The NFL season kicks off on Thursday night, kicking off a highly-anticipated campaign that will have plenty of teams vying for playoff contention.
Here’s a look at the teams that I think will be considered favorites this season in each NFL division.
AFC East: New England Patriots
The Patriots are a clear favorite to win the AFC East for the eleventh straight season. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are back along with a strong core, and that’s about all that’s needed to win what should be a weak division with no real competition for them.
AFC North: Cleveland Browns
The Browns were one of the NFL’s breakout teams in 2018, and I expect them to keep rising and claim the AFC North title this season. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and a stout defensive line buoy Cleveland’s new swagger, and they should win enough games to hold off the Steelers for the division crown.
AFC South: Houston Texans
Had Andrew Luck not retired before the season, the Colts probably would’ve been at least stark competition to the Texans to take home the AFC South. However, with DeShaun Watson at quarterback and a strong-as-always defense, Houston should be considered the favorite.
AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs might be the best team in the whole conference and should be strong favorites to win their division. Last year’s top seed in the AFC, Andy Reid has a good all-around team that has a top MVP candidate in quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Is this finally their year?
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles and Cowboys should fight it out for the NFC East crown, but I’m giving the edge to the team that won the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. Why? Quarterback Carson Wentz will have the reigns to a pass-friendly offense that should lead them to score enough points to be on top of the division.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
This is one of the toughest divisions to predict, with the Vikings and Bears also having legitimate shots to claim the crown. However, I’ll take the old standby. The Packers should have some new ideas on offense with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and a new coach in Matt LeFleur. I’m taking them.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees might be the best quarterback in the NFL, and in this offense-driven league, that could make all the difference. Matt Ryan and the Falcons will be hot on New Orleans’ heels, but dynamic running back Alvin Kamara could be the difference-maker for the team from the Big Easy.
NFC West: Los Angeles Rams
The Rams made the Super Bowl last season before falling to the Patriots, and it would be silly not to pick them as repeat NFC West Champions. Aaron Donald is the best defensive player in the league, Jared Goff is one of the league’s breakout stars, and Sean McVay is bright, innovative, and an offensive genius. They’re the team to beat in the west.