The Chicago Bears on Sunday officially became the ninth team in the previous 10 seasons to move from worst to first and win their division just 1 year after finishing in last location. It turned out to be a turnaround for a team who had posted four successive seasons with double handed declines from 2014 to 2017.

The Bears had beaten a wholesome Rodgers only once in 11 attempts within the forthcoming seven days prior to Sunday, when they held that the upcoming Hall of Famer to a 68.9 passer rating at a 24-17 success . The 10-4 Bears were given 8-1 odds to win the division before the season, and also the Raiders reportedly chose to trade Khalil Mack to the Bears (and maybe not the 49ers) since they desired to acquire selections out of a team which has been supposed to be deciding toward the surface of the draft. Oops.

Naturally, it’s going to be rough for the Bears to stay atop the mountainbiking. The NFC North has already established a duplicate winner just seven times in 17 seasons under the current format, and the ones teams that are worst-to-first have struggled to sustain their own pace. Barring an improbable run to the play offs by this year’s Eagles, the last team to move worst to first and make it back to the playoffs the following year was that the 2011 2012 Broncos, who were able to replace Tim Tebow with Peyton Manning.

Can the Bears plus some of the other surprise teams and players of 2018 keep it up? And is there an obvious candidate to follow in their footsteps season? Let’s run them through, starting with the recently minted division champs:


The Bears didn’t exactly turn out of left field, needless to say. As soon as I wrote about the Rams and their own massive turnaround this time last season, I identified that the Bears as the probably team to really move worst to first this season. In July, I wrote about how advanced metrics suggested that the Bears were one of those six most likely clubs to boost in 2018.

Most that has been before Sept. 2, when the Bears made one among those highest-profile additions of the offseason at Mack. Do you understand very well what happened . Mack has more sacks than a Raiders team united despite missing two matches. The Bears will be without their choices in 2019 and 2020, however they aren’t regretting the Mack bargain soon.

Can they perform it in 2019?

The formula will need to improve, at the least , although chicago can create the play offs again in 2019. The most reasonable comp for the 2018 Bears may be that the 20 17 Jaguars. Both teams made similar leaps in defensive DVOA; the 2016-2017 Jaguars increased from 12th to early in defensive DVOA, while the 2017-2018 Bears jumped from 14th to the very best of the DVOA graphs heading into Week 15. The Jags’ pass rush has been siphoned from the offseason addition of veteran superstar Calais Campbell, while the Bears included Mack. Both teams fired his defense-minded coach but retained his defensive coordinator, with the Jags shooting Gus Bradley at Mid Season and keeping defensive coordinator Todd Wash, while the Bears fired John Fox but retained Vic Fangio.

There are just two other elements to teams’ success in their break out seasons. The 20 17 Jaguars were remarkably healthy on defense, using their 1-1 starting defenders blending to overlook just three matches all season. The 2018 Bears haven’t been as remarkably fresh, however until nickel corner Bryce Callahan went with a broken foot, his starting 1-1 had overlooked a total of just… three matches. Callahan will get them , of course when Eddie Jackson sits outside the final two weeks after injuring his arm while intercepting Rodgers on Sunday, the Bears are at nine missed matches out of their defenders.

It’s virtually impossible to acquire a defense to stay that healthy year in, year out. What’s interesting about the Jags is that they’ve actually pulled it off this season; while they cut launching safety Barry Church last week, his 11 starters had united to skip a full of… yes, three matches. The Bears have veterans like Prince Amukamara, Leonard Floyd and Danny Trevathan, who have a history of trying hard to prevent harms. It’s improbable that the Bears will stay under 10 missed matches on defense at 2019.

A concern that’s haunted the Jags has been missing turnovers. In 2017, Jacksonville was next at the league with 33 take aways. Fans would have expected the take-aways coming to be kept by the Jaguars with the exact secondary and heart of talent returning.

They have not. The 2018 Jaguars have picked off 2.3 percentage of passes, which will be 20th in the NFL. The Jaguars have just 14 take aways in 14 games, leaving them on pace to halve their turnover figures from a year ago.

The Bears, meanwhile, are a factory that was takeaway. I wrote in July that the Bears were likely to improve in the 29th-ranked 1.5 percentage interception rate from 20 17, also Chicago’s 4.8 percentage interception rate leads the team, since Jackson & Co. have forced take aways on 20.7 percentage of opposing possessions this season. Every other team has topped 16.7 percentage in that category. Fangio’s defense has forced 35 take aways, five more than every other team in the league.

It’s not impossible for that to occur again, however it’s extremely improbable. Jackson (seven) and also Kyle Fuller (six) have combined for 13 interceptions. Within the past 30 years, 270 defenders have racked up six or even more interceptions in a specific season. Just 3 2 of these players — 11.9 percentage of those defensive backs — have were able to repeat the feat another season. Just 27 sets of teammates have managed to pick off six or more passes in a season, and none since the Fangio-led 49ers defense did it with Dashon Goldson and Carlos Rogers at 2011. The 200001 Buccaneers and the 2008-09 Packers will be the only defenses in the past 30 years to own just two six-pick players in multiple seasons.

The Bears will likely have a good defense in 2019, however it probably won’t be as notable as it is often this season. Their hope, then, needs to be to get more out of the crime. The Jaguars were unable to pull this off, as Blake Bortles collapsed and Leonard Fournette wasn’t able to remain healthy. Chicago features a very creative playcaller at Matt Nagy and an inexperienced, improving quarter back in Mitchell Trubisky; they have a better chance of staying atop the NFC North compared to Jags failed of keeping themselves first in the AFC South this season, even though it’s more likely that they fall back to around 97.

Which team could overtake them as a surprise in 2019?

If we’re looking to get a middling team using a young quarterback and a good defense that might require a jump forward in 2019, the most obvious fit may seem like the Cleveland Browns, who entered Week 15 at 10th in defensive DVOA before winning a dreadful match contrary to the Broncos on Saturday night. Cleveland will likely hire a new coach this offseason, even though fresh offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens has been working wonders with Baker Mayfield since overtaking, and also general director John Dorsey could have $80 million or a lot of cap space with which to do the job. The only real issue is the fact that the Browns don’t have a takeaway spike in them, given their 30 take aways are next in the league behind Chicago.


Needless to say, the Jaguars are among the greatest surprises of this summer season in their own right. Even when you didn’t think these were planning to improve in the 10-6 mark out of a year ago (which, sadly, I really did ), I don’t think most people expected the collapse we saw out of the Jaguars. They’ve fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and coach Doug Marrone could follow him out the door this offseason. Bortles, who was benched months after that the Jags signed to a illadvised extension, also seems likely to leave this offseason.

Can they perform it in 2019?

I believe that the Jaguars will soon be better, however their ceiling may be restricted below their 10-6 mark from a year past. The 2018 Jags are somewhat unfortunate, since Sunday’s loss took them to 2-6 in games decided by seven points or fewer. Marrone’s team has recovered just 12 of their 35 fumbles within their matches, which ranks among the cheapest levels in soccer and is unlikely to recur. Their minus-12 turnover margin, the third worst in the NFL, will probably be better in 2019. Additionally they probably won’t have too many injuries on crime, where these were right down to some fourth-choice tight end and also left tackle at various points.

The problem is the fact that the Jags end up in tough financial straits after years of major spending in free service. Jacksonville already has a lot more than $200 million in cap obligations for 2019, which is before giving Yannick Ngakoue and potentially Ramsey extensions that are new. The Jags will cut Bortles to release space, but they’ll probably should proceed out of a minumum of among the veteran defensive linemen, with Malik Jackson along with Marcell Dareus the most likely candidates.

The idea is that Jacksonville will have a modest budget to use in terms of looking at possible quarter back solutions. The good thing is there should be a constrained market of teams moving after fresh starters; the Jags will likely be competing with only Washington and the Giants for veteran options, even though teams like the Dolphins and Raiders also could move in the market should they go ahead out of their incumbents at quarterback.

Assuming team president Tom Coughlin still has final say on employees , the most likely candidate is probably a normal pocket passer like Joe Flacco. The Ravens have implied they would consider trading Flacco, however it appears extremely unlikely the former Super Bowl MVP could have much of a market on a contract with a $18.5 million base wages in 2019, let alone figures of $20.5 million and $24.3 million at the two following seasons. Flacco is probably looking at something closer to the three-year, $54 million contract signed from Bortles last year offseason.

Flacco’s floor is more compared to Bortles’, because their quarter back are slim, however the possibilities of this Jags winning 12 matches. Unless they find a way togo allin for some one just like Justin Herbert at the draft and then nab a franchise quarterback onto a rookie bargain, Jacksonville will be probably planning to be somewhere in the 7-8 win range in 2019.

Which team could overtake them as a disappointment in 2019?

I really don’t believe the Bears will fall to a 410 record the next year, even even if I think their defense stocks some similarities to the 20 17 Jags. The Cowboys are better on crime with Amari Cooper, naturally, but they are not likely to really move 6-2 in one-score matches and remain among those more top-heavy rosters in the league. They also will not have a pick after sending it to the Raiders in the Cooper swap to boost their roll.


Yet another transition to an surprise would be currently talking Cooper, whose career has gotten off to a dazzling start. The Colts held the former Alabama star to four grabs along with 3 2 metres Sunday, but even with that small day factored in, he has been leading at a Dallas uniform.

Ever since joining the Cowboys Cooper has awakened 44 grabs for 674 yards and six touchdowns. Dak Prescott has concentrated Cooper 60 times, with the prior fourth overall selection bringing in 73.3 percentage of their throws in his or her direction. The Cowboys wanted a No. 1 receiver to help develop Prescott and try to win the division, and hammering an great collapse within the final two weeks, they are going to receive exactly what they wanted.

Can he keep those numbers up in 2019?

Not likely. Pro rating Cooper’s performance will level to a lineup of 101 grabs for 14 touchdowns and 1,541 yards. No receiver was able to hit on those marks in receiving yards or touchdowns a year ago, plus so they fundamentally would lock in Cooper as a top-two receiver in the NFL this past year. Cooper could hit those amounts for a couple games at a time, and he’s still just 24 years of age, but casting one to be a first team all pro grade wideout on a full season is actually a dangerous match. Everything has to go , and it’s more likely that Cooper’s catch rate slips or he or she misses a match or two as a result of trauma.

Who might take advantage of a change of scene in 2019?

Dealing for wideouts toward the end of these rookie contracts can be dangerous; Cooper has worked out for the Cowboys, but the Bills failed to get far from Kelvin Benjamin after dealing for him under similar circumstances. Given how little there is to work with on the free agent market, however, teams will take shots onto wideouts building a relative pittance at the hopes of stumbling onto a contributor.

1 logical option may be DeVante Parker, who was to the trading block earlier this year before sending a six-catch, 134-yard match against the Texans before the deadline. Ever since that time, Parker has awakened a total of 122 metres over six matches while fighting this time, through yet another injury for his shoulder. Parker is supposed to make $9.4 million for the fifth-year option of his rookie bargain in 2019, but given the likely price tag for wideouts like Devin Funchess at no service, Parker may seem like a more palatable lottery ticket and may predominate if he stays healthy in the perfect strategy.

A candidate participates at a position that is different. The Raiders exchanged Cooper after two 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career because Cooper’s production sagged along with his likely contract demands were deemed to be too high. The Falcons could find themselves at a similar position with Vic Beasley Jr.. , who headed the league with 15.5 sacks as a sophomore however has just 10 sacks united within the two coming seasons.

His wages balloon is seen by beasley option from $705,000 to 12,810,000 at 2019. The Falcons would want to lock Grady Jarrett that offseason and let Beasley leave for greener pastures before having to make a long term decision on his future. This is considered to be an outstanding draft for defensive linemen, but might a team in need of edge-rushing assistance such as the Raiders or even Giants would rather trade for Beasley and have a shot on a former NFL sack winner?


It was unclear what Watt had left after missing a lot of those 2017 and 2016 seasons to various injuries. The future Hall of Famer had awakened 6-9 sacks within a ridiculous four-year span from 2012-15, but following the Texans celebrity missed 24 matches and recorded 1.5 sacks in eight competitions between 2016 and 2017, it was fair to wonder if we were going to observe that the”real” Watt again.

Fourteen games after, we now have our answer. Even though Watt isn’t quite at the Aaron Donald-esque amount we saw out of him through that four-year run, he’s a lock to make the Pro Bowl and should really function as one of those runnersup for Defensive Player of the season. Not bad for a guy who was essentially sidelined for two years.

Can he keep those numbers up in 2019?

I had expect a small dropoff. There are always likely to be concerns about Watt’s health, also while he’s stayed vertical this year, any projection system will give Watt a significant chance of missing meaningful amount of time in just about any particular season from here on out. Watt also has been blessed concerning turning hits into sacks, since the customary rate for pass-rushers is about 45 percent, which would put Watt at 10.8 sacks.

Watt has under performed his hit rate for a pro, although it’s tempting to give him a superstar rate. The Wisconsin product borrows 50 knock-downs during his past star-level season in 2015, which would peg him to get an expected amount of 22.5 sacks.

Who may emerge out of the injury wilderness to break out again in 2019?

His come back was made by the most obvious candidate . After tearing his Achilles at Week 1 of this 20 17 season, Eric Berry sat out 15 matches in 20 17 and missed the first 13 matches of 2018 with a Haglund’s deformity at the heels of his other foot. Berry shot 30 defensive shoots through the first half subsequently sat from the entirety of the 2nd half as intended before the match .

Berry could play well enough to make an impact in 2018, which would disqualify him as a Watt contrast for second calendar year. The case that is more plausible is we see the old Berry .


Mahomes is on pace to throw for 5,192 yards and 51 touchdowns, which would make him that the 2nd 5,000-50 quarterback in league history after Peyton Manning at 2013.

Can he keep those numbers up in 2019?

I’d be unwilling to set any limits on Mahomes, but remember that records were put by Marino and never topped his totals of 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns over the remainder of his career. If Mahomes wins MVP, virtually whatever he’s in 2019 short of a season and a Super Bowl victory could be viewed as a disappointing effort.

It will be exceedingly difficult to maintain this level of play. For one, Mahomes has chucked for touchdowns around 8.7 percentage of his attempts, the fourth-highest rate since the AFL-NFL merger of 1970. It’s tough for anybody to maintain that kind of touch down rate, also I’d expect that a couple more red zone scores will go to whom ever replenishes Kareem Hunt as the Chiefs’ primary running back next season.

Who may emerge from the bench to post a career year in 2019?

There’s no true candidate. Mahomes’ first year while the full time rookie goes with famous brands Marino in 1984 and also Kurt Warner in 1999. Each of those five newcomer selections will notice considerable action within their introduction seasons, while Mahomes played one meaningless match in Week 17 against the Broncos in 20 17.

Mahomes is a brilliant gift, but he’s at the perfect place having an coach that is attacking. After Marino and Warner, he’s a once-in-a-generation break out, although mahomes is not quite sui generis.


Even though Super Bowl LII champions kept their postseason hopes alive by having an furious victory in la on Sunday night over the Rams, the 77 Eagles would require a collection of breaks to really go their method to creep back into the play offs. It has been a frustrating season for Doug Pederson and his Eagles, who have suffered through bothersome losses to the Cowboys and to the kind of the Titans. Philly began its season without Carson Wentz and appears likely to finish it without him too, given the status of Wentz’s injured spine again.

The Eagles have an 28.8 percent chance of making the postseason, even though they are left with a pair of winnable games against Houston and Washington, I am not sure that the formula we saw Sunday is some thing Philly could sustain into a long playoff run. They were able to hold a frustrated Sean McVay to 2-3 points on five red zone trips, as Jared Goff struggled going to available receivers and made innocent decisions with the ball. Pederson did actually struggle to acquire that the aggressiveness balance but the Eagles were able to take out the match when the Rams lost a single ownership on a fumbled punt and were stopped in the red zone in their own following try.

The issue, as I have written about this season, is the fact that the 20 17 Eagles might have put expectations too high. They actually flourished, although those Eagles were hoping to make do with a patchwork pair of cornerbacks. Pederson was aggressive on downs, when he chose to get competitive but he was wildly successful. Most those things were likely to regress toward the mean this season.

Can they stay undiscovered in 2019?

I do believe that they should be better compared to enigmatic and win the NFC East if just because they have more Wentz. If the former second overall pick doesn’t return this year , Wentz will finish this season with 11 matches played along with 401 pass attempts. I am not very worried about Wentz’s durability yet, simply because the harms (a torn ACL and a stress fracture in his spine ) are so different. Wentz’s amounts declined in some unsurprising ways this season, but Wentz remains a top-10 quarter back with MVP-level upside whatsoever in virtually any given healthy effort.

As the team around him, it depends on a cap situation tiptoe around for. Philly already has $191 million in liabilities, and would have to restructure contracts give him an expansion or to make room. The Eagles have a tradition of giving out contracts to celebrity players long before their contracts expire, since they gave Lane Johnson an expansion essentially right as legally shortly following the tackle’s third season at the NFL.

Would the Super Bowl winner require some time backward in 2019?

Absolutely, even though the nature of this step is contingent on the team. The saints are ESPN’s Super Bowl favorites, and indeed, they could very well either watch Brees retire or age. A defense which appeared missing for a good chunk of their first half might have lost . The Kansas City Chiefs are becoming career years outside of pass-rushers Dee Ford and Chris Jones, and are not planning to have as powerful of a year from Mahomes in Year 3. The New England Patriots may be with no retired Rob Gronkowski. The la Rams offensive lineup could slide. You have the picture: Each team will look far better at the shine of a Super Bowl win than it can. The Eagles are no exception.

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