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Windy City Gridiron projects the 2018 NFL season

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Here’s how the WCG staff predicts the NFL’s 2018 season.

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Editor: In case you guys may have missed it earlier this week, we wanted to re-rack our 2018 NFL predictions. We’ve got everything in here. Playoff picks, Super Bowl predictions, and we also give our takes on all the postseason awards.

We went more in-depth on our Chicago Bears’ predictions and you can find all of those by clicking this link. You can find our Sunday open thread right here. Enjoy your first Sunday with NFL football Bears’ fans!

The long national nightmare has come to a merciful end.

Meaningful professional football came back last night as the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles kicked off their title defense against the Atlanta Falcons.

We here at Windy City Gridiron have a laser-eyed focus on the Bears when we provide you, the reader, our analysis, reporting, and commentary. But that doesn’t mean we don’t keep an eye on the rest of the league. Everyone here loves football and would be remiss if they didn’t understand the entire landscape.

In honor of the regular season fireworks returning, we’ve compiled our season projections for every single division, award, and the postseason. Obviously the Bears factor in there somewhere, but this should give you an idea of how we view where every NFL team sits before the whirlwind comes crashing in.

Without further ado, here’s WCG’s projections for the 2018 NFL season.


NFC Playoff teams (seeding in order)

Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski:

1. Vikings

2. Falcons

3. Eagles

4. Rams

5. Packers

6. Saints

Lester Wiltfong Jr.:

1. Rams

2. Saints

3. Eagles

4. Vikings

5. Falcons

6. Packers

Aaron Leming:

1. Vikings

2. Falcons

3. Rams

4. Eagles

5. Saints

6. Bears

Jacob Infante:

1. Eagles

2. Vikings

3. Rams

4. Saints

5. Falcons

6. Packers

Josh Sunderbruch:

1. Panthers

2. Eagles

3. Packers

4. Rams

5. Falcons

6. Bears

Sam Householder:

1. Vikings

2. Saints

3. Eagles

4. 49ers

5. Packers

6. Falcons

Andrew Link:

1. Rams

2. Saints

3. Vikings

4. Eagles

5. Bears

6. Panthers

Erik Duerrwaechter:

1. Saints

2. Vikings

3. Eagles

4. Rams

5. Bears

6. Falcons

Patti Curl:

1. Eagles

2. Falcons

3. Bears

4. Rams

5. Saints

6. Vikings

Jeff Berckes:

1. Vikings

2. Saints

3. Rams

4. Eagles

5. Bears

6. Falcons

Ken Mitchell:

1. Vikings

2. Eagles

3. Falcons

4. Rams

5. Bears

6. Saints

AFC Playoff teams (seeding in order)

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski:

1. Patriots

2. Titans

3. Chargers

4. Steelers

5. Chiefs

6. Jaguars

Lester Wiltfong Jr:

1. Patriots

2. Steelers

3. Chargers

4. Titans

5. Jaguars

6. Broncos

Aaron Leming:

1. Steelers

2. Patriots

3. Chargers

4. Texans

5. Jaguars

6. Chiefs

Jacob Infante:

1. Jaguars

2. Patriots

3. Steelers

4. Chargers

5. Texans

6. Chiefs

Josh Sunderbruch:

1. Patriots

2. Chiefs

3. Steelers

4. Texans

5. Bills

6. Browns

Sam Householder:

1. Patriots

2. Steelers

3. Chiefs

4. Colts

5. Chargers

6. Jaguars

Andrew Link:

1. Jaguars

2. Patriots

3. Chargers

4. Steelers

5. Titans

6. Browns

Erik Duerrwaechter:

1. Steelers

2. Patriots

3. Jaguars

4. Chiefs

5. Texans

6. Bills

Patti Curl:

1. Chargers

2. Patriots

3. Jaguars

4. Bengals

5. Steelers

6. Texans

Jeff Berckes:

1. Texans

2. Chargers

3. Patriots

4. Steelers

5. Titans

6. Chiefs

Ken Mitchell:

1. Patriots

2. Chargers

3. Titans

4. Steelers

5. Chiefs

6. Bengals

One bold prediction (non-Bears related)

Cleveland Browns v Chicago Bears Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: The Texans flame out due to poor depth, Deshaun Watson barely carries Houston to .500.

Houston has some of the league’s premier players in Watson, J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and DeAndre Hopkins. They’re weak in key areas like their offensive line and overall defense, though. That’ll be enough to sink them in a strong AFC South for as much as Watson is magical.

Lester Wiltfong Jr: The Cleveland Browns will be the most improved team in the NFL.

Aaron Leming: The Bills will be the worst team in football and it won’t be close.

It’s shocking to me that a team that broke such a long playoff drought just a season ago, could be in this type of situation. Yet, here we are. There’s not a lot of talent on this Buffalo roster, but my main concern is at quarterback. Nathan Peterman is a backup talent-wise, and the fact that Josh Allen was taken in the first round is an absolute travesty. I hate to say it, but Bills fans are in for a long few years. I hope they enjoyed their playoff berth last season.

Jacob Infante: Patrick Mahomes tears the league apart, and makes the Pro Bowl.

Mahomes is in the perfect situation. A young quarterback with all of the physical tools in the world, the second-year gunslinger has fantastic weapons, a solid offensive line, and plays in a scheme that will get the most out of his ability to improvise. This sounds a lot like Mitchell Trubisky’s situation, but the Chiefs have better weapons than the Bears, and they play in an easier division in the AFC West. Mahomes lights up teams across the league en route to a Pro Bowl year.

Josh Sunderbruch: Despite having a stellar defense, the Vikings miss the playoffs.

Minnesota caught lightning in a bottle with Case Keenum’s performance, and I don’t think Kirk Cousins is going to match that. More than that, they are in a stacked division, and defense is less consistent year-to-year than offense. I think they fall just short.

Sam Householder: The Rams regress and miss the playoffs.

I feel like the team that always wins the off-season ends up disappointing and the Rams definitely did by signing Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley, and also getting Brandin Cooks and Marcus Peters. I think they take a step back.

Andrew Link: The Browns sneak into the playoffs in a brutally bad AFC conference.

A few key injuries help Cleveland’s case. Like the Bears, the Browns have competed overhauled their roster and it’s starting to pay off.

Erik Duerrwaechter: Green Bay misses the playoffs again, and head coach Mike McCarthy is fired shortly afterwards.

Patti Curl: Does Packers don’t make the playoffs count as non-Bears related?

Jeff Berckes: Texans defense stays healthy and Watson’s gunslinger style takes the league by storm.

Ken Mitchell: The Cleveland Browns will be in playoff contention until the end of the year.

Eventually the Browns will lose out because of something “so Cleveland” that it defies belief, leading to the sacking of head coach Hue Jackson. Cleveland becomes the team to beat in the AFC in 2019.

Major awards

Pittsburgh Steelers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski

Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown, Steelers

Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack, Bears

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sam Darnold, Jets

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Derwin James, Chargers

Comeback player of the Year: David Johnson, Cardinals

Coach of the Year: Mike Vrabel, Titans

Lester Wiltfong Jr

Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers

Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown

Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley, Giants

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Bradley Chubb, Broncos

Comeback player of the Year: Deshaun Watson, Texans

Coach of the Year: Matt Nagy, Bears

Aaron Leming

Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, Patriots

Offensive Player of the Year: Odell Beckham Jr., Giants

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, Rams

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sam Darnold

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Roquan Smith, Bears

Comeback Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers

Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer, Vikings

Jacob Infante

Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers

Offensive Player of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys

Defensive Player of the Year: Von Miller, Broncos

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Roquan Smith

Comeback Player of the Year: Odell Beckham Jr.

Coach of the Year: Anthony Lynn, Chargers

Josh Sunderbruch

Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady

Offensive Player of the Year: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Dolphins

Comeback Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Texans

Coach of the Year: Matt Nagy

Sam Householder

Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers

Offensive Player of the Year: Kareem Hunt

Defensive Player of the Year: Joey Bosa

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Bradley Chubb

Comeback Player of the Year: Andrew Luck

Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer

Andrew Link

Most Valuable Player: Drew Brees, Saints

Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley, Rams

Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Roquan Smith

Comeback Player of the Year: Allen Robinson, Bears

Coach of the Year: Matt Nagy

Erik Duerrwaechter

Most Valuable Player: Todd Gurley

Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees

Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sam Darnold

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Roquan Smith

Comeback Player of the Year: Allen Robinson

Coach of the Year: Matt Nagy

Patti Curl

Most Valuable Player: Khalil Mack

Offensive Player of the Year: Carson Wentz, Eagles

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Anthony Miller, Bears

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Roquan Smith

Comeback Player of the Year: David Johnson, Cardinals

Coach: Matt Patricia. Just kidding. Matt Nagy

Jeff Berckes

Most Valuable Player: Deshaun Watson

Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown

Defensive Player of the Year: Joey Bosa, Chargers

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Anthony Miller

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Derwin James

Comeback Player of the Year: David Johnson

Coach of the Year: Matt Nagy

Ken Mitchell

Most Valuable Player: Matt Ryan, Falcons

Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley

Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Roquan Smith

Comeback Player of the Year: David Johnson

Coach of the Year: Matt Nagy

Super Bowl LIII picks

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: Falcons over Patriots, MVP: Matt Ryan

The Falcons of two years ago were actually a year ahead of their trajectory and benefitted from a weak NFC. This year they’re much stronger, stacked at almost every position, and battle-hardened in a loaded conference. They’re going to take the NFL by storm again and finally win their long-awaited first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Lester Wiltfong Jr: Rams over Steelers, MVP: Aaron Donald

The Rams’ offense will take another step forward in 2018, but their defense is what will make the difference in the Super Bowl.

Aaron Leming: Steelers over Falcons, MVP: Antonio Brown

I wasn’t fully aware so many people were high on the Falcons like I was, but that seems to be the case. Despite that, I think the Steelers are going to take it all the way home this year. That offense is absolutely stacked and they’ll be getting Le’Veon Bell for his last season with the team before cashing out in free agency. I still think the Patriots will find their way to the playoffs, but I have the Steelers as the best AFC team by a solid margin.

Jacob Infante: Vikings over Jaguars, MVP: Everson Griffen

The Vikings may be the most balanced team in the NFL. With one of the best defenses in the league, several dangerous weapons on offense, and a new quarterback in Kirk Cousins, the Vikings don’t have any pressing needs on their roster. Cousins isn’t an elite quarterback, but he’s more than good enough to help a team as talented as Minnesota make it to the Super Bowl.

Josh Sunderbruch: Steelers over Packers, MVP: Cameron Heyward

History has shown us that “chalk” almost never works out, so here I am going with the team that has no glaring weaknesses taking on a team that is defined by one man patching over a number of weaknesses. I see the AFC as open this year, and so the Steelers seem as likely as anyone. As for the NFC, Rodgers is good enough that any year he plays 16 games his team is in the chase. I don’t see him having the talent around him to close the deal, though.

Sam Householder: Steelers over Saints, MVP: Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger gets his third ring and finally earns the MVP before walking off into retirement. This is purely trying to pick something a little different and somewhat unexpected because we’re due for one of those years.

Andrew Link: Eagles over Steelers, MVP: Carson Wentz

In a strange turn of events, Wentz comes back to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl repeat. Nick Foles keeps them afloat early, but Wentz seals the deal. After losing, Ben Roethlisberger hangs them up.

Erik Duerrwaechter: Saints over Jaguars, MVP: Drew Brees

It’ll be the ultimate battle of offense vs. defense. In this case, Brees and the newly-retooled Saints will look to take on “Sacksonville” for a battle that’ll be a highlights extravaganza. Brees’ sagely experience will be the difference maker.

Patti Curl: Falcons over Chargers, MVP: Julio Jones

The Chargers have an easy regular season schedule in a rebuilding division and it’s time some good luck even things out. The Falcons are a strong balanced team who got better this offseason and are one offensive bounce back away from being a dominant force.

And Bears winning this year would be too much too soon.

Jeff Berckes: Chargers over Saints, MVP: Phillip Rivers

It’s an admittedly silly pick, but I think the Chargers have built a well-balanced team that could be competitive with anyone. This is the chance for Rivers to make his Hall of Fame case and what better way to do it than triumphing over the guy he replaced, Drew Brees, coming out of a stacked NFC.

Ken Mitchell: Bears over Chargers, MVP: Khalil Mack

Because if you kill them all, you win. It really is that simple.

WCG Contributors: Jeff Berckes; Patti Curl; Eric Christopher Duerrwaechter; Kev H; Sam Householder; Jacob Infante; Aaron Lemming; Andrew Link; Ken Mitchell; Steven Schweickert; Jack Silverstein; EJ Snyder; Lester Wiltfong, Jr.; Robert Zeglinski; Like us on Facebook.