10-26 in his tenure there. He turned things around a bit last season finishing 7-9 but we all know Season 45 was a sim show. Jerdog comes into Madden ‘19 with the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were not a very sought out team as they went #29 in the draft.
Despite hosting private visits with the draft’s major quarterback prospects, the Dolphins reaffirmed their commitment to Tannehill by not trading up from the 11th overall spot. A 37-40 career record has left plenty of Dolphins fans wary about whether Tannehill is good enough to shed his “game manager” label. Jerdog insists that the 8-5 record Tannehill posted in 2016 before initially getting hurt is a sign of things to come. Jerdog was particularly impressed by how Tannehill remained engaged through attendance at games and team meetings during the rehabilitation process while Jay Cutler replaced him in the starting lineup with lackluster results. “I feel like [Tannehill] did get better even though he didn’t play,” says Jerdog, who works intimately with Miami’s quarterbacks as the offensive play caller. “I think we’re going to see some positive things come out of that experience he had to go through.” In hopes of rekindling some of the magic from their time together in Denver, Brock Osweiler is reuniting with Jerdog as Tannehill’s backup. Tannehill will need to find a new favorite target as Miami traded wide receiver Jarvis Landry to Cleveland. Landry had a bumpy working relationship with the team, who believes Miami can compensate for Landry’s production through a combination of free-agent additions Albert Wilson (Kansas City) and Danny Amendola (New England) joining the returning Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker. “The ball is going to be spread out more,” Jerdog says. “That’s really what we’re looking to do and kind of what I’ve done in the past with offenses I’ve been involved in.” The Dolphins are counting on Tannehill receiving support from running backs Kenyan Drake and newcomer Frank Gore. Although the midseason decision to trade Jay Ajayi raised eyebrows, Drake filled in nicely and quietly led the NFL in rushing from Weeks 13 through 17 with 444 yards on 91 carries (4.9-yard average). Gore, who wanted to wrap up his future Pro Football Hall of Fame career in his hometown, should serve as a capable complement and mentor. Both the running and passing games need improved play from an offensive line that added veteran left guard Josh Sitton (Chicago) and center Daniel Kilgore (San Francisco). New offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn is expected to get more out of tackles Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James than predecessor Chris Foerster, whose drug binge inside team headquarters and subsequent departure were among the NFL’s biggest embarrassments in 2017. Right guard will be a camp battle between Ted Larsen and Jesse Davis. The tight end unit looks shaky unless 2018 second-round pick Mike Gesicki is ready to become an immediate contributor. The reality is, as an early entry junior from Penn State, he’s probably not. The defensive line did receive some veteran help when Miami acquired Robert Quinn in a trade from the Rams. He will be returning to a more comfortable role as a 4-3 end after playing 3-4 outside linebacker in 2017. Quinn, Cameron Wake, William Hayes and 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris give the Dolphins a potentially potent edge rush that will be even better if Andre Branch rebounds from a disappointing season following a contract extension. The secondary remains spearheaded by Reshad Jones, who led all NFL safeties in tackles last season with 122. Third-year cornerback Xavien Howard should start to garner Pro Bowl consideration if he can build upon a breakthrough 2017 campaign. Howard enjoyed a strong December with multi-interception games against Denver and New England. The first-round selection of Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick could lead to T.J. McDonald assuming a hybrid safety-linebacker role. They also signed CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as well to add to their secondary. Speaking of linebackers, Miami fielded arguably the NFL’s slowest unit in 2017. The Dolphins are counting on the return of middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan, a 2017 second-round pick who missed his entire rookie season because of a knee injury. Speedy 2018 third-round pick Jerome Baker could immediately push Stephone Anthony for his starting outside linebacker job on the opposite side of Kiko Alonso. Free-agent arrival Terence Garvin (Seattle) is a top backup and core special teams player. If Miami wants to compete we’re going to need to see a lot more out of Jerdog this edition. His short career here has not shown us much success so we can’t really expect much out of the Miami Dolphins in Season 46.
Prediction: 3-13, 4th place AFC East
New England Patriots - Coach Hovadagod_23
Coach Hova is back with the Patriots after his stint in Madden ‘18 with the same team. Hova has not had success here in the MOF with 106 wins to his 273 career losses. Including his two seasons of Madden ‘18 where he went 3-13 both seasons. With the competition a little light this edition Coach Hova has a chance to turn things around if he can focus and put some work in. These guys have Tom Brady, that’s really all you need.
Brady is still the leader of an offense that has the versatility and firepower to be one of the top units in the league. The 41-year-old QB will benefit from the return of wide receiver Julian Edelman, whose slipperiness in the slot and after-the-catch ability bring an element that no one else on the roster can replicate. For as dynamic as tight end Rob Gronkowski is, it’s Edelman who is the top option in the passing game, and his return from an ACL injury will be a major boost. That return could be delayed, however, as Edelman’s use of PED’s has become public. The MOF has yet to issue a statement. Gronkowski’s future was up in the air coming into this season, but he has publicly stated he will return, so Brady has his most dangerous red zone weapon. And even with the loss of Brandin Cooks, whom the Pats traded to the Rams, Brady will have plenty of speed on the outside with weapons like Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett. Look for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to get creative with Patterson by using him on jet sweeps and quick screens. The run game will still look mostly the same, even with Dion Lewis off to the Tennessee Titans. Rookie Sony Michel has the same blend of skills but is bigger and more durable. The beginning of the season may be a little more of an adjustment as he picks up the blocking schemes, but his downfield style with an ability to cut forcefully in the open field and accelerate can be a threat on all three downs, although James White will still likely be the man on third down for now. The offensive line lost its longtime left tackle when Nate Solder took a deal with the Giants in free agency, and the Patriots were aggressive both drafting potential replacements and acquiring them through free agency. Overall, the strength of this unit is at center and right guard with David Andrews and Shaq Mason, respectively, although first-round pick Isaiah Wynn should step in somewhere and provide immediate help. Whether that’s at guard or tackle is still up in the air. Although the Patriots found themselves limiting opponents to low point totals for most of last season. The problems went deeper than just the curious and controversial benching of Butler, as the pass rush was nonexistent, the linebackers consistently missed assignments and the secondary -- like the whole unit -- covered and tackled poorly. The central culprit in all these struggles, aside from the uncharacteristic mental mistakes at the second level, has to do with an overall lack of speed and athleticism. More than anything, when comparing the Patriots to some of the top defenses in the league, the others simply look a step faster and more explosive. The Patriots will still likely be stout at the point of attack, and the return of Dont’a Hightower from injury will add some force to the edge. There’s a possibility that the back seven, or, as the case may be, eight, could feature a little more speed. Seventh-round pick Keion Crossen might be the fastest cornerback on the team, and the acquisition of Devin McCourty’s twin brother, Jason, offers a versatile number of corner options to add some competition to pair with Stephon Gilmore, who is the best pure man cover guy. The safeties are a solid and versatile group, but the Patriots use them in such a wide variety of ways that there’s not really a set formula as to who will be on the field and who won’t. They sometimes employ four-safety sets, but look for rookie Duke Dawson to play in the box to provide run support or just be a rover-type who roams around and provides help with crossing routes. That has been Patrick Chung’s role, and he might still hold onto that starting job; he is one of the best tacklers on the team in space. However, the Patriots invested a second-round pick on Dawson and may envision him as the eventual replacement. Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon still provide one of the steadiest deep safety tandems in the league, so the defense should be able to limit the big plays, provided the two stay healthy and the unit’s coverage ability improves. However, limiting big plays should remain a big point of emphasis, because teams that spread the field on the Patriots had a tremendous amount of success. The Patriots have a lot of talent, but unfortunately Hova does not. Even in this weaker AFC East, i still think the Patriots and Hova will continue to struggle until Hova puts in the time to become better.
Prediction: 4-12, 3rd place AFC East
New York Jets - Coach Coachsmith1993
Coachsmith1993 makes his long awaited return to the MOF after 15 seasons. We only saw a sample size of Coachsmith1993 back then as he went 8-5 with the Steelers after taking over an 0-3 team. He picked the Jets in the team draft at #31, not much else to choose from, but i believe the future is bright in New York as they have their franchise rookie Quarterback Sam Darnold. Coach is already looking for deals for Bridgewater as he doesn’t seem to factor into the team, as McCown seems to be the 2nd string QB. Darnold, whenever he plays, should be a good fit for the offense under the new coach, presuming Smith uses a similar West Coast approach to what Latinaynk employed last season. Darnold has the touch and accuracy on his short- and mid-range timing throws that the Jets need. But can he eradicate the turnover issues he struggled with last season at USC? If Darnold isn’t ready, the Jets have a perfectly acceptable starter in Josh McCown, who started last year and is familiar with Bates. The Jets made a modest investment ($500,000 guaranteed) in Teddy Bridgewater, so they can cut him if his surgically repaired knee isn’t up to par. The knee injury he sustained in 2016 training camp was so serious that he hasn’t played in essentially two years. And the Jets are rightly skeptical about whether he can return to his previous form. A major problem for the Jets last season was their offensive line. They allowed 47 sacks, tied for seventh most in the MOF. But they fixed a couple issues in the offseason. They let underwhelming center Wesley Johnson leave in free agency and replaced him with Spencer Long, who should be an upgrade. And right guard Brian Winters is healthy -- following surgery -- after he played most of last season with a torn abdominal muscle. The Jets still lack a game-breaking running back and true No. 1 receiver, but they can perhaps get by with committee approaches at those positions. Running back Bilal Powell is going on 30, but he gives the Jets versatility, as a runner and pass catcher. Over the past two seasons, Powell has rushed for a total of 1,494 yards on a healthy 4.8-yard average and caught 81 passes for 558 yards. The Jets signed Isaiah Crowell in free agency, and he should complement Powell nicely. Crowell has started all 16 games in each of the last two seasons, with a total of 1,805 yards for two bad (obviously) Browns teams. The biggest question for the Jets’ receivers is whether Quincy Enunwa can return to form after missing 2017 with a neck injury. He and Robby Anderson both have the ability to be No. 1 receivers, but neither has yet proved it over the long haul. Terrelle Pryor, a free-agent pickup, gives the Jets a big-bodied target in the red zone. And that type of target could be important for the Jets’ receivers because their tight ends are so unproven, after Austin Seferian-Jenkins left for the Jaguars. The Jets will essentially have two rookies leading that position -- Jordan Leggett and Chris Herndon (a true rookie). The Jets drafted Leggett last year, but he missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury. The Jets’ secondary was average at best in season 45. Ditto for the Jets’ entire defense, which finished 27th Football Daddy League’s ratings. But the team’s big-ticket free-agent acquisition, Trumaine Johnson, gives them a true No. 1 corner who could change the face of their defense. Johnson, who comes to New York after six seasons with the Rams, has the size and physicality to thrive in Bowles’ defense, which requires corners to play press man-to-man coverage with regularity. Johnson’s presence also will take some pressure off Morris Claiborne, who isn’t a No. 1 corner but had to play that role last season. The Jets need slot cornerback Buster Skrine to cut down on his penalties. If he can, this should be a much-improved secondary. The pass rush could be another issue, since the Jets didn’t do a ton to fix it in the offseason. They finished 28th in the NFL in sack percentage last season. Leonard Williams is a prodigious defensive end, but he needs to improve his first step in order to turn quarterback hits into sacks. Last season, he had 25 quarterback hits but just two sacks. Another pass-rushing issue for the Jets is whether they can keep offensive lines honest and prevent them from double-teaming Williams. The Jets didn’t sign a big-name pass rusher to play opposite Williams. Instead, they’re taking the committee approach here, too, with veterans Xavier Cooper and Henry Anderson as well as rookies Nathan Shepherd and Foley Fatukasi. Will that be enough to free up Williams? This remains a large question for the Jets. They also need Jordan Jenkins, a capable run-stopping outside linebacker, to give them more as a pass rusher. This is a big Year 3 coming up for Jenkins, a former third-round pick. Middle linebacker is often an overlooked part of a defense these days, but Demario Davis very quietly had an excellent season with a career-best five sacks. The Jets didn’t want to meet his asking price, and he signed with the Saints. Davis’ replacement, former Tennessee Titan Avery Williamson, is three years younger, but he’ll have to learn Bowles’ defense quickly. Plus, there are questions about Williamson’s coverage skills, which will put pressure on the Jets’ other inside linebacker, former first-round pick Darron Lee, to finally show he can be a more effective coverage linebacker -- and a more disruptive defender. Expect safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye to continue to progress -- especially with pre-snap reads -- in Year 2 after both impressed as rookies last year. They look like future stars, but both are still learning on the job. Getting a more consistent pass rush and steadier cornerback play are the two biggest issues for this defense. The Jets could be the biggest surprise of the MOF because we don’t really know what Coachsmith1993 can do. However we don’t give “rookies” too much respect until they earn it, but I expect the Jets to finish 2nd and show some signs of greatness through Season 46.
Prediction: 6-10, 2nd place AFC East
Final Take AFC East: Trig is the only coach that has had any legit long term success in this league. Jerdog and Coachsmith are newcomers and they could definitely turn it around in the future. Hova is who Hova is, and unless he can put in the work he’s going to stay around 4-12 until then. This is Trig’s division to win, barring anything catastrophic, he will run away with it.
Baltimore Ravens - Coach Bhicks14
The Baltimore Ravens were selected 18th overall by Coach Hicks who took the Lions to a 10-6 record last season but missed out on the playoffs. Hicks started the first two seasons of Madden ‘18 in Miami, including a 11-5 division title. Quietly Hicks was a solid coach and moving over to Baltimore should enhance his skills. The biggest question going into the season is who is going to start at QB? Joe Flacco or Lamar Jackson? The offense was tough to watch for most of last season, and drastic change was the offseason result. Four of the top five pass catchers from last year are gone, replaced by veterans Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead and rookie tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews. Two starters from the offensive line are gone as well. Coach Hicks opted not to make a change at offensive coordinator, giving Marty Mornhinweg another opportunity to unlock the team’s downfield passing game and get Flacco playing with more consistency. Once regarded as one of the best deep-ball throwers in the game, Flacco has averaged under seven yards per attempt in three straight seasons. He threw for more than 250 yards in just four of 16 games last season. Flacco missed the entire preseason last year with a back injury, and it affected his preparation. He looked healthier and more engaged in the offseason workouts, and team officials got his attention by drafting of Jackson, who will be brought along slowly. At his best when the stakes are highest, Flacco could certainly delay the Jackson era in Baltimore by regaining his 2014 form. But he needs to clean up his mechanics and be more willing to let things develop down the field rather than quickly dumping the ball off. He will have a more diverse and explosive set of targets this season. Crabtree is still lethal in the red zone, Brown is a deep threat, and Snead can get open in the slot. Flacco loves throwing to his tight ends, and in Hurst and Andrews, the Ravens have two who can get down the field and catch in traffic. It’s not a top-level receiving group, but all the options fit better together than Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman did last year. The Ravens rediscovered a running game last season after two years without one. Alex Collins, who was picked up in early September when he didn’t make the Seattle Seahawks and rushed for 973 yards and six touchdowns, will remain the lead back. The Ravens don’t believe his breakout last season was an aberration, but he needs to distance himself from some of the ball security issues that he’s had. An offensive line that allowed only 27 sacks last season but was protected by conservative play calling gets back starting guards Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis from injuries. It isn’t clear, though, whether the Ravens adequately replaced center Ryan Jensen. Matt Skura will get the first opportunity, but he has yet to start an NFL game at the position. The Ravens also need either James Hurst or rookie Orlando Brown to emerge as a reliable right tackle. The Ravens defense pretty much returns in its entirety, but there are questions whether the front office did enough to solidify this group. The Ravens allowed the 9th most points per game (26.0) in the MOF last season. The Ravens will feel very good about their cornerback depth if their top cover guy, Jimmy Smith, makes an on-time return from last December’s Achilles surgery. A 2017 first-round pick, Marlon Humphrey had a nice rookie season, and he figures to supplant solid veteran Brandon Carr as the starter on the outside at some point. With Tavon Young and Maurice Canady in the mix, the Ravens have five corners they’re comfortable with. They’re seeking more consistency from the veteran safety duo of Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson. Early injuries to defensive linemen Brandon Williams and Brent Urban took a toll on a normally vaunted run defense. For the Ravens to get back to being a top defense, they need to be dominant against the run and get other pass rushers to emerge. At age 35, Terrell Suggs continues to play at a high level, thanks to a greater commitment to the offseason workout program. The Ravens believe third-year linebacker Matthew Judon, who had eight sacks last year, is an ascending star. However, young pass rushers Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams need to emerge. Barring injuries, the starting defense will be mostly set heading into training camp except for the weak-side linebacker spot alongside C.J. Mosley. Patrick Onwuasor currently sits atop the depth chart ahead of Kamalei Correa and rookie Kenny Young. With a nice mix of accomplished veterans and promising young players, the Ravens believe they have the personnel to be a top-five defense. However, they’ll need to learn to close games before they get that kind of respect. The only problem is the division they are in. It will be a big challenge for Hicks and right now with the QB issues, we think he might be a season or two away.
Prediction: 4-12, 4th place AFC North
Cincinnati Bengals - Coach Gouch
Gouch selected the Bengals with the 20th pick in the team draft, which was a surprise to a lot of us, but he sticks by his choice. Coach Gouch jumped on the scene in Madden ‘18 as he improved almost every season. Season 45 he took a bit of a step back but overall he had a successful Madden ‘18 in Los Angeles, including 1 playoff victory. How will he stack up in Cincinnati? There are rumors already floating around that Andy Dalton’s job could be in trouble, and Adam “Pacman” Jones could be on his way back to the team as well. Speaking of Dalton, the only viable option outside of him is Matt Barkley since they let AJ McCarron walk. With Jeremy Hill leaving the team, Joe Mixon looks to be the man. It’s a shame that their offensive line is one of the worst in the league. AJ Green returns for another season and his prime years are being wasted on a team that really needs to improve quickly before Green declines. Brandon LaFell is a solid #2 and don’t forget about speed demon John Ross. Tyler Eifert is an elite TE and will provide a nice safety blanket for Dalton. Nothing has changed up front for the Bengals as Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins are two elite players in their primes on the defensive line. Rookie Sam Hubbard looks to get into the rotation as well. Vontaze Burfict, when he’s not getting suspended, is as good as it gets at MLB. Rookie Malik Jefferson brings a lot of athleticism to the OLB position. Preston Brown, a very nice free-agent signing, will also provide some solid LB play. The five players slated to play the most in Cincinnati’s secondary -- Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson, Darqueze Dennard, George Iloka and Shawn Williams -- were all drafted and developed by the Bengals. The unit has been one of the most stable in the league and is poised again to be the backbone for one of the best pass defenses. Still, there’s no complacency in Cincinnati, as the Bengals hammered away at the secondary with the addition of three new players. The one set to have the biggest immediate impact is second-rounder Jessie Bates, a ball-hawking safety out of Wake Forest. The Bengals, just like the Ravens, are in a position where they’re going to have a tough battle in a very strong division, so i see them taking a back seat to the Browns and Steelers. Does that mean they can’t get a wild-card? No.. but will they? No.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place AFC North
Cleveland Browns - Coach Pettigrew95
Pettigrew95 is arguably one of the most underrated and underappreciated coaches in MOF history. He is currently on the MOF Hall of Fame ballot for the 2nd time in as many years and it looks like he’s going to get snubbed again. Petti is tied for the 3rd most playoff wins in MOF history, IN MOF HISTORY. Last edition was easily his best, getting to the Super Bowl twice , losing twice to the edited Vikings. He had a combined record of 47-16. That’s unbelievable. Petti brings his talents north and to the west a little bit as he takes the Browns with the 15th overall pick. The Browns are a sexy team going into Madden ‘19 and how can they not be? Baker Mayfield, Carlos Hyde, Jarvis Landry, and the recently reinstated Josh Gordon. Who will be the QB though? The Browns picked Mayfield because of his accuracy and leadership. He’ll have to adapt to the NFL game and Haley’s playbook, but Dorsey believes Mayfield will eventually raise the level of the entire organization the way he did at Oklahoma in his Heisman Trophy campaign last season. Dorsey cleaned out the entire 2017 QB room and also added veteran Drew Stanton, who will serve as a tutor to Mayfield while Taylor spends the summer adjusting to his new teammates and system. It’s a situation that could work, but it’s one that could come with volatility. That’s the question. Mayfield or Taylor? Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas retired, leaving a vacancy at left tackle on what’s otherwise an experienced and highly paid offensive line. Chris Hubbard comes from the Steelers and will be the right tackle. For now, Kevin Zeitler and Joel Bitonio are back at guard and JC Tretter returns at center. Shon Coleman, last year’s right tackle, will battle second-round rookie Austin Corbett for the left tackle spot. Both Jackson and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley have promised that the Browns will run the ball, and second-round pick Nick Chubb could become the starting running back. Carlos Hyde signed in March and will be in the mix, and Duke Johnson is also in the plans. Johnson is coming off a breakout season and was signed to a three-year contract extension in June. He’s crafty in space and catches the ball well out of the backfield. The Browns signed three veteran cornerbacks in March and used the No. 4 pick in the draft on Ward. T.J. Carrie figures to be the team’s slot cornerback, while E.J. Gaines will compete for a starting job. Terrance Mitchell was also added, and Jamar Taylor might be moved before the season. Briean Boddy-Calhoun saw action at both safety and cornerback last season. If healthy, he should make the team again and will have a chance to earn snaps. Given the additions at cornerback, he’ll probably open training camp as a safety. All three starters at linebacker return. Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey played every defensive snap last season, and both need to be better against the pass. Jamie Collins is the Browns’ most gifted linebacker. Schobert went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate in his first year as a starter. He’s an ascending player, but the Browns have to upgrade their overall defensive talent so he’s not playing every snap. Mychal Kendricks was signed after being released by Philadelphia. If the offense can be good enough to keep the defense fresh and in more pass-rush situations, the Browns believe they have enough athletes to give opposing quarterbacks headaches. Pettigrew is going to be a force there’s no doubt about it, and he will battle Pauly’s Steelers for all 4 or 5 seasons for that division title.
Prediction: 11-5, 2nd place AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers - Coach Pauly2110
Pauly is the MOF career leader in wins, 2nd in career playoff victories, and 2nd in Super Bowl appearances. However he has zero rings to show for it. If you’re talking about consistency though, it doesn’t get more consistent than Coach Pauly. Last edition he went 14-2, 11-5, 12-4, and 12-4 again. He lost 1 Super Bowl to the Vikings just like Pettigrew did. The big question is, when will Pauly win his ring? Well he definitely has the greatest team he’s ever had in these Steelers, so the time is now! Roethlisberger, at 36, has openly talked about his football mortality but should be reinvigorated by the arrival of rookie Mason Rudolph, the highest-drafted Steelers quarterback since Roethlisberger back in 2004. Roethlisberger doesn’t move the way he did as a rookie, but he makes up for it with craftiness and trust in his loaded stable of playmakers. There’s no better security blanket in the business than Bell. If Bell, who is unhappy with his contract situation, bypasses training camp like he did last year, it’s fair to expect a slow start from the talented running back. It just might not matter, as Brown remains in the thick of his prime after clearing 1,500 yards with nine touchdowns in 2017. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s breakout rookie season made Martavis Bryant expendable, and the Steelers will count on the second-year player to do even more. If his rookie season was only a sneak preview of what’s to come, Pittsburgh might just have the best one-two punch at wide receiver in the MOF. If they get half the production from rookie James Washington -- a second-round pick out of Oklahoma State -- that they got from Smith-Schuster as a rookie, it will be considered a win. Jesse James has acquitted himself nicely as the featured tight end, but his production hasn’t matched what Heath Miller gave the offense in the past. They don’t really need it to. Stability has been the key for Pittsburgh’s offensive line, which comes back in full for Season 46. Three of the five -- left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro - -are coming off Pro Bowl appearances. Their presence gave Pittsburgh no choice but to let Chris Hubbard, a key reserve whom the franchise groomed and developed over four seasons, walk in free agency. Up front, the Steelers remain stout and stable. Cameron Heyward made the 2018 Pro Bowl and continues to embody the nastiness Pittsburgh fans relish from their hardest hitters. He’s coming off a season in which he recorded the most sacks (12) by a Steelers defensive lineman in more than 30 years, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again. The Steelers remain young at outside linebacker. As a rookie, T.J. Watt led everyone at the position with seven sacks, while Bud Dupree, who is entering his fourth season, tallied six. Both have been asked to do more than previous players in their positions, as the modernization of NFL offenses has forced them to drop into coverage more often. Watt has been especially up to the task, as head coach Pauly2110 has described him as “more of a linebacker than a lineman.” Dupree’s performance has been up and down thus far, but Pittsburgh provided him with a boost of confidence of sorts when they picked up his fifth-year option. Anthony Chickillo saw his playing time increase in 2017, and he can be counted on if Watt or Dupree goes down for any period of time. Also don’t forget Ryan Shazier who’s coming off a life threatening injury, but in Madden ‘19 he will be available. In the middle, with Shazier the team will roll forward with Vince Williams and Jon Bostic, whom the Steelers signed in free agency. Bostic has bounced around the league since he arrived as a second-round pick out of Florida, but he’s the frontrunner to take Shazier’s spot on the depth chart. He’s coming off one of his most productive seasons, recording 97 tackles in 14 games with the Colts. Pauly is going to be a force every single season and it will be fun to watch him play with these Steelers.
Prediction: 13-3, 1st place AFC North
Final Take AFC North: Two team race in my mind. Browns and Steelers will dominate the division and probably the AFC to be honest. I think out of all the divisions in the MOF, this one will be the toughest, you have the Bengals and Ravens who would probably be playoff teams if it wasn't for the juggernauts of Pauly and Pettigrew. The division winner could flip flop but either way both coaches will be in the playoffs, or i’d be shocked.
Houston Texans - Coach BigDre245
Coach Big Bad Dre is back in the AFC South but this time he’s deep in the heart of Texas. Dre ran with the Jaguars last season and his first two seasons were terrific, 13-3 and 11-5 and lost in the conference championship both times. The last two seasons, not so much. 8-8 and 7-9. He will have to focus on consistency this season with the Texans if he wishes to have the same success he had early with the Jaguars last season. Dre is 1 of 6 active coaches who have a Super Bowl ring so the prestige is there. Dre is a big fan of Deshaun Watson, and how can you not be? Without Watson, the line will be exposed. This group should have four new starters, with center Nick Martin as the only full-time starter back. Guards Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete and right tackle Seantrel Henderson were signed as free agents. Left tackle Julien Davenport started four games as a rookie and was one of five players to start at the position. The line can’t be worse than their real life counterpart in 2017, but there are questions -- either talent- or health-related -- about every projected starter and backup. The top three running backs -- Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman (returning from a real life ruptured Achilles tendon) and Alfred Blue -- are back to compete for playing time. They lack breakaway speed and big-play capability. If he’s healthy, Foreman might beat out Miller. Foreman is a powerful runner between the tackles and has speed to get outside. He’s an underrated receiver. Miller is a splendid receiver who can pass protect better than anyone in the backfield. Miller and Foreman will get the bulk of the carries. DeAndre Hopkins earned real life All-Pro recognition last season after snagging 96 passes for 1,378 yards and an NFL-best 13 TDs. Despite persistent double teams and defenses trying to beat him up at the line of scrimmage, he excelled with terrific ball skills, great hands and a nasty physical disposition when fighting for the ball. No matter who plays quarterback, Hopkins continues to excel. He was the only Texans receiver or tight end who stayed healthy. When Hopkins and Will Fuller, the fastest receiver on the team, played four games with Watson, the Texans averaged 40.5 points. Fuller, who was out twice with injuries, caught 13 passes from Watson, and seven went for touchdowns. Unlike his rookie year, Fuller didn’t have a problem with drops. Bruce Ellington makes big plays as the slot receiver, but he couldn’t stay on the field, either. He could be pushed by rookie Keke Coutee. Ryan Griffin is the leading candidate to replace retired tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, but he’s had problems staying healthy, too. Because of injuries, Griffin has caught more than 20 passes only once. He’s a big target who gets open down the middle, but he absorbs a lot of punishment. Veteran Stephen Anderson, a tight end who isn’t much of a blocker, will be pushed by two draft choices, Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas. Watt turned 29 in March, and he’s started only eight games -- and finished six -- the last two seasons. No one knows if Watt can return to that elite level that helped him get voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times. At this point, the Texans just need for him to stay on the field. Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney has been terrific the last two seasons but has yet to play even half a season with Watt because of injuries to both players. Clowney is outstanding against the run and drops down to end in passing situations. Without Watt and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, Clowney drew consistent double teams. Mercilus, the team’s most underrated player, returns from a real life torn pectoral muscle that cost him 11 starts. He can rush, stop the run and drop into coverage effortlessly. Benardrick McKinney, the leading tackler, and Zach Cunningham are entrenched inside. McKinney stuffs the run, sometimes pressures the quarterback but can struggle in coverage against fast running backs. The Texans value his leadership, especially with Cushing no longer on the roster, which is one of the reasons why McKinney was signed to a five-year, $50 million contract extension ($21 million guaranteed). Cunningham, a second-round pick last year, got better as his rookie season progressed. He plays hard against the run and excels on coverage. If Dre moves Clowney to end full time, that opens up a spot at outside linebacker. The competition should be between veteran Brennan Scarlett and rookie Duke Ejiofor. The team’s two biggest free-agent additions, cornerback Aaron Colvin and safety Tyrann Mathieu, should start for a secondary that was torched without a consistent pass rush. Third-round pick Justin Reid, the team’s top pick, should get a lot of playing time. He can be a deep safety or play around the line of scrimmage. He’s got the speed, athleticism and ball skills to make big plays. Free safety Andre Hal, who led the team with three interceptions, could lose his job to Reid. Hal is undersized and is best in off coverage. Mathieu signed a one-year contract for $7 million. He brings much-needed leadership that’s been missing. The Texans need for him to play around the line of scrimmage, make plays against the run and pass, and, most important, stay healthy. Colvin was one of the league’s better slot corners at Jacksonville. He signed with the Texans because he wanted a chance to start outside, where he’s in competition with veterans Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson. Bottom line Dre has the talent and the skills to be a constant threat to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl!
Prediction: 12-4, 1st place AFC South
Indianapolis Colts - Coach Shawtypizzle
Coach Shawtypizzle returns to the MOF after 7 seasons away! The last time he stepped foot in the MOF he ran with the Texans and finished 8-8. Shawtypizzle is the only coach in MOF history that has a Super Bowl title and has a career record under .500! Talk about a fluke! Shawty unfortunately wound up with the 32nd overall pick in the team draft, so he had no choice in his team selection. So much of the Colts’ success hinges on Luck’s health, and the organization is confident he’ll return to previous Pro Bowl form. Luck is a rare talent, possessing smarts to go with athleticism, and he brings a locker room together with his selfless, team-first attitude. But Coach Shawty maintains that his team can’t rely on only one man. That Luck has endured a series of serious injuries is an indictment of an inept offensive line. Quenton Nelson, the sixth overall pick in the draft, should be an immediate starter at left guard and brings a nastiness that this team needs. Second-round pick Braden Smith will also be pushing for a starting spot at guard, which should dramatically improve the interior of the line, especially with center Ryan Kelly returning after suffering a real life season-ending concussion. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is reliable, although not a Pro Bowl blocker. Right tackle is once again wide open with as many as four possibilities, none of them considered a long-term solution. An offense that ranked 31st in total yards and 28th in points scored under Coach Jerdog in Season 45, will strive for more balance. The rushing attack will be led by second-year back Marlon Mack, who steps in for Frank Gore (signed with the Dolphins) after showing promise as a rookie. The fourth-round pick out of South Florida rushed for 358 yards on 93 carries in 2017. Only twice did he have at least 10 attempts in a game. Veteran backup Robert Turbin is also capable of carrying the load at times. He may not even make it out of training camp after the Colts selected two running backs in the draft, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. When Luck throws, he will look for four-time Pro Bowl standout T.Y. Hilton and Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle. Hilton is the Colts’ best weapon -- he’s a speedy deep threat who can also help move the chains on third down. Last season, he failed to meet a 1,000-yard season but still caught 48 passes for 843 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Colts signed Ryan Grant from the Redskins. Doyle, a former undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky, looks to be the No. 1 target. Tight end Eric Ebron, a key offseason signing, is also expected to be a playmaker who should help a team still lacking depth at wide receiver. The emphasis is on speed and flying to the ball, which the Colts didn’t do consistently in season 45. The Colts parted with their best defensive player, nose tackle Johnathan Hankins, who was cut one year after signing a three-year, $30-million contract because he didn’t fit the new scheme. It’s also telling that linebacker Jon Bostic, one of the team’s leading tacklers, was allowed to depart in free agency. That means the line will be anchored by journeyman tackle Al Woods, who is with his fifth team since 2010. Hassan Ridgeway and Grover Stewart will need to improve or Ballard will start shuffling in more bodies to find guys who can hold up inside. Second-round selection Darius Leonard is expected to be an immediate upgrade at linebacker because his speed gives him three-down capability. The question is whether he gets his snaps at middle linebacker or on the outside. John Simon and Jabaal Sheard will shift from linebacker to defensive end. Sheard is the team’s most established pass rusher. Another unknown is how quickly second-round rookies Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis can get on the field at either defensive end or outside linebacker. They were drafted for their pass-rush ability. A secondary dependent upon the front seven getting pressure will be a work in progress. Perhaps the most intense training camp competition will be at cornerback, where Quincy Wilson, Pierre Desir, Kenneth Acker and Kenny Moore, among others, will try to prove they belong on the field. Wilson and Desir should have the early edge, but nothing is certain. Safety Malik Hooker was having a solid rookie year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. The former first-round pick is an obvious playmaker on a unit that doesn’t have many. Safety Clayton Geathers, who has had his three-year career slowed by injuries, is a solid hitter who needs to show improvement in pass defense. The real question is how rusty will coach Shawty be in Season 46? I think he will be a little shaky to start, but he should be able to turn it around once he gets his footing under him. I expect them to finish strong, but not enough to make a playoff run.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place AFC South
Jacksonville Jaguars - Coach Enzo
If i told you, the last 4 seasons Coach Enzo finished 10-6, 7-9, 10-6, and 11-5 you’d ask me, “okay how many playoff wins did he have?” Well the answer is, zero because he failed to make the playoffs in all 4 seasons even though he won double digit games in 3 of those 4. That’s one of the most amazing stats we’ve seen in a long time here in the MOF. Coach Enzo has a career winning percentage over .500 and a career playoff winning percentage over .500. He’s a solid coach who is ready to make that next step into the next tier of talent here in the MOF, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are definitely the right team to do that with. Last season under BigDre, the Jaguars we’re 10th in the MOF in rushing yards per game (112.1). Wash, rinse and repeat, right? Well, kind of. Yes, the Jaguars return tailback Leonard Fournette and want to continue to pound opponents, but they did not stand pat. Enter left guard Andrew Norwell. For perhaps the best free agent available, the Jaguars crafted a five-year, $66.5 million contract for the Carolina All-Pro. The Jaguars believe Norwell is the kind of mauler who can open up more room for Fournette and prevent penetrating defensive tackles from ruining plays. Left tackle Cam Robinson, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jermey Parnell return. This group excelled at protecting quarterback Blake Bortles, but despite the gaudy statistics, the offensive line needs to be more consistent in run blocking. Bortles was signed to a contract extension that essentially locks him into the starting role for the next two seasons. The people who don’t like Bortles’ game will never like it. But executive vice president Tom Coughlin saw enough to keep the quarterback he inherited. Bortles needs to continue to work on his short-to-medium range accuracy. The quarterback, tailback and most of the offensive line return, but the Jaguars overhauled their receiver and tight end corps in free agency and the draft. At receiver, gone are Allen Robinson (Chicago) and Allen Hurns (Dallas). They posted 1,000-yard seasons in 2015, but Robinson missed last year with a torn ACL and Hurns was too expensive ($7 million) for a down-the-depth-chart player. In are Donte Moncrief, formerly of Indianapolis, and second-round pick DJ Chark. Marqise Lee was re-signed, and second-year players Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole showed promise last year. The Jaguars’ hope is that the running game will pull an extra defender near the line of scrimmage to allow for the receivers to work against man coverage. At tight end, Marcedes Lewis was released after 12 seasons with the team. Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul were signed in free agency, and they join Ben Koyack and James O’Shaughnessy. The Jaguars semi-surprisingly passed on taking a tight end in the draft. Fournette is back to lead the rushing attack, followed by T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant. Last season coach BigDre let up 22.0 ppg (13th overall) and 296.8 yards per game (14th overall) It is a tough act to follow for the Jaguars’ defense, but there is little reason to believe it will not happen. They return so much talent. The Jaguars have allocated myriad resources -- draft picks and free-agent dollars -- so they can vice-grip opponents and give their offense short fields and scoring help. The Jaguars envision a straight two-platoon system on the defensive line after drafting Taven Bryan in the first round. At strong-side end, Calais Campbell (14.5 sacks) was one of the best free-agent signings ever and is a leadership force on the field and in the locker room. He will be subbed by second-year player Dawuane Smoot, who flashed last year in limited opportunities. The Jaguars should think about playing him more to further maximize Campbell’s snaps. At the rush end, Yannick Ngakoue became a star last year, a steal of a third-round pick in 2016 who had 12 sacks. His backup is Dante Fowler, a former No. 3 overall pick who gives the Jags another athletic edge-rush option on third down when Campbell moves inside. Wait, there’s more. Malik Jackson and Bryan will play the three-technique, and Bryan could kick outside to strong-side end if needed. And at nose tackle, Abry Jones and Marcell Dareus will split time. Yes, they can rush the passer, but a key will be improving their work against the run. The Jaguars allowed 104.4 yards per game last season. Telvin Smith and Myles Jack make up perhaps the most athletic pair of linebackers in the MOF. They have sideline-to-sideline range and have improved their tackling fundamentals. Smith will stay on the weak side, and Jack will move to middle linebacker instead of splitting snaps between the middle and strong side. If Jack holds up physically this year, he could join Smith as owner of a long-term contract extension. Blair Brown will get the first shot to win the strong-side linebacker role in camp. The Jaguars hope spending last year around the now-retired Paul Posluszny prepared Brown well for a bigger role. The league’s best secondary lost nickel cornerback Aaron Colvin to Houston but returns free safety Tashaun Gipson, strong safety Barry Church and Pro Bowl cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. That quartet combined for a lot of interceptions last edition. Ramsey should be considered the game’s top cornerback. He excels in coverage and is physical in the run game. Bouye became a star last year and should expect teams to challenge him again instead of going after Ramsey. D.J. Hayden was signed to replace Colvin as the nickel. The Jaguars drafted safety Ronnie Harrison in the third round. He figures to replace Church in the long term; in the short term, he could give defensive coordinator Todd Wash some sub-package options because he can cover slot receivers and tight ends. Now can Enzo get that monkey off his back and make the playoffs? I think the only thing stopping him will be BigDre’s Texans.
Prediction: 11-5, 2nd place AFC South
Tennessee Titans - Coach MaddenUSA
Coach MaddenUSA clearly was looking to go to the Raiders in the team draft, but his luck wasn’t so fortunate. However, with the 23rd pick in the team draft he went to the Tennessee Titans. MaddenUSA’s tenure here in the MOF has been a shaky one. Madden’s winning percentage is at .178 with 23 wins and 106 losses, not very good. He’s never made the playoffs and he’s entering his 10th full season. Can things turn around with the Titans? Well the Titans are a sneaky good team that is very underrated. Quarterback Marcus Mariota enters his fourth season as a charismatic question mark. After two solid campaigns to open his career, Mariota struggled through his worst MOF season under coach Kali (7 TDs, 47 INTs) in Season 45. This year, the humble Hawaiian must be the rising tide that lifts all boats on the Titans’ revamped offense. Mariota has yet to play a full 16-game season, so eighth-year veteran Blaine Gabbert or sixth-round rookie Luke Falk could see action at some point. wideout Corey Davis experienced growing pains as a rookie. But a six-catch, 91-yard outing against the Rams and a two-TD game against the Patriots were signs of life for the 6'3", 209-pounder whose insane production at Western Michigan (5,278 yards and 52 TDs) made him the No. 5 overall pick in last year’s draft. If Davis is able to take the top off of defenses in the vertical pass game, old reliables such as receiver Rishard Matthews (13 TDs in 30 games as a Titan) and three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker should provide their usual steady production over the middle and down the seam. Second-year tight end Jonnu Smith is a dual-threat blocker-receiver with enormous upside and should see an uptick in playing time. A draft-day bar fight and season-ending right foot injury derailed receiver Tajae Sharpe after a promising 2016 rookie year. But Sharpe trained with Mariota in L.A. this offseason, reigniting optimism for a breakout campaign. Receiver Taywan Taylor had only 16 catches as a rookie, but four of them went for 20-plus yards, including a 53-yard TD. Running back Derrick Henry (6'3", 247) is built like a north-south sledgehammer, but he too often dances behind the line looking to hit a home run. Henry ran for 643 yards and scored 9 times in Season 45. Expectations for Henry may exceed what he has proven capable of so far. Expect newly acquired Dion Lewis to be one of the pillars of the offense. Lewis was Pro Football Focus’ No. 5-ranked RB last year and parlayed a career year in New England into a four-year, $19.8 million deal in Tennessee. The Titans will once again boast one of the league’s strongest O-line units -- anchored by two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan, who enters the last year of his rookie contract as the offense’s vocal leader. After being named first-team All-Pro as a rookie in 2016, right tackle Jack Conklin took a step back last year and is recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered in the playoffs. Center Ben Jones is entrenched at the pivot. Returning interior starters -- left guard Quinton Spain and right guard Josh Kline -- could be pushed by free-agent acquisitions Kevin Pamphile and Xavier Su’a-Filo. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey remains one of the most underappreciated players in the league. Casey is relatively undersized (6'1", 305) but commands constant double teams. The Titans’ “win-now” window will be strongly influenced by how long Casey remains elite. DaQuan Jones chose to re-sign with the Titans this offseason after suffering a season-ending biceps injury in December. Jones had 3.5 sacks in the two games prior to injury and has flashed star potential at end and nose tackle. Versatility is a strong suit on the D-line, with both Austin Johnson and newly acquired run stuffer Bennie Logan able to play multiple positions. Nose tackle Antwaun Woods provides depth up the middle. The Titans were aggressive acquiring rookie linebackers -- trading up from No. 25 to No. 22 overall for Alabama tackling machine Rashaan Evans and from No. 57 to No. 41 overall for Boston College sack artist Harold Landry. Evans sat behind Reuben Foster before becoming a star at Bama and is expected to start alongside Wesley Woodyard from Day 1, with second-year speedster Jayon Brown fighting both for field time. Landry had 16.5 sacks in 2016 before returning to school and struggling with an ankle injury during his senior season. He will serve as a pass-rush specialist with mainstay edge-rushers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo, a reliable duo with a combined 34 sacks over the past two seasons. Kevin Dodd has been a disappointment, but the No. 33 overall pick in 2016 has obvious tools and will be given another chance to compete under Vrabel. Robinson has turned Tennessee’s secondary into “New England South,” signing Malcolm Butler to a five-year, $61 million deal this offseason and Logan Ryan to a three-year, $30 million deal last offseason. Butler is expected to start on the outside opposite Adoree’ Jackson, who had an up-and-down rookie year but showed the quick-twitch athleticism, fearlessness and nose for the football (17 pass deflections, three forced fumbles) necessary to run with top-flight wideouts. Ryan should move back into the slot, giving the Titans a trio of expensive cornerbacks. The star of the secondary is first-team All-Pro free safety Kevin Byard, a Middle Tennessee product who led the NFL with eight interceptions in his second season. Strong safety Johnathan Cyprien is a big hitter from a bygone era; his “jacked-up” style is often a liability, especially in coverage. MaddenUSA is going to struggle unless he puts more time in to become better, i do not expect a lot out of him especially in this division with two former champions.
Prediction: 2-14, 4th place AFC South
Final Take AFC South: I think the most of the season we’re going to see a two team race here with the Texans and the Jaguars. The Colts just do not have the talent to match up right now, but Coach Shawty has the talent to get there once he builds this team back up. The Titans will not be a factor, except maybe a surprise upset here and there.
Denver Broncos - Coach Sawemoff90
Coaches Overall MOF Record: 35-50 (.412) | Playoff Record: (0-2)
Coach Saw had a topsy turvy Madden ‘18, he started off Season 42 drafting the Cleveland Browns but didn’t actually get on the field citing personal reasons. Season 43 he stepped in as an interim coach for the 49ers and went (1-10) before handing the team back to Commissioner Jeff and then moving onto the vacant Buffalo job and going (3-1). Season 44 was his first full season in Buffalo and he went 8-8, and then in Season 45 he won the division but finished 6-10.. Go figure. Saw’s overall record here isn’t great, but he’s improving and in this AFC West with his secret lover Kali, should have a great time. The offensive revival starts with Keenum. Sawemoff believes the former journeyman “could be just hitting his stride.” Denver would perform cartwheels if Keenum duplicated last season’s stats in Minnesota. The Broncos were drawn to Keenum because of his toughness, leadership and the fact that “being the Broncos quarterback will not be too big for him,” Sawemoff says. Only Drew Brees was more accurate last season, and the Broncos are counting on Keenum to show mobility in the pocket and be accurate on short routes. He possesses two proven targets in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who are part of a core group of stars whom Saw challenged to improve. The Broncos desperately need a third option in the passing game, and it could come from second-year tight end Jake Butt or draft picks Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. The team cut veteran running back C.J. Anderson, but the coaching staff raves about Devontae Booker, who faces a crossroads: Can he become an every-down back and show he can break tackles at the line of scrimmage? De’Angelo Henderson remains in the mix, but the drafting of Royce Freeman adds an interesting wrinkle with his violent, physical running style. The Broncos believe their offensive line is improved, insisting that Garett Bolles will develop at left tackle and that Jared Veldheer will solidify the endless carousel at right tackle. Ron Leary shifts to left guard, and Connor McGovern, Max Garcia, Menelik Watson or rookie Sam Jones will look to provide a measure of consistency at right guard. If Keenum can avoid turnovers, manage the game and show creativity in the red zone, he could serve as the long-term answer and not just a placeholder. The defense kept the team respectable in season 45, but it could not prevent embarrassment, breaking under the strain of an underperforming offense and horrific special teams. The Broncos looked nothing like the Orange Rush group that spearheaded the Super Bowl 50 victory. Denver dropped to 33 sacks -- 19 fewer than two seasons ago -- and ranked tied for 22nd in points allowed per game. Also, the Broncos forced only 17 takeaways. During the ugly eight-game losing streak, the Broncos rarely led, allowing teams to mute the effectiveness of All-Pro Von Miller and the secondary. Room for improvement exists with a group that has fewer stars but should boast more depth. First, coordinator Joe Woods must do better in his second season after being exposed in situational substitutions during games against dynamic offenses. The Broncos should rush the passer better with the drafting of first-round defensive end Bradley Chubb. Shane Ray could be part of the mix as well after he decided to forgo another surgery on his left wrist and instead opted for rehab. Ray underwent three different surgical procedures on his wrist last year after initially tearing a ligament in training camp. He was able to return in late October, but was ineffective and managed just one sack in eight games before ending the season on injured reserve. Ray is in a contract year so motivation shouldn't be an issue for the 2015 first-round pick. If the Broncos don’t develop another pass rusher -- free agent Clinton McDonald, second-year pro DeMarcus Walker or a healthy Wolfe -- they will waste Miller’s prime years. That explains why they chose Chubb. They see him as an impact player as a rookie. Look for Chubb to be involved in simple packages on the inside and outside. He brings an array of pass-rushing moves, belying his youth. Denver’s No Fly Zone exists in a different form. Cornerback Chris Harris, the founder, remains in place. He will anchor a secondary that lost Aqib Talib -- traded to the Los Angeles Rams -- and hopes Bradley Roby is ready for prime time. Veteran Tramaine Brock represents a potential find as a nickel corner, and safety Justin Simmons is a rising star. None of that matters if the Broncos can’t cover tight ends better. They identified a potential solution, acquiring safety Su’a Cravens from Washington. He is big enough to operate as a hybrid linebacker in the run game while also helping in coverage. The Broncos did stiffen their rush defense, dropping from 130.3 yards per game in 2016 to 89.4. Veteran nose tackle Domata Peko found the fountain of youth, anchoring the group up front. Can he continue his strong play? Regardless, he needs help from Wolfe, Walker, and McDonald, and elevated play from linebackers Todd Davis, who received a new three-year contract, and Brandon Marshall, possibly in his last season with Denver. The real question is can Denver compete in a heavy AFC West with two perennial playoff coaches and another solid coach in Kali. I think Saw has some work to do, and i don’t see them making any noise here in Season 46.
Prediction: 5-11, 4th place AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs - Coach DoubleD187
DoubleD187 returns after a very impressive Madden ‘18. It was not as impressive as Madden ‘17 where he made 2 Super Bowl appearances, but it was impressive nonetheless. Disregarding Season 42 where DoubleD went 3-13, he then went 12-4, 9-7, and 11-5 respectively. DoubleD has proved himself as one of the elite coaches in the MOF and now he has a strong armed QB, and a strong overall team to battle with.
Turning the reins over to Mahomes is a calculated risk. He’s probably the most physically gifted passer DoubleD has ever coached. It will be interesting to see how DoubleD’s offense evolves to fit Mahomes’ style of play, which includes lots of deep shots. During a cameo as the starter in last year’s regular-season finale, Mahomes made some titillating throws many other NFL quarterbacks simply can’t. He’s clearly an elite talent, but can he also process the game at an elite level and limit turnovers? Mahomes certainly will have help. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill is one of the fastest players in the league, a home-run threat with every touch and seemingly an ideal target for Mahomes’ big right arm. Hill is still not a polished route runner, but he should get the chance to run under plenty of deep balls and flash the peace sign to despondent defenders. He’ll be paired with free-agent signee Sammy Watkins. Watkins’ production the last two seasons -- 2.9 catches and 44.5 yards per game in 23 appearances for the Bills in 2016 and the Rams last season -- doesn’t justify the $48 million price tag over three years, but a healthy Watkins (circa 2014-15) makes the passing game terrifying for opposing defenses. Travis Kelce remains among the MOF’s top handful of tight ends, giving the Chiefs’ new starting QB another nearly unstoppable weapon. Losing Albert Wilson hurts the depth at receiver, but Chris Conley and Demarcus Robinson, who showed uncanny chemistry with Mahomes during the 2017 preseason, provide fine reserve options. Kareem Hunt returns to lead a run game that should help the Chiefs’ offense be among the MOF’s most balanced and explosive. Hunt wore down as last season wore on, not unexpected for a rookie back, but he’ll benefit from a year of experience, a full professional offseason and the return of Spencer Ware. It was Ware’s preseason knee injury that opened the door for Hunt to become the Chiefs’ starter. Tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz are solid, if unspectacular, but the interior group got pushed around last season. Injuries to center Mitch Morse and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif were a major factor. The Chiefs need those two to stay healthy and for left guard Parker Ehinger to get healthy and capitalize on his potential. The loss of backup Zach Fulton via free agency went somewhat unnoticed, but it’s a massive blow to a group that already lacks quality depth beyond Cameron Erving and Bryan Witzmann. The Chiefs were gashed on runs inside the tackles and unable to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks, and fans and local media called for defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s job. Instead, Sutton and his 3-4 scheme are staying, and Peters was jettisoned in a move that had the fan base howling mad. To be sure, Peters was mercurial -- which the Chiefs knew before drafting him. The move was part of a major secondary overhaul, which appears to signal a change back to an aggressive press-man style. The Chiefs let three others cornerbacks -- Kenneth Acker, Phillip Gaines and Terrance Mitchell -- leave via free agency and cut free safety Ron Parker. The return of strong safety Eric Berry, who went down in the 2017 opener with a torn Achilles, is a good start in replenishing the back end. He’s one of the MOF’s best at his position when healthy and, as a cancer survivor, one of the most inspirational players in the game. But he’s also 29 years old and returning from another major injury. Don’t be surprised if fourth-round pick Armani Watts challenges for the starting free safety job. The Chiefs also were thrilled to land Fuller in the Smith trade. He’s one of the top slot corners in the MOF and will get a crack at replacing Peters, along with fourth-year veteran Steven Nelson and former Raider David Amerson, a free-agent signee with chops in press coverage. Keith Reaser and sixth-round pick Tremon Smith also could challenge for reps as the Chiefs appear to be prioritizing ball skills oversized under GM Brett Veach. Despite parting ways with all-time leading tackler Derrick Johnson, the Chiefs feel good about their starting inside linebackers -- Reggie Ragland, who flashed in limited action last season, and Anthony Hitchens, who joined the Chiefs on a five-year deal worth $45 million. Ragland is a thumper the Chiefs need to shore up the run defense, while Hitchens is the type of every-down linebacker who has been missing. Third-round pick Dorian O’Daniel should fit in nicely for Ragland in sub-packages. Up front is where the most improvement is needed -- and, yes, we’re including the Chiefs’ outside/rush linebackers in that group. Oft-injured Justin Houston and serially disappointing Dee Ford, who is coming off season-ending back surgery, must provide a consistent pass rush. Second-round pick Breeland Speaks was brought in as a versatile reinforcement, but he’ll need time to develop. Rising star Chris Jones and underappreciated Allen Bailey return and form the nucleus of a strong defensive end group with reserves Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Jarvis Jenkins. Jones has more pass-rushing chops, and Bailey sets a formidable edge in the run game. Inside, the Chiefs now turn to Xavier Williams, a 325-pound native of suburban Kansas City, in the quest to replace Dontari Poe. Williams must create push and occupy blocks to provide space for the ends and outside linebackers to work. Expect third-round pick Derrick Nnadi from Florida State to quickly find a spot in the rotation. The bottom line is Coach DoubleD is elite, and he will take this team to the post-season we just don’t know exactly what seed he’ll be.
Prediction: 11-5, 2nd place AFC West
Los Angeles Chargers - Coach MackDaddy
Coach MackDaddy is the definition of a top tier coach. His MOF career record speaks for itself at 94-34 (.734) and his playoff record, 8-8, is nothing short of mediocre. MackDaddy had himself a phenomenal Madden ‘18 with the Redskins, as he finished 12-4, 11-5, 12-4, and 13-3. Unfortunately never reaching the promised land because of the juggernaut in the Vikings. This season he has chosen the Los Angeles Chargers, who on paper look to be one of the best teams in the game.
The inevitable finally happened. Star tight end Antonio Gates, who had been a fixture with the Chargers since his remarkable breakthrough rookie season of 2003, was allowed to leave and sign with Dallas after his contract expired. Gates’ departure leaves quarterback Philip Rivers as the senior statesman on the squad, and Rivers remains driven to earn a long-sought Super Bowl title. The team’s small base of L.A. fans believes the Chargers can go as far as the Pro Bowl tandem of Rivers and wide receiver Keenan Allen will take them. Rivers has two more years left on his contract. By all accounts, he wasn’t affected by his daily commute from his home in northern San Diego to the team’s training base in Costa Mesa in Orange County last season. He threw for 4,515 yards and 28 touchdowns, with only 10 interceptions. If the Chargers can get off to a good start, they could be dangerous. But that’s been a problem over the years, and last year was no exception. The Chargers looked lost in starting 0-4 before winning nine of their last 12 games. As has been the case in many seasons, it was too little, too late. Allen returned to form after missing almost all of 2016 and was rewarded with his first selection to the Pro Bowl. He once again showed a remarkable knack for getting open and had 102 catches for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. He played in all 16 games for the first time in his five NFL seasons after injuries limited him to only nine games combined the previous two seasons. Gates, who turns 38 in June, wants to keep playing, but it won’t be with the Chargers. His role had been diminishing, and he caught only 30 passes for 316 yards and three scores. The Chargers were going to rely more on Hunter Henry, who had 45 catches for 579 yards and four touchdowns last season, but he tore his ACL in OTAs in late May and is out for the season. Veteran Virgil Green will take Henry's place in the starting lineup, but Rivers will look for more production from receivers Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams. The Chargers hope -- and need -- to have last year’s first-round draft pick, Mike Williams, healthy. Williams had only 11 catches for 95 yards and no touchdowns. He played in 10 games, with just one start. He missed training camp with a back injury and then suffered a knee injury late in the season. The Chargers’ running game ranked only 24th in the league. They picked up Melvin Gordon’s fifth-year option and signed center Mike Pouncey in free agency. Guard Forrest Lamp is due back after missing his rookie season with a knee injury suffered in training camp. One look at the Chargers’ top four draft picks tells you coach Mackdaddy wants his defense to go from pretty good to playoff-caliber. He took safety Derwin James, edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu, defensive tackle Justin Jones and linebacker Kyzir White with his first four selections in an attempt to beef up a unit that has star power up front and in the secondary but still finished in the middle of the league in overall defensive rankings. The Chargers had one of the best pass defenses in the MOF but were dreadful against the run. Pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will once again be the focus of the defense. Bosa followed up his stellar rookie season, when he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, by being named to his first Pro Bowl team, although he didn’t play due to a finger injury. He finished with 12.5 sacks in 16 games, as well as 70 tackles, one fumble recovery and four forced fumbles. In his rookie season, he had 10.5 sacks in 12 games. Ingram had 10.5 sacks and 56 tackles. The Chargers are always looking for more production from the interior line. Corey Liuget was one of those guys who needs to step up. The secondary is loaded, at least on paper. James joins a group anchored by two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward, who was rewarded for his stellar play with a three-year, $36 million contract ($20 million guaranteed). Hayward had seven pickoffs in the team’s last season in San Diego, and he added four more last season. He’ll line up opposite Jason Verrett, who is a nice player when healthy. After his 2016 season was cut short by a knee injury, Verrett was hurt in the 2017 season opener and missed the rest of the year. The team’s top draft pick in 2014 has yet to play a full season. Desmond King stepped into Verrett’s spot last year and responded with four sacks and one interception. It’s not a question of if MackDaddy will make the playoffs, it's a question of how far will he go? We are very high on Mack and his ability to win with pretty much any team.
Prediction: 13-3, 1st place AFC West
Oakland Raiders - Coach Kalikarpenter
Coach Kalikarpenter made it very clear that he was going all in on the Raiders in Madden ‘19. So much that he donated for more lottery chances and wound up getting what he wanted! When a coach plays with his favorite team all bets are off, anything can happen. Kali had an up and down Madden ‘18 with the Titans. 9-7, 5-11, 10-6, and 8-8. If that’s not inconsistency, i don't know what is. Kali’s overall MOF record is 10 games under .500 and he looks to improve that this edition, and he definitely has the team to do so. Kali must get quarterback Derek Carr back on track after a rough 2017 season. Carr was an MVP candidate in 2016 until suffering a season-ending broken fibula in Week 16. He threw for 3,937 yards with 28 TDs, six interceptions and a 96.7 passer rating that year. Last season, his numbers dipped to 3,496 yards, 22 TDs, 13 interceptions and an 86.4 rating. Carr missed one game after breaking a small bone in his back against Denver on Oct. 1. To help get him back on track, Kali hired veteran coordinator Greg Olson, who spent two years with the Raiders, including Carr’s rookie season in 2014. Kali will use his version of the West Coast offense, one that values fullbacks, tight ends and a powerful running game to go with a strong passing attack. Marshawn Lynch can expect a heavier workload than he had last year when he came out of retirement to play for his hometown team. Lynch rushed for 891 yards and averaged just 13.8 carries per game. In his final five games, he rushed for 101 yards twice, 95 yards another time and averaged 5.2 yards per carry, nearly a yard more than his career average of 4.3. The Raiders have poured tons of cash into their offensive line and expect a big return from left guard Kelechi Osemele, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and left tackle Donald Penn. Rookie Kolton Miller, the 15th overall pick, will compete for the starting job at right tackle with free-agent pickup Breno Giacomini, an 11-year veteran. The Raiders expect a bounce-back year from wide receiver Amari Cooper. After averaging 78 catches for 1,112 yards in his first two NFL seasons, Cooper caught 48 passes for 680 yards last year. They cut wide receiver Michael Crabtree and replaced him with longtime Packer Jordy Nelson. Oakland also added the speedy Martavis Bryant in a trade with Pittsburgh. Bryant caught 50 passes for 603 yards and three TDs last year but was suspended the entire 2016 season after multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Tight end Jared Cook had 54 catches for 688 yards -- both career highs -- last season, his first with the Raiders. Cook is a dangerous target who can stretch defenses over the middle. The Raiders re-signed tight end Lee Smith, whose forte is run blocking. Free-agent addition Keith Smith will start at fullback. It’s probably fair to call Oakland’s defense Khalil Mack and the Question Marks. Mack, the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, had his third straight Pro Bowl season last year and is the only superstar in this group. The fourth-year defensive end had 10.5 sacks, 78 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery last season. Mack had 15 sacks in 2015, second most in the NFL, and Kali says that for him to get back to that level, he’ll need some pass-rush help on the inside. Rookie defensive tackle P.J. Hall, a second-round pick from Sam Houston State, could help. So could Maurice Hurst, another rookie tackle, who dropped in the draft (to the fifth round) in part due to a medical issue. Starting defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., a second-round draft pick in 2015, is another option inside on passing downs. Bruce Irvin, who started last year at outside linebacker, will likely be a pass-rush specialist off the edge this year, taking better advantage of his greatest skill. The Raiders drafted Arden Key, another edge rusher, in the third round out of LSU. Defensive tackle Justin Ellis received a new three-year $15 contract and will help stuff the run. The Raiders finished 23rd in total defense in a tumultuous 2017 season. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired after 10 games and replaced by assistant head coach/defense John Pagano. Oakland’s defense had zero interceptions in its first 10 games, making NFL history, and only 14 sacks. Kali hired former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Over his four years as Cincinnati’s coordinator, the Bengals intercepted 69 passes, the most in the NFL. The Raiders’ secondary could get a huge overhaul. Cornerbacks David Amerson and Sean Smith were released, and T.J. Carrie left as a free agent. The Raiders signed cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin, Shareece Wright, Leon Hall and Daryl Worley and safety Marcus Gilchrist. Melvin has the inside track to a starting job, and the Raiders hope Gareon Conley, a first-round draft pick in 2017, can make a leap in his second season. Conley appeared in only two games as a rookie and underwent season-ending shin surgery in November. Starting strong safety Karl Joseph and free safety Reggie Nelson return, but Gilchrist could push Nelson for the starting job. Obi Melifonwu, a second-round draft pick last year, could be in the mix, too. He missed the first eight games with an ankle injury then had season-ending hip surgery in December. The situation at linebacker is also muddled, especially with Irvin’s role changing. Former Kansas City Chiefs middle linebacker Derrick Johnson, a late free-agent signing, will likely start. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler with 169 career NFL starts and 1,262 tackles, a franchise record. Tahir Whitehead, another free-agent pickup, could wind up starting on the outside. Outside linebacker Cory James started 14 games over the past two seasons but was waived after failing his physical in May. That could open a starting spot for Nicholas Morrow, who gained starting experience last year as a rookie. Coach Kali is in a tough division with DoubleD and MackDaddy, i don't see him surpassing either of those guys just yet, he will need to put some time in and get on their level.
Prediction: 8-8, 3rd place AFC West
Final Take AFC West: I see Coach MackDaddy and DoubleD187 fighting for that division crown, and the other team most likely getting a wild-card spot. I think these two guys are just too strong for Sawemoff and Kalikarpenter to compete with this season. Maybe down the road, but this division will be ruled by the Chiefs and Chargers.
Dallas Cowboys - Coach Texmexgalvan
Coach Tex is back once again with the Dallas Cowboys, a team he ran with all of Madden ‘18. His 4 seasons were anything but successful as he finished 3-12-1, 3-13, 3-13, and 9-7 in his last season. Tex is one of the coaches who have been here so long that he has over 200 career losses. His winning percentage is at .291 which is less than stellar. Coach Tex will have to up his game up to compete in this very strong NFC East.
The departures of Romo, Bryant and Witten over the past two offseasons have signaled a changing of the guard. This is Prescott’s team. He will try to regain his rookie touch after winning fewer games (nine in 2017, 13 in 2016), throwing fewer touchdowns (22, down from 23), throwing for fewer yards (3,324, down from 3,667) and producing a lower passer rating (86.6, down from 104.9). He continued to have trouble getting the ball down the field, which kept him from getting on the same page with Bryant in two seasons. Defensive coordinators did a good job taking away Prescott’s favorite target, Cole Beasley, underneath. Kellen Moore, who went into 2017 training camp as Prescott’s backup, now is his quarterbacks coach, replacing Wade Wilson. Undrafted free agent Cooper Rush will have to beat out fifth-round pick Mike White for the backup job. While Prescott is the leader of the offense, the Cowboys’ offense still goes as Ezekiel Elliott goes. He missed six games last season while serving a suspension, and it likely cost the Cowboys a playoff berth. Dallas went 3-3 without him. Elliott led the league in rushing as a rookie with 1,631 yards. He gained 983 in 10 games last season. The Cowboys traded for Tavon Austin, whom the Rams listed as a receiver. Dallas will use him as a “web back,” trying to get him in space to make some explosive plays. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones says they would like to get Austin 12 touches per game. Dallas used a fullback on 12 percent of its offensive snaps last season. It traded with Oakland for Jamize Olawale, who will become Elliott’s blocking back. Rod Smith beat out Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris for the backup job to Elliott last season. For the first time since 2009, the Cowboys don’t have Bryant as their No. 1 receiver as he moves his talents to Detroit. In fact, they admit they don’t have a No. 1 receiver on their roster. Maybe they don’t need one the way Prescott prefers to spread the ball around. The Cowboys hired Sanjay Lal as their receivers coach, and he convinced them to sign Deonte Thompson, who caught a career-high 38 passes in 2017 (27 for Buffalo, 11 for Chicago). Dallas also signed Allen Hurns, whom Jacksonville cut after he missed 11 games with injuries the past two seasons, and drafted Michael Gallup in the third round. The Cowboys return Beasley and Terrance Williams. Beasley’s numbers dipped last season, falling by 39 catches and 519 yards from 2016. Williams, who had no touchdowns last season, has not proved reliable enough. The Cowboys likely will use more three-receiver sets and a committee approach. Witten’s retirement surprised the Cowboys. They didn’t get a chance to replace him in free agency and used a fourth-round pick on Stanford’s Dalton Schultz. As a result, the Cowboys will go with a committee approach with Rico Gathers, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Schultz. The four have combined to catch nine passes for 94 yards and no touchdowns in 29 career games. The Cowboys will miss Witten’s leadership even more than his production on the field. The Cowboys offensive line will enter this season looking to regain its reputation as the best in the league. They lost their swagger last year after right tackle Doug Free retired, left guard Ron Leary left in free agency and left tackle Tyron Smith had back, hip and groin injuries. Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin all earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2016. None made it last season, although Martin was a second-team selection. The Cowboys signed guard Marcus Martin and tackle Cameron Fleming in free agency to add depth, and they drafted Connor Williams. Williams was a three-year starter at left tackle for Texas, but the Cowboys will move him to left guard. La’el Collins spent his first two seasons at left guard, starting 14 games, before moving to right tackle last season. The Cowboys went into last year’s draft looking for their “war daddy” pass rusher, not knowing that guy was already on their roster. Demarcus Lawrence, who had nine sacks his first three seasons, busted out with 14.5 last season. He became the first Cowboy with at least 10 sacks in a season since 2013. Tyrone Crawford will start opposite Lawrence. The Cowboys signed Kony Ealy to add to the defensive end rotation along with Taco Charlton, a first-round choice last year. They drafted Dorance Armstrong and could see the return of Randy Gregory from a year-long suspension. The Cowboys have high hopes for defensive tackle David Irving, who was disruptive in making seven sacks in eight games, but he has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Maliek Collins will continue to man the nose and the team traded for Jihad Ward to add to the depth up front. The Cowboys found a replacement for linebacker Anthony Hitchens in the first round, taking Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. He will start at middle linebacker, pushing Jaylon Smith to strong-side linebacker. Smith played 55 percent of the defensive snaps, and the Cowboys would like to keep that number around 50 percent, which they will do with him at Sam. Sean Lee remains the mainstay -- when he’s on the field. He has missed 42 games with injuries in his eight seasons. Damien Wilson has started 15 games the past two seasons, so the Cowboys have depth at the position. In two offseasons, the Cowboys have completely remade their secondary. Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox and Orlando Scandrick have departed, and Byron Jones is moving from safety to corner. Jones started all 16 games at free safety last season, but he has had trouble in run support and has only two career interceptions. New secondary coach Kris Richard likes bigger corners, and Jones is 6'0", 205. Jones joins Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown at corner. Xavier Woods will start at free safety. Jeff Heath will continue to start at strong safety, and Kavon Frazier will spell him. Coach Texmex will have some growing pains here in Dallas, i don't believe he will be a force, only if he can change his entire MOF career persona, which will be almost next to impossible. I don’t see anything more than a few wins, and maybe an upset or two.
Prediction: 4-12, 4th place NFC East
New York Giants - Coach Commissioner Jeff
With the shock of the draft the Commish selects the New York Giants! What!? The team he hates the most in the NFL he decides to run with in Madden ‘19. Don’t make no sense. Well anyway, Commish had a rocky Madden ‘18 with the birth of his child forcing him to miss a big chunk of Season 43. However he did finish 9-7, 2-2, 8-8, and 12-4. Overall well above .500 for the edition. He arguably has a better squad to work with this time around in the Giants.
Two seasons ago, under the direction of then-coach Enzo, the Giants’ offense was a one-trick pony -- throw the ball to Odell Beckham Jr. and hope he breaks for a big gain. So it’s no surprise that when Beckham injured his ankle last season, the Giants’ offense completely collapsed. The hope is that Beckham, fresh off ankle surgery, will quickly become his old self this season. And make no mistake -- he is still the Giants’ offense. He’s impossible to completely contain, and he often lures three defenders to his area, freeing up everyone else. And this season, the Giants believe they have more weapons than ever to take advantage of that free space. Slot receiver Sterling Shepard came into his own last season and has proved to be slippery, even if he doesn’t have Beckham’s game-breaking ability. And tight end Evan Engram, while inconsistent last year, is a nightmare of a mismatch for defenses -- especially linebackers -- because of his size and speed. Now they’ve added Saquon Barkley to that mix, perhaps giving them the running game they haven’t had since their championship run during the 2011 playoffs. Barkley, the Penn State running back and No. 2 overall pick in the draft, was the most electric player in college football last season. Shurmur has made it clear that he will feature Barkley in the offense as both a runner and receiver. And they’ve even brought in veteran Jonathan Stewart to get some of the tough yards and to teach Barkley the MOF way. The key to all of this is Manning. He’s struggled the last two seasons, but much of that has had to do with a terrible offensive line in front of him. He was too often forced to rush his throws -- when he could get them off at all. Gettleman has made it clear he’s going to build this team behind his beloved “Hog Mollies” -- big offensive linemen -- and his first order of business was to bring in left tackle Nate Solder from New England, bumping the disappointing Ereck Flowers to the right side. With his second draft pick, he added big, mean UTEP guard Will Hernandez. And that’s only the start. With better protection, the Giants are betting that Manning will have a late-career revival. And with time to get the ball to his wide array of weapons, the veteran QB will be the leader of one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. The word that most accurately describes this defense last year is “dysfunctional.” It quickly went from one of the NFL’s best to one of the worst. Three cornerbacks from a once-vaunted secondary had to be suspended for violating team rules. One player (safety Landon Collins) called another (cornerback Eli Apple) “a cancer.” There were bad vibes everywhere and even worse play. Though many of those players are still here, the Giants are basically starting over, scrapping their old 4-3 in favor of new defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s aggressive 3-4. And that meant some personnel changes too. They traded defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who was an odd fit in the scheme and apparently a bad influence in the locker room, and brought in ex-Cardinals edge rusher Kareem Martin. They also traded for linebacker Alec Ogletree to shore up a position that had been neglected for years and to be a much-needed leader in the locker room. Presumably a new year and new faces will help clean up everyone’s attitude. But the real hope is that the new scheme will bring out the talent that was so evident in 2016. Though running a base 3-4, Bettcher has promised plenty of 4-3 looks too, and with players such as defensive end (and now linebacker) Olivier Vernon, he definitely has flexibility. He also has speed and talent in the secondary -- especially if Apple can get his career back on track -- and now even at linebacker. It’s no surprise that Bettcher is expected to blitz. A lot. Also it’s no surprise that the players seem to love that idea. They hadn’t been nearly as aggressive as they wanted to be over the last few years, often relying only on JPP and Vernon to supply the pressure. Now they have some help, which should allow the Giants to turn up the heat. The question is can Commish swallow his pride and compete with the Giants? We think he will take his lumps but in the end he will finish with an above .500 record because that’s what the Commish does.
Prediction: 10-6, 2nd place NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles - Coach Latinyank77478
Latinyank and the Jets are like peanut butter and jelly, so when the opportunity came for Coach Latinyank to take the Jets with the 4th overall pick and he decided to take the Eagles, the entire league was up in arms! Coach Latin did not have a complete Madden ‘18 edition, as he came in late in Season 42 to finish 3-5 on the season. Season 43 was not very kind to Alex either as he finished 3-13. Season 44 was a little different as Alex turned it around and finished 12-4. However when Season 45 finished up, he was back below .500 at 5-11. So what can we expect from Coach Latinyank in Season 46 with arguably the best team in the game? Well Alex boasts a .528 winning percentage, along with 1 Super Bowl appearance. When Carson Wentz tore his real life ACL against the Rams on Dec. 10, many people thought the Eagles’ hopes of postseason grandeur had been dashed. That feeling only grew when Nick Foles stumbled during the last couple of regular-season games. Foles recovered to lead Philadelphia to a real life Super Bowl win -- and won the game’s MVP award -- and the Eagles enter 2018 with two proven passers. The starting job belongs to Wentz, but the question is when he will be able to claim it. Wentz has everything needed to be one of the MOF’s elite, but expecting him to be at full speed in September is a bit optimistic. When he does return, Wentz will again dazzle with his arm strength, mobility in the pocket (provided his knee is totally healed) and great leadership. Until then, Foles will handle the job. He showed during the playoffs that he could be accurate and daring when put in the proper offensive situation. Although there is no game-breaking megastar among the skill players, the Eagles have plenty of talented backs and receivers capable of pressuring defenses. The team’s wideout corps is led by Alshon Jeffery, who was reliable and productive during his first year with the team. Nelson Agholor spent much of 2016 wondering how he could fit into the Eagles’ plans, but last year he became a productive piece. After not getting the desired results with Torrey Smith, the Eagles have turned to Baltimore expat Mike Wallace to provide a deep threat, although anybody expecting persistent explosions will likely be disappointed. Perhaps the biggest weapon of the receiving corps is tight end Zach Ertz, a favorite target of Wentz’s and one of the NFL’s best. The Eagles lost Trey Burton to free agency and released Brent Celek, so it will be up to second-round pick Dallas Goedert from South Dakota State to provide immediate support at the position. The Eagles are in good shape at running back with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement, who showed plenty of promise as a rookie. They went the undrafted free agent route to fill out the rotation by signing former Notre Dame star Josh Adams, and they re-signed Darren Sproles, who will serve as an all-purpose player provided his torn ACL is healed. The offensive line entered 2017 as a question mark but became a strength, even though future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters tore his ACL mid-year. Center Jason Kelce played at an All-Pro level after a disappointing 2016. Right tackle Lane Johnson was especially stout, and guard Brandon Brooks was a force inside. Peters has vowed to return at full strength, but if he doesn’t, Halapoulivaati “Big V” Vaitai improved last year and is a solid replacement. Plenty of people doubted The Eagles’ wide-nine scheme when the 2017 season started, but as the confetti fell in Minneapolis, it sure appeared that he knew what he was doing. The Birds ranked fourth overall in defense and first against the run, thanks in large part to a deep, ferocious front four. The Eagles sacked opposing QBs 38 times and picked off 19 enemy aerials. With just about everybody back and linebacker Jordan Hicks expected to be healthy, this should be a stout unit once again. Tackle Fletcher Cox earned first-team All-Pro recognition after providing strong play against the run and pass last year. He’s becoming one of the league’s best. Meanwhile, end Brandon Graham (9.5 sacks) went from question mark to key contributor last year. Tim Jernigan is a powerful interior player, although the surgery he had on a herniated disc could keep him from being in the lineup at the beginning of the season. It’s good the Eagles added veteran run-stuffing tackle Haloti Ngata. Destiny Vaeao could play a bigger role inside while Jernigan gets healthy. Second-year end Derek Barnett displayed an ability to get to the passer last year and should start this season even though the Birds traded for pass rusher Michael Bennett for depth and brought back Chris Long on the outside for situational pass rushing and leadership. It will be interesting to see what production Bennett can provide -- and how he survives the assault charges that arose during the offseason. Hicks is the Eagles’ best linebacker -- if he can stay healthy. Last year, a torn Achilles tendon shelved him. When right, he can find the ball anywhere on the field against the run and provides excellent pass coverage. He’ll team with forceful outside man Nigel Bradham and newcomer Corey Nelson in a strong trio. Behind them is a bit of mystery with Mychal Kendricks getting released in late May as a cap casualty and Paul Worrilow already lost for the season after tearing his ACL in OTAs. The defensive backfield had some struggles early, but by the end of the year the group was formidable, and there is plenty of reason for optimism moving forward. The safety situation was never a question, thanks to stalwart Malcolm Jenkins and hard-hitting Rodney McLeod. There is plenty of promise at cornerback, with Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas returning. Mills and Douglas entered 2017 as question marks but grew as the year went on and benefited from the relentless pass rush the front four provided. The Eagles are excited to see what cornerback Sidney Jones can do. Jones, a second-round draft choice last year, missed most of the season while rehabbing an Achilles tear. He has considerable skill and will be expected to make a significant contribution this year. Alex has some question marks in his skill level but there’s little doubt on the skill level of this team. I think he can do some work with these guys, but i still think he is a season or two away from really making some noise.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place NFC East
Washington Redskins - Coach MrWitness36
Ladies and Gentlemen… the champ… is… HERE! Your defending champion Coach MrWitness36 selects the most winningest team in MOF history in the Redskins with the 27th pick in the draft. Witness came in with the Bears in Madden ‘18 Season 42, and finished 8-8. Then in Season 43 had to leave the league after going 3-3 for work reasons. But then returned the next season to take over the vacant Browns and finished 2-2. We all know what happened Season 45 with a full season with those Browns as he won the MOF Super Bowl.
Whether it’s true or not, the Redskins certainly believe they have upgraded at quarterback in Season 46, following the tumultuous departure of Cousins and the trade for Smith. The expectations for Smith, who hasn’t been part of a sub-.500 team since 2010 and is coming off the most productive season of his 12-year career, will be sky high. He is likely to have much the same cast of characters around him as Cousins did in 2017, beginning with an offensive line anchored by six-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams at left tackle and two-time Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff at right guard. However, both Williams and right tackle Morgan Moses are coming off injuries that are expected to limit them in training camp (and may have prompted the team to spend a third-round pick on Louisville tackle Geron Christian). Meantime, explosive tight end Jordan Reed, should he remain healthy (always a question mark for him), could easily develop into Smith’s favorite target -- the latter loves throwing to tight ends -- and wide receivers Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder will be expected to take steps forward in Season 46, particularly now that the team has moved on from veterans Ryan Grant and Terrelle Pryor. Paul Richardson, a free-agent pickup from Seattle, appears set to be the starter at the third receiver spot. On the other hand, running back has remained mostly unsettled for the Redskins since Alfred Morris’ departure at the end of 2015, and the team used a second-round pick on LSU’s Derrius Guice, an enormously gifted but combustible talent, in hopes of generating enough of a running game to keep the heat off Smith. Chris Thompson, who was in the midst of a career year when he suffered a broken leg in Week 11, is expected back as a dynamic, versatile third-down back who will give Smith yet another solid option in the passing game. After finishing last in the MOF in run defense in 2017 -- giving up a staggering 134.1 yards per game -- the Redskins understandably made that their top priority this offseason. They plugged their giant hole up front with 640-plus pounds of interior defensive linemen, using two of their first five draft picks on Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne (first round, 13th overall) and Virginia Tech’s Tim Settle (fifth round). Despite having run a 3-4 base defense this entire decade, the Redskins, curiously, had never drafted an impact nose tackle, which only adds to the sense that Payne, in particular, will be a much-welcomed addition to the defense. With Payne on board, veteran Ziggy Hood could at times slide out to end, where he can use his skills to get after the QB. Payne’s pass-rushing abilities are less certain, highlighted by the fact he managed only three sacks in three years at Alabama. Free agency brought help for the run defense as well. The Redskins re-signed inside backer Zach Brown, their leading tackler in 2017 -- a move that ensures that all four starting linebackers from 2017 will return in 2018 -- and added injury-plagued Pernell McPhee on a bargain contract. But the biggest reason for optimism might just be the healthy return of talented end Jonathan Allen, who made only five starts as a rookie in 2017 due to a Lisfranc injury. Thankfully, the Redskins never have to worry about Ryan Kerrigan, one of the most prolific and respected pass rushers in the league. The Redskins’ pass defense ranked ninth in the MOF in Season 45 but still needed to be rebuilt following the departures of Fuller, Su’a Cravens and Bashaud Breeland. To that end, they poached cornerback Orlando Scandrick from the rival Dallas Cowboys and added him to the mix of options -- which also includes holdovers Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar -- to play opposite former All-Pro Josh Norman at the corners. Likewise, D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson return at the safeties. But given the three key departures, and the lack of impact additions, it is fair to wonder whether the Redskins did enough in free agency and the draft to rebuild the secondary. With a full season and full edition under his belt the possibilities are endless for the defending champion, we expect big things out of him and these Redskins this season.
Prediction: 12-4, 1st place NFC East
Final Take NFC East: The Redskins, we believe, are the top team in this division. They should win this division by a handful of games, barring any injuries or hot streaks by the other 3 teams. The Giants and Eagles we see as pretty much equals, maybe with the Giants getting a slight advantage. The Cowboys have talent, but Tex is too inconsistent to make any noise.
Chicago Bears - Coach Remo357
Coach Remo357 made his debut in Madden ‘18 with the Baltimore Ravens. Although the edition didn’t go as planned for Remo, he never once backed down and finished with respect and sportsmanship from Week 1 to Week 17. Season 42 he finished 3-13, Season 43 1-15, Season 44 3-13, and Season 45 2-14. However he got the team he wanted with the 5th overall pick in his Chicago Bears! The Bears are rich with records, being the 2nd best team in MOF history! Can Remo continue the success of the Bears?
Prediction: 3-13, 4th place NFC North
Detroit Lions - Coach Cedarpoint2k
Coach Cedarpoint2k has finally returned to the MOF! The last time we saw Cedarpoint here in the MOF we weren’t a CFM league! That’s how long it’s been. When Cedar was here though he was a very respectable coach, with a career record over .500 and 3 playoff appearances to boot. How will he fair coming back to the league giving such a long hiatus? We’re not really sure, but there will definitely be some growing pains.
Amid all the changes in Detroit, one thing remains constant: Stafford is back for his 10th season, carrying a streak of 112 consecutive starts -- third longest among active NFL quarterbacks. And much to his delight, he won’t have to learn a new scheme, as Cedar opted to keep offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who received a strong endorsement from the Lions’ veteran quarterback after last season. Stafford has completed 66.3 percent of his passes while throwing for more than 272 yards per game since Cooter took over the play-calling duties midway through the 2015 season. Last season, despite a rash of injuries on the offensive line and a running game that ranked 32nd in the league, the Lions still finished seventh in the league in scoring. And Quinn has made it clear that he expects even more this season, targeting an area that has plagued this franchise for years. He felt his team lacked toughness in 2017, and it showed up most often in short-yardage situations, where the Lions’ dismal conversion percentage undoubtedly cost them wins. “All those critical situations -- like, it’s goal-line, and we can’t run the ball half a yard -- that bothered me,” Quinn says. He responded by investing heavily in the run game this offseason, signing power back LeGarrette Blount in free agency and then drafting Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson in the second round. Johnson impressed scouts with his short-area burst and hard-running style, and he should supplant Ameer Abdullah as the primary ball carrier. Quinn also used the Lions’ first-round pick on Arkansas center Frank Ragnow, a strong, competitive interior presence, completing an overhaul of the line that began three years ago. The Lions started 12 different line combinations a year ago due to injuries, missing left tackle Taylor Decker early and with veterans T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner hobbling late. If that group stays healthy, working with new line coach Jeff Davidson and a much-improved backfield, Stafford -- sacked a career-high 47 times in 2017 -- should have more time to do his thing. He’s not lacking weapons, with big-play targets downfield in Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay -- the latter a breakout candidate after flashing as a rookie a year ago -- and a sure-handed slot star in Golden Tate, coming off his fourth straight 90-catch season. Theo Riddick remains one of the NFL’s better receiving threats out of the backfield. And with the departure of Eric Ebron, a polarizing former first-round pick, the Lions’ tight end position may be more of a committee, with free-agent additions Luke Willson -- ready for a bigger role than he had in Seattle -- and Levine Toilolo buying time for second-year pro Michael Roberts to develop. The Lions’ defense is changing, but just what it will look like may depend on the play or the opponent. Still, the expectation is it’ll look more like the one Patricia ran in New England, with more three-man fronts and two-gap responsibilities at the line of scrimmage. Quinn’s comments about his team lacking toughness last season also applied to a defense that ranked 27th in yards allowed and got pushed around quite a bit after defensive tackle Haloti Ngata suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5. The GM spent the offseason bulking up, particularly at linebacker, where he made the biggest splash by signing the Giants’ Devon Kennard, a versatile 260-pounder who sets the edge well and can rush the passer, something Lions fans will see more of from that position this fall. Free agents Christian Jones and Jonathan Freeny also join a linebacker corps that’s built around 2017 first-round pick Jarrad Davis, a hard-hitting run defender who started all 14 games he played as a rookie. Nose tackle Sylvester Williams was brought in from Tennessee to help fill Ngata’s void, and the Lions opted to use the franchise tag on top pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah, making him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive end this season along with the Cowboys’ Demarcus Lawrence. Ansah struggled with injuries the last two years, and though he finished with 12 sacks last season, nine of those came in three games against overmatched tackles. So this will be a prove-it year for the former Pro Bowler and first-round pick. The Lions are hoping Kerry Hyder, an underrated sack specialist who missed last season after a torn Achilles in training camp, makes a healthy return, while third-year pro Anthony Zettel has shown steady improvement as well. But Quinn traded up in the draft to grab defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, a 297-pound talent who looks like an ideal scheme fit. He and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson will be reunited with their former defensive line coach at Alabama, Bo Davis, a key member of Patricia’s revamped staff. The secondary was a strength last season, and that should continue, with Pro Bowler Darius Slay (eight INTs in 2017) emerging as a shutdown corner and veterans Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson back at safety. The Lions added more competition opposite Slay by re-signing Nevin Lawson and then adding DeShawn Shead from Seattle in free agency. Last year’s second-round pick, Teez Tabor, also is in the mix, while Quandre Diggs impressed in a late-season switch to safety. There will be question marks but in a division that might be a little on the weaker side, the Lions could find themselves right in the mix if they can get hot when it matters most.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place NFC North,
Green Bay Packers - Coach Lhu27
The Packers and Coach Dolan are starting to become an automatic staple, like the Bucs and Jfon, or the Panthers and Dpanther. This will mark the 9th straight season Coach Lhu27 is coaching the Packers, that in itself is an accomplishment. Madden ‘18 was up and down for Coach Dolan as he went (13-2-1) in Season 42, (9-7) in Season 43, (10-6) in Season 44, and (11-5) in Season 45. Dolan is a perennial playoff team, with a .639 career winning percentage and 2 Super Bowl titles under his belt. He is a mastermind of the game, and knows the intricacies of football. He has a coaches mind, and that gives him an advantage off the bat. When you think of the Packers, it all starts with Rodgers, who at the time of his injury last season had thrown 13 touchdowns against three interceptions while leading the Packers to a 4-1 start. With the cost-cutting release of Rodgers’ favorite receiver, Jordy Nelson, and uncertainty on the injury-riddled right side of the offensive line, Rodgers will again have to be on top of his game -- and remain healthy. The offseason addition of five-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham should help, especially after last year’s disastrous Martellus Bennett signing. Graham caught 10 touchdowns for Seattle last season -- all of them in the red zone. He figures to be Rodgers’ go-to guy in scoring situations. Second-year running backs Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones flashed vast potential as rookies and can make Rodgers’ life easier by delivering a consistent ground game. Williams led the team with 153 carries but averaged only 3.6 yards per attempts. Jones averaged 5.5 yards on his 81 attempts and had six carries of 20-plus yards -- twice as many as any other player on the team. In early July, it was announced that Jones has been suspended for the first two game of the season due to a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Former starter Ty Montgomery is a weapon thanks to his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Up front, the left side of the line (Bakhtiari, guard Lane Taylor and center Corey Linsley) is locked up through 2020 and should keep Rodgers safe while veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga battles back from an ACL tear. No. 1 wideout Davante Adams is poised to join the league’s elite after catching 74 passes for 885 and 10 TDs despite suffering two concussions and playing for a large part of the season with backup quarterback Brett Hundley. After the defense couldn’t make up for Rodgers’ absence and delivered yet another underwhelming season, Dolan made the decision to move on from Dom Capers after nine years as defensive coordinator. Dolan hired Mike Pettine, whose units with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills never finished outside the top 10 in total defense. Dolan also raised the expectations, saying he wanted his defense to be “better than” the Rodgers-led offense. “To be honest, it’s got to be a mentality,” Dolan says. “I’m sick and tired of our defense feeling like the stepchild. I mean, how many times do you have to tell them, ‘You’re not the stepchild’? That’s a blatant statement, and it’s not a cure-all. But it’s definitely a starting point.” Devoting their top two draft picks (Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson) to the problematic cornerback position should help the defense, and having four capable defensive linemen -- Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, new addition Muhammad Wilkerson and Dean Lowry -- will give Pettine options as he morphs between 3-4 and 4-3 concepts. But generating a pass rush will be crucial, and the Packers can’t afford to merely rely on Pettine’s scheme. Having not added a pass rusher in the draft -- rookie GM Brian Gutekunst traded out of the No. 14 spot, where New Orleans took edge rusher Marcus Davenport -- the team will again cross its fingers and hope Clay Matthews and Nick Perry stay healthy while backups Kyler Fackrell, Vince Biegel and Reggie Gilbert make huge leaps. “You have to have a dominant pass rush,” Gutekunst says. “You look at the teams that have been successful, that’s where it starts.” That may be where it starts, but improving in the back end matters, too. The inconsistency of 2015 first-round pick Damarious Randall -- a player who Dolan admitted should have played safety instead of cornerback -- led to an offseason trade to Cleveland, and 2015 second-round pick Quinten Rollins’ comeback from a ruptured Achilles tendon leaves his future in question as well. The Packers brought back two veterans who had been starters for them in the past -- 35-year-old Tramon Williams, who left as a free agent after the 2014 season, and Davon House, who spent two years with Jacksonville before returning to Green Bay last year -- in hopes of shoring up their coverage group. But Kevin King, the team’s top draft choice last year who battled a shoulder injury all year before undergoing season-ending surgery, might be the key to the group with his length and gritty attitude. At safety, former Pro Bowl pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix must bounce back from a self-described disappointing season and take on a greater leadership role after the free-agent departure of veteran Morgan Burnett. The familiarity alone puts Dolan at advantage over the rest of the division. He knows the team like the back of his hand and that alone will win you games, couple that with the skill of the man who’s on the MOF trophy, you will have a recipe for success.
Prediction: 12-4, 1st place NFC North
Minnesota Vikings - Coach Krayzie300
FINALLY COACH KRAYZIE HAS COME BACCCK TO THE VIKINGGGSSSSS….. And the fan base couldn’t be happier. After controversy rained down like hell fire and brimestone in Madden ‘18, an edition that saw 3 Super Bowl titles, the Vikings squad was basically suspended Season 45 as the team finished 0-16. We won’t get into the specifics but with a clean slate, Coach Krayzie comes back to teach this franchise about respect, honor, and playing the game the right way.
A conference finalist loses three quarterbacks with a combined 146 starts and the league’s hottest offensive coordinator, and yet it has a good chance of being even better than the unit that finished 10th in scoring and 11th in yards under Pat Shurmur a year ago. Cousins is a better, more accurate quarterback with a stronger arm than Keenum. His backup, Trevor Siemian, acquired in a trade with Denver, has 24 career starts, a cap-friendly $1.9 million salary and more trustworthy knees than Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, the other two quarterbacks to leave the Vikings via free agency. Cousins is coming off three consecutive seasons with at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Vikings have had only three players post such a season in their 57-year existence: Daunte Culpepper (2004) and Hall of Famers Warren Moon (1995) and Brett Favre (2009). But, then again, Cousins’ detractors also have a point. The former Redskin has a career record of 26-30-1 record, including 0-1 as a starter in the playoffs. The running back position will be better, even with Jerick McKinnon’s third-down skills now in San Francisco. Cook, a second-round pick last year, was even better than expected before tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament in Week 4. He was averaging 4.8 yards per carry and excelling in the team’s much-improved screen game before the injury. He’ll be at full strength by the start of camp. So will Latavius Murray, the big back who started slow last year because of offseason ankle surgery. There is no prototypical No. 1 receiver, but the Vikings aren’t complaining with second-team All-Pro Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combining for 155 catches, 2,125 yards and 12 TDs a year ago. Kendall Wright, who never lived up to being a first-round pick of the Titans in 2012, replaced Jarius Wright as the No. 3 receiver, while Laquon Treadwell, a disappointment as the Vikings’ 2016 first-round pick, looks too slow to jumpstart his career. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is a classic mismatch for defenses. He also returns to full strength after surgery to repair the ankle that slowed him late last season. Up front, the line was most responsible for last year’s turnaround. Left tackle Riley Reiff, the prized free-agent signing, solidified the weakest position on the team, while center Pat Elflein stepped right into the starting lineup and excelled as a third-round draft pick. The only guy up front who didn’t miss a game because of injury was right guard Joe Berger, who retired. General Manager Rick Spielman bucked the experts by drafting a cornerback in the first round rather than addressing the need at right guard. Free-agent acquisitions Tom Compton and Josh Andrews will compete there. Mike Remmers could join the competition but probably will be needed at right tackle. Rookie Brian O’Neill, a second-round tackle from Pittsburgh, probably needs a year to develop. If the defense stays healthy again, the Vikings will again challenge for top honors. The only starter lost from last year was three-technique tackle Tom Johnson, and Richardson, 27, has a much higher ceiling than Johnson. While interior depth is a concern up front, the Vikings have four elite starters. Everson Griffen, a second-team All-Pro, is a play-making pass rusher who also gives full effort against the run. Nose tackle Linval Joseph is a massive wall of strength with quick feet. And end Danielle Hunter is a 23-year-old physical freak with 25.5 career sacks already. Brian Robison, a 35-year-old backup and situational inside rusher, will have his roster spot challenged by fourth-round pick Jalyn Holmes, a college end who will get work at the three-technique but also has the tools to play outside. Krayzie’s vaunted Double-A Gap looks are made more effective and unpredictable because of 26-year-old three-down backers Eric Kendricks in the middle and Anthony Barr on the strong side. Kendricks is trying to become the first Viking to lead the team in tackles in his first four seasons since Rip Hawkins (1961-64). He’s a quick, instinctive tackling machine. Barr is a physical marvel and has few weaknesses when motivated. The secondary has two first-team All-Pro picks in free safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. It also has four first-round picks at corner. Spielman couldn’t resist taking UCF’s Mike Hughes 30th overall. Then, he re-signed Terence Newman, who will turn 40 before the season. Smith’s versatility, instincts and ability to disguise looks make him Zimmer’s favored weapon on third-and-long. Rhodes has not only the long body and speed but also the swagger of having proven himself as an elite shutdown corner. The other corner, Trae Waynes, is still a work in progress but did make strides last year in his first season as a starter. Mackensie Alexander remains an inconsistent nickel slot corner and will be pushed by Hughes and Newman. Strong safety Andrew Sendejo, an overachieving former special teams leader, will try to win a starting job for the fourth straight year. Krayzie has a good a chance of any to make some noise in this division that we mentioned above is a little weaker than it usually is. Coach Dolan’s Packers are the team Krayzie has to jump on in their head to head matchups and then maybe he’ll have a shot.
Prediction: 7-9, 2nd place NFC North
Final Take NFC North: This is probably the weakest division in the MOF, barring any surprises out of Cedar’s Lions. The Packers should dominate and win this division by a wide margin. I expect the Vikings and Lions to battle for 2nd place, and the Bears to just be under the mendoza line all season.
Atlanta Falcons - Coach BigReg
BigReg is back in Hotlanta coaching up these dirty birds. Reg had Atlanta all of Madden ‘18 and although he played well, he was never going to get over that hump that was the Vikings. Reg finished Season 42 (8-7-1), then he bounced back a little bit in Season 43 (9-7), drastically improved in Season 44 (15-1), and finished strong in Season 45 (14-2). Reg has propelled himself into the elite level of coaches here in the MOF with a .620 career winning percentage. After a historic run in 2016, the Falcons’ offense took a dip in production under Sarkisian’s watch. The team still finished eighth overall in total offense (364.8 ypg) but struggled to convert that yardage into points, as Atlanta was a mediocre 15th in the league in scoring (22.1 ppg). So, for the Falcons on offense in 2018, it’s about becoming more creative in the red zone and finding the lane for more explosive plays outside of the red zone that lead to touchdowns. Matt Ryan followed up his 2016 MVP season with a bit of a regression to the mean (4,095 yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs). But Ryan is still Ryan, and he is fresh off a contract extension that will make him the league’s top-paid quarterback with an annual salary of $30 million. Look for Ryan to up his touchdown numbers while logging his usual 4,000-yard season. Interceptions could fall off a bit, too, after he had more than his share of unlucky bounces in that department last season. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman continue to scare defenses with their potential on the ground and in the passing game, though the latter is entering a contract year. The Falcons opted to add rookie Ito Smith in the draft. Unless Freeman or Coleman is injured, Smith will see time on special teams and is a promising player for the future. New fullbacks Luke McNitt and Daniel Marx -- both undrafted free agents -- will compete for a role to give the team the lead blocker they’ve missed since Patrick DiMarco left for the Bills. Adding Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley to a group that features All-Pro Julio Jones and sound Mohamed Sanu could be a nightmare for opposing defenses. Ridley had 19 touchdown receptions in his Tide career and could help the offense dig itself out of its scoring problems. Jones enters 2018 with something he didn’t have in 2017 -- a fully healthy offseason and time to jell with Ryan. The deep ball connection between quarterback and star receiver didn’t quite click like fans were used to seeing last season, perhaps due to the fact that Jones missed key 2017 offseason time after surgery. The Falcons are also likely to lean on third-year tight end Austin Hooper to get more involved in the red zone. Hooper had a solid 2017 season but has yet to materialize as a consistent threat near the goal line. Free-agent acquisition and veteran Logan Paulsen will help Hooper and Eric Saubert develop, but on the field, he will mainly be used for his blocking. Don’t be surprised if the team attempts to add an additional piece here over the summer. The offensive line is largely set with new guard Brandon Fusco the assumed starter on the right side. Fusco comes over from the 49ers, so he knows the Shanahan offense the team likes to run, an outside zone scheme that rewards athletic linemen who can move. Left tackle Jake Matthews is sound and poised for a contract extension, and left guard Andy Levitre will be a free agent in 2019 and might be playing for his last major deal. Center Alex Mack and right tackle Ryan Schraeder are two of the best in the league at what they do, so adding Fusco to the mix gives Ryan a group of blockers on par with that historic 2016 team. The Falcons defensive line is in a bit of a transition. While losing nose tackle Dontari Poe and edge rusher Adrian Clayborn is a concern on paper, the team sees it as more opportunities for younger players to prove their worth. Edge rusher Takk McKinley will take over the bulk of Clayborn’s snaps in the team’s 4-3 front. McKinley had six sacks in his rookie year and flashed the power and motor the team needs at the position. Vic Beasley, who led the MOF in sacks in Season 45, will also transition back to the edge full time after rotating in and out at the spot for a part-time linebacker position in 2017. Budding star Grady Jarrett and rookie Deadrin Senat will man the interior of the defense line alongside Jack Crawford and perhaps a veteran to come later in the summer. Look for rotational ends such as Brooks Reed, a solid pass rusher and run defender, and Derrick Shelby, a versatile player with strong marks in the run game, to get involved as well. Second-year end JT Jones should also be in the mix. Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones will continue to anchor the defense from the middle, and De’Vondre Campbell continues to set the edge and provide support in coverage and as a pass rusher on the strong side. The real question will be if weak-side backer Duke Riley can hold down his starting spot or if Kemal Ishmael, who started in Riley’s place when the 2017 rookie missed last November with a knee injury, will see a larger role. Rookie Foyesade Oluokun will be relied on as a key backup and special teamer. Free safety Ricardo Allen and strong safety Keanu Neal will return to their spots in the secondary, as will starting cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. Rookie Isaiah Oliver figures to get reps on the outside and could push Alford into the slot on certain downs. The drafting of Oliver likely means that Brian Poole’s role may be limited to certain dime packages. But make no mistake: Poole will have a role on the defense thanks to his tackling and blitzing skills. Free agent corner Justin Bethel and key reserve Blidi Wreh-Wilson give the Falcons depth options should someone get hurt. Damontae Kazee and Quincy Mauger are the favorites to back up Allen and Neal, but former Chief Ron Parker was signed in late June to bolster the depth at safety. Kazee will get looks at cornerback as well, his position in college. Reg is ready to have just as much success this season as he did the previous two, and we don’t think anything will slow him down. Reg is the perfect example of a coach playing with his favorite squad, and making the most out of his abilities.
Prediction: 13-3, 1st place NFC South
Carolina Panthers - Coach Dpanther95
There are a few things certain in life. Death, taxes, and Coach Dpanther95 coaching the Carolina Panthers. Coach Dpanther has the most MOF career games played without playing a single playoff game. He has the record for most career losses as well. Last edition wasn’t very kind to Dpanther. Season 42 (3-13), Season 43 (4-12), Season 44 (2-14), and Season 45 (5-10-1). Dpanther will really have to dig deep to compete in this league, but no matter what the outcome, Coach Dpanther shows up to play each and every game, never complains, just plays his game and goes back to the drawing board. Something about that is very admiring.
In a division known for its elite offenses, the Panthers have too often lagged behind. They finished only 19th in total yardage in Season 45. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner will try to change that. He replaces Mike Shula, whose predictability had not endeared him to Panthers fans. Turner and quarterback Cam Newton have some new toys to play with -- most notably wide receivers Torrey Smith (acquired via trade) and D.J. Moore (the team’s No. 1 draft pick). Smith is a burner who is supposed to make up for the absence of Ted Ginn Jr., a player Carolina never should have let get away. Moore is notable for how well he runs after the catch. “He’s like a running back when he gets the ball in his hands,” says Panthers general manager Marty Hurney, who is back for his second stint with the team. New slot receiver Jarius Wright will also add to a unit whose best returning receivers are two big targets -- Devin Funchess and tight end Greg Olsen, who missed most of last season with a foot injury but is known to have the best hands on the team. The skill-position remake continues in the backfield, where franchise-leading running back Jonathan Stewart was released. That will mean more touches for Christian McCaffrey, who had a strong rookie season with a team-high 80 catches out of the backfield but too often went down on first contact when he was running the ball. The Panthers signed C.J. Anderson in May, and the 5'8", 224-pound former Bronco should serve as a nice complement to the 205-pound McCaffrey. Fourth-year pro Cameron Artis-Payne has shown a few flashes in limited work. The offensive line suffered a big loss when Pro Bowl guard Andrew Norwell signed a huge deal with Jacksonville. The Panthers had decided they weren’t going to pay big money to two guards, though, and already had inked a large contract with Trai Turner. So they will try to fill Norwell’s starting spot on the cheap, perhaps with Tyler Larsen. Left tackle Matt Kalil was decent in 2017 in his first year protecting Newton’s blind side and is locked in with a huge contract there. Talented older brother Ryan Kalil, the Panthers’ center, has already announced that 2018 will be his final season and will try to squeeze one more year out of his body. Right tackle Daryl Williams is an up-and-coming steamroller who was second-team All-Pro last year. Ultimately, though, so much of the offense rests on Newton’s shoulders. He set a career high in rushing yards in 2017, but his throwing (often off the mark and high) left a lot to be desired at times. Coach Dpanther95 hired Turner in large part because of his reputation as a “quarterback whisperer.” As usual, this team needs Newton to be great if it is going to be great itself. Many MOF teams envy the Panthers’ defensive front seven, widely regarded as one of the best. That’s where Carolina has sunk most of its money over the years on defense, counting on a superb pass rush and the speed of its linebackers to cover up mistakes in the secondary. The system has been successful enough that the team’s last two defensive coordinators (Sean McDermott and Steve Wilks) are now NFL head coaches. Former defensive line coach Eric Washington takes over as the new coordinator this season, although the system will remain. The Panthers return almost everyone from that front seven but will have to compensate for the loss of Pro Bowl outside linebacker Thomas Davis for the first four games of the season due to an NFL suspension. That means more time for Shaq Thompson and David Mayo, two young linebackers who have shown steady improvement. Thompson, in particular, has similar speed to Davis. Luke Kuechly may be the best middle linebacker in the game and does everything well. He’s as fundamentally sound as they come. But he has been in the concussion protocol in each of the past three seasons, so that is a big concern. The Panthers rotate eight defensive linemen regularly on their front four. They finished third in the MOF in sacks in Season 45 and have lots of firepower once again up front. The best pass rushers are 38-year-old Julius Peppers and Mario Addison, who bookend each other at defensive end and tied for the team lead in sacks last year with 11 apiece. Kawann Short is one of the most effective defensive tackles in the NFL and is particularly adept at pushing the pocket. The Panthers lost Star Lotulelei to free agency but replaced him with another inside behemoth in Dontari Poe. They hope Poe will be a bit of an athletic upgrade. The secondary, again, is the biggest question. Starting safety Mike Adams is 37. Top cornerback James Bradberry doesn’t make a lot of big plays. The second cornerback slot is open and could be filled by rookie Donte Jackson, a 4.32 speed guy whose size (5'11", 175) means that teams will test him in run support. Jackson also could be a nickel corner, where the Panthers already have veteran Captain Munnerlyn. Free-agent corner Ross Cockrell will also compete for time, as will Da’Norris Searcy and rookie Rashaan Gaulden. All in all, this is an iffy group to throw out against the likes of Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, and how well the secondary holds up could well determine how far the Panthers go. Also depending on that is the skill level of Dpanther. The entire league is always pulling for Dpanther to get into the postseason, but i just don't see it happening again this season.
Prediction: 4-12, 4th place NFC South
New Orleans Saints - Coach Qpeezy35
A bit of a surprise here seeing Coach Qpeezy go to the Big Easy (that rhymes) being such a huge Cowboys fan and all, but nevertheless Coach Q went with a team he feels comfortable coaching and playing with. Last edition Coach Q had a topsy turvy time with the Kansas City Chiefs. Season 42 (6-10), Season 43 (11-5), Season 44 (10-6), and Season 45 (8-8). So that put him a little over .500 for the edition. Coach Q will reach his 300th career victory this season, which is a huge accomplishment. He has yet to have the kind of post-season success that he wishes, only making 1 Super Bowl, and having a 7-14 playoff record.
In Coach Q and Brees, the Saints feature one of the most prolific coach-quarterback batteries in the game. Like Tom Brady, Brees shows no signs of slowing down at age 39. He knows Q’s sophisticated offense like the back of his hand and is a surgeon under center, routinely getting the Saints in the right play with his pre-snap reads and checks. He remains one of the most accurate passers in NFL history, as evidenced by his NFL-record 72 percent completion rate in 2017. His arm strength has diminished in recent years, but he compensates with anticipation and a quick release. Few are better at identifying and targeting an opponent’s weak spot. The Saints no longer rely solely on Brees to move the football. The backfield duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara is one of the best in the league -- though the Saints will be without Ingram for the first four games due to a PED suspension. Both players are capable of taking over a game, but in different ways. Ingram does most of his work between the tackles, using his low center of gravity, powerful legs and uncanny balance to break tackles and move the chains. The slippery Kamara is a nightmare for defenders in open space and a deadly weapon on screen and slip passes out of the backfield. The Saints also signed veteran Terrance West to weather Ingram's absence. Michael Thomas’ 196 receptions are the most by anyone in the first two years of an NFL career. His crisp routes and reliable hands have made him Brees’ go-to man in the red zone and on third down, where he uses his excellent leaping ability and 6'3" frame to make competitive catches against tight coverage. Father Time has not caught up with 31-year-old Ted Ginn Jr., who still has the speed to take the top off of defenses that don’t respect the deep passing game. The Saints are counting on former Chicago Bear Cameron Meredith to rebound from a severe knee injury and provide an upgrade in the slot in three-receiver packages. If he’s healthy, the Saints might have a steal. Rookie Tre’Quan Smith, the team’s third-round pick, provides insurance in case Meredith falls short of expectations. The offensive line might be the most underrated front five in the MOF. When healthy, left tackle Terron Armstead has Pro Bowl ability. He neutralizes elite edge rushers with his athleticism and strength. Second-year pro Ryan Ramczyk is a future star at right tackle. He started 16 games as a rookie and is equally effective on the left side. He doesn’t receive the accolades of fellow 2017 draft classmates Kamara and Marshon Lattimore, but he is just as highly regarded by Saints coaches. Guards Andrus Peat and Larry Warford have the size and power to establish a solid pocket for Brees, a key in the Saints’ offense, and the athleticism to pull on traps and screen passes. Outside of veteran free-agent signee Jermon Bushrod, the depth is unproven and a potential concern.
The Saints overhauled their defense with an influx of high draft picks and free agents in 2016 and 2017, and the results have started to show. The defense isn’t dominant, as evidenced by the team’s No. 17 overall ranking last season, but it ranked among the league leaders with 42 sacks and 25 takeaways. Cameron Jordan has anchored the left end position for the past seven seasons. He plays the run as well as any edge defender in the league and has an uncanny knack for batting down passes at the line. One of the best technicians in the game, he dominates offensive linemen with his powerful hands at the point of attack. Coming off a career year, Jordan is considered one of the most complete ends in the MOF and the undisputed leader of the defense. The Saints have spent years trying to find a bookend to complement Jordan on the right side and believe they have finally found one in rookie Marcus Davenport. He will compete with veteran Alex Okafor for the starting spot opposite Jordan. Whether he wins the job or not, he’s going to play early and often in passing situations. A former high school wide receiver, he has rare size (6'6", 264) and speed (4.58 40) for the position. He’ll be the pet project of respected defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen. Sheldon Rankins had a quiet sophomore campaign, but the Saints are still high on the former first-round pick. He commands double teams in the middle and frees up teammates to make plays. The Saints would like to see him make more plays of his own. Ditto brawling run stuffer Tyeler Davison, who completes the front four at the other tackle spot. Demario Davis was signed to captain the defense on the second level. He’s the most athletic middle linebacker the club has had since Jon Vilma. A.J. Klein moves to the strong side, where he’s more comfortable as a playmaker against the run. Alex Anzalone flashed potential as a rookie starter on the weak side, but he must remain healthy. Depth is solid here with veterans Mike Mauti, Craig Robertson, Nate Stupar and Manti Te’o. Lattimore was a revelation as a rookie, starting all 13 games in which he played and becoming the first Saints corner to make the Pro Bowl since Eric Allen in 1995. Lattimore owns all of the traits of a shutdown corner: fluid hips, instinctive ball skills and rare recovery speed. Opponents rarely threw his way down the stretch, and he should see even fewer opportunities this season. The other corner spot remains a question mark. But the Saints have options. Ken Crawley, P.J. Williams and Patrick Robinson are all capable starters. Crawley plays with confidence and swagger but needs to cut down on the penalties. Robinson is expected to man the slot position, a weak spot in the defense in recent years. Free safety Marcus Williams’ solid rookie season was overshadowed by his infamous missed tackle in the NFC playoffs against Minnesota. He plays like a cornerback with excellent range and ball skills. Vonn Bell is an excellent blitzer and big hitter but can be exposed in coverage. The Saints are confident that veteran safety Kurt Coleman can still make plays on the back end and were excited to sign him in free agency. He brings much-needed experience and savvy to the position group. He’ll be employed often in coordinator Dennis Allen’s three-safety packages. We are big fans of this team, and big fans of Coach Q and we think this could be a match made in heaven. Q has the talent around him, possibly the most talented team he’s ever had, and he has the coaching skills to really make a deep run this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Coach Jfon
In a coach who we like to call Good ‘ole Jfon, comes longevity, dedication, respect, and reliability. Those are the 4 words that come to mind when i think of Coach Jfon. If he’s not busting his ass helping the MOF out in any type of capacity he’s out here practicing and trying to get his Buccaneers back to a level of competitiveness that he’s only seen a few times. Last edition Jfon ran with these same Bucs and finished (9-7) in Season 42, (7-9) in Season 43, (5-11) in Season 44, and (8-8) in Season 45. Jfon hovers around .500 and his career record is a bit under .500 as well. Jfon is known for his fast starts and bad finishes, but hopefully he can stay hot from start to finish this season.
Winston was only 3-10 as a starter last season, and he struggled throwing the deep ball. In fact, coach Jfon had a tape made of all the times Jackson won his route or got behind the defense and the Bucs quarterback was unable to deliver the ball to him. “I’m able to get past defenders with my speed and tracking down balls,” Jackson says. “So, for a quarterback, it’s just one of [those] things, you just have to have a feel for it. Last year, it was hit and miss.” Mostly miss. Good health from Winston would certainly help. In the offseason, Winston researched the most durable quarterbacks in the league to try and gain some tips. “Just typical research. You watch ‘Tom vs. Time’ and you see how [Tom Brady] maintains his body,” Winston says. “You read articles about LeBron [James] and investing a lot of money into his body and you see how he’s been prolific throughout his career. You see Floyd Mayweather and how he continues to train and continues to keep toxins and stuff out of his body. So, you just learn from the guys that are very successful at it and the guys that are doing it and you try to apply it to your regimen every day.” Unfortunately, Winston might miss the first three games of the season after possibly violating the MOF personal conduct policy. The suspension stems from an 2016 incident in which Winston was accused of groping a female Uber driver. After initially denying the allegations when they first came to light in 2017, the MOF’s nearly eight-month-long investigation might result in the suspension being handed down. The Bucs will turn to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, if they have to, who went 2-1 as the starter when Winston was injured last season. Elsewhere on the offense, Jackson is back along with Mike Evans, who notched his fourth straight 1,000-yard receiving season and earned a five-year, $82.5 million contract. The Bucs also have a good slot receiver in Adam Humphries and pass-catching tight ends in Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, who combined for 12 TDs. The biggest improvement on offense should come from the ground game. Gone is Doug Martin, whose No. 22 will be worn this year by rookie second-round pick Ronald Jones II. Jones gives the Bucs what they haven’t had -- a home-run hitter. Jones had 12 runs of 40 yards or more for USC in his career. The Bucs averaged only 3.7 yards per carry due largely to an inability to produce the breakout run. Martin, who had two seasons with at least 1,400 yards rushing with the Bucs, averaged only 2.9 yards per carry in his last two seasons. The offensive line will look different thanks to the addition of Ravens center Ryan Jensen. Ali Marpet moves from center to left guard. Caleb Benenoch is penciled in at right guard but could fill in at right tackle as Demar Dotson recovers from a knee injury. Gerald McCoy is a big fan of superheroes. His favorite is Batman, in part because he has to be self-reliant and creative to get the job done. Like the Caped Crusader, McCoy has had to go at it alone much of the time. But whether it’s the Justice League or the National Football League, you need some help from your friends, and finally, McCoy has help. After finishing last in the MOF in total defense, sacks and third-down percentage, the Bucs spent the offseason rebuilding their defensive line. Not surprisingly, they raided the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, signing free-agent tackle Beau Allen and end Vinny Curry. They also traded for Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and used the 12th overall pick on Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea. That gives Noah Spence, who was limited to six games due to injury in 2017, the luxury of being a designated pass rusher. “We overhauled that defensive line room a little bit, well, quite a bit,” Licht says. “JFon and I thought that that was a necessity after last year. Like I said, it starts up front, and you can never go wrong having some ass kickers up there.” Says Jfon: “Last year this time, everybody was talking about Noah Spence getting 15 sacks. Yesterday I heard somebody rattle off seven D-linemen and they didn’t even mention Noah Spence. What’s that tell you? Maybe we’re a little deeper.” Linebacker Lavonte David and Pierre-Paul were teammates at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, and David says that JPP’s mentality is the same as it’s always been. “I played with Jason in junior college so I know what he’s bringing to the table, and from what I see, nothing changed,” David says. “I still kept up with him when he went to South Florida and then when he went to the Giants. So, nothing’s changed. Those long arms are going to help out tremendously for us, too. … He always wants to dominate. So I know what I’m going to get out of him.” In the back end, the Bucs drafted two key pieces in North Carolina’s M.J. Stewart and Auburn’s Carlton Davis, who at 6'1" gives them a tall defensive back. The defense is united in its desire to atone for Madden ‘18. “Coach put our stats and stuff on the board and let us know that this is what we put out when we were out there on the field,” David says. “All of the guys, we were hurt by that.” Coach Jfon knows this team and these guys inside and out, but i don't know if that will be enough to climb the mountains in this division. We will have to wait and see, it will be interesting.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place NFC South
Final Take NFC South: As we see this right now, it’s a two team race between BigReg’s Falcons and Qpeezy’s Saints. Jfon is always someone you shouldn’t take lightly because he can go on a run and beat everyone in his way. I don't think he can be consistent enough to break down Atlanta or New Orleans though. Carolina will finish last , barring any type of craziness.
Arizona Cardinals - Coach MRosado11
Coach Rosado returns to the MOF after taking 75% of Season 45 off to pursue other obligations. However, coaching the Eagles he had a ton of success in Madden ‘18. (12-4) in Season 42, (11-5) in Season 43, and (12-4) in Season 44. His playoff record is abysmal at (1-4) and he will have to improve on the pressure of the postseason if he wants to really be considered an elite coach. His overall career winning percentage is at .625 which is very respectable. But we have a saying here in the MOF when people take the Cardinals. Welcome to the Arizona Challenge! The team with the lowest winning percentage in MOF history!!
In a perfect world for Arizona, Bradford starts all 16 regular-season games and is able to rely on a heavy rushing attack led by David Johnson, who rushed for 1,239 yards two seasons ago and led the MOF with 20 touchdowns and 2,118 total yards from scrimmage. The problem with that, though, is that Johnson has suffered significant injuries in each of the last two games he has played, and Bradford has started all 16 games in a season just twice -- the last time coming six years and four teams ago, in 2012. Rosie and new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will be tasked with trying to improve a unit that finished last season ranked 24th in third-down percentage, 25th in scoring and 30th in touchdowns scored in the red zone. They’ll have to do it despite losing 11 players who saw significant time, each of whom was either a full- or part-time starter, including three running backs, three pass catchers and three linemen. The rebuild starts up front, where Arizona added Justin Pugh from the Giants to man right guard and Andre Smith from the Bengals to handle right tackle. Center A.Q. Shipley and left guard Mike Iupati both return, and if young left tackle D.J. Humphries can return to form from a serious knee injury, the O-line should be improved. There were still holes to fill, however, which explained why the Cardinals used five of their six draft picks on the offensive side of the ball. In addition to Rosen, whom they selected 10th overall after flipping a third- and fifth-round pick to the Raiders to move up five spots, they snagged a top-flight receiver in Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, an NFL-ready interior lineman in Mason Cole from Michigan and an intriguing, record-setting running back in Fordham’s Chase Edmonds, who will be a nice change-of-pace weapon behind Johnson. Star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald returns for a 15th season as the face of the franchise, but he turns 35 in the fall and can’t play forever. He might be persuaded to stick around beyond 2018, however, should Bradford be able to stay healthy or, in a more likely scenario, should Rosen move into the starting quarterback role and prove why most talent evaluators contend he was the best pure-passing prospect in the 2018 draft class.
The strength of the Cardinals has been this group, which joined the Broncos and Ravens as the only defense to finish with a top-10 ranking in each of the past three years. It just missed out last season on finishing with its third straight top-five ranking, finishing sixth overall. The key questions: Can the Cardinals maintain their level of excellence on D despite switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme? And how much will they miss playmakers like safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Tyvon Branch and fellow veterans such as linebacker Karlos Dansby and cornerback Tramon Williams? There’s still a lot to like about the Cardinals’ defense, however, especially when it comes to cornerback and defensive end. There, Arizona has two of the best in the league in Patrick Peterson, the seven-time Pro Bowl performer and three-time All-Pro, and Chandler Jones, who set a franchise record and led the NFL with 17 sacks last season and whose 40.5 sacks since the start of the 2015 season are the most in the NFL during that span. The concern is about who is playing on the other side of the two stars. The Cardinals haven’t been able to find a long-term solution at corner opposite Peterson. Arizona signed a slew of corners in the offseason, and between that group and third-year pro Brandon Williams, it figures to be an open competition for the job. On the edge, Markus Golden, who led the club with 12.5 sacks in 2016, is returning from a torn ACL. There isn’t reliable depth at end if Golden can’t make a full comeback. At linebacker, Josh Bynes played well enough in reserve to earn a contract extension and a promise by Wilks to man the middle of the unit. There is youth and exuberance to the left and right of him in Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick, but all three will have to shine and play above expectations for this group to truly excel. There are also some questions up front and on the back end of the defense. Veteran free safety Antoine Bethea will be 34 when the season begins, and as accountable as he has been during his career, he’s coming off a torn pectoral and isn’t getting any younger. Second-year man Budda Baker has off-the-charts talent, but he has only a handful of games as a starting strong safety in the NFL, and at 5'10" and 195 pounds, he’s smallish for the position. And then there’s defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who looked like a steal when the Cardinals selected him late in the first round of the 2016 draft. He has yet to play up to par, and there have been concerns about his passion for the game, which likely makes this season a make-or-break situation for the former Ole Miss star. Coach Rosado has proven he can win with any team he coaches, and this is no different. The Arizona challenge will not get the best of Rosado, as we think he will be a playoff team and a team to be reckoned with in Season 46.
Prediction: 10-6, 2nd place in NFC West
Los Angeles Rams - Coach RobPowers
It was wonderful having Rob Powers make his triumphant return in Madden ‘18. However, we don’t think it was as great for Powers as he would have liked. Season 42 (5-11), Season 43 (6-10), Season 44 (1-15), and Season 45 (9-7) including a playoff berth. Consistency has never been Rob’s strong suit as he’s been just under .500 for his MOF career, however he will win his 100th game this season, extremely great accomplishment. Now he’s coaching one of the best teams in the game, and that has to make some sort of difference, right? Before DoubleD took over, the Rams offense ranked dead last in the league. With averages of 262.7 yards and 14.0 points per game, Jeff Fisher’s final Rams team had one of the worst offenses the league had seen in years. In just one year, DoubleD turned that moribund offense into an electrifying juggernaut that scored twice as many points and added just under 100 extra yards per game to its offensive production. Jared Goff emerged as one of the league’s best young quarterbacks. Todd Gurley bounced back from a down season to finish second in voting for league MVP. McVay’s offense, for all intents and purposes, was a revelation. Now insert Coach RobPowers. But will that success last? That depends largely on Goff, who took a huge leap in his sophomore season under DoubleD but will no longer have his quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator or head coach from a year ago. If he can iron out some of his inconsistencies, he could be even better in Season 46. His progress could be directly tied to the Rams’ Super Bowl hopes. He won’t have the services of Sammy Watkins, with whom he connected for eight touchdowns a year ago. But newly acquired wideout Brandin Cooks is a more-than-adequate replacement. An ideal deep threat for Powers’ offense, Cooks is one of four receivers in NFL history to record three seasons with 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns before turning 25. Odell Beckham Jr. and Randy Moss are two of the others. Cooks has the speed to take the top off of defenses, leaving Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to continue doing good work underneath and on intermediate routes. Unlike Watkins, Cooks is a bit more varied in his routes, adding another layer of confusion for defenses to deal with. If the Rams can get a meaningful contribution from their young tight ends, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett, the passing game could be one of the league’s best. Still, the main attraction on offense remains Gurley, who’s entering the last year of his deal in 2018. He’ll be motivated to prove that he’s the league’s best running back, deserving of a huge long-term extension. It’ll be hard to improve on his 2,093-yard, 19-touchdown campaign, but he’ll get every chance to as the centerpiece of an offense built to get him the ball and let him do his thing. To replicate that sort of success, it’s going to require a clean bill of health from the offensive line. That’s no easy task for a group that relies heavily on contributions from a 36-year old left tackle (Andrew Whitworth) and a 32-year-old center (John Sullivan). Depth is a concern on the line, which is probably the biggest question mark for this offense and will be tested early with starting right guard Jamon Brown suspended the first two games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. The Rams don’t need to reinvent the wheel from a year ago. This was one of the most explosive offenses in the MOF in Season 45, and if Cooks’ addition unlocks yet another facet of Powers’ system, it could be even more explosive in Season 46.
It’s not often that a team adds three All-Pro players on one side of the ball. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib were added via trade, and Ndamukong Suh was signed to a one-year deal, giving the Rams one of the league’s most aggressive, ball-hawking defenses. Peters has 19 interceptions in his three stellar seasons, while Talib has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past five seasons. Both are perfect fits for Wade Phillips’ scheme. Combined with star-in-the-making safety Lamarcus Joyner and sophomore cornerback John Johnson, the Rams could have the league’s most ferocious secondary. That pairs quite nicely with an interior pass rush quite possibly unlike anything the NFL has ever seen. Fresh off another All-Pro season, dominant defensive tackle Aaron Donald will now form a tandem with Suh that should strike fear into the hearts of offensive linemen everywhere. Throw in the always-underrated Michael Brockers, and it’s unclear how defenses will handle the Rams’ multi-faceted interior rush. More than likely, opposing offenses will respond by aiming for the edge, where the Rams are thin. Offseason trades sent veterans Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree packing, and the team didn’t exactly replace the vacancies at outside linebacker. The Rams weren’t all that concerned with going after linebackers in the draft, suggesting that they’re pleased with what they have at the position. They’ll count on young players such as Samson Ebukam, Cory Littleton and Matt Longacre to step up, and rookies Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Micah Kiser will be given a shot to contribute. Their inexperience may not matter, given the sheer force of the defense’s interior rush. Donald, as the league’s best technician inside, and Suh, a sheer bull-rushing force, are perfect complements on the inside. And while Suh will play nose tackle, a position he didn’t play much in Miami, he expresses little concern about making an impact in his new role. With so many players in new roles, it’s fair to wonder how all the new pieces might fit. In addition to big talent, the Rams added a few big personalities to their defense. Talib has had his share of issues. Peters irked team officials in Kansas City. Suh has rubbed people the wrong way both in Detroit and Miami. Some envision some problems. Phillips, meanwhile, sees the potential for an elite defense. “I want them to have personalities,” he says. “A lot of them are really good because of their personalities.” Coach Powers’ skill level needs to improve, his consistency also needs to improve before we can call him a contender. Unfortunately we do not see much coming out of him this season, in this underrated division.
Prediction: 5-11, 4th place NFC West
San Francisco 49ers - Coach SoSickin432
Coach SoSickin432 came back to the MOF at the end of Season 43 with the Bears and won the last 2 games on the schedule. Season 44 he went (4-12) and had a rough go at things, but in Season 45 SoSickin432 turned things around, finished (10-6) and made the playoffs, even winning a game over these 49ers and Commish Jeff. Now he is coaching the 49ers, a much better team than the Bears were a season ago. Garoppolo proved to be a quick study and an ideal fit for the 49ers offense last season. Coming off the bench for his debut on Nov. 26 in a 24-13 loss to Seattle, Garoppolo completed both of his passes, the second one for a touchdown. His pinpoint accuracy, quick release and skill at reading defenses helped ignite San Francisco’s offense. Garoppolo averaged 308.4 passing yards and completed 67.1 percent of his throws during his five starts. Now that he’ll have an offseason and training camp under SoSickin432, the 49ers expect him to take his game to an even higher level. Garoppolo and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, one of the fastest players in the MOF, developed instant chemistry. Goodwin caught 29 passes for 384 yards and one TD in Garoppolo’s five starts. He finished with 56 catches for 962 yards -- both career highs -- and averaged 17.2 yards per grab. The 49ers rewarded him with a three-year extension. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon missed the final eight games with a neck injury that required surgery. He’s expected to return to the starting lineup. Garcon caught 113 passes for 1,346 yards and five TDs in 2013 for Washington with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. Slot receiver Trent Taylor had 17 of his 43 catches as a rookie over the final five games last season with Garoppolo. Dante Pettis, a second-round pick from Washington, is another dangerous target. Tight ends George Kittle and Garrett Celek thrived with Garoppolo as the starter, combining to catch 23 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns. The 49ers parted ways with running back Carlos Hyde and signed former Viking Jerick McKinnon to a four-year free-agent contract that’s worth up to $36.9 million. McKinnon is undersized at 5'9" and 205 pounds and started only 14 games in four seasons with Minnesota. He comes with plenty of question marks, but SoSickin432 sees McKinnon as a great fit for his scheme with his ability to both run and catch. He caught 51 passes for 421 yards and two touchdowns last season and ran for a career-high 570 yards and three scores on 150 carries. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk earned his second straight Pro Bowl berth in his debut with the 49ers last season, largely on his skill as a receiver. He had 33 catches for 315 yards and a score. Left tackle Joe Staley, a six-time Pro Bowler, returns for his 12th season and will anchor an unsettled offensive line. The 49ers signed center Weston Richburg to a five-year free-agent deal worth up to $47.5 million and traded incumbent starter Daniel Kilgore to Miami. Shanahan believes Richburg’s athleticism and pass-blocking skills will be an upgrade. Rookie Mike McGlinchey, the No. 9 overall pick, will likely start at right tackle. One day after drafting McGlinchey, the 49ers traded incumbent starter Trent Brown to New England. Left guard Laken Tomlinson, who signed a three-year contract extension in late June, and right guard Joshua Garnett figure to round out the starting five. Free-agent pickup Jonathan Cooper, who has 27 career starts including 13 last season for Dallas, and Erik Magnuson also could be in the mix at either guard spot. The 49ers made some strides last year under new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who installed his version of Pete Carroll’s aggressive 4-3 scheme. They jumped from last in the MOF in total defense to 24th, last in rushing defense to 22nd and last in points allowed to 25th. The pass defense, however, fell from 14th to 22nd, and the team hopes that the addition of cornerback Richard Sherman helps solve that problem. The 49ers signed Sherman to a three-year contract on March 12, three days after Seattle released him. If healthy, the 6'3", 195-pound Sherman will be a perfect fit for Saleh’s defense, giving him a big, physical corner on the left edge. Sherman underwent surgeries to repair a torn right Achilles and remove bone spurs from his left Achilles. It’s not known if or when he’ll be fully healthy. Jimmie Ward, who has played both safety and cornerback, worked at cornerback in the spring and could open the season on the left side if Sherman isn’t ready. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a 2017 third-round draft pick, started nine games and intercepted two passes as a rookie last season and will likely hold onto his starting job. K’Waun Williams returns as the nickel back. Moving Ward to corner would open a spot at free safety for hard hitting Adrian Colbert, who started six games last season. Jaquiski Tartt will start at strong safety, replacing Eric Reid, who was not re-signed. The 49ers have spent first-round capital on defensive linemen and expect to start seeing a bigger return. They chose Arik Armstead (17th) in 2015, DeForest Buckner (seventh) in 2016 and Solomon Thomas (third) in 2017. Armstead missed 18 games with injuries the past two seasons and has six career sacks. Buckner started 31 games his first two NFL seasons and has nine career sacks. Thomas started 12 games and had three sacks as a rookie. It’s still unclear if the 49ers have the weapons to improve their pressure off the edge. Former Seahawk Brock Coyle, who started 10 games last season for the 49ers, will likely fill in at middle linebacker during Foster's absence. Rookie Fred Warner, a third-round pick from BYU, is another option. Outside linebacker Malcolm Smith, another former Seahawk, is expected to start on the weak side after signing with San Francisco last year but missing the season with a torn pectoral suffered in training camp. Eli Harold started 23 games over the past two seasons and has the inside track on the strong side. The question is will we see Season 45 SoSick or Season 44 SoSick? I think it will be a mixture of both and we will see greatness at times, but some low points and too many low points will keep him out of the postseason.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place NFC West
Seattle Seahawks - Coach Mindenplaya
Coach Mindenplaya made his MOF return in the middle of Season 44 and finished (6-3) just missing out on the playoffs. In the final season of Madden ‘18 Mindenplaya boasted a (14-2) record only to be bounced out of the divisional round by the eventual champion Browns. Minden has an extremely impressive .671 career winning percentage, but hasn’t translated that too much in the postseason. Will things change in Season 46?
The Seahawks made restoration of their feeble rushing attack the top offseason priority after Russell Wilson became the first MOF quarterback in 27 seasons to lead his team in rushing (since Randall Cunningham topped Philadelphia) by finishing with 586 yards, 346 more than the nearest Seattle running back. Enter Rashaad Penny. The first-round draft pick from San Diego State has been brought in to fix this mess. He’s a big back with a straight-ahead burst, someone with enough speed to score on seven kickoff returns as a collegian. He also showed himself to be a durable player, an important trait for the Seahawks, who’ve had trouble keeping their top runners healthy in recent seasons.
Wilson comes off a season in which he tied his career best with 34 touchdown passes but was forced to run more than the team wanted. He has a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer, who will push Wilson to elevate his game as he enters his peak years. A productive Penny will buy Wilson more time to work his improvisational magic. For the first time in three seasons, the Seahawks are significantly invested in their blockers. After paying a league-low $1 million per man in Season 45, the team will shell out a $9 million bounty this season both to left tackle Duane Brown and center Justin Britt, which signifies added value. A midseason acquisition in 2017, Brown permitted three sacks in nine games with Seattle, tying for the most in his career, but he is still an able lead blocker. Britt, adept at recognizing defenses and rated as a quality pass protector, has become a solid center. The only new face up front is D.J. Fluker, a free-agent addition at right guard whose massive 6'5", 342-pound physique qualifies him as an effective run blocker but makes him a questionable pocket protector. George Fant, who missed the previous season with a knee injury, will open at right tackle if fully recovered, combining his 6'5", 332-pound frame with unique athleticism. Left guard Ethan Pocic permitted just two sacks on the right side as a rookie and showed he could be a long-term starter. New offensive line coach Mike Solari, returning to the Seahawks for a second stint, will change the team blocking scheme from zone to man to better utilize the wide bodies up front. Wilson’s receiving corps is centered around wide receiver Doug Baldwin, one of the league’s best at getting separation. At tight end, free-agent signee Ed Dickson won’t score as many touchdowns as the departed Graham, but he’ll offer a decided upgrade as a blocker, further boosting the rushing attack. Slotback Tyler Lockett, who provides a deep threat, and former Cardinal wideout Jaron Brown will vie to become Wilson’s second option; however, Lockett has never started more than nine games in a season, and Brown previously struggled when put in a leading role. Seattle needs more help here, which is why six-time Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall, who played just five games for the Giants before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, was signed to a one-year deal in late May.
The Seahawks allowed 332 points in Season 45, their most in seven seasons, which spurred the defensive facelift. Sherman and Bennett were moved because the team no longer saw them performing at elite levels; the trash-talking cornerback has to bounce back from two Achilles surgeries, and the defensive end showed his age. Sherman’s departure and Chancellor’s career-threatening neck injury effectively meant an end to the Legion of Boom. All that remains of the once superlative secondary is free safety Earl Thomas, and even he was shopped around in the offseason. Thomas still brings a fearless presence, equally adept at stopping the pass and the run. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who played confidently as a rookie alongside Sherman, will be asked to be the top cover guy now. Thomas and Griffin will line up next to newly added Dontae Johnson at cornerback and holdover fill-in Bradley McDougald at strong safety. Johnson in effect was swapped for Sherman; he left the 49ers after losing his job over inconsistent play. McDougald previously started at both Seattle safety slots as an injury replacement for Thomas and Chancellor but will need to show more than just versatility. The fall-off in overall secondary talent shouldn’t be understated. Opponents will aggressively attack this group. The earliest indication of defensive erosion last season was the noticeable absence of a disruptive pass rush. The biggest offseason moves on defense were the signings of former Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson and ex-Colts hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, both designed to escalate the pressure. The dependable Johnson, who played 70 percent of the snaps in Minnesota, was considered by many to be one of the league’s more underrated pick-ups in free agency. He’ll team inside with tackle Jarran Reed, now Seattle’s top defensive lineman following a steady rise as a run stuffer with his effective leverage. At defensive end, Frank Clark seemingly supplanted Bennett as the playmaker up front after collecting nine sacks, giving him 22 in three seasons. At the other end, Dion Jordan, run out of Miami as a bust, picked up four sacks in a five-game comeback with Seattle and made himself relevant again. This group still lacks an elite player. Linebacker appears to be the team’s most stable position area. It’s built around middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and outside linebacker K.J. Wright, the league’s best second-row tandem with a combined 1,478 career tackles. They’re every-down players. Wagner is Seattle’s defensive cornerstone, using his extraordinary lateral and closing speed to make plays. Wright, a steady, instinctive player, will line up alongside Wagner for the seventh consecutive season. Mingo, playing for his fourth team in four years, will join them on early downs and shift to rush end in passing situations. A wild card is rookie Shaquem Griffin, Shaquill’s twin brother, who has more than enough speed to make an early impact. We know the Seahawks are not what they once were talent wise, but when you have a coach like Mindenplaya heading your team you are automatically a contender.
Prediction: 11-5, 1st place NFC West
Final Take NFC West: The NFC West will be an interesting fight between the Cardinals (Rosado) and Seahawks (Mindenplaya) i think they will both be in the postseason but question is who will win the division. The 49ers are probably a season or two away and the Rams could surprise people because they are just that good.
Season 46 Projected Final Standings
Season 46 Projected Awards
AFC MVP: RB: Melvin Gordon, LAC
NFC MVP: QB: Matt Ryan, ATL
AFC Defensive MVP: S: Tyrann Mathieu, HOU
NFC Defensive MVP: MLB: Bobby Wagner, SEA
AFC Rookie of the Year: QB: Baker Mayfield, CLE
NFC Rookie of the Year: QB: Josh Rosen, ARI
AFC Def. Rookie of the Year: S: Derwin James, LAC
NFC Def. Rookie of the Year: LB: Roquan Smith, CHI
AFC Coach of the Year: MackDaddy, LAC
NFC Coach of the Year: MrWitness, WAS
AFC Comeback Coach Of The Year: BigDre245, HOU
NFC Comeback Coach Of The Year: Qpeezy, NO
Season 46 Projected Playoff Bracket