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Windy City Gridiron predicts the 2019 NFL season

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From MVP’s to Lombardi trophies, our staff examines a new season through a crystal ball.

Members of the Indianapolis Colts reach... Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Thursday night’s tilt between the Bears and Packers possesses enough emotion and hype to stand on its own. The history and sheer star power involved in professional football’s oldest rivalry has people purchase stadium seats in droves, and gravitate their television dial to the big game. But in actuality, the 199th meeting of Bears-Packers is merely the flame traveling down the cartoonish fuse that triggers the rest of the dynamite known as the 2019 NFL season.

Over the course of the next months, 256 regular season games will have been played. 11 postseason matchups, full of heartbreak and indescribable joy, will unfold over the ensuing manic January. And eventually after the drudgery of the summer and adversity of the fall, someone’s simulated Madden franchise mode will finally come true as the cream rises to the top, and a new Super Bowl champion is crowned in February.

The return of football at its highest level means the return of our staff’s always accurate, Nostradamus-like predictions. If the world had listened to us instead of the Mayans, the apocalypse of 2012 might have actually come into fruition.

Without further adieu, here’s how Windy City Gridiron views the 2019 NFL season.


Most Valuable Player

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Baker Mayfield, Browns

Aaron Leming: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Josh Sunderbruch: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Jacob Infante: Carson Wentz, Eagles

Sam Householder: Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Robert Schmitz: Phillip Rivers, Chargers

Jeff Berckes: Khalil Mack, Bears

Erik Duerrwaechter: Drew Brees, Saints

Ken Mitchell: Drew Brees, Saints

Offensive Player of the Year

Divisional Round - Indianapolis Colts v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Deshaun Watson, Texans

Aaron Leming: Baker Mayfield, Browns

Josh Sunderbruch: Baker Mayfield, Browns

Jacob Infante: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Sam Householder: Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

Robert Schmitz: Drew Brees, Saints

Jeff Berckes: Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Erik Duerrwaechter: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Ken Mitchell: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Defensive Player of the Year

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: Khalil Mack, Bears

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Khalil Mack, Bears

Aaron Leming: Khalil Mack, Bears

Josh Sunderbruch: J.J. Watt, Texans

Jacob Infante: Aaron Donald, Rams

Sam Householder: Myles Garrett, Browns

Robert Schmitz: Khalil Mack, Bears

Jeff Berckes: Khalil Mack, Bears

Erik Duerrwaechter: Khalil Mack, Bears

Ken Mitchell: Khalil Mack, Bears

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Carolina at Chicago Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: Miles Sanders, Eagles

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Kyler Murray, Cardinals

Aaron Leming: Mecole Hardman, Colts

Josh Sunderbruch: T.J. Hockenson, Lions

Jacob Infante: David Montgomery, Bears

Sam Householder: Dwayne Haskins, Washington

Robert Schmitz: T.J. Hockenson, Lions

Jeff Berckes: Kyler Murray, Cardinals

Erik Duerrwaechter: David Montgomery, Bears

Ken Mitchell: David Montgomery, Bears

Defensive Rookie of the Year

NFL: Preseason-Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Zeglinski: Ed Oliver, Bills

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Ed Oliver, Bills

Aaron Leming: Quinnen Williams, Jets

Josh Sunderbruch: Josh Allen, Jaguars

Jacob Infante: Devin Bush, Steelers

Sam Householder: Ed Oliver, Bills

Robert Schmitz: Ed Oliver, Bills

Jeff Berckes: Chase Winovich, Patriots

Erik Duerrwaechter: Montez Sweat, Washington

Ken Mitchell: Josh Allen, Jaguars

Comeback Player of the Year

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Zeglinski: Earl Thomas, Ravens

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

Aaron Leming: Carson Wentz, Eagles

Josh Sunderbruch: Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

Jacob Infante: Deion Jones, Falcons

Sam Householder: Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

Robert Schmitz: Deion Jones, Falcons

Jeff Berckes: Earl Thomas, Ravens

Erik Duerrwaechter: Josh Gordon, Patriots

Ken Mitchell: Keanu Neal, Falcons

Coach of the Year

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Zeglinski: Freddie Kitchens, Browns

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Freddie Kitchens, Browns

Aaron Leming: Freddie Kitchens, Browns

Josh Sunderbruch: Freddie Kitchens, Browns

Jacob Infante: Freddie Kitchens, Browns

Sam Householder: Freddie Kitchens, Browns

Robert Schmitz: Freddie Kitchens, Browns

Jeff Berckes: John Harbaugh, Ravens

Erik Duerrwaechter: Freddie Kitchens, Browns

Ken Mitchell: Bill Belichick, Patriots

NFC playoff field

NFL: JAN 06 NFC Wild Card - Eagles at Bears Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski

1. Eagles

2. Bears

3. Falcons

4. Rams

5. Packers

6. Vikings

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.

1. Bears

2. Eagles

3. Saints

4. Seahawks

5. Vikings

6. Falcons

Aaron Leming

1. Eagles

2. Bears

3. Rams

4. Saints

5. Falcons

6. Cowboys

Josh Sunderbruch

1. Rams

2. Saints

3. Eagles

4. Vikings

5. Bears

6. Panthers

Jacob Infante

1. Saints

2. Eagles

3. Rams

4. Bears

5. Cowboys

6. Packers

Sam Householder

1. Eagles

2. Saints

3. Bears

4. Seahawks

5. Panthers

6. Rams

Robert Schmitz

1. Bears

2. Eagles

3. Saints

4. Rams

5. Seahawks

6. Falcons

Jeff Berckes

1. Bears

2. Eagles

3. Panthers

4. Seahawks

5. Saints

6. Falcons

Erik Duerrwaechter

1. Bears

2. Saints

3. Cowboys

4. Rams

5. Eagles

6. Washington

Ken Mitchell

1. Bears

2. Eagles

3. Rams

4. Saints

5. Seahawks

6. Vikings

AFC playoff field

New York Giants v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski

1. Browns

2. Chiefs

3. Patriots

4. Texans

5. Chargers

6. Jets

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.

1. Texans

2. Chiefs

3. Browns

4. Patriots

5. Broncos

6. Ravens

Aaron Leming

1. Chiefs

2. Patriots

3. Texans

4. Browns

5. Chargers

6. Jets

Josh Sunderbruch

1. Chiefs

2. Patriots

3. Browns

4. Texans

5. Broncos

6. Steelers

Jacob Infante

1. Patriots

2. Chargers

3. Browns

4. Texans

5. Chiefs

6. Steelers

Sam Householder

1. Patriots

2. Chiefs

3. Steelers

4. Texans

5. Browns

6. Ravens

Robert Schmitz

1. Chiefs

2. Browns

3. Patriots

4. Texans

5. Chargers

6. Steelers

Jeff Berckes

1. Patriots

2. Ravens

3. Chiefs

4. Texans

5. Browns

6. Chargers

Erik Duerrwaechter

1. Patriots

2. Chargers

3. Browns

4. Texans

5. Chiefs

6. Ravens

Ken Mitchell

1. Patriots

2. Chiefs

3. Browns

4. Texans

5. Chargers

6. Steelers

One bold prediction

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: The Chiefs’ Pat Mahomes becomes the first quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 40 touchdown passes in back to back seasons.

A year after capturing the AFC’s top seed, Kansas City will regress slightly in 2019. That’ll be due to a porous defense, not the next great NFL quarterback in Mahomes. Mahomes doesn’t miss a beat en route to another transcendent campaign.

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: The Patriots sneak into the playoffs with a Week 17 win.

The Patriot dynasty struggles in 2019 with an improved AFC East and they need a Week 17 win to hold off the Buffalo Bills.

Aaron Leming: The Lions will fire Matt Patricia before the conclusion of Week 17.

The Lions are so strange on a year-to-year basis, especially when attempting to project how they’ll do. With that being said, I think things are going to go even more south this year in Detroit. After watching Brian Baldinger’s breakdown of their horrific preseason effort level from a coaching standpoint, I have a feeling this is going to be the “new Antonio Brown” situation by the end of the year.

Josh Sunderbruch: It’s the final season for two of the quarterback class of 2004.

Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Philip Rivers are all reaching the end, and either because they are forced out or because they aren’t feeling it anymore, two of these players ride into the sunset at the end of 2019-2020.

Jacob Infante: The Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski un-retires at some point this year.

After healing up for much of the season, Gronk comes out of retirement late in the year and returns to the Patriots, adding another weapon to a team loaded to the brim with talented pass catchers. Because why not?

Sam Householder: The Steelers get back to the playoffs and win the AFC North.

Maybe it’s not that bold to say the Steelers win their division, but a lot of people are high on the Ravens and Browns. I think the Steelers, free from the distractions of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, win the AFC North and remain the dominant team in that division.

Robert Schmitz: The Rams’ Jared Goff gets exposed.

After the Bears and Patriots exposed Goff’s struggles reading defenses last season, teams around the league begin to force Goff to beat them and he fails. The Rams still have enough firepower on their roster to make the playoffs, but an early exit leaves them unsure of their future with the quarterback.

Jeff Berckes: The Cardinals’ Kyler Murray leads the league in passing yards.

The Arizona defense stinks and there’s a chance the Cardinals throw it 50-plus times, regularly with four wide receivers.

Erik Duerrwaechter: The NFC North will see at least two head coaches getting fired by year’s end.

The situation in Green Bay is exciting tough to watch. Matt LaFleur is already pissing people off with his antics, and worse, he’s at odds with Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, Mike Zimmer is dealing with an expensive mistake at quarterback, which no head coach has ever survived in similar situations. And Matt Patricia looks like the next Bill Belechick disciple to fall flat on their face outside of New England. LaFleur will be one-and-done and Zimmer will be sacrificed to find a coach who’s seen as a quarterback whisperer. Patricia, well, nobody knows what the Lions are going to do next.

Ken Mitchell: Aaron Donald will become the first NFL interior defensive lineman with 20-plus sacks for two years in a row.

Super Bowl LIV

NFL: NOV 22 Bears at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: Browns over Bears

MVP: Baker Mayfield

It’ll be a battle of stars and top picks galore in Miami this February. Trubisky. Garrett. Mayfield. Mack. Beckham. The list wears on. It’ll also serve as one of the more enticing and interesting Super Bowl matchups in recent memory. Two classic franchises who have been perennially downtrodden for most of the modern era playing in the Super Bowl? Any director in Hollywood worth their salt would reject this script upon first glance.

Unfortunately for the Bears, they’ll fall short in an instant classic to the other most complete team in pro football. Cleveland and their franchise Messiah in Mayfield cap a season for the ages.

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Bears over Texans

MVP: Mitchell Trubisky

I know it seems weird to many, but the 2019 Bears are a damn good football team. There are playmakers all over the defense and the offense will see playmakers emerge in Matt Nagy’s system this year. The Super Bowl will be a defensive struggle, but Trubisky caps off the season with a strong second half in the biggest game of his life to claim the MVP.

Aaron Leming: Chiefs over Eagles

MVP: Patrick Mahomes

I’m can’t take the Bears to win or even make the Super Bowl due to superstition. My last few Super Bowl picks haven’t made the playoffs, so do with that what you will.

Josh Sunderbruch: Chiefs over Saints

MVP: Patrick Mahomes

In an offensive duel that breaks records, Mahomes caps Brees and cements his reputation as a standout quarterback. There is one critical stop, though, that lets cliche thinkers cling to the notion that defense wins championships. Brees says something very classy at the end, but everyone wonders if it’s the end. Meanwhile, the NFL learns that the key to Andy Reid overcoming his poor clock management is simply having a quarterback who keeps putting points on the board.

Jacob Infante: Patriots over Saints

MVP: Stephon Gilmore

The Patriots make it to the Super Bowl for the fourth year in a row, because no other AFC teams are complete or experienced enough to topple the Galactic Empire this year. They take on the Saints, led by an aging Drew Brees hellbent on winning a second Super Bowl before he retires. Both teams are neck and neck for a majority of the game until the Patriots get the ball with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. They milk out the clock with a drive chock full of check-downs and short passes and score on a Sony Michel goal line run with 47 seconds left. New Orleans tries to pull off a miracle, but they fall short.

Sam Householder: Patriots over Saints

MVP: Tom Brady

Cementing his legacy as the GOAT, Tom Brady leads the Patriots to their fourth straight Super Bowl and second straight win. Is this a boring pick? Sure, but based on the last three years, its the most likely outcome. (The Bears fall short in the NFC Championship Game.)

Robert Schmitz: Bears over Chargers

MVP: Eddie Jackson

There’s no reason not to pick the Bears to win it all in a year where the right pieces seem to be falling into place. Jackson ruins a Phillip Rivers Super Bowl run, picking off two passes and running one back for what proves to be the game-winning touchdown. Trubisky plays well enough to win, but not well enough to win MVP.

Jeff Berckes: Bears over Sacrificial AFC Team

MVP: Akiem Hicks

If you can’t predict the Bears to win it all on a Bears website when they’re supposed to be good, I’m not sure what we’re doing here. The best defense in the league rides a more aggressive approach to the record books, while Mitchell Trubisky takes the next step and the Bears’ 100th season ends with a championship.

Erik Duerrwaechter: Bears over Patriots

MVP: Mitchell Trubisky

Tom Brady and the crew are going for one more Super Bowl run before Brady finally decides to retire. However, this will prove to be the big moment we have all awaited to see Trubisky step up in. It will be a nail-biter, and instead of taking a chance with the new kicker, Matt Nagy boldly goes for the touchdown drive to finish off the championship without risking overtime.

Ken Mitchell: Bears over Patriots

MVP: Allen Robinson II

Just as the Bears ended the 1985 Cinderella season of the New England Patriots, they will end the final fairy tale run of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots by crushing New England in the last championship appearance of the Brady-Belichick reign. The Bears become the first undefeated team to win the Super Bowl since the legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Robert thinks the real Super Bowl winners are the friends we made along the way. Oh, and the actual champions. They count sometimes.

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