Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins


Silverman: Giants, Jets Will Show Improvement, But It's Vikings' Year

Steve Silverman
September 06, 2018 - 1:45 pm

The New York Giants will find out right away how they compare with a Super Bowl-caliber team when they take the field Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Two years ago, the Giants were a playoff team, but last year they fell apart under incompetent head coach Ben McAdoo. New head coach Pat Shurmur has faith that Eli Manning still has enough game to turn things around if he gets help from rookie running back Saquon Barkley and enigmatic superstar wideout Odell Beckham Jr.

The Jets made a huge move at quarterback. Rookie Sam Darnold passed every test in the preseason and has earned/been given the starting job. Jets fans know that this spot has been a black hole for the team since the glory days of Joe Willie Namath (with few exceptions), and they are hoping Darnold is the right answer.

MORE: Silverman: Smith, Collins, Berry Are NFL's Top Safeties

The third overall pick in this year's draft gets a chance to make his first start on the Monday night stage at Detroit. The Lions are coached by “old friend’ Matt Patricia. The former New England defensive coordinator has tormented the Jets for years, and he would love to get his head-coaching career started with an easy victory.

As the season kicks off, I look at all 32 teams in commissioner Roger Goodell’s kingdom and make my annual predictions.

* Wild-card teams

AFC East

1. New England Patriots – Nothing goes on forever, but quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are still a first-place team.

2. New York Jets – Progress is made as the Jets finish with a winning record and look for a wild-card spot.

3. Buffalo Bills – Limited offense means that the struggle resumes upstate.

4. Miami Dolphins – A dearth of talent dooms the Dolphins to the cellar.

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers – Don’t want to overreact to the Le'Veon Bell holdout. The Steelers have too much talent to ignore.

2. Cincinnati Bengals* – In the NFL crapshoot, this could be the Bengals’ year to overachieve.

3. Baltimore Ravens – Have little faith that Joe Flacco can be the man at this point in his career.

4. Cleveland Browns – Waiting for Baker Mayfield to get his chance

AFC South

1. Houston Texans – The only thing that can derail this team is injuries.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars* – The Jaguars would challenge for the Super Bowl if Blake Bortles weren't their quarterback.

3. Tennessee Titans – They're solid with Marcus Mariota at quarterback, but in a tough division going against the Texans and Jags.

4. Indianapolis Colts – First-year head coach Frank Reich faces an impossible task unless QB Andrew Luck returns to top form.

AFC West

1. Los Angeles Chargers – This could be the climactic year of Philip Rivers’ career.

2. Kansas City Chiefs – Plenty of excitement with quarterback Pat Mahomes and his big arm, but little consistency.

3. Oakland Raiders – The loss of All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack and return of Jon Gruden as coach mean disaster in Oakland.

4. Denver Broncos – The freefall continues, and the Broncos endure another season of double-digit losses.

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles – Once Carson Wentz returns, the Eagles will start to fly again.

2. New York Giants – Giants fans are praying Manning has some life left in his right arm.

3. Dallas Cowboys – They're capable of returning to the top if they can stay healthy.

4. Washington Redskins – Cold comfort: They may be the best of the NFL’s last-place teams.

NFC North

1. Minnesota Vikings – They're poised to win their first Super Bowl with Kirk Cousins at the helm.

2. Green Bay Packers* – Aaron Rodgers bounces back from his injury-plagued 2017 season.

3. Detroit Lions – Patricia makes sure this team can hit and tackle.

4. Chicago Bears – Mack gives Bears rock-ribbed defense, but  QB Mitchell Trubisky fails in his second year.

NFC South

1.Atlanta Falcons – No stopping this offense.

2. Carolina Panthers* – Ron Rivera will try to overcome Cam Newton’s inconsistency.

3. New Orleans Saints – The defense takes a major step backward.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bucs learn that Jameis Winston is not the answer.

NFC West

1. Los Angeles Rams – All the pieces are in place for a long Hollywood run.

2. San Francisco 49ers – QB Jimmy Garoppolo is the right man for the job.

3. Arizona Cardinals – Their defense gives them a chance to be this year’s surprise team.

4. Seattle Seahawks – It's the end of the line for coachPete Carroll.



Wild Card

Chargers over Bengals; Jaguars over Steelers

Eagles over Packers; Falcons over Panthers

Divisional Playoffs

Chargers over Patriots; Texans over Jaguars

Vikings over Eagles; Rams over Falcons

Conference Championship

Texans over Chargers

Vikings over Rams

Super Bowl LIII

Vikings over Texans

Follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy​